05 June 2020


Well, let’s get down to business, shall we? Would you be so good as to turn off your telly, please, Mrs Hailestone? Thank you. That’s better. It’s very good of you to let us use your front room. I think we’re all assembled... Mrs Brill, Miss Culch, Mrs Pell, Mrs Hailestone, May and me. All right then, May, let’s have the minutes of the last meeting.

Oh, May. You’re supposed to have them in that little book I gave you. I told you last time. You’re supposed to write down everything we do and say and then read it out at the next meeting, and then I sign it.

I know we all know what we said and did, dear, but you have to write it down. That’s what minutes are for.

Don’t cry, May, dear, Let’s get on with the next item on the agenda, Apologies for Absence. You read out the excuses. Oh, May. Well, you must try and remember to bring your glasses next time. All right, I’ll read them. Give them here. Cheer up!

Mrs Slope is very sorry she’s caught up. Can’t come.

Miss Heddle’s got her mother again. Can’t come.

Lady Widmore sent a telegram ‘ALAS CANNOT BE WITH YOU, DEVASTATED’.  Can’t come.

Well then. As you all know, this is another special meeting of the Ladies’ Choral to talk about the forthcoming Festival and County Choral Competition. We know the date and we know the set song. Yes we do, May. It’s in two parts for ladies’ voices in E flat, ‘My Bosom is a Nest’.

But of course what we are really here for tonight is this very important question of voices in the choir. Now, we don’t want any unpleasantness. Friendly is what we are, and friendly we are going to go on. But it’s no good beating about the bush, we all know there is one voice among the altos that did not ought to be there. And I think we all know to what I am referring.

Now, don’t think that I don’t like Mrs Codlin, because I do. Yes, she is a very nice woman. Look at how nice she is with her little car – giving us all lifts here and there. And she’s a lovely lender - lends you her books, and her knitting patterns, recipes, anything. Lovely. Yes, she is a regular churchgoer and a most generous donator to the fund. But she just has this one fault: she does not blend.

May, dear, would you be so kind as to slip out and see if I left the lamp turned off on my bike? I don’t want to waste the battery, and I can’t remember if I did it. Thank you, May.

Ladies, I didn’t like to say anything in front of May, but I must remind you that Mrs Codlin’s voice is worse than May’s was; and you know what happened the last time we let May sing in the competition. We were disqualified. So you see it is very important and very serious.

Oh, thank you, May, dear. Had I? I am a big silly, aren’t I?

You see. It isn’t as if Mrs Codlin had a voice you could ignore. I mean you can’t drown her out. They can hear her all down the road, over the sopranos; yes, over your piano, Mrs Pell, over everything. You know, I was stood next to her at practice last week when we did ‘The Wild Brown Bee is my Lover’. When we’d finished I said to her very tactfully, thinking she might like to take the hint, I said: ‘I wonder who it is stands out so among the altos and she said she hadn’t noticed. Hadn’t noticed! Mrs Brill was on her other side and she said to me afterwards, didn’t you, Mrs Brill? She said the vibrations were so considerable they made her chest hum.

No, I know she doesn’t do it on purpose, May.

No, of course she didn’t ought to have been let in in the first place. It’s ridiculous. It makes a nonsense of music. But the thing is, it was her idea, wasn’t it? She founded the choir.

Do you think if anyone was to ask her very nicely not to sing it might stop her? I mean, we could let her come and just stand there. Yes, Mrs Hailestone, she does look like a singer, I’ll give her that. That’s the annoying part.

Would anybody like to ask her? Well, has anybody got any suggestions?
No, May, not anonymous letters. They aren’t very nice.

I wonder ….  May, one of your jobs as secretary is watching the handbags and coats at competitions, isn’t it? I mean you have to stay in the cloakroom all during the competitions, don’t you? I thought so. Look, May, now don’t think we don’t appreciate you as secretary – we do, dear, don’t we ladies? – But would you like to resign? Just say yes now, and I’ll explain it all later.

Well, we accept your resignation, and I would like to propose that we appoint Mrs Codlin secretary and handbag-watcher for the next competition. Anybody second that? Thank you, Mrs Hailestone. Any against? Then that’s passed unanimously. Lovely. Oh, I know it’s not in order, Mrs Pell, but we haven’t any minutes to prove it. May didn’t have a pencil, did you, May?

Well, I think it’s a very happy solution. We get rid of her and keep her at one and the same time.

What did you say, May? Can you sing if Mrs Codlin doesn’t?

Oh, May, you’ve put us right back to square one. 

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