I had intended to write about Thanksgiving today. I’d thought it all through and we’re even having a pseudo Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday night. But hey, plans change. You’ve got to go with the flow, sometimes. And last night we caught up with The Choir on iPlayer. I was pushed into it by the Other Half who had seen the first in this series, and reluctantly found the link and curled up on the sofa with a cuppa.
I was gripped. What a fantastic programme. BBC, this sort of thing is what I pay my licence fee for.
The programme tells the story of how Gareth Malone, a strip of a youngster who had previously not crossed my consciousness, works with the women of RMB Chivenor and Plymouth to provide them with a focus whilst their partners were on a tour of Afganistan. He teaches them how to sing, channels their emotions and brings them together in voice, culminating in a performance at the Royal Albert Hall’s Festival of Remembrance.
It moved me to tears. The emotion, the dedication, the hard work and sacrifice – and that’s just what the ladies put into the choir, let alone the effort that partners and children of serving men and women put into supporting their other halves whilst they were away on active duty. It showed us just a tiny sliver of what it must be like to put your life on hold for six months at a time, and how keeping the home fires burning really does help those on active service.
The composer has done a superb job in turning the letters of the wives and soldiers into unashamedly heart-string tugging poetry, a song entitled ‘Wherever You Are’. Gareth himself, a lovely boy who didn’t look old enough to drive let alone be in charge of the programme, coaxed ever more from The Choir, taking them to unforeseen heights. The soloist, Sam, can be ever proud of her achievement, as can the rest of the ladies. I wish them every luck in continuing to give military wives a voice, raising the profile of an element of war which is rarely in the public consciousness.
This morning I got into the car and Chris Evans was playing the single – I nearly started crying again. Knowing what those words mean and represent, the story behind the song, I will certainly support his campaign to make this the Christmas Number One. And caring about what makes it to the top spot on 25th December is something I’ve paid no attention to since East 17 warbled their way through Stay Another Day.
If you do nothing else today, watch episode 3 on the iPlayer, before it disappears off into the BBC ether. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving to those on the other side of The Pond!