Young Voices

I don’t expect to have much, if anything, to report on the PC/ITP/DB front for a while – my next blood test isn’t until the middle of next month – so my next few posts will focus on Life in General. But before we go there I would mention that the other day I saw something that others had seen months ago – how my appearance had changed following chemotherapy. I had looked at myself in the mirror and had noticed that my beard (and hair) had thinned out, but to me it was still visible. However if I was viewed from 10 foot away rather than 1 foot away, as it is when looking in the mirror, then my appearance was very different with me looking as if I was clean-shaven. I only realised this when I was looking at some photographs taken during our holiday in September! No wonder comments were made about my appearance.

Last Thursday we went up to the O2 Arena in London to listen to our granddaughter sing, along with 7,494 others, as part of Young Voices. She was a member of her school choir who had joined forces with other school choirs to form this mega-choir. They had been practising at school for weeks and on the Thursday they headed to London by coach arriving in time to have their packed lunches before rehearsing along with everyone else.

We drove up mid-afternoon and had a good journey (M25/M11) apart from the last few miles which took us four times as long as the SatNav said it would. As we approached the O2 a ‘helpful’ man in a hi-viz jacket directed us straight on at what we later discovered was the entrance to Car Park 1. We had paid for a place in Car Park 1. So we now found ourselves close to the O2 with direction signs pointing to Car Parks 2, 3 and 4 but none to Car Park 1. I did a few hesitant U-turns and eventually we decided to go out and come in again. At this point we discovered the elusive entrance and found our way into Car Park 1 where we left our car, and headed towards the arena.

We had arrived in plenty of time so that we could have a meal with our daughter-in-law (and a friend) who had come up on the school coach and who had watched a film in the O2 cinema that afternoon. We had to get to our seats via entrance H. If you look at a plan of the O2 you should see that when you go through the entrance, if you turn left and walk a quarter of the way round this great donut you are then at entrance H. Naturally enough the O2 has obstructed this route with building work and you are told to turn right and to walk for miles in the opposite direction. I soon became convinced that we must have passed the entrance several times and would soon be disappearing whence we came.

Then we came upon a queue. We had passed everything except entrances G and H so after a few minutes decided that this must be the queue for entrance G so needed to walk past it to find the queue for entrance H. When we got to the head of the queue we found it was being held back by barriers (and more men in hi-viz jackets) with the combined entrances G and H still a little way off. There was some good-natured choruses of “Why are we waiting?” but it was clear that everyone felt that the organisation left something to be desired.  Eventually we were allowed to move forward to the next queue where largely unsuccessful attempts were made to marshal us into four single file lines so that we could then go through the security checkpoints. There were eight scanning stations (you know the metal doorframes that you walk through and which beep if they don’t like you) but only six were being used (which didn’t quite explain why we were being coerced into four lines).

As we approached the doorframes we saw a notice which said place phones and cameras in the tray before proceeding which I did, but I was stopped when I went through because I also had car keys and binoculars in my pocket. A quick frisking by a hand-held scanner and I was allowed to go ahead. One of the men in hi-viz jackets had said that we were told to arrive early and that was on the website. Pffh. Nothing on the website apart from a deeply hidden comment “Everyone entering the arena will need to clear our enhanced security checks.  Visitors will be screened through our security arches and bags will be searched as usual.”  There was also no sign of the fast-track admission that O2 mobile customers are supposed to enjoy. As it says on the O2 mobile website “Side-step the queues. Get in, quick.” Well I guess we accidentally did that.

We got into the arena just as the show was starting and found ourselves  over the gangway from the first section of the choir. Granddaughter’s choir were on the upper tier opposite us but even with binoculars I couldn’t spot them because they were hidden by the lighting gantry – but we knew they were there and taking part. The school choir had arrived in time to eat their packed lunches before getting into their seats for a rehearsal at 2.15pm. They then had an hour’s break at 5pm before returning to their seats all dressed in their white Young Voices tee-shirts. The instructions on the website said “Once rehearsal has started, children should not go to the toilets in large groups as this can be extremely distracting. Neither should children ever go by themselves. Small groups of 5 are advised.” Very wise. In addition to the choir there were sessions from The Beatbox Collective, singer-songwriter Natalie Williams and X-factor’s Tabby Callaghan. I had expected that with a choir that big the sound would be rather ‘blurred’ but in fact we were able to hear the words well.

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The journey home was a drag rather than eventful. I had thought that there would not be too much traffic in central London at that time of night and so it would be quicker and more interesting to go straight through the centre rather than back round the M11/M25. Wrong. Mind you the delays might have been exacerbated by the discovery of WW2 bomb in the Thames which had resulted in Westminster Bridge and other roads being closed.  Unfortunately by the time we got there the bridge had re-opened so, because I had inadvertently got into a left turn lane, we had to go across the bridge and brave the traffic on the return side. Still it was not as bad as when I got trapped in the wrong lane twice when trying to get to Discovery Point in Dundee and so ended up crossing the mile long Tay Road Bridge four times. As a result it took us longer to get home than the school coach which was still waiting for the choir to emerge from the O2 Arena when we left.

When I asked my granddaughter what the best bit was, she said it was singing in front of the audience. What an experience for a nine year old – to perform in front of a 12,000 strong audience and in conjunction with a number of professional artists.

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One thought on “Young Voices

  1. I don’t remember seeing signs telling motorists to turn off their engines when stationary when I worked in London. On our trip to the O2 I noticed several of them. Clearly pollution is getting worse there. Interestingly there was an article in the paper yesterday blaming the rise in the number of wood burning stoves for some pollution problems, in particular tiny soot particles (which apparently are called PM2.5s).

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