The music society hosted its concert for young musicians this afternoon. The village hall was booked, a real piano hired and hauled on to the stage thanks to an educational grant we managed to get from a charitable trust, chairs were put out, a rota of teenage performers was lined up, no fewer than five accompanists were required as some of the young performers preferred to play with their own music teachers and in one case the performer's father, the committee had produced an array of small cakes and scones, and the chairman's cleaner and the cleaner's daughter came to pour out the tea and do the washing up.
One difficulty of staging a children's concert followed by tea is that you don't have the foggiest idea how many people are going to come. It's safe to assume that most of the young performers will be accompanied by one parent, if not two. Maybe some siblings and grandparents or uncles and aunts. Eight young performers might get the audience up to twenty or more. Eight people on the committee plus the more devoted spouses might bring the total to thirty. And then how many more? Will the hall look painfully empty, and how many scones should you make?
According to the person in charge of ticket sales we only sold twenty before the event. When she told me that I thought that twenty was quite encouraging, since we give the performers tickets for their families, and I knew I hadn't bothered to pay in advance. In the event the hall filled up astonishingly and we had to put out two extra rows of chairs. Some of the audience were music society stalwarts who come to every concert and believe passionately in music education. Indeed, some are former committee members. I wondered if others simply fancied getting out of the house for the afternoon. It's been a long winter, it had stopped raining by half past three, and why not stroll down to the village hall for an hour of music and some tea, and to see some different faces and have a chat? The vicar came, with her guide dog.
Apart from the lady vicar, and the dog, it could have been a scene from an English village at practically any point during the past one hundred and twenty years. All sorts of people were there. I met a gardening acquaintance from my plant centre days, who turned out not to have been to the other concerts recently because she was waiting for a new knee and couldn't walk as far as the church in the meantime, and one of the ladies from my ladies group, while the youngest of the performers turned out to be in the same class at school as my niece.
The performers were really pretty good, and all looked very composed as they stood up on the stage, while the only person to lose their place was the accompanying father. It was only a short programme, then there were presentations for everybody, handed out by the youngest performer's younger sister. As the young artists stood eating cake afterwards they all suddenly looked much younger, and you remembered that for all their poise on stage they were still only children.
I had offered to do sandwiches, because they would be quick to make, and because not everybody likes sweet things and it is disappointing for those that don't to find there's nothing on offer but cake and scones with jam. After I'd offered I began to think it hadn't been the best call, since I could always bring any leftover cake home with me but a leftover ham sandwich is no use to anybody, and as we had no idea about numbers we had no clue how much food to take. I decided to limit myself to one packet of Co-Op ham, and as it had five slices of ham in it that translated to twenty sandwiches, which turned out to be almost exactly right, with just one triangle left over at the end. I ate it.