“I have found a black briefcase and it’s ticking!” I sang to Dave, the next tenor along from me. We were in mid performance at the Town Hall, all the great and the good were there.
Ten bars later, after I’d repeated the message several times he sang back, all along to the Alleluia chorus we were in the middle of, so as not to cause a riot,
“Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick, kick kick, kick kick it if it’s ticking!”
Nine bars later I heard the sopranos pick up on the concern,
“Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!” “Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!”
Eight bars on and the altos, ever thoughtful, sang.
“It could, it could just be, just be, a metronome-ome-ome, A me-he-he-he-tronome?
A metronome it could just be, could be could……be!”
Seven bars passed and the basses suggested.
“Are there any wires showing through the leather, black,black,black? Any wires, any wires showing?”
After six bars the altos, still very concerned sang.
“Don’t try to cut them, or dash them like a potter’s vessel, cut them, cut, cut, cut them.”
Five bars on and the Mezzo Soprano soloist was trying to help.
“I have some nail scissors here in my handbag, with a blade of iron, a blade of iron. Shall I pass them through the shadow of the valley of the string section, then you may safely snip.”
Four bars of this and the basses encouraged me,
“Be bold! Bold be! Dash the briefcase like a potter’s vessel, you should dash it, like a potter’s vessel.”
Three bars later Dave had managed a look inside the briefcase, after considering for what seemed like eternity but was only
Two bars he sang
“It is a metronome, the trumpet shall sound, oh metronome, oh metronome!”
And in one bar, when we all realised the panic was over, we all sang
“Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.
Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.”
Well, that’s how I remember the evening anyway. Funny thing is no-one in the audience for that performance of Handel’s Messiah seemed to notice the difference. Well, that’s charity do’s for you, all champagne and arias, all metronomes and alleluias.
© Ray Stearn 1st July 2021