Emptied out

Twice each year I attend a sacred ritual from which I emerge spiritually refreshed and emotionally drained; an empty sack but a happier man. I refer of course to the School Concert. There are two such rituals. The first involves the teeny ones : the Primary School Christmas Show. Here, it really doesn’t matter what happens on stage; the point is only and simply craning your neck to see your own cute wee thing. Flashlight photons scatter off the the weird parental chemicals that diffuse through the air of the room, and you weep buckets.

The second type of event – the Senior School Variety Concert – is abolutely dire in most Schools, but not in the place my two big kids go to. The annual show, called DiverseCity, is absolutely stunning and quite overpowering. The school (James Gillespies High School) has a kind of genteel minor fame as the inspiration for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Things have changed since the Thirties … for one things there are boys; for another, its the opposite of genteel. None of this rubbish about School Uniforms at Gillespies. Their motto is “Diversity” and their belief is that all that encourages the Life Force is good, and all that discourages it is bad. The school breeds musicians of all types, and has the best break dancing team you can see outside New York. Every act is greeted by whooping and hollering of a most un-British type. Gillespies is twinned with a School in a South African Township (Zwelibanze). Some of their pupils had been brought over, and performed in the concert. The black-and-white combination was a rich and emotive brew. After close harmony singing, the Zwelibanze kids started that extra-ordinary South African boot-slapping foot stomping dance. Then hordes of pallid but muscular teenage Scots lads ran on and joined in… wonderful. This, followed quickly by Dark Island on the bagpipes, was just too much. I didn’t have to discreetly hide the tears, as everybody else was doing it too. I think they had the flood defence team on standby…

So anyway. I feel morally refreshed, ready for the last week of the STFC consultation period ..

8 Responses to Emptied out

  1. Okay, you may think I’m joking here but I’m not. Wouldn’t you feel even more spiritually refreshed if you yourself got to perform in concerts like this instead of watch others do it? I could never understand how kids take part in so many performance opportunities while adults just seem to have given up that part of themselves. I’m an actress and singer in addition to being a writer, and watching others perform never does it for me. I need to be the one up on the stage. And yes, I want to be the “cute wee thing” everyone is watching and either laughing or crying over. At barely five feet three inches (sorry, I don’t know the conversion to metric offhand) with a baby face and long reddish hair, I just might be able to pull this off into my 90s! I’ll invite you to come across the pond and watch my next performance. And yes, I encourage you to perform in a show yourself. It will be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have, and it’ll take your mind off that funding debacle.

  2. MikeW says:


    I think you’ll find Andy has only barely repressed thespian tendencies. He won’t need much encouragement

  3. andyxl says:

    Laurel – this is the difference between music and acting. Almost any level of involvement in musical performance is deepening, humanising, and invigorating. Acting on the other hand is a vain sham unless you are prepared to devote your life to perfection. I know this because I used to be an am-dram queen myself until I realised I was an embarassing twat and would cringe if I had to watch myself. Ooooohh was that catty enough ?

  4. I can confirm Andy’s acting credentials as he and I performed together on stage in a school play while our own parents craned their necks to view their cute wee things. We were not exactly a double act, but we did play two little princes. I can still remember my two lines.

  5. andyxl says:

    Jeez Paul I can’t.

  6. I’m not sure you had any!


  7. Tony says:

    Must have been the last time he had no lines 🙂

  8. That must have been magical

    School Search

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