Last weekend, my choir and I went on our Two Rivers Tour, performing in little Jindera and bigger Wagga Wagga. I’d been a bit nervous about how it would go, but I needn’t have worried.
The tour was superfantasticalmagoricalwondertastic, and even though I barely had a moment to catch my breath between leaving home at 8am Saturday morning and arriving back at 8pm Sunday night, I treasured and will continue to treasure every breathless moment.
After all, it’s not every weekend you get to be entirely yourself whilst also disappearing into a larger whole. It’s not every weekend you get to eat endless rounds of amazing pumpkin soup and baked goods, become teary whilst singing a song that means more to you now than you’d ever realised, laugh and laugh and laugh, freeze, laugh again, be glad that your hand is smaller than a man’s, and suddenly feel your heart soar at a snippet of a concerto played by someone who has become one of your new favourite people in the world.
Meet Andy. Hi Andy! This is Andy standing in front of the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Standing in front of the Dog on the Tuckerbox is something that every good Australian must do at least once in their lifetime.
At this point, something magical happened. With the power of Andy and I combined, the dog statue came to life, and instantly leapt right for my jugular.
Luckily for me, Andy calmed the dog down by squeezing its head between his talented-pianist hands in some sort of ancient martial arts manoeuvre. I then learnt that only really tiny people smoke these days, if the size of the boxes allocated to them is anything to go by.
After a four-hour road trip to Culcairn to drop our bags at the hotel, a quick lunch at a local cafe, and another 40 minute drive to Jindera, the three people I left Canberra with and I met up with the rest of the Strange Weather Gospel Choir. I waved hello to Christina, who is also one of my new favourite people in the world.
The photo above is of Daniel, our incredible musical director, who is also one of my new favourite people in the world. As you can see, light emanates from Daniel wherever he goes. This is due to several factors: his enthusiasm, his boundless talent and professionalism, his awesomeness, and his very very shiny shoes.
After our soundcheck/final rehearsal, all 55 of we choir folk were treated to a magnificent feast put on by the sister of our stoic and courageous tour organiser, Chris (also one of my new favourite people). I may or may not have had three rounds of pumpkin soup, and I may or may not have begged Chris’ sister for the recipe. The photo above shows only a tiny portion of the dessert spread presented to us.
You know how I said, earlier in this post, that Andy is one of my new favourite people in the world? This isn’t just because he plays the piano in a way that takes my breath away, or because he likes my chocolate chip cookie dough truffles*. It’s not just because he masterminds hilarious Spicks and Specks-inspired games with Daniel for our post-concert rehearsal that translate into two straight hours of laughter and happiness. It’s also because, as we sat several people apart at dinner on Saturday night, he called out my name and asked if I wanted to share a piece of pavlova. Is the Pope Catholic? Do strange creatures wait outside my bedroom window at night? Of course I wanted to share pavlova.
I think it’s safe to say that when the time came for the feasting on soup, bread, quiche, chocolate cake, pavlova, chocolate slice, and jelly slice to end, every touring member of the Strange Weather Gospel Choir paused to consider whether it mightn’t be easier to just fall asleep in the back room in a haze of comfortable fullness. Being troopers, however, we instead got ready to perform.
In the dressing room I discovered that Mike, who is also one of my new favourite people in the world, had started to grow a tree out of his head. This didn’t worry me too much, because I was certain his head-foliage would produce kind and caring flowers.
Before going on stage, I managed to sweet-talk Mike into taking a photo of me with Libby, who selflessly acted as chauffeur all the way to and from Canberra.
Do you want to know what happened next?
The Strange Weather Gospel Choir rocked out Jindera like it had never been rocked before, and Andy managed to nail all his triplets perfectly. True story. Andy is the Triplets Master.
After more laughter, hugs, and stories of kindergarten children’s toilet habits, the bulk of the choir piled into cars for a terrifying fog-blinded drive back to the Culcairn hotel. The next morning, we woke up and headed to Wagga Wagga to perform and do it all again, but you know what?
My camera ran out of batteries. Also, you know the saying:
What happens in Wagga, stays in Wagga.
* When I first offered my chocolate chip cookie dough balls to Andy, he looked back at me, perturbed. “Do you want to know what those things look like?” he asked me. I paused, then nodded. “Uncooked rissoles,” Andy stated. And confound it! They really, really do look like raw rissoles. I almost knocked him off his favourite person pedestal for that.
The next day, another member of the choir turned to me as we sat waiting for our second concert to begin. “Hannah,” she said to me, her voice sounding slightly nervous, “did I, um, see you, erm, walking around earlier with a box of meatballs in your hand?”
I laughed so hard I cried a little bit.