I went down to some disused train tracks this afternoon to have my photo taken with the choir I’ve been singing with for the past few weeks. We must have looked a bit odd, wandering along beside the road with our orange silk scarves blowing in the breeze. I watched the photographer’s equipment with some envy, but reflected that herding a group of people with wildly differing heights into a nicely balanced shot was probably not the most relaxing way to spend your Sunday afternoon.
I drove home listening to The Inimitable Jeeves, which I have read before but, like many others, I never tire of PG Wodehouse. I was choked with laughter (while concentrating fiercely on the road, of course) at the point where Bingo directs a children’s Christmas pageant in an effort to win the heart of his latest hopeless love, which naturally goes disastrously wrong:
I take it you know that Orange number at the Palace? It goes:
Oh, won’t you something something oranges
My something oranges,
My something oranges,
Oh, won’t you something something something I forget,
Something something something I tumty tumty yet:
Or words to that effect. It’s a dashed clever lyric, and the tune’s good, too; but the thing that made the number was the business where the girls take the oranges out of their baskets, you know, and toss them lightly to the audience. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it, but it always seems to tickle an audience to bits when they get things thrown at them from the stage…
But at the Palace, of course, the oranges are made of yellow wool, and the girls don’t so much chuck them as drop them limply into the first and second rows. I began to gather that the business was going to be treated rather differently tonight when a dashed great chunk of pips and mildew sailed past my ear and burst on the wall behind me. Another landed with a squelch on the neck of one of the Nibs in the third row. And then a third took me right on the tip of the nose and I kind of lost interest in the proceedings for a while.
When I had scrubbed my face and got my eye to stop watering for a moment, I saw the evening’s entertainment had begun to resemble one of Belfast’s livelier nights. The air was thick with shrieks and fruit.