Monday, 9 September 2013

Gertrude and Caruso

My Aunt Gertrude from Australia certainly does not miss an opportunity to embarrass me.

We were having tea and coffee in the Parish Center after Mass and got into a discussion about singing and music with other parishioners. One admitted that he was totally ignorant about music to which Auntie quickly retorted "if ignorance is bliss, how come there aren't more happy people in the world?"

I gulped my coffee and said nothing.

Later on she suggested to the choir master "You need some new talent in the choir mate!"
The choir master, a man whom I have secretly christened Caruso because of his posture and loud voice when he stands up front and sings, replied politely that indeed he needed new volunteers for the choir.

“Don’t look at me cobber!” she exclaimed, “I’m from Adelaide you know and I’d be going back soon!”

“Not soon enough” I thought rather unkindly.

Before my mind could enjoy the thought of Auntie going back to her billabong in Australia she burst my moment of happiness by adding, “If you want someone for your choir why not have my nephew here. It’ll make a change from hearing him sing in the bath. His voice is a bit croaky mind. But he's so loud that the neighbours have often invited the police to enjoy the fruits of his vocal chords!”

Before I could say anything the choir master agreed and Auntie promised that we’d be at their next rehearsals.

We all met at the Parish Centre and were welcomed by Caruso.

He started by taking down our names and asking us about our singing voice – some said tenor, others said contralto, some said soprano and so on.

He asked me about my voice range. I did not know what to say. Whenever I sing in church on Sunday, God reaches out for the headache tablets and Jesus puts cotton wool in His ears.

Before I uttered a word Aunt Gertrude suggested “his voice is more like a strangled cat … but I’m sure you can make him improve!”

Caruso smiled and said nothing. He scribbled in his notebook and then asked me to do something embarrassing in front of all those people.

He said “sing FIGAAAARO, Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaaaarooooo!”

I told him I did not know that particular hymn. I thought I’d be part of the choir and we’d all sing “Amazing Grace” or whatever hymns are scheduled for that Sunday.

He insisted he wanted to test my voice range.

So rather than sing I said a few times weakly “Figaro!”

He said “Yes … quite!” and walked away.

I felt somewhat patronized by his “Yes … quite” and I was ready to leave when Auntie interjected, “I told you he’d be a good laugh cobber! But beggars can’t be choosers can they?”

Caruso got us together and we practiced a few hymns to help him gauge how good we were and how much work he had on his hands to improve the bad lot he had as volunteers.

After an hour or so we had a short break and Caruso suggested I stand at the back of the choir and sing softly, almost miming, as if I was singing a lullaby for baby Jesus to go to sleep.

I took that to mean he didn’t think much of my voice range and power. I nodded and made a mental note not to go to any more rehearsals.

On the way home in the car Auntie Gertrude remarked “well at least we’ve solved one mystery tonight cobber!”

I raised an eyebrow and said nothing.

“You’re as talent less when singing in the bath as when hiding amongst a choir. A frog with laryngitis would do a better job! There are plenty in our billabong back home who can testify to that.”

For a moment I wished and prayed that she was in that far away billabong.


  1. Tsk, tsk, tsk Victor! You sound like just like ex-RAF hubby...What is it with Brits and Aussies?
    I really like Aunt Gertrude (albeit don't think of sending her to our Pacific NW 1 1/2 mile long x 1/2 mile wide, it would be too small for both her and flyboy!)
    Thanks for the fun post Mate!

    1. The thing is Noelle, Auntie tends to talk without thinking and the end result is always trouble for me.

      God bless.

    2. You know she loves you, don't you?!
      All the best,

    3. In her funny way, yes, she loves us all. But oh ... that loud Australian voice?

      Know what I mean cobber?

      God bless.

  2. (((His voice is a bit croaky mind. But he's so loud that the neighbours have often invited the police to enjoy the fruits of his vocal chords!”)))

    Hey I like your Aunt Gertrude, she makes me laugh! :)

    I hear YA Victor! "IT" takes one to know one! :(

    God Bless Peace

    1. I'm glad you like my Aunt Gertrude stories. Look out for the E Book to be published soon, (hopefully before Christmas).

      God bless.

  3. hi I have put your book visions in the sidebar with a link to the page that opens up on this site..if that is not fine, just let me know and I will remove it

    1. You are so kind Melanie. Thank you so much for your support.

      God bless you always.

  4. She's a tough one, that Auntie of yours.
    Hilarious, but tough.

    1. She knows I can't sing; and that's why she volunteered me.

      God bless you Hand-Maid.



God bless you.