Last Day – Benodet


Well, at least the last day that properly counts. In order to give time to folks to pack and do some shopping, the departure for Benodet was set in the early afternoon. Hannah and I were travelling separately because we were going to bring back Ella from staying with her grandparents in readiness for the early departure on Sunday morning, as well as loading up her baggage. I spent the morning, as I think most people in the choir did, packing up our stuff. On Hannah’s behalf, I have to confess that we brought back an enormous suitcase of clothes that were unworn. To give the magnitude of the amount of clothes, it was the suitcase I took to the USA when I went there on 3 months assignment, so I’m talking lots of clothes. Hannah has many good excuses why she needed them, without actually using them. While I packed, Hannah shopped, getting presents for taking home as well as the last supply of water for the choir (something that was a daily run round the corner to Geant to collect in the car).

After that was done and the car was loaded, Hannah got stuck into writing the notes for her speeches before each of the songs at the evening’s concert. This needed a new set because Saturday night was our only Abba and Beatles concert. This did take quite a while, and we were off to Benodet an hour later than planned. When we arrived, Hannah went to talk to the owner of the campsite (Camping du Letty) where we were performing, and I went to my parents’ pitch. The choir arrived just before 2, by which time both Hannah and I were up at the L’Amiral bar where the concert would take place. Everyone unloaded the gear, and Simon and I considered the possibility of using the sound system in the bar. Unfortunately there were one or two sockets that we needed that were absent, or converters we needed that we didn’t have, so we used our own PA, as we had all week.

The rehearsal that followed was the hardest and longest of the week, I think. We must have started just after 2, and continued until about 4:45. ‘Does Your Mother Know’ took particularly long to choreograph and practice, and was most embarrassing. There were several new solo songs that needed run-throughs, and Finlay Lockhart and Cyrus (our young basses) were being very brave with their performance of ‘Something’, which was their first time singing. Chris Heath, another bass (and ‘slightly’ older than Cyrus and Finlay) was also going for a first, with his debut solo piece, with a rendition of ‘Michelle’. So there was a lot to sort out, as well as the PA setup, which was a lot different to the previous concerts because of the very different venue.

The point at which our lovely keyboards went crashing to the ground, narrowly avoiding crushing Richard Wiseman’s feet (our pianist), was about the only time there was silence. For some reason the keyboard stand gave way while Rich was playing (an Am chord, apparently). Everyone froze, I’ve no idea why, given we all knew what happen. I think it was to admire the shocked look on Rich’s face. Finally Simon and I move to help put the stand back up and make sure the keyboard was okay, which thankfully it was.

After the mammoth rehearsal there was time for dinner, which Hannah and I had back at my parents’ pitch, along with Hannah’s Mum, Barbara Holmes (soprano); her partner, Brian Wells (bass); Rachel; and also my littlest brother, Hamish and his wife, Christine, who’d flown in that day to start their holiday. Other choir members went to the campsite’s bar, took the walk into Benodet itself, or down to the beach at the campsite.

At 8pm, Hannah had arranged for the choir to assemble at the bar, with a drink provided by the choir fund, for the prize-giving. I’ve no idea what prize titles Hannah gave out, with such as ‘Bloody Good Bloke Award’, but she gave something to everyone and had some remarks for everyone on the tour, including the partners and groupies that were along with us. Everyone enjoyed this, as there was much laughter and clapping.

Finally we headed up to L’Amiral for the last hurrah of the tour, the Abba and Beatles concert. This really wasn’t a concert, because we were providing entertainment in a bar, so the atmosphere was quite different, with the audience chatting away, playing pool and buying drinks. Nevertheless, the performance was well received, with plenty of clapping, including along to some of the songs, such as ‘Ob-La-Di’ and ‘Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie’, which was reprised, complete with costumes, from its original outing back in the Choir’s concert in July 2009. Chris’s performance of ‘Michelle’ was particularly special, and Hannah had lots of people in floods of tears with her rendition of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’. Finlay and Cyrus successfully pulled off ‘Something’, in what was probably a seat of their pants performance.

Overall, as with the very first concert of the tour, this one had rough edges, but nothing that showed through to the audience, and it went very well, with the venue filling up throughout and being packed by the end. The campsite owner said it was the busiest it had ever been when they’d had entertainment in, and said that if we were back next year, then he’d book us for a straight week. Nice.

The final pack up was aided by free drinks for everyone in the choir from the owner. This time we were loading up a local bus, as Dave couldn’t do this one, in order to do the early run to St Malo the next morning. This driver wasn’t as confident as Dave, and needed some persuading before leaving Benodet to take his bus into the B&B car park. As I was driving Hannah and I’s car, I was back in Quimper before the bus, along with Rachel. Hannah and Ella went on the bus, with Ella requesting that the choir singing what she calls Inganyama, ie ‘Circle of Life’, this they did, and as they sang, she fell asleep, which must one of the best lullabies any kid can have. 🙂

All that remained before everyone could head off to bed (or if they prefered, a four hour drinking session before the 4:30am bus departure), was to transfer the equipment from one bus to the other, and it was goodnight Quimper.

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