Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Hills are Alive with the sound of embarrassment -- jcarolek

When I was 11 my grandparents flew over from the US to visit us where we were living in Cheltenham, England. They visited a few days in our home and then we all set out to go to Scotland, where my grandfather had some genealogical research he wanted to do. Our train ride took some time, but we loved the trip

Our final destination was a hotel called the Tornadee Hotel. Getting to the hotel was more fun than actually being at the hotel and I suspect Dad knew we six kids would be a little antsy just sitting around while Grandad did his research and Mom kept my grandmother occupied.

So Dad took us on a trip. We took a boat ride down the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Aran. This was an exciting trip for us. Walking around on the boat with the wind blowing so hard it made even moving forward a challenge was fun for a while, but eventually we made our way into the enclosed part of the boat, where a string quartet was playing. They were playing tunes we recognized immediately, as they were from musicals we had been raised on. When they started playing songs from the Sound of Music, a couple of my brothers and I could not contain ourselves and we started to sing along.

The quartet heard us and asked us to join them in the next song, another from the same show. Dad, always proud of his singing half dozen, gathered those less inclined to “show off” and encouraged them to join us in entertaining the other passengers.

I always recall that as a fabulous time. I loved the singing and I loved the whole boat ride. My sister remembers it with less enthusiasm, as she was one of the reluctant singers, “forced” into an entertainment role against her wishes. I think it interesting that those with talent, for my sister always had a fine voice, do not always enjoy displaying that talent.

Today when the family gets together my sister is one of the first to get the campfire going and the sing-along started. Of the six, two of us play guitar, as do my children. Our singing is accompanied by guitar rather than string quartet. We sing in the dark, with the fire taking center stage, and we all enjoy the songs and the years of comfortable memories in which the singing of those songs wraps us. Still, every time I sing a song from The Sound of Music, I think of the guy playing the bass and my sister’s look of total embarrassment!

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