Last Saturday I enjoyed my quintessentially Lichfield Saturday experience, i.e., tough session on the judo mat, then an evening gradually seizing up on one of the world’s most uncomfortable chairs during an evening concert in the cathedral.
The judo consisted of a couple of groundwork bouts with my sensei, Keith, who is far too wily and experienced to be strangled by me, but a good enough sport to let me get close. And then not to pay me back by pinning me down mercilessly, the way a lesser man would. Humility, that’s the hallmark of a seasoned judoka. Having nothing to prove, no ego to protect. If you can’t take a good strangle off a girl (without saying ‘I let you do it’), you have much to learn, my young grasshopper. Then I had a spot of randori (free-flowing standing work) with another of my coaches, Heather. We’ve been fighting together for nearly 10 years now, and pretty much know the other’s techniques with our eyes closed. She has youth on her side. I have weight on mine. A couple of extra stone does you no harm on the judo mat, trust me.
And then to the concert. Well, not straight to the concert, obviously. A quick shower and a rummage through the charity shop purchases for something posh. Footwear is the issue, as ever. It’s not far to the cathedral from here, not far enough for a taxi anyway, it being approximately 50m (see picture taken from our landing), but this is still too far if you suffer as I do from hallux rigidus—or in layman’s terms, knackered big toe joint. On a day-to-day basis it’s manageable, unless you attempt to wear high heels. Didn’t even make it to the front door on Saturday. There’s no such thing as an elegant hobble. I’ll have to get someone to wheelbarrow me across another time, but that would have been folly on Saturday. Too icy. So boots it was.
The concert. It was Haydn (Missa Sancti Nicoli, ‘Farewell’ Symphony) and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, performed by the Lichfield Cathedral Chorus, the choir formerly known as ‘The Special Choir’ (and behind their backs as ‘The Special Needs Choir’, hence the change of name, one suspects); and the St Chad’s Camerata. For the first time they were under the baton of (half of) our new musical director, Ben Lamb. The soloists performed from the tiniest platforms in musical history, but I’m happy to say there were no ugly incidents of plummeting tenors, or injured punters on the front row.
The feeling on the front row was that it was a stunning performance, but that for a man with a red silk lining to his tail coat, the conductor’s shoes were not gay enough. This was remedied during the interval by the canon chancellor, a man with a collection of the gayest shoes on the Close.