How did practice go tonight?”, Rick’s wife asked, briefly looking up from watching Nick Knowles and his team perform yet another miraculous DIY rescue operation within the allotted time span.

Dreadful”, Rick replied, slumping into his chair. “ There was a bit of an atmosphere tonight. It was Mark. He’s got himself in a real state with his singing.”

His wife, having reluctantly accepted that Rick would now give her a blow by blow account of the male voice choir’s latest drama in three acts, pressed the ‘Pause’ button on the remote and asked what had happened.

It was amazing. I`ve never heard anything like it”, said Rick. “At the start of the evening, Mark’s in his usual singing mode. Giving it the full Basso Profundo and by the break, he’s up there doing an impersonation of Julie Andrews. All we needed were a few goatherders on a mountainside in Switzerland and Stand by Me could have fitted nicely into a production of the Sound of Music! Seriously though, he went through the entire range from Barry White to that girl who sings the National Anthem at Twickenham. Every time he opened his mouth to sing his voice changed and of course, being Mark, he blushed bright as a cherry as his voice became higher pitched. It was really weird. Naturally, he started getting a lot of stick from the others. You know what they’re like down there.”

Sadly his wife knew only too well what they were like “down there”. Most of the so-called banter being, in her opinion, distinctly” down there”! Having endured several Christmas do’s with the choir she was already planning her excuses for the forthcoming annual event.

Rick though was now in full spate; “ We had all the usual jokes about him wearing tight underwear or his wife’s knickers.  And about Mark going through the early stages of transitioning etcetc. Of course, it all went down badly with the boss man. He has no empathy with any of us that Gerald. Just sees us as instruments with legs, nothing else. He’ only interested in this competition next week. He sees it as a great opportunity to promote the choir and himself of course.”

Rick was no fan of the choir’s new leader who he regarded as distant, self-promoting and not as approachable as the late much-lamented Norman. “Good old Norman”, who had run the choir as a social activity for men of a certain age rather than a competitive ensemble desperate for trophies and national recognition.

 “Anyway I took Mark for a pint afterwards” Rick continued.  “I thought he needed one. That’s why I`m a bit late. In case you were wondering.”

In truth his wife hadn’t noticed, being rather more absorbed in the problems Nick Knowles’ team were having converting the third bedroom of a terraced house into a downstairs shower room for a disabled pensioner.

I asked Mark what was going on. Do you know what he said?  Apparently, he’s been taking some drugs he bought off the internet that were supposed to make his voice go a bit higher. He said he was fed up with being in the bass section and spending his evenings going   “ Dum Dum, Da Da Dum Dum,” all the time. He said he just wanted to actually sing some proper lyrics  Take his opportunity to show what he could do.  Have a bit of the limelight like the glamour boys in the tenor section instead of just being a backing singer. Be a Diana Ross instead of just one of the Supremes. I told him he was well on his way to being Diana Ross if he kept taking those pills. He said that was the problem. It seems the tablets he’s been taking are affecting more than his voice. He reckons he’s started developing boobs, not just man boobs like mine but real ones. And he’s started plumping cushions and doing the ironing. All that sort of thing. Worrying or what?”

So, what did you say to all that?” asked Rick’s wife, who frankly saw nothing wrong with a man ironing but couldn’t bothered to raise the issue- again!

I told him he had to pack it in”, said Rick.  See a doctor if necessary. Otherwise, he’d be out of the choir.  He said if he couldn’t get out of the bass section he wasn’t bothered. He said he was happy to be more in touch with his feminine side. He was sick of conforming to male stereotypes and pretending he only watched Strictly because his wife liked it! It was a Brave New World he said, attitudes are changing,  barriers are breaking down, it’s all about finding out who and what you are, and he was proud to be part of it”.

I was a bit taken aback but I admired him really. Seemed like he was finding himself. I wanted to be supportive. Be a friend, You know, try and be a bit less stereotypic in my thinking. So I got him a white wine and asked him if he had any thoughts on the curtains for our spare room.  Do you know what? He told me to eff off and walked out. Can’t think why!”


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