Trick or retreat!


On the Friday evening before Halloween a group of 60 or so musical, young (and young of a certain vintage) people set off from the familiar concrete of central London to face the full fear of a weekend in a mansion house converted into holiday apartments deep in the Sussex countryside. That’s right, the Pink Singers went on a weekend away and took over Brantridge Park, a former royal residence for two and a bit days of carousing and actual singing. Wikipedia tells me that Brantridge was one of the lesser royal residences and was the seat of the 1st Earl of Athlone and his wife, Princess Alice of Albany. The weekend was such a success that I think perhaps the house was filled with echoes of its former glory – and we even brought our own Princess Alice.

I was a little apprehensive, being only a second season Pinkie and not having shared a room with someone I don’t know intimately for several years. I had also brought provisions consisting of fruit, nuts and a large bottle of gin, for fear that my usual healthy diet would not be adequately catered for and that if I ended up wrapped in a duvet alone, I could console myself with an apple and some Brazils. I needn’t have worried as my fellow Pinkies make up an incredibly friendly, lovely bunch of people and there was enough food to feed a troop of Royal Marines (the absence of the latter was possibly the one fault I would have liked corrected).
Friday was a bit of a blur but I am pleased to report that the Pinkies were on true form – given a piano and our usual enthusiasm and excitement (and the rest), the evening ended with a beautiful, ahem, rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.
Saturday morning started the serious work with a brilliant vocal workshop led by Mark Beesley where we learned about our vocal mechanism, engaging support and how to open our mouths really wide.
There followed intense but enjoyable rehearsal of singing and choreography where we put into practice these valuable lessons – all of this with a view of the beautiful sunlit grounds and the Sussex Downs in the distance.
I then kicked off my Saturday evening with a glass of prosecco and Strictly but soon joined the others for an evening of warming winter food, a bonfire and a truly spectacular firework display; an evening even more impressive for its lack of major injury. The same cannot be said of that night’s fancy dress Halloween party, during which serious harm was done to the dignity of some and the livers of all.
Sunday brought out the mother in me as I woke early and took charge of the fry-up for my flatmates and, later in the day, hovered nervously around the cakes and things I had made for afternoon tea. Most of us had woken that morning with a rosy glow – some more glowing, and some more rosy, than others.
Several took the opportunity in the morning to find their spiritual centres whilst others ventured forth into nature wild and free, to find their muse in the surrounding forest. We all sang bravely through our hangovers, supported by Pinkies visiting for the day who had not imbibed of the satanic Halloween party punch. Several more hours were spent brushing up on repertoire for the upcoming concert and the practically round the corner CD recording (*shivers*).
Sunday evening found me at home, longing for bed but with that lovely happy feeling of having had a fun, rewarding, productive and joyful, joyful weekend. I bored my partner to tears going on about the weekend’s activities; I can’t wait to do it all again.
Photographs by Oscar Marchock

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