Rockin' all over the classroom;Comment;Opinion

8th March 1996 at 00:00
There are probably only two people in the world who feel compelled to shout "Fish!" every time they hear a Status Quo record and I am one of them. The other is my teaching pal Colin from Dundee, last featured in this space in a piece where he was accused of attempting to kill me with a chipsteak supper.

In 1983, right at the start of our teaching careers, we decided to go and see the aforementioned rock legends in concert. They were on a farewell tour which, as time has told, was a bit previous. Suitably decked in denims and full of curry, we made for the venue only to find that Colin's S6 pupils were on the door selling programmes.

Once inside we discovered that there was a tradition at Quo concerts of chanting "Who-oh-oh oh-oh" before the band came on. Most of those down below in the stalls were joining in except for one fellow who had seen his friend in the circle and was trying to attract his attention by calling out his nickname: "Fish! Fish!" Behind us sat two fiftysomething women in twin sets. Had they some in off the street expecting Sidney Devine, I wondered in a making-stereotyped assumptions sort of way. But when the rocking started they were bopping in their seats with the rest of us. It was a great concert. Only the Singing Kettle World Tour live at Motherwell Civic Centre came close.

The fact is that I have been singularly unable to develop any sophistication in the field of musical taste. This may be because I have no singing or instrumental ability whatsoever. I'm married to a music teacher but remain a musical anagram, singing the right notes but, as Eric Morecambe once said to Andre Previn, not necessarily in the right order.

I've given up miming at weddings and Christmas services, defiantly refusing to express joy or praise by doing something I have no talent for. How would accomplished singers feel, I wonder, if ministers or priests announced that in place of a hymn the congregation would be asked to draw a picture and hold it up in glorification of God? (That would sort you out, you smug, tuneful sods . . .) Primary school was no help but I'd be going over old ground if I told the story of the fearsome Miss Quatermass and her taffa tiffies complete with hand signals.

Music played a part at the morning assembly too. Our kindly looking headteacher, whose name I recall as being something like Mr Crappy, though this was surely not the case, would assist us by conducting. It was for impersonating him that I was given my worst ever punishment. My primary 3 teacher made me sing "Child in a Manger" in front of the rest of the class.

Sadly, Mr Crappy's sense of priorities were not what they might have been. Laudable though his efforts to keep us in time were, we would have been better served had he actually taken a moment or two to teach us the words of the number we opened with each day.

It appeared that this had not been done in years so the lyrics were passed from year to year in a bizarre form of musical Chinese whispers. "Mee showazzal dazzal," 200 kids would belt out quasi-religiously. "Parra mee see ummm . . ."

Not one of us had a scooby-doo about what we were singing. Though we were too young to appreciate it at the time, it was a metaphor for so much of what was to come.

Gregor Steele has an idea for a Lloyd Webber-style musical called Spiders. The cast will sing while suspended from bungee ropes.

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