I’m in two or three minds about having rewritten carols in our conscious choiring toolbox, partly because they’re so hard to reimagine successfully (my attempt didn’t make the cut – too clever by half!), and also because without harmonies they’re not that satisfying to sing (and sing again!) Having said that, there were some nifty couplets at play in our mostly homemade trove, for example:
‘Oh rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
The poor folk face austerity, while you are making hay
With profits high and usury the order of the day
For the rich there is comfort and joy, comfort and joy
But there’s little left for those that you employ’
…and it did give me the chance to attempt a few unplanned harmonies, which mostly entailed droning on a single note.
The high point for me – apart from the beautiful and moving messages tied to the pole outside the gallery – was the speech by Chris Baugh of the PCS union, which is resisting the privatisation of National Gallery jobs, who was able to make a passionate and compelling case for public-funded cultural institutions as well as a move away from our reliance on fossil fuels, and the companies that produce them.
The film also shows how effective an event like this can be in engaging people as they pass by, and it’s those shots in Rikki’s excellent short film that will I imagine give National Gallery top brass real cause for concern, because if it can be proved that its reputation is being damaged by its association with very dodgy corporations, then it may not be able to resist calls to pull out of such deals.