I can exclusively reveal that I am now Vice President. Move over Joe Biden.
I have just received a letter, on headed paper, informing me of my elevation to high office.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Joe Biden can relax. I have been made Vice President of the Gilbert and Sullivan society I co-founded umpteen years ago, when I was at the Civil Service College in Sunningdale, Berkshire. Now it’s grandly called the National School of Government.
The society is still going strong and I try to get to their shows when I can, to sit in the audience and wish I was up there on the stage. I used to enjoy the sound of my own voice and act a bit, you see. Now I’m a politician.
The letter is from the Chair of the society and reads: “At the Society’s Committee meeting last night you were made a Vice President of the Sunningdale Savoy Chorus to thank you for founding the Society … all those years ago. And for all the hard work you put into making it a success in its early days.”
The letter has brought back some happy memories of backstage chaos, on-stage chaos and thinking in particular of our first rehearsal pianist, who was very highly strung and played the piano like Les Dawson, but unintentionally. I well remember the night when we got to a point where the chorus were in murderous revolt during the tea break and we had to tell him he was playing, as Eric Morecambe would say, “all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.” He gave us all a withering look and snapped: “Just tell me I’m incompetent and I’ll storm out”.
I’ll always remember his tales of appearing in amateur productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, when he was living in South Africa. They took their production of The Mikado to Soweto. What the people of Soweto made of a group of English people, wrapped in silk dressing gowns pretending to be Japanese, singing “Three Little Maids from School”, in the middle of apartheid South Africa … well, I just can’t imagine what they thought.
Anyway, my thanks to the committee of the Sunningdale Savoy Chorus. I’ll try to be the very model of a modern Vice President.