Brucie Blackburne’s ‘Play Your Cards Right!’

/   //  April 20, 2020

Living through the coronavirus-caused lockdown is a difficult time for everyone right now, and the members of Haydock MVC have been trying a number of things to keep each other going during this unprecedented time; if anything, we were on the front foot from well before lockdown was announced, due to the forward thinking of our MD Dan Craddock, who was putting ideas and decisions into place as early as our committee meeting at the start of March. We were prepared for what was coming, and that in a way made it slightly less shocking when it actually came.

For an institution such as ours that is used to being together at least twice a week, it was a concern for our committee than some of the men would struggle with no contact for an extended period of time. Methods were put in place by the committee as soon as lockdown began to minimise this asmuch as humanly possible; the committee began with a conference call, but we soon moved to looking at video conferencing apps, to get people face-to-face over the internet. Again, we began with just the committee, and once we were comfortable that this was working, Dan contacted the whole choir to set up the first HMVC Quiz Night!!! There were about 15 of us on that first quiz, and we were only on for about half an hour, but it was a lot of fun, and most members who came on said it was brilliant to see the other men and their families, and be able to talk to them face to face.

From there, it was time to try the big one, that we’d heard of other organisations trying – an online HMVC rehearsal! The first time about 30 of us were online, which I personally thought was a great accomplishment, and we were all muted except Dan, and of course Ruth who was playing the piano from her home for us! I can say it was a strange experience, singing on my own to Ruth’s playing, and I felt it took me a couple of songs to get into the swing of it. We’ve done three rehearsals like this so far, and by the most recent one last week it was beginning to feel more natural, and flow more like a normal rehearsal, and I feel it’s a massive help to the men as a whole to be able to do something we consider normal.

After this, we had another social encounter last Friday, when about 20 of us got together to play Brucie Blackburne’s Play Your Cards Right! This was a huge amount of fun, daft and exciting, and I think everyone who took part had a great time. It was especially heartwarming to see a number of people from the wider HMVC family coming online, families of members are always welcome at our online events.

Right now, we have no idea when we’ll be able to meet as a choir again in person. When we do, it will be a great occasion, and the committee already has ideas on how to mark that, but for now I think we can say that our efforts to keep the men together during lockdown have been amazing, and a great success! In addition to the rehearsals and social meetings using video conferencing, members of the committee have been phoning the men to see how they’re getting on, and our longstanding choir WhatsApp group is going strong as ever, as a source of merriment and chat for the gents, and one or two big ideas to keep the choir entertained going forward have come out of the group; dare I say Great HMVC Bake Off?? Watch this space for news of that one! But seriously, it has been said many times in the past that Haydock MVC is more than just a choir, it’s a family, and it warms my heart to say that during this strange new world we find ourselves in, we’ve stuck together as only a family can.

By Phil Thornton, Second Tenor.

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