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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Charmion De-clutter & Fitness: House, job, life - 2019 (1126* d) RE: De-clutter & Fitness: House, job, life - 2019 28 Sep 19


My book contract has been put off yet again. I am beyond irritated, but this is such an old problem -- civil service administrative constipation -- that my only reaction is a cynical snort. At this rate, I'll get started for Christmas.

This cloud has its silver lining, however; the delay gives me a good excuse to wriggle out of a half-commitment that, on learning more about it, I realize I do not want to accept.

I am now in my third season with a community choir that does Messiah at Christmas and a repertoire of concert masses and other traditional European-style classical choral works. The standard of performance is pretty good and the conductor is excellent. However -- and this is a big however -- the group has a clique problem centred on semi-annual overseas trips to sing at Anglican (Church of England) cathedrals. The conductor and his wife (the choir's perennial soprano soloist) organize these trips and recruit participants from the ranks of our choir and others with which they are involved.

I turned down two invitations to take part last year on grounds of expense, but the book contract gave me enough economic slack to agree to go to Kingston, Jamaica, in January 2020. I had believed that my financial commitment would be limited to air fare, lodging and meals, all at discounted rates, but the cost structure finally revealed to me this week also included a $550 "registration" fee for something described as a "choral course". Hmmm. I picked up the phone and called the woman who sits next to me at rehearsal, who joined at the same time I did and took part last year in a trip to Canterbury.

It seems that what I had understood to be simply a series of performances is actually a not very entertaining tour package organized by the conductor (and wife), and a nice little earner for them; the $550 "registration" fee goes into their pockets. By pitching the trip as a "course" -- I don't know what I would be learning, as the repertoire is well known to me, and learning was never my motivation for going -- they put the charge in a comparatively flattering light. But the fact that I found out about the $550 only after agreeing to go, and after several wheedling conversations with the conductor that resemble grooming more than somewhat, suggests that they know the whole deal has more than a taint of bait-and-switch about it.

In short, I don't have $550 to spend on anything that I feel ambivalent about, especially not on top of air fare, lodging and meals in a tourist destination at high season. And the delay in the book contract gives me a socially unassailable excuse to back out.

Why don't I just tell the conductor what I think? Good question. I won't do that because I want to continue singing in the choir -- the only such group in this area -- and telling the conductor what I think of him in words of one and two syllables would make that impossible. But I have to move him to the "a bit of a sleazeball" category of acquaintance, and in future I will take the long-spoon approach to personal dealings with him (and wife).

Sigh. It's always disappointing to find out that a person in one's life sees others primarily as potential sources of revenue, but it's good to know.

So this week I was decluttered of an illusion.


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