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Adorable cold obs at choir (m)


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So, I haven't been around much for a while, with my final exams coming up and generally being extremely busy. But this weekend had some long-awaited obs for me, and since I know that I'm not the only one with a thing for singers, I thought I'd share.

I sing in a Chapel Choir, and although we're not fantastic, we have a few really good choral scholars. I'm an alto, and we stand in the row in front of the basses on one side of the chapel, so I have a pretty good relationship with the three of them. One is E, a choral scholar with a really great voice. He's not a massively high or massively low bass singer, but he has a really gorgeous tone for the whole of his range, very expressive. Add to this a great body (he rows for his college), tall, dark curly hair, dark eyes. He's a bit of a dish, generally. This is his second year singing with us, and I've always wondered if I'd ever get to hear him sneeze.

This past week has been pretty insane for our choir - extra rehearsals, a big dinner, a singing workshop, and then the normal rehearsal and service on Sunday. At the workshop, I noticed E cough a couple of times, and generally the basses weren't sounding as secure as usual. He normally leads them, so I could hear his voice clearly wasn't as smooth as usual, and even cracked a couple of times on the long, sustained notes. Then, halfway through the rehearsal, when the conductor was chatting, I heard a muffled sneeze. It was obviously intended to be as stifled as possible, so as not to disturb the rehearsal, but came out as a forceful, breathy "H'tch'shoo!" I turned round slightly, and saw E standing still hunched over, having sneezed into his wrist, getting out a tissue. The bass next to him whispered "Bless you," as E sniffed and blew his nose as quietly as he could.

The following day, we had our usual long rehearsal and then Sunday service. Recently, we've been doing much harder music than usual, and generally managing a higher standard than we have in previous years. But this requires a lot of concentration from the choir, and is really pretty tiring if you do it properly. I was about a minute late to the rehearsal, which meant they'd already started singing the first hymn as a warmup, so I had to rush to my place and join in as quickly as possible. All the basses and altos on my side were already there, and I knew the hymn, which helped. Strangely, as they're the part that the congregation sings, the hymns are actually the hardest in terms of range for basses and altos - frequently going higher when everyone sings in unison than I'd sing at any other point in the service. So it's quite hard work to start with a unison hymn and have to hit notes right at the top of your range. Normally E doesn't really have a problem with this: although you can hear it's high for him, he mostly just sings louder and supports more. But I really could tell today that he was having more problems, although he managed it admirably.

Throughout the rehearsal, he had a tissue to hand, and blew his nose a lot when he wasn't having to sing. He also left about ten minutes into the rehearsal, and came back a minute later with a bottle of water. I could also hear him coughing behind me a few times, but no more sneezes sadly. It was pretty obvious that he wasn't feeling well, and when I looked at him full on I could see the sides of his nostrils were really pink.

We do something in the service called Preces and Responses: a male member of the choir (tenor or bass, it doesn't matter) sings a little bit of plainchant (often all on one note), and then the choir responds in harmony with a short phrase. In other colleges, the chaplain will be the 'Cantor' (the man who sings the plainchant), but our chaplain doesn't sing very well, so we have a few of the guys who will do it on a regular basis. E does it quite often, probably one week in every three, but hadn't done it for a while. When it got to the rehearsal, our conductor asked a different bass, J to do it, but J moaned a bit and asked if he could not this week. So the conductor asked "Well, someone can volunteer, otherwise I'll just pick someone." Predictably, no one volunteered, so the conductor said, "Ok,...E, you can do it." I sort of winced at this, because I wasn't sure if E would refuse or just give in and agree, even though he wasn't singing well, but E shook his head immediately. "Not this week, I've actually got a bad cold." He was starting to sound quite hoarse, so the conductor didn't question this. E muttered, "Make C [a tenor who is a bit unreliable in choir] do it," but another tenor, A, who hadn't been to choir for a while and Cantors well, was suggested. A laughed and agreed, but first asked across the chapel to E, "do you actually not want to, or are you being polite?", but E protested, "No, I do actually have a cold." He was really sounding quite hoarse and congested, but still managed to sing the rest of the rehearsal and the whole service without his voice noticeably breaking, although he did complain under his breath when the conductor asked the basses to sing in unison with the tenors for a quite high plainchant section, and didn't sing that.

During the service, I heard him coughing and blowing his nose once or twice, but no more sneezing (for the rest of the entry, sorry!), and when we filed out to the antechapel at the end of the service, he blew his nose for a long time. We have to stand there for the voluntary (the organist plays a piece called a voluntary at the end), and this week's was quite long. E was obviously unimpressed, and whispered to me, a bit grumpily"Why do we have to stand here while he plays?"

After the service, the choir all goes to dinner in the hall together, and E and I and some other members were queueing up outside. E was yawning and massaging his jaw, and a girl asked if he was ok. He answered, "Yeah, I just can't hear very well, my ears are really blocked," which prompted lots of sympathetic noises from us all as we went in. J, the bass from earlier, is a big friend of E's, and joked with him that he must have picked it up at the ball he was at the previous night, but E just shrugged and said, a bit miserably, "No, I already had it yesterday...although I don't think the ball really helped."

We all sat at dinner together, E, J, myself and other choir members. I was across from J and E, and we had just sat down and started talking. When E said something, he'd nearly lost his voice entirely, and J exclaimed to him, "Wow, you really are hoarse, you poor guy!" which I thought was really sweet. E smiled a bit, and said "Yeah, I really shouldn't have sung." E didn't talk a lot at dinner, understandably, and was clearly still having problems with his ears and hearing, and had to keep blowing his nose, which he did very politely, turning aside from us. But no more sneezing, sadly. When we all parted company at the end of the night, I said "Feel better!" to him. He seemed a little embarrassed, but grateful, and smiled and said thanks to me. I'll have to see how he is when we next have choir on Wednesday.

Anyway, sorry for the insanely long obs! I just thought it was a really sweet couple of days. And I've been waiting to hear him sneeze for nearly 2 years, and it didn't disappoint. I just wish there had been more of it!

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So cute!! I love when guys sneeze like that, and the entire obs was great, nice detail. I definitely didn't mind the length. :D I hope the guy feels better soon, though. :)

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A wonderful obs taking me back to the joys of my choir-groupie days! [i always sat behind the deepest bass to get those good vibrations]. Really nice details.

If you are coming down from the varsity, I trust you have got some volunteer gigs set up in the top churches.......

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Mmmmm... E sounds delicious...

I love obs and stories that tell a lot about what's going on and not just the sneezing (although that's great too :) ). I dunno, it helps me picture it better and makes me feel like I know the sneezer a bit, which is good for me because I like sneezes better from people I know.

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