I’d like you to come and sing in my new concert venue. It’s a sumptuously renovated barn and is the next big thing in the county. It’s going to be like Glyndebourne. I will enhance the programme with my internationally acclaimed harpischord playing…”
“Dear Mr Barn,
Delighted. Please find attached a copy of our booking form and conditions, including fee. Please note that the choir marches on its stomach and note the questions about whether or not refreshments will be provided for us”
Booking form returned. Fee is agreed, tea and biscuits will be provided between your rehearsal and concert and a buffet served in the concert interval”
one day before the concert, a phone call:
“Hi. Mr Barn here. I’ve just remembered that I said we’d give you tea and biscuits. Well – I’m afraid there’s no-one available to do teas and biscuits. We might be able to lend you a kettle, but you can’t use the kitchen because the ladies doing cheese and grapes for the interval will be in there. Sorry”
“Dear choir members,
Mr Barn has renaged on his promise of tea & biscuits. Please bring flasks and sandwiches.”
Well – the choir being as it is, 3 members clubbed together and provided tea, cakes, scones-with-jam-&-cream, 3 kettles, 4 teapots etc etc. Partly, according to one cake-angel, to show Mr Barn what sort of spread could be provided at 8 hours’ notice.
Needless to say, ‘sumptuously renovated’ was a bit of an overstatement in describing the new venue, but ‘barn’ was spot on. The ill fitting doors and the ancient stones combined to ensure that however warm and spring like the weather outside, inside the barn was arctic in temperature. However, the rehearsal went ahead, and as the tea was being prepared, I sought out Mr Barn himself…
“Afternoon. Lovely to meet you. Just thought I’d better check some of the other points from the booking form after the tea & biscuits thing went astray. Our fee – will you be giving me the cheque today or posting it later this week?”
“Ah yes. Well – ticket sales haven’t gone quite according to plan. I mean – I hope I’ll be able to pay you, but it might not be the full amount. And actually I won’t know until the end of the series, which is in August, and I’ll have to get the figures from the tourist office. Your conductor thought that would be OK…”
That’s why we don’t let the conductor deal with people or bookings. That’s why I emailed you and sent you the forms. That’s why you’ve been dealing with me. Gah!
So, I passed the concert in an alternating mood of grumpiness during our pieces and unexplained giggles during the harpsichord solos. Came home from the post-concert commiseratory bash to an email from Mr Barn:
“You’ll be pleased to hear that we can pay you the full amount after all! Can you come out to the barn and collect it in cash next time you’re passing. And sorry about the tea thing. I forgot. I’ll get it right next time”
After a few more emails, I found someone more likely to pass the blessed barn than I was and who was willing to pick up a wad of cash and not spend it all on the way home. Her comment about his email? “Next time?????!!!!!”