I love the random connections in life, and the way you never know what a new day will bring. Sometimes it is one of those painful challenges, but occasionally the start of something joyful and exciting. After singing an Ivor Novello song at the May concert with Wirksworth Community Choir a tenor came up to me and handed me a copy of an Ivor Novello Songbook. I had no idea then where it would lead, but I am very grateful to him for having that confidence in me that I should do more of the same.
I have been toying with the idea of putting on a fringe event for the Wirksworth Arts Festival Fringe for a couple of years now, but somehow never go round to it, and wasn’t sure what form it would take. But after this concert the germ of an idea started and wouldn’t go away, and with the help and support of family and friends I took the plunge and registered a musical evening entitled ‘Cissie’s Songbook’. I had no idea what I was starting, and it has been a whirlwind getting to grips with all the practical elements, such as venue, licenses, props, publicity but at the heart are the glorious heart-string tugging melodies of Novello. It was difficult to cut down to a practical number, but I listened constantly and then waited to see which ones I was humming in the kitchen or shower, and which moved me to tears, and those were my choice.
So who is Cissie?
I have had the space this year to pull back a little from work, thanks to my understanding and supportive husband, Mike, and revisited the family tree work I started years ago, then continued by my parents. I came across a studio portrait of my paternal Grandma, Mary Elizabeth Singleton known as Cissie, and a copy of my Dad’s autobiography. Rereading that account of his early years brought her vividly back to me, not the old lady I had known, sitting in a chair, hat firmly ensconsed with a large pin, but the young Cissie, who had always wanted to go on the stage, but started in the cotton mill at 12. And then I found another picture, an older Cissie, arms folded, looking straight at the camera, dirty pinny, clogs and a toddler by her side. And suddenly it was clear in my head. Cissie would get to sing again, and the songs of Ivor Novello would be the background to her story.