I know, I know, I haven't continued with the story of mes aventures en Paris yet. Believe me, they will come sooner rather than later.
But I have something more important, more pressing, to say. Below is something I said to a friend of mine yesterday.
"Our mortality is inevitable. Unwarranted, undeserved, untimely and unstoppable, but inevitable. But know this, that no matter when the inevitable comes, or for whatever reason it comes, you will have left your mark on this world. Some marks are bigger than others. It grows with age. But everyone, from birth, leaves footprints for the rest of their world. It doesn't matter where or how you leave these footprints. It just matters who you leave them for."
Everyone leaves footprints in the choir.
You see, being a member of the Hallé Youth Choir isn't just about singing.
When you sign up, you are signing up to change. Everyone changes a bit when they have been in the choir. Even if you don't admit it, you change. And when you sign up, you're not just signing up to sing. Neither are you signing up to be part of a group of friends. You are signing up to be family.
Never is this more evident than in the times when things go wrong.
On our second day of tour, our first concert, we - the choir and Richard - left our bags and possessions in two separate locked rooms. When we came back, one of the girls was crying by her bag. Everyone was urged to check all their belongings immediately.
There were 51 choir members, 4 staff members and 2 coach drivers. Over 30 choir members and our choral director got most, if not all, of their money stolen. In total, well in excess of 3000€ went missing.
Mine was left untouched, as were the possessions of about 20 of the choir members, 3 of the staff members and both coach drivers. But that didn't mean we felt nothing. Quite the opposite. It hit us like a rock, and although we all threw around conspiracy theories, one thing was pretty much certain: it wasn't one of us.
The biggest shock was the fact it was in a church, in God's house, in plain view of everyone either in the church or outside from an external entrance.
The biggest injustice though was the one I felt so strongly.
With me, I had a bank card which I could have used to draw money from any cash machine at no additional cost, and I had plenty on it. If I had had my money stolen that day, I would have had no problem, money-wise, as I could have replaced it all that night. But so many, so so many, of those who had all their trip money taken had not brought a bank card with them. This wasn't their fault. None of it was. But they couldn't replace their own money. They hadn't the means. And yet their money had been taken. Angry tears are accumulating even as I write this, because the injustice was huge. Massive. And there was nothing, nothing, I could do to help except offer my services, say my prayers, and give a few euros here and there.
Richard spent most of the night at the gendarmerie talking to the police, giving statements etc. etc.. Bear in mind, all his money had been taken too. The police wanted to have everyone in to take statements, which would have taken up the whole of the next day and meant nobody could do anything on the itinerary. So he spent a long time convincing the officers that that was unnecessary. He left relatively early on in the evening and still hadn't returned by the time the over-16s had gone to bed at 11:00pm.
The next day, Sunday, our administrator gave 10€ to everyone who had lost money out of her own money. That would have been at least 300€ in total.
On Monday, everyone was refunded from the Hallé accounts. Again, over 3000€ in total which, despite the fact it is quite a well-funded account, is quite a setback when it is taken all in one go.
And through all of this, the support everyone showed for each other was immense. Solidarity is a good word, although I shall continue to search for a word that really fits what happened. I can't really talk about us as 'those affected' and 'those unaffected' because really, no-one was unaffected. It hit us all, and has left an imprint in the minds of everyone who was there.
I guess what I'm trying to talk about here - and heck yes, this is soppy, but I don't care - is love. Not romantic love. But the love that people talk about when they say 'love others'.
Love comes from music, and music comes from love. So, as long as a person can make music, that person shall never be incapable of love.