Huddersfield! I wake in a panic. The alarm didn’t work. It’s breaking light outside Not today. Not today of all days. 5.55am. Train leaves at 6.11am. Get up. Get dressed. Carve sleep from from eyes. Cold outside air. Cross the town square. In the train station. On the train. Arrive London Kings Cross 9am. Fight through morning crush. Get across Thames. In office at South Bank. 10am ready for rehearsals! It is pouring with rain. I remember these days that struggled against the tide of the previous nights alcohol intake. I’m ashamed of myself. But there is no time to be ashamed.
There are two performances today, both in The Royal Festival Hall in London. And stood on the conductors stand is Laka D working through various moments in the concert with the musicians – in rehearsal. Both events have an audience of approximately 2,000 people. The stage alone will have four hundred children upon it plus a band and the conductor and myself and yemesi blake who as the MCs.
After getting a wash and cleaning my teeth. After writing the script for all the introductions and attending rehearsals its 3pm, the stage is full of singers (four hundred) and the audience is seated, 2,000. The audience quieten down as the lights fix upon the stage. A backstage voice booms to the crowd. We have script in hand, are washed. Ready. ready. A voice booms out through the theatre,“Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome on stageyour hosts for the event Yemisi Blake and Lemn Sissay”. And the applause begins.
I can not tell you how incredible this event was. Absolutely astounding. It was all partof the sing up campaign and Lambeth music services. Come four PM and it’s over. No time to relax. A change of clothes and another hour on a new script script. A coffee and it was it was time for yet another performance and another two thousand audience and another four hundred children. And I was able to hear my song for the first time. It’s the first one on the set list. The band strikes up and the children, their chests full of our, sing their hearts out in a crescendo of song. Goose pimples concertina'd along the back of my neck over my shoulders and along my arms to my finger tips. This was electric.
“In the name of the torch, rise. In the name of the torch, fall. I n the name of the torch, rise. In the name of the torch. All.”