Catrin's examination

The examination hall was in the basement of Pessac library, known as the Médiathèque Jacques Ellul, named after the lawyer, philosopher and reformed theologian who lived in Pessac and taught at the university. The auditorium is a decent little theatre and as we arrived crowds of children, their parents and various other people were climbing the stairs to get out. It took us a good five minutes to get into our seats.

Catrin's class looked very numerous as they crowded into the first two rows. We were with the folk scattered across the rest of the seats.

A representative from the town hall, who I knew vaguely from my days on the Music school committee, stood up to explain the evening and how it fitted into the festival "En Bonne Voix", Pessac's song festival. Then the evening was kicked off.

On the stage stood a piano, two guitars, an amplifier, and a couple of radio microphones. On the back wall of the stage a list of songs was projected. A volunteer chose a song. The appropriate student went to his instrument, the lyrics appeared on the wall of the stage and the volunteer proceeded to sing, accompanied by the student.

It was a karaoke evening.

I've never been to a karaoke evening before, and I was a little apprehensive. Catrin had texted me earlier in the evening giving me her permission, nay, her encouragement to sing. But I wasn't sure I could pull it off.

Anyway as one person then another chose songs and sang we were having a ball! Everyone was encouraged to join in the chorus. Some people obviously didn't know the song as well as they thought they did, so the students sang along to help them out. Some songs are very hard.

Catrin's course leader explained that there were perhaps four or five songs that needed to be sung so students could be evaluated. One was "Et si tu existais pas". A lively gentlemen in spectacles was one game old duffer and the star of the show, working his way through three different ballads. He accepted to sing "Et si tu n'existais pas", but he called on a little team to help him. Pat volunteered. Catrin accompanied calmly.

Other songs followed. Then Pat cried out "Allez! La mer!" and I found myself on stage with Pat at my side, Catrin at the piano, belting out "La mer" as best I could. It's a very low song, you know.

There or four more songs brought us to 10:30, the end of the show, another little speech from someone at the mairie, then a nice walk home along the vineyards, down into the basement of the flats and home.

Best exam I've ever seen!


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