Sometimes I look around and feel astounded at how strangely conservative we are. It’s not so much the big stuff that amazes me, but the little things – like how weird our neighbours think we are, simply because we use a hand mower to mow our lawn and own more bikes than cars (ratio 5:1, only counting active bikes), or how people react when I sing in the street.
Walking down the street singing, even softly to yourself, is already rather odd. But really throwing your voice around, reveling in the thrill of a good, strong tune, packed with emotion and meaning – that’s completely crazy. If you try it, you will find (trust me on this) people giving you alarmed looks and edging away from the crazy person. My goodness. Singing. That’s dangerous behaviour, that is. A person who could sing loudly and lustily in the street, why they could be capable of anything.
I can’t help feeling that’s really rather sad. I love to sing. It lifts my mood, gets my blood pumping, and really gets those endorphins flowing. I won’t argue that it’s better than sex – my husband reads this blog – but it’s well up there on the list. It’s bliss. And singing on a bike? Well, that’s heaven right here on earth. There can be few activities better for my physical and mental health than riding along, pumping out songs from Chess (which I have recently rediscovered after a long obsession with it in the early 90s), or Midnight Oil, Crowded House or the Whitlams, Jeff Buckley, or Vivaldi. Some days I need to cleanse my soul of the Wiggles first, and how better to do that than with a rousing chorus of Icehouse’s “The Heartbreak Kid”?
I know that when things get grumpy in my house, one of the best things I can do is put Paul Jamieson on the stereo – aka The Music Man, his funky reggae style kids’ songs are the best possible style of childrens’ music, the kind you are actually happy to have stuck in your head. We all start singing along, and everyone calms down and chills out. Music can even soothe a tired and foul tempered seven year old – there is clearly nothing it cannot do! (I am yet to experiment with teenagers, but I have high hopes.)
Why don’t we sing in the street? Because people don’t do that. People might think we’re odd. It’s odd to do things that people don’t do – yet trends have to start somewhere. Sometimes being odd, whether it’s by singing in the street or chatting to strangers, can have an upside, and sometimes the upside can even spread.
By all means, label me crazy and cart me off to a madhouse on the days I spend the whole ride to work singing “Hot Potato” or “Dorothy the Dinosaur”. I will not argue – indeed, I will beg for the tranquilizers. But the good stuff? It’s good enough to share! I am reasonably selective, I don’t belt out the classics on crowded footpaths where it would be invasive. I don’t sing loudly right into people’s faces. But on quiet backstreets, or even loud main roads where no-one can hear me over the traffic, I sing my heart out. My aim is to overcome the embarrassment and keep singing even when people are looking. Who knows? Maybe I will start a trend.