A review of 50 first experiences

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First 15 &16 – Make-up and barbershop

27th October You might think I’d have worn full make-up at least once by the time I reached 50, but you’d be wrong. Greasepaint for panto/theatre, yes; a little mascara, occasionally, but otherwise no. However, this being the occasion of the annual Barbershop Convention, it was a mandatory requirement in order to perform barbershop with a chorus, Mainstreet Sound. The Convention was also a first – I don’t even like barbershop as a genre, but have to admit that performing on stage was fun and standing up with maybe 1,000 others to join in a 4 part harmony of Lazy Days, rather amazing.

Marks: 7/10 for the make-up – a pleasant surprise that even though the blue eyeshadow was slightly startling, I didn’t wind up looking like a monster – and 8/10 for performing barbershop in public – after all the practice, we ended up performing something like our best, moves and all. Looking forward to the DVD.

Will I scare the children?


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First 14 – Sarsaparilla and cornbread

25th October –As part of a college event for Black History month tried sarsaparilla and cornbread for the first time.  Just seeing the label on the bottle conjured up stories by Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain and Harper Lee; images of hampers full of root beer and peanut butter sandwiches at the World Trade Fair, of  families sitting up to a scrubbed wooden table for a breakfast of cornbread and grits, of children diving from bridges into brown flowing rivers, of swinging saloon doors and big skirts, dust and sawdust.

Marks: 4/10.  Perhaps the effect would have been different if I’d tasted these under a hot sky, or in a big old southern American kitchen, with the creak of a swing on the porch outside. Trying them as I did in a large and rather empty college hall, they were just a bit too ordinary. The sarsaparilla had a good syrupy smell but tasted a bit like flat coke; the cornbread was too salty. Disappointing.

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First 13 – Finding my tree

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6 October – One of my birthday presents this year was a tree, but not an actual tree – a tree planted in an ancient bluebell wood at Stray Head Banks, near Whitby. So today’s first was visiting ‘my’ dedicated tree. Last night’s task, finding the map,  took a frustrating 3 hours  – slightly less than today’s task, finding the actual tree. Much enjoyment to be had deciding which one had to be my special tree. The one with the flag? Too obvious. The large one? Too old. That one? too bare. Aha, this one is just right.

Marks: 9/10 for a beautiful day, lovely colours, nice trees, discovering a magic stone seat said to grant the wishes of those who sat in it, a waterfall, and a lovely outdoor cafe.