Mad Madge: Pavarotti Plasterers and Puccini Plumbers

Kirsty finds unexpected talent in her kitchen…

For the last few months I’ve been negotiating with the ultimate divas of the manual labour world, builders. Yes, I’ve finally decided that those who can’t sing – build, plumb, roof or plaster instead. Not, of course, that they are aware that they can’t sing, that’s the whole point. They can sing, and do, to every track on ToneDeaf FM or similar, at volumes that carry over the din of any masonry drill ever invented. All this musical exuberance, inevitably, is fuelled by a diet comprising copious amounts of strong tea with sugars (plural) and chocolate digestive biscuits.

Once any new tradesman on site discovers what I do for a living, the questions start, and they are not the obvious ones either. I spent a happy 20 minutes discussing the use of falsetto in contemporary pop music, after the electrician’s remarkably fine imitation of Miko on the radio. The plumber and I dunked digestives together musing over the various types of soprano voice, after the Lloyds TSB advert came on (the ‘Wild Swans’ one). And, of course, there was the obligatory Monday morning debriefing over which wannabe had got chucked out of Britain’s Got Talent that weekend.

Now, I will say here and now that my builders, plumber, plasterers, electricians, roofers and flooring chaps are the nicest bunch of people you could ever hope to meet. They just seem to inhabit a different time zone to the rest of my life, but I should be used to that. I have waited for them to turn up on a given day, only to discover another job over-ran, so I’m bottom of the queue again. Do I complain? No. I’ve had singers drop out of tours halfway through because they had another job – in three weeks time – and hadn’t learnt the music for it….

I have been woken by roofers tramping past my bedroom window, at 7.20am on a Saturday morning, when they were not due to turn up at all. Do I complain? No. Compared to baritones arriving 5 minutes before curtain up, or even halfway through the show thanks to an accident on the M whatever, it’s bliss…

I have endured washing machines in the lounge, floods through the ceiling, grout in the bath and dust everywhere imaginable, and born it with a smile. Why? I’ve changed in loos, offices, basements, marquees and Portacabins, and none of them were clean, or particularly dry either. 

What I’ve really learned from my manually dexterous friends is quite unexpected; pride in my work. All my construction chums are proud of what they do. They work hard when they are working, and when they are done, they go home with a sense of satisfaction.

As a singer, I do the same, but somehow I forget the satisfaction bit. It’s so easy to beat yourself up over that missed note, or fluffed entry, without seeing the big picture, the enjoyment of your performance by the audience.

So, I’m going to go into my new kitchen and admire the tilework, which is a joy to behold. And I’ll remind myself that although my Carmen may not be 100% perfect, like my grout, she’s still gripping stuff…