There’s little to sing about nowadays. An ‘Ant and Dec’ led Coalition, Starbucks coffee, perpetual Silly Season at the Synod. So you’d think there’s a need to recall ‘our Gracie’ and ‘sing as you go and let the world go by’. Not, it seems, if you live in Bomere Heath, Shropshire. There, as soon as the birds start singing, Darren Davies joins in to ‘spread a little happiness.’ However his renderings of ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ and ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ meet a chorus of complaints from neighbours and, according to press reports, he’s been threatened with court action if he’s caught warbling again.
I know that Housman hymned Shropshire’s ‘Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun’ as ‘the quietest places under the sun’ but silencing today’s ‘Shropshire Lad’ strikes the wrong note.
You could understand the legal larruping if he’d been whining ‘My Way’ or ‘Simply the Best’. Their overuse at Anglican funerals apparently drove Fr Ed Tomlinson to the Ordinariate, whose anthem, I’m told, is Subo’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’.
Of course, to be fair to Darren’s neighbours, they’re more in tune with modern society, and its neglect of singing along, unless it’s a hen night karaoke, than the Shropshire songster. ‘Whistle While You Work’ is now as outmoded as last month’s iPad. No one sings along on coach trip ‘Beanos’ any more.
However, cheer up, even if sociable singing’s dead, a brotherly and sisterly buzz still finds a place in today’s churches. Whatever the denomination, pre-service chattering now has the decibel rating of Man U fans celebrating another ‘Roonderful’ overhead goal.
A new role for Darren. Invite him along to persuade folk to switch from chattering to chorusing ‘Zip-A-DeeDoo-Dah’, destined, I understand, to be the Introit in Year Z when the revision of Common Worship hits the charts.