Saturday, 7 December 2013

Going solo

Tonight's been an interesting evening. I've been at Liverpool Cathedral, for my first ever live performance of Handel's Messiah. I've wanted to hear it for as long as I can remember, but for various reasons have never managed to do so until tonight. It was spectacular! It featured the combined choirs of the 2 Cathedrals, plus the Chamber Orchestra. I knew much of the music already, of course, but hearing it live was as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be - and what better place for my first time than our fabulous Cathedral, one of my favourite buildings in the world, and a venue with more than enough drama, attitude and acoustics to carry it off.

As well as enjoying the fabulous music and singing, I was doing a lot of reflecting this evening. For those of us who are single, the 'going to events on your own' dilemma is one which is never fully resolved. I imagine there are some super-confident and self-assured people who will cheerfully arrive at events by themselves, chat breezily all evening to perfect strangers, and then happily make their way home alone again afterwards. I don't, however, imagine there are many!

I also imagine there are some people who never go to events alone, and consequently, don't go to many events. They're nervous about arriving alone, having no one to talk to, feeling awkward, coming home alone again... It can feel very hard.

I've wanted to hear Messiah for a really long time. Last year, it was on at the Philharmonic. I was excited, and emailed lots of friends to see if they were interested in coming along. Some couldn't make it, some weren't interested, some took forever to reply! Eventually one friend said she'd like to come, and I set about booking tickets - but I'd left it too late, and it was sold out. This year, quite a while ago, I saw that it was going to be on at the Cathedral. Determined not to miss out again, I booked a ticket. Just one. I didn't even bother to invite friends! I wanted to go, and I was going to go!

Fast forward to today, and it's been a heck of a day (and a heck of a week!). I (still!) haven't finished preparing for the all age service tomorrow. I'm getting a cold (I think - although for most of the past week I've felt like I'm getting a cold and then I haven't). I had a flat tyre & had to spend far too much money on a new one. In some ways all I wanted to do was stay in. But I was excited about going to Messiah, and so I went. There was that familiar pang about going by myself - that sort of jollying along that you have to do to persuade yourself to get moving. Of course, it was a fabulous evening, and I'm more than glad that I went.

But. You see, it's not easy to do the going solo thing.

Don't get me wrong, there are great parts about it. I decided I wanted to go, I booked my ticket, and I went. I didn't have to check what anyone else wanted to do. There's something fun and freeing about being able to please myself on occasion. I chose when to arrive, where to sit, when to leave. I could chat to the people either side of me if I wanted to (with the exciting dual possibilities of meeting a lovely, fun new person - or being labelled a crazy, eccentric nutcase).

But there are also rubbish parts about it. I didn't have anyone to look forward to it with beforehand. I didn't have anyone to offer to drive and do the stressful last minute squeeze-in-a-tiny-space parking for me. I didn't have anyone to save me a seat while I went to the loo. I didn't have anyone to make small talk with and gossip about why the cassocks of the girls on the right were 5 times brighter than those of the girls on the left. I didn't have anyone to talk to in the interval so of course I messed about with my phone and pretended to be popular. I didn't have anyone to whisper to about how fabulous it all was. I didn't have anyone to debrief with afterwards (I know it was only a concert, but I'm an extrovert, I have to talk!). I didn't have anyone to drive home with. I didn't have anyone to make me a cup of tea when I got in.

Gosh that's a list of moans! Except, I don't mean them to be moans. They're just facts. Loads of you will understand them, if you're single yourself, or ever have been - or perhaps even if you're unhappily partnered. It is what it is, I realise that. Good bits and bad bits. Fun times and tough times. Life, basically!

This isn't a moan, or a rant, or a sympathy plea. It's just a reflection. My mind wandered to it as I drove home. I'd love to know if it resonates with you. Basically I'm writing a diary entry and sharing it with the world...!

I'm glad I went. Messiah was fabulous. An item on my bucket list is ticked off. And I got to come home and finish the box of chocolates a friend gave me the other day, with no one else fighting me for the orange creme - so it's not all bad!


  1. Hello Kate, I thought it would be different for extraverts, but your reflection completely resonates with me, an introvert. I've been getting used to do things on my own for nearly 4 years now. I know what you mean about jollying yourself along and do miss having someone to chat about events with before, during and afterwards. It's hard work getting out, and I do stay in, but have no horror stories from going alone to concerts. Dinner parties among couples are much harder! I enjoy walking and do get out on my own, but tend to stick to familiar routes. That said, a walking pilgrimage is on my bucket list! I'm pleased you enjoyed Messiah, I hope the all age worship went well, and if you're ever in Winchester I'd be pleased to help you have time off from being a solo.

    1. Thanks Anne! I love dinner parties, even with couples, but maybe that's an extrovert thing! The all age was good thanks!

  2. What resonated with me was the "just facts", not whinging and moaning. I love the honesty and I totally understand.

    Especially as I have just finished off my own box of chocs - although I do have two teenage sons and one of them pinched one when I wasn't looking...

    Glad you got to go and do something you really wanted to xx

  3. Hi Kate, I love your blog - have been struggling a lot this year with single-dom, coupled with depression. A lot of my get up and go has done just that! I've yet to try my first film or concert alone, but having read this, I aim to go to see the Hunger Games film before the New Year, even if I can't persuade anyone to come with me. Keep writing, you're inspiring me to keep trying x

  4. Thanks Deb. Sorry to hear that. Yes - do go for it! xx