Sunday Assembly, 12th July 2015
This month the theme was “Voices”: hearing them, representing them, and using them to sing cheesy pop songs.
Teodora took the helm this time, welcoming all the new and returning assemblers with a succinct introduction that managed to incorporate just about every ‘voice’ metaphor you’re ever likely to hear.
The music started with Sam belting out John Farnham’s anthemic You’re the Voice on vocals and guitar, while Oli mimicked the iconic percussion using steel brushes on a snare drum. A fair proportion of the audience added their voices to the rousing chorus, which appropriately urged us to “make a noise and make it clear”.
Hearing the Voice – Roz Austin from Durham University’s Centre for Medical Humanities introduced her doctoral research project on the phenomenon of auditory verbal hallucinations – hearing a voice no one else can hear. That set the stage for Pauline, a senior nurse and long-time voice hearer, who offered us a fascinating personal insight into what it’s like to live with an audible commentator all of her own. Her honest and entertaining testimony was a masterclass in public speaking; she could have a sideline in showing aspiring stand-up comedians how to find their stage voice.
With the support of an impressive backing track he recorded several years ago, local assembler John Webster lent his voice to a perfectly-timed rendition of his boogie-rock song “Where There’s Life”.
After a moment of quiet reflection, Joe presented a colourful overview of the Gay Pride movement, explaining how it has given a strong voice to LGBT issues in society and politics, and cleared the path for the social inclusion of many other formerly marginal groups.
Sam then cranked his voice into falsetto for the Scissor Sisters’ Take Your Mama – a funky song about a young man coming out to his mother. It has particularly apt lyrics for the Sunday Assembly: And if the music ain’t good, well that’s just too bad – we’re gonna sing along no matter what! And we did, with gusto!
We listened to some readings about voices, and learned about the numerous singing groups in Oxford for people of all ages and abilities. The announcements included some meetings of the Oxford Humanists, Skeptics in the Pub, and of course our Sunday Assembly Picnic in Bury Knowle Park on the 9th of August.
Everyone joined in for the final song: Queen’s The Show Must Go On. Afterwards, the hall was full of voices chattering away over tea and cake.