To sing in green spaces

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Preparing to sing in an afternoon concert at a day care centre for senior citizens it was a sunny day and after familiarising with the performance space, I joined my fellow singers on a neat lawn, waiting for show time. When the moment came, I opened my mouth to sing and my voice didn’t work for me in the way that it did during the pre-concert rehearsal. I was mystified about the reason for the sudden change, but managed to get through the concert programme, even though I was disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy performing as much as I had hoped to.

It took a long while before I understood that I am allergic to certain sorts of pollen. People who don’t use their voices in the way that I do might think I’m being a hypochondriac or “a bit of a luvvie” when I explain to them about this issue, but the problem is real.

I came across a fellow singer in one of the many operas I’ve performed in, who said he had to lobby his GP to allow him to be injected with doses of pollen in the spring and early summer months – such was the extent of his suffering at a time of the year when normally one ought to be thankful for mild or warm weather conditions.

Apparently one of the reasons for the high pollen count in London is the fact that the horticulturalists employed by the councils and other municipal organisations tend to plant and nurture trees of the same gender in our public spaces, in order to control the potential for more trees to grow, due to pollination. I don’t know if this is true. Maybe it’s an urban myth.

Am I allergic simply to pollen, or does pollution from car engine exhaust fumes have something to do with what I experience? I am uncertain, but I do know that I had quite an intense reaction to visiting Stroud Green Road a few days ago – not an area that is renowned for its leafiness