“The Choir with No Name (CWNN) runs choirs for people who have experienced homelessness and other men and women on the margins of society[…] Our first choir – in King’s Cross, London – was founded in 2008 by Marie Benton, a professional musician and at the time also a senior project worker at homeless accommodation provider St Mungo’s.”
Christmas brings up all manner of feelings up from our past, present and future years. If Christmas is about family, peace and joy? Splendid. If your Christmas is vile and star spangled? Aces! If your Christmas is a mishmash of traditions, emotions, waifs and strays? Snap.
Proudly, fellow Londoners give time, food and heart to charities and make a humungous difference each year. The groundwork for our seasonal good will, amongst others, was laid by Charles Dickens. Unlike him, my words will fade and my ideas will remain in the ether, but, my greatest hope is that my words will touch one person and inspire a talking point.
A Christmas Carol is, without a doubt, the most beloved of family favourites. It has given Bill Murray, Michael Caine and the Muppets a stage for our delight. The tale was crafted by a Dickensian wordsmith, but, could easily be penned in London today.
Dickens helped build The Ragged School, providing free education for children in the inner-city. The movement got its name from the way the children attending the school were dressed. Most of us, me very much included, are unexplainably blessed to be part of a Christmas story, or, many different Christmas stories. We have all the makings of a white Christmas, but, sway much more joyfully towards Bad Santa.
The author directing my words would say that,” Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” But, I like to think that even the greatest misers amongst us, can still find a little magic.
On a Tuesday evening in 2010, there was a carolling unfolding in the backstreets of Kings Cross. There were no bells and whistles, there was mulled wine and stale mince pies. The first and last carols belted out were those lovingly conducted for The Choir with No Name by one Marie Benton. On that day, London stood proudly Dickensian, a “good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.” I can’t say it better, so, I’ll revert to the unsung folk behind The Choir with No Name. Its foundations are being built by those people. Its history and imagination should be described by those people.
Not one person that I know is free from vices…greed, gluttony, selfishness, envy…
Whether it be Dickens, Marie Benton, or, me… there are occasions amid idle whims and ridiculous dreams that make ragged and unconventional things utterly extraordinary. This Christmas Carol is perfect. It has ragged and eccentrically shambolic inclinations and welcomes the unfashionable kinks, troubles, joys, adventures and catastrophes that make life a bit awkward. It has the balls to be unconventional and weird even though this is the one time of year that has a step by step guide attached to it.
From humble begins, so much can flourish. The Choir with no Name, formerly of the streets of London is slowly and sensationally spreading its very simple message of equality, hope and faith as it unities displaced, distressed and downtrodden communities with the simple goodness and care. It’s not really that complicated… however many centuries we seem to drag it out!
Dickens had this to say about A Christmas Carol: I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. At the time that he wrote A Christmas Carol he was very concerned with impoverished children who turned to crime and delinquency in order to survive. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.”