Alongside all the everyday necessities of a busy parish preparing for Holy Week, this week has been dominated for the GoodinParts household by a production of Les Miserables at school.
The biennial musical is a major highlight of Burford life, and it has always been hugely signficiant for my offspring as they've made their way up the school, from chorus in Oliver through minor principal roles. 2 years ago, they offered Jesus Christ Superstar in the week before Holy Week, and its songs provided a constant soundtrack for me as we followed the way of the cross.
This year it feels equally appropriate that we're on the eve of the 200th Anniversary of the Act to Abolish Slavery, - for themes of freedom and redemption shout from every line of the show.
Victor Hugo wrote about the book
"I condemn slavery, I banish poverty, I teach ignorance, I treat disease, I lighten the night, and I hate hatred. That is what I am, and that is why I have written Les Miserables."
Alongside the big themes, let me tell you that being the mother of Jean Valjean is an emotionally gruelling experience. I'm not completely sure whether I breathed at all while he was on stage. When you're in your final year at school, the lead in the musical is probably the pinacle of life's achievements so far...HS has put so much into it and gave what seemed (allowing for maternal bias) to be a remarkably real and moving performance. AND he can sing.
He's settled into his tenor voice now, and it does sound rather lovely.
But believe me, you don't, you really don't, want as a parent to watch your son as an old man, dying only a few feet away from you, no matter now beautiful his singing. I've never wept that much in public.