The Glee Club makes the headlines

Glee Club 2014There’s no question that the Liberal Democrats’ traditional end of conference sing-a-thon is very marmite and Brussels Sprouts. I love it and am usually in my place for the start at 10 pm. This time, though, I didn’t get there till nearly 1 in the morning. It took me from 11pm when I arrived back at the Crowne Plaza after going out for dinner till then to cover the short distance from the door to the room where it was taking place because I kept meeting friends and new people and chatting away to them. I do hope that the people I was chatting to were sober enough to remember the ideas for articles that we talked about. “Confessions of a Trotskyite at Liberal Democrat Conference” is one I definitely want to read.

Anyway, I missed the traditional gathering of the Scots to sing Oh Flower of Scotland, but I did get there just in time for a very non-traditional rendition of English Country Garden. Do not ever find out the lyrics of this song if you are of a delicate disposition. I thought I was broad-minded but there were some things I didn’t know and had to ask. It is the smuttiest thing you will ever read.

The Liberator Song Book is a satirical and nostalgic meander through our party’s history. From The Land, a centuries old radical protest song calling for land value taxation to a song castigating Don Foster for ending our support for student grants (in order to maintain free tuition) in the 1990s, each song and its backstory means something to us. Rumour has it that at the Conference where this was debated, a pint found its way over Don’s head in a late night heated discussion in a Conference bar.

Because this is a uniquely liberal event, it can look odd to people who don’t understand what’s going on, or the extent to which our tongues are firmly in our cheeks. Nobody laughs at us quite like we do.

Various media have reported on the events of Tuesday night. Buzzfeed has included some video clips  in their coverage. And there’s leglesss “Nick.”

I don’t think the Daily Mail quite gets the Glee Club. The disdain is quite clear. No surprise there, but it does have some great pictures of Paddy Ashdown. I am so upset I missed Paddy doing his joke. He hasn’t been to Glee for a couple of years. He tells the same joke every time. There is an earlier rendition available on You Tube which you can watch if you’re desperate, but it’s best seen live.

And, finally, the Telegraph doesn’t get the affection and the irony in the event. Even if we’ve spent Conference arguing heatedly in the debating hall, this is the event where we all re-unite. Nobody is immune from a little gentle or not so gentle ribbing but we are, at the end of the day, a family. Admittedly, there might not be quite such affection for the other parties, Tony Blair in particular, but that’s the way it goes.

Quick update to include 3 things:

First, the link to “Dancing Bear” Cllr Annie Rawlinson’s fundraising page for her  Arctic Marathon to raise funds for the Samaritans.

On April 9th 2015 I shall be in the Arctic, literally on top of the world! I shall be braving the extreme sub-zero temperatures to tackle 26.2 miles in one of the remotest parts of the planet. I’ll be running on Arctic ice floes with only 6 to 12 feet separating me from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. This marathon, the UVU North Pole Marathon, isn’t run on land but on frozen water. It’s a tremendous adventure for a tremendous charity, but it won’t be easy.

Secondly, apparently Gareth Epps’ beard made the tabloids. At least according to his Facebook status which is reproduced with his permission:

Apparently I was the S*n’s Beard Of The Day yesterday (though I know of nobody who buys the rag so haven’t seen a copy).

He goes on to add that in the context of the Lib Dems being described as “the most hirsute Party Conference” that is quite extraordinary. The Sun can’t have met Dave Page from Manchester. That’s all I’m saying.

Thirdly, Gareth’s own piece about the Glee Club Myths and Legends. I had rather arrogantly wondered if he hadn’t got the bit about the Lib Lab Lie wrong, because I distinctly remember some great profanity against Labour in the wake of the 1995 Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election where the Mirror had produced a free issue on polling day emblazoned “Vote Labour.” But then I remembered that the song sung then was more about where the Daily Mirror could be inserted, sung to the tune of “She’ll be coming round the mountains.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • A few thoughts from me. Including a link on how to donate money to the fabulous Dancing Bear. Her name is Annie Rawlinson and is a councillor in Cumbria; she is raising money for the Samaritans by running the Arctic Marathon, which sounds pretty hardcore….

  • Mark Smulian 9th Oct '14 - 1:39pm

    Country Garden was quite a short song when I wrote it for the Liberal Revue. It then took on a life of its own with fresh verses of filth added at every rehearsal until appearing in the revue in its final form now immortalised in the songbook.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Oct '14 - 2:24pm

    Gareth, I’ve incorporated a lot of your comment, with links, into the main post and thanks for that context and attempt to abrogate responsibility for that piece of filth, Mark:).

  • “Confessions of a Trotskyite at Liberal Democrat Conference” is one I definitely want to read.

    I am guessing the author is Jeremy Browne? Trotskyites being famous for ignoring reality and continuing to ask for yet more of the type of policy that has repeatedly failed, complaining that we just have not done enough of it yet.

  • Liberal Neil 9th Oct '14 - 2:34pm

    In the early days of my conference going Paddy used to tell one involving a tribe in Africa and a long wave radio. I can’t remember any more than that, other than that it was very amusing at the time.

  • suzanne fletcher 9th Oct '14 - 3:14pm

    loved it as always. most interesting to see the Party HQ team on stage – gasps of – “they’re real people” around me 🙂 I did wonder at one of them having his hands round the cardboard Nick’s neck though – and that is when Nick started to become legless too !
    one of our members has been round this morning to buy the song book from me !

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 10th Oct '14 - 11:23am

    Was that the same SoS I saw in the bar at 3am?

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