What are people singing in the shower these days?
PUBLISHED: 15:50 26 February 2018
“Come on, you starlings – do a murmuration,” says my husband, looking out on the back garden.
“How many starlings are there?” I ask, curious.
“Four,” he says.
I think we have to find more for him to do in his retirement. I thought about making a list but my friend, Jane, has had a list since 1983 and, though faded over the years, it has remained relatively untroubled by crossings out.
It is not as if my husband has been doing nothing, however, and there a couple of things (“I thought I might make a cake”) that I have been compelled to actively discourage. He is directing at least two amateur shows locally and is about to undertake training as a local history tour guide. Also, once spring is sprung, the garden will need his undivided attention between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday... and sometimes at weekends.
I have spoken to a lot of women who, once they and their partner are retired, find their husbands get under their feet and that things they used to do as a matter of course now have to be justified.
Having worked part-time for a number of years now, I had become used to being alone in the house and thus being able organise my day any way I chose. Now, I appear with a bottle of Windolene and a duster and get the Spanish Inquisition...
“What are you doing?” he asks (not in a Spanish accent).
“I’m going to clean the upstairs windows.”
“Do you have to do that now?”
“Because I was just going to have lunch.”
“It’s 11 in the morning.”
“I know but I’m hungry.”
Don’t misunderstand me. It’s lovely to have him with me at home and I only – thank you very much Tony Blair and David Cameron – have to work for another three years before I get my state pension in order to spend much more time with him. Not that I’m bitter...
But then, if I was no longer working, I might never have had the email that tells me what songs people sing in the shower. I look at the list and happily confirmed that I do, at least know some of the tunes and have heard of the artists. (Apparently, you’re not allowed into Suffolk any more unless you can pick Ed Sheeran out of a pop music line-up.)
I ask my husband: “Do you sing in the shower?”
I should know this, I suppose, but because I am usually downstairs cleaning the windows with Windolene while he is upstairs showering and blow-drying his chest, I hear only the noise of the water hitting the shower tray and, later, the hairdryer.
“Sometimes,” he says.
“What do you sing?”
“Mozart, Wagner, The Beatles... Gilbert and Sullivan.”
I check the list of the top 10 anthems sung in the shower which is based on a poll by Furniture123.co.uk.
They are: 1. Like a Virgin – Madonna; 2. I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston; 3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen; 4. Wonderwall – Oasis; 5. Dancing on the Ceiling – Lionel Richie; 6. Rocket Man – Elton John; 7. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran; 8. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley; 9. Mr Brightside – The Killers, and 10. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
Not one of my husband’s. I’m guessing that the 1,299 people surveyed are not in our age group. Increasingly we find that not only are we too old to inform popular culture, no one even bothers to ask us any more. It seems to me that surveys are interested in older people only when it comes to corn plasters and bowel regulation.
As it happens, I rarely sing in the shower. If I do, it tends to be just the intro to a classical piece because I am very much and in-and-out person. Get in; soap relevant parts; rinse and exit – barely time to hum Eric Morecambe’s version of the Grieg Piano Concerto by Grieg. I am in the minority, here, because 86% of Britons enjoy singing in the shower.
Disturbingly one in three of them believe they have a great singing voice – and I think I may have seen a number of them audition for The X Factor.
For me, the shower is a place of contemplation with the occasional incursion of pressing decisions to be made such as, is it worth bending all the way down and washing my toes or is the cascade of soapy water from my upper reaches enough to clean them? I’m hoping the latter is true.
You have to adjust your life charter to reflect new possibilities and challenges as you age. While there are some significant minuses (it takes me longer to get over head colds and small obstacles) there are a good many pluses. And when I think of some, I’ll let you know what they are.
Meanwhile, I am thinking about taking up singing in the shower. How does that Lionel Richie one go?