Opinion with Christine Tongue: Hallelujah – rain and Handel

Christine at Messiah, by Folkestone Choral Society

Scooters and sticks don’t like storms – we slip and our electrics stop working. So why did I go to Folkestone in the worst  weather we’ve had in decades in Kent? And why Folkestone when my instinct was to be in London with the demonstrators calling for peace in the middle east?

Weeks ago I’d booked to go the Messiah, put on by Folkestone Choral Society. I had good friends among the performers, and I love Handel.

Having been stuck going nowhere while my hip joint was slowly recovering from the shock of getting some complicated German technology instead of rotting bones, I was thrilled I was finally going out for some cultural excitement.

I booked wheelchair accessible transport, a restaurant for lunch that promised flat access, a few minutes from the church where the concert was to be, put on my best raincoat and packed a raincover for the scooter controls.

The rain kept off until we came out of the restaurant. Then it was as if someone had picked up the English Channel and dumped it on Folkestone. I scooted with rain driving into my face, going through deep puddles where the dropped kerbs had turned into lakes and the drains had filled with leaves. Apocalyptic!

The church found their ramp, forgave me not finding my electronic tickets on my phone as my wet fingers wouldn’t work, and let me and three drowned companions in. I parked near the orchestra and tried to dry off the poor scooter.

Bringing your own seat is brilliant if the option is hard wooden pews! But not if it’s dripping wet.

Handel calmed me down and distracted from my wet feet and even wetter backside. But the storm made me listen to the words of the oratorio like never before. And I started to visualise the horrifying footage we’re getting from Gaza and the Ukraine, and the desperate need for peace.

Listen to it!

“For unto us a child is born…. and his name shall be called…Wonderful, Counsellor …. Prince of peace.” Well don’t we need all that? Unfortunately that child was born in Bethlehem,  in Handel’s time it was Palestine. It’s in the West Bank, in theory still in Palestine but many Israelis have also settled there. So not a happy place. The middle east really needs a champion for peace!

“He shall feed his sheep, like a shepherd. “ Well that’s a sentiment we can all agree with! No one should have to go hungry.  So why is so much of the world starving. Or under siege with no supplies allowed in? Or having their wheat fields bombed? Or, closer to home, dependent on foodbanks?

How did it all go wrong? “Why do the nations rage furiously together?” sang the bass. Good question! Answers in an oratorio please.

The chorus offered: “let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their yokes.” Sounds like freedom and democracy to me.

I can celebrate that. Hallelujah sings the choir and we all stand up – well not me as I’m  still glued to a wet scooter and the conductor has smiled understandingly at me – but the church is filled with glorious rejoicing.  Thrilling! It’s what we all came for!

But there’s more. The soprano, in the best tune in Handel,  tells us: “I know that my redeemer liveth!” We could really do with a few peace-loving redeemers at the moment.

But for me and the scooter, the day was over. Someone unlocked the accessible loo for me (who locks these vital facilities?) We swooshed through a few more puddles and up the ramp into the bus. And home.



  1. I’m glad I don’t think like you. When I saw The Manfreds and The Searchers this year, I just got lost in the music, with all the world’s problems forgotten for a couple of hours!

    • Kathy: yet again I have to ask you to remove Mr Checksfield’s appalling comment.
      I’ve no doubt that younger people, children, read these comments.

  2. It is shaming that the leaders of the various churches in UK are so silent about the warmongers of all sides in the tragedy of Gaaa

  3. Look she is describing an outing to see a performance of Handel’s Messiah, in the wet.Let’s leave it at that.

Comments are closed.