Rev loves a good acronym. There’s WiM, which stands for “Slightly Longer than a Week in April that used to be in March”, there’s RiG, which stands for “Isn’t it lucky that when Rev decided it wanted to be in Europe for a few days they picked Germany and not somewhere like Denmark, where they would have wanted to get RiD of us?” I’ve recently been learning about our third acronym, RESITS.
I’ll admit that “RESITS” is a pretty irresistible name for an event that involves students going away in August. It’s certainly something that someone spent a great deal of time and care rearranging until it spelled what they wanted it to spell. Still, “Rev in Edinburgh Singing In The Sun” didn’t seem particularly appropriate when I was Walking Alone Down Musselburgh High Street In The Rain (WADMHSINTR) after my extremely long train journey. Having never been to RESITS before, it wasn’t the most glamorous start and I didn’t know what to expect.
Well, I had some idea. It was a Rev event, after all. There would have to be a certain amount of chaos and ridiculousness. That went without saying. I’d been told it was more chilled out than a normal event, but I wasn’t sure about that. I’ve spent plenty of time napping at WiM and that’s the most stressful Rev environment. It didn’t see how it could possibly become more relaxed. WiM hadn’t prepared me for RESITS.
On arriving at the church we were staying in on the Saturday evening, I was informed there was no timetable for the week. We would, at some point, be singing on the Royal Mile as part of the Fringe and, more importantly, at some point we would be singing at a restaurant called Luca’s to be paid in free ice cream. Presumably, we were going to be doing some rehearsals before that point so we would actually know what we were singing. Other than that, anything could happen. And did. So what is RESITS?
RESITS is the longest train journey in the world to get from Somerset to Edinburgh (and then on a little further to Musselburgh); a trek that becomes more than worth it the moment you are enthusiastically greeted by Revvers you haven’t seen for months.
It’s being thrown out of the church on Sunday afternoon because they have s service and having to relocate to another church, where you all laze around on comfy armchairs and eat cake as you wait to be able to go back. You may even do a little bit of rehearsing to fill the time.
It’s a secret meeting of the National Volunteer Team to discuss all sorts of secret things that I can’t tell you about.
It’s when the treasurer, chief caterer and general organiser of anything that needs organising but doesn’t have anyone to organise it decides to have both her thirtieth birthday, start a new job and have a job interview for a different new job during the week of RESITS despite that her birthday isn’t until a week later, she doesn’t want to start the new job and the interview is miles away. She still comes for two days because it’s Rev and we can make those two days a worthwhile celebration. Even the candles on her cake relight themselves in excitement.
It’s waking up at two minutes to nine and realising you’re supposed to be packed away and out of the church by nine o’clock but you’re still in your pyjamas and sleeping bag. It’s realising the organiser of anything that needs organising but doesn’t have anyone to organise it would normally force you to be up and packed away in time but with her having left early you have to do it yourself.
It’s the people who for some reason were willing to get up at seven in the morning just to go swimming and so aren’t still in bed when it’s time to wake up, but whose stuff is still sprawled across the floor whilst we decide if it’s reasonable to move it or not.
It’s willingly travelling on a bus, my least favourite form of transport, so I can see a show with some friends despite that I wasn’t really planning to go to any shows at all during the Fringe. It’s an unprepared Out of the Blue not realising what their request for audience participation would mean with an audience filled with Revvers: two rows of the theatre chanting with one voice in support of one of their own. When a Revver is on stage being serenaded, it’s not Out of the Blue we’re cheering for and when they ask her if she knows any good a cappella groups, they don’t expect what we know is coming, not a cheer for them but a resounding plug for Revelation Rock-Gospel Choirs.
It’s following that performance with one of our own, stood outside the theatre as cameras mysteriously find their way to our newest star. Giving our opinions on the show we saw but then singing for ourselves with everyone watching. Then traipsing across the city of Edinburgh, not really knowing where we’re going except that we had last minute tickets for the Reduced Shakespeare Company and another hour of laughter.
It’s finding your way home again after a show, with your feet aching and the buses uncertain and wanting nothing more than to go to bed, except tomorrow it will start all over again.
It’s the legendary wall jump, a tradition of RESITS that has grown over the years. Carefully allocating seats amongst our limited number of cars to make the short journey to Portobello Beach, excitedly watching the excitement of people who don’t normally see the sea and being grateful for my own beach at home. Toes scrunching in the sand and the water, picking up shells until it was time to pull myself up onto the wall just to jump off a hundred times in a row, practicing until the whole choir was in time, swapping places as different choirs and teams and locations and friends joined for their own pictures, everyone pulling closer and closer together.
It’s my favourite part of the week not actually being anything to do with singing or shows and only tangentially having anything to do with Revvers, but instead being walking and climbing and looking at views. Finding our way into the wilds of the Pentland Hills Regional Park, not to the very top because of the recent howling weather, but still circling the reservoir to hunt geocaches as the scenery curls round our eyes and we plan to do it again next year.
It’s sitting down just after breakfast with a book as some of the guys get ready to jam. Listening to them swapping instruments just for the fun of it, playing whatever is at their fingertips just for the sound of it and still sitting there through late afternoon and early evening because no one wants the music to end.
It’s the fact that during the course of the week, I managed to read multiple books and write some stuff of my own, which has never happened at a Rev event before.
It’s your first and second and third trip to Luca’s.
It’s singing for free ice cream with so many people that you fill up the stairs at Luca’s and there’s still not room for everyone, because this is the biggest RESITS there’s ever been. It’s three of us desperately sneaking out when the performance is only half done so we can sit on a rain-battered bus before running through the drenched streets of Edinburgh to arrive in the cinema minutes after the start of the first new episode of Doctor Who, sat there dripping in our seats as the whole audience watches breathless.
It’s the mysterious disappearance of a bottle of Ribena, which had absolutely nothing to do with me. If you have any evidence in this ongoing case, please present it to Robin unless I am implicated, in which case, just forget about it.
It’s when you climb a volcano for the first time in your life and text your mother in excitement, only to have her text you back and tell her your aunt is on top of Mount Vesuvius, a summit even more illustrious than Arthur’s Seat. You’re there with a long, straggling trail of Revvers, some almost running ahead and some pacing slow and steady behind, all scrambling over rocks and ruined chapels until they emerge on top of the world with all Edinburgh (and its rapidly approaching clouds*) spreading around. If you heard the faint sounds of slightly out of tune singing accompanied by clarinet drifting from the top of Arthur’s Seat on Friday 22nd August, that was us.
*Here’s a tip for you. If a large group of people climb Arthur’s Seat together but the moment an ominous black cloud arrives, decide that it’s every person for themselves before running down the steep and rocky mountainside at a variety of speeds, then do be prepared for a small amount of worry when you reach the bottom first only to see an ambulance, ranger vehicle, three police cars and three fire engines pulling up at the foot of the path you just descended. If you do want the worry to stop, don’t wait for half an hour before you ask one of the policeman if they’re looking for your fellow Revvers just to find out that no, it has nothing to do with you and they’ll all be down in their own time.
RESITS is doing things for the first time without the pressure you might feel at other Rev events. There were so many people who hadn’t arranged or taught or conducted before who stood in front of us with their songs and every single one was awesome. My own first was attending a Rev prayer session (I’ve never been an atheist but I don’t really consider myself a Christian) and I’m more than glad I went.
It’s when the refined and cultured members of the choir visit the National Museum of Scotland and spend most of their time looking for first the children’s area, then a piece of broken mobile phone that was still in its case and hadn’t fallen out at all, because that’s what you do when you’re refined and cultured.
It’s being reasonably excited when someone tells you they’ll lead you to the café where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and becoming even more excited when the menu tells you that it’s also a favoured writing location for Alexander McCall Smith (I’d pick The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency over HP any day). It’s your five minute wait for a table turning into ten and twenty minutes and eventually having to run with your cake barely eaten because you’ve already missed one performance on the Royal Mile and you don’t want to miss another.
It’s the brilliant audience, from dancing toddlers to clapping old ladies, who all stopped to watch us and cheer us on. It’s a particularly special shout out to the wonderful trio who didn’t just copy what we were doing but who made their own moves until we almost thought they were part of the choir. Wherever you are, join your nearest Rev now. We need you.
It’s Sunday morning and the final two songs in the church before we begin to disperse to our respective vehicles for the trip home. It’s the longest train journey in the world all over again, but with new memories still bright and clear and the next Rev event not so far away, because if there’s one thing that I’ve learnt at RESITS, it’s that all Rev events need to be attended.
© Devon Hazel 2014