I seem to remember a time where the Salvation Army used to stand around in the winter playing Christmas carols with a band. The band was always made up of strange looking people who you would never think would want to play any sort of instrument, let alone in public. Generally a mix of generations with a couple of really old people sitting down and a few middle aged people showing the effects of too much eating and not enough exercise, and always some skinny bloke in his early twenties with a haircut that showed he lived alone and cut his own hair in the mirror.
Their abilities were always a little suspect, but the pure effort they had obviously gone to made it something quite special. It was like we were seeing the people who were the stereotypes for dad’s army (a British (now cult) comedy about the people who helped protect the home front during World War II). Yes they sounded terrible. Often it seemed that they were all playing slightly different versions of the same music, some with different tempos, and most trying really hard to make at least a quarter of the notes either flat or in an entirely different octave.
But the result was good enough, festive enough and sweet enough that you felt obliged to throw a few coins in the bucket.
That world has sadly now gone! And has been replaced by a single person ringing a bell continuously. I think some people must have thought long and hard about the type of bell to use and the frequency of ringing. Because there is no way that purely by accident could they have worked out the most annoying tone and level of repetition?
Terrible does not even start to portray the sound that these people now make. I LONG for the days of the sally army quartets. In retrospect these were relatively beautiful.
I’m sure there collections have gone down, as the only donations that are now getting are from shop keepers trying to bribe them to move somewhere else.
I feel like going around to the sally army offices and just pressing their doorbell continuously, just to see how they like it.