Composer: Michael Betteridge
Libretto: Rebecca Hurst
Choirs: Meraki and The Sunday Boys
Conductors: Michael Betteridge and Michelle Robinson
Orchestral Leader: Steve Wilkie

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1. Prologue (Her/Him):

 

Sing it — Friend!

I hold your name on my tongue.

 

It’s not about how we’re different

but how our voices blend.

 

You are the sister / mother / brother / son 

I never had.

 

Sing it — Friend!

I hold your name on my tongue.

 

I love who I am with you —

not a bird with clipped wings, but free to fly.

 

I love how with you I leap over the lines,

shrug off the ties that bind —

 

just for a dance, a song,

a night on the town.

 

Friend! With you I fly beyond

what the world insists I must be.

 

You are sister/mother.

You are brother/son.

 

Sing it — Friend! Burnish your name

on the tip of my tongue.


2. Ring the bell (Her):

 

Ring the bell and wait / red van is on the drive;

dogs bark inside / for you to open the door.

 

This was back when people still dropped in.

The only phone was in the hall.

 

Ring the bell and wait

for you to open the door.

 

You never asked why, just said -- come on in.

A cup of tea, your stories / laughter and chat.

 

Did we spill the beans? Probably not.

But you were always glad to see me.

 

I ran down the lane whenever I was home

to check nothing had changed. I liked that.

 

Ring the bell

and wait for you to open...

 

The muddy kitchen, the dogs: Doone, Misty, Pip.

Your chaotic menagerie: peacocks, donkeys, sheep.

 

The woods where we first met — you,

foraging for elderflower; me, reading Oscar Wilde.

 

Above the canopy of trees: that little tent of blue.

 

3. Flatmates first (Him):

 

Flatmates first — remember —

those damp student halls.

 

The colour of the kitchen where we sat over cups of tea or eating chips

with curry sauce, stir fries and takeaways, talking without drawing breath,

utter silliness one minute—putting the world to rights the next.

 

Flatmates first—then friends. We kept in touch

after uni, talking on the phone every few days

because nothing was real until I’d told you about it.

 

Boyfriends come and go but I am yours

and you are my one constant, bright star. 

Remember — those damp student halls.

 

How in clubs whenever that song came on

and we would dance like it was our last chance

and the smile on your face — fierce, radiant, wild.

 

4. Interlude I (Her/Him):

 

He said: You made me what I am today.

 

( Did we spill the beans? / probably )

 

She said: Hey babycakes, life is a cabaret!

 

(You are my one constant, bright star.)


He said: I miss you. I wish we’d kept in touch.

 

( A song / a dance / a night on the town )

 

She said: Your best is good enough.

 

(With you I leap over the lines)


He said: Nothing is real ‘til I’ve told you about it.

 

She said: That little tent of blue.

 

5. Silenced, not forgotten (Her):

 

And I hear your voice (gruff, amenable)

after all these years — not forgotten.

 

The books you left me line my shelves

along with memories of the stories you told.

 

The school you built for boys —

always a place they could breathe; start over from.

 

Your house is still there, but the old red van

is no longer parked on the driveway.

 

Last winter your peacock died. Guardian

of the rooftops, he haunted us —

 

the final survivor of your chaotic menagerie:

sheep, birds, donkeys, dogs and boys.

 

With a bright, wistful eye the peacock

would promenade along the lane.

 

He fanned his tail, displaying to flocks of

bemused chickens, indifferent finches.

 

For a decade the lane echoed

with his diva’s cry—redolent of you

 

my friend, great teacher—now silenced.

 

6. T-R-O-U-B-L-E (Him):

 

Sometimes we would sit up with a bottle of wine

and you would play that song T-R-O-U-B-L-E

and I would say, ‘He’s no good for you.’

And you would say, ‘Hon, I love you,

but go fuck yourself. He’s the one.’

 

We made up. We danced at your wedding.

I saw the look on his face and thought yes,

he’s T-R-O-U-B-L-E, but I’ll shut my eager eyes,

bite my tongue. After all, boyfriends come and go;

I’ve had a few. But still, we drifted apart.

 

And then you called me again out of the blue

and it was like you’d never been away.

We met, had a drink, a dance, a laugh —

that look (trouble) on your face: fierce, wild.

You said, ‘How did it end up like this?’

 

Finally he told you to choose. Said: ‘It’s him or me.’

You showed up at my door with a couple of bags,

that look on your face. We cried. I held you tight.

I said, ‘Friend, stay as long as you like.’

And we sat up and talked all night.


7. Nightmare Song (Her):


Nightmare cuts

through sleep

like a peacock’s cry.

 

As I walk the narrow lane

the street lamps blink out

one by one. A fox barks.

 

My legs turn to lead. Can’t cry out.

Can’t run. And I feel something

or someone close by.

 

Nightmare cuts through sleep.

 

And then — headlights

sweep away the dark

and I see — your old red van.

 

Familiar face and voice — gruff, kind.

You lean across, throw open the door

and (such relief) I crawl in.

 

Slump back in the seat

with a sob of relief as you

drive us over the bridge and

out of my bad dream.


 

Bridge: That little tent of blue.


8. Interlude II (Him/Her):

 

Life got in the way—work, family.

 

(Met at school / friends from day 1)

 

Sorry we lost touch /you were taken too soon.

 

(You betrayed me / you made me laugh / you let me down)


It’s not about how we’re different

but how our voices blend.

 

Thank you for being there when life was hard.

 

Because we are so similar /

I see myself in you.

 

You’re just brilliant /

hope we’ll always be friends.


not a bird with clipped wings, but free to fly.


Shouting ‘House’ in Salford bingo halls.

 

Met at the dodgiest pub in Oldham

 

Working together at the village hotel.


You are sister/mother.

Brother/son.

 

(Big bum / honest / proud)

 

( Generous / funny / carefree )

 

(Tall, single-minded, kind)

 

He said

She said


 

9. Celebration Song (Him):

 

The things I love about you—

count them on my fingers, toes and thumbs.

 

You are the best: eager eyes,

bright smile. A fighter.

 

Your laugh lifts the roof, turns heads,

and you just stare right back. Unabashed.

 

I love you for that. Eager eyes.

Bright smile. Shout them down.

 

But next breath you’re gentle, kind—

putting the world to rights.

 

God, you make me laugh.

And that smile on your face: fierce, radiant.

 

The things I love about you, friend:

you made me what I am today.

 

Eager eyes. Bright smile.

You help me realise that I’m ok.

 

10. Last Word (Her/Him):

 

If my voice should fail as I rise to speak

it is s/he who leans forward with the words I need.

 

Sing it — friend! With you I leap over lines,

shrug of the ties that bind, just for a dance, a night.

 

With you, friend, the world turns from dark to light.

Day breaks sooner, dawns brighter with you at my side.

 

I hold your name on the tip of my tongue. And remember —

friend — that I was there for you. Your name is my song.