I Dreamed a Dream


Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent

At the Puccini’s on Platform 1 this morning the guy at the coffee machine (for that is probably his full name) was pointing out Susan Boyle on the muted television. Tonight at midnight, as I did my last minute browsing, I remembered the gist of the story and put “britain’s got talent 2009” into Google. Susan was the first hit.

For the uninitiated, watch the video. Here is a woman described as a 48 year-old church worker who has never been kissed: 3 things that should make her technically inhuman in our over-sexed, irreligious and ageist television-watching demographic.

She walked out with her bumbling eccentricities, including a very embarrassing hip-wiggle reminiscent of Rod Stewart circa 1987. Simon raised an eyebrow, audience members pulled faces against her very audacity at standing on the hallowed stage and the music started….

I’m afraid to admit that tears came to my eyes. Her singing was not perfect, but that’s clutching at very pernickity straws. She sang with the timbre and clarity that some recording artists would kill for – once the fog of self-absorption and cocaine had subsided a little. She sang beautifully.

Apart from the fact I only knew about her because of the station-side coffee shop, what has this to do with commuting? I suppose the tendency to judge so much by appearances. I might find myself between a young skinny white blonde on her blackberry and a tall elegant black guy with a gym kit and a briefcase. I would assume the former perhaps an ambitious PR shark or  a ditzy advertising receptionist; the latter is probably a lawyer, or even a civil servant/PPC for the constituency I’ve just left. If Susan Boyle were sitting next to me, I would think a host of things about her – church worker probably chief among them in my experience – but not that she had the voice of a West End star.

How many assumptions do we make on a daily basis for no other reason than experience, bigotry and lack of imagination? And how utterly fantastic when those expectations are shattered by talent and wonder?


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