Friends of Hulla

Milkman of Human Kindness | Finding Joy in Her Local Choir

Hullabaloo Quire is full of heroes, local and national, public and private, sung and unsung…Recently, however, we have had the collective pleasure of celebrating with and congratulating one of our own who has received very public acclaim.

Anna Burns has shot to fame in recent weeks by winning the Man Booker Prize for her astonishing novel Milkman. We watched and waited with bated breath through the run up to the final announcement; the long list, the short list, the award  ceremony in October. On the night in question, celebratory tweets and posts and cyber whoops abounded for our Anna (who we are more used to bopping along in the soprano section) who accepted the award and took the stage with a characteristic dry humility, and entered a whirlygig of high profile appointments, interviews, engagements. We were so pleased for her and proud for her, and kept her space in the Sop section cosy until she could return to sing.

Anna let me know when she was coming back to choir (just a week or two after the event) and I prepared a little surprise for her. I wanted us to sing her a wee fanfare that somehow related to the book and her achievement, but couldn’t quite work out what song to sing (Kelis’ Milkshake somehow didn’t seem quite right, and I was never going to go to Benny Hill world!) . I was in the middle of reading the book, trying to audiate her ominous Milkman, when I realised that not all Milkmen are created equal, and that’s when Billy Bragg’s wonderful Milkman of Human Kindness turned up.

So I set about writing an arrangement, for us to sing for Anna, and mentioned to her that we had an audio treat for her, and on the night in question, she came to choir with a journalist from the New York Times and her publicist from Faber!

Hullabaloo’s debut appearance in the NY Times features below, and here is a clip of us singing the chorus of Milkman of Human Kindness (Billy Bragg gave his blessing and sent his congratulations to Anna too!)

THIS is the stuff of which community is made – celebrating triumphs, galvanising through the hard times, supporting and creating and nurturing each other….here’s to another 20 years of Hulla!


Kirsty Martin





Anna Burns & Kirsty Martin
Anna Burns & Kirsty Martin