Friday, 30 January 2009

Occupational Hazard

Of course, it's alright for an organist - or indeed, any instrumentalist come to that. But my prolonged absence from the blog-o-sphere has coincided with an enforced absence from the choir-stalls thanks to bloody laryngitis or vitus gerulitis or whatever the quack wrote down instead of 'sore throat'. Honestly, these medic-Johnnies seem hell-bent on the complete obfuscation of the masses through means of archaic and exclusive language. But that's another story. This one is about my inability to sing (which the beastly Director of Music sarcastically suggested was an on-going problem when I telephoned to inform his of the Doctor's diagnosis. Honestly, the man's a cad!). 

Thankfully thing are at long last 'on the mend' (as we lay-men say; no doubt the quack would want to tell me that the symptoms are abating, or somesuch drivel). But no work means next-to-no pay (not that there's much of that to start with) so I feel a return to the stalls approaching. And this Sunday's music isn't bad; it's Candlemass - one of the oldest of Christian festivals - and we're doing a lovely little mass by Oldroyd and an anthem by one Otto Goldschidt. Nothing too heavy, in terms of singing. I shall exercise my vocal chords a little later on today and find out if they're up to it! Toodle-pip! 

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Land of Hope

The trouble with choral scholars, I find - apart from the fact that they can't hold their drink and are permanently skint - the trouble with choral scholars is, and I am telling you nothing I wouldn't tell them, nay, haven't told them to their faces - no, the trouble with choral scholars is that they are too enthusiastic. They are like a litter full of restless puppies, bouncing up and down behind the song-school super-desks and bobbing up and down in the choir-stalls as keen as mustard. They make anyone with slightly older bones look tardy, jaded and cynical. And call me what you like, I am certainly never tardy. (My punctuality is second to none; it helps, of course, living within a gnat's crotchet of the cathedral, but no matter.)

We have two new choral scholars this term. I shall call them Ben and Michael, chiefly because those are their respective names. Now let me say here and now, once and for all, that the two aforementioned striplings are perfectly decent fellows. They are fresh of face and sweet of voice, clean-shaven of cheek and modest of coiffure. They are also wet behind the ears. And damned keen.

For a start Michael has assumed responsibility for giving out and taking in the music. You might recall my mentioning in a previous post that this is customarily a task incumbent upon the newest lay-vicar. But Michael volunteered, first to help and thence to do the job completely. And Bernard Wiggins, Decani Alto II, was hardly likely to demur. And as for Ben, if there are pages to be turned in the organ loft, he's your man. Or boy. Because, dear reader, it is most definitely a sign of age when choral scholars start looking younger. You can forget the grizzled old faces of the county constabulary here in Wilchester; take one look at a cathedral choral scholar and it's like looking at a beaming, fresh-faced third-former, which is of course what most of them were a mere twinkling of an eye ago.

Now they are perfectly decent fellows, the sort any father would happily allow escort his youngest daughter to the local tea danson, or for a bite to eat at a Lyons Corner House. I myself, if I were blessed with female progeny, would happily allow either one of Michael or Ben (or is it Ben and Michael, for they are deuced difficult to tell apart from one another?) to accompany my daughter to a showing at the moving kinematograph. I have nothing whatever against either one or both of them personally, musically, socially, or bibulously. No. But if only they would refrain from beaming so ecstatically whenever the Organist announces he would like one of them to do a solo; if only they wouldn't drool over the music list; and if only they wouldn't spring up like be-cassocked jack-in-a-boxes whenever it's time for us to sing. But then, I suppose, if they struggled to their feet at the first chord of the hymn, if they cursed the appearance - yet again - of Dross in D for evensong and if they rolled their eyes at the thought of the extra (unpaid) work required in some interminable Restoration verse anthem, I suppose there would be little to distinguish them from your own correspondent. And as he relies on them to be technically savvy, perhaps he'd better not complain too much. After all, we were each of us young once I do believe. Even Can Bass had his salad days. Oh yes. And he could tell you a thing or two about them, too. But not now, dear reader, not now. For it is time, I fancy, for a little nap. Because the real problem with other people's enthusiasm is... it's so damn tiring.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, we've had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Feasts of both Stephen and John, the first Sunday of Christmas, Holy Innocents and today, Christ's Circumcision. Only Epiphany to go, and then things will return to normal. And I, for one, will be glad. At times like this one can get heartily sick of the cathedral (having practically lived there over the last fortnight) and possessed of a yearning for anything other than Christmas bloody Carols. Lest anyone should misunderstand, let me here and now point out my deep and heartfelt love of this most ancient form of devotional music. But, like the Christmas turkey, one can have too much of a good thing. Once January 6th has passed and we have sung the Wise Men to and from the manger, we can return - musically speaking - to normal. And I can return to my normal frequency of blogging. I have neglected this poor site over the festive season, of necessity, being extraordinarily busy. But as I consult my new Shinglers of Sutton 2009 Ecclesiastical Robes diary, I find the blessed pages bereft of appointment, bookings, concerts and other engagements and filled only with such gentle and uplifting entries as...
  • Jan 1 1970: the half-crown ceases to be legal tender in the UK (boo!)
  • Jan 2nd 1946: King Zog of Albania deposed
  • Jan 3rd: Lord Haw-Haw born, and
  • Jan 4th: Donald Campbell killed on Coniston.
I think you get the picture.
Happy New Year!