A view backstage at Beverley Minster

What has it got in its pocketssssss?

Okay, here’s a simple question to start off this week. How am I like the Queen of England?
No, stop sniggering at the back, it’s a perfectly straight teaser that I suppose I’d better rephrase: what behavioural quirk do I share with the present Monarch?
The answer is, I don’t carry money on me.
I suspect it’s only a coincidence that my pecuniary habits mirror with those of the Head of the Church of England – my main motive is to prevent confusion.
You see, during the day, I might be expected to carry any cash paid to me for roof tours as well as a bundle of change for those people who haven’t got the exact money. I may also be called on to swap notes for coins for the Minster shop, issue photo permits or even take charge of donations for tea and coffee on a Sunday.
Sometimes I even have to go into town with some cash and buy little goodies such as light bulbs or drill bits.
If I carried my own cash then it would get mixed up and cause endless confusion at the end of the day when it comes to putting every penny in the correct bag – and I won’t bore you by telling you just how many different bags there are to be sorted, but it’s a lot. So, as soon as possible, I put the cash back where it should be.
There’s also a secondary reason for my normal cash-free status: I simply haven’t got the room for it in my pockets.
Instead, my trousers have to accommodate keys: lots of keys, big keys, little keys, new keys and ancient keys.
One of them is several hundred years old and opens the main door, two are complicated things that unlock the safes where we store our communion plates and shop takings, and then there is a variety of Yales, latch keys and suchlike.
You see, if anyone wants to get into a special room or cupboard at the Minster they usually come to the Virger who, of course, is normally at exactly the farthest point of the church from the room they’re being asked to open. .
So, while I’m at the West Door (one key) or Minster Moorgate entrance (two keys) I might be asked to open the Vicar’s Vestry (one key plus two safe keys), or place some more candles in the Lady Chapel (two keys to Virgers’ Vestry plus one key for collecting box).
Another popular destination is the Preparation Room (one key) in the Parish Hall across the road (one key for five doors – GOOD!) or the Peter Harrison Room (one key). This route takes me via the wheelchair entrance (one key plus security fob) and the rear gate (one key).
My favourite trip in recent weeks has been a sprint from the top of a 15 foot ladder (Flower Room, two keys, one at each end) to the fuse board (Boiler House, three keys) when the lights in the shop (three keys) blew.
We always have to be ready to unlock the car park (one key), open the parish office (two keys), secure the toilets (one key) or open the gate to the western churchyard (one key) and, actually, now that I look at my collection, I find there’s another four keys on the ring which I can’t explain.
Of course all the keys for areas above ground level, such as the towers and north transept doors as well as the rarely needed ones for gas and electric meter boxes, clerestory window ledges and organ loft are kept in a box in our vestry – we’re not completely stupid you know.
We keep that box securely locked away

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