A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Whatever next?

“When your world is revolving ever more quickly it may be time to stand back.” – Old Chinese Proverb I’ve just made up.
There is a danger with any blog that it will become a succession of reports: a sort of ‘what I did on my holidays’ type of essay.
And, frankly, given the type of holidays I go on I think you’d be as bored as I was.
So I’m going to tell you a joke…..
It’s odd isn’t it how, when you want to tell a humorous anecdote, you can never think of one.
It’s like that psychology exercise some people try every now and then. You know, the one that goes: “Try not to think of a pink elephant…. Ha ha, you can’t NOT think of one, can you?”
Only the other way round, of course.
So, perhaps if I start by telling you what happened this week a good joke will just sort of jump up on me while I’m not expecting it. Here’s hoping.
Anyway, it was a busy week in the Minster again. On Friday we had another of our popular Youth Cafes with well over 200 secondary schoolers inside our hallowed stones.
For various reasons it was a sort of ‘Café-Lite’ format this time compared to previous efforts; no live bands, no Gladiators’-style combat platform (because there was a hole in it), just a bouncy castle, a chill-out area and a simple stage from which issued modern disco stuff’.
I say ‘disco stuff with a certain sneer because, well, do they call that music? Just a succession of: “mmph, mmph, mmph, mmph” with a hint of a tune behind it.
Back in my day we had real songs with real bands and real people –  the Sex Pistols, Jilted John, the Wurzels,  Alice Cooper – authentic music – and I speak with a certain degree of authority here.
I used to run a professional disco with lasers, sound-light boxes, dry ice and 300 bits of circular vinyl with authentic scratches. Put me on a stage like the one in the Minster and, as soon as I’d weighed the stylus down with a two pence piece to stop it jumping, I’d have the beats bubbling.
“Dance you dozy fools, I’m not here for my health,” I’d urge them gently just before hitting them with a sequence of five or six records where I’d crank the tempo up, then down before pummelling them with the next jaunty little jingles. (Trade secret here –I’d snap an elastic band tightly around the turntable base right where the drive wheel made contact. This had the effect of speeding the records up by about five per cent and gave a boost to the dancing. Every little helps, as Britain’s favourite retailer keeps reminding us.)
Unsurprisingly, I got a lot of repeat bookings and I made a darn good living at it but, like an idiot, I bowed to the overwhelming expectations for graduates in the 1970s and got myself a ‘real’ career.
That’s worked out well for me, hasn’t it?
Ummm, I appear to have wandered off track for a moment. What I meant to write about was how popular the simple bouncy-castle-and-disco format had been and, of course, as an added bonus it was much easier to clear up after.
It was bang on 11pm when I locked up the church, which was good as John and I had another long day on Saturday, setting up for the completely different music produced by the Black Dyke brass band.
We had to build a very large and high stage and put up 400 extra seats in the transepts to cater for this concert which had sold out weeks before.
My goodness, you certainly get loads of decibels for your money with this lot – I’m glad we removed some of the more vulnerable glass from our West End Window only the other week.
It was a marvellous sound, which still seemed to be echoing around the nave some two hours after they’d finished. I can vouch for that because we virgers were still getting the old place ready at that time for the early morning service, which we completed round about 11pm again.
I’m glad to say that when I opened up the church at 7.15am there was virtually no sign that the Black Dykers and their audience of 800 had ever been there only ten hours earlier.
Just to bring the weekend to a sensible close, this Sunday was also the day when we celebrated the official day of St John of Beverley so, in the evening, we had some 35 civic dignitaries from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in their be-chained finery at a special service, followed by sandwiches and cake. Just a little bit of extra work involved there, but nothing to really write home about, so I won’t.
Then, on Monday a simple bi-lingual ground and roof tour for guests from our twin town of Nogent-sur-Oise followed by routine work and, hey ho, it’s time for my Tuesday weekend break – which is why I’m sitting here now writing my blog.
I’m sorry, I haven’t remembered a decent joke yet so I’ll sign off now. I promise that if I think of one before next week I’ll write it down.
‘Til then, pop-pickers. Au revioir.
First published May 2009

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