A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Time passes – eventually

Neil Pickford is twiddling his thumbs 
Is there anything worse than the agony of waiting for something you desperately want to happen. You know the sort of thing; perhaps the results of a life-changing job interview or a medical scan. It may be something as serious as wondering when your teenage child is coming back in your car after an evening out with friends, or even daring to hope that Hull City can stay in the Premiership,
Strangely enough that last one doesn’t bother me at all – possibly because Bristol City is my team. Ever since the lucky goal that enabled you lot to see off my valiant boys at Wembley I haven’t been able to get excited about any footy game.
In any case I’ve got loads of alternatives at the moment which get my ‘anguished waiting’ juices running – but I won’t bore you with most of them. They’re personal – well, they are at the moment although I’m sure I could work some of them into a future blog if you really, really press me (and I can’t think of anything else). But I don’t want to go into any of them at the moment. No, really, I don’t.
So what shall we talk about instead to pass the time?
Ah, “Pass the time.”  What an easy statement to make – what a world of meaning within it.
“Time is an illusion,” said one of the great philosphers (actually, it was Douglas Adams – ed) who, I suspect, was not being completely serious when he committed that quotation to eternity. Time is most definitely not an illusion – it’s something that grinds slowly and loudly when you’re aware of it, yet sprints by on silent feet when you turn away, leaving just a vague sense of regret in its wake.
Hmmm, it’s amazing what irrelevant things you end up doing when you’re sitting around waiting for something. Something like writing the above paragraph for a start.
It’s no good, I shall have to tell you. You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m waiting for a few things to be resolved and, until they are, I have no real idea of where quite a few hours in future weeks and months will be spent.
Firstly, I’m waiting for the final bits of the BBC jigsaw to be vouchsafed unto us. Last week the Minster had a meeting with the Antiques Roadshow team, which went very well. Now I’m waiting for a parallel event with the Songs of Praise team who, in certain respects, want exactly the opposite of their fellow broadcasters.
We hope that all gets sorted out amicably but if it isn’t then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fiona Bruce and Aled Jones arm-wrestling for the privilege of walking in our treadwheel crane for the viewers, with rival camerapersons unplugging each others leads in a frenzy of tribalism. Mind you, thinking about it, that could be quite an entertaining bit of television in its own right……
Mention of the treadwheel crane reminds me of the forthcoming Easter Bank Holiday where John and I make ourselves available throughout the entire day to do as many roof  tours as we can from about 10am onwards. These Bank Holidays are a very important source of revenue to the Minster but their level of success is hugely dependent on how much publicity we get for them in the week before.
So I’m sitting here biting my fingernails hoping that the papers, radio stations and TV teams who’ve received my press release will give it coverage in their What’s On sections. If not John and I will be stuck in our vestry all day, twiddling our thumbs and eating toast. Worry, worry, worry.
Mention of press releases brings me to another moving-picture media contact I made a while back to whom I suggested that, when the clocks go forward in the spring, they might like to film us spinning our clock hands very quickly to illustrate the news. A simple idea but one which, I realised afterwards, could be quite difficult to do. So I’m waiting to see if that’s going to come off because, if it does, I’ll have to ask John to come in on one of his days off to help me.
And you don’t want to disturb John if you can help it – not when he’s looking forward to a competitive game with other members of the Minster golf team (of which I am NOT a member). The look of disappointment on his face is more than anyone with a heart could stand. 
On top of that I’ve got a big private project hanging over my head at the moment that goes under the working title of ‘Hunter’s Hall’.  Basically– my family is opening a new bed and breakfast venture in Beverley soon. The builders have been in for four months now, floors have been ripped out and underfloor heating installed, new drains, rewiring, en-suite bathrooms, a complete new kitchen, all walls replastered and redecorated, new doorways and staircase– the lot. It looks like a building site – it IS a building site – and I’m anxiously waiting for a firm date when it will be ready so I can start planning a pre-launch publicity and advertising campaign,
Will it be a success? Only time will tell and, quite frankly, the suspense is killing. Time is grinding at the moment, even as the new holiday season is sprinting towards us on silent shoes (see above).
But, somehow, I’m not feeling tense about any of the above. Impatient yes, but not tense. I am a very lucky person because, for five days a week, I work in a building that manages to calm and uplift and I am surrounded by many people who seem to bloom within its walls. Only a few years ago the pressure I’m under would have had me rampaging like a lunatic: tense, driving like a maniac on every short journey, short-tempered, stomach-churning distractions preventing me from living a normal life and spoiling everything for my family.
But here in the Minster I’ve got what my younger son beautifully describes as a ‘happy place’ – and it’s keeping me sane – thank heaven.
First published March 2010  


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