A view backstage at Beverley Minster

A new beginning, or more of the same?

Beverley Minster virger Neil Pickford has a new perspective.
If I look up I am confronted by a large picture of a Dalek – quite appropriate really considering that Doctor Who returned to our TVs on Saturday but that’s purely a coincidence – the picture is up there anyway, independent of any televisual transmission of the time-travelling tinkerer.
The picture occupies pride of place above my desk, along with a wonderful photograph of slowly-flowing water in the River Derwent. I am ultra-aware of it at the moment because I’ve been sitting at my desk for over two weeks, on and off, looking at it.
OK, that’s obviously a bit of an inexact statement because if I’d been sitting at my desk for two weeks I’d either be in a dreadful physical condition or I’d be dead. In fact I am neither.
What I really mean is that I have not been at work during those two weeks – I’ve been on holiday, albeit mostly here in Beverley, but I haven’t actually been in the Minster.
Actually, that’s an inexact statement as well because I have been in – several times. Granted I wasn’t there in my normal role as chair-shifter and toilet-roll replacer but nevertheless I was still wanted to talk with virger John and various other members of the team on different matters. And, do you know what? It felt fine, not at all like an unpleasant intrusion into my private time.
That’s so different to previous jobs – frankly I rarely gave a thought to my normal paid employment while I was enjoying any R and R – except perhaps to curse the fact that each day spent away was one day closer to having to return.
But you already know my positive feelings if you’ve stuck with this blog through thick and thin, so let’s move on.
‘Oh dear’, I feel you thinking. ‘Because he’s been on holiday he hasn’t got a thing to write about. The poor fool’s got to churn out 900 words today and not a thought in his head. He’ll have to witter on pointlessly for another 525 until he finally gets to the end. Blow this for a game of soldiers – I’ll watch the telly instead.’
And, to a degree, you’re right – and wrong as well.
Although I’ve not been physically present in the Minster (much) over the last two weeks I’ve not been detached from it mentally – indeed not! In fact I’ve been working constantly on this flipping ‘View from the Vestry’ CD that I was banging on about last week.
 Now ‘flipping’ may not be the best adjective to use if I was trying to sell it to you, but it’s certainly one that keeps occurring to me. You see, somewhat naively I thought that reading out my words would be a simple task once the microphone had been shoved in close proximity to my beard. Wrong! It’s flipping hard work.
Although I write in a rhythm that reflects the way I speak, the printed word doesn’t take account of the fact that I have to breathe and, also, occasionally stumble. Listeners don’t want to hear those things and so I had to very, very carefully edit them all out – and once you’ve listened to your own voice about 20 times saying the same few words over and over again then the novelty wears off. In fact, by the end of the process I felt my supposedly humorous writings were about as funny as a mouldy piece of cheese – although (he added hurriedly) everyone else seems to think that the 60 minutes of material contained therein is quite engaging and well worth a mere £5 of anyone’s money (to order a copy just e-mail – thank you).
But the real point of this article is not to praise myself (no, really, honestly it isn’t), nor to point out that it’s my 56th birthday next week. No, it’s to give huge credit to the talented musicians and recording experts who put together the 30-second burst of music that precedes each ‘chapter’ on the CD.
The tune itself may sound a touch familiar to some people – it’s based on the Beverley Minster chime that rings out every hour.
These chimes are unique, having been composed by Minster organist John Camidge for our new bells when they were hung in 1901-2 and I tend to ignore them normally – but now they’ve been given a new lease of life and I think the result is brilliant.
So step forward and take a bow please, Gerald and Timothy Pickford, a.k.a. the West Beverley Wind Quartet. (Yes, quartet.  Gerald, who also arranged and mixed the piece, plays clarinet, while Tim played tenor, alto and baritone saxophone).  It’s a unique combination.
I shall try and make recordings of this available via the interweb thingy so that more of you can enjoy it in future, maybe as a ringtone or suchlike.
I couldn’t be more impressed with the results – and that’s not just Proud Dad talking.  Maybe I’ll get a new iPhone (or similar) for my birthday (next week) so I can listen to it again and again when I’m back at work. Hooray!
If you can’t wait or don’t want to pay for the CD then a full archive of around 150 articles from the Mister Minster and View from the Vestry collection is available here at: – and you can read them aloud for yourself.

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