A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Trees and tracks, and all points in between

Neil Pickford blows his whistle, again
I do hope our beloved Henrys are in fine fettle at the moment because they are about to be called upon for prodigious, powerful, pneumatic purging and purification (I’m sorry, my alliteration function button is switched ‘on’ again).
Using more normal terminology I am trying to say that our vacuum cleaners will have to work extremely hard soon, otherwise one event in the Minster is going to foul up another.
If you are reading this enjoyable, enervating, energising, educational and expletive-free epistle (sorry, again) during the week of publication then you have still got time to hie down to the Minster and look at 40+ Christmas trees in all their glory, creating a festive forest of fun-flaunting finery (sorry) and raising money for the church.
Then, after the arboreal arrivistes depart I expect that they will leave behind a fine carpet of needles and suchlike, which will be absolute hell for the event immediately following.
This, you see, will be the relaunch of a famous model railway layout that has been displayed on Blue Peter, no less.
Yes, this miniature recreation of Market Weighton station is being assembled in our north transept to link models of Beverley and York Minsters – highlighting the campaign to reopen a railway line between our two ecclesiastical edifices (and to provide environmentally-friendly pilgrimages between them, of course).
The layout won’t actually be running constantly but we’re hoping it will still be active at key times when the church is open (including during concert evenings). However, it certainly won’t be in action if it’s faced with a constant invasion of pine needles which, at OO scale, are approximately 10 feet long and quite capable of derailing the Wolds Wanderer or whatever is running at the time.
So the Henrys will be in action as soon as the last Christmas tree has been heaved into its sponsors’ transport and we won’t stop until we’re satisfied the final traces have gone.
And then the school Christmas services begin and the enemy switches from greenery to silvery – to be precise, tinsel.
Ah yes, tinsel – we love it! Nothing adds more glamour to a building than an even sheen of sparkle between the flagstones – or on a miniature railway where it can short-circuit the tracks and provide a picturesque sparkle of electricity.
But don’t let me sound like a grumpy-paws because I’m really looking forward to it. I claim a little bit of credit for the event being staged because, once it was learned that York Minster had a big model of itself that would complement our existing one of Beverley I was part of the group that had a brainwave.
Linking the models by a model railway could promote the Two Minster’s Rail Campaign – a cause very close to the heart of the vicar, the musical director and me.
Just think what a boon it would be if the line was open right now – I know that many people from Beverley would use it to travel to York and do their shopping (possibly mixing in a little convivial refreshment of the type that is so discouraged among drivers, especially at this time of year).
Returning with your presents, spending quality time with family and friends while whizzing past miles of miserable motorised queuing commuters – what could be more convivial?
And, of course, there’s no reason why it can’t be a beneficial two-way process. At a rough calculation, if  just one per cent of the shoppers coming into York decided to take the line into Beverley instead then it might just about double the turnover in local shops – as well as visitors to our Minster.
And why shouldn’t they come to Beverley? I suppose it’s easy to get complacent when you live and work in the place but, as I rediscovered when I stomped the streets a few weeks ago to get some advertising in our Christmas Tree brochure, there’s a new swathe of independent shops supplying the sort of thing I’d assumed I was going to have to go on t’internet for.
Only this year I was moaning that Beverley’s shopping didn’t offer much for the male spender: we’d lost toy shops, DIY retailers, specialist CD & DVD rental and sale outlets and the whole place was overflowing with women’s clothing and coffee houses. Just look around – it ain’t true and it’s wonderful.
This was brought home to me when two recent guests at my wife’s wonderful three-star, award-winning B&B Hunter’s Hall (still a few rooms left before Christmas – see for details) turned out to be repeat bookings who’d been so impressed with the town during a business visit that they had come back to buy a house and relocate ‘oop north.
The property they’ve bought is actually close to the route of a reinstated Two Minsters’ railway line – I hope they’re train fans.
On a different tack – apologies to anyone who thinks I’ve ignored them recently and, conversely, anyone who thinks I may have been winking at them in a somewhat personal manner. I’ve been wearing a new type of prescription contact lens and getting used to them has been a bit difficult.
Or that’s what I intend to tell the police if anyone complains.
If this hasn’t been enough for you why not browse some of my old articles at – or even buy a CD of me reading some of them. Just £5 in Beverley Minster shop; an ideal Christmas present for the family member you really love.

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