A view backstage at Beverley Minster

The virgers’ way to complete health

Neil Pickford talks up his keep-fit regime
I’m not going to labour the point this week, dear readers, so if I just say: “Chairs, staging, unstaging, stacking, chairs” then I’m sure that you can fill in the extra descriptive passages yourself.
However, that’s not the only physical thing I’ve been doing. We’re getting busier with roof tours and, as I pull my bloated body up the 113 steps, I hear the jocular phrase: “This must keep you fit,” many times.
And, in fact, I now have medical proof that it does indeed keep me fit.
Because I have a heart that only works at just over three-quarters efficiency (biology students may be able to work out what I’m saying here) I am occasionally summoned to a big building on a hill (Castle Hill, to be precise). There I have to perform faintly fatuous feats of physicality while various bits of me are monitored via numerous wires stuck on my wobbly torso.
These days the medical weapon of choice is a cycling machine and I’m glad to say that I quite enjoyed my latest experience: the monitor was showing interesting things such as my respiration rate rather than rubbish music videos on MTV. My heartbeat did leap at one point when a rather statuesque medic leaned over and inadvertently rested a bit of their anatomy on my hand but otherwise everything went according to plan. 
Then I waited many long, lonely weeks to find out if I was going to die. As I continued to be alive on a regular basis then I went back to work in the Minster, where I shifted chairs around, climbed lots of stairs and waited.
And, dear readers, it appears that this regime is actually a magnificent way of keeping fit because my blood pressure was ‘perfect’, my stamina was excellent (I equalled the efforts of a young medic who’d calibrated the machine earlier, without becoming breathless) and my lungs were working fine.
Granted I’m still fat, overweight by a factor of 33 per cent and ugly but that’s not really important – it’s the inner man (or person) that counts, or so we’re always being told. And, as what we virgers do in the Minster seems to be so good for the inner person, I started wondering about making a keep-fit video, in the same style as Jane Fonda or various modern bit-part actresses from Coronation Street. Obviously I’d be no good as the star – during this thinking process I had a sudden flashback to the 1960s and a nasty image of Ena Sharples doing a workout video that made me shudder – but I digress.
Anyway, I wonder if we could get someone who looks the right shape and is willing to be filmed while stacking our chairs (“Feel those biceps BURN”) and unstacking them (“and LIFT and stretch, and LIFT and stretch”).
Then they can demonstrate how to climb our stairs (“Every Step is One Step Closer to Healthy-Heart Heaven”) and, for advanced followers of the Virger Way, how to create and dismantle a complete concert venue overnight. I think it could be a huge commercial success.
For a reasonable fee I’m sure John and I would be happy to personally teach and share our unique knowledge, honed through many years of intense meditation and hard, disciplined study, to true searchers. Just turn up before the next big concert and we’ll show you how.
Meanwhile, couch potatoes could spend their time productively by reading from my archive of 180+ rib-tickling, provocative or annoying articles – just go to for hours of innocent amusement.
Thank you.

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