vestryview

A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Many happy returns

Neil Pickford recaps

That’s it. To paraphrase The Terminator: “I’m back.”

For those of you who haven’t been following my every movement over the last three months (or who have very short attention spans) I should clarify that phrase by saying I’ve rejoined the active staff of the Minster for the first time since early October.

The technician who waved a sort of electronic doughnut over me the other day pronounced that a clever combination of plastic, wire and battery was working properly and helping my poor old heart do its job. She also confirmed that I hadn’t disconnected anything while I’d been scratching myself or tidying up my ponytail.

So I had no more medical excuses: I was fit for work.

It was all so familiar, getting into the uniform again. Black, sensible trousers – notch in belt at same place (sadly – I’d been hoping to lose some weight at my extensive Beverley hacienda during this enforced holiday but not an ounce has dropped from my overweight frame. I blame the medication).

White shirt and tie – hang on, how do you do these things up? It’s got to be a big knot to hide the fact I can’t get the collar to meet without turning purple but the simple: ‘flick-of-the-wrist’ technique I once used to do to achieve the effect seemed to evade me on this morning. Brand new Minster jumper and jacket completed the effect and then it was time for the tools of my trade.

First things first – keys in pockets.

As I felt the cold metal shapes slide down my legs I suddenly remembered one particular repair job I should have done on my pocket over the last three months – a simple running stitch would have been adequate, but I forgot. Well, I’ve been busy. 80,000-word fantasy novels don’t write themselves you know and that’s what I’ve concentrated on since my delicate flesh was pierced by a man with a scalpel – and it’s jolly good. I’ll tell you all about it some other time but can tease you with the fact that it starts off in a town very much like Beverley. Then the action transfers to a place remarkably similar to the beautiful countryside where I grew up, before ending in a typically ugly commuter town down south.

Anyway, then it was back to the old wheelchair door, the start of most of my epic daily adventures over the last six years. No problem remembering which key was the one to unlock it, particularly as someone had got there first and opened it for me.

Being a Thursday meant there was a long line of regular tasks to be completed before swinging back the front doors but, to my surprise, I didn’t need a written list to remind me what needed to be done next.

It’s amazing how memory works: I finished off setting up a whole communion service without having to double-check anything then, when it came to my first break, I couldn’t remember where we kept the virgers’ coffee mugs.

All morning I was waiting for the first complaint to hit. Someone was bound to tell me that the paint was hanging upside down or a door was looking slightly funny, but nothing like that happened at all. In fact I was welcomed back so warmly and wished all the best so many times that I ran out of sensible ways to respond in a manly way.

I even did a roof tour, legs working perfectly despite three months of not being used to climb seven storeys the hard way and was buzzing so much at the end of it that I promptly persuaded the group to buy one of my famous CD recordings.

It may not last much longer but, at the moment, it’s good to be back.

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2 thoughts on “Many happy returns

  1. Chris Attridge on said:

    Glad you managed to get back to it! Seems to have cheered you up again since last week too ;o) interested to hear more about your forthcoming fantasy epic.

  2. Thanks for the kind thoughts – may the bird of paradise etc. etc.
    My fantasy novel is now being polished and buffed to a fine shine and will be ready for online publishing in the next few months. Not a lot of martial arts involved I’m afraid – I thought it best to stick with what I know so there’s a lot of psychological torture involved instead.
    It’s bound to be a best-seller.

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