Last weekend we went on a little trip and, among other pleasant experiences, paid a visit to the church where my daughter is getting married next year. I was introduced to the Vicarene and had a good chance to look round the outside of the building before the service began. Very nice. So far so good.
Unlike many countries, in the UK, on a normal Sunday, churches are largely empty, and this was no exception. We eased through the service and everything progressed as you would expect. The vicarene had a lovely voice, and so did some of the congregation, I rumbled and murmured through the hymns, and leant over occasionally to hear my good lady chiming in bravely though the tunes were unknown to us. My daughter’s future mother in law informed us later that the vicarene delighted in choosing obscure hymns. No problem with that. There must be thousands of the poor chaps who are largely ignored and welcome the chance of the airing which this generous lady affords them.
At last the service was over and it was time to depart and, oh hang on a minute. No one is moving and the vicarene is just standing there . The organist bursts into life. Somewhere between an epileptic fit and thunder-storm, with the odd squeaky note sounding like the throttled cry of an electric seagull. Future mother in law starts swaying and making strenuous efforts not to laugh. My daughter, a chip off the old block, mutters “Oh really”, but by now the organist seems to be placing his elbows at random places on the keyboard producing a range of notes and discords I thought possibly formed some part of a research project for creating nuclear warning sirens. I am beaming broadly. Any sign of homely madness is reassuring to yours truly. My partner is exhibiting admirable self-control, but her eyes show she is clearly puzzled. It reminds me of that now famous piece, “Medley on random notes by Sergio Cacophony. A master of the unexpected. Finally, when I thought all hope was lost, silence returns and the vicarene turns and heads down the aisle.
As we turn ourselves, and prepare to leave, she is already at the organ congratulating the musician on his new masterpiece. apparently specially composed for the service. The normal organist is away and this plucky reserve musician has seized the opportunity to explore the use of the unorthodox in re-awakening a slumbering congregation.
We are all, in some way, slightly bonkers. I am the first man to step up to the plate and admit I could do with a little fine-tuning. The point is that there are certain places like the church, home. mosque or temple where, hopefully, you should be able to express a bit more of yourself, and still be indulged,
As a young man I used to go to a cafe regularly where they served the worst roast dinner possible, but in the sweetest, pleasant and most gentle manner imaginable. I used to go there, just to enjoy their genial behaviour, and the delightful lack of awareness they had about the food quality. Sawing my way through the beef was a small price to pay for enjoying their innocence . In the same way, the smile on the face of the organist at the chance to exhibit his music more than made up for my surprise on hearing it. A degree of self-delusion is an important ingredient of a happy life. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were allowed more chances to express our foibles in places where tolerance took precedence over judgement.