Monday, July 22, 2013

I do! I do! I do!

I was invited to a wedding on Saturday afternoon at St Etheldreda's, our lovely little Catholic church in Ely. The wedding ceremony was scheduled to take one hour, from one-thirty to two-thirty, after which there was a reception in a local village hall.
Boring stuff, I hear you say. Wait.
First off, this was no ordinary wedding. Both the bride and groom originate from Cameroon. By half past one, the church was PACKED with friends and relatives, mostly from Cameroon (I was one of the few palefaces there, having been invited by the bride's mother). The men were mostly dark-suited with stiff collar-and-tie, but the women... oh my goodness! The women! My words cannot do justice to the amazing range of styles, vivid colours, vibrant patterns. And the hairdos! And the unbelievable hats, some like giant piles of folded satin, some like those creations that Edwardian ladies favoured: lacy broad-brimmed and as tall as the Tower of Pisa.
No African wedding would be complete without music, in this case, provided by a Congolese choir brought in from London accompanied by guitar, bongo drums and rattly things I have no name for. Everything was sung, bongo-ed and rattled: the antiphons, the Gloria, the Gospel Acclamation, the Lord's Prayer, the Agnus Dei, quite often in the native language.
And you can't sing à l'africaine without dancing and tapping your feet. We even danced our way down the aisle to congratulate bride and groom after the solemnity. My little Catholic parish was a riot of colour and noise and harmony and laughter and love. My head is still buzzing: it and St Etheldreda's will never be the same again.
Envoi: did I say one hour? The church finally emptied at six-o'clock, four and a half hours later. Some wedding!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Bishop and my Bum

The other day, I went to Norwich Cathedral to install a Bishop. Well, I didn't personally install him, but I and a couple of thousand others were present for the ceremony. In fact, the Cathedral was so packed that for at least two hundred people, including me, it was standing room only. I managed to get a perch against a pillar, resting my bottom on the ornate carvery at the foot of the column.
The ceremony was spectacular, as you might imagine, lots of pompery-popery, made even more colourful by the contingents of various orders and other denominations in their characteristic garb. I think the Orthodox Archimandrite was my favourite.
It was a long and moving ceremony, that has left a lasting impression on my mind. It has also left a lasting impression on my bottom, thanks to the unforgiving carvery I had perched on, for I now have a pattern of acanthus leaves there that I suspect will not fade any time soon. Sorry for you I haven't a photo of such magnificent gluteal tracery.

Anyway, apart from the Swift in the organ and the indentations on my bottom, nothing much has happened to me lately. What about you?

St George and the Swift

The other day, I had a phonecall from a lady who suspected that she had a Swift in her organ. Well, you know me: when it comes to helping damsels in distress, I'm a regular St George.
So I met her at the church where, that very same morning, she had been at organ practice, when she heard a strange twittering from somewhere under or within her organ. As she had seen a Swift flying around in the nave the day before, she assumed it was the same bird finding somewhere to roost.
I scoured the church but no sign of the bird, I explored the lady's organ as best I could, but no sight or sound. She mentioned that the birdy noise had only started up when she was about ten minutes into her practice, so I suggested she should start playing again to see if we could get a response. I think it was Bach, or it might have been Telemann, but whatever it was, she played it beautifully and I immensely enjoyed the experience, especially as the church itself is magnificent, grand as a Suffolk wool church.
There was no birdy noise, but the lady was clearly grateful that I had so gallantly responded to her call for help. Chivalrous to a fault, that's me. “Any time, madam,” I told her, as I left the church composing this blog piece in my head.