No joy

I was booked to play the organ at a funeral in the village church this afternoon. I was rather sorry that the family had asked for ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ to be played before the service. It’s never been a favourite of mine.

Many years ago, I was invited to the wedding, with my family, of the son of friends’ of my parents. After the marriage, the couple went to sign the register and the organist started to play. I was a patient child and normally didn’t mind waiting, but this went on for an awfully long time, and this drearily repetitive (or so it seemed to me) little tune tinkled on and on. I don’t know if my memory exaggerates (it was the best part of 40 years ago), but I can only think it was played two or three times, as it isn’t really that long. I timed myself yesterday, five minutes. But, ever since that time, I’ve had a mild antipathy to ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’.

I’ve been practising for the last few days (it’s not that hard to play, but I’m a poor organist and have become, over the years, too used to a bit of improvising during the hymns, to cover up the fact that I’m constantly surprising myself with new mistakes), and I’ve especially practised the page turning – there are absolutely no breaks, so you just have to play one handed and hope the page stays where you put it. And I left the church at 1 o’clock, meaning to return at 2, have another good session and be confident and ready for 3, when the service was due to start.

And then the sidesman turned up here at 5 to 2. “What’s the matter, have you forgotten?” I’d evidently written down the wrong time and the funeral was at 2. Oh bugger. I drove down to the church (it’s only 250 yards, but needs must), shot in, apologising, and launched into Jesu Joy. And then, once the service started, realised that I didn’t know how many verses the second hymn had. Sometimes this particular hymn has three, sometimes four – and I hadn’t picked up a service sheet. Should I rely on hearing the words (it would be the third verse, if any, missed out) – but they sang the first hymn quite quietly, I might not be able to make them out. So, embarrassed, I asked.

I’m not sure if I earned my fee in sheer mortification or should have given a refund on the grounds of awful disorganisation.

And then I arrived home to find myself locked out. I’d left in a rush without my bag and my husband had no reason to know that. Fortunately, Al was home next door and had a key, because it is tipping down with rain now and I would have had to sit in the car. So all those people who complained bitterly that we were actually having a summer with sun for a change have their wish.

Update, 8 pm. So it’s funny is it? First diamondweeza, now Geena, my daughter El, Al and Dilly – all saying, well you must admit, it’s quite amusing. Al said “Dilly said it’s the sort of thing that was in the Vicar of Dibley.” “Well,” I replied grumpily, “if it had been in a sitcom, it wouldn’t have been in a very good one, it wasn’t exactly hilarious.” We looked at each other. Neither of us has ever seen the V of D, so how would we know? Sub-Vicar of Dibley, that’s my life!

And I’ve spent the last 15 minutes picking courgettes in the rain, because I didn’t do it this morning and they would all be marrows by tomorrow. I’m a saintly woman, I tell you.

The reason I didn’t do it this morning was because I looked after Squiffany – for half an hour or so, supposedly, but she fell asleep on me after 20 minutes and didn’t wake up for two whole hours. “Were you regaling her with tales of NADFAS lectures?” enquired Al.

The butt of all the jokes, that’s me.


12 comments on “No joy

  1. Mary P.

    You need a page-turner! No 12-year-old piano students available to sit by you and do the duty when you nod? I remember doing that for my piano teacher at our recital – her best student was picked for the honour each year, and one year, I was that student!! These days, maybe children aren’t so sweet (gullible?) and you’d actually have to PAY one… šŸ™‚

  2. Z

    Are there floods? Not right here – it’ll just be surface water, so unless your cottage usually floods when it rains I should think you will be fine. It has rained very hard today, but not for very long at any one time.

  3. Z

    Hello Mary – no, the children I know are not that easily tempted by the prospect of page-turning at a funeral! It’s not usually a problem, one page turn max, and usually at a natural break – but in Jesu Joy there just aren’t any.
    Do you still play? Hammering badly at the organ has ruined me as a piano player!

  4. Mary P

    Ha! I missed that it was a funeral! Yes, well, I can see not dragging along the local youngsters to strange funerals.

    Yes, I still play, though I was much more accomplished at seventeen than I am today at forty-odd. At seventeen I had time (and motivation in the form of my grandad) to practice two or three hours a day. Now I play as the whim strikes me. I may not play as well these days, but I think I enjoy it more!

  5. Z

    I realised, in my late thirties that I would never play a keyboard instrument as well as I had 20 years earlier – so I took clarinet lessons. I need more now as I’ve let it lapse recently, but I loved it.


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