Anyone who has ever worked in or visited the churches of Great Britain (probably not a lot of you, granted, but bear with me) will invariably have encountered at some point the sheer horror that lurks above the aisles: The organist. This semi-mythical beast is a honed ecclesiastical sub-species, at once brimming with enthusiasm, verging on the myopic and, like some of our most successful suicide bombers, holding within his/her (but usually his) palms, the potential to spread misery on a scale hitherto uncharted.
Curiously, the church organist’s first rule of thumb appears to be a complete fail at all things organ: Hand/foot coordination tends to suffer brutally, despite the foot keys being the size of railway sleepers and those above separated in hard-contrast black and white. Then there is the issue of the stops. Your average organ has about thirty, all with exotic monikers such as Vox Humana, Flagelot and Clarabella. The end-user must negotiate these, in real time, in order to hit that authentic ‘squirrel in a microwave’ note of celestial purity so often endured by parishioners throughout the land. And then there is the temptation to revise previous errors on the fly, throwing more senior members of the congregation into blind panic as their sung version of ‘Oh God, Our Help In Ages Past’ morphs into Hard House techno. Never before has one man wielded such power over the helpless, bar Caligula.
Cruel, I know. But over the past twelve months I’ve been to three memorial services and worked in several places of worship (No, I’m not a barman. Stop it). And I have suffered, I have so. Usually from the bill. Seeing your grandma/father/whoever sent off to the next life as Sparky attempts to get Grade 1 at your expense is a bit of a slap in the face, make no mistake. But we bury the distain long before we bury our cherished ones and life goes on. Meaning that these satanic Trojan horses live to shite another day. Can you imagine this happening in any other national industry? Let’s say Kwikfit, for arguments sake:
Hi! We’re Kwikfit, the UK’s number one tyre fitting service. Today we’ve got a couple of interns we’re going to let loose on your wheels. Admittedly, they’re not much cop but they need the experience. Just don’t go over 40mph on the by-roads and you’ll be fine. And if you do suffer an M4 blow-out, just remember: We got where we are today by helping the fitters of tomorrow. Because…Oh just because. And we’re a registered charity. Thanks for your custom.
As I said before, I very much doubt this resonates with many of you. But next time you happen to pop your nose into a church and the dulcet pipes are ringing in the only way they know how, spare a thought for those who fix the bloody things for a living. And pack a PPK before you come.