Idle Eye 103 : The Church Organist

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.

Idle Eye 18 : (Spread) The Love

Have I upset you? Have I? Come on people, let’s have it out: Stats were down this week after what was, it must be said, a very promising start which petered off to virtually bugger all as it progressed. Now, I don’t mean to insult your collective intelligence as I know full well that a healthy percentage of UK cognoscenti are already following, but this ‘ere blogging business is not a one way street. Sorry. Here’s the deal: I sit up all night once a week (or twice if the muse is off-duty) constructing a tightly-woven, semi-articulate drawl linking my own sorry existence with that of Nibs and the Idle Hour. Somehow I manage to make this amusing and/or poignant, depending on your viewpoint. On cue. And the only task I require in return is that you read the bloody thing and occasionally drop me a line or two in the comments section so that I know I’m not pissing my God-given talent up a wall. It’s not a huge ask, is it? Or am I missing something here? Help me out.

Hmmm… In retrospect, probably not the killer romantic opener I’d been planning for the 2012 Valentine’s post. You see, as usual I’ve been on the phone to Nibs, trying to sniff out the lowdown on what treats he has in store for you lovebirds out there. From what I can gather, it’s probably something along the lines of special menu, candlelight, attentive yet respectful staffing and no Techno. Or Hard House. Or Death Metal. (Personally, I think this is an oversight: We are living through difficult times, and the days of a half-carafe of Mateus downed to Renée and Renato are mercifully behind us). I had planned a majestic, almost cinemascopic opening paragraph alluding to the great lovers and those who have lived their lives as if each day was their last: Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Bergman and Bogart, Frank and Betty etc…etc… From there I would make a contrived narrative leap over to Idle Hour Barnes where miraculously I would mirror these iconic figures with you lot, and this inexpensive literary technique would make you all feel a bit better about yourselves, thereby convincing you to spend a bit more money and consequently securing my position as a viable financial option. Yes, I was going to do all the above. I was. In spades. But then I saw the stats.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Oooh, get him! Has one bad week and he throws all his toys out.’ Well, no. I’m sorry, I thought we were all adults here and, frankly, that’s just a cheap shot. I expected so much more from you. And anyway, it’s not just about my so-called ‘bad week’, is it? It’s about love, it’s about respect and it’s about…er… Actually, screw it. It IS about my ‘bad week’. You want quality? Well, quality costs. And right here is where you start paying.