Note from the Editor
Thank you for all your submissions, I had plenty to choose from with the elders! We’ve had enough for two issues already! So here’s a mid-month one to keep you entertained.
It shouldn’t happen to a Tradesman – “Drained”
Picture the scene, it’s Saturday afternoon and tonight there’s a concert on at our church, we’ve sold all the tickets and are expecting a full house. Dave Harper and I arrive at church to carry out some last minute jobs: change light bulbs, move chairs, put out tables etc. and we are greeted with an extra job; The car park’s flooded. This is what happened next.
Now back in the day, as some of you may or may not remember, our car park was a mixture of tarmac and loose stone chippings. This proved very problematic as the stone chippings would fall into the grids on the car park and block them causing the car park to flood. We had to regularly lift the grid covers and empty the stones out by hand, this meant kneeling or lying down and having an arm down the grid to almost shoulder level. It’s not a problem when it’s dry but today it had rained hard and the grids were under about 6 inches of water; one of us was going to get wet and I drew the short straw. Dave cracked on with the jobs inside and I got down on my knees, shoved my arm down the grid and assumed the position of a vet helping a cow with a delivery. To my surprise the grids were empty and the relief of no more armpit baths put a smile on my face as I walked over to the entrance to shout to Dave that I was going to go home to get changed. Dave had other ideas “You can’t go yet the gent’s toilet is blocked up, we’ve got a problem.”, he was right, we did have another problem, clearly the drains were blocked.
There are two ways to deal with blocked drains: the easy clean way where you phone a company and a man with a van arrives and demonstrates his very expensive equipment. This is costly and more importantly time consuming and we had very little time. The second way is to use a set of drain rods to clear the obstruction by hand, so I nipped home and grabbed my set of drain rods and a hosepipe pronto. I’ve dealt with my fair share of blockages in my time, toilet sinks etc. but I usually steer clear of sewer drains for obvious reasons, nobody wants to end up wearing someone else’s dinner, especially me and my overactive gag reflex. We’ve had our fair share of toilet blockages over the years at church due to traffic through the building caused by the usual suspects: nappies, baby wipes, ladies’ products etc. and these are usually cleared with a good old-fashioned plunger and some elbow grease. However today was not going to be one of the days.
Luckily the church has 3 inspection chambers on the grounds, these are basically holes with brick walls and a lid with the drains running through the bottom where you can gain access to insert a drain rod. So, the first point of call was the nearest one situated in the path near the entrance. Dave and I lifted the lid off and it was full, I won’t describe what it was full of as I’m sure you can paint your own picture but the noises emitted by Dave and myself said it all.
My gag reflex kicked in and this in turn kicked Dave’s in. We beat a hasty retreat and moved onto chamber number 2 located near the drive entrance “Please, please let this be empty” I wished to no avail, off with the lid and on with the smell. More noises and more gagging were quick to follow and then something quite unexpected; we both started to laugh quite heartily at the situation we were facing. This in turn led to quite a different sort of conversation, remarks like “Look at the colour of that” and “Have you seen how that’s bobbing?” were intermixed with question such as “Is that a nappy?” and “Where did that Lego come from?”.
This was shortly followed by a conversation about sweetcorn and the bodies lack of digesting it properly and how it’s always there along with nuts. We move on to number 3, located behind the notice board on the opposite side of the drive. Now to build up the suspense a little, let me explain the importance of number 3. This inspection chamber is deep enough to stand in and has a steel ladder in it to climb down, this is because it leads directly into the main sewer in the road. If this is full then it’s game over for any chance of clearing the blockage before the concert starts and we will have to cancel. With huge trepidation we lifted off the lid “Oh joy, the heavens be praised!” It was empty. To say we were elated is an understatement. Finally, some good news.
We now knew that the blockage was in the drain under the drive, so this should be a fairly easy job, all I had to do was send the drain rods in and give it a prod. Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back now I realise that what I should have done was climb down the ladder into the bottom of the chamber and insert a drain rod, connect another and another and so on until I could stand above ground and prod and push for all I was worth. What I actually did, in my haste to clear the pipe, was to stand at the bottom, insert a rod, connect another one and so on until I could feel the blockages. I shouted to Dave to stand at chamber 2 and tell me if he saw movement and then I prodded and pushed those rods like a man on a mission. In the distance there was a faint voice whose murmuring became a panicked shout of “Get out it’s coming!”, but it was too late.
What happened next can only be described as a scene similar to a U boat movie where the crew are subjected to a massive rush of water. I jumped for the ladder and was hit by a torrent, which to make matters worse was then hitting the wall of said chamber and spraying my front as well. It’s not easy to climb a ladder retching for all your worth but
the rush of adrenaline got me out. It was everywhere, Lady Gaga’s meat dress had nothing on my outfit. It was in my ears, I had corn and loo roll in my hair (yes, I had hair back then!). Dave laughed that hard I thought he’d have a heart attack, there were tears rolling down his face and something quite different rolling down mine. With the drains, toilets, and car park now empty, the clean-up operation could begin. I never thought I would ever be stood in my boxer shorts having a hose pipe cold shower on the car park at church, but I did. We hosed down all the chambers and Dave set about cleaning the gent’s loo whilst I drove home in my van wearing only a sodden pair of boxer shorts, whilst hoping that a policeman wouldn’t stop me, because could you imagine explaining that one!
Written by Chris Garrattley
A woman, who is having trouble sleeping, decides to call her next-door neighbour in the middle of the night. When he answers, she doesn’t say a word and hangs up. The woman then falls fast asleep. What happened?
Remembering Jack’s Garden
Hi folks, just thought you might like to see some up to date photos of Dad’s garden! Jennifer’s husband Chris dismantled the greenhouse and put it up in their garden. He is now growing plants and tomatoes etc.! I have many happy memories of your visits to us and I am hoping You are all getting along well!
With love from Barbara Sutcliffe
Karen is thinking of organising a weekly “sing-a-zoom” for those of us missing singing hymns. Probably just half an hour and you join with your computer, tablet, mobile or house phone. No matter the quality of your voice, you can join in because no-one else on the meeting can hear, just the people in your house and possibly your neighbours. Please let Karen know.
Confessions of a Church Organist
I received a telephone call from Karen (my daughter and our church choir mistress), asking me to do an article for the Church newsletter. The object was to tell the story of how I became a Church organist and the experiences I had, had in this role over the years. This is not my autobiography but merely a record of events which happened to me in becoming a church organist.
The Beginning – Church of England
As with most true organists, my musical life began in learning to play the piano but with no intention of learning to play a Church Organ! In my early teens, my piano teacher was a fantastic Concert Pianist. He was extremely strict, but sadly died in a very unfortunate incident. As a teenager I was a member of the Church Lad’s Brigade. During those tender years, I learnt to play the bugle and was introduced to the Church Organ. How like a piano it was except one had to select which sounds (pipes) the instrument would play. On top of that, there were three keyboards (“three manuals”) – there are bigger organs with more keyboards – each capable of being set to produce different ranges of sounds. As if that was not enough, there was even one more keyboard just for my feet to play. That bit was more difficult than learning to dance and I never did fully get the hang of it, but I managed. The Vicar asked me to be organist for the Sunday School which convened every Sunday afternoon. Throughout this period, I was also a tenor singer in the Church Choir and a ‘server’. When I reached my early twenties I met Pat, my wife to be. The Church had built a satellite church a few miles away and I was asked to be their organist to which I agreed. On one occasion, the incidental music I chose to play was a soft movement from Gustav Holst’s Planet Suite (“I vow to thee my…”), After the service the Curate made a strong complaint to me that my choice of music was inappropriate for playing during a church service. I was silently offended by this remark but Pat saw the funny side.
By this time, I had joined the T.A. and was eventually commissioned. I was also attending Pat’s church at The Congregational Church in Timperley. Sometimes I would play their organ which was bit of a headache for me. It had 2 manuals (2 keyboards) but no foot keyboard. Okay, fine, but the problem was that the 2 keyboards did not align one with the other, i.e. middle C on the two keyboards did not physically align. Therefore, if using both keyboards (for effect), the output could occasionally be un-predictable. Pat and I were married at the Timperley church and we moved to live in Sale where we have lived ever since.
Eventually we joined the Congregational Church in Sale on the main road, it was a church with a spire and was situated next to the Volunteer Pub. Once again, I was asked to play their organ. Hurray: 3 manuals, pipes and a foot keyboard. I learnt later that one of my predecessors was not a church person at all but played all hymns as required, but at the point when the sermon would begin, he would nip next door into the Volunteer whereupon a pint of beer would be waiting for him. His timing wasn’t always spot-on, but when he had finished his pint, he would nip back into the church just as the sermon finished. The years rolled by and the Congregational Church became a part of the United Reformed Church.
United Reformed Church
Sadly, the large church building was subject to underground subsidence and the cost of repairs was way beyond the church’s finance and so the membership was faced with important decisions to make. It turned out that the real estate value of the church grounds was of high commercial value because of its location and so it was sold. This raised sufficient funds, together with a loan from the Congregational Union, to build a new church not far away. Our current location. In our new church, life took on a new beginning in terms of church music. My immediate predecessor as organist, bought an electronic organ for the new church with two manuals (keyboards) and a foot keyboard. It served us well for many years until one day, it started to lose built-in playing features.
By now, technology had advanced so much that parts required for a repair were no longer manufactured. Oops! Now what? A New Instrument. As if by a miracle, this was the point of no return resulting in an amazing leap in musical capabilities. By this time, I had purchased for myself a Yamaha Clavinova piano for home use. Its cost was only about one third the cost of an ordinary conventional piano but it could simulate a whole orchestra and indeed be programmed to play virtually anything; it could play like an orchestral grand piano too. So, the church bought one. The keyboard has many options that an organ simply doesn’t have. I can sequence music (turn printed music into digital files that play through the keyboard). I can download whole symphonies to play created by musicians, which I’ve used during services and even for the pantomime. It has a range of special features that simulate human voices and other sounds too. Technology hey!
Written by Alfred Joyce
Answer to Puzzle section: The woman couldn’t sleep because her next door neighbour was snoring. When she called, it woke him up, stopped his snoring, and let her fall asleep.
Thanks for reading
Edited by Becky Vanden