Tag Archives: organ

1851. Memory lapse

Vernon was the head organist at a notable cathedral in a major city. (It’s no use trying to guess where it was because this is fiction). Vernon couldn’t remember how many sermons he had endured.

During the sermon Vernon used to pop out onto the tower balcony for a quick cigarette. He could easily duck out because he was in the organ loft high above the clergy and congregation. He looked way down on them and his disappearance would not be noticed from below.

He could vaguely hear the preacher from the tower balcony. Sometimes, if the preacher droned on, Vernon could have several cigarettes. Being the only one ever to use the balcony (it was blocked to tourists) Vernon had an old plum jam tin where he chucked his butts. It was a large tin, and in the eleven years of being the head organist he had emptied it three times. As he said to his wife, “It shows you how many sermons I’ve endured.”

On this particular Sunday (it being a notable feast day) the visiting preacher was particularly wordy. Vernon was hearing for the third time that “perdition awaits those who don’t agree” when he realized he had accidentally locked himself out on the cathedral tower balcony.

This was the very weekend that his wife had gone to visit her elderly mother in another city quite distant from the cathedral city. His disappearance would not be noticed.

What a shemozzles! No one could hear him call out and he’d locked the door from the church up into the organ loft, so no one could dash up to find out why he wasn’t intoning the hymns on the organ. Nor was it one of those Sundays when the choir was there.

The visiting clergyman used his initiative, and in the event of not having an organist simply intoned the opening words of each hymn and the congregation took it up without accompaniment.

The service was over. Everyone went home, except for Vernon high in the tower locked out on the little balcony.

The day turned into afternoon; the afternoon to evening; the evening to night. It was starting to get cold; very cold. Vernon had wet his pants. He was out of cigarettes. Have you ever tried to break down a centuries-old iron door on an ancient gothic cathedral? And then it started to rain. He would die of the cold before he starved to death.

That was when Vernon remembered his cell phone.

50. All Stops Out


It was Easter Sunday. Wilfred was seated at the gigantic pipe organ in the cathedral. He had all the stops out, in preparation for the triumphant Gloria. It would be LOUD!


Things hadn’t been going too well in the organ loft in the last few months. A large Samoan family had discovered the whereabouts of the keys to the spiral staircase leading to the loft, and had regularly “invaded” Wilfred’s domain during Mass.

Things would be different this Easter Sunday! He had taken the keys to the organ loft and locked himself in. Wilfred’s space was secure. And his mind-blowing, wondrously loud intonation of the Gloria was about to occur. Glory to God in the highest!

“Let us prepare ourselves by calling to mind our sins,” said the priest. “Let us do this in the silence of our hearts.”

At that moment, Wilfred had a massive heart attack, and collapsed (with all stops out) across the seven ranks of keyboards.

“The keys? The keys to the loft? Has anyone seen the keys to the loft?” shouted the Reverend Father. But he could not be heard.

33. I Still Got My Marbles


Hi. I might be seventy-seven, but I still got my marbles. I might be seventy-five, as I said, but I still farm the land on my own. The thing that keeps me active and alert is my music. And I’ve always been interested in organs and have still got my own.

As a young man, out in the barn, I erected a huge organ in the loft.

Now that I’m older, seventy-six in fact, I’m not as energetic as I used to be. But I still find time for my organ out in the barn. However, old organs require constant care. Here then are a few recommendations (taken from a manual) on how to maintain and take care of it:

First of all, keep in mind that the temperature of the room has to be even. If you keep it even, your organ will be in much better shape.

The next thing is to maintain it regularly — especially before a performance. This way it will work much better.

Finally, whenever you encounter a sticky note, you have to go inside and fix it. Keep in mind that sometimes you will need a screwdriver and sometimes you will be able to regulate the action with your fingers. If you are not careful with your fingers, you can produce much damage to the organ and later a major restoration will be needed.

That’s about it. Happy playing. And I hope you still got your marbles too.