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Sorry Jenny, but I forgot about this one when you were compiling the book, but if you do a second edition, you can inlcude it.


About 30 or more years ago, I spent about a year as O & C at North Ferriby, nr.Hull; you know, in the days when people still sang psalms and had a Service of 9 lessons & carols at Christmas.


Well, it was Christmas, and we were Lessons & Caroling.


Things had gone quite well, and we'd done "Once in Royal," Matthias , Benjamin Britten, the First Nowell etc etc. Even the readers had read well, and the next item on the list was the "Coventry Carol." A quiet, atmospheric little ditty if ever there was one.


I gave the note and prepared to float elegantly from the console to the chancel to conduct the choir. No sooner had I raised my arms to start, but a terrible din broke out somewhere outside the church.


"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells," the music jangled away, but stopped mid stanza. All went silent.


I raised my arms again once the choristers had stopped snorting and shuffling around. This time I sang the note for them, and exactly on the downbeat, all hell broke loose once more.


"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer"


Furious, I turned on my heels and stomped straight down the centre-aisle, thrust the west door open and investigated the source of the disturbance.


Outside, a rather large and sinister lorry with a large loudspeaker on the back, was trolling around the village as the members of the Rotary Club collected money for charity.


"What are you doing?" I screeched. "Nine lessons and carols!" I pointed towards the church.


Confronted by this robe wearing mad-man, their representative strode forward, "We're collecting money for charity!"


"We're trying to sing!" I yelled


"Charity!" He yelled back.


"9 lessons and carols!" I screeched


"When we've got some donations we'll be off," he said; as if this would calm me down.


"Well here's a bloody fiver, now bugger off," I shouted at him; thrusting a blue note into the bucket.


"Merry Christmas Sir!" The man had a jolly disposition for a Rotarian


He wouldn't have wanted to hear my reply, as the lorry revved up and drove away.


With that, I turned around and went back into church, which by now had that air of expectant doom, with a completely silent congregation. As soon as I walked down the aisle, everyone burst out laughing, having heard every word of the altercation outside. It's not often a whole congregation, the clergy and the choir corpse simultaneously, but they did that day, and it must have taken two or three minutes before "normal service was resumed."


We eventually got through the Coventry Carol, and the First Nowell and Silent Night, but the whole service was more notable for what shouldn't have happened but did, rather than what should have happened and didn't.


Memories! Memories!



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