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Don't Be Another Victim Of Crime


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I wonder has it ever dawn on any of u Organists just how vulnerable u might be when your at your Machines making I hope sweet Music. This question came about really as the Church where I have played at for the last 20 years had a spate of Robberies whilst a Service was in progress. Yes Folks ! Believe it or not while are beloved faithful were going up to receive the communion the Ladies been so naive had their handbags stolen by some cheeky person. You might argue it was their fault for leaving it behind and rightly so. But the point I am trying to make is how safe do u feel in Church ? For example if your practising alone do u lock yourself in as a matter of safety ? What about if u park your Car each time u go to visit the Church or indeed come away from it ? How do u know someone isnt watching your movements ? Folks u have to have eyes like a hawk. I havent heard of Organists getting attacked but that dosent mean to say it couldnt happen to u. We are living in very prevalent times now and u need to think of your safety everytime u go out to play for a service or whatever. I find it useful to carry a mobile phone which should be fully charged up and if yours is a pay as you go type have credit on it in case u need to phone for the Police ! Also a large Torch so if your coming out of a dark Church in winter evenings for example u have the full vision to your Car and also see if theres anyone lurking in the bushes ! Also useful to cosh the Vagabond !! I dont want to alarm u all but as much as I love what I do I dont want to become another victim so please take care of yourselves and enjoy !

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Also - I now never leave any music around the console since a pile 'walked' between practice on a Saturday following an afternoon wedding and the sunday morning service.

 

AJJ

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Also - I now never leave any music around the console since a pile 'walked' between practice on a Saturday following an afternoon wedding and the sunday morning service.

 

AJJ

 

Car thiefs also target large funerals and weddings for wedding presents, Sat Nav etc. and seem to be especially active in Crem car parks. We also found thieving from churches and attempts on collection boxes increased drastically in our area during half term holidays. Two ten year old boys were picked up `in action' complete with professional jemmy, their parents turned out to wealthy, respected members of the community.

 

FF

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And don't forget the example of St. Brannock's, Braunton, Devon, where vandals broke into the church and actualy started a fire in the organ. The church was out of use for 18 months, and the organ has only just been rebuilt by Michael Farley.

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I know there was one organist in America / Canada (can't remember who) who was assaulted whilst playing by a disturbed character who stabbed him in the back with a knife.

 

I have certainly had music and a tape recorder stolen from my church before I was wise enough to lock everything up.

 

On a related subject, we all spend hours locked in churches by ourselves late at night and I wonder if anyone has ever had any chilling or spooky experiences ?

 

I spent hours on my own in my old church, but found this very enriching spiritually - it was a beautiful church with a most serene atmosphere. If ever I am lucky enough to play in a cathedral, I often find the practice time in the cathedral by myself by far the most rewarding aspect.

 

However, I remember practicing in a North London church one evening for a concert - the atmosphere was so unpleasant that I had to switch off and leave after about 40 minutes, arranging an extra practice session in daylight. It was a most unusual experience, but entirely real, and most unpleasant.

 

Any similar experiences ?

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I've been offered, ahem, "sexual favours" for money on several occasions when leaving the church. My usual response is that my organ is blown electrically.

 

My church is well known as a haunt for prostitutes - I have stepped outside the vestry door and disturbed some of them at work. They don't particularly appreciate it.

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We've had quite a lot of thefts from Halifax PC, so the drill is to lock the door unless somebody is available to stand guard at the entrance. On one occasion, the PA system was nicked whilst the church was occupied and the door unguarded. I had my car broken into twice in the space of three months whilst it was parked in the churchyard and I was inside practising. We also had a rather unsettling incident just before evensong a couple of years ago when some maniac came in wielding a sword and behaving in a threatening manner.

 

On one occasion I was just about to leave the church when a furious knocking began on the door, accompanied by shouting. Fearing the worst I remained out of sight for a while. When the hulabaloo eventually abated I found it was the family of a young man who, unbeknown to me, had hanged himself in the churchyard early that morning. They wanted to know where exactly it had happened so they could leave some flowers.

 

I tend not to get spooked easily, and people who are more sensitive to these things than I am tell me the church is "quiet". Nevertheless, it can be slightly wierd. Often, I think I have heard either footsteps or a voice behind me whilst playing or (more usually) as I stopped playing. I have put this down to the clacking of pneumatic motors, the wheezing of reservoirs and the graunching of swell shutters. In a high wind, the church is full of knocks and bangs; sometimes you will hear one from the pews you are walking past, which is a bit creepy.

 

The spookiest experience I have had was when practising late one night with the church in darkness, apart fom the console lights. After I had been practising for half an hour or so, I looked down the church and could see 2 or 3 faint points of light gently waving around under the tower, some ten feet off the floor. They kept appearing and disappearing, and were changing colour from red to white and back again. I set off down the church to investigate, but it wasn't until I got quite close up that I was able to establish the cause of this will-o'-the-wisp. It was, of course, mundane. There was a temporary exhibition at the west end, and several helium balloons had been attached to the tops of the display boards with string. You know the sort - red on one side and silver on the other. As they wafted around in the down-draught from the west window, they were reflecting the stray light from the console (and my torch). What made it particularly creepy was having to get so close before I had the faintest inkling what it was.

 

The helium balloon incident was run a close second by an exhibition of wedding dresses that the Mothers' Union set up in the same spot under the tower in celebration of National Wedding Week. There were five or six dresses, each mounted like you see them in the windows of bridal shops, on wire frames. The "head" of the frame is constructed from just a few pieces of wire so, from a distance and in near darkness, it is virtually invisible. Thus the head dresses appeared to be floating a foot or so above the shoulders of the dresses, for all the world like female Nazgul.

 

However, Halifax PC is nothing at all compared with parts of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, where even the most level-headed staff (myself included on one occasion) can be gripped by an inexplicable fear when alone at night. But that's another story.

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"We also had a rather unsettling incident just before evensong a couple of years ago when some maniac came in wielding a sword and behaving in a threatening manner."

 

Strangely, this also happened during Mass at a RC church in Norwood, South London a few years back - the late 1990's I think. A number of people were gravely injured by a schizophrenic (who refused to take his medication) wielding a Japanese Katana (commonly known as a samurai sword), an utterly lethal implement. The assailant was disarmed by an off-duty police officer in the congregation, who removed a large organ pipe from the organ and hit him with it as hard as he could.

 

G

 

Found this on the web - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/541888.stm

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I tend not to get spooked easily, and people who are more sensitive to these things than I am tell me the church is "quiet". Nevertheless, it can be slightly wierd. Often, I think I have heard either footsteps or a voice behind me whilst playing or (more usually) as I stopped playing. I have put this down to the clacking of pneumatic motors, the wheezing of reservoirs and the graunching of swell shutters. In a high wind, the church is full of knocks and bangs; sometimes you will hear one from the pews you are walking past, which is a bit creepy.

 

For whatever reason I don't know, but I seem to be one of those who is quite sensitive to 'atmospheres' in buildings. There was a time when I managed a couple of cinemas, and I frequently walked down and back through the empty and dark 600 seat auditorium of our oldest building last thing at night to chain the exits without feeling anything untoward, however one auditorium in our new building certainly used to give me the creeps. I wasn't the only one to have seen people at the back who later turned out not to be there!

 

However, on the organ front I can remember feeling decidedly chilled by the atmosphere at Holcombe Rogus P.C just on the Somerset/Devon border while holding notes many years ago. I also assisted a friend in removing the organ from Llanelli parish church back a few years ago. We did the removal during the evenings after work, across the December/January period. The light switches are in the vestry which is in the south-east corner of the building, but our access was the main South door, so a torchlight procession was required after the lights were extinguished to get out through the south transept and the nave. One night we worked particularly late, and for whatever reason the torch had packed up. My cohort assured me that we'd be fine getting out because the church was brightly floodlit outside, and this also did a good job of lighting up the interior - he'd got out using this light a few days before. Unfortunately we hadn't realised quite how late it was, and as we were washing in the vestry sink there was a loud 'clunk' as the time-switch did its thing and the lighting contactor dropped out, plunging the outside into darkness!

 

That was about the longest walk I've ever taken - feeling my way through absolute pitch darkness and bumping into pews along the way.... but I'd swear I could hear more noises than the two of us were generating, so I wasn't best pleased when we realised we'd left the heating on and had to feel our way back in and find the switches concealed in the corner of the north-east chapel. I'm convinced we were not alone.....

 

When the organ was finally out I discovered two tomb slabs embedded in the floor of what had been the lower organ chamber, which had previously been covered by the regulators and main trunking. I brushed, cleaned and polished them before we finally left - perhaps they were just grateful to have some peace and quiet after 45 years of very loud Compton above them!

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I tend not to get spooked easily, and people who are more sensitive to these things than I am tell me the church is "quiet". Nevertheless, it can be slightly wierd. Often, I think I have heard either footsteps or a voice behind me whilst playing or (more usually) as I stopped playing.

 

I'm afraid I'm the opposite - easily spooked. I did get a little freaked when practising a few months ago (that was the last time I practised!). Just me, big empty dark church, only light is the one in the organ loft and the spot just above it. As I'm playing, I see this sudden shadow cast, fleetingly, on top of the console. I assume it's a bird or such like. It happens again. I keep playing, building up to full organ... Bang, smack - a ****ing bat hits me in the side of the head. I can only assume that liberal use of the 32' oblitatron confused its radar...

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I'm afraid I'm the opposite - easily spooked. I did get a little freaked when practising a few months ago (that was the last time I practised!). Just me, big empty dark church, only light is the one in the organ loft and the spot just above it. As I'm playing, I see this sudden shadow cast, fleetingly, on top of the console. I assume it's a bird or such like. It happens again. I keep playing, building up to full organ... Bang, smack - a ****ing bat hits me in the side of the head. I can only assume that liberal use of the 32' oblitatron confused its radar...

 

Oops! Romsey's lovely at night, very atmospheric and not in the least creepy, and the console is suitably out of the way that the bats don't actually collide with you.

 

Somewhere that does freak me out senseless is Christchurch Priory - the stories are legend and hopefully mr pcnd will relate one or two for our amusement at some point... I have seriously never been so jittery in my whole life as when locked in there alone. Not a crime as such, but still very scary and offputting, perhaps more so than a "real" threat.

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Years and years ago, at Portsmouth (Anglican) Cathedral, I was practising after dark, and heard what I thought was a single footstep behind me. This was when the console was at floor level in the south choir aisle. As far as I could make out there was nothing there.

 

However, to get out of the building meant turning all the console and choir lights off, then walking in darkness under the Jube Gallery to the north door - some distance, and more than I could manage after the footstep experience. I had to put on full organ and sound a cacophonous blast until someone came to rescue me.

 

Nevertheless, that cathedral mostly seems one of the friendliest ecclesiastical buildings I know.

 

Now, Portsmouth (RC) Cathedral ...

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[in the early 70's I was the organist at St Anne's RC church in Vauxhall, South London. The parish priest came to me at the end of a service and said that there was a man who wanted to try the organ. He added a proviso that I should be strict with him. The gentleman appeared and seated himself at the console and proceeded to play various hymns,reading them from the hymnal. He kept saying that it wasn't loud enough and I duly obliged until he had full organ. Eventually he had had enough and departed. He appeared in the church next day and proceeded to attack one of the sidesman. It appears that he had been in prison and whilst incarcerated had been taught to read music by the chaplain. What the clergy will do in their desperation to get an organist! Still, it says a lot for the chaplain who must have been a very patient man,

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Guest Barry Williams
Oops! Romsey's lovely at night, very atmospheric and not in the least creepy, and the console is suitably out of the way that the bats don't actually collide with you.

 

Somewhere that does freak me out senseless is Christchurch Priory - the stories are legend and hopefully mr pcnd will relate one or two for our amusement at some point... I have seriously never been so jittery in my whole life as when locked in there alone. Not a crime as such, but still very scary and offputting, perhaps more so than a "real" threat.

 

My wife, who is very cool, calm, collected and certainly not the 'spooky sensitive' type, had a frightening experience in a local church. The incumbent was showing us the Lady Chapel. We were with two friends, a pipe organ voicer and his wife. Suddenly, whilst standing beside a tomb, my wife seemed to be choked at the throat and unable to breath properly. The incumbent, realising what was happening, stepped forward and prayed, I think, in Latin. Suddenly all was well. During that visit we all experienced distinct 'cold spots' in the chancel. I understand that with the regular saying of prayers things have calmed down in that place.

 

Barry Williams

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I'm one of the more sensitive souls who seem to attract those of a departed disposition. My current church in Sydney (St. James, King Street) is most definitely haunted but is also a beautiful atmosphere to practice in. In actively enjoy being in there alone.

 

My first church, West Vale Baptist near Halifax, also had presences. Practicing in a dark church one Christmas Eve there was a distinct male voice joining in with a carol tune from the rear of the gallery. At the time I was prepared to think my ears were playing tricks but my stop puller (a now ex-girlfriend) was frozen to the spot in fear.

 

Racking my brain for unpleasant ghostlike experiences.......Dewsbury Minster, Saltaire URC. Mostly they've been very affirming - maybe the majority of church ghosts are happy?

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Strangely, this also happened during Mass at a RC church in Norwood, South London a few years back - the late 1990's I think. A number of people were gravely injured by a schizophrenic (who refused to take his medication) wielding a Japanese Katana (commonly known as a samurai sword), an utterly lethal implement. The assailant was disarmed by an off-duty police officer in the congregation, who removed a large organ pipe from the organ and hit him with it as hard as he could.

 

Found this on the web - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/541888.stm

Good move. Guess it must have been a wooden pipe then as if it was metal you would have had a nice dent in it.

 

 

I've been offered, ahem, "sexual favours" for money on several occasions when leaving the church. My usual response is that my organ is blown electrically.

Heeheeheehee. Great reply. What was the answer to your comment?

 

Dave

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Heeheeheehee. Great reply. What was the answer to your comment?

 

Dave

 

 

"Ugh, electric, what are you, some kinda pervert?" the first time.

 

The second time: "Only 15 quid love, it'll ease your troubles".

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