I’m a soft touch! My husband was Treasurer for the local Christian Bookshop and he recommended for my studio a Music-themed clock they’d got in stock. So I bought it, even though despite being artistic and a definite décor item it had no numerals on the face. It therefore involved guesswork.
I’d also responded to an emergency and replaced a show pianist when things were already at rehearsal stage, despite being booked for a show hard on its heels. It was a demanding situation but local alternatives were few. The scores were in hand-written manuscript form, which is not ideal!
But on this particular day I was to play pipe organ at an 11am funeral. I had sticky-tabbed all the music in advance, and was dressed and about to go out the door when I glanced at the microwave. Silly me, I was an hour early! It was only 9.30 so I’d have time to practise some show music. I got stuck in, glancing periodically at the studio clock which had fooled me before.
Suddenly I looked again: what I’d thought was 9.50 was really 10.50! Horror upon horror!
I drove the short distance but the block was well parked-out. What to do?!! I got the closest park I could find and eventually panted up to the church. I could get into one vestry from outside, but had to cross the sanctuary in full view of a packed, very quiet church.
As a general rule, while an organist plays, the congregation will talk happily; but as soon as the organist stops, so does all conversation. This quietness was unnerving — blaming, or so it seemed.
Someone had opened up the organ (phew!) and I wound up the sole voluntary halfway through as the minister stepped into the pulpit. Wish he’d let me finish it…
I’d been told earlier that the casket was going out to a recording so that I could nick out the vestry beside the organ during a prayer after the final hymn — this I did very gratefully.
The irony of the thing struck me: first early, then late — and all because I’m a soft touch. I had to carry out the show involvements but the clock was quickly outlawed. In my dreams for months afterward I walked into darkened churches with everyone looking very reproachfully at me.
There was one saving aspect, and I don’t apologise one bit for being so glad! When the funeral leaflet was printed, they put down the name of a different organist.