Jun

27

It was yesterday, in the muggy heat though largely shielded from the midsummer sun by cloud cover. We had traipsed through the overgrown footpaths to the barely used church, no longer open for regular worship.

A turns the key and pushes open the old door, and we cross the boundary which has seen at least seven hundred years of history. He turns to close the door and lock it - experience has shown that this is wise, and our session is to be a private one.

We walk past the stained glass windows to the organ - there is room only for one to sit, and that is a tight squeeze. I stand behind the bench while A turns on the power and the whine of the pump is the only sound as the instrument stirs from slumber.

A explains the stops, the swell and the great, sitting inside the music which is steered by feet and hand. Eventually we turn to look at the sketches I had brought, for my setting of the Blake. In the distance the clunk of a door closing. "Ah, someone must have come in," says A.

For the first time the chord sequences are heard on the organ, as intended, though lacking the voices marked on the score. The sharp clicking of footsteps from the main part of the church. A plays again the chromatic voicing below the words "He who shall train the horse to war, Shall never pass the polar bar." More footsteps in the following bars as the anguish of the harmony recedes. I step back and look into the main part of the church. No sign of anybody. Oddly, the noise appeared to have come from higher up, but there was no gallery or staircase I could see.

Not wishing to move away from the organ (despite my curiosity), I returned. The footsteps sounded again. "I don't see anybody", say I. "Sometimes people come in," says A. We focus on the music, and the mysterious walker is silent from then on.

Later, as we leave, A signs the book at the entrance which logs all callers. "Whoever came," he says, "did not sign their name". He unlocks the door, we step outside into reality, and he relocks it, securing the boundary between worlds.

"Is the church haunted?" I ask. "We have just heard footsteps and there was nobody there."

"Sometimes I feel a presence," says A, who would no doubt ignore any distraction during his regular visits to the old instrument.


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