Sunday, 9 September 2007


I'm still going strong (more or less) with my totally organic experience at St Giles'. One problem, however, is that mass is on Sunday morning, and Sunday morning invariably follows Saturday night, and, as a consequence, I often find myself at 10.29am staring at the console wondering how on earth I am to convey the dots and lines from the paper to the keys to the pipes with any degree of success at all.
At this point my head seems to be full of clouds and my fingers clasp helplessly at the keys as if they could stop me from sliding off the bench. Any attempt to sing along throws the whole system into automatic shutdown. And don't get me started on the pedal board.
Up until age 22 I took piano lessons and managed to develop reasonable sight-reading (or at least semi-sightreading/semi-improvisational) competency on the basis that "practice is cheating". This useful transferable skill has saved my skin on several occasions, notably recitals, public speaking and the whole six months since I arrived in Poland.

Today was better than most days: I was about three minutes late but managed to busk my way through everything without dropping anything on the console, forgetting the key signature, pulling out the wrong stops or confidently starting out on the first page of 'Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring' (or the Oregon Catholic Hymnal version thereof) while the second page was still safely tucked away in the accompanist's binder.

Given that the size of the congregation varies dramatically (depending on how many parties of anglophone tourists are passing through in any given week), I often find myself singing along at full belt, just to nudge things along a bit. And also if I simply fancy a good old yell but don't want to make people stare at me in the Planty. Maybe I should give the karaoke on Grodzka another try.
I've given up being embarrassed about my lack of proper Catholic sensibility and have decided that anything weird I might do can be put down to 'mad old biddy' behaviour: this seems to be used to cover all manner of organist eccentricities in the UK (see well known example in the Vicar of Dibley).

Hurray! Today the Sacristan came up to me after mass and started A Whole Conversation about language schools. I think the older generation are definitely the way forward where linguistic practice is concerned. Everyone else has studied (or pulled pints) in London.
I need to work the 'eccentric old organist' look and develop a neurosis about plagel cadences...

NB Sunday was a special occasion for dog-lovers in Krakow: the annual dachshund parade. Owners of sausage dogs dress up their pets and promenade them around the main square.,35798,4473176.html

I don't see my spaniel allowing that.


The Dad said...

No way is MY dog being dressed up like the Pope - no disrespect to the His Holiness. Maybe if she was allowed into church we might consider it, but I doubt that she would consent.
As for the organ, there are only 7 stops on yours. And you still pull the wrong one? I can see total confusion if you ever get to play in the church back home - not only a multitude of organ stops, but two keyboards to choose from!

pinolona said...

It's actually easier when there are two keyboards: then your hands don't get tangled up.

Ginny would look cute in a beretta.

the sister said...

You could just imagine Brandy face if you ever tried to put him in an outfit like that, that would be one unhappy dog!

pinolona said...

Brandy would love it. He'd want a matching handbag.

joey said...

Isn't it frustrating learning a language if everyone wants to speak English! You must give some tips on overcoming this problem if you found any. Are French people as keen to speak English as Poles?

pinolona said...

Just keep insisting. And get angry...
No, French people are definitely not keen to speak English. But they might refuse to understand your French if you have even the slightest hint of an English accent.