Once a month I help out at the historic St Andrew's Church, Cape Town, the "Mother Church" of Presbyterians in Southern Africa. I enjoy playing there as it has a particularly fine pipe organ. Although the only has two manuals it is well-built, stable, reliable in tuning with excellent English voicing. This Sunday, however, I struggled to get to the church as the streets were blocked by runners participating in the Slave Route Challenge - a road race with historic significance which traces 'the slave route' and honours those who built Cape Town. I finally managed to get through after convincing two policemen that I was on a deadline and got to the church just 5 minutes before the service was due to begin; only to find that the church was without electricity! Since there was no piano, some organists might have gone home leaving the congregation to sing a cappella, but we uncovered an ancient harmonium hiding in a corner and dragged it out.
Unsure of the condition of this dusty forsaken antique, I started pumping and playing - always tricky pumping to one beat and playing to another - but the fun was only just beginning because my playing obviously disturbed a mouse who had found a comfy spot in the bellows for his nest and, just as I started the processional hymn, he dashed out of the harmonium, down the aisle and straight through the legs of the two female clergy in procession; finally escaping with obvious relief through the open door. Well, you can imagine how the clergy jumped about and shrieked; the fright I got, the resulting weird harmonies and the total confusion of the congregation! We fell about laughing and I spent the rest of the service trying to smother my giggles while my thighs were getting a workout at the harmonium!
It just goes to show that sometimes musicians have to put up with a lot to keep the show on the road!
Here is a pic of me, the organ and the harmonium inside St Andrew's.