The Jackhammer, and some musical memories.


Firstly today, hubby asked me to share this photo, as proof that he didn’t jackhammer the kitchen floor whilst wearing his flip flops, Some of you expressed concern for the safety of his feet, after seeing his bare tootsies in my weekend post for the “Thankful” theme. I even persuaded him to wear long trousers, to prevent any more gashes on his legs, as we were running out of sticking plasters. πŸ™‚ In this pic, he is digging around to expose the water pipes, so that he can move the plumbing for the sink and dishwasher over to the outside wall. Strangely enough the sound of the jackhammer wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, so something to be grateful for.

Yesterday, we went to choose the granite for the counter tops,

so I really feel like we’re getting somewhere. It’s called “Butterfly Beige.” Can’t wait until it’s all finished.

I haven’t done any piano playing since all the upheaval started. My piano is covered in painter’s plastic sheeting, silently awaiting my eager fingers, but I can’t compete with the sounds of hammering, drilling and banging. πŸ˜‰

I thought I would share with you some of the experiences I’ve had as a musician, especially as an organist, which I was for many years. The very first wedding I played for was for my best friend’s son, and I didn’t sleep properly for days before, as I was so worried I might mess up, after all, you only get one crack at it.Β  Luckily I didn’t, and all went well, although my nerves were totally finished by the end of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, as they left the church. Organs can be so unpredictable, and on one occasion, I was half way through Wagner’s “Here comes the bride” march, when the power cable got struck by lightning and that was the end of that. Not my fault of course, but embarrassing all the same. I had to transfer myself over to a very much out-of-tune piano in the other corner, andΒ  it didn’t sound nearly as impressive, as you can well imagine. 😦

The very worst experience I ever had, was when I was playing lovely, quiet and relaxing music, whilst the bridegroom and wedding guests were sitting waiting for the bride to arrive. The organ was down a couple of steps in a sort of well at the front of the church. I sensed that someone was approaching me down the side aisle, as I was busy concentrating on my music. Suddenly this rather large lady in a big hat, fell down the steps, which she hadn’t realised were there, right onto the organ, hitting all the stops and buttons and landing on the pedals. Well, that certainly woke everyone up! What a cacophony of sound, as it brought in the trumpets, percussion and most everything else you can think of. People stopped chatting, and glared at me in stunned amazement. I nearly fell off the stool in fright. After I had helped her up, I found out that the rather shaken lady, was the bride’s mother who had just come to bring me a gift and a ‘thank you’ card. How very kind of her. πŸ™‚ I think she was more embarrassed than I was, and it took us both some time to regain our equilibrium.

Then there was the time when I spied a HUGE Parktown Prawn, which is a South African King Cricket, skuttling around underneath the organ pedals. These creatures are on my list of most horrific critters to be avoided at all costs.

My first reaction was to jump up and run screaming into the middle distance, but I had a duty to perform, and as the saying goes, “the show must go on.” What an absolute Nightmare! The adrenalin was certainly pumping, but I had to refrain from screaming, as it’s not something wedding organists are expected to do. πŸ˜‰ I didn’t see it again, but for obvious reasons, I never ever felt totally at ease, when sitting on that particular organ stool.

I usually had to play for about fifteen minutes before the bride arrived, but on one occasion, it stretched to almost an hour and a half, as the bride’s uncle had taken the wrong road and was on his merry way to Edenvale when he should have been in Hurlingham; poles apart! A search party was dispatched, and eventually one of the groomsmen found the lost sheep and guided him to the church, but not before my poor fingers were almost falling off, and my sizeable repertoire, just about exhausted. I still had to play all the wedding music, and I didn’t get paid overtime either. On one occasion, the bride forgot her bouquet at home, and someone had to rush off to get it, whilst I of course was left to entertain the fidgety congregation.

I’ve seen several brides faint, a few rings misplaced, and also witnessed some very strange wedding attire, like the bride who got married in black whilst her groom was all in white. The six foot bridesmaid looking very Goth, in a witch-like outfit, and black lipstick, sported ‘Doc Martins’ on her rather large feet. I have been playing my heart out, with the bride and groom already present, as the minister was frantically phoned whilst he was at home mowing his lawn, having entirely forgotten about the ceremony. He arrived very late, and looking decidedly hot under the clerical collar and also somewhat dishevelled. Mind you, I have to confess my own guilt too. One time I arrived at the wrong church, and had to drive all the way home again in order to check my diary, as there was no-one at home to answer my distress call. After driving like a ‘bat out of hell’ and jumping a few red traffic lights on the way, I arrived at the correct church just as the bridal car was about to turn in, and I’m ashamed to say, I rather rudely shot in front of them at the stop street in order to rush down the aisle and onto the organ seat just in the nick of time. The minister was getting very agitated as you may well imagine.

There was a certain Dr. of Divinity, of South African radio ‘fame’, who used to be quite popular as a wedding minister. Dr. Reg Barrett, since deceased, never bothered to learn the names of the couples he was marrying. He just used to say, β€œRepeat after me, I full name, take you full name to be my lawful wedded wife or husband.” Of course, it had to happen that one day, the nervous groom said exactly those words, instead of substitutingΒ  his and his intended’s names. This very flamboyant man, always ended the service with the same adjuration to the newlyweds, β€œGo forth and multiply in many different ways.” Whatever that may mean! πŸ˜† I hope you’ve enjoyed my musical memories, and I haven’t even started on the funerals, which is a tale all on its own.

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98 comments on “The Jackhammer, and some musical memories.

  1. Gosh I had no idea being a wedding organist could be so hazardous. I doubt I could have continued playing with a Parktown Prawn on the prowl around my feet. LOL at the brides mother falling into the organ well (I know, I have a warped sense of humour) but that is just so funny πŸ™‚

  2. O, yes and I admire you for the fact that you did not scream when you saw the Parktown Prawn! I am sooooooo sacred of them!

  3. LOL! I loved your stories!!! Oh my you’ve seen some weddings alright!!! πŸ˜€ I can’t wait till you get to the funerals if the weddings were such a hoot! And I had no idea you played the piano. Hope you’ll be able to fill your home with lots of beautiful music soon! Hugs, Sharon

    • Thanks for reading, Sharon, and for your feedback. πŸ™‚ I’ll try to get to the funerals soon, if you know what I mean. πŸ™‚ Hugs to you too.

    • Yes, she was so embarrassed, poor thing.
      Hubby is always busy. Today, he’s doing plumbing for the new sink and dishwasher. πŸ™‚ Hope you’re having a great weekend, Flower. xx

  4. I love your anecdotes. πŸ™‚ I praise you for your talent (I’ve always dreamed of being a musician) and your composure. πŸ™‚

  5. Oh you have made me giggle ! and no it’s not all to do with the glasses of gluhwein !
    What great stories and am sure you have more πŸ™‚

  6. I remember those king crickets well. I seem to remember reading that they are native to the Barberton area and were taken to Johannesburg in the soil used by the plant nurseries in that area. πŸ™‚

    • Hahahaha.I wonder what you found.Tandy He was one of those guys who loved the sound of his own voice. and always gave the same talk to every wedding couple. Apparently he knew how to charge too, but it was the thing to have him do the wedding, as he was a TV and Springbok Radio ‘celebrity’. πŸ˜€

  7. I am really pleased that you wrote this post so well and entertaining as it brought back memories of me as a 9 year old being recruited by the organist of the village church in England to pump up and down a massive “oar” behind the organ in the vestry. As a boy a distraction would divert my attention and the organ would die in the middle of some rousing tune. I would rush back in and pump like mad until the tune groaned back to life. Thanks for the memory. Ralph x

    • Love your story, Ralph. It conjures up such a funny picture in my mind. πŸ™‚ When my sister and I were young, one of our neighbours had a parlour organ with bellows, and we had to sit on the floor and take it in turns to pump the bellows whilst he was playing. πŸ˜†

  8. I can picture you in that red cape and there really does seem to be no end to your talent. The pic of the cricket on steroids looks pretty creepy to me. πŸ™‚

  9. It seems I’m late arriving so won’t repeat how happy I am to see hubby’s feet and shins protected… and perhaps you should have been wearing his boots when that bizarre cricket tried to attack you….
    But the one thing I’ve been noticing of late is this really strange and ugly trend to have the wedding party in black (can’t remember if the males were in white?) Makes me think they have a wedding occasion mixed up with a funeral…. or is that part of the statement somehow?

    • I can just imagine trying to play the organ pedals in hubby’s bovver boots. πŸ™‚ I think some people just like to rebel against convention. My niece got married in a dark red dress. Her marriage lasted 2 years. πŸ™‚

  10. Fantastic! πŸ˜‰
    The power cable got struck by lightning during the wedding? I hope that wasn’t an omen for things to come during the marriage! πŸ™‚
    The South African King Cricket underneath the organ pedals would have totally freaked me out – you did very well to keep going!
    What fabulous stories. I loved reading this over my morning coffee – it made me giggle (a lot)! πŸ˜€

  11. Good to know boots were worn, steel toed I hope! And eeeeek, so brave of you to continue playing with that ghastly looking bug nearby.

  12. I love your musical stories. I was laughing at the end. My cousin used to play the organ at church every week and she has some funny stories too πŸ™‚

  13. A very entertaining read Sylvia. Church organist is one of those jobs that on the face of it, seems quite safe. When I read there was a parktown prawn under your pedals I could only think of the frozen prawns you buy from the supermarket and I’m thinking ‘How did that get there’ and ‘What’s wrong with the woman?’. I then scrolled down and saw the picture, nearly fell off my chair. What a perculiar and scary looking thing. Very alien πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, Adrian. Yes, one would imagine that the job is a very sane and boring one, but I can assure you that things don’t always go smoothly. That giant cricket is practically indestructible. I’m sure it’s prehistoric. πŸ˜†

  14. Wow! You sure have had some amazing experiences playing weddings!
    Great stories!
    Hope that jack hammerin’ doesn’t give you too bad of a headache. πŸ™‚
    But I bet that jackhammer would have come in handy to (hopefully) dispatch that huge hideous bug! Yikes! Bugs…ooooooo

  15. Can’t wait to see the finished “butterfly beige” counter tops. I hope your husband still has all his toes when all is said and done! What great stories of your musical memories. I think I would scream too, at the sight of the Parktown Prawn. Yikes!
    Disgusting! And that poor mother of the bride, toppling down the steps! The stories of Dr. Reg Barret cracked me up and reminded me of the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” I don’t think any movie has ever made me laugh so hard. I laughed out loud at many of your recollections. Thanks so much for making my day! πŸ™‚

  16. “…proof that he didn’t jackhammer the kitchen floor whilst wearing his flip flops, Some of you expressed concern for the safety of his feet, after seeing his bare tootsies in my weekend post for the β€œThankful” theme…”

  17. Many people, many things – at least it makes for a life filled with anecdotes πŸ˜‰
    Good luck to hubby and the hammering πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, bdt. It was a case of mind over matter. I was half expecting to feel it’s horrid little feet climbing up my leg, but maybe the sound of the organ music scared it away. πŸ˜€

  18. It’s a nice bonus to have a wonderful husband who also happens to excel at home improvement projects. And he is lucky to have a wonderful wife who is a talented musician. I’d say you make the perfect couple!
    πŸ™‚
    Elisa

    • Yes, I knew you’d be impressed, Hopestar. No, brides and bridesmaids really do faint at weddings, and this organist could well have done, if that Parktown Prawn had reappeared. πŸ˜€ xx

  19. Oh my! You could definitely write a book on your organ adventures. πŸ™‚ And what is up with that creepy cricket? Looks like an alien! How you managed to play, I have no idea…..

  20. You’re really setting C to work, AD. Poor man πŸ˜‰
    I’ve only seen one Parktown Prawn and he was dead in the swimming pool, thank goodness.
    Lovely wedding stories.

  21. Love the memories! You should treat us more often :-). I once stripped down to my bra in a second just at the entrance to Killarney shopping mall because one of those horrid prawns had some how gotten into my clothes and I could feel it clinging to my back. Other shoppers were astonished! I have also leaped onto my office desk, screaming ‘It’s on my leg!!! It’s on my leg !! to the amazement of co workers.

    • Thanks, footsy. Had a good laugh at your Killarney story. Oh horrors! I just can’t imagine. The worst thing that happened to me at Killarney mall, was that I slipped and broke my femur. I’m not sure which is worse. πŸ˜†

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