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Pulling out all the stops for concert-watching

PUBLISHED: 10:56 24 June 2018

Cromer Parish Church.

Picture: Archant library

Cromer Parish Church. Picture: Archant library

Archant Norfolk 2016

Keith Skipper casts his eye over Cromer church concertgoers....

I attended my first organ recital recently of the 133rd season of such melodic treats in Cromer’s splendid parish church. And the answer is... no, I wasn’t there when they first pulled out all the stops.

The aptly-named David Saint, a master craftsman of music from Birmingham, delighted us with the comparative novelty of an all-English programme on what he described as his “almost-annual visit”.

As has become my habit, I sat at the back. Not to dash off and avoid a retiring collection but to sample the full power of perfect acoustics and to observe the fascinating mannerisms, predictable and quirky, of my fellow pew-takers.

It’s only fair to observe the audience closely while the recitalist in his lair can be watched constantly on two large screens placed either side of the church aisle. I suspect someone occasionally stands right at the back to keep an eye on me.

While most music-lovers on parade are of a certain vintage – and I include myself in that select band – holidaymakers of all ages swell numbers throughout the summer.

Some come attired in garb more suitable for the beach, but we all know the Almighty is more interested in what’s in the heart rather than on the outside.

I’ve compiled a fascinating list over many seasons of weighing up main habits on display during this happy hour of spiritual entertainment. Ear twiddlers, collar tuggers, head shakers, programme rustlers and ceiling gazers abound.

Pew thrummers, shoulder hunchers, still-life impersonators and watch winders are also in good supply. A couple of would-be conductors, a loud whisperer and a noisy sweet unwrapper make occasional appearances.

Remember, I’m peering on from the back, so I have no idea how many folk are following these traits with their eyes shut. At least the numerous events I’ve attended have never been marred by a mobile phone going off in mid-recital.

Perhaps I should emphasise how much I enjoy listening to music soaring above the mannerisms.

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