Due diligence has been performed. I have filled forms, signed certificates of confidentiality, provided references, and acquired an enhanced DBS Certificate, which has been duly forwarded to the Diocese of Canterbury Safeguarding Office for inspection. I have played for three services and not been found wanting. The Rector and the PCC have consulted on a careful job description. We have pondered the Royal School of Church Music recommended fees for a Director of Music in a parish in Category B (church with modest musical provision), and performed miracles of financial proportioning to take into account the existing rota. All of which means I can can proudly announce I am the new Director of Music at St Mary’s, Frittenden.
Frittenden is my new home. In estate agents’ hyperbole, Frittenden is one of the most sought-after villages in the Weald of Kent, and from an organist’s point of view, it certainly ticks a few boxes. St Mary’s is a well-kept gothic revival church (completely rebuilt in 1848 after a fire following a lightning strike). It has a fine parish organ, recently moved, re-ordered and restored. There’s a choir, bells and bellringing on Sundays, and it has brand-new toilets in the south transept (bliss).
It’s five minutes trot across the village green to the church for practice and services, though this can take longer if waylaid for a chatter or, as I would prefer to call it, an ad hoc planning meeting. Out of service hours, much of the choir and Parish Council can be found for further planning discussions down the Bell & Jorrocks (the village pub, and closer to home, even, than the church), particularly on a Friday night.
All this is a bit of a sea change for a city girl. Back in London I didn’t have shepherds tending their flocks outside my bedroom windows (and a very stylish flock of Jacob’s sheep they are too). The heart-stopping swathes of orchard blossom and bluebells are still to come, but tweety birds are starting their spring courtships in the tall trees around the house. I’m developing new country habits, and now have porridge for breakfast, instead of a snack bar. Duncan’s cleaning ritual for the porridge pan (and I do think that if men insist on cleaning the porridge pan, they should be allowed, don’t you?) involves strewing the remains on the lawn: whereupon a chubby moorhen from the pond across the lane strolls over and scoffs the lot.
Enough rural idyll. Down to work. First tasks in my new role: get my harpsichord and practice organ down here toot sweet. Find some processional repertoire of a suitable length to get the choir from the back of the church to the chancel at the start of morning service. Dive into the choir music cupboard to see what treasures might be hidden there. And continue discussions with the churchwardens re provision of CCTV in the nave so I can actually see what’s going on. Toodle pip!
Narnia. Or rather, Frittenden, in Kent.
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Wonderful! I hope you are enjoying yourself, and are being suitably appreciated.
Thank you Caroline!
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