As I sat waiting to be admitted for Choral Evensong at St David’s Cathedral, I figured out what some of the people do…
As I watched and waited a man dressed in black gowns was buzzing around looking hassled and carrying candles and other assorted nick-nacks from place to place. Whilst engaged in a flustere3d bout of nick-nack transportation he suddenly spotted something out of the corner of his eye and doubled back sharply on himself walkng back half the length of the nave in order to tell an elderly man to remove his hat.
We were then ushered into Evensong (hatless) and the same man reappeared – though this time he had made a very quick change and was now dressed as a very large angry wasp. He was carrying a silver stick and leading in the choir, the priest and three (shall we say cuddly?) gentlemen who had ingeniously assembled various bits of old curtains, cushion covers and drapes to fashion some very fetching bee costumes – all three identical!
The bees settled themselves in the uppermost stalls so that they could look down on the assembled congregation – two of them did readings and one did some very good prayers, though he did spoil it slightly at the end by lapsing into doggerel hymn verses. However, their main job was to look disapproving throughout the entiore proceedings. They did this with a combination of stern looks, folded arms, shakes of the head and deep sighs, nothing appeared to be to their liking.
At the end, the large angry wasp reappeared with his silver stick and led the same procession off to eherever they were supposed to go, and the bees assembled themselves down the side aisle as the congregation was funnelled their way – and had transformed themselves into chatty,avuncular, kindly uncles who (now we were leaving) were desperately keen to get to know us!
I looked on the cathedral board. The angry wasp is a Verger; the bees are Canons of varying rank.
Verger’s job: maintain a strict no-hat dress code for men; make sure the choir and the priest and the canons know where they are going and don’t get lost; carry the silver stick (despite it appearing not to have been used otherwise in the service); buzz around busily carrying stuff from place to place, looking harassed.
Canon’s Job: assemble bee costume (years of being a parent for world book day would be an ideal qualification); look disapproving as if engaged in a competitive disapproval tourmanent during services; do a reading or a prayer if the priest asks/tells you to; surprise everyone by pressing the flesh in an avuncular and disarmingly jocular fashion.
I reckon I coulddo either of those jobs! Where do I apply?