St Mary’s, Trimley St Mary
My planned July concert at Trimley St Mary church – now the Two Sisters Arts Centre – was moved to September, with a limited live audience and a larger virtual one. I changed the programme and my co-conspirators: Rachel and Steve would join me on oboe and bassoon respectively. It needed to be easy to arrange and relatively pressure-free for all of us, and, most importantly, I wanted to be in the company of good friends. I needed to rediscover the joy of practising, rehearsing and performing even in the context of arm troubles and my accompanist’s, James’, absence.
Rachel and I met early in Levington nearby for a walk and lunch at the Ship Inn, the pub that had suffered a fire in 2019. The weather was as glorious as on that unforgettable April afternoon when I first became acquainted with the village. Once again in the company of the delightful church and estuary in warm sunshine, it was hard to believe 18 months had passed, and so much had changed.
It was a pleasure, also, to return to the Trimleys: St Mary’s and St Martin’s sit right beside each other on the main road, with no hedge or fence separating their two churchyards. A family of rabbits, or perhaps two villages of them, were enjoying their territories to the full. Impatient to see inside St Mary’s, I found it somewhat lacking in light and with the village hall feel one might expect from a converted church. But it retained just enough of its atmosphere to make me feel at home, and its size and acoustic were perfect for a small concert venue.
Afterwards I feared I might have overdone the playing – as perhaps had Rachel and Steve, suffering from the wind and brass players’ curse of underused lip muscles – but my first concert since February did the job I needed it to. Steve played the comedian as well as the bassoon, and Rachel, out of concert routine, brought mismatched concert shoes by accident, causing us all much hilarity. One shiny, one matt; one heeled, one flat. The heel discrepancy would have been too physically distracting, quite apart from any question of aesthetics, so she was left with no choice but to borrow my slightly scruffy sandals, the only other available footwear with some size flexibility.
Premiering a piece for oboe and cello that Rachel had written for my birthday a year previously – Winnie the Wood Pigeon – was a highlight of the evening, despite our disappointment in discovering later that the worst of the evening’s technical glitches coincided perfectly with it, ruining both the live-stream performance and the recording. But we were ignorant of the mishap until afterwards, and left the church on a high, reminded of how crucial music-sharing was to our wellbeing, and feeling, for a short while, almost normal again.
Header photo: The churchyard boundary between Trimley St Martin and St Mary in spring