John Xzavian’s Organ

Finished Ledbury Festival a couple of weeks ago; now also finished overtime plus overtime stint and, subsequently, novel draft. Polishing up a synopsis and all the sundry nerve-wracking bits as I contemplate subbing it.

So at last I now have a breather to catch up here on events from ages ago, even before the last ConFab. (I have to write up ConFab pronto before I lose all those paper slips from Fox Pops. Yes, I am that tidy. Not.)

MWC member John Xzavian spends some of each summer ring-mastering (is that a real job?) various steam and country fairs down in his native Hampshire/Dorset area, commentating on ancient tractors, old lorries (his speciality), heavy horses and, if pushed, even ferret racing.

He had the bonkers brilliant idea of persuading his friends to bring their 1895 Gavioli Concert Organ (ok, I lied in the title but it means you can read ‘his organ’ and ‘member’ and snorffle, ‘Fnar, fnar,’ if you have that kind of mind) to the Poetry Festival’s opening night. Because one always thinks of massive organs in the context of poetry festivals, obviously.

He persuaded Chloe and Vic that it would be a splendid event, they persuaded the council and, meanwhile, John chatted-up the bell ringers – for the 1812 Overture – and arranged that ‘Sponsored by Malvern Writers’ Circle,’ would go in the programme.

I was dragged in to help on the day, spending the afternoon in Ledbury keeping the parking area opposite the Market Hall available ready for the lorry’s arrival. When the time came for John to zoom off in his van to escort the organ in to place, his van’s battery was dead (jump leads didn’t help) so my Nissan Micra was awarded the yellow flashing lights for the escort task: photographs I shall cherish.


Once the organ was in place, levelled and set up, the bell ringers were kept informed by mobile phone of timing so they could be ready. Church bell ringing is a fabulous art; each bell takes some time to lift so a peal is not an instant thing but a work of careful choreography.

The French Market of the afternoon was due to be done by the time Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was due to belt forth but they were still clearing the area – with a refrigerated bemoth parked right in front of the Market Hall! – until a few minutes before play time.

It was all a bit nerve wracking, especially for John, but afterwards he was finally able to eat some breakfast, courtesy of that lovely chippy down the alleyway near the Market Hall.


Here are a couple of video clips my husband took of the final show.

And it was a SPLENDID event.

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1 Response to John Xzavian’s Organ

  1. Reblogged this on Malvern Writers' Circle and commented:
    Opening night of Ledbury Festival – and a massive organ sets the tone for MWC’s Myfanwy Fox.

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