In Leicester the Groby
Road separated the parish of St. Augustine's from St.
Leonard's. Rather strange then that my father was a
church warden at St. Augustine's although living the
wrong side of the road. This had quite an effect on
my later life, if you think the age of 10 is later life.
From the age of about 7, I was in St.
Augustine's church choir and in the 32nd. St. Augustine's
cub pack. So quite simple except that a dispute between
the vicar a Rev. Daybell and the Choirmaster led to
the choir getting the sack!!
Before that fatal day I have fond memories
of a Mrs Burton always pulling my leg whenever we sang
hymns with 'Hallelujah' in them. We always had a smile
at each other, pity it wasn't throughout the year though
and not just for a few weeks.
I enjoyed singing in the choir and
when at my primary school Alderman Richard Hallam a
member of St. Leonard's came looking for choirboys it
seemed a natural step to switch sides.
brewed when the Rev Daybell re-instated his choir
and there was a heated discussion with my father
about being poached by St. Leonard's. In the end
I was asked to choose between the two and as St.
Leonard's had a weekly choir club there wasn't really
any doubt where I would continue. As well I think
the pay was perhaps better as well. A regular income
and extra for a wedding and for some reason even
more for a funeral.
The Reverend Daybell eventually became
a Cannon and lived in Botttesford until his death only
a few years ago.
Our choirmaster was Mr Hill and the
organist a small fellow Mr Dick Tuck who was quite a
character and had played the piano quite seriously in
his younger days. No wonder that the music was of a
much higher standard and included over the years The
Messiah and St. Matthews Passion. Remember later on
singing at Somerby Village Church as a 17 year old and
being beaten into the pub by their vicar and Mr Tuck.
Before choir practice it wasn't unknown
for us to pop into a small room at the side of the church
and drain empty bottles of communion wine into each
other! Enough to get a taste at least.
Also Phillip, who later became my Best
Man, playing some light hearted music on the organ.
He had an exceptional talent and it was a sad loss when
he died at the age of 42. His two brothers Richard and
Christopher also sang in the choir and Richard will
always be remembered for his renditioning of 'Once in
Royal David's City' at the Christmas midnight mass.
A more humorous moment was when for
some reason about five of us decided to join the congregation
for this service. We must have been about 18/19 as a
tour of a few public houses, namely The Blackbird, Cricketer's
Rest and The Robin Hood preceded this moment. As I remember
Phillip, Anthony, David, Malcolm, Barry and myself sat
in the congregation much to the surprise of the regulars.
Mr Tuck came and we took up his invitation to don our
robes. Funny that afterwards he commented that it was
the best we had ever sung!!
I cannot remember why sometimes at
a service one of us had to use a pair of bellows to
keep the organ going. Also whether it was foot or hand
powered. However I can remember Mr Tuck giving some
very forceful orders at times as the air supply dwindled.
Another of Mr Tuck's lighter moments
was in regards to his marking our music sheets with
letters of the alphabet. This made it easy to return
to a certain place even for the dimmest of us. Funny
how many times it was to Letter B as he looked at the
lady members of the choir.
the merriest times for many reasons was the carol
singing around the streets of St. Leonard's. This
also included Groby Road Hospital and the infamous
Blackbird Hotel. Each night we would start at someone's
house and finish at another with mince pies etc.
Most welcome ending was at Mr Hessletine's which
was across the road from, yes you have guessed The
Blackbird. As we grew older it took quite a while
to go in one and out of another door.
Sadder moments were when St.
Leonard's was demolished due to the demise of
local homes and recently St. Augustine's was burnt
to the ground whilst awaiting plan planning permission
for other uses.