Tonight we had the first part of the end of the busy Choir Christmas schedule, with the traditional carol singing around the village. As usual we kicked off at Warren Lodge, and then moved on to the Queens Oak near the Church, and then on to the Greyhound in the village.
Unfortunately, for several of us it was a decidedly frustrating evening. It was pretty disorganised anyway – the only people with carol books were the few of us who had brought them along, and most of the rest of the choir ended up busking off the carol sheets. Although we didn’t have a full turnout from the regular choir (there are a number of coughs and colds going around) we had a pretty large number of people, with a lot of old choir members coming along, and I still think we produced a pretty good sound, however we sang significantly less that we have done in previous years. That may be something to do with the lack of people – at the Queens Oak there were a number of empty tables, and the Greyhound was pretty quiet too. As a result, of the number of perennially favourite carols that in previous years we have done in every location, we didn’t do so tonight. Certainly if, as we are we’re coming into the pubs and causing a good deal of disruption to the people in the pub, and although we do it for free, we’re collecting on behalf of the Children’s Society, and I think we really need to give people, however many or few their are, their money’s worth – something I don’t think we did tonight.
Anyway, there is not much time to consider the Carol Singing, as tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we’re into multiple Christingle services again, followed up with a dose of Midnight Mass, and then another couple of services on Christmas morning too.
What is making things somewhat more stressful at the moment though is that we have had a warning from the local Police about a couple of gentlemen casing out Churches – indeed we believe we’ve already had them in the Parish Centre. They have been spotted at a number of Churches across the Berkshire/North Hampshire borders, and are apparently after keys. If that seems a bit odd, bear in mind what are the most valuable things most Churches have.
In most cases, things like video equipment and computers, if the Churches have them on site, will be second hand donated stuff – more often than not with anything like that I tend to bring my own equipment rather than use the Church stuff. In terms of money, there is usually little left about. There might be the odd few pounds in collecting tins, but mostly that wouldn’t cover the petrol costs of these guys driving between the Churches. What is of real apparent value is the silverware. Whilst most of the really valuable stuff is usually in a bank vault somewhere, most Churches will have some sort of silverware around that gets used week by week, whether that be chalices, an altar cross or whatever. The majority of Churches will ensure that this sort of stuff is locked away, hence why the thieves will be after keys – I guess with it being Christmas there is probably the hope that some of the really valuable stuff will be brought out of the vault too. Having said that, we don’t have that much around that is high value silverware – what is used week by week is much more of sentimental value to members of the congregation, being given in memory of various loved ones over recent years, rather than anything particularly historic. Having said that, that probably won’t make much difference to potential thieves, and given the chance they’d probably steal them on the off chance they are valuable. Needless to say, with the prospect of large numbers of visitors around at Church over the next couple of days, it’s an additional worry we just don’t need!