Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Messiah in Cleckheaton

Cleckheaton Town Hall.
Most people will at least have heard of the great oratorio Messiah by Handel...

... but have you ever been to a live performance of it? One such performance was being given in Cleckheaton Town Hall many years ago, and old Cuthbert Briggs from Liversedge thought he would like to go. He tried to persuade his wife to go with him, but she wasn't too keen.

'Nay, Cuthbert lad, tha knows it's nowt in my line. Gi' me a bit o' comedy, or a singsong on t' end o' Blackpool pier. No, tha go listen and tell me abaht it when tha comes home.'

So Cuthbert went on his own. He had no idea what to expect, in fact he had never heard of 'The Messiah' - it was just that he fancied doing something a bit different from his usual Saturday night visit to the Sun Inn.

When he got back home his wife was all ears. 'Come on then, tell me all abaht it.'
'Ee, well', said Cuthbert, 'it were all reyt, but not quite what I expected. There won't a lot o' movement on stage. In fact, there won't a lot o' room on stage. It were full o' singers. Ah'd been sat there a bit when in comes a load o' fellas carrin' fiddles. Then they brought in t'biggest fiddle ah,ve ever sin. It were so big they 'ad to wheel it on in castors, an' a little chap rubbed it's belly wi' a stick, an' you should 'ave 'eard it groan. It sounded like cow wi' croup. Well, all t'fiddles joined in an' made such a racket.

Then they settled down an' it all went quiet. After about a minute in comes t'Messiah; well, I think it were 'im, because everybody clapped, an' all t'fiddles stood up to welcome 'im. He were a dapper sort o' bloke, all dolled up in a white weskit wi' a red carnation in 'is button'ole. Yes, I'm sure 'e must 'a bin t'Messiah. Then 'e picked up a little stick an' started wavin' it at everyone on t'stage. They were all starin' at 'im, wondering wot were up. Then they started to sing, and before long they were fratchin' like cats. They wanted to know who were the King O' Glory. First one side said HE were t'king, then t'other side said he were, then they went at it 'ammer an' tongs. But.. it fizzled out in t' end.

Then there were a right ter do abaht some sheep as 'as gone astray. Some of t'singers must a bin partial to a bit o' mutton, because they kept singin. 'O we like sheep.' Personally, I likes a bit o' well done steak, but ne'er mind. Well, ah think as them lost sheep must 'a beloged to one o' t' singers, because 'e stood up an' sed every mountain an' 'ill should be laid low. 'Good', ah thought ter missen, 'if they flatten all t'mountains, they'll be sure ter find t'sheep as 'ah gone astray'. Then t'organist started up an' t'band joined in and by gum, they seemed to be getting' mad o'er summat. T'wat thet were sawin' at them fiddles ah were expectin' 'em to fall apart.

Then, after that all t'women stood up to sing. Believe me, some of 'em were a bit past it, by lookin' at 'em - they must a' bin 70 if the were a day, an they sang 'unto us a child is born', an all t'fellas shouted 'wonderful'. Ah thowt, 'it's a bloomin' miracle!' Then they all composes thesens a bit and sings abaht a woman called Joyce Greatly. A've never 'eard o' her, but apparently she's a daughter of Zion, whoever 'e is.

Ah were getting' a bit fed up b'now, ah'd been sittin' for nearly two hours, when all o' a sudden ah gets a cramp in me leg. Ah jumped out o' me seat, an' d'yer know? E'rybody else jumped up at t'same time. They must a' got cramp, same as me.
Then t'choir shouted 'Hallelujah, it's going' ter rain for ever and ever'. Well, ah'd never thowt ter bring me brolly, so ah thowt ah'd best get off 'ome afore it started. So, seein' as 'ow ah were on me feet, ah reckon ad 'ad me money's worth.

Anyroadup, it were a good do, but ah do 'ope they find them lost sheep.'


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