Originally a Celebration of Christmas, but postponed because of the snows, A Christmastide and Epiphany Celebration was held tonight in St Catherine's Church, Cocking in aid of the Church Building Fund.
The Reverend Colin Bradley welcomed the audience packing the pews to a church resplendent with its crib and some beautiful floral displays. We were treated to a feast of music and words starting with some audience participation in the form of the first of four well-known seasonal carols, accompanied on the organ by Alan Thurlow, Organist Emeritus at Chichester Cathedral. Alan also played a number of beautiful pieces by Brahms, Corelli, Buxtehude and some lesser known composers (at least to me Ed). He managed to squeeze a lot of fine music out of a small organ with only a single keyboard and three stops. He explained that despite its lack of size, it has over 150 pipes and might originally have been pumped by the organist with feet freed by its lack of pedals.
The bulk of the readings that punctuated the Celebration were delivered professionally by two members of The Midhurst Players, Pat Defty and Alan Lintott. Their texts varied from the humorous to the thought provoking, as did those delivered by Miranda Powell. Miranda's contributions included Shakespeare's Sonnet 97 and a never to be forgotten rendering of a Christmas Cake Recipe. As the principle ingredient of the cake was a large bottle of Vodka that clearly didn't make it to the mixing bowl, the reading became increasingly slurred and increasingly funny as the vodka was thoroughly 'tested' by the cook. (Click here for the recipe).
Steve Redshaw on mandolin and David O'Brien on guitar completed the musical element of the proceedings, entertaining the audience with lively traditional tunes from Ireland and England including two polkas that were literally in danger of encouraging dancing the aisles.
Wine and piping hot plates of good food, followed by a variety of delicious cakes completed the evening, which also provided a welcome opportunity for locals and visitors to meet and talk. A lot of hard work had obviously gone into organising this entertaining evening, and its success could make it a regular event in the Cocking Calendar on whichever side of Christmas the weather allows in the future.