A pick-me-up in the city

Posted on 13 June 2012 | Narrative

Here’s another story about our city from one of BBC Radio York’s crew – Russell Walker.

“There are few views that can instantly make me feel better, can lift my mood and put a smile on my face. For me, one of the best in the world is that first view of the Minster on the horizon when I’m coming back to North Yorkshire after being away.

I know it’s an obvious choice – a much celebrated building that has dominated the York skyline for years and years, but I adore it. If you were lucky enough to grow up here you may find yourself barely noticing it as you walk by on your way to work, home or the NHS Drop-In Centre.

A York born colleague of mine even described it to me once as “a hidden gem”! Many truly remarkable people have walked through it, touched its walls, prayed inside it, sang inside it or just had a peaceful five minutes of reflection within its stone walls.
Two of my proudest professional achievements therefore are that, thanks to my work at BBC Radio York, I have had the honour of playing “Chopsticks” on the magnificent Minster organ and I managed to have the old American tune “Dixie” played on the Carillon!

To you, these may sound like silly things but to me they prove that the Minster doesn’t make the same mistake that the other grand European cathedrals do. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Of course it has a very important role to play in York life and it does that very well. Serious is good! But then, so is fun!

I haven’t met a miserable person yet at the Minster. Everyone from The Dean himself to the lady on the information desk has a smile on their face. To laugh is to be human, and the willingness of the team at York Minster to play along with me at times has left a mark in the mind that will take a long time to fade.

I can’t help smiling when I think of the faces of the tourists that may have been having a tour of the building when the sudden sound of “chopsticks” burst out of the organ. You wouldn’t get that in Cologne Cathedral you know!”