Date published: 14 November 2017
Author: Ros Clow

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Book reading in the Chapel

First time ever but is it the last?

The U3A Booklovers group read ‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaiman earlier in the year. There were so many links with our cemetery (number of burials, quirky epitaphs on gravestones, difficulties in reading old newspapers on microfilm, underground vaults, nature reserve, locking of gates) that I decided it was worth trying to read it in the Chapel.

Eventually four of us, including Mike Brook who as head of Library Services has years of book reading behind him, staged the event over five nights, reading for about an hour each evening starting at dusk (5.15pm). To fit the reading into five hours we had to seriously edit the book, removing several chapters and one main female character. It had to be done.We also added music by asking Dorothy Leddy to play her dulcimer on the two nights she was available, Wednesday and Friday.

We added to the atmosphere by dressing the stage with lamps, rocking chairs and a lace tablecloth. We weren’t allowed to use candles in the chapel but our gatekeeper volunteers lit candles and torches all along the path to the Chapel and it looked fabulous, really ???? Each reader wore an academic gown (we had three between us).

It was freezing in the chapel! After the first night we brought in another heater and wore extra layers. On Halloween itself the Chapel was packed, standing room only, but on all the other evenings we were thin on the ground, resorting to bribing family and friends to join us. However we kept going because one boy, Henry, came every night and sat transfixed thoughout. He made it all worthwhile.

When it was all over we sat and evaluated over mulled wine and ginger cake; was it worth doing again? Several people have said it was a good idea and it should become a tradition but they didn’t come! Maybe it was too early and should start later? We have nearly a year to decide.



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