Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Tale: The Solitary French Horn Player

The last Saturday before Christmas dawned under leaden skies and deteriorated into torrential rain. In need of fresh air and exercise, we decided to walk into Durham city along the river Wear. The rain hammered on our umbrellas and the fast-rising river swirled past, the colour of brown Windsor soup. After almost an hour's walking we had only met one other person who had ventured out into the rain and wind. 

As we rounded the final bend in the river we thought we could hear music, but at first we couldn't see where it was coming from. Then we spotted him - a solitary French horn player standing in the bandstand near the cricket ground, across the river. There was no one else in sight.

We paused to listen while he produced a lively rendition of the hymn 'Thine is the Glory'. When he'd finished he glanced in our direction. We waved, he waved back. We would have cheered, but he would never have heard us across the river, with the sound of the wind, rain and rushing flood water. 

We turned to walk on, as again he struck up a tune: Ray Noble's 'The Very Thought of You'.  

Soon, when we glanced back into the murky December mist he was barely visible and his music was overwhelmed by the sounds of wind, water and traffic as we approached the steps up to the busy shopping centre.

Sheer magic. We don't know who the solitary French horn player was, but he made our day.

Merry Christmas to all visitors to this blog.


  1. A superb post. Is that the bandstand next to the cow?
    Merry Christmas Phil.

  2. That's the one, Adrian. Merry Christmas!

  3. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Thanks for all your enlightenment this year - the mullet were Pete's favourite pictures and I have particularly enjoyed the bees.

    Thanks again and best wishes for the New Year.

  4. Thanks snippa, and best wishes for a happy Christmas and for 2013. Every time I walk around Sunderland Marina I look out for mullet but haven't seen them again...

  5. Durham also has a mystery singer in the GilesgateMoor/Belmont area. A tenor, of Far Eastern background I'd guess, he can often be seen walking on playing fields in the area singing away merrily. A few days ago we met him in Musgrave Gardens and congratulated him on his rendition of the Latin version of Come All Ye Faithful.

  6. This character regularly practises in the bandstand, and says he is often asked to pose for photos .... mine is

    Happy 2013, Phil!

  7. Hi Roger, I think I saw and heard the mystery singer in Durham Market place before Christmas, singing carols.


  8. I usually walk past on the other side of the river Bob, so have only seen (and heard) him from a distance. All the best for 2013, Phil