The Bluebottle Boys — Chapter 16, Part 2, Birmingham (UK), 28 March 1962: First Rehearsal — Part 2 [section 2 of 2]

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All in all, it turned out to be a productive, satisfying first rehearsal.

We were able to run through every one of the selections, as well as learn the descant harmonies that we’d be expected to sing at the end of “By the Blood That Flowed from Thee.” He insisted that I take the solo in “Laudate Dominum,” saying we’d work out the backing choral parts later.

I suppose I had “Flower Duet” on the brain after my “triumph” with Rashmi, but I suggested that Ian take the melody in the “Ave Regina Coelorum” and I do angel harmony in parallel thirds. It didn’t quite work out, but it was close enough that, with relatively few modifications, he was able to notate my harmony over Ian’s. He also wrote out chords on all the pieces so that Ian and I could rehearse with guitar (since I couldn’t play accompaniment on the piano and sing at the same time).

It was while he was writing the chords and notations that Father Fitzgerald stunned Ian and me by asking about Warstone Lane Cemetery.

Apparently, D.S. Higgins had checked with him Monday night to see if we were rehearsing. The good Father had become concerned and, in following up with him thereafter, D.S. Higgins had told him where he’d found us, and about our alleged, but unsubstantiated, stay at the cemetery.

At first, we were hesitant to talk about it, but when the good Father assured us it would go no further, I told him a truncated version of events. Ian remembered nothing until he’d been released from his terror by the animated angel statue, which had been destroyed mere minutes later by the Dark One. It was as Ian related that portion of the story that Father Fitzgerald’s face took on a somewhat puzzled expression.

We asked what mystified him.

“Boys,” he said, “I’ve no doubt that you saw what you saw – and that’s my conundrum. You see, you’re not, by any stretch, the first kids to sneak into that cemetery at night and spend some time there. I did it with some friends, too – during the Blitz, no less – when I wasn’t much older than you are now. It was only dumb luck that we weren’t there on the night all those bombs hit the cemetery.

“A few years before the war, D.S. Higgins did the same with some other kids. I daresay one generation of kids after another has done it, for over 100 years.

“How these escapades turned out, and what each of these groups may have experienced, might vary from one to another. But until you two went in last night, there’s one thing I’m certain we’d have all agreed upon.

“There’s not now, nor was there ever, any statue of any angel anywhere near the catacombs of Warstone Lane Cemetery.”


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