Now this might sound a bit odd at first glance but I can assure you it’s true – another side to the enigmatic Brother Cyril Birtles. Brother Cyril occasionally took my class for music. There was an old piano in the conservatory attached to the back of St Anne’s Prep. We would gather round the piano and practise – usually hymns in Latin such as ‘Tantem Ergo’ which would be sung in church later. One day someone asked (probably me) whether Brother Cyril knew any other music apart from what we were all used to hearing, the rather dirge-like aforementioned hymns. He said ‘oh, you mean something like this:’ and proceeded to play a boogie woogie in the style of Jelly Roll Morton. I assure you that I didn’t dream this, it actually happened.
If anyone else out there witnessed this or similar events, please get in touch. Thinking back, this may have triggered my lifelong love of the blues which still lasts to this day. Another thank you to Brother Cyril Birtles!