Every year about this time my friend Jean-Claude and I give a public explanation and demonstration of the organ in the village church. Jean-Claude's part in the demonstration is to read from the altar steps the explanatory text that I wrote some years ago, while I, hidden up there in the organ loft, chip in timeously with odds and ends of tunes showing the difference between an 8' flute and a 4' flute, the American-type wobble that the Vox Humana gives, the ear-shattering Bass Trumpet reeds, and so on. Finally I play a piece (a fugue in F minor by Charles Burney, a one-time acquaintance of Mozart) which gradually introduces all the stops and ends in a blaze of noisy glory after which everyone can go and have lunch.
It's rather a remarkable organ, because there are only six others like it in all France. It's not all that old, dating from 1845. At that time harmoniums (harmonia?) were coming in, to the chagrin of many a curé. A certain Abbé Clergeau designed a modest, wardrobe-sized organ to compete favourably with the dreaded harmonium in cost, size, specification and - a clear winner, this - purity of sound. One of the few that were ever manufactured eventually found its way to our village. It's so special that it has been listed as an Historical Monument.
We do this as part of an annual Europe-wide promotion of Historical Monuments, generally on the third weekend in September. Great houses, public buildings, whatever forms part of the national heritage, are open for the public. Even organs. Free. I think this is quite a good idea. I don't know what the National Trust would think about it.
(I wrote something else yesterday along these lines. Reading it again this morning I found it so patronising and, worse, so boring that I've rewritten it. Anonymous' capitalised comment said it all.)