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The Lee Newsletter
December 2011
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snowy scene Gordon Cumming
By Jenny Senior

On 8th October, Wendover Parish Church was filled for a memorial concert celebrating Gordon’s life. The following tribute was spoken by John Glanfield:

Gordon was a great friend of The Lee village in many ways. He was a familiar figure at village events and social gatherings and was always a delight to be with. He seemed to have a bottomless fund of good stories and creative ideas.

He gave numerous concerts in The Lee Old Church, a medieval building with great atmosphere. When Gordon entertained there it was always full to capacity. He once gave us a wonderful evening demonstrating the amazing variety of music which could be produced on an electronic keyboard. Dazzling! When he played a lively piece he could really make the rafters ring and his nimble finger work was a sight to behold. He radiated enjoyment and it was infectious. On several occasions he accompanied singers including Glenys Groves who is singing today – a fact which would give Gordon great pleasure.

A binding relationship
Gordon will go down in village history not just in people’s memories. To mark the Millennium it was decided that we should create a Village Diary, an archival book which would record not only all the events which took place in the village in the year 2000 but also every scrap of information about the village; its organisations and institutions, transport, education, farming, buildings, the cost of living, the weekly food bill... we could go on but you get the idea! It ended up as an enormous tome – a scrap book of information which will provide a future historian with a complete picture of village life in the year 2000.

It had to be a thing of beauty, a leather bound volume inscribed with gold lettering. When we costed the job of binding, the quotation was well over £500 and we had no money. Despair! Quite by chance, one day Glenys was telling Gordon about the book. Gordon was fascinated by the idea and asked who was going to bind it. He then asked whether he would be allowed to bind it himself. He would charge nothing for his expertise and time. What an offer! The result is the most beautiful book; the size of a Victorian family bible, which we are all thrilled with and Gordon will go down in history as the craftsman who made it. Gordon was a perfectionist. He did the binding in his class at the Bodleian Library. When he had painstakingly sewn all pages into sections ready to bind, he and his tutor were not satisfied. They thought the sections were too clumsy and thick. Only Gordon would have the determination and patience to undo the whole lot and re-do it with thinner sections. The result is perfection. A lasting and fitting memorial to a remarkable man. We shall miss him.

Lasting memories
Margaret and I first met the Cummings after a concert by the Chiltern Music Society. Gordon stumped this ignoramus of a Chairman with his question, “What are you doing about Mozart?” It was, of course 1991, Mozart’s bicentenary! That was the beginning of our music-making together. The four of us singing and playing – Jackie on her harp.

As to book-binding, he cut his teeth on our family bible, a weighty tome which he lugged around Oxford week after week for tuition.

It was a joy when Gordon espoused my second home, a book village in a remote part of Norway. He installed his binding equipment there for the Annual Book Festival, demonstrating the craft to visitors to a background of classical music.

They were good last years. Now Wendover will never be quite the same.
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