Thursday, 17 April 2014

Gravitas

Have just returned from my favourite of all the Easter Services.

We had the foot washing accompanied by the Taize Ubi Caritas, sang "In the heart5 where love is abiding" as the anthem and led the walk into the 'garden of repose',to the Taize "Wait with me".

As we waited silently in the Lady Chapel ablaze with lilies, the alter stripping took place in the darkened church, 

For once, even the most junior choir members remembered to leave in silence.

This all adds to the solemnity and yes I suppose, the theatricality of this sober piece of our liturgy.

Some of our number prefer Christmas and the music which accompanies it, but for me Easter has all the elements which appeal to my need for gravitas in religion.

I am so glad that my introduction to Christianity was in the High Anglican or Anglo Catholic tradition.  Happy Clappy would never have worked for me.

Two down (Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday), and three to go.

Hurray.




Sorry the phantom underliner took over my blog.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Girls' Night In

This morning avoiding the Sahara dust laden atmosphere outside I am trying to clear my slightly muzzy head in order to do some paper work.

This has been a busy week culminating in the equivalent of a girls' (I use the word tongue in cheek)night out - namely, a girls' night in.

Five of us trooped next door at around 7.00 pm yesterday for a 'short' get-together.  Luckily for me, my return home at about 11.00pm was a matter of yards rather than the hundred metres some of the others had to manage.

We had not enjoyed each others' company for about 6 months so there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of catching up to do.

One of our number is currently having a bit of a crisis so we spent a while (a few hours) listening and offering opinions and occasionally advice, and refuelling ourselves with the odd glass.

The alcohol flowed, the food was eaten almost by default and the decibel level  increased minute by minute.

We each had something/s to say and we said it, had matters of great importance to discuss and we discussed them, had arguments for and against other's opinions and expressed them.

And the volume grew.

Some of the time we were serious and concerned, some of the time we were lighter-hearted and noiser, most of the time we yelled, roared with laughter and the roof trembled.

Occasionally we remembered that our hostess had two teenagers upstairs in bed.  Most of the time we didn't.

We have been friends and neighbours for a good many years now and are easy and comfortable in each other's company, so these fairly rare events are enormously enjoyed by all of us.

I don't know how much the other reprobates drank.  I wasn't counting, but I put away about two thirds of a bottle of shiraz and apart from an inclination to walk in circles this morning am perfectly fine.

The birds were fed at 6.15 as usual and the visiting mog likewise,  OK I did put cranberry juice on my cereals and milk in the juice glass, but hey anyone can be a bit absent minded.

When I caught myself trying to put furniture polish down the loo instead of bleach, I carefully put them both down and headed for the lap-top instead.

A lovely evening followed by a slightly unusual morning.

Ain't life wonderful?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Happy Birthday to me

The best picture I've seen of me for a long time.

Today in case you haven't guessed is my birthday.

I started the day at 6.15 am or thereabouts by singing
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
I seem to be still here
Happy Birthday to me.

In the absence of a choir that was the best I could do.
I had already been given beautiful mauve irises and white roses, had a pile of cards waiting unopened for my return from church and was greeted by a truly beautiful sunny warm day.

Back from church I gardened for an hour and a half then retired to open the cards.  A knock at the door, another card and lovely pink roses with white lisianthus.

Turned on the lap-top, Happy Birthday Ray said my computer (well, wrote it).  Stunned I went to my emails birthday wishes from Dutch friends. Didn't even know they knew when my birthday was.

This afternoon a phone call and another card through the letterbox.

Ouch!  just pinched myself to make sure I was not  dreaming.

Having successfully slipped through the net at church, stayed stumm can't spell it, and avoided wearing  the dreaded birthday hat in front of the entire congregation, I had thought this was to be a very quiet birthday apparently someone somewhere had other ideas.

Lovely!/

Friday, 14 March 2014

Farewell to an honourable man

Just a passing salute to mark the death of a man I greatly admired.

Shrewd, intelligent, idealistic, he was always the master of his own destiny.  Never persuadable away from his declared beliefs, a perpetual thorn in the flesh of any right-wing government.

I admired his stance on virtually every political issue and was always disappointed that his own party so seldom came up to his high standards.

In my early days i had a dream that he would one day be prime minister.  Never, I suspect one of his own  dreams, he appeared to have no personal ambition unless it involved leading action against social injustice.

My trades unionist, communist father also admired him though he would have preferred a step further to the left, and often attended and occasionally spoke at the same meetings as my hero.

He shared one other habit with my father (not one I admired), in that he seldom was seen without his pipe and attendant cloud of smoke.

Rest in peace and rise in glory, most honourable of men.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Infernal Combustion Engine - Can you live without your car?

Lying in bed this morning, late (7.50am) half dozing I was aware of an unusual amount of noise outside.

My neighbour was having difficulties starting her car.  It was cold, though not frosty, very foggy and she was not happy.

The pong of exhaust fumes was filtering into the room by the time she got it going and took off in a hurry.

Thinking about the nuisance value of cars, expense, damage to the environment I wondered just how hard most people would find it to manage without them.

The 2nd world war was the background to my early days and at that time only two people in the road in which I lived had cars.  One was under wraps for the whole of the war, the other, owned by a Mr Clark was licensed for 'war work', so was often to be seen out and about.

None of my friends families had cars and it was just not of any interest to any of us as children.

By the time I was in my late teens (early 1950's), there were about a dozen or so within my daily orbit and still they made no impression at all.  In fact it wasn't until my best friend Barbara's dad got a car and I had an occasional ride in it that it even registered on my radar as a means of transport.

Aged 20 I left home and joined the WRAC, signing on for three years, during which time my father became a full-time union officer was 'given' a car and moved to the more affluent South.  (Kent in fact).

Home on leave I enjoyed several trips to the coast and other far-flung places and began to see why some people were so enthusiastic about the things.

During the years after my 'demob' I worked near home (my parents home) and still worked locally when I moved into a bed-sit in 1960.

I had no car, needed no car, and never even considered the idea of one, even if I could have afforded the deposit.

When I worked in London and started singing in London, my train and underground combined ticket took me everywhere I needed to go, so, still no car.

It wasn't until I married aged 35 that I/we included a car as a part of the trappings of daily life.  John had been driving since his very early 20's so was superglued to his car.

As the years went on I became used to going everywhere on wheels and at the same time heavier, lazier and less and less inclined to walk.

John even took the car to post a letter!

After his death 38 years later, I was stunned to find I actually had feet and what was more was dependant on them.

Nowadays I walk, bus and take taxis wherever I go without more than an occasional wistful grimace when there is snow or rain or an East wind about.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I did make a brief attempt (10 lessons) to learn to drive, but gave up for a variety of reasons:  too old (75), too stiff, too nervous and not least, too poor.

When I weighed up the cost of buying a car, tax, license, insurance, petrol, maintenance against, the cost of an occasional taxi, a free bus pass and no hassle about repairs etc it was a 'no brainer', or in my case a no car er.

Half my life has been lived without the benefit of a car and half with.  I can honestly say yes. I most certainly can live without a car.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

February Blues.

February is my least favourite month.  Historically my most traumatic.  Meteorologically either very cold or very wet, and in any case grey.

Also, it is physically a month when all the winter's ills seem to have drained every bit of energy.

I try not to blog in February, aware that other people with real problems do not want to be pulled down further.

So I read other blogs. comment when appropriate and keep a low profile.

In the shower this morning, the sun blazing through the window I was aware that this was a very un-February-like day.  It is or rather was, also my wedding anniversary.

It would have been the forty-third.

Oddly, since John's death in 2009 I have never once remembered our wedding anniversary and have no idea what alerted me today to its significance.

Watching a great spotted woodpecker on the peanut feeder it occurred to me that all the little similar fleeting things  which have always given me huge pleasure, still do.  I still love watching birds, fussing neighbourhood cats, basking in brief shafts of sunlight.

As a moody introspective teenager when I complained to my mother that there never seemed to be any great blinding flash of happiness in my life.

She replied that such moments are very rare and do not constitute real happiness, adding that learning to find pleasure and joy in very small everyday things was the key to real happiness.

As always, she was right.

Seeking a picture to illustrate this post I found among my garden photos the lovely apricot bloom of "Just Joey", taken in a year when it flourished.  It too has dwindled to almost nothing, but has had its time of beauty and the picture was taken just then.

Life seems very flat at the moment, but I know it is just a grey patch and things will improve again soon.

Last Sunday our St Mary's choir sang "The heavens are telling" from Haydn's great "Creation".  We were not very well rehearsed and it is quite difficult, but made, I thought, quite a good job of it.

The feedback was generally good, with one lovely lady with whom I share the 'meeters and greeters' desk telling me she wanted very much to clap at the end, while inevitably, there was one person who 'hated' it, said it was too loud and too long.

One person's lovely day and another one's awful day.

Seems February is quite a mixed month.


Monday, 3 February 2014

The Times They Are A-Changing

One of the bonuses of being in interregnum (as we at St. Mary's have been since last August), is that we are privileged to see and hear a huge variety of clergy of all shapes and sizes officiating at the various services here.

We have been blessed by visits from the Archdeacon, the Bishop, the Dean and a dozen or so other Rev's from various local churches and semi-retired local ministers.

Some. (most), are in our own Anglo-Catholic tradition, others rather less so, and one particular individual from a very different one.

This can be illuminating, inspiring, or on occasion, somewhat disconcerting, but since we are assured by those in a position to know, that we are going to acquire an incumbent of our own persuasion - eventually - we must settle for what we are offered in the interim.

Change is all around us, and even the day-to-day running of the church is constantly shifting ground and altering time-honoured procedures in order to adapt.

In some ways it has brought us closer together as a community but in others cracks are appearing.

As so  many other people are looking at their roles whether paid or volunteer, I decided to make some changes of my own.

The Space - listening ear drop-in organisation which is a flourishing part of St Mary's will now have the benefit of more of my time (poor souls, they won't know what's hit them).  While the parish office will see rather less of me (cheers resound).

Additionally I will now be a one-morning a week meeter and greeter, and hopefully will have a bit of training in the rich history of the church so I can officially bore any unwary visitors who make the mistake of asking questions.

The choir has not yet objected to my bass-baritone groaning on Sundays, so that will continue until they do.

Oh, and my face is at last clear of eczema so I look nearly human again.

All we need now is for the weather to change while there is still some of the country not underwater and joy will be unconfined.