Sunday, 27 February 2011

Place memories

I had to be on the road before nine this morning to arrive in good time in Tongwynlais Parish, where I was enlisted to take services, at St Michael's and afterwards at St James' Taff's Well. Their Vicar John Payne, retired last month. He and I were contemporaries in St Michael's College Llandaff.

It's about 25 years since I least preached in this Parish, in the days when I was USPG Area Secretary for Wales. I also preached one of my earliest sermons in Taff's Well forty four years ago. My father grew up in Taff's Well during World War I, and walked a mile and a half daily to Primary school in Tongwynlais. It's still there, not far from the church. He recounted occasions when he and his friend Billy Herbert played marbles in the gutter all the way to school, and got caned for arriving late. I think he'd recognise the main streets of 'Ton' and Taff's Well nearly a century later, although the fields in which he would have played or tended horses then, are now occupied by homes and gardens. Nowadays, these are commuter villages, with Central Cardiff and the Bay seven miles away by road, ten minutes by train.

There were seventy odd communicants at St Michael's and another two dozen at St James. People were welcoming and friendly. I was greeted by Councillor Brian Griffiths, who was Lord Mayor of Cardiff last year. He sings in St Michael's choir. Not long before I retired, I attended a City Council meeting to say the opening prayer, and Brian, as chairman wished me well in my retirement. I was glad of an opportunity to express my appreciation to him in his home environment for his kind gesture.

Since I was last in the Parish, both churches have new church halls. St Michael's is on land just behind the north west entrance, where a previous hall stood. This one is joined to the church conveniently. St James' church was a double aisled affair. One aisle is walled off to create a hall, rendering the worship area much more practicable for contemporary needs. It can still seat around a hundred. The old hall had to be demolished because of hazardous asbestos found within. A blessing in disguise, even if the remedy was something of a financial challenge.

After lunch, I finally got around to visiting Cardiff Central Station to buy a Senior Rail Card, and book a ticket for travelling to Coventry when I go up to babysit Rhiannon on Thursday. Now I have the Card, I'll have to make more effort to get out and about by train. It may not be quite as good as the 50% demi-tarif abonnement I have with Swiss Railways, but it does make travel a lot more cost effective.

I'm, still smiling as I recall a phrase mis-pronounced in this morning's intercessions. 'We remember O Lord those who have passed on through this transistory life.'  So it is, in our hi-tech era. So it is.

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