Sunday, 21 August 2016

Celebration and commiseration

This morning I returned to St John's to celebrate the Eucharist, having left only twelve hours earlier, as we were invited to the engagement party of Martin and Andrew, two members of the congregation who are preparing for their Civil Partnership ceremony at the end of October. Sadly I'll still be in Spain on the date, so I was pleased to have this opportunity to give them my good wishes in person. The nave of the the church was lined with several rows of trestle tables for the buffer meal, and there must have been a hundred guests, many of them from the churches of the Benefice. A splendid occasion.

By nine o'clock this morning, the church was spic and span, and the bunting was being taken down. I'd have left the decoration there if I'd had the choice, as a reminder of the lovely evening of fellowship we had the night before, in which some of the twenty people in the congregation took part. Afterwards, I went on to Saint Luke's, leaving behind my sermon, which meant preaching from memory. When this happens I go slower, and worry about going on too long. Fortunately, I didn't notice anyone looking at their watches on this occasion. 

For a change today I had braised lamb, which Clare bought and kept in the freezer for either Owain or myself. I thought this was an occasion to open one of the special bottles of wine that we received as a Golden Wedding anniversary gift, a 2003 Anjou vin rouge. Drinking something this old is quite rare for me. The last I recall was a 1966 Medoc presented to us on our 30th Wedding anniversary back in our Geneva days. It's amazing that wines can keep their complex flavour and aroma for such a long time, if in gentler and more subtle way. Something to take time over. Half a bottle today, half tomorrow. Definitely not everyday wine drinking pleasure.

After drinking wine at lunchtime, I walked in the rain, late afternoon, rather than drive, to make a bereavement visit to a family in a new gated housing area opposite Leckwith Stadium. In his youth the deceased had been a naval rating on board the Royal Yacht 'Britannia'. I was shown photos of him standing tall in the background, escorting Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their honeymoon voyage. He didn't make a career in the Navy, but like many young men, the experience of those years and skills learned made him capable of earning a decent living in the wider world. A four year battle with cancer cut short his life. Sad that any grandchildren will never be able to hear him say "I was there on Britannia for the Royal Couple's honeymoon." But now Britannia has been retired, and the ship is no longer a household name for rising generations, this family story will take a little more explanation that it would have done at the end of the last millennium. 

I read an article recently about making use of manual settings on a DSLR camera, so this past couple of days, finally having understood the use of switch settings on lens and camera body, which I've avoided by staying on excellent Auto settings for the past four years, I've revisited old style manual SLR usage, taking flowers in the garden after the copious rain of the past few days. It'll take a while to regain the skill required to get the sharpest focus on an object when there are several possible points of focus within immediate range. On Auto, the lens is very sensitive to movement and makes minute refocusing adjustments, and I'm always conscious of the low level noise this makes when framing a picture, like background chatter. With Auto switched off, the camera is quiet. That's good for concentration, and you actually need more of it, to get the handheld shot you're after. Nice to get around to this at last.  

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