Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First carol service of the season

After scraping a couple of days worth of frost from the car, I  drove home from Kenilworth yesterday, and didn't do much for the rest of the day, apart from walking into the city centre for exercise. It's cold in Cardiff too, as cold as Kenilworth was over the weekend. Cold weather seems to have more of an impact on me these days, not just because I'm still acclimatising after time spent in Spain, but I think it's because in losing weight, I have shed a layer of body fat, and now need to dress up more than I used to. I didn't have enough energy to walk in both directions, so caught the bus home as the sun was about to set to avoid getting too chilled. Even in a warm house this winter, I soon feel the chill when the central heating goes off.

This morning, Clare needed the car, so I left for St German's just after half past eight, to take a bus to the centre and walk there. Traffic going into town was moving very slowly, several city buses failed to show up on schedule, and after fifteen minutes it was one of the out of town buses that appeared first, and joined the traffic queue for the centre. Half way down Cathedral Road, a large builder's lorry was parked on the wrong side of the road, causing an obstruction. I couldn't see whether this belonged to a scaffolding work team or if it was parked to pick up a builder's skip, but whatever it was dramatically constricted traffic flow, as outbound traffic can also be pretty busy at this time of day.

It's not the first time this has happened on rush hour journeys. I don't understand why Council's traffic management doesn't issue regulations banning large vehicles from parking or delivering on arterial roads during peak traffic periods, not least to mitigate pollution caused by stop-start motoring, and help make journey planning more predictable for people doing business that involves going into or through the city centre. I'd argue this is needed, as it's not unusual for these large vehicles to be double parked as kerbside parking spaces are already fully occupied. 

Anyway, the bus eventually deposited me in Greyfriars at ten past nine, and a fifteen minute brisk walk got me to St Germans with just a few minutes to spare. Tredegarville school children, teachers and many parents were there for their annual carol service, and the place was a-buzz with anticipation. All I had to do was welcome people and say an opening prayer. As St Nicholas day is today, I told them all briefly that he was saint who inspired Father Christmas to be kind and generous to children. So much better than debunking the myth, as I understand some clergy are prone to do if they get the chance. Kids will find out the truth about Santa soon enough as they grow up, but it's important to affirm that the tradition of generosity and kindness goes way back, and is what matters most.

The service was structured like a Nine Lessons and carols, with much simplified bidding prayer and bible readings, with a nativity tableau at the end. The singing of the whole school, as well as that of rehearsed groups was superbly uplifting, a great tribute to the school's hard working teachers and the wonderful esprit de corps that characterises it. I think everybody's favourite was chorus of two dozen angels in white chiffon, doing a hip hop rap version of Gloria in Excelsis, with waving arms and hand clapping. Afterwards a parent whose family is Greek came over to chat and thanked me for mentioning St Nicholas, since today is Cardiff's St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church's patronal festival. I was pleased that I was able to remember to say Καλά Χριστούγεννα' (Happy Christmas) as we parted. It's many years since I last had the opportunity to use that greeting!

I chatted with a few people over a coffee provided by the school Parents Association afterwards, then walked back into the centre, lingering in the shops for a while before catching a 61 for home. Then finally, I got around to buying stamps and printing off labels and Christmas newsletters. There's still a few days to go before the posting deadline, so I wasn't in any hurry to set up an assembly line and finish the job in one go. That can wait for another day. The evening was spent idling in front of the telly instead.

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