Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year hospitality received

We stayed up to see the New Year in, and watched the fireworks display at Cardiff Castle from the attic window. What surprised us was the number of fireworks set off across the city around midnight and for half an hour afterwards. New Year's fireworks are not unexpected here, but the scale and widespread nature of their adoption all over the city, to judge by the bangs and flashes near and far, this time was still a surprise. More people seem to have money to burn, or are showing reckless contempt for the inevitable increase of austerity in the present political and economic climate.

I was glad of the opportunity of a lie in, although I still woke up at my usual time, oddly ten past seven, just before the central heating comes on, which is puzzling. But I did manage to doze until a quarter to nine. On my way out to Mass St Germans, I dropped Clare off at St John's for the Canton Benefice United Parish Eucharist. There were thirty of us for the service. On arrival I discovered that I had left my printed address behind. I had to remember what I'd decided to preach about and improvise, taking the risk of going on too long and repeating myself. Thankfully, despite it being New Year's day, I didn't see anyone yawning, or looking at their watches.

We were invited to lunch with Martin, Chris and the boys in Newport, so I returned home, collected Clare and drove over there for a two o'clock start. It was Karim's thirtieth birthday. He's a live-in carer helping to look after their fostered lads Andrew and Robert. He invited several of his friends to join us as well, so we met several new family friends. The meal was excellent and the company was good. It was altogether a delightful experience.

During Advent, Martin and Chis opened their home to an old friend of Martin's from College years, who was about to die with little immediate family to support him. His own partner had died several years ago, so he was facing his end alone in a hospice. So Martin and Chris offered him a place to die with friends, which he willingly accepted. He had to be hospitalised with a spontaneously broken bone before Christmas, but was returned to their care a few days later, and died last Thursday, 'fortified by the rites of the Church', as the traditional saying goes. Although an intense and difficult time, it was an experience which Martin said left him feeling greatly blessed.

We returned home in time for the Archers, and later sat and watched a programme of extracts from the television shows of Morecombe and Wise, which were so much part of our young family life, forty odd years ago. And we laughed as much now as we did then. The humour is playful and crazy in the best tradition of music hall and movie comedy. There's very little that ever matches their act to be seen on TV today, so much of which is coarse, crude and over reliant on the bawdy and offensive. On times satire seems to be cruel of the sake of showing how cruel it's possible to be. It's more embarrassing than it is funny, and expression of rage in the face of impotence. Gentle ridicule of human pretensions is a more powerful and sometimes subversive way to challenge the pretentiousness of the status quo than all the anger and nastiness that sullies our screens these days.

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