I was asked to do a funeral this morning, so I wasn't able to celebrate or attend the St John's midweek Eucharist as the times coincided. It was an occasion when the son and grandson of the deceased both gave tributes, and I didn't have to tell his story on behalf of the family. It did mean that the service was five minutes longer than usual, however, and though I didn't rush to finish I was conscious that it might have created problems for another funeral following immediately. It turned out that the regular service time slot is longer than I thought, and has been for some time, since the second chapel on site opened some years ago.
Strange to think that I wasn't aware of this change. It happened in 2000, and my memory of shorter service slots harked back 25 years earlier. In my experience, it's rare for such services to go on longer than I expect. Content and some elements of the form of a funeral service have certainly changed, over the years, but my sense of timing and pace in delivery remains shaped by the experience of my first Curacy, and trips to Thornhill from Caerphilly to take services, often nervously.
Straight after lunch I had to make a bereavement visit in a newish housing area in Leckwith, west of Canton. Finding it looked straightforward from Google Maps. I memorised the route and set out, but I couldn't see street signs directing me to a housing estate, set back from the highway, close to where Sanatorium road starts. I found myself driving along the boundary of the new housing development on the industrial site which once contained a huge paper mill, alongside the river Ely.
The route of Sanatorium road itself is being changed to link up with Cowbridge Road West at Ely Bridge, so I had to turn around and retrace my steps. I stopped to check the car's A-Z street directory, but there was no sign of the housing estate on the map. The edition pre-dated the construction of the estate! I took a chance and turned into a housing area at a set of traffic lights and this proved correct, although it was still difficult to identify the street and even hard to find the right house, as it was offset at right angles in a street, which was otherwise straight and unbroken.
After the visit I returned home, charged with telling the story of the man who'd died not long after his retirement, after four decades on the front line of production in a steel works. Evidently a dangerous job, but some of the real risks are hidden from sight. It's not the first early post retirement death of a former steel worker I've come across in the past few years. Health and Safety regulations are often a subject of mockery and contempt, due to what some people think is excess attention to detail, but if you look at the big picture, it's no hard to see how hazardous some industrial work places still are.