Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Run up to Lent

An early start, celebrating the eight o'clock Eucharist of Transfiguration Sunday at St Catherine's, and then on to St German's for the eleven o'clock Mass. After lunch we drove up to Kenilworth, taking Rhiannon home ready to start school after her half term break. Clare will stay for the week to look after her while Mum and Dad complete their final Wriggledance tour dates with 'The Colour of Me' show. It's been a huge success, playing to full houses of parent and their pre-school children all over England.

We had an interesting conversation with Kath and Ant about the variety of responses they received from audiences in different regions of the country. In some places they experienced more responsiveness and greater interaction between children and dances, in others, children were more passive and inhibited about joining in, a variation which suggests that kindergarten educational culture, also possibly child development are far from uniform across the regions. It's a challenge to them as performers. Even so the appreciation of their show was warm and enthusiastic wherever they went, and this despite some of the technical problems they had with equipment on some occasions.

After Rhiannon left for school Monday morning, Clare and I drove over to Selly Park in Birmingham to see our old friend and neighbour from when we lived there, when I was St Francis Hall Student Chaplain at the University of Birmingham, from 1972-75. Over forty years later and St Francis Hall is still open for business as a multi-faith centre with four campus chaplains, an Anglican, a Methodist, and two Roman Catholic, plus a dozen part timers representing the world's faiths and other Christian denominations. In my day, there were six in the chaplaincy ministry team, and less than half the number of students there are now. It's amazing that it continues to thrive, as its web presence indicates. 

Because our two daughters grew up with Angela and Tom's youngest daughters as near neighbours, we kept in touch over the 42 years since we moved on. Angela now 88, came to our Golden Wedding anniversary with daughter Lydia, and it was a great opportunity to go and visit her, as it's only a three quarters of an hour drive from Kenilworth. The houses in Bournbrook Road have long back gardens, and beyond them, a secluded wooded area with a pond. It was wonderful to see that it remains much as we remembered it, having escaped urban development altogether. I believe the land may be owned by the Cadbury Estate and designated as a conservation area. Angela cooked lunch for us, pasta with a tomato and asparagus sauce - which has given me a new idea to try out when I next have opportunity. Her mind is still active and lively. She reads a lot, including the Tablet and the Catholic Herald, and is keen to discuss current affairs and social issues. Being with her was an inspiration, and made me wonder what I'll be like, if I live that long.

It was dark by the time we got back to Kenilworth, and Kath had supper ready for us. We were in bed earlier than usual for Clare and I, simply because Kath, Anto and Rhiannon must be early risers during school terms. After breakfast, I drove back home, to have the afternoon free to prepare for the evening Mass at St German's in honour of Dewi Sant, kept a day early in the Church in Wales because of its rare co-incidence with Ash Wednesday tomorrow.

There were fourteen of us for the Sung Mass, and we sat in choir, making the most of the wonderful acoustic of the church for some unaccompanied singing. Afterwards there was a Shrove Tuesday party in the church hall. I went into the kitchen to see if I could give a hand waiting on people, but at that moment several people were making drinks, and the stove was on with a couple of frying pans heating up with melted butter in them un-tended at that moment. I stepped in and managed the pans to stop the butter from burning. Then a large jug of batter appeared, so I poured some into both pans and started cooking pancakes. More by luck than judgement, the first two turned out OK, so I carried on cooking. Nobody came in to take over, so I just kept going, soon graduating to a third plan, cooking three at a time until there was no more batter left, and I'd done over forty, much to my own surprise. Sure I have cooked pancakes before, but never so many in one go!

An unusual conclusion to my Mardi Gras.

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