As usual, I went to St German's to celebrate the midweek Mass. This morning, it was just half a dozen of us in the Lady Chapel. Tomorrow the whole school will come in for a Lent-East celebration, which I persuaded Fr Phelim to do, so that he has an opportunity to introduce himself to the whole school, as it will be a key context for his new ministry to people in its Adamsdown and Splott catchment area. He will be moving house after Easter, and licensed in May, presuming we have a new Bishop by then.
After the service, PCSO Andy, his wife Michelle and their eleven day old daughter Millie, snug in her carry cot, called into the church so we could chat about the Christening. Actually it's going to be two Christenings, a Michelle expressed an interest in being Baptized when I officiated at the wedding a year ago. Once she became pregnant, she decided to wait until after the birth. I was so delighted when she emailed me to announce Millie's arrival and discuss dates. I discussed this with Fr Phelim, and he's happy for me to see this through with them, for continuity. With Andy working in the community, he'll get to know the family as time goes by.
Women in the church Day Centre were delighted to welcome Andy and Michelle's baby, and several of them gave Millie a cuddle while mum and dad were chatting with Father. I settled for giving her a first blessing, there in the church hall, before taking my leave of them, and drove home smiling to myself. It was a lovely morning.
I got home at noon. Clare suggested a walk and a picnic, to we went over to Blackweir and followed the Taff up-stream to Llandaff North, calling into Tesco's superstore for some sandwiches and a drink. Contrary to habit, and partly so we didn't have to hang around to be served, I used a robotic check-out, and got very annoyed with it, as it wouldn't scan some items submitted, and nagged me about using the wretched 'bagging area' for purchases - butt of jokes in stand up comedy.
It turned out I'd used the one on my left side instead of the right. I was not aware of signage indicating which area belonged to which till. If you're left handed like me, it doesn't come as naturally to pass goods from left to right as it does from right to left. A big directional arrow over the till would have helped. For a few moments I felt helplessly stupid, annoyed with myself and the world. An assistant tried to help me, but presumed I was having trouble getting started rather than being stuck half way through purchasing, only making matters worse, until I rebuffed her and got a telling off from Clare.
We continued following the riverside path on the Gabalfa side, stopping for a picnic half way, and turning round in Llandaff North village after stopping for a drink at Coffi Cwtch on the High Street. Along this stretch of riverside I was surprised how few litter bins there were until we reached Hailey Park, which had several. For a change, however, there wasn't much to pick up in this stretch, half a dozen pieces. By the time we walked back down river, over Blackweir Bridge and across Pontcanna Fields to home, I'd picked up another seven times as much.
This is Varsity Sports Week in Cardiff, and students from the three Universities are out on the streets and in the parks in force, wearing supporters tee shirts, getting drunk and being rowdy as some do. But worst of all on a sunny day like today, groups sit out on the sports fields for picnics and/or drinking sessions, and leave their rubbish behind. At just one abandoned party site, I picked up ten bottles and cans, and there were half a dozen other groups scattered across the playing fields still enjoying the air and drinking. Heaven knows what it will look like tomorrow. I collected a total of fifty items of litter out walking today.
Our parks are well maintained and supplied with litter bins that are well used though rarely full. Some people just walk away and leave their cans, bottles, cups and food wrappers behind. What kind of social education or training are young sports people and their fans getting, that they can exhibit such disregard for an environment they share with people of all ages? In the days of military conscription, many men who regarded themselves as having learned next to nothing as they grew up, were subjected to what would be regarded nowadays as harsh and rigorous training, and education for self reliance and disciplined living. They learned how maintain high standards, to look after themselves and take care of their environment, or suffer if they didn't. Society may no longer feel military conscription is necessary or relevant, but it hasn't replaced that kind of disciplined personal formation for adult life in any consistent way that makes responsible citizens out of individualistic adolescents. More's the pity.
What sort of mess of a world is little Millie going to grow up in?