Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Repair days

Tuesday afternoon we had a visit from a craftsman who specialises in the installation and repair of built-in shutters and window blinds, as several in the apartment no longer work. It was a good opportunity to make my Spanish work, while looking up technical words and phrases I didn't know. We had a big laugh when we discovered that the reason for the shutter in the main lounge not to work was the removal of its guide rails, and concreting over of the containing channel at the time when double glazing was fitted to the window, years ago. A historic instance of communications breakdown for this to have been done, and never noticed.

The other problem shutters were all fixable, although showing signs of their age. The man worked solidly for an hour to put them right, then cheerily went on his way, setting us free to walk to the Old Town for a visit to the Picasso Museum. Interestingly, this time we were offered pensioner discount tickets. This didn't happen when I went with Owain, perhaps because I didn't take my hat off to reveal my white hair.

On the way there, we passed Santiago Parish Church, where Picasso was baptized, and it was open, post-siesta, so we were able to look inside. It's said to be the first church to be built in 1490 after Malaga's reconquest. Its tower and west facade reflect the Andalusian mudéjar architectural style, but the rest of the building is renaissance gothic. I took a photo of the famous font, but was annoyed to discover later that it was slightly out of focus. Very unusual for my HX50. I probably didn't give it enough time to adjust to lighting condition.

This morning, we celebrated the memory of St Benedict (a day late) at the midweek Eucharist, just three of us present. Afterwards I re-parked the car away from its usual place, as building contractors are due any time this week to bring in their equipment and start work on repairing terrace walls in the cemetery, and construct new columbaria, for future interments of cremated remains. This will in effect make the small parking area on the north side of the church unusable due to contractor's equipment, but also potentially make it impossible for cars to park around the church in future. 

This is a cause of great concern, as many regulars travel great distances by car to attend worship. If they had to use public parking, this would involve several hundred metres of a walk and the last stretch steeply uphill, quite a difficulty for older churchgoers. It seems as if some elements of this plan have not been well thought through by the Fundacion which now manages the cemetery as an historic asset of the city. Archdeacon Geoff and Bishop David have been trying to engage those in authority to discuss these matters, but so far communication is not proving easy. It's not so much a matter of language difficulties as difference in perception of the part the churchyard plays in the life of a worshipping congregation.

This is a besetting problem for many churches which have ancient churchyards. They are both a big liability to maintain, but also a social, historical, cultural and spiritual resource as well as outdoor meeting place for the community, a tourism venue. Many church people fail to see the value of their 'church plant', to recall a very sixties phrase describing parochial assets, rather than starting a new mission congregation. Relationships with people are given such dominant priority that the physical social environment is under-valued. Perhaps we have simply failed in our teaching about Christian stewardship, or in helping people understand that there a practical consequences to having an incarnational spirituality. It's easy for me to be wise after the event. 

Managing buildings and land are huge worries for parish clergy, so necessary, but so difficult if few people can be bothered to take proper responsibility for them. I must say that in all my incumbency jobs, I was blessed with people who did care. It didn't mean that I never had to do any care-taking, but it could have been so much worse.

After the Eucharist, we walked into the Old Town and visited La Casa Invisible for a delightful menu del dia alumerzo. Then we visited the Cathedral, spent half an hour looking around, and paid five euros each for the privilege. You don't have to pay if you arrive in the half hour before the evening Mass, as I have several times. Then, as we were making our way home for siesta, I had a call to say we could expect to receive a visit within half an hour from the MAPFRE insurance company repair team to re-tile the bathroom floor and wall, broken into for pipe repairs Saturday last. Fortunately, we got back just ten minutes ahead of them. In two and a half hours, they were on their way home, job done, place left clean and tidy. Splendidly efficient.

We were then free to go down the beach for Clare's daily swim before supper. It hasn't been a very hot day today, but it has been humid, leaving you feeling as if you had a fever. I don't know how anyone can labour physically in heat like this, let alone sleep at night.

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