Monday May 7th
The fine spring weather was much too good to waste, so with Jamie spending the day playing cricket, I packed some sandwiches and walked all the way to Carshalton (bike has puncture, so couldn't use it). Stopped at a local parish for Mass on the way. Packed church, lots of young families - much very well-intentioned and extremely noisy music led by a hearty dad with a guitar...This is the sort of style that seems to work well for young married couples and their children, but isn't terribly appealing to young singles (although of course, in the London suburbs, these do have the option of going elsewhere, esp to one of the big London churches with a v. different style). These families are exactly the sort with whom I get on best - they're the ones whose values I share, whom I meet at Catholic events, to whom I give talks and who buy my books. They support the pro-life movement and are active in lots of good things in the local and wider community. They are there in force at big events like "Celebrate!" where they enjoy family-based activities, inspiring talks, calls to evangelise neighbours, and a sense of mission. The church notice-boards were crammed with items promoting EWTN, Days with Mary, a retreat at a traditional-style monastery, information on vocations to the priesthood, pro-life material. But the guitar throbbing, the microphones, the beat, the sheer noise....Can't we get something going in the spirit of Sacramentum Caritatis, to get people singing some Latin, and enjoying something of a great heritage of music that belongs to the Church and us all? Is this guitar-beat enough to sustain a generation's faith in what could be very tough times ahead?
I met Mother as planned outside Carshalton's old church (where there was a wedding going on, which was nice) and we enjoyed an afternoon looking round Carshalton House. THis is an 18th century house with some lovely rooms, open to the public on guided tours from time to time - and I was at school here, St Philomena's. As we passed the swimming-bath, I rushed to see if my name was still there, carved into one of the bricks and it is, it is!!! It took me some while to do it, one summer term when I was in the Lower V1, and we used to spend lunchtimes sitting and talking on the steps in the sunshine.
We visited the Hermitage in the grounds - which we girls used to call the Grotto, a lovely 18th century folly, set into the rise of the hill overlooking what used to be the lake (I have a picture of my sister posing as a saint in one of the niches there!). This corner of the grounds is badly in need of some care - massively overgrown and if water did start to return to the lake, which is sometimes does depending on the water-table, it would just be a mess because it's all filled with grass and trees and tangled growth. Difficult to get funds to enable maintenance work to be done on the scale needed - and in its wildness it was all rather glorious anyway.
The tour finished in the Water Tower, which M. and I had visited last week. We had tea there and I got chatting to the Chairman of the Friends of Carshlton Water Tower - would like to help with their fund-raising etc.