Monday, February 11, 2008

A vignette...

...of life in suburbia: in a Britain of ugly crimes, violent groups gathering to shriek and hit one another in the streets, and a general sense of unease, there is another life plodding along, slightly beleagured, conscious of an air of menace, but getting on with things valued and enjoyed for a long time and not to be given up lightly....

There are groups in the suburbs that still thrive with a faintly pre-TV, pre-fast-foods, pre- WWII sort of feel to them: clubs and societies catering for different hobbies, little groups with Minutes and Chairmen and Annual General Meetings. They invite people like me to speak to them. Tonight, I was speaking to a local Wine Making Circle. They - well - make wine, and take it along and taste it and win prizes and certificates. They have a Guest Speaker and nibble snacks and wait to be entertained. I was invited to speak on "Celebrating Feasts and Seasons".

The meeting was in a church hall, and while they set up the tables and talked about blackberry wine, I looked into the church. High Anglican. Two people, one a robed clergyman, saying the Stations of the Cross. They were just approaching number 12. "We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee". "Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world." It was suddenly good to be there and just quietly to join in: they swivelled round when they heard a third voice but then just nodded and carried on. Later I read the parish newsletter and there it was, "Stations of the Cross every Monday evening during Lent". I hope they get more people next week.

A fine Edwardian church, beautiful stained glass with a Burne-Jones feel... I've passed it dozens of times and never dropped in.

Then the meeting: a cheery gathering. Gave my talk and, to my pleasure, sold a number of books. Good questions and chat afterwards. Home through the dark streets to a mug of tea, and plans for tomorrow, and writing this Blog.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful Joanna..

Malcolm McLean said...

London's centre hasn't decayed like the provinces have. You mention TV and WWII, but really it is the car which is the great destroyer. Bradford has literally been flattened in a last-ditch effort to revive it.
It has also had its impact on our parishes. Despite all the rhetoric about "community", the parishes just don't function as communities any more, largely because the car means you only have a shallow identification with the place that you live.

Anonymous said...

"Things enjoyed for a long time and not given up easily"..
I like that.
Principals and values worth living and fighting for should not be given up easily.
Thank you Joanna for continuing to plod on-I will keep plodding on as well.