...to make arrangements for the broadcasting of the Consecration of the new Bishop in St John's Cathedral. Auntie has been asked to do the commentary for the broadcast which will go out to Catholic schools across the diocese, organised by Heart Gives Unto Heart Radio. We rehearsed the use of the technology, which involves me sitting in a small soundproof cupbard with microphone, headphones etc. Usual system of green and red lights, monitor screen, etc but it's unnerving to be doing all this in a cathedral where the priority is not to allow anything to disrupt the sacred action: I was comfortable once I had checked and re-checked and realised that my commentary will not be audible anywhere within the church, not even by some one who stands right next to my tiny enclave. And what an enclave! It's a tiny cupboard where I will sit surrounded by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...and the Three Wise Men, shepherds, a lamb or two, some big wooden crosses used for Lenten events, a couple of spare thuribles, boxes of candles, and more...there will be just enough room for the radio equipment, the monitor screen which will show me what is going on in the sanctuary a few feet where I am sitting, a chair, and me.
Portsmouth's history is all bound up with the Royal Navy, and there's something very sad about the feel of the city today with the days of Britain's great fleet long gone. It has a sunset feel. Walking back to the station, I had sudden memories of a dinner on a warship back in the 1970s, of a wardroom mess and young midshipmen making grapes explode in cigar-tubes over after-dinner coffee, of the look of great grey silent ships and the city lights shining on the water, and talk of Nelson and Trafalgar and of Arctic convoys and the Battle of the Atlantic and of NATO exercises and peacrtime, of generations linked by a shared heritage... all really gone now.
In a world where so much changes, the Church doesn't and in this cathedral a successor to the Apostles will lie prostrate while the Litany of the Saints is invoked and rise to be anointed and to recieve the laying-on of hands. And sitting in a cupbard explaining something of that to today's teenagers will be my job next Monday.