Friday, January 19, 2007


Yesterday evening, while Britain was reeling from huge blustery gales, trees falling across railway lines, Channel shipping disrupted, airports closed etc etc, we were enjoying a splendid 50th birthday party of a friend, celebrated in style at Brompton Oratory............ There was a Mass first, in the Little Oratory (v. charming, the private chapel of the Oratory Fathers, also v. popular for weddings) with glorious music by the famous Oratory Choir. Then a very jolly party with delicious food and drink, and the chance to meet lots of friends - including many who read this blog. This makes me feel a little odd because I had thought that the point about blogging was that one was reaching out there to millions of strangers and it was like writing for some vast international newspaper - but it is not that way at all, a blog seems mostly to be read by one's friends and acquaintances!

A while back when describing a social event I found my style was beginning to sound like that of "Jennifer's Diary" in the "Tatler" in the days when it was all full of deb-dances and county weddings so I decided to stop. But really this was an extremely good party, and our host gave his many friends a great deal of pleasure. Worth quoting - and I won't be the only person quoting this over the next weeks and months - is the splendid finale to his speech, listing the three sounds he hoped he would hear for the rest of his days:"The sound of hounds on a crisp Autumn morning, the sound of the Oratory Choir, and the sound of champagne corks popping......".

We walked back to the Tube with Fr Nicholas Schofield and Father Jason Jones who is parish priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper in Wales. I visited this shrine back in the 1970s and loved it - Our Lady has the Christ-child on her lap and He carries a lighted taper...the shrine was revived in the late 20th century after being destroyed under Henry V111 and there are now pilgrimages and processions and a thriving parish. In the children's catechism class, the majority have Welsh as their first language, and Fr says Mass a couple of times a month in Welsh. As we walked along, I made him say the "Hail Mary" in the language and it sounded lovely.....he has invited me to the parish to speak and yes, YES, please I do want very much to go.....

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