What an interesting week it’s been. The world and its sadnesses – capsizing cruise ships with pusillanimous captains have not exactly passed me by, but I find myself floating ephemerally on the surface of events these days. Being sixty must have something to do with it. I still want to drive a Ferrari, but slowly.
We have yet another priest – the poor man delegated to serve us over Christmas slipped into a coma and passed away. Another ‘father’ – how I hate that term – has arrived, who seems to have intelligence, resilience and the kind of churchmanship that will appeal to the more liturgically switched on. This does not, alas, include myself, being a brontosaurus in this respect, slow of thought and response. Nonetheless, there was an efficiency of delivery which I both admired and feared a little. We continue to wallow in a backwater of indecision about what we like to sing – as if God cares – why doesn’t somebody simply pull a few people together and just get it right. I play, drifting off to a little private island where I get to ring a doorbell at the the gates of the throne room, for which I am grateful.
The older I get, the more that friends seem important. people who don’t just tolerate my noxious and unsettling presence, but those who are warm and unconditionally accepting. It’s been an interesting week since I have experienced this in a variety of different contexts. When I was a child, I separated out ‘church’ friends and everybody else. Everybody else were the martini drinkers and smokers of cigarettes whose lives were racier and more exotic and careless than my own. Church people were less forgiving but more reliable. In reality, their responses are remarkably similar. After lunch on Friday, a tiny child solemnly presented me with a ‘musical ruler’ plus instruction booklet – I can already play ‘She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain’ quite well, I think – whose resonant properties will probably find their way into my A level teaching. I had several birthday cakes, the first with some awfully good mulligatawny soup – its very familiarity redolent of a taste of childhood which almost brought a tear to my eye, of which the hostess (who knows me alarmingly well) was unaware – the last at a charity event last night.
Friends brought a vast white confection topped with fireworks which almost fused the lights. Its very extravagance was a metaphor for how valued I felt at that moment. I don’t much care for heavily sweetened confection, but to decline would have been a bit like the Prodigal Son saying he didn’t much care for veal.