Friday, 26 August 2011

Street news

Amazing how quickly the news moves on. At the moment papers, TV and radio are dominated by events in Tripoli. Yet it's only a very short time since they were all equally dominated by the disturbances on our streets. Already politicians are pulling back from knee-jerk reactions at the time. 
The news often compared or contrasted these events on the streets with those of the 1980s, but I haven't heard any recollection of the problems on the streets of several cities, including Cardiff, that occurred in the summer of 1991. At the time I was parish priest of the area where the troubles were. In fact, the centre of the action was right outside our presbytery. I remember the atmosphere of tension and unpredictability as a few hundred young people roamed the streets, many of them from outside the area, and even from outside Cardiff.
When it all calmed down, I took part in some meetings of "community leaders" which tried to ask the question why it had all happened. There was some very useful discussion, but sadly money took over. A lot of cash was clearly going to be thrown at the area, and everybody wanted to catch some. Housing, education, social services... these and others were, and are, all deserving sectors. But those underlying questions somehow sank back into the murky depths under the floorboards of our society.
So when these troubles happened this summer I was not at all surprised to see and hear various spokesmen and women blaming this and that aspect of life in Britain. With so many interested parties, politicians and others involved, you're not going to get a consensus.
And into all this spoke bereaved father Tariq Jahan. "My son is dead. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home." Watch again his impassioned original plea here.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Oh happy day...

Sorry folks, a longer gap between postings than I intended... but the Big Wedding came in meanwhile!  Yes the long-awaited marriage of one of Fr M's nephews happened on Friday. And what a wonderful day it was. It took place in a large Catholic church in Cambridge, and Friday was chosen mainly to fit in with my timetable. Followers will know that my family is very important to me, and this was the first family wedding that I have celebrated.
The day was simply one of the happiest that I can remember. Everything went well - and after a few damp days even the weather perked up and we had nothing but sunshine. This was particularly important as the venue for the reception had outdoor terraces and grounds ideal for spilling out onto for the pre-reception drinks and evening party.
At the end of the service it was marvellous to hear the peal of real bells, rung by real ringers, instead of the more usual digital or pre-recorded bells that you usually get, if at all, in  Catholic churches. The bride didn't stop smiling from the moment she arrived at the church, and  my nephew had a proud beaming smile too. Even the priest - myself! - couldn't stop smiling. 
It was great to see two young people radiating such love for each other, it just made you feel so good. I know I may be biased, but as a connoisseur of marrying couples - having married a few hundred - it really was an absolute cracker of a wedding, with a beautiful couple at the heart of it. It's going to keep me going, anyway, for a good while to come!
Pictures are a webpic showing the church from across the grounds of my college, Downing, at Cambridge, and two of my own, of the venue for the Reception - note the blue sky and the croquet lawn!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Swings, moves and unknown wives

Amazing, isn't it, how quickly you get back into the swing of things? It's only Wednesday and it feels like I've never... well, you know the rest.
Fr Tomy has gone back home to Kerala for his holiday. He was really excited in a Fr Tomy kind of way, so nice to see. So now it's Fr Patrick and myself for a few weeks.
Parish-wise things are a little quieter in August. Time to ponder perhaps...
The arrival of Archbishop George is giving some clergy food for pondering. There is some talk of impending clergy moves following his episcopal progress through the diocese in July, a process he intends to conclude in September. Archbishop Peter only really seemed to move priests when necessary - retirement etc. It'll be interesting to see if +George takes a more, um, proactive approach.
Family tree-wise, I discovered that a cousin of my dad who we always thought was a bachelor, actually married while working in Athens. Not only that, but I've been in touch with his wife's half-brother, who is alive and very active as a ceramic artist in Cape Town. Her two siblings bring the number of people on my family tree to 2,700 precisely!

Saturday, 13 August 2011


OK I'm back in harness, arrived back in the parish on Thursday. Buildings still standing, people still here!
I had a great break, spending one lovely half with my family and the other half off on my jaunt to Munich and Bavaria. Loved the places, but unfortunately I got hit by some very wet weather, especially on the day I decided to go into the mountains to visit the famous castles of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the so-called "mad King Ludwig". We saw Linderhof in all its sunlit beauty, but during lunch the sky darkened, and the heavens opened for three hours non-stop torrential rain with added thunder and lightning for effect. And all my day-tour group were in t-shirts n stuff, including me.
I got absolutely soaked right through, in a way I can't remember since being at university 40 years ago... After the 40 minute walk down the steep hill back to the village everyone steamed in various cafes before the joys of an hour's coach ride back to the city. Never has a hot shower been so welcome...
Munich is a very fine city, sort of Germany with a southern European twist. Lots of Baroque and Rococo architecture, some of which I found really beautiful, some rather heavy and uninspiring. So my pics show the famous Neuschwanstein Castle at about 2pm, just as the heavens were about to burst open and dump their wet contents on me and hundreds of others. The second one is only a couple of hours before, showing the lower Alps with the Zugspitze in the distance. The last pic shows the Jesuit church of St Michael in Munich - one that I did like!
More pics later, plus some thoughts on what happened on our streets while I was away.