My mother had two brothers. Both served in the Forces during the war; afterwards, the family relocated from London to Ramsgate. But the younger of the two took a job at a hotel in the Lake District, met and married my aunt, and settled at the opposite end of England to the rest of the family.
From the Vicarage
Yes, it’s true! Since last month, Yours Truly has been a victim of crime!
For the first time ever, the plum tree in the Vicarage garden had surprised us by producing a decent amount of fruit. We returned home one afternoon to find it stripped - not a single plum left, nothing even lying on the grass. Admittedly, it was hardly the Crime of the Century - people suffer far worse, as indeed we have ourselves in the past - but there was still the sense of disbelief, violation, sadness and uneasiness at the thought of someone having been there uninvited.
Churches can reopen; so there I was, kneeling on the floor. Training for ministry never covered this, I told myself. Not that I needed training to use a tape measure to lay strips of masking tape on the floor of a church 2 metres apart.
Being there on my hands and knees brought back a memory from my student days in South London, where I first became involved with the Church. The then Bishop of Southwark lived in the parish and would sometimes invite himself to take part in services at the church where I had become an altar server.
I must admit that I do enjoy visiting cathedrals – especially ones that I don’t know very well. Visiting Gloucester not long after Christmas, I took the opportunity to have a proper look around the Cathedral.
Cold, miserable February has never been my favourite month. But when I was a student and still discovering church, I encountered something that happens every 2nd February that changed all that.
While visiting Durham recently even I was surprised to encounter a funeral procession, apparently making its way through a shopping centre.
In fact, it was a full-size bronze sculpture of some monks carrying the body of St Cuthbert. Cuthbert led a life of prayer and simplicity on Lindisfarne, just off the Northumbrian coast. When he died in 687 his brother monks buried his body at the monastery there.
Just one thing to write about this month. We are so grateful to those who have responded to the appeal for funds towards the restoration of the lychgate at St Mary’s, Capel’s old parish church, and also to those who have made offers of practical help.
I write this not long after attending this year’s Memorial Day at Capel’s National Memorial to the Few. I remember the first one that I attended: several veterans of the Battle of Britain were present. On spotting my collar one, Tony Pickering, told me proudly that he had been churchwarden at his local parish church. He and several of his comrades have since departed this life; just one, Paul Farnes, was there this year, one of the few remaining witnesses to events that are slipping from living memory into history.