I have had a quite amazing fortnight. Let’s go back two weeks
11 November. The Service of Remembrance at school is one of the big, if not the biggest, annual event. Each year the chaps of Year 10 take the lead. This is the fourth time I have attended one of them and this year really topped the lot. We had not had time for a full rehearsal this year, serendipitously (is that a word? It has a red squiggly line under it as I type) we have found this might be better. The lads sung beautifully, they took the roof off and the acted with dignity the whole time.
12 November. I was at Southwark Catholic Education HQ for a new chaplains’ day. We chaplains meet three times a year anyway. This was the first time a day has been held for the newbies. It was really nice to meet them, be infected by their energy and enthusiasm and offer them support. The collegiality in our small band of chaplains is a thing of joy, we are like cousins.
13 November. I won’t say too much yet, but I think we were not found wanting in the inspection.
14 November. Prize night. The night we award our lads for the efforts of the previous year. It’s always a joy how the chaps take pride in receiving their awards, there’s never any incidents of ‘cool’ behaviour, just joy, support and pride in their joint achievements.
15 November. I went to King College Hospital for an endoscopy. That’s when you swallow a camera. I was sedated for this. You can have the endoscopy without sedation but my sister tells me she’d rather give birth again than have it done without, as she did once, so I took her advice
The staff at Kings were polite, professional and everything people say the NHS isn’t. And do you know what else I liked? They called me Mr Flavin, not Anthony, but then, I’m old fashioned like that. My appointment was a 9.40, and I was being injected with the sedative by 9.50. The next thing I knew it was 10.45 and I was being woken up by a lady who acted like my mum on a school day “Come on, I want you awake. Don’t go back to sleep, Keep your eyes open”. She then bought me a cup of tea and chucked me out, along with photos of my oesophagus. So that’s something for the grandchildren to inherit. I went home and slept for four hours.
16-17 November. I am putting it down to the sedative but I was so unbelievably grumpy on Saturday and Sunday I didn’t recognise myself. My wife did, which is rather telling. I kept out of people’s way and concentrated on writing my homily. The third Sunday of the month is “deacons’ preaching weekend”.
It was also Prisoners’ Sunday, which had a short focus in the homily, but I ended with a line from the second reading, “go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat”. But I asked them, in their heads, to define ‘food’.
18 November. A Spiritual Life Committee meeting after school. A new sixth former joined us today. It’s heavenly to see staff, student, parents and governors coming together to nourish the spirituality in a school. I think we are unique in this.
19 November. 27th anniversary of my mum’s death. I was 26 and married when I was orphaned, so it doesn’t count calling me an orphan., and I wasn’t really ‘orphaned’ either. I was bought up to stand on my own two feet. I was left in good stead when my mum died (and I had eight older siblings) so I have always been grateful I was given the foundation that I have.
20 November. Oh what a night, This one has been worked to since July and it’s my fault. We have a staff choir at work and we join in the evenings of sacred music that happen in the school chapel. Naming no names but someone (me) said he’d like to learn The Cantique de Jean Racine for himself. This is a bit of a feat when you don’t read music. The next thing I know, our choir mistress says “ok, we’ll do the cantique on 20 November”. She might as well have asked me to build a wall, I can’t do that either. But we cracked on, learning independently, rehearsing together supporting each other. A dress code of red and black was chosen for the night, I wore a tie, we all looked stunning and, ja no waat, we dun good. I was buzzing when I got home.
21 November. I finally got a day to catch up with all that stuff that you need to catch up with. My filing got done and my emails tidied up. Always a good feeling, I find.
22 November. Started off in one school, as the boys that were doing assembly were very proud of what they had done. Their assembly was based on the Gospel of Wednesday the ‘talents’ Gospel. I’d quite taken a couple of the staff by surprise by allowing a football to be used in chapel assembly. One lad showed is ball control as his talent, but that’s all he did, he didn’t head it to St Anthony or anything. Three spoke in their home languages, simultaneously, as if the were having a conversation and three played music while one sung. The message was we are wrong not to use the talents we are given.
From there I headed up to St George’s Cathedral for Canon John Redford’s funeral Mass. I feel very unworthy being allowed to vest and share sanctuary space with the other clergy at such events, but I am allowed, and I must do it the best I can. I managed to catch up with two priests I had not seen in quite a time, the three of us had been out of touch, but one had been keeping up to speed with my, shall we say, progress. One of the chaps noted how clergy were all greeting each other, and glad to see each other ‘will it be like this when we get to heaven?’ he asked “in my case ‘if’ I thought”.
The Mass was beautiful, ++Peter preached about a Canon Redford everyone there would have recognised, the humour, the big personality and the love of music. And I was pleased to note ‘My Song Is Love Unknown’ was sung at Communion. I have chosen the same hymn for the same time at my funeral.
The evening was special too, far too personal to write about but it was lovely.
When I got home I had a Twitter DM, pointing me to a sub-tweet from Fr Sock, responded to by another, casting aspersions on me for keeping my tweets private. They can always ask to follow me if they’re that keen to know. There was also a little thing about aspersions being cast on them for their anonymity. I’ve not done that, I’ve cast aspersions for cowardly duplicity in abuse handed to my wife, so get a grip ladies, remember what you did, and have shown no remorse for.
All in all a busy two weeks, the busy are blessed.