Dot writes: well, we’ve found the toaster and I’ve brushed out the scraps of wallpaper from under the hobs in the ancient cooker. The boys started at their new playschool this morning and it seems to have gone well. (Alas, I had a 9am class and had to leave for work much too early to take any part in this momentous event.) Ken has put two layers of white undercoat on our bedroom wall; we are boldly planning that the top coat will be a charming rich shade of green, because we don’t live in anonymous neutral rented-land any more and we’re allowed to, dammit. Tiles have been bought for the bathroom. Some less essential boxes, chiefly of camping gear, have gone to live in the attic, and the children’s clothes have even been tidied into their chest of drawers. All in all, patches of order are emerging from the midst of the boxes and bags; though some of the said patches will be obliterated again when the builders come to work on our kitchen and dining room.
Ken’s are most of the more tangible projects, such as putting up shelves and redecorating, and he has also been energetically contacting energy companies and our internet provider and people like that, but one of my little tasks was to start attending a new church, and I made a start yesterday. I generally feel that one shouldn’t shop around too much for churches. They’re not consumer goods. I remember in Scotland finding to my surprise that the Church of Scotland really was too free-form for me to be comfortable, but within the generous parameters of the Anglican communion I will take very much what’s on offer. However, the new church had the following pluses, which I couldn’t help noting:
– Book of Common Prayer communion service. I am no 1662 diehard but once in a while I do like to escape the modern versions with their restless changes and numerous alternatives, which constantly trip me up, and luxuriate in a form of words that has been the same for several centuries. I get a tiny thrill from the archaic senses of some of those words: ‘Thy true and lively word’; praying that Christian rulers may ‘indifferently minister justice.’ (Actually the last one has been boringly modernised to ‘impartially’. But mentally I say ‘indifferently.)
– in the same vein, a proper Psalm sung to Anglican chant, and canticle ditto, instead of substitute hymn that would go on for twice as long and cloud the sense with Victorian paraphrase.
– only one sermon. I was very happy at my last church, but the practice of two sermons (one for children, one for grown-ups) was only sometimes a success.
– a rather florid tiled floor, of which my more tasteful friends would probably disapprove but which I liked very much.
– the sermon was quite bad. Old church may have two, but generally they are both pretty good (it’s length that’s the problem). It was on the Ten Commandments and we were reminded that pretty much anywhere you go in Dublin you can hear people cursing.
– the celebrant’s mike was not turned off during the hymns.
The people, as in my last church, were extremely friendly and several of them made a point of talking to me. “Are you visiting?” they asked. On answering no, I’d just moved into the area, I was swiftly marched into the porch and made to write down my name and address. I was also informed there was a slot in the choir. I learned that there are activities for children in the Church Hall during the service, and was reassured that there are normally many more young families than had been present that morning – they’d all been at home watching the rugby.
It’s lovely to be wanted. In fact it’s an ignoble aspect of my churchgoing that makes me a bit uneasy: the pleasure of being so eagerly welcomed, so quickly flattered (for singing – church choirs are almost always recruiting), made to feel I’ve done people a favour just by turning up. However, taking the boys along next week will probably be quite enough to unswell my head. Let’s hope they like the activities; if they like them enough I might be allowed back into the adult service after a few weeks.