Monday, 28 August 2017

My Families:

If you have an ancestor with any of these surnames, it's just possible we might be cousins!


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Hospital clip

"I saw him, that old man, Giles, with his hands all over the boy"
"Come on, you've made that up"
"Arms round him at least"
"Men are much more demonstrative with each other these days"
"There are some things they didn't ought to demonstrate"

Sixty Years On

THE LAST 60 YEARS: BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme is wondering how things have changed.

I'm nine years short but here are some ideas:

1. The infinitely divisible old pound.

2. The ability of a working man to pay a mortage and keep a wife and children at home on a single wage.

3. Quietness. On the bus, walking down the street, in the shops, there is endless noise, from the telephone or the radio.

4. Cars, everywhere.

5. Politicians who resigned on principle, not because of scandal.

6. Longevity. 90 is the new 70.

7. Civil Rights. Gay people exist in law now, rather than being condemned by it.

8. Religion: has quietly committed suicide and disappeared from the scene.

9. Childcare: women are now despised not for having children out of wedlock, but for staying at home to care for them.

10. Money: we talk about it endlessly, and yet it's less fairly distributed than ever.

On being, this day, fifty years a Christian!


S. Andrew's, Cobham - baptised, 27th August 1967
Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford - confirmed, 1st March 1986
S. Frideswide's, Oxford - server, 1988-89
Fairacres Convent - visitor, retreatant, celebrant, 1989-
S. Margaret of Antioch, Binsey - first service, evensong, summer 1989
S. Peter's, Wolvercote - 1990-93
Lincoln Cathedral & Theological College Chapel - student, 1993-95
S. Edward the Confessor, Romford - curate, and priested there, 23rd June 1996, 1995-98
Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge - chaplain, 1998-2000
S. Giles-in-the-Fields, London - curate, 2000-2003
Holy Trinity, Chelsea - curate, 2004-2006
Londrina Cathedral, Parana, Brasil - blessing of rings, July 2005
SS. Mary & Nicholas, Littlemore - server, PCC member, 2008-13
S. Andrew's, Old Headintgon - 2013-
New Road Baptist Church - administrator, 2016-

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Launch Night

“Your girlfriend?”
“No, I’m with … oh, I can’t say”.
“I think I’ve guessed, it’s OK. I’m not really allowed to say myself. Everyone knows Heather’s gay, but no one’s allowed to say so in case it gets back to her mother”.
“Even now?”
“Yup. She’s not ready yet, so I have to keep quiet”.
“When I hit sixteen I’m shouting it from the rooftops”.
“Your folks are OK about it?”
“I’m not telling them yet, in case they try to spoil it. But on my birthday …”
“It must be so difficult for you – keeping the secret, knowing there are people who could do you real harm – for us it’s just surface, Heather’s career will be fine, she can’t be hurt, although her mother might have a stroke, but you two live with something much harsher hanging over you”.
“I don’t feel it so much, but Giles does. He worries all the time, about everything. I couldn’t believe he invited me here”.
“I think that says he trusts you”.
“And I just told you!”
“Not in so many words, you just allowed me to guess, you didn’t say if my guess was right”.
“I can’t handle all this clever stuff with words, I just want to be me, and not worry”.
“Your time will come …”
“What? The guy on the other side, Patrick the Publisher, he’s just put his hand on my knee. Shit. What do I do?”.
“I’d slam your knee up against the table and give his hand a bash, do it before he wanders lower, which he will”.
“Won’t that make a noise?”
“They’re all too drunk and shouty to notice”.
I did it. It worked. She raised her eyebrows in a question, and I smiled back. I liked Eloise.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Revelations with Tyler

"You won't believe it - Tyler asked to come and meet you."
"Is that so bad?"
"He was a complete shit to me after he saw us going to London."
"But hasn't he moved on? You said he thinks he may be gay.
We can't turn him away."
"You're so bloody tolerant, Giles."
"He was only spiteful to you because he was afraid of who he was."
"You know he fancies me?"
"Who doesn't?"
"That isn't the point."

Monday, 14 August 2017

Christmas Lunch, with the grandparents

"What about the sex?"
"Sex, there has to be sex, in a relationship, what about that?"
"Grandpa, maybe now's not the time ...."
"It was on National Service! You wouldn't believe what we got up to!"
"Ned, that was a long time ago"
"Nana's right, Grandpa, it was a long time back".
"But it's now for the youngsters, isn't it? Now for Fred, and his, well, not quite so young man! I mean you no offence, but you're not in the first flush are you?"
"No, indeed I'm not, but Fred seems to like me"
"Grandpa, it's OK, we're OK, we're doing our stuff, and it's all legal"
"More fun when it wasn't".
"Dinner Is Served". And Sandra put an end to it.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Brotherly Love

"Adam - welcome!" He said. I was in the kitchen. Not sure what this visit was about, really. I didn't think Giles liked his brother. But it was "Hey ho, and this is Fred ..."

You could see the joins. Giles is much thinner, I think Adam dyes his hair, but there's something in the eyes that says they're brothers.

Giles made us lunch. We were alone in the conservatory, with drinks. Adam asked "Are you two a fixture?" How do you answer that?
"I love your brother, if that's what you mean".
"But you're very young. Things might change".
"No they won't."

And then he changed tack.

"What do you see in him?"
"He has serenity"
"What's that?"
"Peacefulness, like most people don't have. Giles has it."
"I was hoping you were going to say something else!"
"Yeah, well, he has that too, but when you have your arms round Giles, it's peace".
"Trust my brother to corner the market I can't even buy into!"
"I think he said you'd been married three times?"
"Yes, three disasters, one with gorgeous daughters"
"Do you see them?"
"Too little. It just doesn't work when you're not on site. I try."

Then again

"Did you know your ... path before you met Giles?"
"I stalked him!"
"Yeah - home, work, day by day. I really wanted him"
"I'm really happy for him, for you, but I just can't see the appeal!"
"You're not gay, you don't have to".

And then Giles appeared.

"Grandpa's lasagna!"
"You always got that right!"
"And a whole lot of salad he wouldn't really have approved of!"

They were quite cute together. Maybe Adam would get used to me.

Being On The Edge

BEING ON THE EDGE: it's often said of bishops and other leadership types that they've "reached out" to or otherwise communicated with communities on the edge, the margins, the minorities.

It's only in Church of England terms that I feel on any edge at all. In the Baptist church where I work, I feel right in the centre. The C of E could grow up about sexuality at any time. But it chooses not to, whilst praising those who behave as if it might.

In the real world, I live on the edge of poverty - the common story of too little income and too much rent. That's a much harder thing to put right. Or rather, it's easily resolved, but it's hard to find anyone with the political will to do it.

Thinking out loud.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

WILDE (1997): tonight's film

WILDE (1997): tonight's film. I was sure it was in the collection, but my friend Alan said it was on the box, so I watched it there, because I couldn't find it on the shelves.

Hard to tell if Stephen Fry is playing anyone but himself, but then did Oscar Wilde? Maybe that makes it an excellent casting. I'd forgotten the role of Robbie Ross, so much the nicer and better lover that Bosie Douglas. And the bewildered kindness of his wife Constance, who beat him in the race to the grave. From such a distance it's hard to comprehend the soul-destruction of scandal in that kind of society.

I've seen it before but what struck me afresh was the children. I remember reading his shorter fiction (OUP, I think) and finding the stories mawkishly soppy, but deeply affecting. And that was then, when I was a harder and nastier brute than I am now. Sentimentality comes very easily to me, especially when it involves children, and I was left wondering whether that first part of his adult life was lived in order to have small people to tell stories to, and to be loved by.

I'm older now than Oscar, or Constance, or Robbie Ross, lived to be. And I've no small people to tell stories to.

It was a less fluffy experience than I was expecting. But worth it.
On being given the once over: "that'll be titanium" said the local tattoo and piercing parlour manager about the plate in my once-broken wrist. "Top quality stuff".

My late father would have agreed. He was a scrap metal merchant, and could identify titanium from its sparks.

I'm wondering if I should put it in my will.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Kyle & Fred

"I was married. Got two daughters."
"I had no idea."
"No reason why you should."
"Did you love her?"
"That's not what guys ask."
"But did you?"
"A bit. Enough. Not enough."

Saturday, 5 August 2017

You notice a newcomer, in the congregation. It's not obligatory on a vicar's wife, but I do it anyway. I don't suppose there are many of us left. But then there's not much congregation left, either. So, on behalf of Marcus, and one of his six other churches, I said "hello - are you new here?"

"Yes, just moving in, Yew Tree Cottage, on the front. I'm Giles, Giles D'Urso".

"Caroline Bonner, I'm married to the vicar, who's looking after another church just now - you should come and have a drink with us some time"

"yes, lovely, that's very kind"

"What about tomorrow night? Monday? At 6?"

"That would be charming".

"I'm afraid you'll get the tribe in all its noisiness"

"I used to teach them, now I rather miss them, so noise is Ok".

"Of course you can "bring a friend"!"

"He's not due until next month".

"Well, when he's about, he's most welcome too".

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ten things to do when I retire ....

10 THINGS TO DO WHEN I RETIRE: (in the unlikely event I live so long, and in fortunate circumstances)

1. Spend more time with my money; lots of it
2. Keep bees
3. Plant trees
4. Visit all the places I know my ancestors lived, from
Salerno to Widnes to Macosquin
5. Write a memoir of things only to be published after my
6. Do those things
7. Grow gladioli
8. Become a citizen of Brasil
9. Celebrate our ruby wedding anniversary
10. Make provision in my will for my macaw

Brazil - tonight's film

"Brazil" (1985): tonight's film. Yes, they were right, a must-see. Not the sort of thing I normally go for, don't like sci-fi, futurism, or fantasy, but somehow compelling to the end.

It careered between "1984" and the cartoon parts of Mony Python drawing a picture of a dystopian world of bureaucracy gone mad (I guess what the eejits thought they were voting against last summer) in which the briskest efficiency only brings about unhappiness.

A few lines and scenes made me double-take, though.

"Thirteen years of war against the terrorists. Minister?" "They're beginners".

"Happiness - We're All In It Together".

Men watching real violence on their screens and thinking it was just another game.

And the sinister business of "we didn't kill the wrong man; he was the right man, wrongly labelled. Not our department".

Alternately savage, surreal, cute, unhinged, it's over-long, evidently struggling to find an ending, but well worth it.