Monday, 26 June 2017

la revedere

Not for ever by still waters, 
would we idly quiet stay, 
but would smite the living fountain 
from the rocks along our way.

So goes the hymn "Father hear the prayer we offer" that I heard sung for the first time in ages this Sunday. You may have guessed by now that I inhabit waters that are tigerish rather than still and this old hymn has always been been like my signature tune.

I was down on the South Coast saying goodbye to friends and the liturgy we attended was "Ordinary" but beautifully and simply done.  This type of liturgy means loads of hymns and I am happy to sing, provided I don't make a habit of it. The church we attended was simply so beautiful it was a joy to be in it.  The beauty was not just architectural, but angelic.  They were there in force! I suppose they always are, but this weekend they were palpable. The friend I went down with noticed it too and it was in stark contrast to the wholesale crappiness of the town itself. I'm sure they weren't just there for our benefit, the people of the place need their love too. Our friends in that town most certainly do.

There are lots more "goodbyes" coming up.  I hope they can all be as carefree and unsentimental as the ones this weekend.

Mass at that delightful church ended with Newman's "Lead Kindly Light", which seemed a little sombre and out of place. The hymn seems to be all about the loss of the angels and a hoped for reunion with them, not about their palpable presence.  However, it didn't make me pensive or think there is some impending foreboding darkness. The hymn is potently linked to my past as I had sung it to my husband as he lay dying and I'd made the nurses cry.  But there is no sentiment there, I'm not thinking about the future or the past with any feeling.  I'm just to enjoy the company of the angels in the present and in the midst of all the mad rushing about getting stuff sorted and tidying up my current job and workspace, I am still.

My friend photographed me on the pier at the seafront.  I received a copy via e-mail this morning. I'm not used to pictures of myself, especially ones of me in profile: a nose that doesn't know if it is Irish or Chinese, a badly surgically reconstructed ear (I'm not Vulcan), the large bottom lip that looks like it is missing a cigarette hanging from it, the chins inherited from both sides of the family, the slightly scruffy hair.... no oil painting, but as I look at this image of someone whom others would recognise as me, I am content to stare at her as she stared at the sea knowing that waters around me will continue to be tigerish and I am happy that they are.... and in all probability, the next sea I will stare at will be the Black one. Deo Volente.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

C60 fwd

The converted cow shed where I've lived for the past 10 year is beginning to look a bit empty. Most of the furniture has been given away, most of the books likewise.  The cassettes and the tape deck have made it to the tip.  I kept the obscure Pakistani and Sudanese tapes, I couldn't throw them away.  They are in a box that my parents took to their house along with old family photographs (I'd become the archivist).  The only tape that I have replaced as a CD is Lee Morgan's Sidewinder, it is playing as I write.  It was just about my oldest and favourite tape, a bootleg from my best friend at school taken from her dad's extensive Jazz collection.  My parents never went near the stuff, but my friend's dad was determined his daughter and her friends would like Jazz... it worked on me.

The children at school were fractious, grumpy and determined not to work in the summer heat till I played it whilst they did some practical work.  What is it with Jazz and hot weather?

Not long now till I depart from here.  I am already wondering if I'll return.  I'm planning a retirement in some remote mountain village with a few hens and goats for company and a nearby monastery to see to my spiritual needs. I'm sure hens appreciate Jazz on a summer's day, goats will probably prefer Bruckner. And yes, I know it makes God laugh to tell Him our plans, but I'm laughing too.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

St Raphael- healer of human helplessness

Saturday, 10 June 2017


Democracy, is never a thing I've been passionate about.  However, even my cold heart warmed to the democratic process this week as the UK General Election produced something only the British seem able to do with style : failure.

The Labour Party are victorious in failure.  The Conservatives are failures in the most sour and narrow of victories.

The British press are failures once again, and rightly so.  It is wonderful to see the odious rag, The Guardian look so stupid after having written off the increasingly left leaning Labour Party under its leader Jeremy Corbyn. It is also good to see that the incessant and increasingly unpleasant campaign against Corbyn in the right-wing press, that had more than a twinge of Soviet-era defamation about it, failed to turn him into the bogeyman they had invented.  I hold no flag for what he stands for but the campaign against him as been vile and disgraceful and it has failed: there is justice in that.

We have witnessed the failure of the one party state.  We now have 2 political parties once more. Parties with identities.  This is good for politics.  It is the final failure of all that Blair stood for and that is a very good thing. It isn't a victory for anyone.  The Labour Party has a long way to go, but the parasite has been removed from the host, Blairism is over.

The victory of the referendum over the EU has become a failure as nobody seems to know what it means anymore or what to do about it. There is a very British fuzzyness and incompetence about this. Hurrah for failure.

Then there are the glories of the candidates who stand for election in order to fail: souls who dress in silly costumes, knowing full well they will loose their deposits. But democracy allows  a candidate with a bucket on his head to stand next to the prime minister and there is nothing anyone can say or do.  There is a failure of dignity, a failure of common sense, a failure of logic and it is all rather lovely.

This has been politics at its best.  The political process is 100% worldly.  We do not need religious political parties, indeed the idea is so very Protestant. What we need Catholics to be involved in all areas of politics in all major parties.  A manifesto is not Dogma or Doctrine and should not be confused as such.  Catholics need to be able to be part of the political framework on all sides when party manifestos are drawn up and in the workings of government afterwards.  If Catholics are who we say we are, then we will be convincing and we will have a good effect on the party we are involved with. When voting, we are not voting for the Truth (and there can be no best approximation to the Truth.... that idea is abhorrent). We cast our vote in order to make the democratic process work. That this election has been such a very British farce means that despite its worldlyness the whole system isn't entirely in the hands of the Evil One.  He'd not like the outcome, it is not tidy or nasty enough for him, it has too much irony and humour: he too has failed. Britain still has her identity, her DNA of heroic defeat remains intact. It is what makes this island nation great. She will muddle through as only she can, stronger because of her errors of judgement not despite them. Hurrah for failure.

Friday, 2 June 2017


This time next week all the citizens of the UK will know the results of their General Election and it is most probably that we will know who will be Her Majesty's Government and who will be the Loyal Opposition.  I find it all a bit of a farce.  For me, healthy politics consists in two parties with considerably different views and with considerably different interest groups slogging it out every 4 years for government.  Each have a roughly equal chance of getting in and they do so roughly alternately.  No party is ever in long enough to do any damage or believe in its right to rule. Ideology is kept to a minimum and pragmatism wins the day. Sadly this doesn't exist.  On the national level, we are effectively a one party state and it simply isn't healthy. That the overriding ideology of this nation is essentially Whiggish depresses me no end.  As an old fashioned Tory, I find it a loathsome politics. 

It is also abhorrent from a Catholic point of view.  Subsidiarity and all the Catholic Social Justice ideals that spring from it are the only ways to ensure the dignity of the citizens of the land.  There is no "best fit" with these ideals within the current political climate to any of the political parties.  People need to be making things, growing things and rearing things, inventing and designing things. People need a closer relationship to the land, the seasons, their locality and each other if it is ever going to be more than a nice idea. I find it a bit of an irony that the closest any society ever got to the ideals of subsidiarity were the Zemstovs in the Russia of Tzar Alexander II. It grew out of a feudal structure not a democratic political process. And yes it was very faulted; attempting to remove usury was a good and Christian  thing but the ill treatment of those who provided credit was not excusable. However, there was more than a spark of something good, and that is why it had so many enemies.

So I have very little faith in the political process. When married I'd vote the way my husband was voting.  All processes start with strong united households and I remember the petty squabbles my parents would have around election time with their opposing political views, it was all very childish. Next Thursday, I'll probably just enter the booth and my repulsion to all things Whiggish  and the candidate with the blue rosette is very much that way, will be so great I'll end up voting Labour.  It is however all pointless.  If my yard brush had a blue rosette on it and stood for election in this area, it would win. And I am more than happy to vote for the Conservatives in local elections....

I was dining out the other night with a former pupil and successful Physics graduate who has gone into the world of finance and is capable of making serious amounts of money.  We spent a lot of the evening talking politics from a non-party political standpoint.  The tables were rather too close and I'm sure our conversation carried. We were having fun.  I think we we curdled the food of the other diners.  We were talking about the fact the NHS isn't viable, that the welfare state isn't viable, that comprehensive education doesn't work, that university should only be for at most 20% of the population, that Trump isn't stupid and is actually quite refreshing in his approach, that Obama was dreadful, that free speech is under threat, that the France-Germany European vision is stale and going nowhere  ...... Not the sort of conversation to be enjoyed by liberal North Oxford types.

My former pupil insisted on paying and tipped in cash at 30%.  I was perplexed.  The reply was interesting: these people have dreadful jobs, there is no dignity in what they do, I couldn't do what they do, if I can give them some dignity, I will.....  I was humbled.