Thursday, 27 June 2013

We need to talk about Michael

I rode - a Boris bike - from Westminster to Paddington yesterday via the North bank of the Serpentine. If you are used to normal English temperatures, then wearing a Burqa - this is just one of many women I saw there who were - must be a trial on such a hot afternoon.

I omitted to say in my last post how much I enjoyed meeting again my school contemporary Michael, over from Los Angeles, in my excitement to describe our visit to The Bankside Gallery. Why are old friends better than recent ones? Not only had we been in the same school house, but we also overlapped at Oxford; yet we could never be said to have been close. So why bother to reestablish contact after all this time? We concluded it was because then was such a formative period in our lives. Maybe also ranks need closing: others we knew better at school are now dead.

Narrating our respective stories (the abridged version) made me reflect upon my good fortune. Michael, for all his celebrity as a professor twice over, has had to live through bereavement, loneliness and (to a great extent) exile from the country he calls home: he could be said to suffer from nostalgia, in its original sense. From his standpoint, my stable life in a beautiful part of England, supported by my wife and family, seems enviable indeed.

Two important things we are both it seems glad to find ourselves still sharing: good health and our Faith. Returning from the South Bank, Michael and I went to Vespers in the richly-decorated Lady Chapel of Westminster Cathedral. This was a first for me, and I was impressed, but at the same time a little alarmed by the triumphalist note sounded by placing poor old John Southworth's body in the middle of the main nave aisle in preparation for his feast day (tomorrow). What does martyr veneration do to foster better mutual understanding between Christians and those of other religious persuasions in our midst?

No comments: