Tuesday 28 September 2010

Another day

another pile of stuff done.

I haven't forgotten last week, I'm just working all the time and today got held up by a signal failure. Sigh.

Big stuff tomorrow so will be back at the crack of dawn, but not in a Cofton Park kinda earlyness.

Did anyone else hear the bells of Westminster Abbey peeling when the HF left?

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Business as usual

It's Tuesday, so the BBC are now reporting on alleged corruption at the Vatican Bank.

Cue Roberto Calvi, Blackfriars Bridge.... and 'you can't run the Catholic Church on Hail Marys.' etc etc.

Monday 20 September 2010

Cofton Park in brief

We left at 12.30am from Blackfen whilst the altar servers dressed in DJs serenaded us with, 'God bless our Pope.' Just a regular Saturday night on Burnt Oak Lane.

Arrived at 4.30am having bumped into another dozen coaches in the services on the M40. Party time! Walking past houses one lady was looking out of the window in her dressing gown. What a sight.

Everything worked fine and it was easy getting in and to my relief the one disabled pilgrim with us both had transport to the site (a golf buggy!) and was set down very close to our pitch. We met up with friends and had in total about 16 children with us, who slept, played and kept us all in very good humour all day. The ground sheet was a great boon, especially as a number of folks had come more or less direct from Hyde Park.

The Mass was very prayerful is all I can say. The Pope is so concentrated on everything that he does, that he doesn't demand your attention because he isn't seeking it for himself. The Magnificat books were magnificent. Holy Communion was distributed so efficiently that we didn't have time to sing all the hymns so the choir sang the Elgar Ave verum after the Mass. Go Midland's composers!

We all got back to the bus early and arrived home very early. Our coach driver was excellent in every way and used to drive the Jumbalance - remeber that? - so you can see the measure of the man.

A great day and a great visit! I wish every weekend was like this.

And so to work.

Saturday 18 September 2010

The Blessed Sacrament on the BBC

for ages with no commentary. Not something that we see too often.

And now we move to sandwich-making as I get packed up for Cofton Park.

Passport, driving licence, the wrist band thingies....

In the crowd in Westminster

Morphed from teacher to pilgrim after my last lesson and legged it to Westminster. Had a thought to be on Millbank but already blocked off, so headed for the Abbey where I bumped into Mac. Chatted to people, texted my folks etc in the quiet crowd, that's apart from the singing. Lots of flags. Thought the police were more vigilant than I have ever seen, scanning the crowd.

After a mere two hours, the Holy Father passed by looking very serene and he was really very close. We were a bit down from the people with the baby who he blessed. My face is now fixed in a smile. Do ever do that? Wake up smiling?

Afterwards I bade farewell to Mac and headed down Victoria Street - if you don't know the geography, it's the road Westminster Abbey is on and Westminster Cathedral is down there on the left. The road was closed and so the whole street was filled with Catholics with flags, numerous religious and priests. Meantime the Neocatecuminate (spelling?) folks were walking towards the Abbey with their banners, guitars etc singing, which added to the atmosphere.

I was aiming to meet Clare, that's Fr Ray's maestra di cappella, at Victoria Station. She's in the choir at Hyde Park and had been rehearsing all day. We headed back to the Abbey to see if we could see the HF leaving and bumped into Fr Ray, Lawrence (great letter in the Guardian) and one of the LMS London Schola. Heard the bells ring out, which was very impressive. Didn't see the HF again, as I was much further back in the crowd and he got into a car with tinted windows.

We made our way back up Victoria Street, this time with about half a dozen of the Catholic Bishops, which was rather surreal. Had a drink in a pub with Papal colours flying and then something to eat.

The Protestant Truth Society were there with banners and were shouting out ditties such as, 'The Pope is the antichrist.' We just shouted, 'Viva il papa' a lot louder. Also the thing about wordy protestantism is that when you put lots of words on a placard they are illegible on TV. White and yellow, so much clearer. I wonder what it is like to turn up where there are a large number of happy Catholics who just ignore you and smile past you. The atmosphere was very happy and the shouts and counter shouts gave a certain panto feel. More than enough happiness to mop up any exercised prods. Still, at least they are very clear what thy think. Better than all this wishy washy undermining nonsense we are usually in for.

My act of charity for the day? A placard with, 'Where are the woman priests?' on it ended up under my trainers.

Thursday 16 September 2010


The Independent says 125 000 in the crowd today and.....20 protesters including Ian Paisley, well he has got a loud voice NO NO NO and the guy from the NSS, plus 18 more. So totally proportionate reporting for the last few months then.

20:125 000

Scotland the brave!

Thank God for the Scots setting the bar high for welcoming the Holy Father to the UK.

Great weather.

Top stuff.

(Secretly, I think the whingers wish they could join in. The thing is, they can.)

Viva il papa!

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Preparations continue

The indefatigable Josephine has been manufactuaring Holy See flags from a piece of white A4 and a yellow one with the Papal coat of arms printed on the white one. My parents live in a neighbouring parish and when I popped round earlier, they had one up in their porch. They are everywhere.

I've been phoning, emailing and texting fellow travellers who will be on the road to Cofton Park. The last discussion around pillows and blankets for a little girl. When I gave a few more names and said a 12 year old she knows was going, that changed the picture completely. 'X will look after her.' Big smiles.

The media meanwhile. What a joke.

It's so ridiculous that even people who aren't normally pro-Catholic are beginning to side with the Pope.

Anyway, I have more important things to think about. Anorak, torch, flask and emergency haribos for the journey home. (They may be for me rather than for the children on the coach!)

Monday 13 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit #6

Getting some extra Zzzzs in before the great Cofton Park migration.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Saturday 11 September 2010

Phoning around

Had an interesting morning contacting the other parishes who are sharing a coach with us to B'ham. I know the person from my parent's parish and she regaled me with a story of two girls in her party when she was a pupil pilgrim in Rome who failed to get back on the coach when they were going to a Papal Audience and had still not returned to the convent they were staying by dinner time. Only at that point did the teacher nuns in charge get panicky and phone the police, who had the girls with them.

Oh for the days before mobile phones and risk assessments. Nowadays the nuns would get sacked following a bitter court case.

Meanwhile my Mum is going to Hyde Park and part ( a small part) of her b'day prezzie is some flapjack, to keep her going. She was laughing at the thought of putting up a gazebo and bringing a BBQ, whilst reading the list of banned objects. I'm sure she could fit them in her hand bag if she needed to.

Friday 10 September 2010

Free chant recording

here, if you buy the Sunday Torygraph.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #4

Is he nearly here yet?

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit #3

Coming at it from all angles.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit?

Have they signed up for tickets for Hyde Park or Cofton Park? Or are they with the laudable Irish tinkers, gathering in convey to converge on Crofton Park for a Papal Blessing?

Got your flags ready?

Someone has made some for us and put them at the back of the Church.

Personally, I think that a country where the present era is founded on a monarch with a poor record on the treatment of woman, where people burned the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and tipped the ashes into the Thames at Chelsea, where a male heir is pursued at all cost is a tad more misogynistic than Catholicism.

Italy, Ireland, Malta all rather matriarchal societies?

Monday 6 September 2010

We are everywhere!

Over lunch at work, I was chatting to a friend and fellow Catholic - Uncle a Priest, comes from Liverpool, folks in Co Mayo, you know the score, along the lines of Birmingham or Hyde Park? and it turns out we are both going to Birmingham. Then we started to laugh about the departure times. Then it turned out that somone else on this table of six people, was looking for a ticket for Hyde Park.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #2

Come rain or shine, we'll be at the Papal Events.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Reading matter

I'd like to say I will be brandishing a copy of a book by BXVI on the train tomorrow, but actually I will be revising the Requiem Mass. Trains are the main places I learn music, especially orchestral scores.

However, on Tuesday I shall have to read something suitably Ratzingerish.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Bardsey Island / Ynys Enlli

Bardsey Island is situated at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula and was a pilgrimage site until oo, 1537, when the monastery was dissolved. First settled in 516AD by Irish monks, it is known as the Island of 20 000 Saints. Three Pilgrimages to Bardsey were said to equal one to Rome.

Ever since my Welsh/Anglican Grandmother muttered darkly about, 'Lot of Catholics down the Lleyn,' only for my generally silent Welsh-speaking and lapsed-Chapel-Grandfather (Taidy) to reply that the whole of Wales was once Catholic, I've always been a bit interested in the Lleyn.

Each town mysteriously boasts a Catholic Church. Given the sparse population, that's a feat in itself. Hey I saw fewer than a dozen cars between Beddgelert and Llangollen go my way on Friday. If only the same could have been said for the M25.

Anyway, as the weather was very fine indeed we decided to do the trip. The crossing is iffy, so you have to phone the day before to check that the boat is going. I could write a Maeve Binchy novel about the other people on the boat, suffice to say they were all very pleasant. The views from the boat are great as you can see the Lleyn and look back to Harlech and Snowdonia etc.

Once we arrived on Bardsey we were told the departure time and given a map, which was very Enid Blyton, like don't go on the east side of the mountain etc, (in case you slip off into the deep.) Virtually nothing remains of anything that looks like it might have been a monastery. It's a bit like Lindisfarne. You look at a bit of wall and then you look round at the newer buildings and wonder, 'Where did they get the stone from?' It must have taken a lot of effort to dissolve the monastery, given the tricky crossing, but then as it was a pilgrimage site I suppose they must have been keen to supress it.

There are some 19thC houses, a farm and some cottages where you can stay. The farm does tea and coffee, which we had and were entertained by the farm dogs. I hate dogs, but old farm dogs are funny and tried to play with us. We also saw seals which we'd never seen in the wild before which was really exciting. As for the rest it was very quiet indeed. Very very quiet. Almost as quiet as Trawsfynydd the previous afternoon, but the silence was broken by a boy on a bike. You could hear the chain clicking - hooligan!

Of course Bardsey on a beautifully sunny day is stunning, with beatiful views of the sea, the mainland, rocks, cliffs, seals. Quite what it's like when the rain is lashing down and you are cut off, is an entirely different matter.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #1

With thanks for the photos and captions to Josephine Treloar.

Pope Benedict among friends.