Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Week in the Life of a Curate, Day 7


Last day. Technically the first day of the week, but since there was no sun, moon and stars at the time, I think it's a little anachronistic to call the first day Sunday. Nihiloday would be more appropriate, or perhaps 'Abyssday' or 'Lightday'. I wake up, grudgingly getting out of bed, and heading down for a cup of tea. Clearing up wine glasses and kebab wrappers has a cleansing effect on the soul, bringing order to the chaos. Checking the fridge I realise Mr K. has eaten all my cheese. Gobble, gobble, gobble. And the cheddar was very good. I shower and pick up the paper which doesn't get read, bar headlines. All the Sunday papers are unreadable. Getting into church 45 minutes before the service I light up the incense, sort the sound system and microphones, get the flutes out, help set up Kids' Club and other little things. We do a sweet blessing for the kids' first week in school and they get blue and pink pencil cases. It's busy - the fullest the church has been on an ordinary service since I've been here with well over 200. It goes on a bit long and the sound system is still playing up a little but there's a good atmosphere and a lot of people are back for the first time so there's a lot of catching up. The music is big with flute, clarinet and bassoon in addition to the recently doubled choir. Handel's 'Arrival of the Queen of Sheba' lends an awesome rather than reflective time of communion. My heart is in the sixteenth century and I'll don't think I'll ever get used to big anthems, but it's certainly impressive. The after service rush is kind of exhausting and kind of energising, especially with cake and champagne; you're trying to get round as many people as possible but you're also being drawn into engaging and helpful conversations, and, of course, always being charming.

When I get back Mr K has successful foraged for almond croissants but we head out for lunch, meeting up with a curate from Birmingham down for Roaring's mass. A delicious pub lunch with good English ale, followed by coffee and croissants on the roof. Some rubbish is playing in the park; I missed Kylie the day before, which is just the saddest thing. Speeding across London carrying our splendid white and gold cope we get to Roaring's church and I head in for choir practice. They're very pleasant and with a few additions from friends we seem to make a pleasant noise. Roaring is stumping around the building having serious conversations and looking smart in her little grey suit. The mass is marvellous. After being quite stiff while practising she is now relaxed and it's a joy to behold. Everything about the evening is beautiful and I have to fight back tears three times, especially when receiving communion. Obviously mass is not supposed to be about the priest but vocation is personal; Roaring has a vocation to say mass and watching it happen in front of you, you see a condensation of someone's life, reflected in the faces of all the gathered congregation, in all it's joy, conflict and difficulty, which is appropriate to the story she is telling.

Afterwards there's wine and little snacks, my collaborator from Wednesday is present and with light fingers lifts a bottle for the huddle of clergy at the back. Clergy can take any of the collective nouns used for birds. Following owls a congregation of clergy is acceptable, but much better is the crow: a murder of priests. Sausage rolls abound. We retire to chez Roaring and i don't throw wine on any walls. Baby Roaring happily gallops about and all is jolly. Looking around I notice that clergy have quite defined political views. There is a fairly even split of right and left wing - most of the left having voted liberal or green at the last election - but there are very few I couldn't tell you straight away their inclination, which is not true of my non-clerical friends. Amusingly my boss is in full agreement with a Southwark curate about the present government even though their voting habits are sharply opposed. Liberalism can be a uniting front. Baby R gets lots of cuddles but eventually we have to go home and the Boss is driving which is marvellous. Mr K. arrives from his reading in Peterborough around the same time and chicken kebabs from Cafe Helen are the order of the day. More wine and an impromptu full album performance of Queen's Greatest Hits on cello and guitar climaxes on 'Fat Bottomed Girls'. A late audition for the X-factor, if they'd accept a 4am audition after 2 bottles of wine, may or may not be on the cards. A mouse emerges to judge our performance but doesn't linger. It's been a long day and tomorrow I have a full day's staff training in Soho, starting at 8am with breakfast at the Savile, but I don't see Mr K. enough so we plough on, chatting and singing, all through the night till the broad daylight. I have kissed Christ's Roaring hands and for the moment all is well with the world.

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