Saturday, 17 March 2012

Day in the Life of an OAP

An unusual day.... Jen asked if I would take her to 8 o'clock Holy Communion at the Cathedral - she being an Anglican without a parish, at the moment. As one of the world's leading Anglopentacatholicists, I agreed to the outing, and probably earned another fortnight in purgatory by taking Anglican Communion.

 Oh dear! The list of things that will not pass my lips during confession, grows fashionably longer. I had a very serious chat with Terry at the poetfest last weekend. He teaches English Literature at Arundel, and, like me, adheres to a catholic faith that doesn't have much in common with some of our more liberal tendencies. I can say with a great deal of conviction that having fallen through, or been bounced out of, a significant number of the less batty (umm.. .perhaps...) denominations, that you can pretty much believe what you like and get away with it.

 What is it about us, we mused, that can look logically at this faith-bending fact, yet still kneel, profoundly moved, before the Host? There is no answer to this that makes sense. Must be in the jeans.

Tom couldn't drive me to the homeless today, so I had to get the bus. This is no hardship, especially now that the 32 to Gloucester, via Highnam, departs from outside the Co-op at 0937 instead of 0925 - so I can use my bus pass! The journey takes about 25 minutes, which I pass reading, or before I put it somewhere safe, listening to the audio miscellany on my MP3 player.

 The Catholic Book of the Month selection is, 'Pain:The Gift Nobody Wants' which is the autobiography of the surgeon who discovered that lepers lost bits not because of the disease per se, but because they have no feeling. I thought, ' o no, not again, another book i don't want to read, this isn't the first time, and why in God's name did ANYONE want to read the confessions of st augustin?' BUT NO! I have been rivetted. It even distracted me from a favourite bus-passtime of gazing from the front seat of the top deck over the walls/hedges to admire the intimacies observable through uncurtained glass lean-tos/the proliferation of brassicas and onions around here.

By the way, now that I'm on plants, I have observed a phenomenum in my garden that I have never, ever, seen before. The seeds in the heads of my perennial daisies and of my sweet williams have germinated in situ. So the withered brown seed heads are a profusion of seedlings growing like cress on a flannel.

 The volunteers at the URC church next to Gloucester Park are mostly Salvation Armyites, though three of us are City Missioners one with a Catholic cross-over (me) and two non CM straight Catholics from Cirencester. We have such a laugh! There isn't anything especially witty, or clever about the chat, but it's light-hearted and suffused with such good-humour that it's a treat to be around.

The hunt for the extension lead that we need for the urn, was diverting for a time as the fading memories of we over-sixties proffer less and less likely 'safe places' where it might be located. Tony was sent out to buy another in the end.

 I am now highly proficient in my role. I butter two loaves of bread, cut each slice in half then put the halves together so that each slice can be easily dispensed. I cling-film fifty slices of cake and plate them up, I then make the sandwiches for the volunteers' lunch, which we have at 11:30. Those in need of a meal come in at 12:00. Today, I served tea and coffee. Debbie, the Geordie nurse, takes the opportunity to meet with this community to give flu jabs, ante-natal care, and other medical advice. She is so gentle and cheerful, her presence makes everybody feel special.

 John with the long hair, has started using again and he looks terrible. He'd been clean for months. His friends are really concerned. Fiona, who was Paul, is moving to Cirencester. She has a flat, but no money, and bewails the fact that the energy company are charging her £35 to turn off the electricity. She doesn't think she'll be able to eat this week, so I ask Mike to have a word; he always has emergency supplies to hand out. Matthew says my tea is better than that he got in prison. 'But I bet you can't smoke these tea bags' he says. I say, I doubt it, but then, you never can tell by looking.

Another regular told Mike he'd be back inside for Christmas. 'What for?' Mike enquires, like you do. 'Dunno, I haven't decided yet.' was the reply.

 We served sausages, mash and beans this week. With tea, bread and cake there are enough calories for the street people to get by on. Kathy gets the best deal she can with the money she has - it was pork chops with apple sauce last week. We do take-aways in plastic boxes, and feed the dogs (outside) with the left-overs. The food is served on china with real knives and forks and always looks very palatable. We make an effort to give the best that we can.

 I catch the 1337 bus from the Bus Station, and expect to be home by two-thirty, but stop on the way up the hill to visit Margareta who is not doing too well at the moment. We have tea and pick over the Parish in a fairly unsentimental way. So I'm later than I thought. Jim and Margaret (the other grandparents) are visiting from Preston, to see the new house and do useful things like put up curtains. I'd forgotten they were coming, and that I'm babysitting , now, in fact so that everyone else can go out.

 Abigail sicked over me just the once then fell fast asleep.

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