Monday, December 17, 2007

O Sapientia - just another Monday?

Getting up early on a Monday morning is no pleasure when I'm just wanting to recover from the demands of Sunday, but today was necessary as Haskins the glaziers were returning to install the North West nave stained glass window, removed for stonework repairs over a month ago. Thank heavens it was a crisp and sunny morning when I opened up for them to start work at 8.20am. As ever,the streets around were filled with huge vehicles dropping off goods for the pubs clubs shops and market, dwarfing the glaziers' van.

I had to wait around for others to show up to open the tea room and for the final day of trading for the charity card shop, so I donned the safety gloves and spent an hour picking litter from three different sections of churchyard. Two black bags worth of rubbish, all the usual stuff - paper and plastic bags, glass and plastic bottles, congealed copies of the Metro newspaper dumped over the railings, publicity flyers from the pubs, and endless serviettes, blown in by the wind and bonded to concrete by winter rain. The only good thing was six pence in small change. Some people throw coins they don't want into the churchyard, or is it at the church.

Why do I go on about it so much? Every discarded object is another contribution to a couldn't care less society, destined to smother under its own carbon excess consumption without either a radical collective change of heart or a draconian regime whose emergency 'excesses' nobody will relish. It makes me ashamed. I feel like a stranger in this culture. But then so do many older people these days. What did we do wrong that our children, and our children's children consume and discard so shamelessly? What did we do? We got rich - and it's done us not a lot of good ultimately.

At lunchtime I presided over a Welsh Assembly Government carol service for about a hundred employees. Reading the first lesson (the Fall of Adam) as he has done each year since I've been in post was Permanent Secretary, Sir John Shortridge. This was his last official appearance with us setting the tone for the event by his presence and participation. Since he's about to retire, I conveyed our good wishes to him at the beginning of the service. By the time we started the entire stained glass window was installed and looked radiantly fresh in the midday sun, transformed by a session in the stained glass workshop.

After lunch, mince pies at God on Mondays, but quite a small gathering, which makes me wonder about the future. Winter sicknesses certainly played their part, but there are few new participants this term to replace those who've moved on.

I returned to church for a late afternoon meeting with Kath Richards, one of County Hall's public relations people, to discuss my concerns about the lopsided projection of the City conveyed by its range of publications, in which it seems hardly anyone works gainfully, most people are young and seem to be having a good time, and there are no evidences of public religious buildings portrayed in pictures of the city-scape.

Equally problematic is communication within the local government and between local government and the public during periods of change. We've been plagued with enormous confusion recently, and it seems to be a symptom of poor internal relationships between different responsibility sectors. None of these things serves well to advertise the reliability of our city to potential investors. There's nothing new about my nagging on this front, and I don't suppose anything will change. But I keep on nagging in hope anyway.

I was thrilled to see that the glaziers had also fitted a new stone-guard to the window they'd worked on. What a marvellous day's work they put in before heading back to Kingswood in Bristol. A good three hours longer than mine. They have my highest admiration.

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