Saturday, April 12, 2008

Birthday outing

As it was my birthday yesterday, we left Cardiff early evening to spend a weekend away celebrating my 63rd Kath, Anto and Rhiannon. Kath and Anto had a gig in Stourport on Severn, a canal-side town of the West Midlands, near Kidderminster. They were performing in the Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels, a superbly designed modern church building standing within the remnants of the walls of a giant Victorian building, demolished in the 1980s.

Apparently the huge Victorian building, always costly, hard to manage and never totally completed, had suffered the collapse of its east end wall, leading to the revelation that its timbers were riddled with dry rot, and the whole structure a potential danger to its users. Proposals were made for a new-build inside the walls of the old one, once demolished, and this met with fearsome opposition from local objectors, and a consistory court case before the project could be realised. The remains of the old building certainly make an impressive setting for the new. It's a strong image of resurrection.

The church also has an eight hectare historic churchyard, as unmanageable as its Victorian building might have been, if it were not for the brave decision to limit areas of management and let most of it run wild as a biodiversity conservation measure.

About fifty people were there for the concert, with three offerings from up and coming singer song writers, in the congenial atmosphere of a modern church, with the undistracted attention of a quiet audience - a lot easier than singing in a pub or a restaurant, that's for sure. Kath sweetly dedicated the penultimate song to her dad, which meant several people came up and wished my happy returns before we set off for Kenilworth and home in the pouring rain, tired but happy.

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