This is my first letter from London to our parish magazine at St. Saviour’s. I must first begin by saying a very big thank you to everyone for all of the cards and wonderful gifts and well wishes that I received before I left Shotton Colliery and St. Saviour’s, not yet 2 weeks ago. You’ll be pleased to learn that I am just beginning to settle in, and the homesickness is not too severe!
I made myself corned beef pie yesterday to remind myself of home and my nanna’s baking! There have been several people who have never heard of corned beef pie here, so it has been well shared out. I am writing this from the corner of my room in a flat in Westminster. I haven’t yet adjusted to the differences that this place presents that aren’t there at home. My sleeping hasn’t been too good since my arrival, as living where I did I am not used to a street lamp outside of the window, traffic driving past (which at night there isn’t a lot, but not being used to it the sound of an engine disturbs me), Big Ben chiming every 15 minutes (but I am steadily becoming accustomed to that) and the greatest annoyance at the moment is that the dustmen collect the rubbish from the department of education, which is just across the street, every morning, usually between a quarter to 6 and 7 o’clock! I am told that it takes time to adjust to things like that, and I am sure I shall, eventually.
The flat is quite satisfactory for the 2 of us pastoral assistants. We have a decent sized room each, a sitting room, kitchen, good size bathroom and separate toilet. There is a small roof garden (we change its name every day) which Andreas has planted some vegetables in containers. He arrived on the 10th of August (I didn’t arrive until the 4th of September so he’s had time to settle in and think about things like that). We have next door to the flat St. Andrew’s Youth Club, which I am told is the oldest youth club in the world, having been in existence since the 1860s. I am sitting typing this listening to the shouts of what sounds like a basket ball game (again something I am not used to yet).
The day for us begins at 8:15, opening up the church and side chapel, and then into the lady Chapel upstairs for morning prayer beginning at 8:30. It begins with a short prayer, then 15 minutes quiet to read or pray, then the service takes 15minutes up to 9am. And then it has been a case of going into the church office, or the school, or to anything that needs doing. There is a mid-day Eucharist at 12:30 which we set up for and clear away after, and then evening prayer at 5:30, again with a short prayer, 15 minutes quiet and then 15minute service (I have been quite glad this last week of these to 15minute quiet slots each day to sit and think, pray and read! In a hectic schedule it has been just the thing that you need). After that one of us locks up the school, and the evening is our own. I was introduced last week at the start of term school service in Church as Mr. Crawford-suddenly I felt like my dad!
Having only been here 9days, I haven’t had chance to do very much. However, I went for a walk to the Royal Albert Hall last Tuesday evening with Philip Elliott (a previous pastoral assistant) walking past many places I have heard about. We turned one corner and I asked Philip what that garish looking building up ahead was, all lit up with fairy lights. It was only Harrods. So I looked in the window and was disappointed - so I’ve decided to go to Fortnum & Mason to look there, I’m hoping it will be classier!
On Thursday evening I went to the Royal Albert Hall, as during the Proms season you can turn up on the evening and pay £5 to get a standing ticket to watch the performance from in the gallery. After just under 2 years standing each day in the Post Office I’ve been well rehearsed at standing, so a 2 and a bit hour concert didn’t bother me. I even got there on the underground on my own! Last night, (my second Sunday here) I went at 9:30 in the evening to stand on Westminster Bridge, and watched for the fireworks being set off at a quarter to 10 as it was the Thames Festival Weekend. It was good to see the fireworks going up behind the London Eye, quite a sight.
On Saturday evening Andreas and I went to Lisa’s house. Lisa works in the church office, so she has the pleasure (or the misfortune) of working with the two pastoral assistants quite regularly. She kindly invited us to watch the last night of the proms on the television, as we haven’t quite got the television in the flat working-but we are working on it! She lives at The Royal Mews, which is a group of flats by Buckingham Palace, which are living accommodation for the Queen’s staff. Lisa’s husband is a chauffeur for the Queen. We were so close to Hyde Park there that when we stood at the front door we could hear people cheering at the Prom in the park!
On Sunday evening we went with Revd Peter Hanaway (one of the priests here) to All Saints Church, Margaret Street. A very nice, very catholic church. We went to see evensong and benediction, we are in a way being exposed to as many different kinds of worship as possible. It was very interesting. We travelled there on the number 88 bus, which again was a fascinating trip as Peter knows everything there is to know about everything, and pointed things out as we went. I got quite excited at realising that I am not that far off Fortnum & Mason, but also, Hamley’s toy shop is also on the bus route!
© 2010, Andrew Crawford