I’m sitting writing this at the beginning of September, which means a lot of change has happened in recent weeks. The school has come back after the summer holiday, there are new children, and the rest have all moved up a year. My friend, flat-mate and colleague of the last year, Andreas Wenzel has moved out of the flat, and shall very soon be moving on to Leeds where he will study Arabic and Islamic studies for a year while he discerns his calling to the Priesthood with the Diocese in Europe. We marked the coming to an end of our time together at Saint Matthew’s with a meal out, just the two of us. We decided to go someone a bit more extravagant than we normally would, and went to The Wolseley Restaurant in Piccadilly-it’s a bit expensive, but worth every penny. My current flat-mate and colleague is now Chris Minchin, who arrived the first weekend in September, from his native Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
It has been a month of many different events. We’ve seen the school break up for the summer holidays. That means we’ve seen the children of year six move off to begin their time at senior school. This year, the children of year six are going to seven different schools. Each class of year six children at the schools in the deanery go each year to Saint Margaret’s Church, which stands right next to Westminster Abbey, for the school leavers’ service. I can’t remember exactly how many schools came, but the church was filled to capacity with just one class from each! The service was good, with hymns and readings suited to the children all preparing to move on. There was even a very good performance by a young boy who played a solo on the piano. Saint Margaret’s itself is a wonderful Church and well worth a look in. I’m sure it gets overlooked by its much larger neighbours all around!
It is becoming increasingly difficult with each month that passes to remember what has happened, and what order it has happened in! It seems as there is so much goes on in this city that I get muddled up with what I have already written, and what I have forgotten. In my last letter, I forgot to mention a name I found on a plaque on a house wall not far from here in Smith Square. Out for a Sunday afternoon walk with Zoe and Andreas, we passed along Lord North Street to Smith Square, en route to walk by the river with the final intention of ending up at Evensong at St Peter’s, Vauxhall. As we passed by the house at the end of Lord North Street into Smith Square, we stopped to look at the green plaque on the wall, which announces to all who read it “W. T. Stead, 1849-1912, Journalist and reformer of great renown, lived here 1904-1912.”
I received a number of Easter cards from people, for which many thanks if I haven’t yet written to you. In the one I got from Enid, she’d written a note in, and mentioned how from my articles she’d read, I seem to be getting about to different places. This month has been no different. There is an organisation called the Westminster Faith Exchange, which is run by Westminster City Council. People of all faiths are invited to attend, to hear a talk or to be involved in discussions on any number of things. It meets once a quarter, and I’ve been to two of the meetings since I got here. The meeting at the end of March was a very interesting meeting, the speaker, the topic and the venue!
It has been quite an eventful month, February into March. Mam and dad came and spent a week, which was very good. We went out for afternoon tea, had several walks and had our photographs taken with a few street signs that are familiar to a lot of people. We had a few walks to different places, and on the Friday night we went off to see the stage show of The Lion King. I can highly recommend it! What a brilliant performance by all, the costumes, the singing-I could go and see it again.
I am writing this month’s article, late on a Friday night after attending the evening sessions of a vocations conference, organised by the Diocese in Europe that is taking place this weekend at Saint Matthews. As like many (I assume) Church of England people, I’d heard of Anglican Churches in other places around the world, without actually taking much notice of how things like that work.
Last night I had the most pleasant surprise. Lisa came to join Andreas and me for a light evening meal in our flat, and at half past 8 the door bell rang. When I answered I was surprised to discover that it was Reverend Canon Paul Greenwell at the door, he was in London for a meeting and came to find me! We had a good chat in the hour that he stayed, and I must say I was very pleased to see him. (For the benefit of the readers of this article from Saint Matthew’s, Paul Greenwell and I are from the same place, and are both products you could say, of Saint Saviour’s Church, Shotton Colliery, the only difference is he is now the Precentor of Ripon Cathedral and I’m a poor and lowly Pastoral Assistant).
It is hard to believe I am sitting writing this article for the January magazine already! I have been here in London 3 months already-and I am finding it difficult to believe where the time has gone. The last week, I must confess, has not been a barrel of laughs: I spent it in bed suffering with bronchitis. I went off to the doctor in Denbigh Street on Tuesday with the worst hacking cough I’ve ever had.
Once more it barely feels like another month has passed since I wrote my last letter. In that time my mam and dad have been to visit for a few days for their silver wedding anniversary. We went to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre, which I can highly recommend to anyone to go and see, especially to people who live as close to Easington Colliery where the film was made. A highly enjoyable musical which tells the tale of life during the miners’ strike.
Our pastoral assistant, Andrew, has been writing his "Andrew's Travels" column in his Parish magazine for three years. He continues to contribute and his current articles will be published here.