Blue skies and sunshine in sunny Somerset today – although I have to admit it did rain later in the day. Nevertheless it was one of those winter days when one can see for miles across the shallow hills towards Wiltshire with the hill fort of South Cadbury – and another supposed site of Camelot – looking rather windswept in the weak December sun.

We’ve got my sister Liz and brother-in-law Gerry staying for the first half of the weekend, so as usual when we all get together with my son Martin (here for the whole weekend!) it was a guinea a minute. I’m not sure whether it is because we all have a shared sense of humour that we seem to spend half the time laughing, or if it is because of our common devotion to the Blessèd Gordon’s – vast quantities of which have already been consumed. You know it’s not the amount of gin we get through when I have friends and family visiting that I object to – it’s all those bottles of Schweppes I have to drag back from Waitrose.

When I was at seminary in Salisbury – just a few years ago – I made friends with Pete Wightman who was at Salisbury Art College with Fiona. Pete and I became good chums when we were joint chairmen of the “Salisbury Joint Colleges Rag Week” back in 1973. It was a great week culminating in the Rag Ball at which Roy Wood’s Wizard was the main attraction. A couple of week’s after Fiona and I got married in St Thomas’ Church in Salisbury, I returned to officiate at Pete’s (first) wedding. And a grand affair it was too! He very kindly phoned this evening to wish me well for the hospitalisation process beginning next week and made the grave mistake of mentioning his house in Montenegro. Oho Pete! Silly boy! We may well take you up on your rather rash offer of using it sometime soon! Cdre Bob Thornton made a similar mistake when he called the other day. He and Jeanette have a fabulous house in Cornwall where we have stayed a couple of times before, when I have had to sing for my supper by preaching at their local parish church. Can’t do that now Bob as I have crossed the Tiber, but we hope to be visiting sometime soon. Another wedding at which I officiated, this time when I was in Gibraltar, was that of Sub-Lt Liz Medland to Lt Cdr Alex Hall – who now live in Staffordshire splendour. A nice Midlands weekend of R&R has a certain attraction!

It was great to see my dear friend Fr David Wylie this evening. Fr David is on operations with the Royal Marines and is home for just a few days on business before returning to the thick of the troubles in Afghanistan next week. It was obvious that the “boys” are relatively “dry” out there in the desert by the enthusiastic way in which he attacked his tankard of mother’s ruin. He looked rather sun blasted but otherwise fit and well and well on top of being one of the senior chaplains out there in theatre and all the responsibilities that come with it. He’s a great man and a fabulous priest doing a hard but immensely worthwhile job in the heat and dust and danger of all that is going on there. And blow me down if in the middle of Fr David’s drop-in to No 12, the Vicar called.

Fr Francis Sutcliffe is one of my oldest friends as we lived next door-but-one to each other for a couple of years when we were at seminary together. Fr Francis has this wonderful knack of always arriving for things at the very last minute – or if I am totally honest – perhaps just a shade after the appointed time. Not surprising that his special art of brinkmanship resulted in him always being referred to as, “The Late Francis Sutcliffe!” Dear chap! Sure enough his supposed arrival time of ‘about’ 6pm this evening for a pre-dinner libation became 7pm. No real surprise!

Great to see Fr Francis him too…. but my goodness what a strain all these visiting clergy put on my ice-making machine….

Tomorrow (Saturday) I’m really looking forward to seeing Chris Percival. Chris was a divisional officer at HMS RALEIGH when we served there together 1993-95 – and he’s stopping off for lunch on his way further west, but of course the highlight of the entire weekend will be the special gala arrival of Fr Andrew Callon the Archpriest and archimandrite of Devonport – without whom no weekend would be complete. Now…I wonder…will he be wearing his red trousers?

Comments on this entry:

  1. Good to hear you are keeping up with old aquaintances. Give our best wishes to Fr David and Fr Andrew when you see them again, although the thought of Andrew in red trousers is mind-boggling.

    love Dick and Brenda

    — Dick Bidgood · Monday 8 December, 2008 · #