Sunday, March 18, 2007


Drove today, alone, to Birmingham and back, my only company my CD with its repeated cycle of my twenty favourite songs (ranging from Carole King's Tapestry, through a little bit of soft folky music to Catatonia's Cerys belting out what she does every morning when she wakes up.) Thoughts ran through my head, images, little day dreams, worries about work, family, which every now and then I put on one side to focus on driving in the appalling weather. Arriving at Brum, I did what I went there to do in all of half an hour, had a quick drink and took myself back, through blustery dry weather. The black mountains gazed at me in all their glory as I came closer to home and I started to think about the morning and Mass at church.

Not my favourite Mass of the year, but one I have been playing at for the last 16 years or so, the Mother's Day Mass. Head teacher and I are friends, and when I lost my faith he said, somewhat nervously "You're not going to give up playing?" and so far, I haven't. It was a cute occasion, starting with the infants, 5 yr olds mainly, singing tunelessly two songs then yelling out a poem to their mothers, who had little chance of understanding a single word, but whose eyes filled with tears to see their little ones dressed in all their best clothes up on the altar, performing.

The Mass otherwise folowed its usual somewhat chaotic course, enhanced by an appeal for the Lourdes group I used to travel with in the middle.

One of the hymns the children sung (tunelessly and in this case, as it was the more self conscious juniors, quietly) was by the late great Sydney Carter, author, poet and musician, who died an atheist after many years of searching. The words, as ever, filled me with glee, he would find no welcome on a more orthodox platform, but his ideas of life that needed to be lived, and if necessary, lived without faith and lived gloriously, continue to grasp and inspire me when I revisit them.

So as I drove onto the M50, the hills in the distance, the greenery lit up in the sunlight, I hummed away tunelessly Sydney Carter's carol (as he called all his songs...) and laughed at the memory of small children in big hats and huge aprons showing how much they loved their mums.

Round the corners of the world I turn
More and more about the world I learn
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

And it's from the old
I travel to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

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