That's our Edwin, falling asleep :0)
Excuse me if this all seems a bit insular. It’s late and it’s just what I’m thinking about.
Today our Hebe has been working on a Calvary in the grounds of a church on the hill that goes down to the sea (here's another work of art at the same church).
The monument is made of granite, and has a crucifix on top. The stone has got cracked and everything is dirty and sad-looking, the lettering hard to see and shabby. Jesus has been knocked off His cross by a seagull and lost His head on the way.
Gary from the masonry has pressure-washed the cross and monument, and re-pointed it, making good all the gaps and cracks. Jesus is going to have His head fixed back onto His body and be fastened back onto His cross (er… I guess that’s good…). Hebe is re-painting the lettering, a slow careful process that has to be done lying on the ground and using a No 1 paintbrush, very painstaking.
I feel very proud of the work of artists and craftsmen. People who sneer at the church and also at the royal family, saying they cost way too much money and that all the money should be given to the poor for food and the necessities of life, often don’t realise that the church and the royal family keep legions of poor artists in work, fostering the development of excellence and allowing craftsmen to live vocationally. A lady came to take a photo of Hebe painting the lettering on the monument, so that the church people who have put up the funds can see where their money goes – and realise that it’s not just paint slapped on over a stencil but is a slow, skilled job for a real artisan. I feel proud of Hebe, that her letter-cutting and calligraphy are fine and lovely to the eye.
At lunchtime, I went to a concert in one of the churches in Hastings town centre. It’s a beautiful Anglo-Catholic church with statues and an intricately carved wooden rood screen and wonderful murals. Every Wednesday they have a lunchtime concert to raise funds for the ongoing work on the fabric of the church. Today Bones 4 U came to play for us, four young trombonists, all undergraduates at the Royal College of Music. They were brilliant! I felt so proud of their achievement. They played this trombone arrangement of the William Tell Overture. Fab!
Travelling down from London to play in Hastings, they encountered every possible kind of setback. Their tube train broke down in the London Underground, their train got delayed by a vehicle hitting a bridge; so, when they reached Tunbridge Wells in a last desperate attempt to make it to Holy Trinity in time for the concert, they leapt into a cab and drove hell-for-leather down the A21. The hour arrived for the concert to begin, and the organisers received a text to say the trombonists were at that moment only a couple of miles away, driving along Bohemia, and would be with us any minute. So while we waited, five members of the audience kept us entertained, singing and playing Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. I felt so proud of Hastings that, in all its shambolic poverty, it is still the kind of place where an average lunchtime audience on a normal midweek afternoon can, with no notice at all, produce a group to sing in beautiful four-part harmony, with a note-perfect piano accompaniment.
Then, at the end of the day, the Badger being on holiday, he cooked supper so I watered the garden. Outside among the flowers and trees and vegetables, looking at the paradise we have made in really quite a short time, watering the courgettes and peas, strawberries and raspberries we have already had many meals from, and the beans and onions that are almost ready now, I felt so proud of my husband for all the hard work digging and fertilising and weeding and sowing – and for the work he has put in all this day in his workshop, making a cabinet to store all the pieces of glass for the stained glass windows our Alice makes.
Well done, family… well done, Hastings… what are those words from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata? “…let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals… With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
And so it is. Thank you, Lord, for your good and faithful servants.