Sometimes in the Gospels you get, what seems to be, an ad hoc, and disjointed, collection of sayings from Jesus, and that’s the format this week’s log will follow as well; an ad hoc, and disjointed collection of anecdotes from Father Frank. To begin with, last Saturday, I set out in the car from Bishopbriggs to Saint Mungo’s. I soon noticed a light on in the car that I didn’t recognize. In the process of trying to turn it off I discovered a feature of the car that I didn’t even know I had. In more hope than expectation, I pushed a button near to the unidentified light and, suddenly, an alarm began to sound in the car. I went into a panic and wondered what to push next to silence the alarm. At this stage, let me assure you, I had pulled into the side of the road. The next thing, a disembodied voice appeared, to ask me what emergency service I required. I apologised profusely and said that I didn’t need any emergency service, I just needed to know how to switch the alarm off. The rogue light that initially concerned me had already gone off. Once the person behind the mystery voice was convinced that I didn’t need an emergency service he cut himself off, with me continuing to implore his help on how to turn the alarm off. It then, mercifully, went silent, so he clearly was able to do it remotely.
The next day, Sunday, I was scheduled to celebrate a baptism after the 12 o’clock Mass. The family turned up in good time and, in conversation with the baby’s mother, I discovered that I, in fact, knew her mother and father from years ago. The said mother and father duly turned up and, when I got talking to the mother afterwards, she mischievously produced, on her phone, a photograph of me dancing with her at her wedding back in 1985. I had no memory of this whatsoever. As old photographs go, it wasn’t too bad, but there was general agreement that, while myself and her husband had changed a fair bit throughout those thirty-six years, and now looked, shall we say, more “mature”, she, herself, had hardly changed a bit.
The next day again, on the Monday, I was celebrating the funeral of a young man of just 47 years of age. I knew his mother and his late father well, from back in the days when I was based in Saint Mungo’s after ordination, the same period, in fact, when the afore mentioned wedding would have taken place. What I discovered, though, in the course of preparing for the funeral, was that the mother and father had first met at the Saturday night dancing in the church hall of Saint Simon’s in Partick which, as many of you will know, was the parish I grew up in. During the period that they met, my uncle Tony, who was really my granny’s brother, was the one who looked after Saint Simon’s church hall, and who also ran the dances. Every Saturday afternoon, I would be given the job of going round to the hall and, with a big lump of wax and a grater, I would grate the wax onto the floor, so as to make it nicely slippy and slidy for the dancers that night. At the dances themselves, myself and my older brother, the doyen of Scottish sports journalists, as I like to call him, would have the job of selling the ginger and crisps through a hatch to the side of the hall stage. When it got a bit later, older family members would take over, and we would be sent round to my granny’s, stopping en route to pick up bags of fish and chips from the local Italian chippy. Happy days! But, it’s highly likely that I met and served this couple at the dances back then, years before I actually knew them from saint Mungo’s. What a small world it can be sometimes.
Back at Bishopbriggs, Father Gareth’s absence is deafening; Father Justinian is keeping well, Father Antony is in Dublin for meetings and, when he comes back, I, myself, go to Crossgar for meetings, so we will both be running a one-man show for a few days. We will survive!
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.