Regular readers of this log will know that I am a bit of a technophobe, and I have recently had another frustrating run-in with technology that is beyond my understanding, this time in relation to the car. I take full, personal responsibility for this, of course. Last Tuesday I had to drive down to our Passionist Retreat Centre at Minsteracres, County Durham, for the AGM of the Board of Trustees. I had intended leaving Bishopbriggs at 6.00 a.m., but on waking at 5.00 a.m. I decided that turning over in bed for another hour might not be the best idea, and so I just got up, washed, dressed, and got on the road around 5.15 a.m. I wasn’t long on the road when a message came up on my dashboard telling me that the front camera was being checked. An unfamiliar warning symbol also appeared on the dashboard and, most worryingly of all, a spanner symbol. I pulled into the first service-stop on the motorway, which wasn’t yet open, and turned the engine off. When I turned it on again, thankfully, the spanner had disappeared. The other symbol remained, but the message changed to tell me I had no front camera visibility. I recognized this combination of text and symbol from previous occasions when conditions were foggy or icy, and usually both would disappear after a short while. Conditions were neither foggy, or icy, but I got back on the road, deciding there was no great problem in terms of continuing the journey. Everything felt good. I had hoped the text and symbols would disappear but, unfortunately, they remained.
The last service-stop on the motorway, before turning off for Minsteracres, is Gretna, and so I decided to pull in there and have a bit of breakfast. It was still early, and the only place that was open was Starbucks. I enjoyed a big mug of tea with a roll and sausage, smothered in brown sauce. Feeling revitalised, I got on the road once again, hoping that the text and symbol wouldn’t reappear when I turned on the engine again, but no, there they were. Choosing to keep ignoring them, I journeyed on. When I got to within striking distance of Minsteracres I was still a bit early, so I decided to take a short detour to the nearby village of Corbridge, which I was particularly fond of visiting when I was based at Minsteracres in the early 1990’s. It still shows a lot of signs of being part of the Roman Empire back in the day, and of course Hadrian’s Wall is nearby. There is also a beautiful old 7th century Saxon church dedicated to Saint Andrew, and a 17th century arched stone bridge across the River Tyne, where waters meet and fork on either side. I had a lovely walk around the village and along the banks of the Tyne, before heading off to arrive at Minsteracres for a 10.00 a.m. start to the meeting. I hadn’t intended making such a day of it, but that was how it turned out. The meeting went fine, and I was also lucky in that there was a special dinner being hosted that day for fundraisers and benefactors, very necessary people to try and keep a place like Minsteracres going, and we, the board members, were able to enjoy the same special meal that they were having, even if it did mean we were a bit sleepy for the afternoon sessions.
I managed to get back on the road again around 4.30 p.m., intending to make the return journey without any stops whatsoever, unless the car happened to pack it in on the way, but despite the text and symbol still stubbornly persisting, I had no problems. After a quick detour to do my usual caring duties, I arrived back to Bishopbriggs around 9.30 p.m. and went straight to bed. On Wednesday morning, after a great sleep, I drove in to open the church and to celebrate the 10.00 a.m. Mass. At the first opportunity I phoned Arnold Clark to report my car problem, and they gave me a first possible date of 17th November to get it checked out, so they didn’t seem to be over-concerned about it either. In these days we have welcomed a visiting Passionist, Tomy, from India, but who is at present based at Highgate in London. He is a good friend of Father John. The rest of us are doing fine, and keeping well.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.