This week I found myself with a rare day off. A longstanding commitment was unexpectedly cancelled and, as I had already made arrangements for my brother’s care that day, I decided to make use of it and chill out. I took the bus into town and spent some time browsing in Waterstones, delving into the various sections on all floors. I started at the top (2nd) floor and worked my way down to the Lower Ground where I knew there was a coffee shop. I enjoyed a nice, relaxed latte and a slice of cake. I always enjoy a coffee in Waterstones, or other such places, surrounded by books. Afterwards, I made my way to St. Aloysius to pray a while, and to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I had no particular plan in mind, and so, when I left St. Aloysius, I wasn’t sure what to do next. It came to mind that it had been a long time since I was in the Mitchell Library, and so I continued along Sauchiehall Street to North Street, looking forward to visiting an old haunt. Back in the 1970’s, when I was studying accountancy at night classes, and day release, while working in Olivetti, I used to spend hours on end in the Mitchell Library. The family home in Drumchapel wasn’t very conducive to study, and so most of my study was done there, with the luxury of a big table, usually all to myself, and a quiet, studious atmosphere. It’s all changed now, of course. There are almost as many computer screens as there are books, but I still loved the atmosphere in that magnificent building, and, if I’d thought of it, I could have had my coffee and cake there, surrounded by even more books.
As I left the Mitchell Library, I could just about see St. Patrick’s in Anderson, further down the road. It struck me that, even though I had grown up in Partick, attending St. Simon’s, which would be the next parish along, I had never in my life set foot in St. Pat’s, and so, free as a bird, I made my way there. I was glad I did. It’s a beautiful church with a renowned stained-glass window. I picked up a newsletter and was glad to see that the parish priest, Canon Gargaro, was back on his feet after a recent bout of Covid. Canon Gargaro was the Covid coordinator for the Archdiocese, and I found him a tremendous help during that period, keeping us up to date with the latest guidelines and protocols at all times. Archbishop Nolan, of course, is living there now, and I am looking forward to his visit next Tuesday.
From there I made my way down to the river, crossing the Squinty Bridge to the southside, and then crossing back over the King George V Bridge to the northside again. The sun was shining beautifully and, as I had been doing a lot of walking, I decided to get myself a cool drink and sit outside on one of the benches at Billy’s Beer Garden near St. Enoch Square, outside of which there is one of the famous murals of Billy Connolly that are sprinkled around the city. I sat for about an hour watching the world go by. It was only just after 2pm at this stage, and so I wandered through the St. Enoch Centre and took a notion to go and see the film, Elvis. Every seat in the relatively new cinema there is a recliner, and so I kicked my shoes off and settled back to comfortably enjoy, what was a very, very long film. I was never a massive Elvis fan, but I have to say the music was great and, at his best, he was an amazing singer, with some fantastic songs. I knew, going home, that everyone else was out, Fr Jus with his family; Fr Antony and Fr John 10-pin bowling with the Passionist Young Team in Fr Antony’s farewell night with them. I got the bus back, picked up a meal for one in Asda, and settled down to finish the day off – a day that I had thoroughly enjoyed. And so, it’s our final Mass with Fr Antony this Sunday, then, next Tuesday, he will leave for Minsteracres to take up his new role. We thank him for all he has given to St. Mungo’s, and we wish him well.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.