Friday, 26 September 2014
The general thrust of to-day's morning meeting at work was: "you're all incompetent, what are you all doing about it?" After less than five minutes of listening to the operations manager rattle on about why it took so long for a certain somebody (not me, surprisingly) to do something so simple I switched off and the rest of the meeting became white noise. After the meeting I went to my desk and within minutes my line manager recalled me to the office and sat me down. Something was going on as the branch manager and the operations manager were both present too. They asked if I was, of all things, "happy." So I said, "happiness is a cant and meaningless word and, if it exists at all, is the by product of some pursuit other than work." They then said that it was their job to safeguard the "happiness" of staff. It seemed that they were all reading from a script but I kept that to myself.
Well, anyway I have been given an ultimatum of sorts. I have been told to think about whether I am in the right job over the weekend and to let them know on Monday. It seems as though my banking days are numbered.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
I met up with an old friend from work this afternoon for tea in Chislehurst. The Sunday bus service is out of date in these parts for this modern era where Sunday is just another day so I had to wait roughly half an hour. I got on the bus and sat down and was immediately surrounded by teenage girls. In situations like this my resolution is to remain perfectly still, look straight ahead and to ignore everything around me. There were seven of them, one of me. They were loud, uncouth and intrusive. There were two "ring-leaders," one of whom came and sat next to me and, at the goading of the others, began to do things to me. "Scyooz may," she repeated over and over. Getting no response she started tapping me on the shoulder. No response. "D'you speak English, mate?" She asked as she waved her hand in front of my face. No response. "Look at 'is hair," said one as the one (presumably behind me) started pulling at it. No response. "Oi, Harry," said one from the back. "Oi, is your name Harry?" says the one next to me. "Scyooz may, mate!" I cleared my throat. This was met with unanimous laughter. The one next to me then said, "oi, why you being rude for?" and pushed my head. "Oi, leave him alone," said one. At this point they started taking pictures on their phones, presumably to upload them to Facebook. Then the strong, unpleasant smell of deodorant (the kind favourable to teenage girls and available from Superdrug for 59p) wafted up my nose and I began to fear that they were spraying my tweed jacket with it. At this point the one next to me got up and moved to the back of the bus and I was left alone for the remainder of the journey. They started to shout and swear among themselves then and paid no more attention to me.
When I got off the bus I took off my jacket and inspected it for damage. There was none. I had tea with my friend and then went to Marks & Spencers to get some shopping (no, I don't like shopping on Sundays but I was too lazy to do any yesterday). I went to the bus stop with my shopping and (what are the odds!), the girls were back. I looked at one straight in the eyes and she looked away. Fortunately they embarked upon a different bus. If I had a gun...
Behaviour like this will only get worse as the years go by.
I first heard of Jacob Bronowski's "Arrow of Time" when I read The Naked Civil Servant. You see the arrow of time points always in the direction of diminishing difference. It works like this: first there was a difference between the classes, then there was a difference between the sexes. Now there is almost none. With the recent surge in homosexuality, in both men and women, nominally "heterosexual" men and women are not unaffected - quite the contrary. We are all sexual persons, to one degree or another, and now it seems that we are all inclined to some form of sexual perversion. Years ago a "pansy" was seldom anybody you had met; he was certainly never somebody you actually knew personally. We all of us know at least one queer these days. In the 1930's Quentin Crisp went about dumb with lipstick, blind with mascara in flamboyant clothes in order to manifest his sexual type. Nowadays most young people do it! In London I have seen men parade about with half their hair platinum blonde, the other half pink, with bright make up, jingling with amulets, chains, talismans...creating no sensation whatsoever. If they're completely loopy young men will gel their hair, contour their nose and cheekbones, wear foundation and a beard. And yet you know they are not homosexual. I work with such a young man and he seems threatened by me. Why is this? Perhaps because he has seen me and is frightened about just how effeminate he could be thought to be if anybody shifted his proclivities one way or another. Not that I would ever gel my hair. At any rate, they all practise sodomy on their girlfriends and engage in any number of base sexual appetites. Men everywhere are disgusting. Nevertheless the existence of "heterosexual" young men who take care over their appearance is proof that the distinction between the sexes has disappeared. As for lesbians, just look at Clare Balding.
Where do I come in? I find it frustrating that elsewhere on blogs people are complaining about the disintegration of friendship and they are not prepared to consult the expertise of a man who was the only living authority on the subject: Mr Crisp himself. What are you afraid of? Whenever I have mentioned Mr Crisp to any number of people they say some combination of these words: "wasn't he that gay man?" He was so much more than that. The Naked Civil Servant is just as frank and wise a look at 20th century morality and politics as Nineteen Eighty-Four. I suppose what distinguishes the works is that while they are both stories about abject failure and humiliation, Mr Crisp was less neurotic about the one way television screens than Orwell.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
God for His Mercy give Grace for I call upon the intercession of all our Royal Saints and of all English and Scottish Saints from times past to stop the disintegration of (what's left of) our Union.
St Benedict Biscop, pray for us.
St Wulfstan of Worcester, pray for us.
St Sigfrid of Sweden, pray for us.
St Oswald of York, pray for us.
St Chad of Lichfield, pray for us.
St Felix of East Anglia, pray for us.
St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, pray for us.
St Guthlac of Crowland, pray for us.
St Magnus the Martyr, pray for us.
St Alphege the Martyr, pray for us.
St Mellitus of London, pray for us.
St Erkenwald of London, pray for us.
St John of Beverley, pray for us.
St Dunstan, pray for us.
St Alcuin of York, pray for us.
St David of Scotland, pray for us.
St Bede the Venerable, pray for us.
St Adhelm of Malmesbury, pray for us.
St Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us.
St Oda of Canterbury, pray for us.
St Boniface, pray for us.
St Columba, pray for us.
St Alban the Martyr, pray for us.
St Etheldreda of Ely, pray for us.
St Mildred of Thanet, pray for us.
St Swithun of Winchester, pray for us.
St Ethelwold of Winchester, pray for us.
St Oswald the Martyr, pray for us.
St Aidan of Lindisfarne, pray for us.
St Birinus of Dorchester, pray for us.
St Ninian, pray for us.
St Theodore of Tarsus, pray for us.
St Lioba of Bischofsheim, pray for us.
St Paulinus of York, pray for us.
St Ethelburga of Barking, pray for us.
St James the Deacon, pray for us.
St Wilfrid of Ripon, pray for us.
St Edward the Confessor, pray for us.
St Frideswide of Oxford, pray for us.
Blessed Alfred the Great, pray for us.
St Cedd of Lastingham, pray for us.
St Willibrord of Utrecht, pray for us.
St Margaret of Scotland, pray for us.
St Hilda of Whitby, pray for us.
St Edmund the Martyr, pray for us.
Domine salvum fac Reginam Nostram Elizabeth. Et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.
Sunday, 14 September 2014
I've been asleep for most of the weekend, dreaming about such things as blowing up tube trains, smothering annoying women and walking into a ticket office attached to a moving train and winding up in a rather pleasant looking town at a time of night in my pyjamas; or just dozing in my bed half asleep and wishing I was dead. I live in squalor. In fact I've come to think that it is my natural environment. I had very nice linen bed covers but they became so torn and dirty that I threw them away. I kept the pillow case. It used to be white and clean but has, over considerable time (years), taken on the hue of jaundice. I haven't opened the curtains for many months. The carpet hasn't been vacuumed in years and is covered with "bits," mostly clumps of dust, toe clippings and various fibres. The bookcases, pictures and other surfaces are covered with a thick layer of dust, except in places where my brother wrote out "my name is Pat" with his finger. I have made a conscious effort to keep the place tidy but at various intervals I am too tired to bother so piles of washing, books, random pieces of paper and rubbish pile up. I hate washing and ironing so I try to keep that to a once-a-year routine (a two or three day affair, when my parents are on holiday). This means that my best clothes - the ones that I am too cheap or embarrassed to take to the dry cleaner - pile up in a corner while I rely, for the most part, on "dossing" clothes; mostly old cords, shrunken sweaters and short-sleeve shirts from Marks & Spencers. These I am too vain to wear outside the house so, if I am constrained to leave the house for any reason on the weekends, I usually wait until after dark to venture out - for half an hour at most - to the shop and back. I did used to go out more, with nice brogues, sumptuous cashmere cardigans, jackets from Cordings, my face and hair done up Quentin Crisp fashion, but this, after a while, became too much of an effort so I stay at home now. My mother tries her utmost to make me go out but it won't happen. My father makes light of it and calls me "the hermit of the Lonely Mountain;" but my mother said, "if you carry on like this, life will pass you by."
When I was about 10 or 11 my father and I stood on the strand near Malin Head in county Donegal (the northernmost point of Ireland), a place of outstanding natural beauty, and we were looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. It was Autumn, it was sunset, there was nobody around for miles. It really did feel like the edge of the world and before the unhappy discovery of America really was. My father pointed to the fire and water at the edge of sight and said, "that is the gateway to the West." And I thought to myself, "I'm going to go West one day."
Art: Ted Nasmith. I adore this painting. It depicts Maglor casting the Silmaril into the Great Sea a the end of the First Age. Maglor is one of many anti-heroes in Tolkien and, for me, the most admirable.
Friday, 12 September 2014
I first heard about Ian Paisley at about the time of the Good Friday Agreement, I think. I remember seeing him on BBC news marching along side David Trimble wearing the orange sash, marching to the sound of drums and whistles. My grandmother was indifferent, my mother none too fond, but I always secretly admired Dr Paisley. I thought it terribly brave, terribly foolish, terribly "traditional" for a man, in these latter days where truth is indistinguishable from falsehood, to stand up in publick and call the Romish pope the Antichrist. I was fascinated. Not that I cared for Paisley's erroneous Protestant beliefs and I am sorry that he sold out his political convictions in recent years. Still, it may be a blessing for one so enamoured of the Union to have died now. If the Scots secede from the United Kingdom then Northern Ireland may not be far behind, at least in terms of the waning years.
You may have despised him but you cannot doubt Dr Paisley's valour; that he remained staunch during many long years of doubt and trouble for Northern Ireland, that region of my own Irish family. He will be missed sorely by the Presbyterian community and by many loyal to the Crown. May he rest in peace.
Monday, 1 September 2014
Elle, Lucy's younger cousin, died this morning at about twenty minutes past nine of the clock. I had just arrived at work and received a very distressed call from my mother who was alone in the house with her. It appears that Elle had been unwell for some time. Our concerns were first raised over the bank holiday weekend. She was refusing to eat, found breathing difficult and was drinking water profusely. We took her to an out-of-hours emergency clinic where the veterinary surgeon took a blood sample. The vet noticed a high glucose level, indicative of Diabetes, and he recommended further tests. We took her home and made an appointment with our own veterinary practice where further tests were done. These confirmed the Diabetes and Cushing's Disease. Further tests were required but my mother, conscious of money and other things, wanted to arrange an appointment this morning with the vets to have the dog put to sleep. Last night Elle had disappeared into the bushes at the far back of the garden so as to die alone but my father had brought her back into the house. She was sleeping when I left for work this morning at 8 o'clock. My mother arranged the appointment but it was too late. It seems that as soon as she put the 'phone down the dog had passed to her long home.
I lost all the photos of Elle when my phone crashed last year. Fortunately this one survived as I uploaded it to the blog. This was the feast of Candlemass in 2009. Lucy and Elle were excited by the snow that we had.
I lost all the photos of Elle when my phone crashed last year. Fortunately this one survived as I uploaded it to the blog. This was the feast of Candlemass in 2009. Lucy and Elle were excited by the snow that we had.
May she rest in peace.
Thursday, 28 August 2014
After an exhausting and unproductive day at work I went to the Sourozh Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens for the Vigil Service of St Mary's Dormition. I went armed with Daley's Early Patristic Homilies of the Dormition (highly recommended) and noticed, upon arrival, that the place was under maintenance work. The service therefore took place in a cramped side hall. I don't go to Ennismore Gardens as often as I once did. When I was at Heythrop I went every other week. I don't know if this is some sign of interior struggle but I feel a great deal of physical pain at Ennismore Gardens. Maybe it's just hours of standing in one place and listening to a language I don't understand (I know only a handful of Slavonic phrases) but every time I go there my shoulder, right arm, back and legs ache. I managed to stay for two and a half hours, took the antidoron and was anointed by Metropolitan Elisey, but I yearned for my bed and the long journey home was ahead. Maybe the Byzantine Rite doesn't agree with me? At any rate I said Mattins and Lauds of the Assumption this morning using the old Roman Rite (I was far too fatigued last night), called upon God's vengeance against them that do violence to Tradition in the name of Pius XII and read The Mirror of Galadriel to remind me of times past in the beauty of holiness.
"To forget and be forgotten" is a phrase that has stuck in my mind to-day.
Sunday, 24 August 2014
It has often been claimed, in especial deference to the spirit of this godless age, that Christians and the Ishmaelites (or "Muslims") worship the same God. The honest answer is that we do not worship the same God. We, the Church, adore the One True God, the Father and Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth; the God of the Patriarchs and of the Prophets, Triune and yet One, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. As for the god of the Ishmaelites, who is this "Allah," the "humiliator," the "subduer," and the "afflictor?"
Allah was being worshipped in Arabia before the false prophet Muhammad was born. Muhammad's father was Abdullah, "servant of Allah;" one of many tribal Arabian gods. The pagan Arabs worshipped many false gods; gods of fertility, the heavenly bodies, etc; whatever was important to them. The only thing Muhammad did, having chanced upon the Scriptures and devising his heresy, was to declare that one god, "Allah," was the God of the Patriarchs. If you would perceive the true foundation of the Ishmaelite superstition look no farther than the Crescent Moon itself. "Allah" is simply a false Arabian moon deity to whom the Ishmaelites ascribe the infinite perfections of the Godhead. Furthermore, the Qu'ran explicitly denies the Divinity of Christ, the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection and abominates Christ's Holy Cross. Clearly, Christians and the Ishmaelites do not worship the same God.
Does anybody else remember the scandal, not so long ago, when the "Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of Allah" were recited in Westminster Cathedral?
St Constantine Palaeologos , pray for us.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
"I suppose the greatest reform of our time was that carried out by St [sic] Pius X: surpassing anything, however needed, that the Council will achieve." The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no.250.
blessed Tolkien wrote that to his son Michael in 1963. You may speculate about Tolkien's use of the words "greatest" and "achieve" vis-à-vis the benefits (or malefits) of papal or conciliar reform but what is interesting about this is the conspicuous lack of comment upon the reforms of Pius XII, then only seven years previous. Given Tolkien's earlier rejection of the reformed rite for Palm Sunday, expressed in a private, unpublished, letter to a friend on, of all days, Spy Wednesday of 1956, there seems little doubt, to my mind at least, that, redolent of Tom Bombadil's assessment of Farmer Maggot, Tolkien had wisdom in his bones and both his eyes were open. That he gave his support to the Latin Mass Society in its earliest days is evidence enough that, like his contemporary Evelyn Waugh, Tolkien rejected most 20th century liturgical reform, liturgical reforms that went back to his undergraduate days when all the Sundays went green.
Tolkien's liturgical sentiments notwithstanding he refers to Pius X as a saint. Far be it from me to contradict so learned a man but I am not personally convinced of Sarto's sainthood. His liturgical reforms, the codification of the sacred canons begun during his pontificate, his treatment of Fr George Tyrrell as much as the opinion of his contemporaries are enough to shatter myths of his personal sainthood for me. Like pope John Paul "the Great," hero of the contemporary Roman Catholick church, Pius X always struck me more as a recalcitrant and bullying tyrant than a true shepherd with the lost sheep in his care. His canonisation, however, has effectively elevated his every action above reproach for Roman Catholicks.
The Sarto liturgical and canonical reforms are little known to-day, even less known than the comparatively trivial reforms of Pius XII. They began in A.D 1903 with the publication of the motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini on sacred musick. I have always been torn on this motu proprio, even to this day. On the one hand, I think it a praiseworthy effort to restore, at least in principle, the primacy of Gregorian chant, of choral worship, the exclusion of women from church choirs in accordance with the Scriptures, and so on; but on the other hand I cannot ignore the deference it makes to the inauthentic Solesmes tradition, the ban on Castrati and the implication that the Italianate pronunciation of Latin is the only acceptable form. Of note is Sarto's use of the term "partecipazione attiva." As this encyclical was curiously published in Italian first rather than Latin (so as to be wider read, perhaps?) I find it strange that apologists for Sacrosanctum Concilium (which famously incorporated the term), like pope Benedict XVI, ignore the fact that the "actuosa et communitatis propria celebratione participare possit" enunciated by the Council had its uttermost origins in an Italian phrase which literally means active participation. The distinction is otherwise condescending and irrelevant. It might seem an uncomfortable truth to some that Pius X, hero of Traddieland, was in this sense (and others) the fount of all innovation.
"Centralisation grows and goes madder with every century. Even at Trent they hardly foresaw this kind of thing. Does it really mean that one cannot be a member of the Church of Christ without being, as we are, absolutely at the mercy of an Italian lunatic?"
"Give us back the Xth century Johns and Stephen, or a Borgia! They were less disastrous than this deplorable person."
Italian lunatick; deplorable person...spoken like a true Protestant! Were it not for Dr Fortescue's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, on which they so evidently rely, I doubt very much whether the Traddies would have much time for him. Nevertheless, his exasperation is justified by the trickery, the condescension and the deplorable lack of faith of the old pope himself in the bishops and seminary rectors. Such requirements as this oath are symptomatic of a deformed ecclesiastical polity, conceived solely in the exercise of absolute power.
The Code of Canon Law was published in 1917 but, of course, this monumental work was done principally under the aegis of Pius X. While the codification of the Sacred Canons had intelligible pastoral motives I cannot really say that I have much sympathy for what effectively rendered the interpretation of antient laws an Enlightenment principle. It is true that the Pio-Benedictine Code was based largely upon the works of Gratian and Raymund, contextualised in a modern context, but the publication of the Code reversed an antient legal maxim (in a way strikingly redolent of the reversal of the Lex Orandi by Pius XII) that the older a particular law or custom could be proved to be, the greater auctoritas it has for us to-day. There is a goodly article published in The Remnant here which treats of the codification of Canon Law and precedent it set for later liturgical reforms. These quotes synthesise the whole point perfectly:
"One way to see the stark difference in approach between Traditional legal systems and modern ones (such as the Code of Canon Law) is to look at the relationship between authority and time. In the modern liberal system, authority is linked to novelty. The newer the law, the more authority it carries. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law has greater authority over provisions in the 1917 Code because it has been enacted more recently.
"The Traditional understanding of law was just the opposite. The older a particular law or legal norm could be demonstrated to be, the greater authority attributed to it. Customs which existed “since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary” were seen as much more reliable, and thus authoritative, than newer and novel norms. Opinions of ancient thinkers, jurists, philosophers, popes and saints that had stood the test of time were more authoritative than something dreamed up yesterday. Again the ancient attitude is filled with humility and acceptance of human failing."
Last, but by no means least, the Breviary; Sarto's lasting monument even were all his works made void. I'm afraid I have run out of time and, being a work night, must needs be off to bed. I shall continue this post with a more detailed look at the pre- and post-1911 Breviaries later this week.
The title of this series, by the way, is in reference to the Laudate Psalms antiently used at Lauds.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
As the years have gone by, "friends" of mine have come and gone. When I was at school, from about the age of 8 years, my best friend was Alex. We were a match of opposites. I was intensely religious, he was largely indifferent to Roman Catholicism (he eventually embraced atheism); in fact one day, during a Religious Education lesson, somebody expressed an opinion on St Mark's Gospel at variance with the teaching of the Church so I raised my hand and bluntly told the teacher that anybody who dissented from Church teaching must leave the school. Alex turned to me afterwards and said: "you would say that, wouldn't you!" I was also politically conservative; he was very liberal. I was interested in history and languages; he was interested in science and mathematics. The only thing we really had in common was a sense of intellectual superiority. When we achieved our A Level results and went our separate ways, he to study Mathematics and Philosophy, I to study Divinity, we fell out of contact and we both of us met new friends at university. Years later, but still some years ago, we met again through the Facebook abomination. I remember meeting him at Charing Cross railway station in my best suit - the idea was that I would go for a "more successful than I really am" look - and we went for tea at Browns. Eventually, over the course of several months, I met him and his girlfriend (who disliked me intensely, possibly because of my views on women), and it was very good to catch up. The friendship waned, however, when one evening we went to a gay bar and he made several homosexual advances which, naturally, I rejected. Later, after ignoring his 'phone calls, I wrote to him saying that I wasn't offended but I thought to myself that maintaining even the veneer of friendship was too much of an effort so I cut him off.
When I went to Heythrop in 2006 I met Lewis. Lewis was wonderful. His mind was marvelously subtle, he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Church history and spoke four languages fluently. He was also incredibly attractive. He was a year ahead of me but we took Latin and Greek together and sometimes he would make an appearance at Maiden Lane (though that was seldom). He was clearly homosexual so during my "traditionalist" days a grievance but lulled to sleep came between us. I was obedient to the magisterium and not only accepted my being queer but protested the fact - in other words, I would not seek out ordination however much I wanted it. He seemed to flout the whole idea and whatever his piety that cross would remain. When he graduated (with a first) he went to do a Masters degree in Celtic Christianity at an overseas university so I joined Facebook to stay in contact. He used to read Liturgiae Causa and, being a Roman Catholick (and indeed in orders), took offence to some of the more intemperate posts. I used to send him a Christmass card and write to him occasionally; he would in turn write back with prayers and blessings. I last wrote to him at Epiphany and received no reply. Whenever I think of our antient friendship I am assailed by the feeling that I didn't do enough. I loved him dearly.
I met David through a mutual friend. I never much liked him though he claims to have loved me with every inch of his manhood. I found him repulsive and cheap and only met him at social gatherings at which he would flirt shamelessly with me. He was seemingly oblivious to my disdain. You see, his idea of flirting was a few neolithic lurches towards the object of his desire. He invited me to his house for dinner on at least three occasions. I declined two of them but to save face I consented to the third. Dinner was an Iceland pizza with chopped up brie and salami! Two hours to get there, four hours of this, two hours back. There wasn't enough wine. The whole evening was unspeakably ugly. He wanted sex. I declined. One year, before Christmass, he wrote to me crying penury so I sent him a cheque. For the festival of the Baptism of the Lord the following January he and I went to St Magnus the Martyr, an occasion which gave him opportunity to shew off his new boyfriend. Even in a church so queer as folk as St Magnus the Martyr he didn't fit in though one of the more senior members of the congregation was smitten with the histrionic boyfriend. I sneaked off without telling David with another friend of mine. He wrote to me that evening whining that I had left him "all alone." When I asked about the boyfriend it seemed that they had broken up. I had sympathy for neither of them. Eventually, he came to understand that I no longer wished to continue our association. The last I heard, he wished me dead.
Nina was one of two girl friends in my life. She was beautiful, urbane and witty and dispelled a number of prejudices I had about women. I met her in 2007. We worked together at Morrisons and had similar hard-luck stories to tell. The only reason, in hindsight, that I worked there for nine years was because of my own indolence. She had been a dancer for two years on cruise ships but had had an accident so came home to take up part-time work and start another degree. We had very similar non-liturgical interests such as ballet and Alexa Chung and we both read Vogue magazine. We enjoyed the same movies, the same contemporary musick, vintage dresses and she met my Irish grandmother on one occasion (whom she described affectionately as "amazing"). She left Morrisons about a year before I did to take up a dance and drama teaching position. About a year ago she was offered a job in Canada and I haven't seen her since.
I met Francisco at a dinner party in 2009. He was the only liturgical man I ever met of my generation for whom I have had any time. When I first met him he was an Anglo-Papalist, with portraits of pope Benedict XVI and Carolus Rex side by side in his flat. Like Lewis he was deadly attractive; not that anything reared its ugly head. We had a few laughs but I always suspected that I liked him more than he liked me. On one occasion, when I admitted to him my childhood dream of becoming a Roman housewife like Audrey Hepburn or Sophia Loren, he assumed a very sharp tone and said that I was "weird." I took offence at this more because I had been drinking heavily than the fact that this was by no means a gratifying observation. I am not weird so much as eccentric (the difference likes in one's upbringing). I also suspect that he "stole" one of my love interests, if only for the night. He was liturgically rather sensible but more diplomatic than me and willing to compromise where I would have departed in wrath. He had the remarkable ability to build bridges where my talent lay in their destruction. Not that maintaining the bridge did the people of Nargothrond much good. When the dragon finally came they took to throwing down the stones of their pride too late and for all his bridge-building, Francisco's fate was not dissimilar. We remained congenial until he moved overseas but I think he departed a defeated man and, like me, took no further interest in Western liturgies. He now worships with the Russian Orthodox. I haven't heard from him for at least two years.
I met John in 2004. I was 16, he was 67. I had started going to Corpus Christi church in Covent Garden. I remember my first evening there very clearly. I wasn't entirely sure where the church was so I wrote down the directions from Charing Cross on some note paper and went up to the church on a summer afternoon (three hours early in fact) in June. I had finished my GCSE examinations and was a vivacious little tradunculus. It was weeks before anyone spoke to me and then someone from the choir spoke to me on the way out and asked me if I could sing and I do sing quite charmingly. Not wishing to commit myself I declined his invitation to join the choir. Nevertheless I joined the conversation outside the church. John was there. When everybody else had departed he invited me to Ponti's for coffee and we had a very pleasant chinwag. Until that evening I had thought of myself as the only homosexual in the Church. I continued to visit him for six years and met a few of John's more colourful friends and learned a lot about his fascinating life. He claims to have met my grandmother in Drury Lane in the 1960's and, being an ex-Anglican, still maintains his support for the Society of King Charles ye Martyr. I no longer countenance the impious rites celebrated at Covent Garden, and indeed John is not oblivious to the blatant heterodoxy and hypocrisy of the Latin Mass Society by whom those rites are maintained, but I still write to him occasionally and he will send me odd things like 18th century prints or love letters.
Edward was a dear friend and I, for my part, still count him so. I met him at the London Abattoir (or Oratory) and found him very sensible. We became close and eventually he introduced me to his partner Piers. We had so much in common, a mutual love of ballet, of Tolkien, of liturgy, of dogs, of fine food and wine (and ale), and of history - real, local history and the history of country churches. Unfortunately, he became a Unitarian and we became estranged as a result. I could not conceal my disdain for his new found religion anymore than my contempt for his pastor. He cut all ties recently. Oh well. I suppose, if you bite into a soft centre you can't put it all back in.
There are others, of course, but I can't go on forever. You might say that this post illustrates my profound and fantastical inability to keep friends. But are any of you surprised? It's a shame, for me, since I value friendship more than I can say.