Thursday, 24 September 2015

Trebuchets for All

This is the trebuchet at Urquart Castle, where I was today. I am posting this for trebuchet fans everywhere. You know who you are.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Protestant Renovation

I have been lucky enough to be able to travel to the UK several times in my adult life, and each time I see something different about how they choose to interpret their religious history.

Many years ago I saw an astonishingly frank exhibition at the V & A which showcased their collection of pre-Reformation artefacts and actually explained that Catholicism was for 1000 years the traditional religion in England. Usually, though, the English don't go quite that far.

This time, I see more acknowledgement at Westminster Abbey that it was once a Catholic church with very outre decorations, including wall paintings on a lavish scale. In the Chapter House, the matter of the strange disappearance of these is touched on tactfully as the 'alterations' of the 16th to 18th centuries.

Ah yes. That would be during the period known as the Renovation, when churches across Europe were seized with the desire to 'antique' their existing dull and dated interiors by stripping the wall paintings and beheading the statues. Now, of course, we look back and sigh a little at the loss of so much fine art, much as we do when we hear of the Victorians putting matchboard and flocked wallpaper over linenfold oak panel carvings.

This is, I suppose, a start, but to me it says more about our Ikea generation's limited range of understanding, and also how unfashionable and intolerant it is to talk about dying for actual ideals and principles. No one dies for linenfold panelling.

Monday, 7 September 2015

We Are Amused

If I were cast in a forthcoming production of The Gondoliers as the Duke of Plaza Toro, I would be able to exclaim, "At last, we have arrived at our destination! This is the Ducal Palace." However, our hotel is less Ducal Palace and more Stateroom Scene, with v amusing consequences so far.

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon yesterday, and we had a voucher for free drinks at the Sussex Arms, so we ... went to the Sussex Arms and had free drinks, and then repaired to a local hostelry where we surveyed their bill of fare. We were aiming for something authentically English, and something which would show due honour to HM the Q upon her achieving the longest reign in England's history. With this in mind, there was only one real choice. So Jus had a Whopper and Mike had something with a lot of meat in it, and carefully inquired of the natives as to whether they could provide a vanilla milkshake to go with that.

I am thrilled to report that my dinner consisted of a glass of wine, a large bag of excellent English Burger King fries, and a cigarette. I think this bodes well for the rest of the trip.

Friday, 4 September 2015

My View for a While

I would love to show you the back of the airplane seat in front of me, a la Fr Z, but I'm not there yet.

Normal transmission will be resumed in a few days (I hope). So to keep you occupied in my temporary absence, here is Bob Marley with an important message from our Sponsor.

Spiritual Direction

Anyone who thinks people in religious life don't have a sense of humour should visit the new Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate's Australian mission home page. The photos are gorgeous. I found this particular gem below, of my spiritual director, which should help explain a lot about me to any interested passers-by.

Nah, seriously, he normally looks more like the one below.