Sunday, 28 September 2014

More Betjeman - 'Margate, 1940'

Further to my last post, here is another poem by John Betjeman, which I couldn't resist putting up. In the last week, there has been much discussion about the concept of 'Britishness', which we are now supposed to teach. This poem's charming description of old-fashioned seaside holidays in the years between the World Wars as something worth fighting for, seems to fit well with the idea. I also like the subtle emphasis on the family. The location, Margate, is also very apt, as the new Parish Priest of that town seems to be settling in very well, and I am sure he will do great things for the parish.


From out The Queen's Highcliffe for weeks at a stretch
I watched how the mower evaded the vetch,
So that over the putting-course rashes were seen
Of pink and of yellow among the burnt green.

How restful to putt, when the strains of a bandAnnounced a thé dansant was on at The Grand,
While over the privet, comminglingly clear,
I heard lesser Co-Optimists down by the pier.How lightly municipal, meltingly tarr'd,
Were the walks through the lawns by the Queen's Promenade
As soft over Cliftonville languished the light
Down Harold Road, Norfolk Road, into the night.

Oh! then what a pleasure to see the ground floorWith tables for two laid as tables for four,
And bottles of sauce and
Kia-Ora and squash
Awaiting their owners who'd gone up to wash -Who had gone up to wash the ozone from their skins
The sand from their legs and the rock from their chins,
To prepare for an evening of dancing and cards
And forget the sea-breeze on the dry promenades.

From third floor and fourth floor the children looked downUpon ribbons of light in the salt-scented town;
And drowning the trams roared the sound of the sea
As it washed in the shingle the scraps of their tea.

Beside The Queen's Highcliffe now rank grows the vetch,
Now dark is the terrace, a storm-battered stretch;
And I think, as the fairy-lit sights I recall,
It is those we are fighting for, foremost of all.

Queen's Highcliffe Hotel, Margate

Troops at Margate Station, WWII


Fairy-lit sights - Fr. Tim's photo of Margate sea-front


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thoughts on Betjeman - recalling happier times

John Betjeman in a typical setting

I have recently remembered an old poem by John Betjeman, in which he reminisces about the glories, as he perceived them, of the Anglo-Catholic movement, presumably in the early 20th. Century. It is entitles 'Anglo-Catholic Congress Congresses'.

With a few changes of words, it would be very easy to adapt this poem to express how I guess many of the former TLM community of Blackfen feel, now that this Liturgy, and the social life that existed around it (good company and a cup of tea or a nice pint in the social club after Mass, children playing in the garden while their parents chatted, a chance for the P.P. to meet his flock...etc.), are no longer extant. I leave it to my readers to select the exact format of the rewording.

Interestingly, when I searched for the poem online, I noticed that the great Fr. Hunwicke had posted about it earlier in the year, and trust that he will not mind me cutting and pasting the text from his blog - thank you for saving me a lot of typing, Father.

We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
   Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
   And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
   With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
   On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
   A game of Grandmother's steps on the vicarage grass -
   "Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass."

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
  When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
   The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
   And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
   The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
   The bells and banners - those were the waking days
    When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.


2011 12 25_0029
Midnight Mass at Blackfen - Photo by Mulier Fortis
Just included this picture from The Hermeneutic of Continuity because it's delightful - I believe it's from a Family Day at Our Lady of the Rosary


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fr. Philip Graystone, S.M., R.I.P. - Past Headmaster of St. Mary's Sidcup

It is with sadness that I received this evening a text from one of my friends, informing me of the recent death of Fr. Philip Graystone, my old headmaster from my own school days. Father passed away at Dorrington House Car Home, Wells-next-the-Sea, at 11.30 pm on Monday 15 September, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

I am sure that there are many other old boys of St. Mary's Grammar School, Sidcup from the 1960's and '70's (and, indeed some past pupils of St. Joseph's Convent Grammar School, Abbey Wood, and of the amalgamated school which the two formed in 1979) who remember Fr. Graystone with some fondness. Father was also active in the Parish of St. Lawrence, Sidcup, when he was Head of the school.

I understand that Father's Requiem will take place at Walsingham on Tuesday, 30th. September. Sadly, I will be unable to attend, but offer my prayers for Father's soul.

Requiem aeternum dona ei, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat ei:
Requiescat in pace.

Virgo Dolorosa, ora pro ei.

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour for those affected by changes in Blackfen

I anticipate that the majority of my readers are already aware of the recent changes that have taken place at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

I am aware that other bloggers who have been directly affected by this have maintained a dignified silence, and I, too, do not wish to become involved in discussion of the matter in the blogosphere at this time.

May I, however, suggest making a Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (or Perpetual Help), for those who are bearing crosses as a result of the changes. I suggest Our Lady under this title, as there are undoubtedly those who are seeking comfort, help and guidance at this time, and also because the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was apparently originally in the Church of San Mattaeo (my patron) in Rome, and it would seem apt as I am beginning this Novena on his feast.

There appear to be various Novena prayers to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour - the follow, which I suggest, as it seems very apt, is taken from those used at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at Baclaren in the Philippines, and further prayers can be found on their website .

Novena Prayer

Dear Mother of Perpetual Help from the cross Jesus gave you to us for our Mother. You are the kindness, the most loving of all mothers. Look tenderly on us your children as we now ask you to help us in all our needs especially this one…
(Pause to recall your petitions - I will leave readers to use their own words here)
While you were on earth, dear Mother you willingly shared in the sufferings of your Son. Strengthened by your faith and confidence in the fatherly love of God you accepted the mysterious designs of His Will. We too have our crosses and trials. Sometimes they almost crush us to the ground. Dearest Mother, share with us your abundant faith and confidence in God. Make us aware that God never ceases to love us; that He answers all our prayers in the way that is best for us. Strengthen our hearts to carry the cross in the footsteps of your Divine Son. Help us to realize that he who shares the cross of Christ will certainly share His resurrection. Dearest Mother, as we worry about our own problems let us not forget the needs of others. You always love others so much; help us to do the same. While praying for our own intentions and for all the intentions of all here present at this Novena we earnestly ask you, our Mother, to help us comfort the sick and the dying give hope to the poor and unemployed, heal the broken-hearted lighten the burden of the oppressed, teach justice to their oppressors and bring back to God all those who have offended Him. Dearest Mother, help us to avoid sin which separates us from our heavenly Father and from one another. Full of trust in you, we place ourselves under the mantle of your maternal protection and confidently hope for your powerful help.

Feast of St. Matthew

Today is the Feast of St. Matthew, whose name I took at my Confirmation and, in its Latinised form, use as my identity in the blogosphere, and who is, therefore, one of the patrons of this blog.

Happy Feast!

This is quite a tough time for me to celebrate this feast, as Our Lord has lately seen fit to send me a number of crosses.
May I request, of your Charity, your prayers for the former TLM community of Blackfen, now being scattered, and also for my elderly father who is currently ill in hospital.

Sancte Matthaee, ora pro nobis.
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