First a bit of good news and an apology. The wheelchair people arrived at 9.30 am on the day they said they would. So I take back my whinge (in practice if not in principle - I still think it's not beyond the wit of management to give SOME idea of time). However that pales into insignificance compared with what a friend has told me about her husband who's in a nursing home, with dementia. The wheelchair he went in with was used for all and sundry, and soon trashed - footplates gone, brakes broken. I well believe it. It's an all too common occurrence. So she ordered a comfortable replacement with footraising, head rest etc so that he wouldn't have to be confined in the home's rather hard chairs all day. That was last February. It's still not come, and when she rang recently she was told there'd be at least a 30-week wait. So I want to apologise for giving the impression that things are all rosy in the health service garden. If you read Al's last comment, you'll discover that's far from the truth. I must say it irks me that because I have MND I seem to get good and rapid attention, whereas people like my friend's husband, whose condition is just as acute as mine but without the 'terminal' tag, get treated as non-urgent. I know it's 'a matter of resources', but bailing out the banks, replacing Trident, paying MPs fat pensions... how many wheelchairs and technicians could you get for all that?
I had something of a bitty Sunday. It started off OK with the young people at our church leading worship, five long-haired teenagers (male and female), exploding the myth that churches are full of people aged 50 and above and cubs and brownies. It just ain't true.
Then in the afternoon I kept out of the sun and watched the test match between the British Lions and South Africa. Peter had recorded it for me on Saturday, but hadn't told me the result. What a game! Talk about hammer and tongs - and some other instruments of torture. It wasn't the fairest match, but was the firiest I've seen for a long time. And what an ending - heart-break! Watch the Lions hit back on Saturday. Compelling viewing.
Which is more than can be said for 'Songs of Praise' these days. What HAS happened to it? Is it sponsored by the British tourist boards? It seems a cross between scenic photography and the myth-making I was talking about just now. On Sunday it was from Belfast. Where was REAL church? The adults looked as though they were dressed for a funeral, all in black, or purple, or dark turquoise. I've NEVER seen a congregation like it. And as for their singing that great modern song of praise, In Christ alone (good choice!), it was like a dirge. And the kids, who looked considerably happier, from the junior choir of the year were all neatly posed beside the prettified Belfast dock. It seems the programme needs a consultant who really knows where it's at in the contemporary church. Even the interviews seem to have become rather banal too. Shame.
Then came 'Revelations' on Channel 4, which was about the Alpha course, the introduction to Christianity which has become a worldwide phenomenon. It was filmed in Oxford; in fact Jane and I were at St Aldates Church on the last day of filming. The result was a curate's egg, good in parts. It wasn't as dispassionate as it purported to be. There were odd inbalances, such as a long time filming a participant exploring the supermarket skips for bargains, and the curious incident of the unrecorded loss of temper, and the tangentially connected archive film from Toronto. I admired St Aldates for allowing the crew in, unlike 10 other churches, we were told. Whether they regret the final result I don't know. But you do put yourself at the broadcasters' mercy when agree, as we found, though I suspect we fared better. (Maybe it's the difference between the BBC and independent companies.)