Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
Spot the quoteRIDLEY HALL, Cambridge, is 125 years old, and recently it threw a splendigarden party to mark the occasion. There wasn't a bouncy castle, but there waa marquee decorated with ribbons and helium-filled yellow balloons, one owhich exploded during an appeal from the platform. (The appeal was not to comto Jesus, but to give generously to the anniversary building fund.)
There were also several gazebos. A gazebo is not, as I had supposed, a sorof zebra, but a type of tent. A securely anchored gazebo is the perfect symbofor Ridley Hall, a community that tells us that it seeks to have "roots dowand walls down". There was "light music" in the background. During the servicof thanksgiving, the light music became loud music, and I recallenostalgically the days when Christianity was still a fairly quiet religion.
At the service, at the Principal's request, I "gave my testimony". Mtestimony is too boring to be solicited often, unlike that of the other JohPridmore - "former East End face with a fondness of violence", author oFrom Gangland to Promised Land (DLT, 2002) - with whom I'm sometimeconfused.
My testimony was to the goodness of the friends I had made at Ridley. Mdebt to them is more than I can say; so my peroration was in borrowed words. thanked God for those, to this day so dear to me, "who have been so faithful tme; so sensitive of my needs; who have been so indulgent of my failings; wh
have carried me through so many trials".
Before shutting up and sitting down, I pledged 10 to the anniversary funif anyone could identify that quotation. No one took me up on the offer. Ndoubt that's because today's ordinands are more interested in "fresexpressions of Church", or whatever it's called, than in 19th-century churchistory. The offer still stands, by the way.
The right nudeTHE GARDEN PARTY also saw the launch of Michael Botting's Fanning thFlame: The story of Ridley Hall, volume 3. The first two volumes of thihistory were by F. W. B. Bullock. "The Lord giveth to his beloved sleep," saythe Psalmist. The Lord does that quickly when you read Dr Bullock. CanoBotting's book is much more of a page-turner. The delight of it is in itcameos.
Canon Botting records that there was much discussion at a common-roomeeting in 1967 about the question of an appropriate picture for thredecorated common room. We learn that the then Art Curator, John Elford"recommended a nude". Canon Botting further records that "the Tutor recountethe tale of Temple Gairdner, who decorated his Oxford rooms with nude Greegods and goddesses, which he carefully covered in drapes when hosting OICCprayer meetings."
The common room decided to leave it to Mr Elford to purchase "the right sorof nude with the advice of the Tutor". I've checked the dates, and I realisthat I must have been the Tutor referred to. I must ask John whether he evebought that nude - and, if so, whether he first sought my advice. I blush tthink that there yet hangs on a Ridley wall the wrong sort of nude.
Spooks of Berlinthough England is out of it, I'll be watching the World Cup final oSunday. For 18 months, I lived near the Berlin Olympic Stadium where the matctakes place. When I was there nearly 50 years ago, the stadium, with all itterrible memories, was rarely used. Its dreadful ghosts had yet to be exorcise
In those days, the grandiose buildings nearby, which had been the hub of th1936 Olympic Games, were the headquarters of the British Military GovernmentOne wing of the vast complex was peopled by spooks. I was one of them, jusanother of the innumerable intelligence and counter-intelligence operators whinfested Berlin after the war. One day, I intend to check what the old EasGerman Stasi files have on me.
There were some perks in living in a house built by Hitler. Every day I useto go swimming - and high-board diving - in the sumptuous indoor diving-pooconstructed for the '36 Olympics. Like everything the Fhrer built, it was aassertion of the monstrous ideology he incarnated. Not that I thought mucabout those associations, as I lounged on the pool's marble surrounds. usually had the place to myself - not a privilege I enjoy in the HackneMunicipal Baths.
Don't mention God
A FEW WEEKS AGO, two good friends oours registered their civil partnership at Chelsea Town Hall; I was asked tsay a few words at the ceremony. They're very strict at Chelsea about the rulforbidding any religious references in civil ceremonies. They insisted oseeing in advance the text of what I intended to say, to be absolutely surthat God didn't get a mention.
The rule is both Stalinist and futile. I got round it by telling a story I'written about a child who finds a crown, hidden in the sand at the mouth of cave on a beautiful beach in a land far away. I'm beginning to think that thless you say about God, the more chance he has to be hearThe Revd Dr John Pridmore is Rector of Hackney.