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Diary

by
14 June 2011

by Jonathan Boardman

Waiting for the call

AT THE Bishops’ staff meeting in early April, all the other archdeacons seemed to be talking about it: how they had been recruited by their various national TV stations to de­liver commentary on the broadcast of the approaching royal wedding.

AT THE Bishops’ staff meeting in early April, all the other archdeacons seemed to be talking about it: how they had been recruited by their various national TV stations to de­liver commentary on the broadcast of the approaching royal wedding.

Acutely aware that I was about to miss a trick, back in Rome I got the parish administrator to make a few calls to advertise my availability to a selection of channels. Dreams of dizzyingly high fees for my unique services came crashing down when they all declared that their arrange­ments were already, and uncharacter­istically, in place, and that the coverage would come direct from London.

Acutely aware that I was about to miss a trick, back in Rome I got the parish administrator to make a few calls to advertise my availability to a selection of channels. Dreams of dizzyingly high fees for my unique services came crashing down when they all declared that their arrange­ments were already, and uncharacter­istically, in place, and that the coverage would come direct from London.

The administrator, Ambra, an Italian woman schooled in the UK, raised an eyebrow in my direction, and said that she would keep my diary clear, and that we should ex­pect an eleventh-hour summons — after all, this was Italy. How right she was.

The administrator, Ambra, an Italian woman schooled in the UK, raised an eyebrow in my direction, and said that she would keep my diary clear, and that we should ex­pect an eleventh-hour summons — after all, this was Italy. How right she was.

Glamour v. prayer

Glamour v. prayer

ON THE morning of 28 April, it arrived: would I be available to give commentary from a studio in Rome in diretta, live, for the Rai Uno (BBC 1 equivalent) broadcast of the wed­ding the next day? Thanks to Ambra, yes. Not knowing whether I would be on camera, I paid particular attention to my toilet (beard trim­med, teeth cleaned; even the little points, which often lose their colour on the clerical shirt where it meets the collar, inked in).

ON THE morning of 28 April, it arrived: would I be available to give commentary from a studio in Rome in diretta, live, for the Rai Uno (BBC 1 equivalent) broadcast of the wed­ding the next day? Thanks to Ambra, yes. Not knowing whether I would be on camera, I paid particular attention to my toilet (beard trim­med, teeth cleaned; even the little points, which often lose their colour on the clerical shirt where it meets the collar, inked in).

As it happened, I was on air only vocally, when I was invited every so often by the RAI’s veteran London correspondent, Antonio Caprarica, stationed immediately outside West­minster Abbey, to elucidate some element of what was approached generally as an arcane ceremony.

As it happened, I was on air only vocally, when I was invited every so often by the RAI’s veteran London correspondent, Antonio Caprarica, stationed immediately outside West­minster Abbey, to elucidate some element of what was approached generally as an arcane ceremony.

I resolutely attempted to establish this marriage rite as one that was in the mainstream of the Western Christian tradition, that the musical and choral choices, though personal to the couple, were perfectly adapted to the ceremony’s intent, and that all was being conducted with a distinct seriousness coupled with evident joy.

I resolutely attempted to establish this marriage rite as one that was in the mainstream of the Western Christian tradition, that the musical and choral choices, though personal to the couple, were perfectly adapted to the ceremony’s intent, and that all was being conducted with a distinct seriousness coupled with evident joy.

The professional presenters per­mitted only bursts of the actual things that were being said, prayed, and sung to break into the stream-of-consciousness commentary, which focused on fashion, celebrity, and gossip. After all, the Italian viewers clearly had not tuned in to be edified by the Bishop of London’s homily, even if a translation of a few sen­tences was gamely attempted by an interpreter sitting next to me in the sound booth.

The professional presenters per­mitted only bursts of the actual things that were being said, prayed, and sung to break into the stream-of-consciousness commentary, which focused on fashion, celebrity, and gossip. After all, the Italian viewers clearly had not tuned in to be edified by the Bishop of London’s homily, even if a translation of a few sen­tences was gamely attempted by an interpreter sitting next to me in the sound booth.

What they wanted was to par­ticipate in the occasion’s glamour; and, even after only superficial self-examination, can I claim anything better of myself? I fear the answer is no.

What they wanted was to par­ticipate in the occasion’s glamour; and, even after only superficial self-examination, can I claim anything better of myself? I fear the answer is no.

Little and large

Little and large

IN SEARCH, then, of purer motives for attendance at worship with the Sovereign in Westminster Abbey, let me flash back a little, to the morning of 21 April. It was the 801st occur­rence of the Royal Maundy Service, and 40 of the recipients of the specially minted coins, adding up to the Queen’s 85 years — a birthday celebrated on that very day — were nominees from the diocese in Europe.

IN SEARCH, then, of purer motives for attendance at worship with the Sovereign in Westminster Abbey, let me flash back a little, to the morning of 21 April. It was the 801st occur­rence of the Royal Maundy Service, and 40 of the recipients of the specially minted coins, adding up to the Queen’s 85 years — a birthday celebrated on that very day — were nominees from the diocese in Europe.

Seven came from my own arch­deaconry of Italy and Malta, and, as I passed in procession, a glimpse of them in all their humble excitement brought tears to my eyes. The others so honoured (85 men and 85 women in total) were drawn from the Abbey’s own congregation and the diocese of Sodor & Man. Every nominee had to have contributed considerably to the civil society in which his or her Christian faith was lived out.

Seven came from my own arch­deaconry of Italy and Malta, and, as I passed in procession, a glimpse of them in all their humble excitement brought tears to my eyes. The others so honoured (85 men and 85 women in total) were drawn from the Abbey’s own congregation and the diocese of Sodor & Man. Every nominee had to have contributed considerably to the civil society in which his or her Christian faith was lived out.

A great many interesting com­ments might have been made about the coincidence of these two dioceses out of the C of E’s 44. Of the Northern Province, Sodor & Man is the most ancient, while the diocese in Europe is the most recently created in the Southern Province. Territorially, one is the smallest, the other the biggest. Neither of their bishops ever sits in the House of Lords: both are in terms of their temporalities decidedly “off-shore”.

A great many interesting com­ments might have been made about the coincidence of these two dioceses out of the C of E’s 44. Of the Northern Province, Sodor & Man is the most ancient, while the diocese in Europe is the most recently created in the Southern Province. Territorially, one is the smallest, the other the biggest. Neither of their bishops ever sits in the House of Lords: both are in terms of their temporalities decidedly “off-shore”.

Sadly, when I viewed a recording of the BBC’s live broadcast of the ceremony, none of these reflections were forwarded. In fact, so strange a bird did the diocese in Europe appear to the commentators that the most they seemed to be able to say about it was that it was filled up with expats, and that most of its worshippers were tourists or transient.

Sadly, when I viewed a recording of the BBC’s live broadcast of the ceremony, none of these reflections were forwarded. In fact, so strange a bird did the diocese in Europe appear to the commentators that the most they seemed to be able to say about it was that it was filled up with expats, and that most of its worshippers were tourists or transient.

How such complacent-sounding or fleeting worshippers manage to sustain the life of more than 150 chaplaincies currently without any national-church funding remained a mystery. Nor was it evident that it is one of the Church of England’s fast­est growing dioceses, meeting the needs of a veritable tsunami of African and Asian immigration with sacrifice and joy.

How such complacent-sounding or fleeting worshippers manage to sustain the life of more than 150 chaplaincies currently without any national-church funding remained a mystery. Nor was it evident that it is one of the Church of England’s fast­est growing dioceses, meeting the needs of a veritable tsunami of African and Asian immigration with sacrifice and joy.

As I would learn for myself only a week later, giving a TV commentary for a church service is not the easiest of tasks, but I must admit to have hoped for better from friends at the BBC, and colleagues from elsewhere in the C of E.

As I would learn for myself only a week later, giving a TV commentary for a church service is not the easiest of tasks, but I must admit to have hoped for better from friends at the BBC, and colleagues from elsewhere in the C of E.

Mystery guests

Mystery guests

“WHO were those nuns?” asked Ambra, when I got back into the office after the wedding broadcast, alluding to the Abbey chaplains drawn from the Community of the Sisters of the Church standing near the bride and groom for the vows. “You Anglicans don’t have them, do you?”

“WHO were those nuns?” asked Ambra, when I got back into the office after the wedding broadcast, alluding to the Abbey chaplains drawn from the Community of the Sisters of the Church standing near the bride and groom for the vows. “You Anglicans don’t have them, do you?”

Even after her three years as our parish administrator, I noted that Italian Roman Catholic Ambra’s induction into Anglicanism was wanting, and I had not managed to include this interesting fact in my broadcast comments — yet another failure. But, oh, the glamour!

Even after her three years as our parish administrator, I noted that Italian Roman Catholic Ambra’s induction into Anglicanism was wanting, and I had not managed to include this interesting fact in my broadcast comments — yet another failure. But, oh, the glamour!

The Ven. Jonathan Boardman is the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, and Chaplain of All Saints’, Rome.

The Ven. Jonathan Boardman is the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, and Chaplain of All Saints’, Rome.

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