Faint whiff of nostalgia
SIXTY-FIVE years ago, I was a first-year student at King's
College, London. Today, my granddaughter Lydia is also in her first
year in the old place, and even reading the same subject, English.
Recently we spent a day together.
She showed me round the vastly expanded campus, and I simply
soaked up memories. Much, of course, has changed (and, if the press
reports are reliable, a lot more may follow), but the heart of the
old college on the banks of the Thames is still there.
Lydia took me first to the chapel, and I sat there, recalling
people and events. Eric Abbott was Dean in my time - his annual
memorial lecture was taking place in Westminster Abbey that very
As I sat there, I recalled a sermon by Professor R. V. G Tasker
on "Inspired Mistranslations". One was "Worship the Lord in the
beauty of holiness." We cherish the words and the vision, but, he
suggested, the Psalmist might simply have meant "put on the
gorgeous vestments of the temple to praise God".
THE chapel, now restored to its original Georgian splendour, is
still the beating heart of a college with a long Christian
tradition. The chaplaincy appears to be alive and well, and in tune
with the life of modern students. There were no Pimm's and
strawberry receptions in my day.
I noticed that they are about to have a college baptism and
confirmation service, and a "Valedictory Evensong" - we used to
call it End of Term, but never mind - to "give thanks for the past
We also visited some of the lecture rooms, the students' union
bar - a splendid addition, with glorious views of the Thames - and
ended up in "Tutu's". This is the student arts centre, a venue for
bands and gigs, drama, and dance. As we opened the door, I wondered
about its being named after one of the most distinguished
Christians of my lifetime (and, of course, an alumnus of the
I needn't have worried. As we entered, two young men were busy
setting up an array of enormous drum-kits. I could easily imagine
Archbishop Tutu advancing towards them, uttering that delighted
chuckle, grabbing a pair of drumsticks, and beating out a mighty
roll, culminating in a great shout of "Hallelujah, praise the
Spoonful of Sugar
WHY does modern technology always make simple things
complicated? I realise this is an octogenarian cry from the shores
of Yesterday, but I suspect there are a few million like me who
feel rather lonely and lost in this mysterious cyberworld.
My old, beloved PC finally passed its sell-by (Windows was no
longer "supporting" it), and, in truth, it was a bit like its
owner: creaking, slow to warm up, and prone to falling suddenly
asleep. I bought a new one, which is, I admit, faster, especially
on the internet and with emails. It also looks rather good.
The problem arises with what I have always found simple tasks -
such as typing this Diary. Faced with the mundane, it gets
secretive and bossy. "Do you want to create an app?" it asks me.
Actually, all I want to do is save what I've written, and to me the
question is meaningless. What is an app? And why should I want to
Formerly simple processes like numbering pages and providing a
word-count have become journeys into the unknown. Several people
have helped me, but what I really need is a personal onboard
Helper, who knows all about the intricacies of computing but also
understands my frailties. Oh dear, I feel a sermon illustration
My first Amstrad PC 26 years ago had floppy disks (remember
them?) and a users' booklet that really did start from the
beginning. "Switch on the computer," it said. "You will find the
button at the bottom right-hand side of the screen."
Come back, Alan Sugar, and bang a few Microsoft heads
I PREACHED at the farewell service of my friend and erstwhile
colleague Bob Edy two weeks ago. He came, his head still warm from
the bishop's hands, to be my NSM at the lovely village of
Ducklington, near Witney, in 1993.
Six years later, he became the non-stipendiary incumbent of the
parish, and has served it, in all, for 22 years. Until he took
early retirement from teaching, he was deputy head of Henry Box
comprehensive school in Witney, and now leaves to be part-time
chaplain at the school in Cirencester where he was once a
Since 1986, Ducklington parish has been served entirely by
part-time ministers, and since 1999 on a house-for-duty basis. I
don't think it's a coincidence that in those three decades the
Sunday congregation has grown from about 15 to more than 100. There
were 200 at Bob's farewell.
Our Area Bishop (Reading) kindly provides an annual lunch for
his retired clergy. It's always a convivial occasion, but also a
reminder that, in rural areas at least, the Church would be putting
up "Services Suspended" notices if it were not for two voluntary
The first is the grey army of the active retired. The second is
the equally significant army of those who used to be defined by the
fact that they weren't paid (non-stipendiary), but are now honoured
I vision, you vision
"VISIONING the Embodiment" - that was the slogan on the screen,
in the middle of an introduction to what seemed to be a perfectly
convincing (and hitherto lucid) process for changing a church's
"culture" where mission is concerned.
I sat and mused on the strange phrase, decided it must have had
a transatlantic origin, and finally managed to translate it into
English: "Imagining what might happen".
Canon David Winter is a retired cleric in the diocese of Oxford,
and a former head of religious broadcasting at the BBC.