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12 August 2016


It’s all in the game

“DID Dad tell you there’s a gym in the church?” Number 2 Son handed me a cup of tea as my travel-addled brain attempted to grasp the concept of a gym in our Grade I listed building. I was sitting at the kitchen table, undoing the knots that seven hours of driving had tied in my spine.

Several thoughts chased each other around my brain: (1) I haven’t been away that long, surely? (2) Does he mean a baby gym for our toddler group? (3) Wouldn’t they need a faculty?

All my experience of life with a listed building suggests that most things need a faculty — indeed, I have occasionally wondered if a faculty would be required should some of our older members decide to break years of tradition and sit in a different pew.

You will probably already have guessed that the “gym” in question is a “Pokémon Go” gym (News, 22 July). My husband is sanguine about it, and, although he realises that it will probably make keeping the attention of baptism and wedding parties a little trickier (and the chances of getting them to switch off their phones even smaller), he feels that at least people will be drawn to the building, and you never know where that might lead if they find a warm welcome as well as a Pikachu.

I am quietly surprised by his attitude, as this is a man who does not even own a mobile phone; if not actually technophobic, he is definitely bordering on the techno-resistant.

Mind you, this resistance has been weakening lately. For his birthday earlier this summer, the boys clubbed together and bought him a tablet — of the computer, not the pharmaceutical, variety. Since then, he has definitely softened on the technology front. In fact, I walked into his study recently to find him placing his tablet on a bookshelf and staring at the screen; it emerged that he had downloaded an app that turned the tablet into a spirit level. (I bit my tongue to resist the puns about vicars and spirit levels.)

I left his coffee on the desk, and exited before he decided to check if I was standing straight.


Cornish reverie

I AM, on the whole, keeping my RA at bay, and therefore standing fairly straight; it helps that I have relinquished any lingering aspiration to be glamorous. My last attempt at glamour was wearing shoes with a heel to Number 1 Son’s graduation last year, leading to several weeks of pain and self-recrimination. At Number 2 Son’s graduation a couple of weeks ago, however, I was to be seen beaming broadly the entire day, feet comfortably shod in smart but defiantly unglamorous shoes.

The ceremony took place in Truro Cathedral, and, as we waited for it to begin, my mind wandered back to a holiday we had taken 17 years ago, when the boys were very young. We had rented a house in Marazion, and spent two weeks building sandcastles, eating delicious Cornish ice cream, and exploring the area.

We visited all the usual places: Land’s End, Tintagel, St Michael’s Mount, the Lizard; and a couple of not so usual ones: the Merry Maidens of Boleigh — a stone circle, which we found draped in floral offerings — and an old tin-mine, where we were given hard hats to wear as we took a guided tour through some of the workings.

As I sat in Truro Cathedral, it seemed strange to think that the young boy being shown around the old mine in his borrowed hard hat was now graduating as a B.Eng. (Mining Engineering) ACSM. The ACSM stands for Associate of Camborne School of Mines, which has exported mining engineers all over the world since its foundation in 1888.


One more step. . .

THE ceremony was the first in Truro to be conducted by the University of Exeter’s new Chancellor, Lord Myners of Truro, who was brought up in the city. He followed in the footsteps of the last Chancellor, the actress and TV presenter Floella Benjamin, whose habit it was to give each graduate a huge maternal hug and send them out into the world assured of their place in her heart.

Lord Myners wisely chose not to hug everyone, but each graduate was given an enthusiastic and warm handshake and encouraging words as they went forward to receive their degree.

Given the global mining slump, there are very few actual mining engineering jobs around, but Number 2 Son has found a position that will make use of his degree, and give him valuable experience, too. Even better, from my maternal point of view, is the fact that, although it is a fair distance away, it is actually in this country.

Over the past few weeks, he has been flat-hunting, and invited me to attend some viewings with him. What an experience: rampant mould, wet internal walls, curtains hiding burnt-out electrical sockets, windows or doors that don’t open or close properly, signs of infestation. He has now found a clean, dry, well-maintained flat, and my photo is probably target practice for the area’s letting agents.


Rare sighting

DRIVING us home from flat-hunting, I found myself driving along the busy narrow back streets of an unfamiliar city; not really the ideal time for Number 2 Son, who was playing Pokémon Go, to shout “There’s a wild Jigglypuff!”

Suffice to say, he now knows that the only wild, jiggly, puffing creature he needs to concern himself with is the one in the driver’s seat.


Elizabeth Figg is married to the Vicar of Kildwick, near Keighley.

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