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Anne Bowes’ Article in the August Diary July 24, 2022

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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A true story

Late one Saturday evening, I was travelling by train from London to York. It was crowded… so I was thankful even for a seat at a table with three Newcastle United football fans, working their way through a twelve pack of lager! They were noisily engaging in a crossword to while away the miles. Gradually the coach emptied and I was just considering moving my seat when, stuck for lexicon inspiration, they jokingly began to involve me in their exercise (the crossword, not the lager).

“What are you then, a teacher or something?”

“No,” I replied, “I am a sort of vicar.” Silence fell. And then…

“Right,” said one of them. “The missus wants us to have our Shane christened, but I think we should let ‘im grow up to decide for ‘imself – what do you think?” Oh, help! I asked if they ever took him to church. “No, I want ‘im to choose for ‘imself.”

What do I say next? Then an answer came to my quick arrow prayer. Drawing not on my theological training but on my across-the-generations, male-family-members’ football passion, the conversation progressed.

“When Shane is big enough, will you take him to Newcastle United, so that he can grow to share your love of the team?” I queried.

“Yeah, course I will,” he replied.

“So that would give him the best chance of learning about it all. Otherwise, he might not just start going later to an alien place. He wouldn’t begin to understand how to be there, what to do, or know any of the people there or who the key players were. Or what it was all about. He wouldn’t hear the songs.”

Silence.

“Yeah, you’ve really made me think. Thanks.”

A little later, I alighted, with a sigh of relief. Too soon, alas, to relax. What is this? A lady running down the platform after me. To tell me about all the others in the carriage who had been listening and… taking note!

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