This is the little Leicestershire church I attended when I was a child, where I was married to my first husband, from which I buried both my parents and which I abandoned, in a manner of speaking, when I’d had enough of the Anglicans messing with the Book of Common Prayer and ordaining ministers who talked like social workers.
All Saints is the kind of unsung 15th century treasure with which rural England is studded and currently has a rector with the Austen-esque name of Grenville Gibbins. I was there this morning in spirit even though my body was parked in a Church of Ireland pew in Rathgar. Mr F went as usual to the Russians but I desperately needed a break from the milling crowds, the noise and the obligation to dress like a babushka.
It was, I must say, a very pleasant experience. Chumminess seemed to be the house style and it announced itself before I’d even crossed the threshold where I had my hand squeezed by an elderly parishioner. Getting hit on by men with walking frames is happening to me quite a lot these days. Irish men are painfully shy until they get to 75, then they become old rakes. I guess they have to wait for their mammies to die.
Anyway, it was all very cordial and of course there was a Sharing of the Peace which brings out Peter Skellern’s Mrs Beamish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc80G6Yzu04 in me ever so slightly but I’d never be so churlish as to show it. Unlike my pew neighbour, a young sprig of about 60, who looked as though he’d rather have root canal than shake any strange woman’s hand. His Mammy must still be alive.
But the main thing is this: the liturgy, and in particular the distinctive Anglican chanting of the psalm, transported me right back to the services of my childhood. I could almost smell the cowpats in the lane outside the open church door. And at the risk of sounding a bit like Her Royal Fergieness, I’d say it’s no bad thing to feel childlike again in church. We are, after all, God’s children.