Sunday, 24th July, 2022

[Day 860]

Normally when we go to church each Saturday evening, it is a fairly ‘low key’ affair but yesterday proved to be the exception. About 10-15 minutes into the service, it was evident that something was happening at the back of the church because we could hear some groaning, a bit of a kerfuffle and lots of loud, worried whispers. As all of this was happening in the back of the church, none of us could see what has happening without turning round to gawp. Our parish priest, though, who was facing the congregation could discern what was going on which was the collapse of an elderly gentleman. One of the assistants to the priest went into the Sacristry and gave the priest some sacred oils which means that he could perfom the sacrament of what used to be called ‘Extreme Unction‘ but which nowadays is more accurately described as the ‘Annointing of the Sick‘. The theology behind all of this is that this sacrament is meant to be administered to a person who is on the point of death and gives remissions of sins and such like to ease one’s passage into the next world. The priest went to the back of the church and annointed the sick gentleman – whether he was conscious or not at this stage, we did not know. After a brief pause and after some prompting from the congegation, the priest continued with the rest of the Mass but when it came to the administration of Holy Communion, the priest went immediately to the back of the church to minister to the stricken gentleman. The whole congegation exited the church through the Sacristy at the front of the church (as we used to do in pandemic days as a form of simple crowd control) only to be greeted by not one but three ambulances in the church car park and the street nearby. One of them was even bore the message that it was part of the ‘Air ambulance’ service. I suppose people can be taken seriously ill almost anywhere including cinemas and theatres and so perhaps a church is probably as good a place as any for such a trauma to occur. Then we had to navigate home through a new route as our normal route back home was impeded by two sets of temporary traffic lights (one a consequence of the demolition of a local pub, the other being due to the flattening of the normal traffic light by a drunken driver) So it was good to get home, have a spot of tea and then settle down to what might be called a more normal, peaceful evening.

Today, although the weather was cloudy, I had already collected my Sunday newspaper first thing in the morning so Meg and I decided to take a walk down into the park. We took our coffee on our ‘normal’ bench and waited for a few of our friends to turn up but none did. But as we turned for home, our University of Birmingham friend turned up, apologising for being a bit later than usual. Nonetheless, it was very useful to have a little chat with him as we could inform him that as we are going to be away next week and only returning on Saturday, we would not coincide with him again until next Sunday morning.

I have not had the chance yet of a detailed read of the Sunday newspapers, although they are giving a lot of the ‘insider’ information into both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. I do not suppose there is a lot of point being well informed about the strength and weaknesses of the two candidates as the whole result will bbe determined by about 160,000 Conservative party members in the country as a whole. The rest of the 60 million of us are reduced to the role of passive bystanders whilst the next Prime Minister is chosen by about 0.4% of the voting population. One particular feature of political parties in the UK is that the constituency political parties being populated by the activists and the committed are always more extreme than the parliamentary parties (for MP’s have had to appeal somewhat to the middle ground in order to be elected) So the constituency labour parties are to the left of the parliamentary party and as in a mirror image the constituency Conservative parties are to the right of the parliamentary party. Therefore the two candidates for the post of Prime Minister are having to pitch their appeals to the right wing members of the constituency parties which are themselves to the right of an already right wing parliamentary party. Today, both candidates have chosen to use the subjct of immigration to gain some electoral support. Liz Truss is arguing that we can search for other countries as as well Rwanda to accept would-be asylum seekers whilst Rishi Sunak is proposing a cap on the numbers to whom the Home Office eventually grants settled status. When all other arguments are exhausted, the Tory party can always rely upon ‘immigration’ and its modern day variants in order to garner support.