And five more poems

Five more chosen poems, this time chosen by Alan

WHDMy first poem is Leisure by Welsh poet W. H. Davies (1911). This was anthologized often, and it was regularly quoted to me as a schoolchild. (That annoyed me in the 1960s, when I was a swot.)

The very popular poet, Davies, lived as a tramp, here and in the USA, and in prisons.

My next choice: BLUE: film by Derek Jarman (1942-1994) Derek Jarman’s final feature-length film BLUE (1993), is a single-shot, saturated flooding of the screen in blue – Yves Klein’s patented International Klein Blue.

george-herbertMy third choice: George Herbert (1593-1633) – EASTER. Herbert was presented with the Prebendary of Leighton Bromswold (Cambridgeshire) in 1626. He paid for the restoration of the Church (St Mary’s) in a unique style that represented his churchmanship.
Imminent schism was about to happen and he was a bridge for Anglicanism. He must have visited his nearby friend, Nicholas Ferrar, the founder of a semi-monastic Anglican religious community at Little Gidding. Herbert’s piety is that of a dedicated country priest, and at times, an expression of “awful” insecurity. He died, at 39, of consumption. I am so grateful to the villagers of Leighton Bromswold for their friendship. St Mary’s is an inspirational church in which to worship. 

Tony-HarrisonPoem number four: Tony Harrison (1937-), is England’s best living poet, translator and playwright. Born in Leeds, lives in Newcastle and London. Famed for controversial works such as the poem ‘v.’. And for his brilliant stage translations of classics – The Oresteia, Lysistrata, Molière’s The Misanthrope, and the English medieval The Mysteries. Outspoken about the UK élite and, for example, the Iraq War. He and his actress partner were friends of mine in London and it was unforgettable to have him read his poems for me, in his study.

This poem is about grief.

Long Distance II

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn’t just drop in. You had to phone.
He’d put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn’t risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he’d hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she’d just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven’t both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there’s your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

My fifth poem is by Noël Coward (1899-1973). He wrote this mildly satirical “Epitaph for an Elderly Actress“ in 1961. For some actresses “of a certain age”, it was the perception of age that brought down the final curtain. Coward praised such later-in-the-day appearances of Anna Pavlova, and Gertrude Lawrence (in “Private Lives”).

Thank you Alan for this varied selection. For Fr Ian’s choice click here, and for Sandra’s click here.

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The one who calls in C#

Our church bell fell silent just before Easter when the bell rope came tumbling down the belfry to the ground. We missed its faithful call to worship, and the sounding out the angelus to the parish. Fortunately, Dr George Lee, the Manchester Diocesan Bell Advisor stepped in and kindly agreed to visit and help us out.

George climbed up the belfry right to the bell and reapplied the rope and took some fascinating photos while he was up there.

The one who calls is faithful (1 Thess 5.24)

The one who calls is faithful (1 Thess 5.24)

Here are some facts about our bell at Church:

The bell was cast in 1905 by John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough, a bell foundry which has been operated by the Taylor family since 1784 and is still doing well.

Bell sizes are measured in the older avoirdupois system – our bell weighs 5cwt 1qt 22lbs, which corresponds to approximately 610lbs or 277Kg.

The bell is 30ins in diameter, and is tuned to C#.

The inscriptions on the bell read:

JOHN TAYLOR & CO   LOUGHBOROUGH    LEICESTERSHIRE

 A  M  D  G           VENITE  ADORAMUS

 RECAST  MCMV

Bell 2The initials AMDG being the initials of the Latin phrase Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God, and Venite Adoramus is an invitation meaning Come let us adore (him).

We are very grateful to George for his repairs which will hopefully last us a couple of years, but meanwhile we need to consider arranging for a new bell rope (costing in the region of £300).

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Alice at 150 @StC

Our Alice radio play

Our Alice radio play

150 years ago one of the most popular children’s books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was first published. We’ve been celebrating this at St Chrysostom’s, and having great fun in our celebrations.

Alan produced a wonderful Alice radio play for us all, and, of course, for guests. It was good fun. Church members read out scripts and the audience joined in with the sound effects. Those who came will never forget how to make a hedgehog or a flamingo sound effect! Alan chose the cast wonderfully and it was great to see our church friends giving it as much as they could – special mention must be made of Fr Chris as the King of Hearts, Fliss as the Queen of Hearts, Desmond as the White Rabbit and the wonderful contributions of the children – and not to forget Abate directing sound effects. Well done Alan!

One of the tables at the Mad Hatter's Tea party

One of the tables at the Mad Hatter’s Tea party

A week or so later we prepared a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for children (and adults). Of course there was lots of tea, jam tarts and lovely food. Children wore splendid hats and we all had a fun time.

We stayed on for an Alice themed Sunday Vespers at 5pm (was that a first?).

Lewis Carroll, (the pen name of the Revd Charles Dodgson) we feel would have been delighted! He encouraged children not to separate the delights and fun of childhood from religious belief. He would have encouraged us in our sense of enjoyment and fun, and he would have encouraged our willingness to hold a range of beliefs and outlooks among us.

During the anniversary year the Cheshire cat keeps appearing and disappearing in Church

During the anniversary year the Cheshire cat keeps appearing and disappearing in Church

Revd Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) wrote:

More and more, as I read of the Christian religion, as Christ preached it, I stand amazed at the forms men have given to it, and the fictitious barriers they have built up between themselves..(and others)…

I believe that when you and I come to lie down for the last time, if only we can keep firm hold of the great truths Christ taught us … we shall have all we need to guide us through the shadows.

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Summer Reading

We’ve invited a selection of people to share their summer reading. Maybe you’d like to say what you are reading by posting a comment…

NorthangerSandra writes: Having watched a light hearted chick flick The Jane Austen Reading Club with my daughter last night I have decided that this Summer is the time to reread Jane Austen’s novels for her wit and her characters. Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Northanger Abbey here I come. The film suggests that the novels’ portrayal of a variety of relationships are still relevant to the modern world despite being set two hundred years ago but I also wonder how my interpretation of them will have changed since my first reading when a young woman.

Alan writes: I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s, The Corrections (published 2001). This is an American novel, and by a brilliant satirist and humourist of family life. The parents here are traditional and somewhat repressed, Midwestern. The children have fled to the East Coast to start new lives, free from their influence. The father, unfortunately, has Parkinson’s and dementia – and the novel gives an extraordinarily insight into this. The mother tries to organise one last Christmas together.

King LeopoldFay (deputy headteacher at St Chrysostom’s School) writes: This summer I’m going to be finishing King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hoshchild.  The book explores the exploitation of the Congo Free State by King Leopold II of Belgium between 1885 and 1908, as well as the atrocities that were committed during that period.  In doing so, Hoshchild aims to increase public awareness of these colonial crimes.  The book is gritty, and at times not an easy read.  It has the tension and drama that one would expect in a good novel.  At the same time it is carefully researched and historically accurate.

Fr Ian writes: Years ago I read all the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple books of the blessed Agatha Christie. All, that is except one, said to be her best the Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Now is the time to read it. (Unfortunately a friend rather spoilt the ending years ago when he said it was so good – he would never have guessed X (he named the person) did it!’ For more serious reading I’m reading Carys Bray’s A Song for Issy Bradley, which won this year’s Authors’ Club first novel award and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. I am finally planning to read Richard Holmes’ biography of Coleridge, which I’ve had on my bookshelves for several years now.

And why not check out the 2014 suggestions here and the 2010 selection here.

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News from St Chrysostom’s School

Ms Fay Jones Deputy Headteacher, St Chrysostom’s School writes:

2014-2015 has been a truly incredible year for St. Chrysostom’s!  Children, parents, and staff have all given so much to the school and continue to make me feel very proud to be Deputy Headteacher of such a special school.  Our wonderful results reflect the success of our home-school partnership:

Year 1 Phonics screening check: 88% of our children passed the Year 1 phonics check (last year’s national average was 74%). Year 6 SATs results: 85% of children achieved a level 4 or above in Reading, Writing and Mathematics combined (the national average is 80%). Our Year 2 SATs and Reception children’s results also continue to be above national averages.

Preparing to open officially  the new school extension

Preparing to open officially the new school extension

This year has very much been a year of growth.  We have ‘grown’ into our lovely new building which was officially opened by Fr. Ian on 20th July.  The children now have the bright new classrooms they so richly deserve.   Our building is continuing to grow and develop over the summer holidays as our old Reception classroom gets refurbished.

We have also grown in terms of our partnership with parents and carers.  We have two parental partnership groups: a Parent Governor group who meet regularly to discuss governance topics of particular interest to parents, and a Parent Forum who meet to talk about organisational ideas.  Having a stronger relationship with our parents has enabled us to develop our school in new and exciting ways.

It’s lovely also to see the many smiling faces of our fantastic parent volunteers around St. Chrysostom’s.  Volunteers make a highly valued contribution to our school – thank you for giving your time to our children.

A fantastic play by the children - Bombs and Blackberries

A fantastic play by the children – Bombs and Blackberries

We have continued to grow in educational and cultural richness: the children have enjoyed many exciting visits to Chester Zoo, Portland Basin, the Armenian Church and Stockley Farm to name but a few places.  We’ve hosted a mobile planetarium; welcomed student performers from the Royal National College of Music; and enjoyed working with our friends at St. John’s for collaborative singing performed as part of the Victoria Park Festival, and banner-making workshops at Church where we created two beautiful banners that future Year 6 will use as part of their Leavers’ Service at Manchester Cathedral.

Year 6 have grown, soon to be Year 7!  I know they are looking forward to secondary school and are ready for new challenges.  We say a heartfelt goodbye to them and best of luck for the future.

Similarly, some of our staff are leaving us to join other schools in September.  We say thank you for all your hard work and the wonderful contributions you have made to the children, staff and community at St. Chrysostom’s – farewell to Miss Liz McCormack (Year 1 teacher), Mrs Karen Pilling (Nursery teacher and Early Years Leader), and Mr Tom Smart (Year 3 teacher).   I know you will be missed by children and staff alike!

Stars of the week

Stars of the week

I look forward to the many ways in which we will all grow together over the next academic year.

I’d like to finish by saying some thank-yous:

To our parents and carers for being so supportive of St. Chrysostom’s and for working in partnership with us to provide the very best education for your children.

To our staff for your endless enthusiasm, complete dedication, and for continuing to be sources of inspiration for our children.

And to the children for all your hard work, thirst for knowledge, and your curiosity in the world; for the smiles, warmth and kindness you give to each other; and for (as our school prayer celebrates) ‘growing together in love.’

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News from St John’s School

Ms Karen Mortlock, Deputy Headteacher of St John’s School writes:

St John’s ends the school year with fantastic news. 86% of our Year 6 children got level 4 or above in their Key Stage 2 SATS – for reading, writing and maths, combined. Level 4 is the attainment level expected at this stage across England, and our results compare very favourably with the national figure of 80%. 

Some facts about St John’s: We have 380 children at the school. Attendance rates are very good. 25% of our children have special needs compared with a national average of 17%, and the school has a good reputation for its care and nurture of children with special needs.

We are delighted that parental involvement in the school continues to grow and develop.

St J 4

We had a lovely community day at school with lots of members of the local community visiting and taking part in a wide variety of activities. Children have taken place in many extra curricular activities – for example Nursery visited Stockley Farm, and older children took part in the Police Sorts day and the Big Sing at the Bridgewater Hall. This year we have built on our good relations with St Chrysostom’s School – we went to the cathedral with them, played several games of football with them and had banner making workshops at Church. Our school sports day was held on the large St Chrysostom’s School field. We are looking forward to the connection between the schools growing in the future.

St J 1We say goodbye to several members of staff who leave us to develop their careers. It is always sad to see staff move on but we are proud of what they have given St John’s and pleased we have had a part in their careers. Among those leaving is Miss Julie Harrison who moves on after eight years enthusiastic teaching at St John’s.

Over the school holiday building work will be taking place in school to improve the internal environment. We are extending the dining room, refurbishing toilets and making a new music room.

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Let us pray – using the internet

Can the internet help you to pray? Last Sunday at St Chrysostom’s we started ‘Second Cup’ – a series of occasional meetings after Mass open to all and on topics of interest to our Christian lives.  About 14 of us met for a quarter of an hour and talked about “praying electronically” – or using the internet as a source of prayer.

iBrivery-27706_500x210We talked about iBreviary, Sacred Space and Common Worship – please see below for links. We discussed how they can help us in our prayer lives.

We spent a little time considering the pros and cons of using the internet – familiarity, and distraction, among them.  But as one person remarked most of these apply to whatever  we use to help us to pray.

We wondered a little about the wordiness of the sites, and it was suggested that folk could always prune back – so perhaps say one or two of the set psalms.  Quality of prayer over quantity!  It was also noted that some sites are interactive, which can alleviate the feeling of being alone at prayer.

sacred310x100iBreviary, and Common Worship provide traditional texts to pray with, they also have apps for mobile use.  Sacred Space allows for more space and experimentation in prayer, and there is an app for it too.

To encourage us during August we are inviting all who wish to pray Vespers at 5pm using iBreviary. We’re putting up a list for people to volunteer for a day or for as many days as they wish. That way we will know our offering of prayer by St Chrysostom’s at 5pm is still being offered – albeit at a distance, in August. And – very kindly – someone, who is already quite busy – has offered already to join every day in August at 5pm. How kind!

Here are the links: iBreviary , Sacred Space, and  Common Worship New App

And for those who are fond of the rosary click here.

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