Monday 7 May 2012

Another Motorcycling Vicar

A frenetic few days starting with a brilliant opening local event for Movin' On Up at Merthyr where, in addition to the campaign microbus, mini-cinema, and mobile mountain (see picture above), we are treated to a selection of songs chosen by service-users and performed by the celebrated "Voice of Hafal" Rikki Withers. Good to see many old friends there and the discussion of the serious issues is as passionate as the fun everybody has on the day.

Next I'm off to pick up my brother who is flying into Heathrow from Bilbao en route to our niece's wedding in Hampshire. The dreaded immigration service go-slow seems to have eased so we don't get held up long. While we wait I contemplate ruefully how the world has changed as a group of paramilitary-style police hovers nearby bristling with pistols, sub-machine guns and body-armour. We are taken aback when one of them approaches us with a determined step and my life flashes before me as I consider what misdemeanours of my past are about to revisit me. But then we realise it is Mrs Blog's cousin (and bridesmaid many years ago) who resourcefully escaped rural Carmarthenshire for a challenging career in the Met - quite a contrast to upland hill-farming and riding with the Towy and Cothi (when it was still legal of course), the life to which both she and Mrs B were brought up. We reminisce while her colleagues continue to look out for worse rogues than me.

The wedding is a delight. The ceremony is at the church which I last visited for my eldest brother's (the bride's father's) funeral which of course is poignant. Indeed naturally his absence is noted during the day including a toast to his memory using the (let's say) interesting brand of potent Czech firewater the production and marketing of which my brother managed during a long deployment to Prague from his French company. But the memories are pleasant and add to, rather than detract from, the joyful ceremony and celebration. The service is amusingly interrupted by the infant bridesmaid (another niece) telling everybody repeatedly to "be quiet!".

During the reception I chat to one of two clergymen who conducted the service. He is a great uncle of the groom and tells me that he was famous for going around on a motorbike in the 1960s. I am able to report on the motor-cycling vicar in my own family (see this post) 50 years earlier. Of course these muscular men of the cloth rode proper motorbikes in contrast to the new President of France who could be seen until recently running around on one of those puny mopeds (whether with a stereotypical baguette in view is not recorded) - not the same thing at all. And, yes, I know I tipped the French election wrong (here) but I won't compound that error with one of bad taste by opening a book on how long Carla Bruni sticks with her husband now that he is plain Monsieur Sarkozy.