Sunday, April 11, 2010

Springtime at last

When I arrived in Wells on Friday evening, Adrian and Alex were already there, Adrian fighting the effects of the overnight flight from Vancouver and jet lag and Alex, altogether sprightlier, having only had to collect him from Gatwick.

Saturday we drove down to the Glastonbury B&Q in search of a new shed. Having had no success we ordered online and in the afternoon we had a family day out at Burnham on Sea which is I guess our nearest seaside town, around 20 miles distance and 45 minutes travel-time.

‘What's the difference between B-o-S and St. Tropez?’ Clare asked. I guess about £100,000 per annum per head annual income and the shops to match. However the sand was warm and the donkeys were out, the ice cream was good and the sea-front pub congenial. We'll go again when it's warmer and take a picnic.

This Sunday morning Clare and myself attended 9 a.m. Mass where the priest gave an astonishingly numerological homily on the numbering of days of the week. Apparently the ancients started counting ("1") on the day there were at, so the same day the following week was numbered "8". Hence 'on the 8th day' really means 'today-week'. I never knew that.

I speed read Phillip Pullman's really excellent book "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" which is a rationalist retelling of the new testament. It's full of deadpan humour in the early chapters but builds up to a damning critique both of Jesus' own maximalist doctrines (insofar as we can recover them through historical scholarship) and the Pauline construction/ reconstruction of 'Christianity' to the point where it became the propaganda ministry of the Roman Empire after Constantine (a model it has basically stayed with ever since).

Pullman's hatred of hypocrisy shines through as well as his piercing intelligence. Pilate is the hard man you expect - no letting the Romans off lightly for political reasons - and the high priest Caiaphas is only gently mocked for his role as having to please all his constituents including his Roman masters. As diplomats always remind us, it may be a weaselly job but someone does in fact have to do it.

This afternoon we confirmed the new shed will be delivered on Thursday (it’s of resin construction and should last about as long as Wells Cathedral) and Alex demolished the old, rotting one.

We spent the afternoon wandering the edge of Chew Valley Lake, crowded with people keen to enjoy the car park, toilets and burger cafe. There were few other attractions although we did see a pair of old chaps in mute adoration of a not-very-distinguished motorbike. They were still there 45 minutes later after we returned from our muddy ‘nature trail’ walk.

I suggested to Clare that I could buy a big hog – one of those with his ‘n’ her recliner type seats – and we could cruise around Somerset with her on the back. She seemed to suggest that I would allow it to fall over and would not be able to right it again (which given their weight is likely true).

We moved on to our next plan.