Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Dusk in Lichfield on an
evening in late October
After a working day in Oxford today [Wednesday 30 October 2013], visiting theological colleges and meeting colleagues who teach in similar areas, I had a little time to walk around Oxford before catching a train and heading north, preparing for tomorrow’s visit to Nottingham.
North of Oxford, as the train headed towards Banbury and on to Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham, the lands and fields were covered in surface water after the storms that swept across England last weekend.
At Shenstone, south of Lichfield, horses were placid in the bright autumn afternoon, apart from one who pranced and danced in a field beside the train, as though he was born to race the pony express.
I was in Lichfield this evening in time for Evening Prayer in Lichfield Cathedral, led by the Canon Treasurer, Canon Canon Andrew Stead. He was installed as Canon Treasurer and chaplain of Lichfield Cathedral School early last month [8 September, 2013], and is now living in No 8 Cathedral Close. I stayed in No 8 many times in recent years, when this was a bed and breakfast run by Gill Jones, in rooms looking out at the front onto the west front of the Lichfield Cathedral, or at the back across the gardens planted by Erasmus Darwin to Darwin House.
The readings for Evening Prayer provided an interesting contrast between the absurd amount of wine Holofernes had to drink as he planned to seduce Judith before he was slain by her (Judith 12), and the advice from the Apostle Paul to Saint Titus, the companion he left in Crete, about the amount of wine a bishop should drink (Titus 1).
In the fading lights of evening, I went for a walk in the countryside along Cross in Hand Lane, on the north west edges of Lichfield, strolled up and down Beacon Street two or three times, had a walk through the centre of Lichfield after the shops had downed shutters at the end of the day, stood for a while enthralled by the dim lights and shadows of late October on Minster Pool below Lichfield Cathedral, met a few old friends, and called into the George on Beacon Street, before returning in the late evening to the Hedgehog, where I am staying, on the corner of Stafford Road and Cross in Hand Lane for dinner, shared only with this morning’s edition of the Guardian.
Tomorrow is a long working day in Nottingham. But for many years I have felt at home and at ease in Lichfield, and I am looking forward to a quiet day on Friday, spending much of the day in Lichfield Cathedral, celebrating All Saints’ Day [1 November 2013], before catching the last flight from Birmingham International Airport to Dublin.