This is the last day of teaching in my BTh classes at Regent’s which means these may be my last lectures, ever (depending on how my job search turns out). My Regent’s students have been very good, very generous and patient, and I greatly appreciate having been given the chance to work here this year. Here’s to whatever comes next!
Last evening the [Oxford] Graduate Christian Union had its weekly meeting, for which their Secretary conducted an interview with me. I think the interview went very well — the group was willing to listen through what I proposed, and seemed to recognised some of the problems I cited in the ways that biblical studies — as an articulated discipline — operates. And they laughed at me a lot, which shows that they had a keen sense of how risible my ideas are. A splendid time was had by all, they gave me a delightful wee gift bag from M&S (chocolate, jam, hand cream, and spiced apple infusion — Margaret thinks I should speak with them every week), and I tottered home around ten o’clock. After my second ends lecture at 5:00 tonight, I have no what-you’d-call extracurricular activities till Friday, and my weary aching bones are eager for that rest….
We hadn’t spent significant time with the Feeneys for donkey’s ears, so this overnight visit to Wolverhampton only just began refreshing the connections that time has allowed to grow paler. Our hearts were fed as we caught up on shared sympathies through turbulent years, and news of our younger Feeney friends. My sermon at the patronal Mass seemed to satisfy the congregation, and we got the chance to greet my former student supervisee Fr Ross Brooks at Evensong last night.
Then we struck out to introduce Flora and Minke to National Rail, which they navigated with about as much grace as we could reasonably ask of a hyperanxious Yorkie and a placid, if occasionally peevish, Malt-Apso. Our train to Oxford was cancelled because earlier in the day a passenger fell ill (there must be more to the story, but the public remains in the dark about the rationale). We then had to catch a train to Birmingham New (the blood runs cold) to catch the last direct train to Oxford at 20:01 — which we would have caught had the up-to-the-second digital signage that told us ‘This train is on time — arrival 19:51’ hadn’t kept on saying that for ten minutes as we waited on a siding outside the station until the train finally pulled up to Platform 4. We got to Platform 1a well after the Oxford train had left.
First the GWR passenger desk steered us to the National Rail Customer Reception desk, which then steered us to a train to London Euston which stops at Banbury (and dozens of other small stations for towns I didn’t even know existed); at Banbury we waited for a (late)… Rail Replacement Bus (cue the Wilhelm Scream). Ten or fifteen minutes after the bus was set to arrive, we boarded the bus from Banbury to Oxford, and rolled into Oxford just after a 5 bus departed the bus ranks at Oxford Station. Another twelve minutes on, the next bus arrived; and about ten minutes after midnight we staggered through the front door and, in very short order, keeled over into our beds.
This morning we attended the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Wolverhampton, where our very dear friends Fr Damian and Fiona Feeney preside from a beacon-top from which you could see Russia, if the earth didn’t curve and the atmosphere were clearer and those pesky trees would move aside a bit. I was preacher for their patronal Mass, which went very satisfactorily. It has been spectacular and heartening to spend time with our wonderful Feeneys, for Damian and me to talk shop, and for Minke and Flora to visit Wolverhampton (they haven’t come, and won’t come, to the vicarage, since Noot outweighs the two of them together, and Fitz outweighs the three others, possibly by double).
Back to Ox tonight, back to the coal face in the morning….
I only ran one mile this morning — plantar fasciitis has come back, with genuine commitment. I’ve had problems with my plantar fascia before, so I recognise the symptoms; the main question concerns what to do about it. My trainers are probably at the end of their lifespan; this will mark the first time I’ve worn out the cushioning of a pair of shoes before I wore out the sole, but by now this pair has run an appreciable distance; I think I bought it before the pandemic, so that’s probably four years ago. That’s a lot of running.
I should refresh my insoles, too, for my work shoes — not that I’ll be walking in to Regent’s every day for much longer. But I’ll give my feet a break for a few days, much as I hate to, to see whether the fasciitis subsides.
Today Margaret and I head to Wolverhampton, where I’ll preach for the patronal of Fr Damian’s parish, The Most Holy Trinity, Ettingshall. I have a notion for the sermon, but after preaching (briefly) Thursday and (fully) yesterday, I feel as though I’m pressing my luck…
Two days, no running, long travel, preach + interview, return, full day of academic activity, preach, get ready for rttravel tomorrow, preach Sunday, collapse in a heap. That’s the story.