“When are you retiring?” people have been asking me for the past year or so. I have now
written to Bishop Joanna to inform her that I shall be retiring on 31 August this year (taking
my last fortnight off in lieu of holiday, to help with the move to our new home).
What do vicars do when they retire? My mother had two great-uncles who were clergymen.
Great-uncle Bolingbroke was from the (Anglican) Church of Ireland, but served as an army
padre in India (the troops called him ‘Holy Boley’). Retiring to Ireland he took up motoring
with great enthusiasm, driving around Dublin at great speed. As he had never taken a
driving test, and was extremely short-sighted, he left a trail of chaos behind him. In 1950s
Ireland anyone wearing a dog collar was assumed to be a Roman Catholic priest, and could
therefore do no wrong. Whenever the gardaí (Irish police) saw ‘Holy Boley’ careering the
wrong down a one-way street, they would simply wave him on with a cheerful smile.
Great-uncle Eustace was a stratospherically High Church vicar in Montgomeryshire,
renowned for his saintliness and greatly loved by his parishioners. His marriage was (so my
mother tells me) never consummated. After his wife’s death great-uncle Eustace retired to
an English seaside resort. My grandmother was soon bombarded with scandalised letters
from his neighbours. A lively landlady had both brought his years of celibacy to a sudden
end, and introduced him to the delights of Guinness. I met him once on the prom at Frinton.
He wore a straw boater tipped at a rakish angle, a striped blazer and an enormous smile.
I have always been a reluctant driver. Helen will be my landlady (it’s her house) and she only
allows me a bottle of Guinness on St Patrick’s Day. I’m therefore unlikely to follow in my
great-uncles’ footsteps. I have several unfinished books to complete, and will be trying to
improve my Armenian (I’m a trustee of the new Welsh Armenian Cultural Centre in Cardiff).
Retired clergy are not what they used to be, I’m afraid (perhaps it’s just as well!).
Thank you to my colleague Delyth for making all our Christian Aid Week arrangements.
SERVICES: Sunday 16 May (Ascension 1) 9.15am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church (p.145);
11am Services in Llangunnor & Newchurch; 5pm GWASANAETH CYMRAEG UNEDIG
WYTHNOS CYMORTH CRISTNOGOL ar ZOOM (dan ofal Y Parch Delyth Richards, pregethir
gan Y Parch Ddr Ainsley Griffiths); 6pm UNITED ENGLISH CHRISTIAN AID WEEK SERVICE on
ZOOM (with Canon Ann Howells); Wednesday 19 May 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ
Church (p.287); Sunday 23 May (Pentecost/Sulgwyn) 8am Service in Llangunnor; 9.15am
HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church (p.147); 11yb CYMUN BENDIGAID ar ZOOM; 5pm ZOOM
EVENING PRAYER. Seats for Sunday services in church have to be pre-booked because of
limitations caused by social distancing. Please contact ROSEMARY BOWEN (English
services) to ensure a place.