Thurifer turns on the wireless
I am among those sad cases who wake up to Today on Radio 4 and stick with it despite provocations. I switch off, physically or consciously, at Thought for the Day. I lose interest when answers begin, ‘so’ and at the first mention of ‘going forward.’ This exchange hit a new low and undermined what little confidence I have left in my fellows. Asked to explain the organisation ‘Class Act’ which, no doubt, does estimable work in the University of Oxford, the interviewee replied: ‘erm, so Class Act is a, um, new campaign, um, as part of the Oxford Students’ Union. Um, we basically try in support and represent students from working class, low income state comprehensive educated and first generation backgrounds and currently at the University. Um so, um, people like all of the people, um, on the committee that kind of um, thought um when setting up the campaign that we didn’t have um the the kind of support and um, um, kind of information um we needed once we started at um, university. Um, supporting socially um is one thing erm that I think quite often go missed by the University um simply because it’s not necessarily its own domain um the University is an academic institution, um, so kind of, um, having lots of people already, um because they come from backgrounds more likely to send the people to the University erm to you know the way we ym as as a campaign can kind of work against that ourselves is by creating social events um and and networks ourselves as being um our buddy system which we’ve um which we’ve set up has got some attention um in in the national press, um which has, um, been basically a um, um, a very simple idea to, to people along with people that kind of share share their backgrounds.’ Asked about the individual’s own background: ‘Um, I’m from um Manchester from low income background um, um, my parents so are my dad came from a kind of mining community to the used to work down the mine but both my parents moved to Manchester and I just went to a normal school state comprehensive school um both my parents did go to university a um like of the campaign had parents who didn’t, um, and I think that was a privilege for me but no awareness of Oxford would be like before I applied.’ Asked what ought to be done: ‘Very good question. Difficult question. Um something that so that David Lammy, um whose whose now who kind of done this research and come up with a series of reforms some of these are really useful, um, the idea of more proactive, erm access work is a really really helpful one, um so work that goes directly into communities to help to help people kind of know that that Oxford could be for them. Um, I think access isn’t the entirety of the problem because there there is a lot of, um, of resources put there what we try to do is try and change the image of the University itself, so yeah.’
I live almost next door to a Quaker Meeting House. Its notice board bears the legend: ‘In the silence and stillness of a Quaker meeting our shared experience deepens our connection to one another and to God.’ Between 11 and 12 on Sunday morning (demarcated for them by the chimes of the parish church’s clock) that is true, I expect. It is, however, the only hour of the week when I am guaranteed never to be in my luxury apartment. For the rest of the week it is the noisiest building in the borough, rented out to a variety of toddlers’ groups, keep-fit aficionados, assorted clangers and bangers, screamers and shouters. Add that to the noise of scaffolding being put up and taken down at regular intervals, the scraping of plastic toys at a nearby nursery, basements being excavated every five minutes, and the destruction of a block of flats to be replaced by a newer and more expensive block of gilded apartments, life is less than tranquil in my leafy suburb. Elsewhere in London town, at Marble Arch, another development is underway where you can obtain for several squillions of pounds a ‘prestige apartment’ at a ‘landmark address.’ Form an orderly queue.
A correspondent sent this piece of deathless prose issued by the Vocations Officer of the Diocese of London: ‘You will be aware [he was not] that vocations to ordained ministry is a national imperative and that the national church has launched the Great Vocations Conversation encouraging each minister to commit to having at least one conversation each month about vocations with someone different from themselves.’ And it is writ large on the website in similar terms. I suspect that the ability to make such a statement means that they lack the ability to understand why it is so risible.
As I am in grumpy mood: Hampstead Heath hosted an Affordable Art Fair recently. All art is affordable. Even da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was affordable to a Saudi prince. I suspect there was little or nothing under a fiver, even a tenner.
Apologies: predictive text or auto-correct marred April’s Diary. Malaga’s processional route is the alameda and the spontaneous praise is a saeta. Thanks to reader Jeremy Dutton for spotting them.