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Mustn’t Grumble

It’s Good Friday – A time when christians around the globe ordinarily congregate to mark the crucifixion of Christ – The son of God condemned to death by Pontus Pilate at the request of the Sanhedrin. Jesus’ alleged crime that of claiming to be the King of the Jews, along with a lesser trumped-up charge of misspelling Sanhedrin on his case parchment.

As the world reels under the impact of coronavirus mayhem, though, Easter weekend 2020 will see churches remain closed. Any worshipping to mark Jesus’ death having to be undertaken under strict social distancing edicts.

By no stretch of the imagination have I been a regular church goer in adulthood. Like many folk, my posterior normally only parks on a pew for weddings, christening and funerals. That being said, in middle age my frequent attendance at the latter ceremonies does drag me ever closer to being classed a regular church goer.

In my childhood I attended Cromer Avenue United Reformed Church on Low Fell, Gateshead with other members of the Strachan family – My dad, who’d no strong theist beliefs, stayed home preparing Sunday dinner and listening to The Grumbleweeds on Radio Two.

Footnote – The Grumbleweeds were originally a music band from Leeds, who went on to add comedy sketches to their repertoire; in the process gaining national acclaim. A gloriousness funny act to behold, who amongst their whimsical characters included the wonderfully named Wilf ‘Gas Mask’ Grimshaw.

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United Reformed (UFC) services were less formal than those of High Church. As a boy it seemed to me there was none of the stuffiness and guilt ridden dogma spouted during some christian services. The dress code was also a lot less staid, although cheesecloth and the wearing of Birmingham bags was frowned upon!

Despite his indifferent to all things ecclesiastical, the old man still behaved with a decency advocated in the scriptures. During the 50+ years I’d the privilege of knowing him, I can’t recall him ever uttering a disparaging word about anyone (apart from late 1960’s/70’s TV presenter Hughie Green***), using overly brisk language, encouraging negativity or causing harm to any one.

*** – He seemed to have issues with what he deemed as late Opportunity Knocks presenter Hughie Green’s insincerity…… With me holding similar thoughts about current day TV presenter Richard Madeley, it’s a gene I appear to have inherited.

Malcolm Strachan’s presence underpinned our family synergy with security, stability, love, warmth, shelter and (through his job) cheap meat for sustenance……. And no he wasn’t a shoplifter!

My old man’s existential vices were few, the ones he had only achieving lowly scores on the Malcolm Muggeridge Evilness Scale. Wherever my late dad is now, I’m sure he’ll have been granted redemption for his occasional flutter on the gee gees, fondness for a daily glass of merlot and uncharacteristic dislike of Hughie Green.

That’s if they can be classed as sins. After all, I don’t recall, during 1970’s Sunday School lessons, God’s edicts handed down to Moses included:- ‘Though shalt not have an occasional £2.50 Lucky 15 bet on horses at the East Ardsley bookies’, or ‘Thou shalt not have a pint in the Connie club with thoust spouse on a Sunday lunchtime……. But if thy do order me a pint of Theakstons, t’old lad.’

With pedantry, I suppose you could raise my old man’s flaw of exhibiting OCD behaviour when loaning you stuff. He’d no issue letting you borrow his possessions, however the beneficiary of that kindness risked his wrath if said items weren’t returned in a timely manner.

A perfect example of pater’s OCD his request, in December 2016, to return some ladders I’d recently borrowed from the octogenarian Yorkshireman. As it was made in the middle of his six weeks radiotherapy treatment, this request utterly bemused me. Consequently leading me to surmise Mally had no immediate need for them; his request borne purely from wanting to scratch the itch of me procrastinating over their return.

As he could hardly walk at the time, I didn’t envisage he’d a need for them to wash his upstairs windows, or clear leaves from his guttering. Regretfully, I never got around to returning the ladders before his passing in 2017. They still sit in the garage of my marital home; one of many triggers to fond memories of the man yours truly was proud to call dad, who I miss dearly.

Although you were unlikely to catch my old man in church heartily singing ‘Love Divine, All Love Excelling’ (or indeed any other hymn), I’d guarantee if you’d met him he’d exhibit a deity akin to individuals who do populate kerk pews.

Despite a tough nine years for my family since my estranged wife’s incurable cancer diagnosis, along. with times where my faith has been severely tested, I remain a Christian; subsequently respecting the church and it’s teachings. From memory, there are many good advocacies in the Bible. Enlightenments with positive messages teaching decent behavioural traits.

I don’t pretend adherence to them all, but I’d like to think I can be relied upon to exhibit at least some decent behavioural traits advocated.

If this narrative sounds like a sermon, it isn’t meant to be. I hold neither the ecclesiastical knowledge, nor the consistency of good behavioural traits to preach to anyone. These are merely my high level religious ramblings on this Holy day. In particular my opinion that a good Christian proves it by his actions, not words.

Anyhow, I need to bring this to a conclusion as I’ve the front and back lawns to mow.

Endeavour to have a good Easter, folks!….. Even though that’ll be a challenge under COVID-19 lockdown which, with the spite of the Sanhedrin, hovers globally…….. Incidentally, does anyone want to buy a set of ladders?

 

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