Monday, July 10, 2006

Home Front 7 July 2006

I never thought a daughter of mine would turn to me after a TV programme and ask, “So Mum, which is your favourite nun?”

As we unwillingly bid goodbye to Big Sister (aka The Convent, BBC 2), the Poor Clares, whose Arundel convent is the star of the show, have a great deal to be proud of. They have destroyed every unpleasant fantasy misconception about nuns and convents. They have, with their wisdom and perceptive guidance of the four “ordinary” (i.e. only mildly bonkers) women granted the opportunity to live their lives for six weeks, shown that you do not have to be a woman “of the world” to understand the world.

It is impossible to choose, but if we had been asked to send text message votes, Sister Aelred might score as one of our “favourite nuns”. It was she who, in answer to the question “What do you wear under your habits?” gracefully hitched hers up to reveal a bright flowery petticoat.

The programme has been a great hit among my teenage daughter’s friends and now the sisters are sensibly making the most of the experience with information leaflets and an enhanced web presence.

Meanwhile, of the four guests, none are untouched by their experience: even Angela, the competitive businesswoman who couldn’t get into prayer, has been inspired to set up a new company called Clothes4Dogs. Yes, you read that right.

Angela is single and childless, and while in the convent decided to “make the commitment to get a dog, which was something she had always wanted to do but couldn't due to the demands of her job.” She obtained a rescue dog called Daisy and gave up her high-pressure job.

She dotes on Daisy and decided to create a fashion label specially for her. She is much happier now: and I’m certainly not going to be the one who tells her that clothes are simply the last thing dogs want.

So far we’ve had The Monastery…The Convent… someone somewhere must be planning a series doubtless to be called The Seminary. Hey, we could vote for the seminarian we think most likely to get through the seven years and be ordained…

Priest Idol, anyone?

Now that my family is allowing me to think about something other than football, I can relax and give a little sympathy to the poor England team It’s so easy to laugh at all those people with their brave little red and white flags sticking up from their car roofs. As for the footballers…there seems to have been a general belief that the World Cup was theirs for the taking for the sole reason that the year ends in a 6… And they say we Christians are superstitious. It is so easy to laugh at footballers - so let us not.

Let us imagine, instead, what we would do if a pair of Posh’n’Becks lookalikes, in age, tastes, income and lifestyle, were to move into our parish and begin attending our church. How would you greet them? Is there not – be honest – a sizeable majority of the congregation who would derive huge pleasure from sniggering at them behind their backs?

For P’n’B’s weddings, parties and the names and toys they give their children, including a playhouse that would safely accommodate several families of Sudanese refugees, are all ridiculous. Interestingly, people do not laugh at them simply because they are rich. Ever since the word “chav” entered our language, it has become socially acceptable to laugh at people because they are poor, ignorant and have bad taste.

Yet where he was once silly, vain and petulant, Becks is now a dignified, statesmanlike chap with a normal haircut. Watching him pacing nobly onto the pitch last Saturday it occurred to me that possibly Posh has got wind of the fact that, were David to acquire a knighthood, she would become Lady Beckham, and has communicated this desire to him in no uncertain terms.

But perhaps that’s unkind: the bottom line is that they are a solid young couple who have grown and matured. They married first and had children afterwards, in that order. They have shown genuine determination not to let their marital troubles split them up. Posh may boast proudly that she has never read a book, but she shows genuine pleasure in her children, and both work hard for their livings in their way. Yet admit it: if they moved into your village or town, you’d have a good snigger, would you not?

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