Saturday, December 16, 2006

Public Spectacles


No, not the things you wear on your nose. When I was preparing for priesthood I was given some very sensible advice. By and large, the traditional recommendation is that priests should avoid public spectacles and shows.
Before any priests reading this huff and puff with indignation - it's not an absolute rule and it certainly doesn't bind under pain of sin! It's a recommendation and, I think, a sensible one. Public spectacles require time and, usually, money. We are visible (at least if we go wearing the collar) and our presence might be the cause of some admiratio, or even discomfort (I remember a young female parishioner describing her embarassment at sitting next to an elderly priest at a West End show when topless dancing girls came on the stage).

Time is an important factor, particularly when there seems to be so little of it going round these days. As priests we have to get a lot of things done in what's left of the day.On the whole, therefore, it's a sensible recommendation and one which I usually try to stick to. However... sometimes it's good to get away and so today I was at a football match. Not any old match mind, if you're going to break a norm it's worth doing it in stile. So today I was watching Liverpool (whom I support) playing Charlton (towards whom I'm indifferent). I was in the middle of the Charlton crowd, just behind the goal. Whenever Liverpool came down our end to score I found myself on my feet while all the Charlton supporters stayed seated - certainly some admiratio there!
The crowd was well-behaved although on hearing the language I though a Confessional outside the gates would have been appropriate. I did notice some interesting things. Liverpool has a chant that consists in singing 'Liverpool' ten times - we've all heard it. The Charlton chant, however, consists of a couple of taps on the chairs to make a drumming noise followed by 'Charlton' sung twice which is about the amount of time it took them to lose possession of the ball.

The other great revelation was the loyalty of their supporters many of whom gave up by about two thirds of the way through the game.
Liverpool, of course, won 3-0. A good day out that didn't cost me anything as I was treated by a parishioner who couldn't use his season tickets.

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