Weekly Relection 4th-10th October 2009

Posted on: Friday 2nd October 2009

All is safely gathered in…

In spite of a delayed departure from Izmir and a frantic rush through Istanbul Airport to make the connection to London, I can say with pride  that I counted all our Parish Pilgrims out and I counted them all in. Actually, in fairness, the Pastoral Assistant did, he having a better head for figures than me, and besides I was too busy queue-jumping in Duty Free to give my undivided attention to the flock (mea culpa). Anyway, we all made it safely back to London, but I wonder how many, like me, unpacked their bags with a slightly deflated feeling. I often get it after being away, not because of post-holiday (or post-pilgrimage) blues, but because of the disappointment I feel when I discover that the souvenirs of my trip, arranged on the dining table, don’t quite measure up to my expectations.

I’ve learned to be more disciplined about this since touring in pop bands, when you would often find yourself in airports with fistfuls of unspent per diems in nine different currencies, and nothing to buy but appalling local delicacies and dolls in national costume. We were once detained by the usually liberal Customs regime at RAF Northolt on our return from – I can’t remember where – who confiscated from our luggage vodka which might very easily have fuelled our flight home, gourmet bonnes-bouches made from endangered species protected in four continents, and decommissioned military hardware.

I try to be more careful souvenir shopping now, but in spite of that, on Sunday night as I pulled from its bubble wrap an Iznik tile I’d bought in Istanbul, I felt that disappointment rise again. It had looked so good in the shade of the Church of the Holy Redeemer, and the Armenian lady (I think she was a lady) who sold it to me was liberal with the apple tea and tireless in negotiation. In the end I rushed it, more anxious to get away than to acquire the tile, and it sits now in the kitchen while I think what to do with it. It is certainly a handsome piece, with peacocks and pomegranates in lovely Iznik blues and reds, but it doesn’t really go with anything else. I was drawn to it because it reminded me of a tile I’d seen in the harem of the Topkapi Palace; but the Curate’s flat is not provided with a harem, and the utility room is hardly its match in glamour. What on earth will I do with it? I can’t really sneak it in with the Harvest Offerings… hang on… Eureka! The Parish Jumble Sale, Saturday October 24th from 9.30 in the Parish Hall, 77 Kinnerton Street (the early bird catches the worm…)

Fr Richard Coles, Curate