Thursday, 2 July 2009

Twenty years ago today

It was a Sunday and the previous day I had gone to the ordination of three female anglican friends who were ordained deacons in the Church of England at St Paul's Cathedral in London - we had trained together in Oxford. I was about to be ordained to the word and sacrament of my church, they were not sure when they would be ordained to the sacrament of their church. The photo of two of them was on the front page of many newspapers embracing one another in joy the day the Church of England finally said yes to women priests several years later. By then I was in France.
But twenty years ago today I was staying in Hackney, in Dr B's Greenwood Road flat. In the morning I went to the eucharist at the wonderful St Michael and All Angels London Fields, where the priest and his female curate always made a point of dividing up the liturgy in a way that meant that he only ever said those bits that canon law prescribed had to be said by a priest - they did that week in, week out for years as we waited for women to be ordained to the priesthood. And they say resistance is pointless, what do they know?
Anyway before church a group of us set off for birthday breakfast (for me) at the Colombia Row flower market, cream cheese bagels and big mugs of coffee. Just before I set out I received a phone call from Dr B saying "oh do be back at 9.30, I should be able to phone you then" - I was a bit peeved. Remember that - the days before sms and mobiles and the internet?
So I rushed back from my early morning birthday breakfast to speak to my beloved. Unlocking the door to the flat I thought to myself, that's strange that looks like Stephen's jacket. And there he was, he'd been phoning from Dover not from Brussels and had taken the overnight boat to spend my birthday with me. We rushed off to church together and arrived only 5 minutes late, after he'd told me about the difficult time they'd given him at customs, a single man carrying strawberries, champagne and and a packet of condoms but not much else. Very suspicious.
Nearly half a lifetime ago and much to give thanks for.
Seven weeks later on the night we discovered I could get over the Berlin wall and he could not we got engaged ...
Read about the wonderful murals at St Michaels and All Angels here.