Tuesday, 13 December 2011

One Virgin, A Sweaty Vicar and the Pursuit of Normal

From 'Cracked Virtue' - another closed blog
Before I start, an apology. Life and its various needs  means that I am scarcely finding time to be a half decent dad, let alone an engaging blogger. I apologise for neglecting you, ever thankful as I am for your continued support. 

Well, the title may have you wondering what is about to emerge before your eyes, but be assured it isn't what you think, so go and wash your minds out with soap and water. 

Several things have come to pass in the last week that have given me cause to consider a line in the sand. Allow me to list those things:

 - Exercise
 - Heat Magazine
 - A kid

There you go; rich blog fodder if there were any. The 'virgin' of the title is the new gymnasium I have joined (Virgin Active Torture Chamber, if you please). Having sold all three of my kidneys to afford to borrow their towels to wipe the sweat from my ontologically changed brow, I can now pootle down there and run a little, sling some iron about, row nowhere and contort my reverential body into to shapes that would amaze you. Do I wish to be some oiled Adonis? Am I the next Iron Man? I am a little overweight, wheezy in the cold, flabby in my cassock and fast approaching 40. What I am pursuing is not excellence - just normality. I am below that standard at the moment, and I will work hard to achieve normal weight and fitness. 

Last week, I languished in a school staff room, not waiting to not be Father Christmas, and taking advantage of the reading material of choice of our educators: Heat Magazine. Scored across the cover of that edition were the semi-clad forms of three Slebs (those younglings who are the love-children of And and Dec, Bruce Forsythe and Obergruppenfuhrer Cowell). That they were half dressed (or half undressed, depending on your perspective) wasn't what drew my eyes (honest), it was that they looked, well, normal. Their 'crime' was that they had stopped dieting. Hold the press, wait a cotton-picking minute, what they are guilty of is enjoying their chow and their penalty is to look, actually, altogether more attractive than Miss Skellington on the next page. Normal shaped women are accused of crimes to femininity these days - shame (and let's face it, normal sized women do more for the feminine curve than a walking rack of ribs). Just saying ...

Then the little lad. After not being Father Christmas at a Christmas Party at the school where I now help out, and after climbing out of the outfit that I wasn't wearing when I wasn't being Father Christmas, I passed a ten year old in the corridor. "I like you", he uttered in passing. "Why is that, fella?" was my interested reply. "You're normal". His mum died a thousand deaths as only the mother of an inveterate heretic could, and apologized for her boy. "No", said I, "his words are a gift to me". And then I cartwheeled home, cock-a-hoop that I had achieved that mystical status after a single assembly.

Normality to some is to be scorned. It speaks, often, of mediocrity and the average. The Gospel, of course, is not one of 'normal', but ministry and life seem often to put some of us behind that line, not ahead of it. Normal? I'll have that!


  1. Way to go, Father David! What a marvelous compliment from your audience - truly 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...'

  2. Attaboy, David! Some of my most cherished compliments during my years in ministry were from children. They say what they feel, not what they think you want to hear.

    Worry not about the blog. How you find time even to think of it let alone write for it in the run-up to your first 'solo' Christmas, I can't imagine. The twins are much more important.

  3. Lovely compliment David, but, if you're normal, there really is hope for us all.

    Only joking honest Mister!

  4. Father, I just hope that you don't overdo the exercise regime. Sports injuries are harder to overcome and those addicted to fitness, suffer stress when they can't exercise.

    I know, I'm a recovering addict. It's taken me 10 years to get over the addiction, and now, I am a normal shape for my age. Flabby, perhaps, but content and normalish -Yes.

  5. I'm with you entirely on the 'normal-as-a-compliment' thing... I love it when people are surprised I'm a vicar... which says a lot for how our culture generally perceives us lot!



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