Chair's July Blog: Here's to a Summer of Stories, Prayer, Praise and Thanksgiving
’’He grinned, “So you see, it's eloquence that gets you out of trouble.’”
The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane
July! I love this month. It’s the best month of the year. This is the month when the last weeks of the summer term tumble over each other in a riot of picnics, summer fetes and sports days. Life is more ‘outside’ and relaxed, holidays are on the horizon and everyone just seems friendlier.
My children are all grown now, but I remember that glorious day when we would bring the bags and lunch boxes and artwork and cardboard-box science models home for the last time (for 6 weeks anyway). And we would pack up the blue camper van and set off on our adventures - leaving permission slips, project deadlines and attainment targets as a distant memory - oh joy!
Sometimes, the summer holidays included a CPW, but not always. For a short period - after a particularly wet camping holiday in Scotland - we followed the sun Southwards for summer, picking up our CPW ‘fix’ at the Easter week instead. Each of the school holidays had a different ‘feel’ to them. In those days, if there had been a half-term CPW I would have loved it.
February half-term was ‘the museum one’. The Natural History Museum and the V&A in London were our favourites. They always had a theme for the half term, and a children’s trail to follow. Best of all though, was the Story Room. Somewhere, in the upper levels of these labyrinthine buildings, if you knew where to look, would be a wondrous creature : a spinner of tales; a magician of memory who captivated listeners of all ages with stories of such originality than none was ever heard twice.
I am still captivated by stories wherever they emerge. This summer I am reading Robert Macfarlane’s ‘The Old Ways’ in which his sailing companion, Ian, tells him the story of the Blue Men of the Minch,
‘In poor weather, or big seas,’ he said, ‘the Blue Men would come for your boat.’ They would haul themselves-embodiments of storm and high water, malicious mermen - dripping onto the deck ready to pull you down. ‘But then, he said, ‘they give you a single chance. The leader of the Blue Men will cast you a rope. What he’ll do is he’ll throw you a line of verse and one by one, everyone on board, from the skipper down, needs to offer a reply in like rhythm and metre. If one man fails, well then you’ve had your chance, and the vessel is pulled down to the seabed with all its men drowned. If by some chance all can answer poetically, well, then the ship is freed and the Blue Men…slide away to find another victim.’ He grinned. ‘So you see, it’s eloquence that gets you out of trouble.’
It is not might, nor money, but the power of words that ‘gets us out of trouble’. But we know this. We are followers of The Word, of a master storyteller who encourages us to share our stories, as he did, with friends on the road to Emmaus. As we meet, greet, walk and talk with each other this summer, may the eloquence of our speakers, and of our response to one another, fill this glorious month with our prayer, praise and thanksgiving.
Anne Dixon, CPW Chair