Monday, August 8, 2011

A LUNCH, A LUNCH, A DINNER, AND A DINNER

Here it is! My People Magazine style post in which I show off the beautiful and very important celebrity people I met in England.

LUNCH 1

The first three photos were taken at The New Inn in Salisbury earlier in the day in which we visited Salisbury Cathedral and heard the choir from St Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California, sing Evensong. Our friend susan s. is a member, and the choir sang beautifully at the service.

 
Tah-dah! Our own susan s.!

And what a joy it was to meet susan after conversing with her for years and years on the internet. She was just as I expected, only taller, but just as smart, sassy, and witty as she is online. And look at that fast-moving hand! The camera couldn't keep up.

Laura asked that her photo be taken down, and, of course, I respect her wishes. I should have asked permission first, but I thought since she had her photo on her blog, she would not mind.

Laura, of the blog Lay Anglicana, arranged for the luncheon at The New Inn and she and her husband Robert, pictured below, kindly treated us all to lunch. Laura is another humble lay person, who is firmly opposed to the Anglican Covenant, and dares to speak out against the document. What a breath of fresh air she was when she appeared on the blogging scene. Let no one say, 'What do lay folks know? They should fill the collection plates, fill the pews, and otherwise stay quiet.' I have news for them. We know a lot more than you think we know.

 
Above, Laura's charming and gentlemanly husband, Robert, listens patiently to me as I rattle on. Robert is not part of the blogging scene but is nevertheless an excellent luncheon companion and an attentive listener. He seemed quite interested in my responses to his intelligent and informed questions about life in south Louisiana. We also chatted a bit about the Anglican and Episcopal Churches.

LUNCH 2

 
Me (laughing hysterically) and the newlyweds, Alan and Lesley Fellowes Crawley.

Lesley blogs at (Surprise!) Lesley's Blog, and she sometimes pemits Alan to write a word or two on her blog. The two love birds make a beautiful couple. How grand to meet them. They were on their way home from Alan's daughter's graduation, and they generously made time for a long lunch with Erika, Cathy, and me. Cathy is cropped out of the pictures by her own request.

 
Me, Alan, and Erika.

Alan was outnumbered 4 to 1, by women, but we were kind enough to let him get in a word or two edgewise from time to time. I gave Lesley a bit of advice on training husbands and cautioned her that it is the work of a lifetime. After 50 years, Grandpère still will not heel.

Lesley's and Alan's photos do not do them justice. Both are quite good-looking, but the camera does not come close to doing justice to their fine appearance. On a side note, I like the picture above of me better than any taken in recent memory. Thank you, Lesley.

I sometimes wondered if Cathy was bored with all our church talk, since she's not so caught up in Anglican/Episcopal affairs as the rest of us. Hardly anyone is, except we mad few. She said no, but perhaps she was just being polite.

DINNER 1

 
Bishop Alan Wilson and me.

Alan, the Bishop of Buckingham, blogs at (Surprise again!) Bishop Alan's Blog. See how the heavenly light shines down on me when I sit near a bishop. God approves. MadPriest says I never shut up, but I can tell you that Alan gave me a good run. He's no slacker in the talk department, but he's great fun and a fine dinner companion. Also, he's a bishop who is a breath of fresh air, as those of you who read Alan's blog or follow him on Facebook already know.

 
The lovely Susan, Erika's beloved, and the lovely Rosie Harper are pictured above. Rosie is vicar of Great Missenden and chaplain to the bishop of Buckingham. What are the duties of a chaplain to the bishop? I expect one of them is to tell him what to do. Rosie also serves as a member of General Synod of the Church of England and, along with Alan, writes for the Guardian's 'Comment Is Free' feature. Last I heard Rosie was on holiday in the south of France.

Erika, Alan, and Rosie arranged the dinner at the Eagle Tavern in Little Coxwell, which was approximately half way between Erika and Susan's home and where Alan and Rosie live. Rosie and Alan were mystery personages to Cathy and me until we arrived at the pub. What a pleasant surprise when we found out their identities.

Dinner 2

 
Tracy Terry, who blogs as Petty Witter at Pen and Paper, and me. We had dinner at Marco Polo in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where we dined on tasty Italian dishes. Others at table were Neal, Tracy's beloved, who blogs as Themethatisme at Conscientisation, Paul Bagshaw, who blogs under his own name at Not the Same Stream, Chris, and Jane and Jonathan Hagger, aka as MadPriest, who blogs at Of Course I Could Be Wrong. The bright celebrity lights were shining that night!

 
Flat Stanley and me, with Paul back there in the shadows with his wife Chris hiding behind his shoulder. Tracy takes Flat Stanley everywhere with her and photographs him at every opportunity. How cool that I had my picture taken with the famous Stanley.

A few of the folks at our dinner that evening are camera shy, but I forgot all about taking pictures that evening anyway. In fact, I didn't take many pictures of people in our gatherings during the trip, because I'm interested in talking and listening, and I tend to forget the camera.

Once again, there was a lot of church talk, and I'm quite sure that certain people at the table were bored silly. Those of us who are fascinated and enthralled by the church scene probably come off as a bit strange, and we should exercise more restraint in mixed company. Erika suggests that all dining tables that seat more than four people should be round, because, in that situation, everyone can talk to everyone else, and those who are not particularly interested in one conversation are free to talk to someone else. I agree.

My readers, I know this post is long, very long, and it may put your attention span to the test, but think of it as similar to an article in People Magazine, although it's probably longer than most People articles. And, all joking aside, please do not think of the post as a brag, for I take great pleasure in incarnational encounters with blog friends whom I've come to know online. I experience few surprises when I meet folks face to face, because nearly all of them turn out to be very much as I expected.

Whoops! Before I finish, I must drop three more celebrity names with - Alas! - no photos. I had a delightful lunch with Jonathan Clatworthy, of Modern Church, at Prezzo, an Italian restaurant near Euston Station in London, while he was between trains. Our lunch lasted nearly three hours. Then I had lunch with Chris Hansen at Balans Restaurant, which I'm told is the gayest restaurant in all London, (They almost didn't let me in!) which, once again, lasted for nearly three hours. And last, but surely not least, Simon Sarmiento, of Thinking Anglicans, generously took time out of his busy schedule to share coffee with me at a café near the South Kensington Underground station.

If I've left out any English celebrities, please let me know, and I will make the proper acknowledgment.

UPDATE: I knew I'd leave someone out. Renz reminded me that I'd left out Celebrity Jack, who blogs at Why Do We Have To Do This, Sir? Jack and I had coffee and supper at a café in Headingley, and we were joined later by his daughter Anna. I was deputized to give Jack hugs from a good many folks, so I rolled them all together and gave him one big hug from me and from everyone.