Sunday, September 06, 2009

Casting off

Laying down the staff
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Yesterday the Bishop of Argyll ceremonially signalled the end of his episcopate by laying his staff and mitre on the altar of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Oban. And with that sentence I lay aside any obligation to write sensibly about the event and free myself to blog as usual.

It poured, of course. It would seem unnatural this summer not to be scurrying through the puddles of Oban, not to be sitting in one's mac all through the service for warmth - or even, in the case of the unfortunate Dean, for protection from the rain which dripped on his head and his notes during the sermon. (And you wonder why they wear these big copes? Wonder no more). People had that windswept look - for there was also quite a gale blowing - that defies any attempt at glamour; there were two exceptions to this, whose photos appear on my flickr stream, but the rest of us had given up. Fleeces, trousers, cagoules - and these strange Masai warrior shoes which seem to have been taken up by the Argyll piskies, who will surely all be slim of thigh by the end of this dreadful summer.

The service was not without its hilarious moments. The ringer of the bell at communion may have broken his stays with his vigour (the obvious result was a coil of rope descending around him in an apocalyptic fashion) and the public address system had developed its own variety of flu and burbled alarmingly and at random. The Dean's sermon seems to have hijacked the Synod Clerk's farewell speech, so the latter improvised a variety of sermon which had us all - including the Bishop - on the edge of our various seats. The congregational singing was somewhat tentative - maybe in anticipation of a future without +Martin's wonderful voice - and we received communion in bread only, because we still, apparently, fear contamination from the flu.

That said, there was a great deal of illicit embracing at the end of the service, and a palpable sadness at the imminent departure of Martin and Elspeth. And yes, I too will be sad to see them go - but delighted to see another of my friends reach the sunny uplands of retirement and canter off into freedom. Thanks to +Martin's efforts, he is not, as Richard Holloway predicted five years ago, the last Bishop of Argyll, and we shall soon begin the process of looking for his successor. But take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again. Quote, anyone?


  1. In my mind's eye, Horatio.

  2. Well said, old mole! Canst work i' the earth so fast?

  3. Can't we just steal him for Glasgow and Galloway for the next 5 years and to hell with protocol?

  4. PKOban4:45 PM

    The bell (and the ringer) were stayless. The penance was going up on the roof this morning to fix it. Why can't a pal of yours be Bish of G&G?

  5. Because I want my pals to enjoy a restful retirement - just like me!