Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ely-Walsingham 2011: Day 3 (Aftermath)

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Day 3 (Aftermath)
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Day 3 (Aftermath)

Our duties paid to Our Lord and his holy Mother, we pilgrims found ourselves in an ontologically different state. We were no longer pilgrims. We sat down on the grass and gazed at the serene monument of an England that was lost, but that may one day return. The two Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate wandered amongst some of the ex-pilgrims, handing them books. "Oh goody," I thought. "Presents". They spoke to more and more, and I pretended not to notice, waiting for them to come over to me and Bones (who, I think, was pursuing a similar tactic). They got closer... and then they left. Crestfallen, and no longer needing to pretend that I hadn't noticed, I asked the Catholic Youth (who was next to us) what they'd given her. It was a book on vocation. Bones and I both sighed with relief. We hadn't been given books on vocation. Obviously these holy friars were able to read souls and could see that we weren't worthy of a book because we didn't have vocations. We high-fived agreeing that we could marry with impunity. When we mentioned this to the Lady Who Wasn't From Liverpool, we had to clarify that no, we didn't mean that we could marry each other with impunity.

We milled about a bit. There were a whole load of people there, some of whom I knew, but I was still living in a bit of a parallel dimension to all these people who hadn't been walking that I just kind of sat quietly and spoke to my fellow pilgrims. I was a bit anti-social, but I couldn't really handle dealing with anyone who hadn't been to the Lonely Mountain with us. Here are some other people having fun. 

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The ancient priory was about to close, it being late on a Sunday afternoon. I certainly couldn't face walking back to the Slipper Chapel. Neither could anyone else really, except for the noble few who took one for the team and went back to get the bus. As Dr Shawrin Oakenshield, King of the Trads, was carried past in his 8-seater Sedia Gestatoria, we saluted him, "Ave, Rex Tradeorum". For some reason, one of the Company yelled that they wanted some  money (not me this time) - to which we heard the yell, fading into the distance, "No chaaaaaaaance!!!!" I'm not really certain what that was about.

There were about 30 pilgrims hanging around on the street, waiting for Lord Tennond Halfelven to return in the minibus, so we decided to take some promo shots for the LMS. As a lot of them were in cassock and cotta, it rapidly turned into a 'Boys of the LMS' calendar-style photo shoot. I'm quite happy to allow the LMS to take that idea and run it alongside the liturgical wall calendar. Here are some of the pictures:

Messrs January & February

Mr February with Messrs March and April

We also found some teddy bears in need of rescue:


And the Girl Who Wasn't From Liverpool tried dressing up as me:


We stood and we waited and kept our eyes on the skies, watching for the advent of the minibus and Lord Tennond. And lo, upon the horizon came forth what seemed to our sight to be a chariot of the greyest white, the sort of colour that large white vehicles inevitably turn unless they are cleaned daily. But it wasn't the St Bede's minibus. To our horror, it advanced upon Eldest Homeschooled Girl and Younger Homeschooled Girl, and the driver was laughing manically. But he didn't run them down: turns out he knew them. There were two more kids in the bus, and as she had told us that her family got around in such a vehicle, Bones and I asked Eldest Homeschooled Girl if this was her family's bus. She laughed and said that it belonged to a friend of their families. And at that, she and her sister ran off down the street with the other two kids from the bus.

Ronan got out the penitential peanuts and passed them around. The grass grew. Some paint dried. Tumbleweed blew past. Then, with a roll of thunder, Lord Tennond rolled down the street and all of us piled into the bus. Just as we were leaving, the Homeschooled Girls returned and demanded that we open up the bus and let them take their bags out. Begrudgingly, we acquiesced. We shook hands, and bid each other adieu.

We were driven back to the Slipper Chapel, where we paid an emotional tribute and farewell to Fr Rowe. He gave me a blessing, then he blessed some Holy Cards, and the whole Company. We then sang him a lovely song:
"For he's a jolly good fellow bishop, for he's &c &c".
We said 'Cheerio' to the fellow pilgrims, including Chap Who Bought The Haribo Because the Queue Was Long And I Had the Exact Money and the Family Who Weren't From Liverpool. I've just worked out where they were from by the way. It's Wirral. That is lucky for them.

Now. We hadn't really had lunch. I and Bones had had that Cream Tea. But we'd not eaten. Now Nonso, he had an iPhone and had the McDonalds' App, and he used this to get us totally lost and to make Feras miss his train. Lord Tennond was starting to get a bit irritated, so we kicked Nonso and Feras overboard, and Lord Tennond zoomed us into London, whipping the horses like Christopher Lee in a Hammer Dracula film. We could hear the fell voices of wolves howling on the wind. Hunger was taking hold, and we were all terrified; the sun was falling on the horizon, painting the sky an ominous crimson. Bones was crying and I was so famished that I fell asleep.

When I awoke, we were in the car park of a McDonalds drive-thru. We got out of the bus to walk into the restaurant, but it was about 2300hrs on a Sunday night, so they were closed. Instead we had to order from the drive-thru. Because there were so many of us and we had to pay individually, we lined up on foot in the freezing cold to order. Bones wandered off to buy some chocolate, leaving me in charge of buying his meal and mine (he paid - cheers bro). Lord Tennond got a bit confused in his order, not used to this food eaten by mortal men. My teeth were chattering, and so the obvious choice of beverage was an ice-cold milkshake. Good one!

One of the pilgrims had donated some money for drinks, but in his ineffable wisdom, Smeaton the Grey had decided that we needed to buy a massive bag of chips instead. We sat in the bus munching away. Food had never tasted so good. Well, it had tasted a lot better on the pilgrimage when Mrs Shaw had been involved, but unfortunately all good things come to an end.

I had been intending on returning home that evening, but as the night had advanced so quickly, I very unsubtly got Smeaton the Grey to invite me round. Bones wound up staying as well, along with the two Australians. We were very near his home, Minas Smeaton, which is a type of watch-tower/fortress located in the heart of the geo-political epicentre of the Culture of Death. We were received into this ancient and besieged stronghold by Smeaton the Elder.

Smeaton the Elder

The heavy weight of his daily struggle with the forces of evil and the Culture of Death showed no sign of having wearied him, as he jovially gave us all a cup of tea and discussed the weekend's adventures. After his father retired, Smeaton the Grey ordered me to make him (the Grey) a bed out of sofa cushions and a sheet. "It better be good," he snarled. "Or else". Seeing as he was giving me hospitality, and I was getting the sofa bed, I didn't feel too inclined to argue. We bid goodnight to the Australians, and I lay down and slept the best night's sleep in days.

Nearly finished! Continues with Day 4

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