I don’t like men, I never have done. I didn’t have many male friends in school and was never one of the lads. Going down to the pub with the boys is something that I’ve never done. Let them go, I’d rather stay behind with their wives and girlfriends.
I don’t actually hate men, I’ve just never really wanted or felt any need to be with them. But just occasionally, someone, a man, comes along who I actually get on with.
And earlier this evening was a case in point.
I met Philip by pure chance. We happened to be in the same place, doing the same thing. It involved being in a shop. It also involved coffee. Now normally if a stranger strikes up conversation with me in a public place, then my guard is up. Are they trying to sell me something? Are they trying to steal something from me? Are they trying to draw me in, so as to help prop up their point of view?
But for some reason I had no such concerns about the non-Irish, Dara O’Briain look-a-like who was now chatting with me like an old friend. I was fascinated by him and was soon trying to guess his trade. I suspected something in the arts, probably theatre, certainly not techy, but maybe costume design. His look up to heaven at this suggestion told me he was having an “Oh if only” moment. He was funny and very quick. In response to my “oh I can see you on the stage” was immediately answered with “what, sweeping it?” I liked him, I was warming to him quickly, he had a natural ease about him. Having established that he wasn’t in costume design (but would love to have been) and wasn’t a director (but would love to have been) and wasn’t the dame in panto (but would ……) I finally cracked it. He was a Roman Catholic priest.
There then followed just the most entertaining couple of hours talking about our favourite church music, our shared love of organ music, a fabulous discussion on the mechanics of church organs where I was able to offer some advice on a problem his church was having with their organ, funerals, our mutual love of thick clouds if incense and church vestments (remember I mentioned his costume design bent)? And he told about two of his particular favourite pieces which I’d simply never heard of, namely :
His church is in Kent and I doubt we’ll see each other again, but that encounter lifted my spirits in a way I couldn’t begin to describe. I didn’t tell him anything about my current low-ebb, the pit of isolation and despair I’ve fallen into, it didn’t seem important and besides, he was off duty, in civvies. Two strangers, met, clicked, enjoyed each other’s company and finally parted ways.
If someone showed me the CCTV pictures from that coffee-shop and it showed that I was alone all the time, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve no idea what form angels take but if the current fad is to go for the fat, bald, Irish comic look-a-like, then they get my applause.
A lovely lovely man and I think his parishioners probably know just how lucky they are to have him.