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27 June: Intergalactic Exploration XXXVIII: Alien or Englishwoman?

Image from CD

The following day found the three of them walking under the trees in the park, escaping some of the evening wind and keeping a weather eye open for parrots and squirrels. At least Ajax and Alfie were thus occupied, T’s face lit up when he saw a familiar face, Greta from the coffee shop in the old bus near the railway station. She’d been out of work and out of sight for weeks and now here she was, striding around the park in black leotard and pink floral tights with matching trainers.

‘Hello Mr T’, she said, slightly out of breath. ‘I thought you’d disappeared off the face of the earth.’

– ‘What does she mean?’ Alfie flashed. ‘Does she know we are aliens?’ ‘Even more alien than Asian sailors,’ growled Alfie. ‘How can she know?’ ‘Maybe she’s an alien too.’

Greta glanced at her wrist. ‘9, 563 steps so far on this walk. That means I can get my 10,000 before I get home. I have to be there for 5.30 this evening. I’ve been doing at least 10,000 steps a day ever since we were closed.’

– ‘No alien would be walking 10,000 steps, Alfie.’ ‘No? What about the treadmill and weights in the pod?’ – ‘Will you two be quiet!’ flashed T, then let them off the lead.

‘A delivery coming?’ he asked Greta.

‘No, we have an appointment to read bedtime stories to our grandchildren in Gibraltar. We haven’t seen them for months, and we don’t know when we will see them, so three nights a week we read their stories. 5.30 here is 6.30 there, time for bed. I’d better keep moving!’

‘She’s got to be human. No alien that I’ve ever known would obsess about getting 10,000 steps in, and then sit down to read bedtime stories to faraway grandchildren,’ T said to himself.

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August 7: Out of Focus: Saint Anselm


On St. Anselm’s day, back in April, the pupils and staff of St. Anselm’s School celebrated their feast inside Canterbury Cathedral. Watch out when you introduce modern technology into revered places, though! People can get alarmed, and photos go out of focus. I wanted to present the people in the background: Franciscan Study Centre Principal Tom Reist joined the guest preacher, in the centre here, Fr. Dermott Donnelley, who had travelled all the way from Newcastle to share his thoughts. Fr. Derrmott is related to the TV presenters Ant and Dec, which may be why he was thinking about how obsessed people are with celebrities and selfies.

He began his homily by holding up an iphone, to reassure the teenagers that he was not some stuffy, out of touch cleric. What did we think about when we looked at our pictures over and over on Facebook?, he wondered. It’s a bit cheesy, he admitted, but isn’t it as case of ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’? Like Princesses we want others outside our own reality to tell us how fair we are, what we could be, whether out lives matter of not. But that is fatal. It’s just a way of not being our true selves. We mustn’t compare ourselves to other people.  We can end like the foolish man in the reading from Matthew 7: 24-27, who built his house on sand: floods rose, gales blew, and our house crumbled and fell.

So let’s have a rhyme to remember about how not to think:

“Tell me quickly, Instagram!

Who do you really say I am?”
Look inwards and God will show us our genuine self.

It is what St. Anselm himself would encourage, as the foundation in faith: letting Christ bring our true selves back into an authentic focus.



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