Friday, 23 March 2012
Priests need hobbies
Every priest, I was told by a wise priest when I was a boy, needs a hobby. Mine, this year, is learning French. (I might try learning a musical instrument next year though, frankly, time is running out). Every Wednesday evening I join six or seven other people at Leeds Metropolitan University and our excellent teacher Mme Kerr lingusitically stretches us, using a mixture of sentence drills, clips from French TV and radio stations, and photocopies from thought-provoking articles. Our group includes a retired teacher, somebody who works for a wine importer, an English professor, somebody who works for an oil company and an architect. Mme Kerr has a way of eliciting stories from us; you feel that you're letting everybody down if you don't try and recount something interesting which has happened during the course of the week. I last felt like this aged about eight. Perhaps the reason I enjoy our classes so much is that they help me to go back to childhood. Certainly, I get the same thrill now as I did then when a new word appears on the whiteboard (blackboards in my time) and I think, "Great, my knowledge is expanding." I sometimes launch excitedly into half-telling a tale and then get lost in sub-clauses and remember that I don't know key words. I did that when I was eight too. As I head away from the Chaplaincy on Wednesday evenings, I generally hear a student call after me, with due irony, "Au revoir, mon pere." I always dress down for the occasion. Once I didn't have time to change and so appeared in my clericals. "So you are a real one!" one of my fellow students exclaimed.