Saturday 26 September

A big day for my foster grandson Yannis. The much postponed First Communion service. This is a very important occasion in the Catholic church, and he had been attending classes throughout the winter in order to prepare. It should have taken place in May and we had planned a big family party, but like so many events this year, it was not to be. But so as not to delay any longer, the church made careful preparations to celebrate with 3 communicants at a time, with their immediate families. Normally the whole congregation would be present but we were very few in number. There is no singing at church services at present but they had some recordings of hymns and it was good to have some music: only the spoken word does not seem too festive.

Yannis looked very smart: I particularly liked the big boy brogues. The other two communicants were girls, wearing the traditional long white dresses, one with a veil, and both with floral coronets. Like little bridesmaids.

We celebrated by having lunch at Pizza Express, in the statutory group of six. Perhaps the only positive spin-off from these restrictions is that there will be more mini celebrations so by the time Yannis has seen the rest of the family, in rotation, for a festive meal, he will feel well done.

One of my loyal blog readers has sent me an article by Kate Williams, who has recently published a book called Great Diaries. She speculates about how future generations will look back on this lockdown period, and hopes that people are keeping diaries, of what may currently seem mundane events, like working at home, supervising online lessons, video GP appointments, unusual church services (see above), and I hope that this blog may become part of that. As a child I found Anne Frank’s diary endlessly fascinating, and admired her ability to write so truthfully, and yet to find pleasure in the simplest things, like hearing the birds sing. Just as we have over recent months. Like most people I am irritated by the current restraints, but I always try to find the obverse of the coin, always to search for the positive. Perhaps I make more phone calls, write more emails, send cards and letters, particularly to people who live alone. I have time to make the effort.

I watched Michael Palin in Kenya and Tanzania, from Pole to Pole which was made in 1992. But it was great to see the Masai Mara, the train from Dodoma to Kisoga, and then the amazing German-built ferry, MV Liemba, sailing the length of Lake Tanganyika. I wondered if the ship still existed, but indeed it does. It has had a major refit and has been sailing once a week since 2018. What a trip that would be!

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