A message from the Rev’d Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain

Posted by Admin on Tuesday, 21st October 2014, 16:54

When my mother was alive she was always unhappy when November began. I do not know if it was the long dark evenings or the weather getting colder and windier. As a boy it was one of my favourite times of the year. I always looked forward to Remembrance Sunday with the associated military parade we always had in Portsmouth. All Saints Day or Hallowe’en wasn’t the commercial event it is today but a group of us used to gather in our shed and scare each other with ghost stories before eating potatoes and chestnuts cooked on a fire in our garden. Then there was, of course, the 5th of November, the most exciting day of the year.
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Next to our house was a bombsite where we built a very large bonfire having gathered material for about a fortnight from the surrounding area. The beginning of the month was a tense time in case a rival gang pinched any of our material, something we would not have dreamed of doing ourselves. Guys were made and we had turns at a busy bus stop collecting pennies to buy fireworks. Although there was little problem in purchasing bangers and rockets in those days I always bought mine in the company of my mother because I knew she could not resist buying a box to go with those we bought with our pennies. On the night of the fifth we had a party and once the fire was lit all our fireworks were let off. I’m sure we were not very alert the next day at school after such an exciting evening.
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Now a responsible adult(?) I couldn’t possibly advocate the sale of fireworks to the under twelves. But in those days, possibly because the war had not long finished, we as a neighbourhood worked together to turn an act of terrorism, the attempt to blow up parliament, into a memorable event. Children and adults changed a dark, cold winter evening into an enjoyable, colourful night. I do not remember anyone getting hurt apart from my grown-up cousin, who when supervising us fell into what had been the cellar of the house.
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The young ones learned that proper preparation gives maximum enjoyment to any event.
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On the 30th of November the church celebrates Advent Sunday which is when Christians begin the preparation for Christmas. To get the most out of the Christmas season start thinking about what the holiday is all about on that day. Buy an Advent calendar which not only dispenses chocolate but also explains the Nativity so by the time Christmas Day arrives the true meaning of the season is understood by all the family. And if you find, like my mum, that November is a depressing month remember that chocolate is available all the year round!

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Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain.

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