Pastoral Letter - 6th August 2021
I wasn’t anticipating writing any more of these letters, as you know, but recently we have lost two friends: one female, one male; one a church goer, the other a Church Street trader - by name Pat Ingham and Tony Mumford and I didn’t want the opportunity to pass without reminiscing and paying tribute to them both.
The indefatigable Pat Ingham was unforgettable. She ran the Mother’s Union branch at St Mary’s for decades. When I say "ran" I mean in the same way as a military commander would run a campaign. It amused many of us that, as a life long objector to gambling, she it was who organised a raffle at almost all the Mother’s Union events, usually with far more prizes than people who were present!
Pat was a kind woman, a sincere woman, a practical woman, an organised woman. She led the Prayers of Intercession at church in her own inimitable way. With that down-to-earth Yorkshire accent, it was as though she had made an appointment for an interview with one of her children’s Head Teachers and was explaining to them what, in her considered opinion, needed sorting out.
She could be intensely serious, she could be outrageously funny.
She would host annual Christmas Parties for the Sacristans at her flat overlooking the tennis courts in York House Gardens. She and her great friend Audrey would have prepared a real Yorkshire Tea. It was the sort of meal that filled you up so much that you didn’t need to eat again until at least the next day. Her rich fruit cake was a must, which she had made herself, with Audrey stirring the thick unrelenting mixture until her arm ached. Then there were party games and party hats and it wasn’t until I had been to one of Pat’s parties that I knew that Christmas really was on its way.
Pat has been a member of St Mary’s for as long as many can remember. She and I only overlapped for the last two decades, but during that time I recognised in her what people mean when they describe people as being "the salt of the earth". Life had more taste with Pat, more flavour, more zest, more bite. She took great care as she read the newspaper every morning, to keep well informed about current affairs and would frequently cut out articles she thought you might be interested in and gave them to you in re-re-re-cycled envelopes.
Pat was clever too, going to Manchester University to study, Manchester because her childhood sweet-heart Trevor, whom she subsequently married, had been accepted there, so off she also went. She became a history teacher, where she met and taught Audrey. And in retirement she made sure that she kept the little grey cells alert and active, joining the University of the Third Age and studying Italian and German. The Italian came in very useful when she joined some of us on a trip to Rome and Assisi some years ago. She found the incense "a bit much" but joined in with all the fun with great alacrity.
It was entirely thanks to Pat that people went to the Nightingale Nursing Home each month to sing hymns and that I went to celebrate Communion there for the residents. Many of you will have fond memories of this remarkable lady but for me one thing stands out and that is her capacity for saying THANK YOU. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say Thank You as sincerely or as frequently as Pat. On every occasion I met with Pat she found something to say Thank You for. Gratitude was at the core of her. We will miss Pat more than she could possibly have imagined, but I can see her now in my mind’s eye, asking forensic questions of God about His universe and His plan for humanity; detailed questions about obscure parts of the Bible she craves clarification of; praying with real insight and empathy for the needs of the people of a world she so loved living in, relished the experiences of wonder in and cared about so deeply. This time it is for us to say to her, Thank YOU Pat for making our lives more interesting, more informed, more integrated and far more enjoyable than they might otherwise have been and please know that our fondness and respect for you goes on, as indeed do our prayers.
The second person from the Twickenham scene who has left us recently, indeed within just a few days of Pat, was almost 40 years Pat’s junior. Tony Mumford, from Toe Knees Shoe Repair Shop in Church Street, the best cobbler I ever knew. "You save souls, I save soles", he would say to me. A gentle man with asking eyes, appearing insecure when you first encountered him, but it was only as he weighed you up. Because of his gentleness, some took advantage of that. At one point there was a sign in his shop telling people that violence would not be tolerated. "What prompted that?" I asked him. Apparently a woman had picked things off the counter and started throwing them at him. He didn’t recognise her, but she was demanding that he gave her a pair of shoes that she claimed he had been mending for her, she’d lost the receipt but he had to give them to her NOW!
Tony it was who, when we needed huge keys cut for the north door of the church when the reordering work was going on, sourced the seven inch whoppers and cut them perfectly. Tony it was who, when we had trouble with an ancient key for the Blessed Sacrament safe which refused to work, found a solution which saved the day. Tony it was who, with great care and skill, re-covered one of our much venerated volumes of the Bible, blackening it sufficiently to please even the deepest and most ardent Victorian taste. A few months later I popped in to ask him if he would mend some leather slippers I was devoted to and couldn’t cope with throwing away. "Of course I can," he assured me, "I saved a bit of that leather I covered your Bible in, I will use that, that would seem suitable.........I knew it would come in useful one day". He subsequently gave my venerable slippers an even longer life span, using disused car tyres cut to the shape of my feet and stuck on, "that should last you a few more years", he grinned and they have, and will.
It was a pain which cut deep into his being some months ago when his granddaughter was diagnosed with a rare illness and died at a young age, I think on Good Friday. I would pop in for a chat and check up on him, irrespective of whether or not I needed a key cut, a new battery or strap for my watch or a pair of shoes mending. He could do all of these things, but he could also do so much more. It was not just keys he cut, watches or shoes he mended, he also repaired lives through careful and courteous listening, through genuine generosity of heart, through kindness and gentleness, through integrity and some rather dark humour too. He was always a pleasure to be with.
Tony died, as you may know, at the age of 53, as a result of an accident in Heath Road on July 15th while on his e-scooter. He was in a coma for days following his fall, and died on 22nd July leaving Cheryl his partner, children, grandchildren and so many customers who had become friends.
I often thought about Tony on Maundy Thursdays as I was washing people’s feet. "You can tell a lot about people by their feet and how they treat their shoes", he would say and the Christ who also tended to people’s feet would have agreed with him. Tony got to know those of us who also got to know him; his was not merely a commercial interaction with his customers, but one which was laced with deep humanity and humour. He gave us something of himself and asked nothing in return, except to be paid and not to have things thrown at him!
We are still in shock at the fact and the cause of his death, but how wonderful to be remembered only for good things, for being generous, gentle, caring and kind. Tony was all of these things and redefined for me what personal service is all about in old fashioned shops and business of this kind.
May both Tony and Pat find their way to what lays beyond. If they meet en route they will certainly have a lot to talk about. We are the richer for having them as part of our lives and each in their own way, is unforgettable. Rest eternal grant to them O Lord and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace, may they rise in glory, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. AMEN.
With blessings and best wishes
ZOOM AND MORE
I hope you will have received and read the Pastoral Letter which was sent out explaining the pattern of worship for the next month or so. For the time being we will be continuing with Zoom at 9.30am and the Celebration of the Eucharist at 6pm in church. I hope you will join us for at least one of these services and will continue to remember the rest of the church family in your prayers. You can join us this Sunday for our ZOOM SERVICE at 9.30am by clicking on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85685339742 or in person in church at 6pm. You no longer need to book for the 6pm service. You can also join us for Private Prayer in the church 10am-11am on Wednesdays. The readings this Sunday, as we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord, are: Daniel 7 verses 9-10 & 13-14 and Luke Chapter 9 verses 28-36. The Collect: Father in Heaven, Whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured Before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain, And spoke of the exodus He would accomplish in Jerusalem: Give us the strength to hear your voice and bear our cross That in the world to come we may see Him as He truly is, Who lives and reigns with you, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. AMEN.