Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The learning curve of the 1980s (A life under 6 Popes continued)

The Tablet years:
I worked full time for the paper from 1983-85. By then Tom Burns had retired and John Wilkins had taken over as Editor and I fairly soon became aware that he was somewhat sympathetic towards the notion of  'loyal dissent'. To me, the term, which I first met in one of his editorials, has always seemed an indefensible oxymoron. (It still does.) He was incredibly hardworking and well-informed, and on a personal level I had great respect, even affection for him. However my job was not to comment upon editorial policy. At The Tablet I learned a great deal about the direction in which the Church seemed to be going, about the stance of many of the regular writers, and from the Archive, about recent Church History. This was helped by the fact that I indexed both The Tablet and its sister journal 'The Clergy Review , later renamed 'Priests and People', according to the spirit of the period..  In fact I continued to index P & P until 1993. This enabled me to keep in touch with 'the lie of the land.. As I recall, this latter monthly journal carried a markedly wide range of articles. By 93, there seemed to be more of a progressive bent, on every subject from liturgy and architecture, to liberation theology and the social teaching of the Church. One incident exemplifies this. I can't remember which year it was, but there had been an article entitled 'Imitating Jesus and allowing divorce'. When the proofs came back to me for checking this title had been misread and printed as 'IRRITATING Jesus and allowing divorce. We had a good laugh about it in the outer office, but I remember thinking that the people in the print shop had higher expectations of orthodoxy that P&P had unfortunately been unable to satisfy.

Until 1984 the Tablet was technologically behind the times. The main computer was introduced that year I think; the office staff continued to operated electronic typewriters. Fortunately for me, it was decided to put the whole subscription lists of both journals on computer data base. As Subs. Controller it seemed obvious that I should do this. It was tedious work, which I did on Saturday mornings. It was my real introduction to the computer  and before the internet.
After leaving the Tablet for a much better paid job with the Church of England Children's Society, I spent a further two years there before finally finding my way back into teaching. I then spent six happy and producuctive years in Adult Access training with the London Borough of Brent whilst serving as a member of the English department in one of their Community Schools. Here I was in charge of the Sixth Form and Access recruitment and interviewing.

Four years after the Annulment I married my present husband in the same church where the annulled marriage had taken place in 1971. The only way that my life was affected by Pope John Paul II was that as that annulment process was nearing conclusion, he issued a directive that from now on all cases had to be heard consecutively by two  tribunals. So after Westminster, mine had to go to Birmingham. It did turn our to be 'rubber stamping' but all the same it added a further three months of anxiety.

In all the learning that took place for me in the 1980s, there is one form that held the whole thing together and that is the time I spent. every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning learning how to read and sing Chant and Renaissance polyphony.. These I value most of all.  You may think that my orthodoxy was maintained (or saved) by burying my head in the sand after the 'Marie Assumpta disaster' of 1979. The 1980s show that I was well informed about growing diversity of opinion, and decided through constant prayer and thought to remain the kind of Catholic I have always been. The one man who was to show me that I had been right all along, was not yet Pope, and I'll have to tell my story through the 90s and beyond before reaching the joy of his election to the Throne of Peter..

To be continued

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