Reel By Reel

The GoPro records in 17.35 minute segments. There must be a reason for this, but I don’t know what it is. I’ve just watched 5 full-length ones, followed by a short section of 7 or so minutes, after which the recording ends. It was long enough to be a feature film, but distinctly lacking in action and adventure, alas. But don’t worry - I sat through it so that you don’t have to. Allow me to summarise what action there was, reel - as it were - by reel.

Reel One. The Atmosphere Quality Monitoring Station’s door is ajar, since a technician is inside. For the time being the camera is mounted on the handle of the amplifier’s carrying case. Janet is in a fetching red dress topped off by a purple and red sun hat, Peter is in his all-weather gear as usual, and Stephen is in sporting attire, since the day is tolerably temperate. I begin by mentioning that I like horror films; Janet departs in the direction of Superdrug, presumably to avoid any possibility of guilt by association.

However, it’s just an easy way to introduce today’s topic: idol worship, and the ways in which we still see it in the Western world. As I warm to my theme, Kieran arrives, looking fit and well. Three young ladies seem to find what I’m saying amusing; Stephen offers them a tract, and away they go. Kieran strikes up a conversation with someone, and it’s still going on as we reach…

Reel Two. It’s all as per usual here on the edge of Piccadilly Gardens - no crowd around me, but several listeners at a distance. Kieran’s conversation comes to an end, but then he meets a couple who seem keen to talk. Brendan materialises as if out of nowhere, just like last week, and chats with Peter. The tracts are going well, and a few patches of blue sky appear, with hazy sunshine from time to time. Dan arrives! He’s been working for many months, but his holidays have rolled around at last, and here he is. That’s good! He joins in with Kieran’s latest conversation as we reach…

Reel Three. A few young folk offer a little mild mockery (from a distance), so I remind them that an appointment with the Grim Reaper is one that they too will be compelled to keep. Two young men pause to consider what I’m saying, and one nods in approval and offers a V for Victory sign to the camera. I conclude with “Carpe diem quia Jesus Christus” - but since then I’ve been told that the thought might better be rendered as “Carpe enim dies Jesus Christus”. I’d be pleased to hear from any Latin scholars who might be able help me out with that one.

The technician departs and the camera is restored to its rightful place, and Stephen begins. I go over to greet the new arrivals as the man with the mobile music machine cycles by. Janet comes for another bundle of tracts. As she returns, Kieran stops her for a hug. “Steady on!” I say to myself… And then it’s all quiet, apart from the preaching and a couple of conversations, until we reach…

Reel Four, and a woman who is visibly weighed down by the cares of this world. After taking a tract, she asks if she can have a bible. She tells me that she and her partner are having a hard time following the death of her father. She asks us to remember them in prayer, and when I’ve written down their names (K. and E., let’s call them) she takes my hand and kisses it… “Steady on!” I think again. “I hope I’m not being mistaken for Father O’Flaherty…” But no, she seems just genuinely grateful to find some sympathy. When I give her a Blanchard booklet, she puts her arm around me… Her partner contents himself with a warm handclasp. As they take their leave, I can’t help noticing the horned devil’s head decorating the front of his hoodie. There’s a sermon illustration for you, if you can use it…

Reel Five. I talk to Dan as I continue tracting. A young Muslim man drops a tract back into the container on top of the junction box, saying: “If that woz you an’ that woz Muslim, you’d tear it up an’ put it into the bin!” Somewhat judgemental, eh? - as well as a bit of virtue signalling. But he dashes away before I can answer him. Never mind. A careful head count tells me that there are six people listening to Stephen as he comes to a close. That’s good! I say I’ll just do another couple of minutes, but…

Reel Six goes on for longer than that, because the young, well-turned-out Muslim woman giving close attention to my closing remarks attracts a couple of Muslim men, who seem to think that it’s their business to intervene. They go into the usual act as soon as I’ve finished, with the usual Questions Designed To Baffle And Bewilder Benighted Infidels. I tell them that I’ve only time for one, so they ask one with a dozen sections, then tell me what my answers are instead of listening to what I say, and then they deride me for giving the wrong answers. They’re wasting their time and mine. Between the two of them, they might just about be able to muster the intellect of a small mollusc.

However, as they walk away, the young woman, politeness personified, asks for a bible so that she can read it for herself. I add the usual Blanchard booklet. She thanks me and departs. It’s a good way to end. Fade to black and roll credits.

Well, there you go, as Miss Pilling so often said, as we stamped out all those books behind the counter of the Lending Library - so long ago and so very far away in the dim and distant past… And now, since I’ve sat here for several hours in order to report on last Wednesday’s activity on your behalf, perhaps you could spare a minute or two to pray for the following folk - if our Lord puts it upon your heart to do so.

The technician in the A.Q.M.S. who heard much of what I said.

K. and E., weighed down by the cares of this world and asking for our prayers.

The several young Muslims who were antagonistic in one way or another.

The young woman who was politeness personified, who took away a bible and a booklet.

The many people who stopped one or another of us to talk.

The very many who took away tracts and other literature, on that warm and worthwhile Wednesday afternoon of last week.

Don’t forget that we’ll be there again next Wednesday, and we welcome folk who want to join us. See either Stephen or myself for more details.

Every blessing!