This week I have spent most of my time in that other ‘London Eye’, the circular debating chamber of Church House, Westminster.
I, and others, have commented and commented elsewhere especially on the General Synod Blog, so do look there for some of what Synod has been up to.
I take being an elected member of the Church of England’s General Synod quite seriously, for though I am not a delegate, expected to carry others views, I do try to sit in as many of the debates and fringe meetings as I possibly can.
However, being in London has given me a rare opportunity to walk along the banks of the Thames on a couple of occasions, and last night get a cheap mid-week ticket to a theatre production after Synod business had finished.
I sat with a married clergy colleague, slightly uncomfortably, but also with huge fun, at Alan Ayckbourn’s revival of his 1985 ‘Woman in Mind’.
Ayckbourn was interviewed by the Telegraph in the run-up to the West End opening of the production, with the marvellous Janie Dee in the lead rÃ´le.
The piece is set in a vicarage garden, and is based on the life of wife of the vicar. She has immaculate garden, an exemplary family, a beautiful life. Except, as it transpires, much of the perfection is in her mind – the reality leaves much to be desired. Ayckbourn does not really explore the causes for ‘Susan’s’ mental illness, but looks at it’s outworking.
I sent a text to my wife saying I was at a play about a vicar’s wife slowly going mad – she responded with a text saying she could introduce me to many clergy wives for research, and that most clergy wives were slowly going mad. She added she was not joking; which though I already knew, I needed to be reminded of; especially in the week this clergy couple celebrated a silver jubilee of years since our engagement.
Ayckbourn’s play is perplexing, and I think probably a commentary on many professional people of our time, not just vicar’s wives. But the play is not without humour, or indeed hope. Note to self, may need to pick up dreamy immaculate white suit on the way home…