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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, December 09, 2002
    About a Boy
    One of the unforeseen pleasures of getting ordained was receiving unusual gifts from kind and thoughtful friends. What do you buy someone who previously showed many of the signs of being a normal balanced human being and friend on the occasion of their being incorporated into the oddest and most ancient of institutions, wrapped up willingly in very strange dress?

    The answers were wonderful, a real range of things, from religious art to kitchenware, and one of my favourites was the book About a Boy, which Angela got me, if I remember rightly, simply because she'd found it a good read and thought I would too. It was the first of many books given me that day, which I read, and loved it.

    Well, last night I finally got round to seeing the film, on video, and loved that too. It's wonderful watching Will making the journey from being a laddish 38-year-old with the philosophy, "Man is an island, and I am Ibiza", to a guy celebrating Christmas with a housefull of kids, friends, potential partner-for-life. It's a journey which he makes via a series of disasterous attempts to get off with single mothers by posing as a single father, under the influence of an odd but engrossing friendship with a 12-year-old son of one of those mums (one Will has no interest in at all).

    Writer Nick Hornby can do no wrong for me. Not just because of the fantastic climax to the perfect footy book Fever Pitch which describes one of my favourite-ever football moments, Arsenal snatching the 1989 league championship from Liverpool with a last-minute goal at Anfield. But also because he seems to get it pretty much right about blokes, because without being 'new mannish' or sentimental about it, he delves pretty deep.

    Funny, watching the film last night drew me back to the reflections I wrote on getting ordained, after that day at the Cathedral. And it seems I came to the same conclusion as Hornby - the 'island' thing is mistaken: individuals - even folk as individual as priests - are nevertheless in community, need to be, have to be, can't avoid it, must embrace it.