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

    Friday, June 06, 2003
    That old shirt
     
    Those of you who read this regularly know I'm a sucker for t-shirts. My Billy Bragg NPWA shirt got folk talking yesterday; today reading The Big Issue Scotland I'm onto Howies, whose shirts look very good - I like their Voted Blair Got Bush shirt among others.

    But today I've had to say goodbye to an old favourite. The Greenbelt 1989 Art and Soul shirt. A classic Picasso-style design. It's been a bedtime winter-wear companion for some time; the design has faded but is still intact (some old shirt designs flake away, this one's just become easier on the eye over the years). But wear, tear and repeated spin cycles means the cotton's finally giving way. Touch it and holes appear. It's like a modernistic Turin shroud.

    So this morning I held it up to the light, which shone through many tiny places, held it fondly and then with heartful silence almost banished it to the bin. When instead, inspired by love or madness, both perhaps, I instead popped it into the machine for one last wash. Once it's dried and ironed, I've decided I shall affix it to a suitable picture mount, put a modest frame around it, and keep it, prominently displayed. Like others do their old footy shirts, and I already do with old posters of events I've hosted, and pics of me mum, that sort of thing.

    Tomorrow many of Greenbelt's hundreds of contributors since 1973 will meet up, in the gardens of Lambeth Palace no less, for a party in the sun (we hope) to celebrate thirty years of this unique event - a Christian arts festival without peer. It'll function as a pseudo-birthday party for me, as that milestone is today, and this year I'll celebrate my twenty-fifth Greenbelt. So I've booked my saver ticket. Washed the old shirt. Packed the rug.

    Seems fitting all of this has come together this weekend. Celebration, commemoration intertwined. "God is really only another artist", said Picasso. "He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no great style. He just goes on trying out other things." Here's to Greenbelt. And my old shirt.