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

    Sunday, January 23, 2005
    On coarseness
     
    When the guy's had a little too much to drink and he's on a rant it's easy to dismiss him. But at the party, the more I listened the more uncomfortable I felt distancing myself from what he was saying. It was about being shocked at the behaviour of motorists - the one yesterday who saw the old woman crossing but rather than slowing down, kept on, hitting his horn, and deliberately missing her by inches; the ones who bounce over speed bumps like they're not there, sending sparks flying from their chassis; and the ones who shout abuse at my friend, who, in his veteran cars, takes it nice and easy: "I take offence at being called a 'tosser' by someone I don't even know just for going slower than him."

    On the way home from the party I drove on the speed limit, little more, little less. To gain advantage over other road-users, a guy was weaving between moving vehicles across three lanes of Queens Drive. I was behind him at the lights and noticed his car sticker proudly saying, MANIAC. Before the next set one of those near-minibus big-tyred ozone destroyers cut me up from inside. At the lights I saw it was being driven by a tiny woman and bore numerous stickers saying CAREFUL - BABY ON BOARD and PREGNANT WOMAN ON BOARD.

    And in-car, on Five Live, late night talk show guests were debating the perceived coarseness and callousness of our society. Plenty of resigned agreement around the reality of that. I felt a bit shamed by all this, because I'm in it, and must contribute to it.

    It only came to me much later. I needed it. This:

    God help us to live slowly:
    To move simply:
    To look softly:
    To allow emptiness:
    To let the heart create for us.
    Amen.
    © Michael Leunig