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

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008
    Racing Demon
     
    LIONEL: Do you know this area?
    FRANCES: Yes.
    LIONEL: It can be pretty punishing. I don't think anyone from the outside quite understands what the job is. Mostly it's just listening to the anger. One reason or another. Lately it's the change in the DSS rules. If you're young, setting up home, you can no longer get a loan for a stove, unless you can prove you'll be able to pay the money back. I've had three couples in the last week. They need somewhere to go to express their frustration. They're drawn to a priest. They're furious. At their lives. At the system. At where they find themselves. (Smiles.) And they come to the vicar because he's the one man who can never hit back.
    (Frances is restless, not understanding.)
    FRANCES: Yes, I'm sure but I mean ... you can fight in
    this case?
    (He looks at her a moment, as if in a dream.)
    LIONEL: I'm sorry?
    FRANCES: You do still have the will? Don't you?
    I somehow missed David Hare's Racing Demon when the play opened in 1990, maybe because back then I wasn't in any way engaged with its subject matter - the struggles of four inner-city clergymen to make sense of their mission. Yesterday I read it in one sitting: rapt, on a cold Sheffield station bench. Powerful, powerful stuff.