Tuesday 30 September 2014

New Undergrads--Hoorah!

Hello, my little cherubs! Sorry to have missed you yesterday, but it was Michaelmas by the Old Calendar and I was insanely busy. Behold my schedule of yesterday:

6:40: Roll about of bed. Make coffee. Get seduced by internet.

7:29-8:45: Study Polish. Read second chapter of Harry Potter i Kamień Filosoficzny while listening along to the audiobook. Flashcard drill.

9:00-9:15: Run about collecting laundry for first wash of week. Throw it in washer.

9:15-12:29: Write fierce column about +Bishop Conry for Catholic Register, aiming to be fair but stern. Who am I to judge? The laity, that's who.  We should riot more. I'm quite sure we used to riot in the Byzantine days.

12:29-1:40: Wash self, run about, get dressed, run about, cross fields to absent neighbours to feed, clean up after, and be sat on by their cats.

1:40-4:20: Cat-sitting. While trapped under cats, read an Agatha Christie novel.

4:20-8:29: Train to Mass. Early, so make Polish flashcards. Mass.  (Mass very beautiful.) Bus home. Meet husband at back gate and make last minute decision to buy prawn toasties from the Thai takeaway.

8:29-9:29:  Take wash out of washer. Eat prawn toasties and drink red wine in front of telly until can stand no more telly. Hang up wash in ex-linen-closet-now-library.

9:29--10:00: Make Polish flashcards wearing headphones until exhausted from squinting in sitting-room gloom. Go to bed.

10:20 (approx): Fall asleep. ZZZZZZZ.

Oh how exciting is adult life. That reminds me: Sunday was particularly exciting because a whole crop of NEW UNDERGRADS turned up at Edinburgh's one and only permitted public Sunday Missa Cantata, aka the TLM. There was a Historian, a Mathematician, an International Relations Chap and a Theologian. Naturally we will have to share them all with the uni's Catholic Student Union, and the Mathematician with the Cathedral's Polish Mass to boot, but that's okay. In fact, that is advisable. Although naturally we are the coolest Catholics in all Edinburgh, we can be a teeny weeny bit....

Actually, I do not really know how to describe us. But at any rate if there were a parish full of childless, literary married Catholic women of traditional tendency, I would go there from time to time, be the Ordo antiquor or be the Ordo novus. It does get a bit dull be in a worship community so strongly dominated by men that there is nothing for the women to do but make the tea, sweep the floor and take away the babies when they yell.

Before the Second Vatican Council, there were various ladies' guilds and the Mother's Union and all kinds of feminine things to balance out the red-bloodedly masculine Mass. You can still find those societies in Edinburgh, but only in the utterly woman-dominated Novus Ordo parishes.  What is lacking is balance.  That said, I do hope we can somehow convince new female undergrads to keep coming to our Mass. Keeping the male undergrads is, naturally, not a problem. There is lots for them to do. For example, they are needed to replace the altar servers who have gone away, either to seminary or to do PhDs in distant climes.

All undergraduates are needed to entertain us oldies at Tea and at Gin and at Sunday Lunches, for not only are undergraduates learning interesting things, they are up to date. Naturally we live in the past, but to live in the past most enjoyably, we must keep up to date on the latest ways to do it, e.g. subscribing to The Chap magazine, attending the latest swing dance venue, buying reliquaries on eBay.

In exchange, we oldies offer the undergrads our wealth of experience, including the names of excellent little restaurants in Rome, letters of introduction to like-minded folk, and dinner parties free from restrictions determined by roommates. I am sorry now that, as an undergraduate, I did not spend more time with engaging, letter-writing, dinner-cooking oldies, but I grew up in North America, where the young are usually quite disgustingly ageist and shortsighted.

That said, I suppose oldies have a tendency to grow boring and set in our ways or, worse, to consciously set out to pretend that we are younger than we are and wear contemporary teenage clothes and speak contemporary teenage slang instead of being charming period pieces from the 1980s or whenever.

On Sunday I was walking to church with an elderly parishioner, and I was going to take a detour through the pretty cemetery when he said, "I went up to school in nineteen-thirty-eight, but of course we were all evacuated the next year." Heavens! Living history! First person account of the Second World War! I stuck to him like glue. Perhaps one day I will be able to weld the Younger Generation to my side by saying, "I was in school when the Berlin Wall fell..." or even "Oddly enough, I was first in Scotland the week Saigon fell to the Viet Cong."

Apparently women are supposed to pretend they don't remember the 1980s, let alone the Fall of Saigon, as there is a convention that we must all pretend to be 29 or under, come what may. I have always found this very silly, however. I was terribly unhappy when I was 29, and I am delightfully happy now (except when thinking about Islamic atrocities and fornicating bishops, naturally). I am not sure, but I am possibly even better-looking now than I was when I was 29, for I smile a lot more and have better taste in clothing. Anyway, I was never a  beauty, unlike the Master of the Men's Schola, who at 20 was really quite staggeringly handsome.

Meanwhile, some of our new young men are very handsome, so I have some hope that their good looks will attract more young ladies to our TLM. It's all very well chatting about men's clothing and where to buy the best pipe tobacco and who-said-what-to-whom, but at the end of the day a woman wants a good serious chat with another woman about mathematics or neuroscience.

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