Dear Friends,

Well, today (Tuesday 13th April) was the day. At approximately 9.30am I had a haircut. Not only that, but I was preceded in the barber’s chair by a member of the Free Church. Sometimes one does one’s pastoral’ work at the most unlikely of times, and in the strangest of places. Someone suggested that I look twenty years younger. Well, if so, I must have been looking very old before! Meanwhile, in other news, during last week we learned of the death of The Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99. I did comment on my personal social media that this would mean that the Queen would have one less telegram to send this year; a remark for which I was both ‘cheered’ and ‘booed’ in equal measure. I get the sense that, given the Duke’s quite obvious quirky sense of humour, that he would have been one of those ‘cheering me on’. This is neither the time nor the place for airing personal opinions regarding the merits or otherwise of the Monarchy, but it is beyond dispute that The Prince Phillip be admired, applauded and appreciated for his role as consort to the Queen. Beyond all that of his life which was lived out in the public eye – a public eye that concentrated its attention with laser precision on every moment, every word, every gesture, every action – was his private, his family life. Thanks to the increasingly intrusive nature of media enquiry, we know all too well that each of their four children have had their domestic difficulties, for some more serious than for the others. No parent could be indifferent to any of this and such happenings were bound to have caused he and the Queen no little amount of anguish, frustration, disappointment and regret. In seemingly stark contrast the grandchildren (most of them at least) seem to be doing ok so far. And as for the greatgrandchildren, well aren’t they just adorable. This coming Saturday, they as a family will commend Phillip to God’s care, and themselves to God’s comfort. The fact that only the family can attend due to Covid-19 protocols will allow the funeral to properly concentrate on that family aspect. But of course, we, the nation, will be watching on – although 3pm on a Saturday is not an ideal time for such an occasion; all the day’s football matches having to be rescheduled (that’s a joke too, on my part) – and many will have their own particular remembrances of their having encountered the Duke themselves. For others the connection is more incidental, though no less significant. I managed the bronze stage of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme myself. All we can say, all we need say is, ‘Well done, good & faithful servant, Rest in Peace’…The Vaccine roll out continues at a pace. We pride ourselves as a nation for our foresight and our efficiency. It is not so everywhere. We are privileged to have worshipping with us for now the High Commissioner of Botswana, John Seakgosing, together with his wife, Lulu. It was disturbing to read in the press that Botswana has had to limit its vaccination programme due to lack of vaccine supplies. This is a reminder to us that Covid-19 is a global pandemic, and requires a global solution, one which is equitable for all people everywhere. We pray for the Govt of Botswana, and for our Govt that the ‘strong’ will realise its need to support the ‘weak’.

Well done, good & faithful servant, Rest in Peace