It amuses me that every year I am surprised by Easter. The date of Easter is known decades, nay, centuries, in advance! Easter is upon us (already?) and we are invited to have our Lenten contrition turned into joy in the light of the resurrection. There are other reasons I have found myself saying “already?” such as the fact that we are saying goodbye to Revd Raymond this Easter Sunday, even though I have known this news since January. It feels like only yesterday we were welcoming you, Raymond, yet nearly three years have passed. A curacy is a finite journey and it has been wonderful to have had Raymond walking alongside us on this part of our shared pilgrimage. We are enormously grateful for all you have given to the life of St John’s, you leave a wonderful legacy, not least in the form of this very publication, and we hold many happy memories. Raymond, we wish you well in your new post as Deputy Director of Ordinands, and Director of Vocations, we are glad you won’t be too far away, and we look forward to welcoming you and John back to visit in future. (Do read the lovely profile interview with Raymond in this edition.)
It is difficult to believe that it is a whole year since the loss of our dear friend, the Revd Deepthi Wickremasinghe. A year already? In lockdown, it feels as though grief is deferred, or put ‘on hold’, and it has been impossible for us to gather together in our shared loss. It is lovely to read of people’s individual memories of Deepthi, and we look forward to the time when we can corporately gather to give thanks for her life. While we wait for that day, we are encouraging you to consider contributing to an appeal in her memory: for the Woodland Trust, who work to preserve woodlands. Trees, like our friend Deepthi, have deep roots, and share their energy, goodness and shelter with the world around them. Thank you for all you are able to give.
I’m enormously thankful for the energy and life we find in our scattered St John’s community, do read about the way our coffee morning continues online, and how our Director of Music, John Webber, has kept our adult and junior choirs together. Along with descriptions of local walks, a history of Goose Green, and an article about the intriguing painting in the Revd Anne Clarke’s study, this month’s Gander is another faithful offering of love and creativity for the benefit of whole community. Thank you to all who have contributed this month.
One said: “I would like to say a big thank you to all who have supported me in their own little way. I really appreciate all the support packages, food vouchers etc. These helped me a lot during my stay in the hotel. God Bless you all!”
Thanks to everyone who has donated items and/or money.
Our Annual Meetings will take place via Zoom on Sunday 25 April at 12 noon.
Further details will follow nearer the time.
History tells us that William Shakespeare had a son, Hamnet, who died in childhood in the summer of 1596. We know little about Hamnet or his mother Agnes, also known as Anne Hathaway. On the bare bones of these facts, Maggie O’Farrell builds the flesh of an enthralling and moving story of love, loss and grief. Shakespeare himself is never named, he is referred to as “the husband” or “the father”, “the writer” or even “the Latin tutor,” we learn little of his life in London; his career as an actor and playwright is kept offstage. We learn much more about Agnes, a wild, earthy woman, an outsider whose intuition borders on the psychic, and who is sought after for her knowledge of herbs and her healing powers. But even Agnes could not predict the death of her son Hamnet: her herbs proved to be useless in the face of the plague, she could not save him. Perhaps Shakespeare himself had been unable to give voice to this? In the endnotes, O’Farrell comments on the notable absence of any mention of the plague or The Black Death in Shakespeare’s works, and writes “this novel is the result of my idle speculation”.
Around the central incident of the boy’s death, Hamnet is a gripping story of family bonds and the ways in which they can be stretched and tested. The opening scene has a young Hanmet rushing around from house to yard to street, frantically seeking his mother, his aunt, any adult at all, when his sister Judith is suddenly taken ill; He bangs open, one by one, the doors to the cookhouse, the brewhouse, the washhouse. All of them empty… Someone ought to be here; someone always is here. Where can they be? The knowledge of Hamnet’s desperation later haunts Agnes, when, as it turns out, his sister recovers and he does not. We come to understand that the life they had lived around the yard will never be the same from that moment on.
Elsewhere we read of Shakespeare’s strained relationship with his father, who is an intimidating and sarcastic presence. O’Farrell has Shakespeare feeling trapped by him, and needing to escape. The setting of the novel, and the home in which Agnes and her husband raise their family, is vividly imagined, I felt that I was immersed in their lives, the sounds, smells and tastes felt tangibly real. O’Farrell presents a credible sense of their sixteenth century world. As the story nears its end, we begin to understand what the reader is wondering all along, “what about Hamlet, the play?” I won’t spoil the ending, but just occasionally a book makes me stay up too late. I was truly curious about the unfolding plot, and found sheer enjoyment in O’Farrell’s vivid sense of place. It is a work of pure fiction inspired by gaps in the historical account and some may object to this kind of speculative storytelling, but if you can sit lightly to the fabrication, I am sure you will find Hamnet a captivating read.
You can order Hamnet from one of our local bookshops or online via bookshop.org. The author Maggie O’Farrell was recently on Desert Island Discs
Vicar Revd Gill O’Neill 020 7564 0058, 07958 592 425, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Curate Revd Raymond Baudon 07934 817 431, email@example.com
Assistant Priests Revd Anne Clarke firstname.lastname@example.org and Revd Alistair McCulloch email@example.com
Parish Administrator Bradley Collins 020 8693 3897, firstname.lastname@example.org
Churchwardens Jim Nurton 07765 881 556 and Julie Whitney 07786 686 385
Parish Safeguarding Officer Tina Hampson (contact via Parish Administrator)
PCC Secretary Christine Camplin
PCC Treasurer Sarah Goudge
Stewardship Martin Howell
Director of Music John Webber
Electoral Roll Officer Bradley Collins
Church Flowers Sally Gross
Goose Green Centre Bradley Collins
Editors of The Gander Revd Raymond Baudon, Christine Camplin, Jim Nurton, Tayo Olatunde and Sue O'Neill
(Contact each of the above via Parish Administrator)
St John's & St Clement's C of E Primary School, Adys Road, London SE15 4DY
www.stjohnsandstclements.org, 020 7525 9210
The views expressed in The Gander are not necessarily those of the Editors, Vicar or PCC.
Notices and items or articles for possible inclusion in the next issue of The Gander must be with the Editors by the 15th of the preceding month. Please contact the team in person or by email to the Parish Administrator with any questions.