2017-06-19 Mon


Sitting in St James Cathedral listening to a Bach recital, my eyes soar up with the music. Graceful arches, stained glass windows. Not the world’s greatest cathedral, but pretty all the same. And a lot bigger than my apartment.

My mind goes back to my childhood (aged 6-9) and Goodshaw Chapel. Not the UK-famous chapel, but another one nearby, which I attended for four years twice every Sunday In the choir) and again Thursdays (choir practice). I knew it well. It was HUGE because there was a gallery which we were allowed to explore while my Dad was talking with the old biddies.

After Goodshaw we ended up in Southern Cross, a tiny little church, that was designed as the chancel for the Southern Cross Cathedral until gold was discovered in Coolgardie, 120 miles to the east, and then Kalgoorlie a further twenty miles on, and Southern Cross basically collapsed from being an eleven-pub town to one of only three pubs, and them struggling for business except on Saturdays.

Of course, being in the little red-brick church at Southern Cross made Goodshaw seem even bigger, for at the age of ten, I had immediate memories of this HUGE church I used to sing in.

I went back to Goodshaw in 1977, again in 1998, and again in 2005 or thereabouts. My! How that chapel had shrunk over the years. Of course. The schoolroom that was so frightening now seems little larger than my bedroom. The teachers so god-like are now dead, mere mortals.

Sitting in St James Cathedral listening to a Bach recital, I reflect that the chancel of St James is bigger than the church in Southern Cross which, after a few years, became in my mind a large church, because five of the other six centers where my dad conducted services (Bullfinch, Marvel Loch, Moorine Rock, Bodallin, Walgoolan) didn’t have a church. We met in the local CWA hall or similar, and Westonia had a church, but besides me, I think that there were only two other people in the congregation, once a month.


In May 1956 our family sailed from Southampton UK to Fremantle WA. The trip took three and a half weeks via Suez, Aden and Colombo.

Last month from Ottawa and from Perth in Ontario I mailed two postcards to my son in Adelaide South Australia. The postcards took – you guessed it! – three and a half weeks.

Now mail doesn’t go by boat anymore. It’s all air-mail.

So why does it take three and a half weeks? I can understand the postcards going by freighter plane, a milk run, not as speedy a trip as when carrying perishables such as humans. Perhaps the airmail freight planes stop at every coaling-station along the route.

But three and a half weeks?

On June 8th I mailed two letters from Toronto Ontario to Poissy France. $2.50 each. The postal clerk suggested I affix “Air Mail” stickers. Curious, I asked why. “They’ll get there faster”.




I pressed for more details. “Doesn’t it all go by air? They don’t carry mail by ship, do they”. Yes, it all goes by air; no, none of it goes by ship.

So how does sticking an “Air Mail” sticker on a letter or postcard make it go faster than without? It’s leaving from Toronto and going to Adelaide.

The clerk smiled and explained. If I place an “Air Mail” sticker on it it may catch the Canadian sorting clerks eye and draw their attention to the fact that it is overseas mail. Otherwise they might toss it into a local slot, and then it would go to – who knows, perhaps Red lake by dog sled before the mistake is corrected by dog-sled back to Toronto.