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  • Robin and the Sermon January 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    When Beach was at university he lived about six floors up just under the roof of a marvelous Georgian building. Every day a bird used to visit his room and fly around inside impressing all Beach’s friends and casual visitors who thought that he’d turned into a Celtic saint. The real reason for the bird’s visit was that Beach was reviewing for exams and eating about forty eccles cakes a day. The bird came to pick up the bits of flaky pastry that Beach so thoughtfully broadcast around the room as he wrestled with irrelevant medieval languages. He was reminded of this now distant episode by this incredibly ‘cute’ story of a good Christian bird from Victorian Britain. It appeared in the Stockport Advertiser 13 Oct 1826 but Beach quarried it from that recently reviewed book The Boom of the Bitterbump.

    Remarkable fact. On Sunday last, in the midst of divine service at Didsbury Church, just as the moment when the minister, the Rev. Mr. Gatcliffe, was giving out his text, a robin flew into the church, and resting on one of the ornaments near the pulpit, remained there some time, seeming by its manner to pay every attention to the truths delivered by the clergyman. It shortly however began to warble, and the effect of its melodious music, joined with the eloquent harangue of the highly gifted preacher, ought to have been felt in order to be imagined, and may be easier imagined than described. It remained in church during the rest of the service, and seemed to join in offering in conjunction with the lords of creation, its humble mite of praise and adoration to the Creator. This is the second visit of the robin.

    We know it was really there after the crumbs of the mass bread, but don’t tell that to the good folk of pre-Victorian Cheshire who were busy with their own romance. As it happens Beach has often run into stories about birds in church: owls particularly cause problems and there is one memorable instance of an ‘owl’ writing to a local paper to explain that he is not a ghost. There are also instances of birds getting trapped in churches and causing dear bloody murder. But this robin was evidently being cast for the Lindisfarne story… Any other holy roller birds from the annals of supercilious religion 1700-1950: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com Beach suspects a ‘genre’.