Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Common prayers

My favourite lefty vicar is John Davies, whose parish is just a few miles from here in Norris Green, north Liverpool. Like me he is interested in the everyday, and he spent his sabbatical walking the line of the M62 motorway, writing an enlightening book, Walking the M62, about it which you can find on the web. He has an excellent website ( of considerably riper vintage than this one, where he explores his ideas about the ordinary. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s exactly as he seems on his blog – an open mind and a generous heart. I’m a faint-hearted agnostic myself (sadly, unlike the fundamentalist atheists, we don’t tend to trouble the bestsellers lists) but any institution - in this case the Church of England - that can accommodate a Lefebvre-reading, Bill Drummond-influenced, Patti-Smith-fanatic free thinker like John has to have something going for it. I especially like his ‘common prayers,’ influenced by the inspired Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, some of which he reads out on BBC Radio Merseyside. Like this one about shopping trolleys:

We give thanks for shopping trolleys
Wire-framed carriers of all that we consume:

Baskets on wheels, shaped and sized to fit our needs, moulded to the requirements of small babies and the less mobile, variously designed to take the loads of big-eating large families and the humble pickings of single folk.

We celebrate the wonder of their storage - stacked together, one inside another, like friendly snakes waiting for us to snatch them into our service;

We celebrate the wideness of the supermarket aisles, giving us space to pass shoppers going the opposite way, or lingering around shelves we choose to ignore;

We celebrate the friendly efficiency of the checkouts where the assistant offers to help us with our packing.

We give thanks for shopping trolleys
Wire-framed carriers of all that we consume.

Bless those who spend their days collecting trolleys from the car park, chasing wayward ones, running them in jangling lines back to their base location;

Bless those who spend their days stacking shelves while customers come along and empty them again;

Bless those who make announcements to reunite lost children with their loved ones, and to alert us to the savings to be had that day.

Help us to remember the one-pound coin we might need to make a trolley our own;

Help us to be patient with slower customers and troublesome trolley wheels, and save us all from trolley-rage.

Help us to forgive those who abandon trolleys in distant bushes or stretches of water. May they become happy playthings for small animals or safe shelters for fish.

We give thanks for shopping trolleys
Wire-framed carriers of all that we consume.

Amen to that.


Today I received a royalty statement from the publisher of my first book, which first appeared in 2000. In the tax year 2007-8 it sold nine copies, on which I am to receive a royalty of £5.76. I’ll try not to spend it all at once.

1 comment:

  1. I had never read John Davies's work until now and I must say that your inclinement towards him is justified. The more you target real life topics, the better you connect with the common man and he has done the same while writing so artistically about the shopping trolleys.