There’s a long standing stereotype that Christians don’t care for ‘the finer thing in life’ – well, that isn’t strictly true.
Although I’ve led a relatively staid life over my 6 decades – I can’t say I haven’t spoiled myself when I’ve had the chance. One such example is ‘Betty’.
After thirty years or so working as a Christian establishments, I had gotten used to feeling perpetually ‘uncool’. It’s a folly of youth that assumes older people lose the concept of ‘cool‘. Understandably, it’s a concept that was established somewhere around the late 50s and the assumption is that, as you gain years and experience, you care less and less about how you’re perceived. Since attending University in the 60s, studying Religion & Theology, I have felt that I’ve missed out on ever feeling cool.
My parents were wonderfully old fashioned people, the kind that probably don’t exist anymore – at least, not in the UK. Maybe that’s a good thing, I loved them but they had some blinkered views on the world that were, perhaps, best left in the past. They instilled a sense of hard work and strong moral fibre (minus the strangely antiquated prejudices), but failed to allow me to develop my own identity – at a time when I really needed it.
As a result, I travelled up North to Manchester as, really a boy, untrained and unprepared to face the world as anything but a relatively close carbon copy of my parents’ combined Old World attitude.
To say it was a difficult time, would be an understatement.
I made it through though. As it is for most people, University was an important part of my development as a person. The wide variety of people, that I met and studied with there, informed me on the many different ways that a life could be led. My Plymouth Brethren felt a long way away and I began to dream of un-Christian notions. ‘Betty’ was just one of those notions, who would be realised much later in my life – after decades of dealing with my inherent ‘uncoolness’.
I’ve never been much of a motor head, but after seeing a Porsche 911 swoop past my battered Anglia in 1965, I knew it was the car that I wanted.
It was a strange thing – to have such an intense need for a material object. Back in Plymouth during the 50s of my youth, we were happy to have what we could get. A life free from the tyrannical Germans that we had so closely avoided, good ale and a decent cricket game in the summer. But the 60s brought with them a time of material goods and the ever unattainable goal of ‘coolness’.
When I retired from teaching – that 1968 Porsche 911 was the first thing I bought.
‘Betty’ is an old girl. She needs a lot of love and care to keep her on the road – and only the best technicians to work on her. So when the time came to give her a complete service, I knew I had to take her on a serious road trip to get to the right mechanics.
I’d not been to Liverpool before, but when a friend from the Porsche Club recommended Tech-9 (http://www.tech-9.co.uk/), I knew it was the right thing to do – plus, I’d always heard about the stunning Cathedral there and wished to pay my respects.
The drive took a long time.
‘Betty’ had a top speed of 131 mph back in 1968. Several owners and a period of long misuse had led to that speed being significantly capped. We took around 6 hours to do the 300 miles or so up North. I left her with the lads of Tech-9, friendly chaps who gave me the ‘cool’ respect that I’d always looked for as a teenager – I knew I’d left her in good hands.
Liverpool is a city that has always been concerned with religion. It’s two Cathedrals – owned by the Church of England and Catholic Church, rest at either ends of Hope Street and dominate the skyline. Although the Catholic Church’s Metropolitan Cathedral has it’s own strange beauty, in the realm of science of fiction, it was the Church of England’s Cathedral that I had come to see.
Giles Gilbert Scott’s competition winning design was fully realised in 1978, the stone and brick construction stretches 100 metres up and is truly breathtaking from the outside. The interior does not disappoint either, cavernous halls and an elaborate organ facade make this Cathedral one of absolute grandeur and decadence. Not a place that I would feel comfortable praying in – but a beautiful destination – nonetheless.
When I picked up ‘Betty’ from the mechanics, I was thoroughly impressed by the new sounds, or lack of sounds, she made. As I drove past the Liverpool Cathedral, I had one last look at it’s grand stately facade, with the westering sun fading behind. Although it wasn’t a place that instilled any religious fervour in me, I understood their intention.