Ladydale Diary

St. Bertilla, 2020

As well as being the feast day of a little-known saint, November 5th, the date on which I’m writing, is also Guy Fawkes Night back in England, otherwise known as bonfire night or fireworks night. It’s the nearest the Olde Countrie gets to the Fourth of July, though the reason for England’s celebration is somewhat darker. This is the day on which people throughout the country light bonfires and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, a Catholic put to death in 1605 for his part in the infamous Gunpowder Plot, fireworks being set-off simultaneously in celebration. In some parts of the country, such as Lewes in Sussex, an effigy of the pope is also burned.

I am currently reliving the dark days of anti-Catholic persecution as I continue work on my book on the Catholic history of England. I’m now in the 1670s, during the reign of Charles II. It’s been a real joy to get up close to my own Catholic heritage and that of my countrymen, even though it is denied so crudely and ignorantly by other of my kinfolk on this darkest night of “celebration”.

As for the online classes I’ve been teaching, I’ve been immersed in Shakespeare this week. Last Friday, I gave a lecture on King Lear for Red Cultural, a group based in Santiago in Chile, with which I’ve collaborated often over the past decade or so, and Lear was also the text for the final class of the Shakespeare course I’ve been teaching for the Albertus Magnus Institute. Yesterday evening (Wednesday) we began our discussion of Othello in the Imaginative Literature class that I’m teaching for Memoria College. Tomorrow, the focus of my lecture for Red Cultural will be Romeo and Juliet.

Tomorrow morning, as part of the regular weekly interview on Sacred Heart Radio’s Son Rise Morning Show focusing on my book, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, I’ll be discussing Chesterton with the show’s hostess, Anna Mitchell.

Otherwise, it’s been a fairly uneventful, if busy week.

Beyond the bounds of my office, I watched Chelsea beat Burnley last Saturday at a local bar, with three friends. We’re planning to rendezvous for another game this Saturday.

Earlier this week we had a species of bird visit our feeder, which we’d not previously seen. Having consulted two of our Bird Guides we’ve come to the conclusion that it was a female purple finch. Whether it’s arrived for the winter or was just passing through on its migration south remains to be seen. Less surprising is the ubiquitous presence of our resident squirrels. Susannah caught a snapshot of one of them playing jack-in-the-box with a jack-o-lantern, which I’ve selected for this week’s featured image.

We had some friends round on Sunday afternoon, whose youngest child, Dominic, is our godson. Conviviality and conversation abounded. We’ve also been looking after two dogs (beagles of a sort) for other friends this past weekend, much to Evangeline’s delight.

On a what-might-have-been note, my calendar is informing me that I was supposed to be in Portland, Oregon today, giving a talk at George Fox University. The COVID pestilence put an end to those plans….

Oh, and I spent three hours queuing up to vote on Tuesday but the less said about that the better.

In these dark and undemocratic days, I turn to that diminutive prophet, Samwise Gamgee, who reminds us that “above all shadows rides the sun”!

May the Risen Son, the Light of Life, lighten your hearts and enlighten your minds in the coming week.