Praying for good news on the church trail
AN item of news from Hitchin this week brought a rush of happy memories from my early days as a journalist. As a cub reporter it was not only my job to make the tea and write up the wedding captions – after a while the mysteries of A-line and Empire line
AN item of news from Hitchin this week brought a rush of happy memories from my early days as a journalist.
As a cub reporter it was not only my job to make the tea and write up the wedding captions - after a while the mysteries of A-line and Empire line dresses worn by brides were unravelled in this young man's mind - but also to do the church calls.
If a junior was asked these days to do them the response would probably be: "You must be joking."
But in those days they were seen as an important element of the on-the-job training.
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Here's how it worked - every Monday morning, after making the tea, and no matter what the weather,, one set out from the then Hitchin office to call on all the vicars and priests who lived within walking distance.
It was a set route, never varied, which took one along Bancroft into Nightingale Road then to Verulam Road, Highbury Road, The Avenue and Chiltern Road.
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The door one knocked on was always attached to a large, imposing house reflecting the importance of the person who lived there.
It was a bit like a tradesman calling - you never knew what the reception would be.
Sometimes the minister answering the knock barely had time or inclination to talk, dismissing one with an airy: "Nothing for you this week."
Others might be more accommodating, inviting one into the hall or even the front lounge to tell the inquisitive journo about a wedding coming up or disclose details of the next church fete.
Everything was eagerly jotted down to be dutifully repeated to the chief reporter when one got back to the office.
The last port of call on the church calls was Church House which then was recently built and so epitomised the best in modern design.
It was where the senior vicar of Hitchin, the Rev Meredith if my memory serves me correct, had his office.
At such a young age, one could be a little awe struck when one went in to sit before him but he was usually welcoming if he was not preoccupied with something else.
Sometimes a cup of tea was offered which went down very well on a cold winter's day.
But I can't remember that these calls ever producing a super duper, hold-the-front-page story.
This all came back to me as I learned that the building where succour was sometimes given to a cold, wet cub reporter may be knocked down and a new Church House built in its place.
After four decades, it's past its best. At least with this plan, if it ever goes ahead, there will be a much better facility for the Hitchin community and what is proposed should fit in nicely with the adjoining old properties.
One thing is certain about Church House - this product of the Swinging Sixties always stuck out like a sore thumb in the ancient part of the town in which it stands.