CF - Well mate, I was working for “The World’s Local Bank” on a contract, but in April, the ”World’s Local Bank” decided it could survive without me, so since then, I have been “sans travail”. But you would know that, because you are me.
CF – True mate, true. Does that mean you have been sitting around in your vest, smoking roll-ups and watching Jeremy Kyle?
CF – Very poor stereotyping of people without work, mate, you should know better. Anyway, having worked pretty much continuously for 40 years, I decided that I would take the summer off, especially as Sal and I have a long trip to the States and Canada planned, so securing work as the big day has got closer, has been pretty much impossible. Consequently, I have busied myself with decorating (inside and outside), doing bits and pieces for the Church, house-work and entertaining my son (who is with us at the moment having recently returned after a long spell in South Korea). Oh yes, Sudoku. A few people have seen me in Nero, quaffing back-to-back lattes and battling with a fiendish puzzle. I also wrote a children’s book, set in Ely. I am now looking for an illustrator.
CF – Strangely enough, I have a son in exactly the same position as you! Tell me, how did you end up in Ely and by extension, St Mary’s?
CF – I am a Kent boy and Sally is a Suffolk lass. When we decided we wanted “knock around together”, we settled on Ely as a place that was roughly half way between our respective families and friends. I also visited Ely as a kid and was really taken with it. Good train service also helps. As for St Mary’s, well I believe fate sometimes plays a role here. We bought the first house we looked at in 2011 and St Mary’s was the first Church we dropped anchor in. Much as it felt right from the beginning, it is what Chris and Debbie have brought to St Mary’s that has made us stay.
CF – Aw, that’s lovely mate. I think they are great too, but it is the whole package I love – the Leadership Team, the music groups, children’s groups, the worship, the teaching, the friendliness and more recently, Lisa, Kirsty and Ruth and the fantastic Gospel Choir. Anyway, I gather you have children. Tell me a bit about them?
CF – Well I have 3. A son of 31, currently living with us and also “sans travail” and 2 daughters who live in London. Eldest (29) is a litigation lawyer and the youngest (26) is a Manager in the area of Children’s Services. Sally has two. Her daughter (32) is a medical professional in Norwich and her son (31) an ex-teacher who is now an itinerant poet, doing his thing on stage and earning his cash however he can! At the moment, he is working at Festivals. Two very different individuals.
CF – Lovely kids mate, I have met them all. What is your favourite book from the Bible and why?
CF – I would have to say Proverbs. Deep, deep wisdom there. Chapter 10 – “Wise sayings of Solomon” is particularly thought provoking.
CF – And what is your favourite verse?
CF – Isaiah 53, verse 5. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole and by his bruises, we are healed”
This just simply describes the Jesus I know and is a chilling foretelling of what He had to suffer because of what we, humanity, had sunk to. What a debt of gratitude we own Him!!!!!!
CF – I am very struck by that hook into the New Testament. Next, if you were an animal, what would it be and why?
CF – I would be an elephant because I am forgetful, so love the idea of having a great memory. Also, it would be a lot of fun spraying people with water.
CF – Hmm, ok. Tell me a bit more about your work and what do you like best about it?
CF – Now you’re taking the mick mate. As I said, I am “sans travail”. My area of expertise (if you can call that) is Business Change – implementing Business, Regulatory and System Change in the area of Financial Services. I enjoy mentoring most of all. Trying to use my experience to help others.
CF – Oops, sorry mate, just dozed off for a second there. Can you repeat that?
CF – No. Next question. I need to get over to Nero for my caffeine fix.
CF – Ok, no problem. Don’t be so touchy. What is your least favourite part?
CF – Without a doubt the standardisation of work practice that has infested our Industry in the last 10 years. Management Consultant-inspired waffle and fluff that Programme Managers now prefer to adopt as “good working practice” rather than looking at a specific programme/project and set of circumstances and coming up with a solution/approach that suits that particular circumstance. I am also sad to see how much fear there is in Town now. People with families sitting in the office until 9pm because their boss measures them on time spent at work rather than the quality of what they do. In recent years, my contract extensions have got fewer because I, point-blank, refuse to play the “who can sit at their desk the longest” game. All it leads to is exhaustion, stress – and piles
CF – Tell me about a memory that has a particular resonance with you – good or bad
CF – One of each ok? Good. Looking up at the stars in October 1993 and being hit with a thunderbolt from above (not literally, mind). I had been pondering the after-life, faith etc and I think God just wanted me to stop messing about. A real Damascus Road moment. I was in a forerunner of Alpha course within weeks and baptised 2 months later – 19th December 1993.
Not so good – on holiday in Corfu with my first wife, brother, his wife and a few friends, sun-bathing on a platform, around 5 metres above the sea. Ever-competitive, my bro and I embarked on a diving contest. With nothing much between us, he suggested we try from a hand-stand starting point. “You can go first” he said innocently. Well I did and failed spectacularly. Did a belly flop that could be heard back in England. I emerged in agony, chest a mass of red, to a chorus of hysterical laughter. I have never trusted him since!
CF – Ha, ha, ha. Serves you right for showing off – not a great attribute mate. Next up, what is good about the Church of England and what needs to change?
CF – Well as you know mate, I am a real expert of the workings of the CofE and have given this question a lot of thought. After serious consideration, I would answer as follows
Bad – (1) the Bishops need to bin those silly hats that look like they belong at a fancy dress party and (2) Incense. I know it is tradition but for me, it smells foul and belongs on Father Ted.
Good – interfaith initiatives. There is far more that unites us than divides us.
CF – What do you regard as your great likes and dislikes?
CF – Likes – Church; love (wish we had as many words for love as the Greeks); compassion; tolerance; diplomacy; thoughtfulness; family; good friends; curry; beer.
Dislikes – dogma; hate; cruelty; selfishness; pedantry; flat-earthism; war-mongering; celery.
CF – What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
CF – There is so much that I find enjoyable when on holiday. Perfection would be sun, beautiful scenery, places of interest, good books, nice places to eat (local cuisine). Camping or apartments rather than hotels. Sitting in a Croatian sea-side open-air restaurant with Sal, eating a lovely meal and watching the sun set is about as good as it gets. Can make me very emotional as I realise how lucky I am. I try to remember to thank God for my good fortune. On a different level, waking up in a tent to the sound of the Atlantic tide racing in: waves smashing against the rocks, seagulls screaming and that slow-sucking sound as the waves retreat from the shore leaving trails of foaming salt behind. I can stare at the sea for hours. Please put St Agnes (Scillies) on your places to visit list.
I don’t like crowds and when I see union jack swimming trunks or signs saying “Full English served all day” my heart sinks.
CF – With you on all of that, fella. Finally, sum up your thoughts in fewer than 20 words
CF – Care about other people, just as Jesus taught us. A listener is worth the price of a thousand talkers.
CF – Many thanks for your time Chris