FATHER Ted, college life, the plight of the homeless and life as the Archbishop of Canterbury were all on the menu in Abergavenny on Wednesday evening at An Evening with Rowan Williams.
The event, organised by St Mary’s Priory Church, began with a conversation between Bishop Rowan and Caroline Woollard before the Bishop fielded questions from members of the audience.
Bishop Rowan spoke about growing up in Swansea and the realisation at an early age that he was being called to the ordained ministry.
But academia beckoned before ordination and the teenager from Swansea went up to Cambridge – a culture shock, to say the least, he said.
“One thing which helped,” he said, “was that on my second day in Cambridge I met a homeless man and I learnt about the other side of the city.”
That concern for the homeless has been with the Bishop ever since – it manifested itself in a practical way while he was in his second year at Cambridge, when a group of students set up a hostel for the homeless, not having a clue, he admits, what they were doing.
Bishop Rowan is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, a less stressful job than being Archbishop of Canterbury, he agreed with a wry smile.
“It’s the little things which make a difference, like having our own front door and not living ‘above the shop’,” he added.
“Having more time to read and to write poetry is also a joy.”
And Father Ted? The formal parts of the evening were split by a fast-paced either/or question-and-answer session.
While the Bishop could choose easily between classical or jazz (the former), or dancing or singing (singing — you don’t want to see me dance), he found it more difficult to choose between Father Ted and Rev.
“Rev because it so accurately portrays what it’s like to be a vicar these days,” he said. “But Father Ted because it just makes me laugh out loud.”