Today, known as 'Palm Sunday', marks the beginning of the season referred to in the worldwide Christian church as 'Holy Week' – commemorating the events leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so I wanted to share a signed book that wasn't entirely out of sympathy with that theme.
Hence my choice of The Lion's World (2012) by Rowan Williams, the immediate past Archbishop of Canterbury.
I can claim only a passing relationship with The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth, other than that he once invited myself and David to an event at his official London home, Lambeth Palace: a fascinating wine-and-canapes evening that saw all sorts and conditions of arty and media folk rubbing shoulders with one another in the Palace's Great Hall; among them, I recall, Simon Callow, delivering grandiloquent pronouncements in a extravagant-theatrical manner and Alan Bennett lurking in a corner, obviously somewhat out of his comfort zone, and murmuring to us that he was eager to make a speedy getaway as soon as was respectfully possible after Lord and Lady Rowan had made their initial circuit of the room.
His Lordship and I did have one other thing in common: we had both written and exchanged books about C S Lewis and the Land of Narnia.
As you can see, Lord Williams signed my copy of The Lion's World:
+ Rowan C:
Now here's bit of ecclesiastical trivia for you... the signature follows the historic tradition for the signatures of Archbishops: the cross indicating his status as a bishop while the 'C' is shorthand for 'Cantuar', which is an abbreviation of the Latin name 'Cantuariensis' for Canterbury.
My other encounter with Rowan Williams was on Sunday 23 September 2012, a little over a month before the end of his tenure as Archbishop. The occasion was a service at our local church, St John the Divine, Kennington, during what was the last day of a series of visits that he made to parishes local to Lambeth Palace.
His Lordship is a man of great intellect and an authoritative speaker – delivering erudite addresses with not a single note in sight. He is also a warm and humorous man as can be demonstrated by a little anecdote from that event in 2012. Following the service, I introduced him to two of our closest friends: Sheila and Roger who had joined us for the occasion.
"Archbishop," I said, "this is Sheila Shrigley, a Licensed Lay Minister at All Saints Church, Ascot."
Greetings were exchanged and hands duly shaken.
"And this," I went on "is her husband, Roger, who is a Quaker."
"A Quaker!" replied the Archbishop, enthusiastically taking Roger's hand, "I should like to be one of those –– when I grow up!"