Anyone for tea?

   10.16pm. The heat-wave continues and there is no sign of a break in the weather. It has been so hot that this evening I have been able to sit out on the terrace in shirt sleeves while reading Spurgeon on The Blessing of Full Assurance (No. 2023, 13th May 1888).

   Although the weather has been so fine I have been unable to go up the hill to pray. The knee injury I suffered several weeks ago has been much aggravated of late and I have been reduced to hobbling around. The knee aches a lot and I find it difficult to rest it. Paradoxically, my spending three hours on my knees caught up in the Word and prayer on 24th May strained the knee again, and the more than 1,000 miles I drove recently has done nothing to help it.

   I drove another 160-odd miles today when we went to Southampton to see Mr C. Frazer Lumsden of 73 Portswood Road. First, I prayed in The Mansard for an hour and three-quarters until 7.00am then took Freda a cup of tea in bed, afterwards dealing with a pile of letters forwarded by Dad from the office. I ’phoned Dad at about 10.15am. He was in the garden at Russell Road watering the flowers.

   We set off for Southampton at about 10.30am, Freda and Janet going to the Bank and Post Office for me on the way, but we had to return home as we had forgotten the camera. This we wanted as we were visiting Salisbury en route. We got there at about 12.30pm and ate our sandwiches in the Cathedral grounds, assisted by several fantail doves, a town pigeon, a lady chaffinch, a few sparrows and a starling.

   There was no time for us to go inside the Cathedral but I noticed that it would in any case have cost us 15p each to do so. The upkeep of these buildings is expensive but I don’t like the idea of having to pay to enter God’s house.

   After eating our lunch we walked into the town centre looking for the toilets. The last time we saw Salisbury was when Freda’s father took us there in 1958 on our way back from Bournemouth. The place had changed a lot in 17 years.

   Driving on to Southampton I reflected that we had last been there in 1969 when I spoke at the Civic Centre. It was just such a day as this, very hot, and I suddenly realised it was precisely this day of the year, 25th June, and a Wednesday too. (I always remember June 25ths as it is John Maund’s birthday: he is 40 today). We saw the Civic Centre and the Royal Hotel where we stayed as we drove into Southampton today. Enquiries at a couple of ’bus stops soon got us out to Portswood Road and we found Mr Lumsden’s house without any difficulty.

   Actually we had been there before, ten or eleven years ago, when I preached for Ron White, but I had forgotten what Bro. Lumsden looked like. Perhaps he had forgotten me too, as he said I “looked younger” and “less care-worn” than when he had last seen me

   The house is an old one, in a shocking state of repair and terribly dirty. Bro. Lumsden took us first into his “studio”, a shed in the back garden, and took our photographs, then we went back into the house and were taken into the back room, where we met Miss Sneddon the housekeeper, who is a large size, and his sister Gladys, who sat, dead to everything around her, in the corner. She has Parkinson’s disease.

   Oh the filth and squalor! When Mr Lumsden said they had prepared tea for us we nearly cringed, and when he brought in a plate of ham [which we never eat] we almost curled up! The cups and saucers and plates were disgusting, and the knives and forks had food stuck to them. The chocolate biscuits had melted and the [slices of] Battenburg (Elim four-square) cake were contrived to look unappetising. There was bird-seed (and droppings, I shouldn’t wonder) on the dirty tablecloth. And yet we were touched (I was anyway) that these dear folk had gone out of their way to provide us with the meal. It was a kindly thought and we appreciated it, and so we ate what was set before us, including a little of the ham. It made me realise that Jesus must have gone into houses like that. Mr Pagett’s house was like it too.

   After the meal, Mr Lumsden took my photograph again as he was not satisfied with one of those he took earlier, then I read a couple of Psalms and prayed for all present, including two budgerigars and a shabby canary. We left at about 4.15pm and drove via Ringwood and then across Cranbourne Chase to Gillingham and Bruton, the same way we returned from Christchurch on 2nd July last year. On that occasion we drove home in torrential rain; tonight the weather was beautiful and the countryside never looked lovelier. Last Wednesday we saw Walsingham and the Norfolk Broads; today Salisbury Cathedral and the New Forest.

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webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30