When I was younger I used to say it was a fool who believed in God and a brave man who didn’t. I’m still somewhere in that position. I often feel there is something out there but I’m not quite sure what it is. You could call me a logical person with a spiritual sensibility or just a man who likes to hedge his bets.
All in all I try not to get obsessive about it and like to think that if the mighty spell checker in the sky is up there and he sees that you are trying to lead a good and caring life he will ignore the fact that you forgot to wear a tie on some formal occasions.
I was bought up a catholic by a mother who followed all it’s rituals with iron self-discipline. I bought my girls up as Anglicans as much as anything because that is the religion of my forbears, ( my mother converted) and Anglican churches are more available in the countryside. My attendence was as much social as anything else but I enjoyed some of the ritual and it was a nice thing to do on a Sunday morning. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great one for respecting others beliefs but mine are a bit vague when it comes to this topic.
My partner is Muslim which seems, on investigation, to be not as different as we think and completely unrelated depending on how rigid your system of evaluation is. Speaking as a semi insider, the hardest part is laying off the pork, which I do as a mark of respect for her position, as I have a long admitted fondness for sausages, and a bacon sandwich taken with a cup of tea on a spring saturday morning is a pleasure that is hard to beat.
Not too long ago we went off to some Lebanese joint in the middle of London, with favourite cousin, who I have mentioned before. Despite her antagonism to Jane, my satellite navigation device, she is a great person to have around. We munched at our food and drank a glass of wine and repaired to the basement where dancing was available.
I find it hard to keep still when I hear music. I know I should. I have tried shoes with magnets and thrusting my hands deep inside my pockets, but sure enough, after a few beats I am on the floor and waving my arms around like someone trying fight with an umberella during a hurricane. Suddenly my knees start to jiggle and sure enough, my feet are now flying around as I soak in the rhythms of the current tune. Frankly I love it, and the words “lost in the music” certainly apply to me. I am not saying my movements are up to the standards of the Royal Ballet, or even the London Fire Brigade but no one gets hurt and I enjoy myself.
At the end of the evening we are standing outside the club drinking in the night air and generally catching our breath when a smart gentleman with his wife or girlfriend stops to ask me if I have recovered my breath. I have, and, for some reason which remains unclear, he launches into some story about driving a Hummer across Europe to Iran, or it might have been Iraq. It certainly wasn’t Norway . He was, it transpired, a British muslim of Iraqi origin travelling in an American car to his homeland in northern Iraq, and this complexity involved him in some difficulty at some border which all ended well, but was important enough to tell us about.
He seemed to warm to me for reasons which escape us all and asked, noticing my partner and her lovely cousin, whether I was a Muslim. “I’m not but they are” I said waving my hand grandly in their direction. “I was bought up a Catholic Christian, but in the circumstances I now describe myself as a Chrislim”. “What is a Chrislim” he asked, smiling at the term. “Well, it’s a Christian who doesn’t eat pork unless he’s hiding in the broom cupboard.”