Out-of-church thoughts on a Sunday morning

From time to time we will be including a short “feature article” in Network Ipswich, allowing contributors to express their opinion on some subject. This piece is by Philippa Kerr.
I once invited a new friend to dinner and, moments before her arrival, discovered she’s a strict vegetarian. My careful plans needed an overhaul and I stretched my brain to think creatively in terms of what might be done with a cauliflower! We had a great time and made a lasting friendship.
One of our neighbours isn’t too sure about ‘house’ invitations but will come along happily to anything in the party line which happens in the garden.
Another friend works shifts so there’s no routine to fall back on and we have to talk to each other if we want to get together.
I love to meet up with all these people and the best times are had when we’ve taken account of all the ‘quirks’.
I’m on a mission – to discover what happens on the streets of Ipswich while we’re in church meetings on Sunday.
9am and the car-boot sale in Portman Rd has been underway for 2 ½ (very cold) hours. It’s pretty full and ‘all of human life’ is here, the elderly and the very young, accents from Jamaica to Jaipur, from Suffolk and to the ends of the earth.
DSCN0787£5 buys a car pitch, a bit more for a van. There are ‘organised’ goods, hardware or DVD’s or sweets for the kids to compensate for Dad’s bacon butty. Some stalls offer the wares of ‘house clearances’, theirs or someone else’s, and being a Sunday shop-keeper is family fun.
There are other pitches that look ‘sad and necessary’, offering random goods and clothes, yesterday’s essentials, and therefore bringing a small return (50p mostly) to make it possible to buy today’s needs. The ‘regulars’ clearly know each other and bring news of desirable stock or undesirable ‘bargain hunters’. There seems to be a swift trade in second-hand bikes, this seems to be a ‘hot spot’ for the Eastern European community, rich in youth but probably not in cash.
Talk is of football and telly and a granny is angry with her son for swearing in front of his children – “Don’t you know it’s Sunday?” There are lots of young couples, looking worryingly thin. Older men alone are mostly browsing happily amongst rusty tools from another age, and (less happily) women searching purposefully through random piles of clothes and baby equipment.
9.30 am. I make my way into the town centre through some tiny residential streets that are dwarfed by car park and concrete, places left behind in the march of progress; would this be good or bad I wonder. No-one’s about.
Town’s almost deserted. Bizarrely an elderly woman, strolling alone down the Butter Market, suddenly up-ends her walking stick and practices her golf swing! I walk behind her to the Library where she forcefully ‘expresses her disapproval’ that its warmth is closed to her for another half-hour. A solitary policeman sits in his car on the, otherwise unoccupied, Cornhill. All the shops are still closed and only the ‘upmarket’ coffee shops are open, a small handful of customers inside, reading the papers.
I walk past a sign encouraging me to ‘Rise and Shine’.   In the churchyard, the tent-dwellers haven’t yet ‘risen and shone’; it must be really cold in there. The park’s pretty empty too, almost no-one around.
10.15am.The library’s open and warm but nobody has yet taken up the offer of the welcoming little tables and comfy chairs. A few Daddies-in-charge-of-the-little-ones are about now and by 10.30 I’m in a different world – shops are open and the burger bars are filling up with late breakfasters and coffee seekers. People are linking up with friends and family to shop in the relative (compared with Saturday) peace and quiet of a Sunday morning. By 11am numbers are high; I think we’ve gone from nought to several hundred in I hour. It’s quite an education.
What can we, as the Christian Church in Ipswich, offer here?
When I really want someone to meet up with ‘the Love of my life’ I need to know the ‘quirks’ and be creative.
Philippa Kerr
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