As has become something of a tradition in our house, we once again made the radical decision at Christmas time to go to church. I know, rebels or what? And, as usual, I was lulled into thinking I would enjoy a nice carol concert. Perhaps due to the infrequency of my church attendances, it always comes as a bit of a disappointment when the church organ starts up and, with everyone else I stand up in readiness to sing of joy and good will. Only at that point do I realise that I can’t remember the words to any of the carols, apart maybe from the opening of Once in Royal David’s City...and they always keep that bit for the choir.
So, as usual I felt very self-conscious humming along and looking very bored. I always imagine that the priest is going to spot me, stop the music and demand to know what is the matter with me. He didn’t – thank his boss.
I was very interested to learn about the project to which the collection from the service was to go. Apparently, Newcastle is blessed with a team of ‘street pastors’ whose job it is to offer comfort and counsel to members of the flock who get into trouble after what we fondly call a ‘neet oot on the lash’.
It wasn’t until I checked out the project’s website that I realised the true nature of their work. The following is an extract from www.streetpastas..org.uk
The Street Pastas project started in Italy, under the leadership of the Reverend Al Dente, and now operates in many of Europe’s urban centres.
Street Pastas provide support to the fallen and the stumbling, often in very practical ways, as demonstrated by these wonderful examples:
Jimmy, aged 32 from Whitley Bay –“I felt terrible. I think my tenth pint was bad. Anyhow I was out in the street trying to vom but I just couldn’t get it up. Then this gadgy turns up and offers me some spaghetti – right long stuff it was. It was half down my throat when he yanked it oot again. Ya bugger that did the trick, champion. I felt terrible about his shoes like, but hey, what can you do?”
Sharon, 19, from Wideopen“I’d been on tequila slammers all-night and as soon as I hit the fresh air I went down. Dropped me chips and everything. Then, out of nowhere, this bloke came up. I thought I’d pulled. But then he lifted me head up and put this massive piece of ravioli under it. It was dead comfy – I was out like a light.”