No False Starts!

Youth Worker’s Bournville Parish Magazine article.

“When I was at VI Form college a large part of my life, like many of my peers, revolved around music. The genre of choice at that time was alternative, or ‘indie’, rock, and the particular band that I had latched on to was called Teenage Fanclub. I liked to hear my favourite bands play ‘live’ and so I made a recording of a concert they had given that was broadcast on Radio One. I enjoyed listening to how this band interpreted their material for a live audience by giving some songs an unexpected twist. At one point, the lead singer announced, in his thick Glaswegian accent, “we’re now going to do a song with four false starts”. In time-honoured fashion the drummer counted time with his sticks for the rest of the band to strike up together, which they did, but only played the first chord before falling silent. The drummer counted the band in again, with the same result. This was re-peated twice until, on the fifth time, the band played the whole song through.
In life, when one is about to strike out on something new, there is always the fear that things could begin badly, or maybe not at all. Or maybe you’re on your way and are afraid that things might grind to a halt. Maybe you share my fears! Well, I must confess to having those fears regarding my new job as the youth worker at St Francis. What if it didn’t start well? What if I found it difficult to fit in? What if the young people didn’t like the look of me?!
I needn’t have worried! At my commissioning service on 4th November there were no false starts. In fact, it was a very good start to my new life and work at St Francis of Assisi, Bournville. For me, this was particularly due to the involvement of the young people in the service, who asked me some challenging questions (and if I have any ideas of going back on those promises in future, the young people will be there to remind me of what I said!) In addition, I can’t think of a better environment to begin my vocation than in the care of God’s people at prayer. I was also grateful for having the presence and support of some members of my family too.
On reflection, the only time I felt the whole process stutter slightly was when I had to wait for some paperwork from the diocese before I could start work. So, unlike Teenage Fanclub, there were no ‘false starts’ to speak of – only a bit if character building patience.
I would like to thank the many people who have made me and my family very welcome over the past few months; from our warm welcome as strangers in the summer, to those who took the time and trouble to be friendly throughout the long discernment process of application and interview, as well as those who have kindly introduced themselves since I started here at the end of October. I would particularly like to thank the young people who helped me to fit in at FAITH, who bought me gifts and talked to me even though they didn’t know me, making sure that I had the best of beginnings to my time here.
Paul Northam.”