What an interesting time I had in Paris on Thursday & Friday!
I went up on the train, and arrived at Paris-Bercy at two o’clock; making my way to the Metro station Alma Marceau I remembered the giggles that Nick and I had when we were in Paris for the Convention a few years back. There is an announcer for all the metro stations for those who have sight problems, and on Line 9 (I think) he has an outrrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous French accent – which one would expect in France, but it is more so! – Nick and I found the pronunciation of the stations on this line incredibly funny, especially when he announced the station “Miromesnil”. The other thing that made us laugh (very childish) was that as we arrived one or t’other of us would say “If I ever have a llama I’m going to call it Marceau”**
When I arrived at the American cathedral, the Junior Guild ladies were setting up for the reception before the “Town Hall” – Q&A session – at 6 pm. So I helped them layout cakes and biscuits, teacups and saucers, until it was time, and people started arriving. I’m not very good in situations like this, but I managed to “work the room” and to give each candidate the card I’d made or them. Last week I had written a verse on each one, that I somehow thought had been “given” specially for each candidate. I might be imagining this, and it was completely random, but I believe God led me to each specific verse for each particular candidate. During this time, each candidate made a personal video – we decided to do it this way, rather than asking them to bring one along, to give a level playing field: each one having someone to film it, each person being in the same room, etc so that the techno-whizzy candidates wouldn’t hold an advantage over those who are less computer savvy. You can view them here if you wish to.
Then there was the Q&A session, which was videoed so that anyone from the parishes who couldn’t make it to the live sessions (or anyone else for that matter!) can view them. This was interesting too, as we saw how each candidate answered each question – they had had the questions in advance and so had been able to prepare an answer, maybe giving the opportunity to get across their “buzz points”. But the “questions from the floor” was even more revealing – these were questions that the candidates had no warning of, and not every one got asked the same question. Here I felt certain people fared better than others, with one candidate giving what I felt was a poor answer to a question about child abuse – although it’s important to take into account this was at the end of a long and exhausting day, with the question being answered on the hoof. After further consideration perhaps a fuller, more rounded answer would have been given. If you go to this link you can see a further link to the videos taken of the sessions.
After 2 hours of questions, there was then the reception in the Deanery of the cathedral. Here it was voting delegates, transition committee, priests of the convocation – and, for the poor candidates, more close up questioning! There was, however, wine and really delicious snacks to help (or hinder!) . I got the chance to speak to the spouses a bit more, although I didn’t speak to all the candidates again.
Then I left to stay at someone’s apartment overnight. The candidates were being whisked off to Munich on Friday, for their Q&A session on Saturday, then on to Rome for Q&A on Sunday! What a whirlwind tour! With each city comes a visit to other work being done in the Convocation, such as the work being done with refugees at the Joel Narfuma Refugee Centre in Rome.
I think that for me, there is one candidate that is standing out, but my “second place” candadate has definitely changed in the light of the walkabout in Paris. I look forward to listening to the videos from Munich and Rome to see if my opinions change, or are reinforced. It’s hard not to be too biased when listening: it’s easy to think “Oh I don’t think he’s right” – so I don’t listen to his answers properly. The elections in October are going to be really interesting…
** I have several of these “If I ever have a …I’m going to call it…” jokes. For example, If I ever have a lizard I’m going to call it Eddie, If I ever have a seagull I’m going to call it George, If I ever have a donkey I’m going to call it Hotie.
EXPLANATION: Eddie Izard is a British comedian, George Segal is an American actor, and Don Quixote is, well, Don Quixote!!