Speaking in public

I hate the repetitive announcements: “Welcome to —— station. Please keep your luggage with you at all times. If you see anything suspicious, please report it to a member of station staff or to a police officer. Remember the three S’s- ‘See it say it sorted’.” The risk of terrorism is not sufficient- 126 people have been killed in the UK between 2000 and 2017, and many times more women murdered by partners or ex-partners. The purpose is to foment authoritarianism by creating a miasma of fear and promoting regimented thinking and behaviour. I loathe it.

So I thought, roll with it. Cringing when I heard it did me no good. Perhaps it could be an all-purpose greeting. To reassure someone as you leave them, you say “See it say it sorted,” encouragingly. Or a secular version of Allahu Akbar- you find a parking space when you are in a hurry, and give thanks with “See it say it sorted”.

I imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg in a stadium with his followers, at the end of his speech. “See it,” he whispers, and the multitudes repeat after him, like a great tide, quiet but inexorable. “Say it,” he says, conversationally, and their excitement builds as they repeat the words. Then he shouts, “SORTED!” They shout “SORTED SORTED SORTED SORTED” rhythmically, ecstatically, their joy uncontained.

The sunshine is beautiful. The announcement is disturbing. I go to Tate Britain, for “All too Human”, the exhibition of a hundred years of representative painting. It starts with two Stanley Spencer portraits of Patricia Preece, his second wife, with whom he never consummated his marriage but instead supported her and her female lover. She is naked, painted like an animal, with attention to the colours of her skin. I cannot read her expression and perhaps neither could he. At the end is a huge head by a younger artist. I love the moistness of the half-open mouth, and then up close see that the glistening light on the teeth is a single precise white brush stroke. Beautiful and disturbing at once.

Preparing to speak about worship, I have been thinking about it for weeks. Speaking at Quest helps me get my ideas clear in my mind. Worship is a part of my healing, improving my self-acceptance and understanding. We make decisions in worship. Speaking is a benefit to me. It also makes me feel useful, which makes me feel good. I share from the heart, and am so absorbed in my own sharing that I could not tell you much about what the other two said.

And when they appreciated me, people acknowledged that I spoke from the heart, as in worship-sharing. I contributed to a deeper, more profound evening.

I am bothered by Sandy asking what my pendant was, and picking it up between finger and thumb without asking. I stand there, she holds my pendant which is round my neck. I would have taken it off had she asked, and this is strange.

I am pleased by Graham talking of walking to work and being aware of surroundings, for the feeling. It’s spiritual, it’s animal, it might even be a symptom of a mental deficiency, but if you can turn it off you tend to like it when you do it.

People there were pleased at the idea of Quakers demonstrating, getting charged and found not guilty. Those who spoke from the floor are a radical lot.

“I’m going to —” said a trans woman. “Oh, good,” my mouth said, surprising me at its ease of fibbing. I am going there too. I think she is too negative and does not get Quakers. Others think she is OK and is getting there slowly, she just needs a bit of support. Well, I needed a bit of support in my time.

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