April 16 2017.

Happy Easter! Guisborough Town chairman Don Cowan draws attention to a clue in yesterday’s Northern Echo crossword: “Sounds like a slight gain for Amos, say (5,7).” The answer, and a little more on Don, at the foot of today’s blog.

For 17 years until retiring from full-time journalism, I wrote a column called At Your Service, entailing attendance at a different church occasion every week. It was usually greatly enjoyable.

Among the traditions was what the churches sometimes call an Easter sunrise service, meteorologically optimistic but spiritually grounded in hope. It required a darkest-hour-before-the-dawn start, fine by me but demanding of the ever-supportive lady driver.

We’ve attended services on Redcar beach, the Las Vegas amusement arcade still bleeping like two fat ladies, and at the foot of Captain Cook’s monument. Several Easter dawns were spent panting up Pen Hill, in Wensleydale, of which it was said that if you could see the top it was going to rain and if you couldn’t it was raining.

Another year there was a 5am start in the cloisters at Durham Cathedral. “What are you ding here?” asked Tom Wright, then the bishop.

“Working, what are you?”

They’d lit a welcome fire in the cloisters – “what the county fire brigade calls controlled burning, not the sort of bonfire on which to immolate a November effigy or even barbecue a decent sausage, but splendid and symbolic, nonetheless.”

Old habits being what they are, we rise at 4am today for a service atop Middlehope Moor, in the wilds of Weardale, followed by a magnificent Easter breakfast down in Eastgate village hall.

It’s brilliant, the sun with his hat on – or least his Easter bonnet – at precisely the moment that Mr Michael Fish or one of his successors might have forecast. By nine o’clock we’re back Easter egg hunting with the grandbairns.

Whether Don Cowan started the day in church I know not, but his early afternoon email records that he’s already watched 15 times the video (is that still the word?) of young Louis Goldsack’s wonder goal against Penrith yesterday and still plenty of hours in this one.

And that little clue? Minor prophet, of course.

 

 

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