Today we in the north have had a bit of a storm, and that has made travel quite a struggle. That has all led to one of the closest shaves of my UCCF career. Let me talk you through it:
Because of the storm, Scotland was closed. Lots of people were trying to get from England to Scotland by train, and got as far as Newcastle before they were turfed off their trains and turned around. The usual supply of 5 trains per hour was reduced to one, and the speed limit was cut down to 40 mph.
I managed to get a train down to Durham (for a day’s worth of Relay interviews), and then got a lift back with one of the candidates.
In the meanwhile, the intended evening entertainment was in the form of a carol service at Northumbria, at which Simon was due to speak. He had let me know that his train from Sheffield was cancelled and he was getting on a coach, due in at 5:30. At 3:30 he sent me an email version of his talk, an updated ETA of 6:40, and a warning that I might be delivering the talk instead.
At 6:45 I arrived at the church, Simon had not arrived, and his phone had run out of battery.
Between 7 and 7:30 I re-wrote Simon’s talk illustrations, so that I didn’t have to pass off comments about wishing to play Joseph in the school nativity, or having chats about Jesus with the ‘lads from football’, as my own.
At 7:30 the service started, half an hour late. We sang ‘O Come all ye faithful’, had a reading from Luke 2, and then, two and a half verses into ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ (two and half verses before the start of the talk), Simon walked through the door.
I have never been more relieved to see him.
He did an excellent job, despite a day of travelling and having, literally, just walked in. And with one carol service down, I suppose we can call the official beginning of Christmas.
Joy to the world, and all that.
In summary: close shave.