God, Mammon and Bicycles
I was in one of the Church’s Holy of Holies yesterday morning – Church House, which occupies the whole of one side of Dean’s Yard, Westminster. It’s soon to host the nuptials of nuptials at the end of April.
I cycled to the Victorian arch that leads from the front of Westminster Abbey into the lawned square. ‘Cyclists dismount’ – no problem with that, I thought, as I pushed my bike in. There are, after all, a lot of people wandering about the square – many of them boys, following in the footsteps of the Deputy Prime Minister, once a pupil here.
I’m in a hurry on my way to chair a secular meeting about ‘young offenders’. I pass the more than 40 car parking spaces, but nowhere in the square is there a single rack to park a bike. Rather, there are unpleasant notices stating that the police, no less, will remove any bicycle left in the square.
So, for God’s work, the car rules, some of them very large gas-guzzling cars – a Merc, a Range Rover. I was under the illusion that the Church had spoken out on ‘green issues’. Surely, in these trendier greener times, many of those 2,000 guests to the nuptials may want the option of cycling to the Royal Wedding – the father of the groom at least – no-one greener.
Alas, they will find they have to do what I did – search for a lamppost 500 yards away. But that turns out to be outside either the Department of Education, or the Home Office … from which bicycles are also banned – for, er, security.
God, and Mammon in unity! The Gospel today reads: cars good, bikes bad. And I’m old enough to remember the local vicar tottering along our village high street on his own trusted steed, making house calls. No more. Ring out the bells!