I was brought up in a God fearing environment. And that’s what I remember – the fear. My parents were Irish, working class and devout Catholics and from where I stood as a child, there seemed to be a lot to fear.
In relation to class, God, the Church – whichever way you looked at it, it felt to me like we were pretty near the bottom of the heap. My parents were struggling for their children to get somewhere near ‘the middle’. But even this struggle involved the fear of religious hierarchy. I remember one argument my mum used as to why we should go to church, If the priest doesn’t see you at Mass, he won’t write you a reference and you’ll never get a job.
But this was just my mum reflecting her experience of the stranglehold that Catholicism had over the Irish society she had been born into. Whereas we were growing up in an enlightened, progressive Britain where religion was a choice… weren’t we?
Now an adult with a small child, I am amazed to find myself surrounded by middle class, educated, urban sophisticates with, you guessed it – the fear.
As the parent of a three year old, destined to start school next year, I can tell you that the fear of jeopardising your kid’s future, condemning them to a poor education or an environment with less than perfect companions – is pretty contagious. The kids I see on the bus from the local comp all seem perfectly polite and personable to me, but then there are the stories you hear, prescient with the fear…
(If you don’t want the fear, whatever you do don’t talk to teachers of your acquaintance.)
The play I have written challenges the principle of separating our children along religious lines and educating them accordingly. However, I myself have recently been drifting (albeit at glacial speed) towards the Anglicanism that my play CATCHMENT CHRISTIANS is in part challenging. I will never know if my continuing longing for faith and some sort of religious engagement is a genuine impulse or a hangover from my strict Catholic upbringing.
But if my drift towards Anglicanism continues, I am aware that I could end up being the only parent attending church who has the stated aim of not having her child attend a religious school…
Reader, what have I done?
CATCHMENT CHRISTIANS IS ON AT THE BLUE ORANGE THEATRE, JEWELLERY QUARTER, BIRMINGHAM, WED 4TH – SAT 7TH MAY 2011 www.frictiontheatre.com
AND BROMSGROVE ARTRIX SAT 14TH MAY 2011 www.artrix.co.uk