With the introduction of a lower speed limit to much of Whitchurch, Kelvin Inglis, Vicar of All Hallows included the following in the local Whitchurch Parish Magazine.
He has kindly said that it can be published here.
THE VICAR’S LETTER
Twenty’s plenty. And one of the first things that we are discovering, we who drive through Whitchurch from time to time, is that it takes a little longer. This is about not just driving a little slower, but also waiting a little longer. We are used to giving way to oncoming traffic, and now the motorist or eight coming the other way is also driving slower.
The point has been made that the cumulative effect of the new speed limit in Whitchurch is pretty marginal; it may take a couple more minutes to negotiate the town centre but usually no more than that. The benefit is one that all of us can enjoy immediately. Our roads are safer because the chunks of metal passing close by all our fragile pedestrians are moving considerably slower.
There is also I think a health benefit for the drivers. I think it comes with having the opportunity to draw breath. Once we get used to it, we can surrender to the charms of a slow cruise along our streets and a patient wait for those with right of way. There is the opportunity to pause and smile and think, to see who is going past, and think about other people’s lives and priorities. The headlong race to my destination (because I am uniquely busy and important) becomes a meditative (but alert) journey. We have a choice: to fume and raise the blood pressure, or to breathe and lower it.
The old monastic practice of reciting the psalms as an act of daily worship has a similar practice to ‘twenty’s plenty’. The psalms were already old and venerated in the time of Jesus because they come from the hearts of those who grappled with their faith. They are full of experience and passion and emotion; sometimes eloquent and beautiful, and occasionally cruel or self-pitying. When recited in church, each sentence is paused for a few seconds at the midpoint, just to stop the flow of the words and to allow them and their meaning to enter the soul.
I have always understood that Mr Gladstone, the grand old man of Victorian politics, gave every mouthful of his food a deliberate and excessive number of chews. That sounds to me a ratherjoyless way to do things, but each to his own.
There is a modern and western habit of hurrying everywhere and everything, and I hope we can just occasionally slow down and appreciate the journey. In the overall scheme of things, twenty really is plenty.
The Parish magazine is an excellent production, available from the Church and other locations such as the Old Paper Shop.