100 signed up in the first minute and 5,000 by the end of the first day. A week later it had grown to over 10,000, although the rate of new names was, thankfully, diminishing. And as I write this we’re up to 10,414. I’m talking about the online ballot for invitations to one of the three services in reinterment week, of course – not those on the Skyride last August whose picture all over the Cathedral Gardens is at the top of this Blog! That’s INVITATIONS, by the way, please note our favourite critics. Not TICKETS. They’re personal to the person who will receive them, not transferable, and you can’t buy them, or put your up on eBay. No, you can’t. So stop pretending you’ve discovered that you can…
And it’s fascinating to review where these applications have come from so far. Around 55% are local to Leicestershire, and the balance from everywhere else. Of course most of those are from elsewhere in the UK – yes even York and Yorkshire! We said you’d all be welcome. But we have them from all around the world. The USA and Canada, of course. Australia and New Zealand. South Africa. Plenty of European interest. But how about this: 11 from Brazil, 4 from Japan, 3 from Saudi Arabia, and one each from Afghanistan, Algeria, Benin, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal ad Vietnam. Of course all of these stand exactly the same chance as each other in being selected to receive an invitation. As do those who apply at one minute to noon on New Year’s Eve, alongside the lady from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, who was the every first to complete her form within those first frantic seconds after 8am on Friday 12th. which, when you come to think abut it, was quite some achievement, given that she was competing against people from, say, Winston or Quorn.
It’s los been interesting there number of people who are still writing to us to ask “if we’re likely to receive an invitation” – some of them giving long and detailed reasons why they really should. Some seem to think we’ve already ruled them in or out – whereas the simple truth is until those letters go out, in the week beginning 12 January, no-one has been invited at all. Because they’re – wait for it – Letters of Invitation!
Enough of all that. This is my last blog before Christmas, and I’d like to end on a rather different note. I’ve just come back from our Cathedral Carol Service. These are mostly scripted by Johannes, our Precentor, along with Chris, our director of music, and they do a great job of it. just the right mix of traditional carols for all to sing, choral pieces that send shivers down your spine, and left-field poems or readings that make you stop. And think. And think again.
This year, as we recall the outbreak of the Great War 100 years ago, it was built in part around that Christmas Day truce that it seems really did break out the in 1914 between front line troops although much frowned upon by the generals behind the lines and back home. What is it, you may ask, that makes some people determine it’s OK to treat others as dispensable cannon fodder? Or maybe suicide bomb fodder. just how hurt, or how indoctrinated, do you have to be to behave like that? And yet the right moment or impetus can call us to the recognition of a fellow human being on that ‘other side’ with loves, feelings and hopes much like my own. Or even if we can’t say ‘like’, then still equally worth treasuring. “God so loved the world”, we say. Not just my bit of it, or my side within it.
Whoever is on the ‘other side’ from you this Christmas – maybe something can trigger that moment of recognition? Maybe you can offer or accept your own truces. Who knows what it might lead to in 2015?