Sign-up for free e-newsletter

Viewpoint from Tony Mallion 24/4/09


Tony Mallion, chairman of Gorleston and Bradwell Churches Together

Sir Noel Coward has a lot to answer for. In just four days in 1929, holed up in a Shanghai hotel, while sviewpoints cross logo jpeguffering from man ‘flu, he wrote his famous comedy “Private Lives”. It’s said its a play which even today, almost 80 years after its premiere at London’s Phoenix Theatre, is always being performed somewhere in the world. It’s a tale of a divorced couple who can’t live with each other – and can’t live without each other either.
Each having re-married, they find themselves honeymooning in neighbouring suites in a hotel in the South of France. And on adjoining balconies they begin to exchange insults which include that immortal line: “Very flatony mallion2t, Norfolk”. Since its something said in a sneering tone people have latched on it – and our county – with similar disdain ever since, as if flatness was the height of boredom and lack of sophistication. Sorry, they are missing the point. Its the very flatness of Norfolk which gives us those amazing open skies, landscapes, stunning sunsets and unique character. We are particularly blessed in Yarmouth with that local rarity of two high points from which to enjoy these even more – Burgh Castle and Breydon Bridge.
 Dove right
Years ago I read an article by a pioneer in the art of stage lighting who rightly commented that incredible sunsets could be artificially created in the theatre. He concluded this was the work of the lighting designer whereas what happened outside in nature was just a pure accident. That’s his opinion and it may be one shared by atheists who pay for adverts on the side of buses, but personally I’m not convinced. To me the stunning light over Breydon Water; a sunset which may only last for a few moments, is part of God’s sheer generosity. 
In the book of Psalms in the Bible centuries ago David, the shepherd boy who probably also knew a thing or two about sunrises and sunsets, wrote: “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and stars you have set in place – what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us ? Yet you crowned us with glory and honour” Phil Streeter in a more modern poem* titled “You are so extravagant, Jesus” writes of God: “Creation demonstrates My extravagance and may be considered outlandish, preposterous – yet it symbolises My love for you”
*Published in 100 Contemporary Christian Poets (Lion,1983)