Awkward Moment #5: Echoes

Recently, my family and I attended an Ordination of Deacons at the Anglican Cathedral in my hometown of Liverpool, England. For those of you who have never been, google it, it’s one of the most magnificent buildings you’ll ever come across. A close family friend was taking part in the ceremony, after which the entire congregation was invited up to the altar to receive holy communion.

Being the only family member not confirmed, I usually just opt for the blessing (that and my extreme lightweighted-ness when it comes to alcohol is alarming enough to dissuade me from the wine). So, we’re in the long queue extending up the vast aisle in the central wing of the cathedral, my sister in front of me and my dad behind me. It was a three hour long service so a number of things were on my mind at this point:

1. How loudly my stomach was demanding sustenance.
2. I needed to pee like Seabiscuit.
3. My phone had been switched off for 3 hours and I was anxious to hear from Cait (scroll down to find out more about my friend Cait).
4. An early start meant I was close to unconsciousness.

All of these things were aided by my Dad making me laugh all the way through the service with his silly jokes and slapstick sense of humour.

Anyway, back to the queue…we approach the communion benches, and Dad whispers to me, “Oh Crap…”.
“Dad, don’t swear, we’re in the Cathedral”, I respond, wary of the sandstone figures glaring at me…do they see and hear everything?
“I think I’m gonna sneeze”, he sniffles back, in a desperate attempt to evade the inevitable sitcom-esque situation heading towards us. It’s suddenly our turn for communion, so we each walk forward and kneel down. In unison, both of my parents gasp when they land on their knees and mutter, “Oof. Knees have gone, never getting back up now…”, which makes me giggle silently.

I bow my head to be blessed, as my parents and sister hold their hands out to receive bread and wine (or in this case, wafers and wine). The Bishop of Liverpool is conducting the ceremony, and begins handing out the wafers. He gets to my Dad, and is immediately aware of the expression on his face, not dissimilar to this:


He must have some experience of this type of event occurring during Communion, so he hangs back wi the wafer and waits patiently for my Dad to sneeze. Which he does. EPICALLY.
My Dad is renowned for loud sneezes, but this is definitely something else….

Now, just to give you an idea of the sheer scale of this building, here are some fun facts:
1. The Architect had his designs commissioned in 1903 when he was 22 years old. He died almost two decades before construction was completed in 1978. (Something else I just found out about this guy, he also designed the red telephone box!)
2. The echo has been measured to last between 12 and 14 seconds, depending on decibel and location inside the cathedral.

This echo lasts at least 13 seconds. We hear it, the congregation hears it, and perhaps even the Big Man himself heard it. I freeze, my eyes widen as I look at my father, who I did not know was capable of emitting such a noise. The bishop, still hovering, wafer in hand, looks at my dad. “You good?” he asks, to which my dad shakes it off and nods. The bishop, all credit to him, then resumes his duties. “The body of Christ BLESS YOU and keep you in eternal life”. What a chap.

Returning to our seats, all four of us stifle diaphragm-achingly heavy laughter, as do many of our friends sitting near us. Do you ever feel as though your life is a sit-com?


  1. Rik Davnall (@eatthepen) · July 11, 2012

    That picture is glorious… Also, I gotta go try sneezing in the cathedral now. If God’s going to give me hayfever, he can share the pain.


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