Monday, 18 April 2011


Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and we all processed around the churchyard with our little palm crosses in our hands. It was a sunny day for it, too, and in a Yorkshire April you can't take that for granted. (Or in a Yorkshire mid-July, for that matter.) This reminds me of Brother Harry's tree.

Brother Harry was a warm, funny brother at the Franciscan House at Alnmouth many years ago. He wasn't a gardener himself, but Brother David Stephen was. On one particular Palm Sunday the palm crosses were made from very fresh, green pliable palm and David Stephen told Harry that he could plant his palm and it would grow. Now, that sounds like a wind-up to me, but David Stephen, honest friar that he was, could grow anything. I've no idea how he persuaded it to root, but it did, and Brother Harry was delighted with his tree. I never got away from the friary without a pilgrimage up the hill to see Brother Harry's tree.

At about that time, the TV chef Gary Rhodes did a programme from the friary, and cooked lunch for the monks. Harry was helping in the kitchen at the time, and seemed to be a doing a lot of fetching and carrying in the line of the cameras. He is now waving palm branches in heaven, and I'm sure had a good Palm Sunday. Whether the tree is still there, I really don't know.

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