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Past Events – Retreat 2004

Jigsaw - Friday 27 to Sunday 29 February 2004

Written by Steve Roberts - BANG! Chair 2003-2004

'Twas twilight as the travellers approached the place known as "Legge House", after a journey full of maths and silliness. "Turn right" was the cry from Tim, as Matthew drove through the streets of Wroughton. Alas, for it was the wrong right turn and we had just turned into a random drive. This (along with the adventure which was trying to find Beth at Swindon station) basically set the tone for the 2004 retreat.

There had been many a worried face as the snow fell and settled on the Thursday night, but by Friday, the roads were safe. So, we all arrived and settled down in BANG! fashion to choosing rooms. Unfortunately, the rooms chosen were not the same as previous years, so as Anglicans we had to face change.

Over a supper of fish, chips, sausages and pies, many puns were made about fish, which confirmed everyone's fears/hopes (delete as appropriate) that this BANG! retreat would be as wacky as all of those which preceded it. This may have been added to by the fact that the 5 most recent chairs of BANG! were present for the weekend; Steve, Beth, SJ, Matthew and Matthew (you see Matthew was present twice).

After a smattering of washing up, we settled down for our first session, led by Anthony. It started with a pub style quiz about the bible, which a few of us were concerned about when we saw our scores. They must have been trick questions...? To be honest, it did put things into context, and that's what the session focussed on; the context of the bible and how it means different things to each of us. The third part of this session was an overview of the prophesies about Jesus.

Luckily we had put "timings approximate" on the programme, for night prayer was slightly late (only about an hour and a quarter!!!). Matthew led us in some sensitive prayers and thoughts, which was a fitting end to the day for some of us, as we soon retired after it. For others, it was another hour or three until they found the place called "bed".

Saturday started in the same way as most days do, with the expurgefactor (waking up machine; sorry, that's an in-joke). Breakfast was beautiful (for those who consumed it) and then the washing up went the same way (I don't mean we ate it...!). The morning session led by Anthony would have started on time if it weren't for an epic battle on the snooker table between "old" Steve and "young" Steve (or was it "old" Steve and Tim...just goes to show how memorable it was!). This session followed on from the one the night before and to summarise, it was about how the bible relates to today rather than being just an historical document.

This was followed by more free time and then a veritable feast (we had a discussion about the meaning of this word) of bloomers, pate, cheese, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, orange pepper, crisps and fruit. (By the way, the discussion was about the meaning of "veritable" rather than "feast").

The walk. This can be summed up as:

  • It was cold
  • It snowed
  • We took some random BANG! photos
  • Tim blindfolded himself
  • Matthew's feet were cold
  • SJ flooded the bathroom (she wasn't on the walk you see)
  • We had fun

When we arrived back at Legge House, we were greeted by Jonathon, Pirkko and Jessie. They then led a session (once the chicken was in the oven, the vegetables had been peeled, and they were starting to boil) which was a role play based on the last supper. This was very good and thought provoking, and I think many people learnt a good deal from it and really "felt the bible in their gut" to quote Rev "trying hard not to be Jesus" Lloyd (Jonathon in other words).

The feast was served to a hungry lot of people, and again we can warrant calling it veritable. SJ, Matthew and assistants laboured in the kitchen for many hours to produce this food, and it was much appreciated. The candle-light, wine and string quartet contributed to the atmosphere certainly (sorry, I was just joking about the string quartet...they were rubbish!)

After a feast as veritable as the roast dinner, there is always a lot of washing up, so all of us slaved away in the kitchen to clean up before the games (apart from SJ and Matthew who deserved a break). We were going to go straight into playing games, but lashings of tea, coffee and hot chocolate had to be drunk first.

Sardines was the game of choice, and boy was it fun!! The whole evening won't be included, but there are some honourable mentions:

  • Steve being mistaken for Jessie as he lay on Tim's legs under one of the beds
  • Sam hiding in the laundry cupboard under lots of blankets, and being very difficult to find, despite being stepped on several times and prodded vigorously with a vacuum cleaner
  • Jonathon lying down as a decoy, and fooling five members for 20 minutes (for everyone's sake the names of the five will not be disclosed!)

It was a big leap to go from the excitement and energy of sardines to night prayer, but again, it was a good time to take stock of the day that had passed and just to slowly wind down. For some people, the end of night prayer signalled bed. For others this came later. For others apart from the others, this signalled the beginning of card playing and randomness until 3:30!

So, Sunday morning came, and with it, Matthew opened up some betting; what time would SJ be seen? His own bet was 10:25. "Old" Steve decided that this was unfair on SJ, and thought 9:45 was more reasonable. In the end, it was Tim with his expert estimate of 10:17 that was closest to the 10:13 arrival.

Communion followed on from breakfast, only with a slight difference. We followed on from the Saturday afternoon session and had the communion service lying down, which was original, and also thought-provoking. As part of this, we sang a few songs and finished with the age-old primary school classic "One more step along the world" while we paraded around Legge House.

The plan was to follow communion with packing up and preparing the lunch, but this was abandoned at the mention of Mafia. Sam had practised his story-telling and we were treated to a wonderful performance from Beth as the mafia, as she won the game having killed off the doctor in her first move. The second game was also won by the mafia, in the form of "young" Steve.

Lunch was the next issue, and this consisted of breakfast...a cooked breakfast at midday. This again was fantastic (especially the rosemary mushrooms and the attended toast!). The washing up afterwards was complimented by a discussion about the "INSECT-O-CUTOR", which became quite bizarre.

Unfortunately, after the washing up, it was time to depart, but not before the photos. Ummm, actually this might have come before the washing up. Oh well! We had the traditional BANG! photo, with three cameras set on auto-timer and three people rushing back to be in the photo. On top of this, we decided to have a photo of the 5 previous BANG! chairs, but unfortunately Matthew couldn't clone himself, so we were stuck with 4 of us (although still spanning 5 years).

We bade each other farewell and the cars set off with Matthew in the lead and SJ following. Once we got to the motorway, SJ soon overtook and sped off into the distance (only to come a cropper and miss the Bath exit). The end of a fantastic weekend.

(The one thing that I did not mention within this report was cake. Being a BANG! retreat, plenty was consumed and it just seemed too obvious to mention it!!!)

Check out the Retreat photos.