Home life · Notes from West London

Two things that we didn’t do in April 2020

When did you first use a cashpoint? When did you first insert a bank card into an ATM (“hole in the wall”) and withdraw cash? For me it was some time in 1983, when I was a student. It involved using my new NatWest Servicecard, which was separate from my cheque guarantee card. Before that, in the first year or so of having my own bank account, I had withdrawn cash from the nearest branch by cheque (with that cheque guarantee card). When first using cashpoints I realized that I was doing something that my father had never done, namely use a computer. I also appreciated how much time I was saving compared to queuing up to cash a cheque.

I mention all of this because the month just ended, April 2020, is the first month since 1983 that I have not used a cashpoint. My last withdrawal was in March, and I have not spent enough cash since then to require another visit. We are still making purchases, at our local corner shop and at some of the few remaining takeaway places, there’s even been the odd trip to a supermarket, but the payments have been by card rather than with cash. Most transactions have been contactless.

April 2020 is also, as far as I can tell, the first month in my entire life when I have not attended mass. I assume that my mother took me regularly when I was a baby. I definitely went throughout my childhood and have continued to go during my adult years, but I have not even set foot in a church since March 2020. This is simply because they have all been closed for the last seven weeks. All places of worship here in the UK closed their doors a few days before lockdown was imposed.

April was certainly the first month that neither of my children have set foot in a church. I realized last summer, when my son and I went to a Saturday evening mass on the last day of August, that he had almost gone through an entire calendar month without attending mass. Since his Confirmation last May his attendance has usually been around two weeks in four. For my daughter, still serving on the altar on a Sunday morning, it was at least three weeks in four. There would be occasional Sundays when she wanted to do a junior parkrun, or some other form of training, or just take it easy after an especially busy Saturday. We were on holiday in Spain last summer, visiting my brother and his family, but as usual we did not attend mass while we were there. This meant that if we hadn’t gone on 31 August, my son would have gone through the entire month without attending a single service. Plenty of teenagers drop out of the scene after Confirmation but he has carried on, at least once a month, encouraged by me.

I didn’t use a cashpoint and I didn’t go to mass in April, and it turns out that the two activities are linked. I usually put cash in an envelope for the weekly collection. The envelopes are supplied specifically for this purpose, one for every Sunday throughout the year (and another for Christmas Day). If I had been filling up the envelopes during lockdown I would have run out of cash some weeks ago.  I should withdraw some cash soon, hand sanitizer at the ready, and fill up all those empty envelopes, though it looks like we won’t be able to enter any places of worship anytime soon.



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