Yes, I’m in pursuit of it. Happiness. I’m on the lookout for notable examples of the phenomenon, to see if I can make any sense of where it happens and where it doesn’t. I might record them in a book, too, as something to turn to on rough days, to lift the spirits a bit by the recollection of being caught up in the infectiousness of an unaffectedly happy person. Hey, it’s no sillier than collecting spoons or snow domes, is it? Little reminders.
On the face of it, I shouldn’t have much enjoyed this trip to World Youth Day with seventy others from our diocese. I’m not really made for group touring. ‘On your right… And now on your left… Keep together, please.’ I like to poke around on my own and search out little curiosities that no one pays much attention to, to spend the time as I want.
In my five years as Bishop of the Diocese, this is the second commission of inquiry before which I have appeared. There is a very considerable difference in scope between the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘Royal Commission’) and the Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
Everybody seems to think that I should write about going to World Youth Day. I’m inclined to believe it would be more useful to write about it while I’m there, or even afterwards, but perhaps there’s something to be said for laying out my expectations, hopes and foreshadowings. People seem to think so. By the time you read this, I and the other 70-odd pilgrims will be about to depart.
It is a big, new carpark, and in the early afternoon there are a couple of hundred vehicles in the visitors’ section. Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. I’ve come to see an old mate of mine who is awaiting deportation to New Zealand. He is not a ‘boat person’.
“I’ve been up to London to look at the Queen…” So the old nursery rhyme has it. Before you read this, on April 21 in fact, Queen Elizabeth will turn 90 in real life.