After I moved to my lodgings away from Winchester, I really was standing on my own two feet at last, aged 20, which was not too surprising because in everything I was usually a few years behind everyone in my age group and really quite immature and childlike. But I wanted to progress and be independent.
I continued to return to the Vicar’s benefice weekly as I was heavily involved in church groups and events and also because I still had gardens to look after in the Vicar’s benefice and Winchester as well as my work during the week.
I also started to attend the church in my new town. Interestingly the smear campaign in Jersey that blames me for all problems I have had in the Diocese of Winchester omits that I have been to several churches including this one where I had no trouble further than the usual social and communication difficulties.
the church at the time was run by a Vicar and his wife, this vicar was a big tall hearty man, known in town as ‘The Giant’. Interestingly, but this is a theme throughout my story, he had connections with my churches at Winchester. This Vicar had been the Vicar of the churches at Winchester that my Vicar friend now ran, and there had been problems and quarrels after he left because he kept coming back and leading and taking services even when my Vicar friend was installed, and they had had quite a row and she professed to dislike him, she told me that she had had to ask the Bishop of Winchester to intervene. She told me that it was the only time she had ever got any help or co-operation at all from Bishop Scott-Joynt.
It’s funny that this dysfunctional diocese blames me for everything isn’t it?
Anyway, so I began to worship at a combination of church in my town and the churches in the Winchester benefice, I found the town church very different and I got caught up in what I did not know would be known as ‘Charismatic’ worship, the Diocese of Winchester appear to want all their churches to lean towards charismatic, and that is driving away people who want more steady worship, which is sad, but anyway, I got caught up in it, I had experienced it previously at Church in Winchester, where again I was perfectly ok and got to know a few people although my vicar friend did cause problems between me and some other Church people in Winchester in her interventions which were to become a habit in my life right up until I was in Jersey. But anyway, Winchester Church and my town Church, so far so good, no abuse, no-one taking over my life or crossing professional boundaries, no-one taking control of me, and so I was ok.
But on the other hand I wasn’t ok, because no-one really understood my lack of communication skills and Charismatic churches are all bright and friendly on the outside but your problems go deeper and you can’t ‘God them away’ people lose interest and are not sure what to do.
So I got a variety of reaction to my problems, there was a group of young people, my age, one of whom befriended me and remained a friend, she lived up the road from me and we did various things together, the other young people, mainly men, were also shy, and we never knew what to say to each other, while the girl who became my friend was very charismatic and said she would never marry a man who was not a Christian, but the other young men weren’t interested in going out with her and she said she was lonely.
Anyway, the other people in church, the Vicar was the one who made the teas and coffees after church in the evening, and I asked him why, and he said no-one would bother to help him or even stay if he didn’t. So I got into the routine of helping him.
The church people were variable, as a large group of people are, some were friendly, some didn’t understand me, but there were no real problems. Someone once thought I ‘stormed out’ during a hymn, but actually it was because of the sharpness of the violin that someone, I think it may have been the Vicar’s wife, was playing, I was undiagnosed and did not understand that sharp noises hurt me because of AS, but it was actually someone in the church who helped me to realise I was on the Autistic Spectrum, as well as talking to me about hypersensitivity.
It remained that there were no real problems in the church. But I never really grew fond of them. The Vicar and his wife had problems, and those problems included the Vicar’s wife being mentally ill, I think it was depression, but it disrupted their lives and service badly at one point, it made me realise, again, that even people with dog collars and in postions in the church are not infallible and not perfect, this was driven home to me even more when their teenage daughter started sleeping with one of my work colleagues, she didn’t appear to be solidly in a relationship with him, just sleeping with him, and it made me wonder again, what the point of a Christian upbringing in the Church of England is actually worth? Very sad. But nonetheless, I am condemned worse than anyone who actually ‘belongs’ in the church due to dog collar or family, because I am autistic and I do not ‘belong’, at least not in the Diocese of Winchester, but at the time and until I was driven from Winchester two years ago, I had never known another Diocese, I have known other Diocese since, and I have seen things done so much better and much more inclusively in other diocese.
at some point a new clergyman arrived at the church, he was a friend of my Vicar friend at Winchester, and was at college with her at evening class, doing an MA in Theology, which she eventually dropped out of. He was ok, but my Vicar friend talking about me to him and giving the wrong view of me was not helpful. But anyway, he preached sermons about hellfire and brimstone and how we would perish in our wicked ways, which was great fun, but when I told my vicar friend, she was not impressed. But anyway, this clergyman’s wife, when I went to her when I was wrestling with life, told me she thought I had Asperger Syndrome and that was why I was struggling.