NearlyMarthaAgain

Sunday, 11 June 2017

I'm only 56!!

Hello all. Very little to report this week. It was my birthday which was very nice. Nice to be thought of and everything. I got some lovely presents and cards and a visit for tea from Aged Parent. I am of an age when birthdays are not quite the thrill ride they used to be. A friend messaged on Facebook and asked what I was doing on my birthday. I was hoping for a night in with a Chinese takeaway, a glass of wine and possibly a little nap. It's enough really isn't it? Especially when Aged Parent had been for tea the night before. 
She had endeared herself to the young people, who are back in situ for a while, by continually mixing up my year of birth with my actual age thus congratulating me several times on my 61st birthday. She then regaled the room with tales of her friend downstairs who has found a boyfriend through the pages of "Chat" magazine. Well I say "boyfriend"; it's a bit of a loose description really. They have talked on the phone a couple of times and he had come to see her last weekend. Aged Parent doesn't really approve of finding boyfriends through the pages of a magazine and she may have had a point. Her friend downstairs came and sat with Aged Parent during the visit because her new friend had to go into town to buy his return ticket from the bus station. It was a couple of hours before AP discovered that her friend downstairs had given her flat keys to the visitor to let himself in when he got back. Aged Parent felt like this was taking trust too far, even for a Christian woman burdened as she is with uncontrollable sexual urges, and raced to her friend's flat to see what was going on. Sure enough, the "Boyfriend" had come back from town and let himself into the flat. He said he was just watching the ping-pong but AP, naturally suspicious when it comes to men, was having none of it and instructed her friend to throw him out and check her envelopes under the bed - which is where all old people keep their policies.
Friend downstairs didn't seem too fussed about that and Aged Parent returned to her flat with grave warnings and saying that no-one better come running to her when people are found dead in their beds. Nobody was. Aged Parent seemed a bit disappointed. 
Anyway after that story and a bit a casual racism directed a her dentist who she is sure is a Muslim and clearing her plate even though she wasn't really hungry she took her leave with this uplifting gem.

AP  How much is it costing you - feeding these two now they are back. I can help you know.
Me Oh it's fine. We are fine - we won't starve. Anyway, with my belly I could do with a bit of starving haha!!
AP You don't have a big belly! Well no bigger than a woman your age should expect anyway.


Happy Birthday to me.
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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

One of the Secrets

I thought about not even mentioning the latest London atrocity. I am certain that the endless publicity that surrounds each event - especially around the criminals rather than the victims - does nothing but feed a strange sense of crusade that these people feel they have. For what it's worth, my own feeling is that someone, somewhere is getting rich from this. Leaders are tucked away feathering their own nests while encouraging the vulnerable to stir up instability on their behalf. It's usually the way.
But London and Manchester leaves a quiet pall over us I think, even as we determine to go about our daily business undaunted because it's the best defence we have. We can get downhearted about how we live in such a world. Fearing for friends and loved ones and wondering what is to become of us all. Possibly one of the secrets about how we live our lives and carry on is in the photo above. This motley crew is part of the team that I manage. Access Plymouth they are called and the people you see are a team of volunteers and staff who work to get the elderly and disabled out and about in Plymouth. It's a task that has become harder as the cuts bite and we are spread ever more thinly but these people are determined because they know the value of what they do. They have learned one of the great secrets of life which is to give of yourself for free - putting in without expecting to take out. Most of them do this for nothing but even the staff could get more money elsewhere for what they do. Charities, for the most part, are not known for massive financial rewards, whatever the Daily Mail tells you.
I read about a mother who was struggling to help her child deal with all the news she was seeing. She told her "always look for the helpers". Whenever you see the people hurt and distressed, look for the strangers kneeling with them. Try to see the people holding them while they cry. Look at the adverts for people offering their beds to strangers who are stranded. It is humanity at its most Christlike and it is here that we can get some comfort. 
The people above are a challenge and an encouragement to us all because they have found at least some of it - some of what life is supposed to be about and it is through such selflessness that some peace and purpose will always be found.
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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

June Books


This is the June plan in the reading department, all being well. As usual, it's a mix of charity shop, second hand and a couple of new. I have cheated and have done a couple anyway and am on my third. I have a carry - over from last month which is the Tim Keller one. I'm not sure what it says about me that the only book from my pile that I didn't manage to read last month was the Christian one. I'm sure it's nothing good.

So from the top...

Two CP Snows. Found on a second hand book stall on London's South Bank which makes me seem impossibly glam. But it's true!! That is where I found them. A fiver for the two which is a bit more than I would usually pay for second hand but they are 1960s editions and dead gorgeous and I have gone all completist about the Strangers and Brothers series. Am reading "Homecomings" at the moment and am not bothering about reading them in any order because I have read them all before. 

Out of Sorts - Sarah Bessey. Author of Jesus Feminist. Nice lady finding her way through church struggles. Should tell you all you need to know.

The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and her Lover. Simon Parke. Historical Fiction. If I tell you that the soldier is Oliver Cromwell and the Lover is Charles I you will get the idea. Read this pretty quickly. Interesting and quite sad. Liked it a lot.

The Crime at Black Dudley - Marjory Allingham. First in this crime series which I intend to read through. Actually this book was a bit weak I thought, because apparently, Ms Allingham had not, at this stage decided that Campion was going to be the hero of her books. The hero in this was a bit dull I found - I thought his fiancee was the murderer for most of the book, so I missed the whole point. Hopefully more Campion in the next one.

Ink. Alice Bradshaw. Can tell you nothing about this. Young Adult Fiction - Something to do with tattooing your life on your skin. Will report back.

Quiet - Susan Cain. A book about Introverts which I am just starting. Am dead interested in what people have to say about introverts - especially in the church where I am beginning to be a bit suspicious of the prevailing thought that people who don't want to spin on their heads have something wrong with them and need sorting. As you can see I am very early on in this thought process. The author has put five years of study into this book and sometimes it shows. It's not a light read but I am finding myself nodding in agreement quite a lot. (I am also finding myself muttering - "I have no idea what you are talking about" quite a lot as well)
There is is. Thank you for your attention. June already. Shocking isn't it?
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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Thunderbolt and Lightning


Photo Helen Boylan, Plymouth Herald
I usually quite like storms. So long as I am inside obviously. I grew up with a Nana who would put blankets on the mirrors and pull us all away from the windows while she covered the budgie's cage so it is a wonder that I am not completely traumatised when the thunder monster comes to town. Anyway, on Friday evening the South West of England was struck by a storm the like of which I have never seen before and I am over half a century old! I know that I am prone to exaggeration but really, this was immense. It wasn't so much the thunder which was quite sporadic (well the dog didn't think it was THAT sporadic) It was the lightning which was intense and constant - flash after flash after flash - no gaps just a continual lighting of the sky. We were chatting in town the next day and someone was saying that they have only seen storms like that in Mediterranean countries. Global Warming? It was certainly unlike anything I have ever seen. If a couple of the spaceships from War of the Worlds had come through the clouds, I wouldn't have been THAT surprised) FOW1 was watching it while out with his chums. He said that he was enjoying it but kept thinking "What if this isn't lightning? Is something really unusual happening? Like bombs or something?" We are all a bit jumpy at the moment. 
I have seen and read a lot this week about standing firm and not giving in to terrorists. Of course that is all true and admirable and I will sing Oasis songs as defiantly as the next man but it is also surely normal to be upset and uncomfortable and fear for the future. This week 29 Coptic Christians were taken from a bus  - men, women, children and killed. Also, over 100 civilians were killed in air strikes in Syria. And, at a time when people should be perfectly entitled to look to their leadership...well you probably know the rest. 
If you are as old as me you will probably remember this hymn written by Sunday School Teacher Priscilla Owens and based on Hebrews 6. It's an old style barnstormer - definitely one to bung your hymn book under your arm and do a bit of clapping. But as well as that there are strong grown up truths here. That things will happen and they will make the very ground under us feel wobbly but we have someone trustworthy and capable and able to see us through.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
 We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
  Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

For my darling Manchester...

There is so little to be said about the actions of a criminal who deliberately targets children and so tonight while mothers weep and worry, I just wanted to pray for comfort and for peace. We pray for healing - physical and spiritual and though it may be too soon for those who are in their deepest valley today, I just wanted to re post this poem of pride and defiance for the rest of us. I know and love Manchester - it has no truck with division- it is the most truly together place I have known. Poet Tony Walsh expresses who Manchester is

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