Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cinematic

Electric Cinema

I would like to make a complaint please. The cinema this year has basically been rubbish. It has, really, you know it has. I mean for normal people, it has been less than inspiring. It has been fine if you like films where people get their brains pulled down through their noses with grappling hooks or films where people dress in costumes and brood in the dark a lot. Also ubiquitous were films where people drink loads and burp for twenty minutes. There was also a lot of Michael Fassbender's man parts. (and he did a lot of brooding in the dark and drinking as well  so congratulations Mr Fassbender. Value for your money there, everyone.) But what about normal films? What about Rom-Coms? Who is writing scripts like Nora Ephron? Certainly not the "genius" behind The Hangover 2.  I am a miserable crow but you already knew that. There was a time when the Oscars were due and HOH and my good self would have seen all the main contenders and have strong and loud opinions about who should win. This year it was sort of "meh" which was only confirmed by "The Artist" (a Singing in the Rain rip-off) being treated like it was as original as something from Outer Space. I suppose my film choices are influenced by my faith but it would be a mistake to think that this makes me a big girls blouse when it comes to the movies. I don't like screen violence or cruelty but I do like sharp satire and emotionally intelligent films. I think these were thin on the ground this year but for what it's worth - these are my top six

Young Adult 
Charlize Theron acts mean and nasty. Superb performance. No learning curve at all. Bleak yet funny.


The Cloonster playing fat and against type. Best Dad run ever in a movie. Hawaii is gorgeous of course but not in a picture book way. 

Ben Affleck - secret agent. Based on a true story. Bottom clenching tension at the attempt to get American Embassy staff out of post revolutionary Iran.

I know it's men in costumes but it's funny and sharp and Hulk is amazing. A family film as well. This is not a bad thing.

A bit like Woody Allen never went woossy. Delpy and Rock are nice and confused and her family are suitably French. 

Just really funny. That is all.

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Saturday, 29 December 2012

My TV 2012

BBC

This was the year that HOH and I kind of split on our TV preferences. I am not sure if it is my age, the menopause or failing eyesight but I find that am unable to cope with any screen violence these days. I have never been very good at it. I barely made it all the way through Goodfellas without throwing up but I have become even more weak and feeble in this area. This means that it is HOH who is the cool and funky one when it comes to TV. If he were writing this blog he would recommend Homeland 2, The Fear, The Killing 3 and The Bridge. All critically acclaimed, all beloved of Guardian readers and all full of people getting stabbed in the eye.
We did agree on a few things. We both initially liked Borgen - the politics were interesting I thought. I lost it a bit when I found that I was already writing it in my head before I saw it. (Successful happily married lady politician, has to make bad integrity choices, husband feels threatened, plays away from home, children start wetting the bed, etc etc) Will probably come back for Season 2 though.
The Thick Of It finished. You cannot watch this with your maiden aunt but Malcolm Tucker is a genius creation and no modern politician could feel safe in their ridiculous spin while these script writers were around. Malcolm, I will miss you.
2012 was also unmissable. Only slightly undermined by the real Olympics being run very well indeed. Jessica Hynes created a PR monster who managed that rarest of things - giving us sentences that are still being used in day to day conversation. "like, totally, so here’s the thing" No? Just us then.
Parade's End was lovely to look at and to listen to. It wasn't the easiest follow but I loved the density of it. I loved not being treated like an idiot for once. Cumberbatch was ace but Rebecca Hall was outstanding. Also loved The Hollow Crown. Lots of Shakespearey stuff surrounding it was great as well. You really could just sit and watch it, as a rattling good set of stories, a drama and it was gripping. Ben Whishaw, playing Richard the Second as Michael Jackson was excellent but I don't think there was a duff performance in any of it.
I enjoyed The Hour 2 more than the first one because I got the hang of it a bit more. I prefer it to Mad Men because at least SOMETHING HAPPENS now and again.
Kind of lost Doctor Who but came back for the demise of Rory and Amy which was done really well and made me sniffle. Sherlock. I know. I know. But it is extraordinary. The writing, the design, the music. It makes you go No! Really? and makes me want to sit and hug myself at the sheer inventiveness of it all.
My main TV highlight though was a one off. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was truly a thing of awe. From the sloe eyed Cumberbach looking at camera and growling - "Let the Games Begin" through to the panning back to reveal the amazing fireworks. The whole thing was amazeballs. Even nasty pieces of work like me did smug little jigs in the living room singing the highly catchy "We have the NHS. Thank you Lord for living in a place where health care is free at the point of delivery." and " My country is ace. We are a bit frayed round the edges but we are blessed."
I expect I have missed a lot out. As you can see, I don't follow any soaps so apologies if I have missed something important there. (Have just realised - didn't include Bake Off or Strictly - sorry - loved them both) Am off now - next - my year in film. (Sound like Barry Norman)

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Friday, 28 December 2012

Back


And she's back in the game. What was that? Oh yes. Christmas. All went very well thank you. These are the various bits and pieces for you.

Family loved Muppet Christmas Carol. FOW1 was a little concerned when the people giving out the tickets at the Art House were doing it with the help of glove puppets. There were are lot of kids in but also 6 ladies who had come straight from the bar and enjoyed it enormously, if the swaying from side to side was any indication. Took Mother and Liam to Plymouth Gin Distillery, so Liam sorted lots of presents out - bottles of gin and the like. I stood around with an expectant face and got nowhere.

Sunday night was the Candlelight Carol Service. FOW played in the band and they funkeyed it up a bit. Could actually have done without whatever it was that was set to the tune of Ould Lang Syne but you know how I am. Some controversy when FOW's friend tried to get his attention after the meeting by lobbing a paper cup from the balcony and it missed my mother by a fraction of a millipede. Decided to go with good will to all men vibe. Especially as she didn't notice and it was quite funny.

Sorted beginning of Christmas Dinner myself on a wing and a prayer - no one rolled on floor clutching belly so ok. I put my foot down when Mother tried to start Christmas Dinner with speech about how our numbers for the meal are dwindling as people are dying. Smallest Jack Russell has taken against her for no reason as far as we can see and retired to our room for the week. Found kids working up said dog up by whispering "Where's Nasty Beryl?" and making grrrr noises.

Loved the Queen's Christmas Speech. She talked about Christ and Christmas and Jesus being the Son of God sent to save the world and other not "right on" things. Awesome Queenie! Think she would be a good bishop. Oh wait, they don't do lady bishops do they?

I forgot to put ham in oven on Boxing Day so resorted to turkey, leeks, mushrooms and leftover veg stir fry thingy. Went down better than Christmas Day lunch.

Dragged under protest to sales. Got some stuff for work but the older I get the harder I find shopping for me and my saggy body. Settled for series Two and Three of The Mentalist instead.

I appear to have eaten my own body weight in peanuts.

Watched Doctor Who and it was brilliant. Thought Royle Family was very disappointing.

Read "The Hour Before Dawn" in two sittings.

Settled down with FOW2 to watch DVD of last Harry Potter for umpteenth time. Love it, and level of absorption in the film may have had something to do with peanut eating incident.

Mum has gone home today. Booked ticket on train First Class. Thank goodness. Floods, fire and pestilence on the railways led to general chaos and changing at New Street Birmingham. Booked assistance for her to help her at change as New Street is a complicated station if you aren't familiar with it. Nice lady with wheelchair turned up. Mum doesn't need wheelchair but it was handy to carry suitcase and her "small" shopper. First Class at least guaranteed her a seat. Everyone else on the train seemed to be recreating the scenes at the end of Titanic.

Anyway back to work for a few hours tomorrow. I live to serve and all that. Have enjoyed writing again so will probably be back tomorrow for round up of cultural highlights of 2012.
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Saturday, 15 December 2012

No Words

BBC News
There are times when it is right to speak and to debate. There are times when it is right to have balance in our thoughts and to think on all the good that there is in this world, despite everything.  However, there are times when an event, when the evil that men do, is of such magnitude that it is almost if our brains cannot compute what has just happened.
As I sit in my cosy living room with my family, with our Christmas decorations, I am shaken to my very core by the events at Sandy Hook. That a teacher should have to tell children to "close their eyes" for fear of what their little faces would alight upon as she led them to safety, is almost too difficult to bear.
There are no words of comfort and, as I pray for those affected (what an inadequate word that is - "affected") all I can do is commit the whole thing  to the God who digs down into the depths of our souls and ask that, somehow, he finds a way to touch and to minister. I can think of nothing else to do.
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Monday, 10 December 2012

Confidence


Apparently, this is the last month that we are to be graced with the presence of the big wheel on the Hoe. Depending on which of our esteemed news outlets you believe, the company that owns it has either gone bankrupt or fled the country or both. I shall miss it if it goes. I have never actually been on it - do you think I'm crazy? I just like it as part of the landscape. I think it looks great. That is part of it's problem I suppose, if everyone else is like me and just admires it from afar, then its downfall  is inevitable.

I am not what you would call a natural limelight seeker. A part of me has always longed to enter a room like Streisand in Funny Girl. Arms out wide "Get ready for me world ,cos I'm a comin'" but it is never going to happen. And, whenever I see someone do that, another part of me is also slightly horrified. It would, I feel make life much easier sometimes. I wonder if some people are just born confident. This week we went to see our daughter pick up her GCSE certificates at a ceremony at her school. Each pupil had to wait in the stage wings until their name was called. Then they would walk across the stage with a camera trained on them. Some kids strode onto the stage just a nano away from singing - "Another Opening - Another show!" Some were so shy that they managed to get on and off without actually speaking to or making eye contact with the nice man who came 14th in "The Voice" who gave the prizes out.

Can I digress here? Can you stop me? No. So, call me old fashioned but if the idea was to inspire the young people to work hard, continue their education, formulate a career plan and generally get their lives onto a mature footing, then why choose  someone who quote - "Just went for it, man. I emptied my bank account, bought an old car and just hit the road y'know?" And, while we are at it, I think maybe his choice of song for us, "Ohhhh, this SEX IS ON FIRE",  may have been a little ill advised, that's if the Chair of Governors' face was anything to go by.
It is hard, for me anyway, to get involved, to grab hold of confidence, and to just do it. But if I don't join in, get involved and generally contribute to the society, church, community I live in, then that community may suffer because, the fields are, as has been said by a very wise Son of God, white and ready for harvest. It becomes more and more obvious to me that if I don't pull my weight and jump in, then things will not be happening that should be happening. My lack of confidence remains one of my biggest challenges.

HOH was in the basement and came across some old books of mine. In 2003 I had a book published. "What Do You Want Woman?" It was a short, evangelistic book, written in my style. I was fortunate enough to sell about 2000 copies, partly because some churches gave them out at women's meetings and some used them in Ladies Groups as light-hearted look at Christianity. I am banging a few copies on Ebay for 99p and 70p for postage. This is because I think P and P and the listing fee will be about £1.70 ish.  They are a bit dated so I wouldn't charge full price. If you are interested in a copy, this is the link. If you are interested and you live somewhere that is no longer a part of the colonies, then please get in touch and I will work out postage. Don't feel pressured or anything. Just would appreciate any opinions. Carry on, as you were then.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Asking



Matthew 7 v 7
"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide and seek game we're in."

So when I pray for something (If I actually get round to actually praying rather than talking about it, resolving to do it, thinking how good it would be to do it etc etc)  I usually start off trying to talk God into being on my side  by explaining why I need what I need and why despite my obvious faults  it would be better for everyone concerned if God actually came through for me. Blah blah.

I really love this translation of Matthew 7. First of all it makes it clear that the Christian life is for grown ups. This is not a game. We are meant to be straight with God as he is with us. What do I need? What keeps me awake with worry? Whose story have I heard that I have no power to change myself? Who do I love so much that I want to commit them to God's care? How do I deal with that impossible situation? Apparently it is simple -  I need to ask God.

So then what happens?

If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for a fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

I don't want to go all mega church about this but - do I dare do this? Do I dare live this? I think this is flippin MASSIVE. If I could live like this all the time, where as I asked God for my needs, he then responds as he promises to - as someone who has my best interests at heart - and someone who is able.

This has really challenged me this week and also made me feel a lot jollier. Do you ever think that when we finally meet God, he will say "It was all meant to be so much easier for you. I told you what to do, I told you how loved you were and you would never listen." I'm thinking it may just be me and you have this sorted. It wouldn't be the first time that I was just one step behind. Never mind eh?


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Sunday, 25 November 2012

A New Experience

Life at Hargreaves Towers is very much in "calm before the storm" mode. Except is it very stormy here at the moment as it is in most of the South and West of Britain. I seem to vaguely remember being talked into moving here because this was the Riviera of England. We expected to spend our evenings sitting in the back yard sipping cocktails batting away mosquitoes. I was not ready for putting towels up against the doors to stop the rain getting in or tying down the garden furniture to avoid chasing it down the road before it damages life and limb as the wind whips it through the back alleys of Plymouth. I want my money back. When does it get all balmy round here?
Anyway, as I was saying, all is calm here as the preparations for December and indeed within that month, Christmas, are about to begin. Before that, we have a parents evening to negotiate. I like to go and harangue teachers as early as possible in the evening because, in my experience, they tend to get a bit grumpy once it gets past 5pm. That's a bit rich because, usually the reason it is running late is because they have spent more than their allotted 17 seconds per pupil talking to some idiot parent about a mutual shared history at Heart of England University where there were both heavily involved in the Deep Purple Appreciation Society. Do not do this now! Go to the pub afterwards! After we have spoken to you, we have approximately 14.8 seconds to negotiate three flights of stairs to get to the Drama Dept., only to find that he is running an hour behind because he has been showing some poor sap his Malvolio, which he created for the Leamington Spa Dramatic Players in 1994. We then usually retire to McDonalds which is a traditional treat for FOW2 if she gets a good report. Remind me again? Who is it who benefits from our offspring getting good results? Me or HOH? I think not. So why do we have to pay for tea?
I have done a few shopping lists. Money is being transferred from savings accounts ready to be spent. Amazon baskets are being filled. HOH and I have agreed on a few dates. One is when the Christmas Tree will go up. I would like it to be up when FOW1 returns from uni so it will be a bit like "Driving Home for Christmas" but good. HOH, who feels that Christmas decorations make the place untidy, likes to leave it longer. Much, much longer. One year, we were stopped in the street and asked if we had become Jehovah's Witnesses as it didn't seem like we were bothering with Christmas this year. So we have compromised and we are doing it on the day I want it done.
This morning we went to a Church of England service. (Long story) It was my first Anglican service that wasn't a wedding/funeral/Nativity/Seminar on "Sharing" and it was really good. Really normal. I wasn't really sure what to expect. Possibly a lot of Call and Response and altar kneeling. But it was fine. We were a bit terrified by "Sharing the Peace" but this just seems to mean getting up and after saying "Peace be with you."  to as many people as possible, chatting merrily about garden furniture being blown over your wall and damaging your pergola. In the Baptist church, we have a thing where we "Say the Grace to one another" This involves saying Grace while looking round at people and saying the Grace to them. I can't say I am that comfortable with it but, over time I have perfected my own technique of saying the Grace while moving my head from side to side in an encouraging way without actually making eye contact with anyone. This only fell apart a little when I told a friend about it and he now leans out from wherever he is sitting in church and stares at me until he gets my attention. He thinks this is funny.
So C of E was good, really good. I have a strong non-conformist background which, in my younger days, could lead to some quite intolerant behaviour. I am not proud of it. As I have got older, I am less sure of many of my old certainties. I am certain about this though. God was there this morning. We felt him in the quiet, "getting on with it attitude" of his people and their friendliness to us. Was a bit disappointed we didn't sing "O Jesus I have promised." but you can't have everything.
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Monday, 12 November 2012

Mid November Musings



Do you know that I am struggling to think of one constructive thing to write? It's all very "mid-November" here. All are well and truly back in the education/work grove. Christmas is looming despite my best efforts to ignore it, so maybe I should just riff a bit (as the young people almost never say) and see what happens.
Fruit of Womb One seems to be doing much better at York University (Thanks for asking). Archaeology seems to be a much better fit than politics. He says there are less people on this course who think that they will rule the world. I have chosen not to point out that some of these politics students may indeed go on to rule the world. It is a worry to me, therefore, that many of these people have not worked out that you can't put your black grundys in the wash with your white tee shirts.No wonder the world is in a mess.
FOW1 seems to be very engaged in Archaeology and we did conduct a very interesting if one sided phone conversation about the neolithic age. I could not contribute much to be honest but it was good to hear him so enthusiastic and it did give me a chance to file my nails while he was sharing. Apparently there is a Christian girl who is refusing to attend lectures about pre-history because she doesn't believe in pre-history. My (rather uncharitable) feeling is that she maybe should have thought of this before as to me it seems rather obvious that archaeologists will be going a long way back. I think I may be showing my ignorance here.
He has not left politics behind completely and was part of a rather sad group who stayed up late (or early - whatever till 4am is) to watch the US election results. As you may know, my opinion on that was coloured by Mr Romney's opinion on our ability to put on the Olympic Games. Did I mention how fabulous they were Mr Romney?
FOW2 is up to her neck in AS levels. For her, education is still just an excuse to read books - all the time. She is doing Media studies and they are looking at horror movies. One young man keeps walking out of the lesson because he is - not to put to fine a point on it - scared. I know that is the general idea but I don't suppose it is helping his grade much. I have a lot of sympathy for him. I hate horror movies. Not sure if I have seen one all the way through to be fair but you know when you just know when something isn't your thing?
Otherwise, this week, I have done very little except go to see the Bond movie. This is my first Bond since Moonraker, when it all got too silly to contemplate anymore. I was surprised how good Skyfall was. Like a proper film. (Worry not - no spoilers) It was about thirty minutes too long but still very good. A few points of order...

  • Do we think Daniel Craig is good looking? Sometimes he looks fantastic. Sometimes he looks like a jug eared twelve year old - no?
  • Is it wrong to like the baddie as much as Bond?
  • When a man joins a woman - uninvited - in the shower, would she not look a bit surprised - or even try to fend him off with a loofah? 
  • If Q turns out not to be a real person and not be Ben Wishaw I will be very disappointed. 
Anyway, also came across one of my favourite CS Lewis sayings

"God's demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even your present failures. Each time you fall, he will pick you up again And he knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection." 

Bit like this blog..



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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

As the madness begins

Just something to think about



Many thanks to Angela at Tracing Rainbows for drawing attention to this
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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tears



Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle. Are they not in thy book?
When I cry unto thee, then shall my enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
Psalm 56 v 8,9

I am, as you may have realised, a big fan of The Message as a version of the Bible. For me, it often reflects the the things I am thinking and touches me in my day to day life.
There are times though, when only the King James will do. There is a poetry and an extra dimension that touches my soul. These verses, I think, have never been bettered. I was reminded of them this week when Charles Spurgeon's devotional dropped into my inbox. I don't think Christians are supposed to believe in coincidences but sometimes I think that we let God's prompting pass us by and call it coincidence. I needed to be reminded of this and maybe you did too.

Put thou my tears into thy bottle

The Bible is a big book. It spans heaven and earth.It covers generations and nations. It speaks to kings and their armies and yet this is the most extraordinarily intimate sentence. It suggests that each individual tear I shed is carefully and lovingly collected. It is placed into a bottle and marked in a ledger. It is noted and remembered. It is not ignored or missed and I am not judged for my weakness or lack of faith.

When I cry unto thee, then shall my enemies turn back

More than this, these tears are prayers. They may never be written in a prayer book or read out in church  but prayers they are and they are heard and God takes them and keeps them. All my tears.

The tears of solitude and loneliness when you wonder why things are like this and people act this way.

The tears of frustration at your own shortcomings and when you wonder if you will ever be able to get any of it right.

The tears of fear for your family and your future. When you hurt because your children hurt and there is nothing that you can do.

The tears of bereavement and loss. Not just for people, but for a life that you expected to have.

The tears that are shed when you know that you have been treated badly and feel that there is no-one to turn to.

Tears shed through sheer physical exhaustion when you are giving all you can and it doesn't seem to be enough.

The tears you shed when you wonder if he is really there at all and if he is, why is life like this?

Not one is missed. Not one tear. Those times when our eyes brim with tears but we fight them back and no-one notices. God notices. If you don't cry easily but feel inside as if you are crying out loud. God hears it as if it were audible to all.

Nothing is wasted. Nothing is missed. Your tears are prayers. God has heard.
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Half Term Havoc

It's half term. That's lovely isn't it? I know things are easier for us now that we only have a sixteen year old to think about so we don't have to organise childcare or anything so I don't want to complain BUT because it's half term


  •  It is apparently time to bake so I now have no icing sugar or jam. Apparently it took over an hour to clean up and the dogs keep licking the kitchen floor so who knows what went on there? The cakes are lovely though.
  • My laptop screensaver has "accidentally" been changed to a baby sloth asleep on a teddy bear. 
  • We are apparently expected to provide money for gossipy lunches. I do not have time for lunch.
  • I am missing several DVDs. It will not take Sherlock Cumberbatch to trace them to FOW 2s bedroom.
Thank you God for my astonishing daughter...



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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Dog Walking and Growing as a Person



These are our dogs having a walk on the park. I'm sorry for the unsavoury angle which sort of makes them look like a canine version of the publicity shy Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow. We only had time to get a couple of photos of the two of them before they started getting a bit lairy. (The dogs that is - not the Paltrow/Martin combo) and in all the others they were sniffing each others bottoms. (Same disclaimer re dogs rather than Paltrow/Martin)
Anyway, getting off the subject here. So these are our dogs and they are practically perfect. Will not stop here to define perfect, as our neighbour who still has the nip marks on her leg, may well challenge our definition and we will get waylaid again.  Anyway, I am the first to admit that they are sometimes a bit snappish. A bit. Sometimes. When provoked. Not proper biting, you understand, just growly and a bit barky and nippy. A bit. Very rarely.
So you may not realise this but there exists a sort of dog walkers etiquette. When you are in the park, walking your dogs and listening to the birdies and wondering how important it is that you cannot find that pooh that Lucy has dropped in the middle of all those leaves, there is a code. That code says that if you have a dog on a lead, rather than running around loose, there is a reason for that. Often the dog is a bit barky or nervous  or runs like someone has fired them out of a cannon when they are let loose. There are lots of reasons. However, if you see someone with dogs on leads and they take steps to avoid meeting you with your dog, the thing to do is respect that and give them some space. There is no point following her and getting her dogs all worked up. There is very little to be gained by insisting on stalking her across the park with your spookily obedient German Shepherd. It is also not helpful to let your huge German Shepherd suddenly appear in the bushes so that someone walking two Jack Russells, suddenly finds herself desperately trying to get said Jacks on a short lead as they compete to get at mountain sized dog and give him a piece of their minds. It is also not cricket, when woman who is wrestling with mad Jacks tries to apologise to give her a pained smile, tut and walk on, successfully impersonating the "Smug Person of the Year" award winner.
This is why women who are wrestling with Jacks that you have upset, seemingly on purpose, feel the need to say, in what was probably a much too loud voice.
"What's it like to be Queen of the World and know everything?"
I don't suppose she heard anything. She didn't turn round. HOH says that's maybe because she was crying. I doubt it. 

Life Lessons from Dog Walking.
  1. Conflict has to be handled sometimes. I cannot hide behind privets all the time.
  2. Pulling your tongue out when someone isn't looking is not handling conflict.
  3. Even when you apologise, some people will still be miserable crows. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't say sorry.
  4. Sometimes you should say sorry, when you are not in the wrong. Often it calms things down. sometimes it doesn't. (See point 3) 
  5. You can't be everyone's friend.
  6. To be honest, you don't want to be everyone's friend do you?
  7. In the end you have to try to be nice to everyone while accepting that it won't always work. then your work here is done. Like it says in Romans "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
I am calm. I am serene. I am going to walk the dogs 15 minutes earlier to try and avoid running into German Shepherd Lady. I am, as usual, not very proud of myself.



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Saturday, 20 October 2012

Quite Rude



Dear Religion
This week I safely dropped a man from space while you shot a child in the head for wanting to go to school.
Yours, Science.

This is a tweet sent by Ricky Gervais this week which has been debated around a few Christian blogs. The consensus of opinion abut the tweet seems to be the following.

  • This is a bit strange because Malala (the young girl who was shot) See here if you have been living in a cave. is a devout girl who wanted to learn, rather than a secular atheist.
  • Also Felix Baumgartner, who fell from space (check here cave dwellers) brought back a sense of awe rather than a sense of "pah - it was just science".
  • Mr Gervais is a celebrity who understands the power of a sharp phrase and Twitter gives him the opportunity to use one without regress. (Apparently he ruthlessly blocks anyone who disagrees with him. His privilege - dunno have never followed him.)
  • Sometimes religion brings all these things onto itself.
These are all admirable and well reasoned thoughts and they do the Christian Community credit to have responded so thoughtfully and with such restraint. I tend to stay out of these debates because my initial reaction was "Smug G*t" and that is neither mature or considered. It may well be factually correct. Who can say? 
I also stay out because I am so far out of my depth. I do not have the mental capacity to spar with these people. Richard Dawkins is undoubtedly very brainy and I find him so intimidating I rarely watch him. He also seems to be so full of spleen that I find he leaves me a bit depressed about the state of the world and how much hate a person can carry. Maybe that's just me.

I'm not very good in debates on religion. I have never considered myself religious. In my most Utopian moments, I consider myself part of a Christian community known as followers of "The Way" I am enthusiastic about Jesus and what he has done for me and am therefore caught up in living that life with all its challenges to be self sacrificing and thoughtful and generous. This is indeed so challenging that it takes up all my time and energy, leaving me little room to be self absorbed and an all round nasty piece of work. This is how I try to live my life. Often, this is little more than a pipe dream but, in the words of the great Steve Coppell - I don't want to make it a target but it is something to aim for. 
I am not divorced from debate or from culture but I find I need God's wisdom to support my family and friends and to stop me spending my days deliberately trapping my head in the door. It's not that I don't want to be thoughtful about the higher things in life. I read and discuss and think. I just genuinely can't be bothered with all the points scoring. 

I suspect that on a Friday night in Islington, there are parties being held where people in crumpled linen jackets drink a lot of Chablis while scoffing humus and clam linguine  and have a really good laugh at people like me and my blind faith in my imaginary friend. I just wish I gave a monkey's. 

Galatians 5 V 25-26. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we do not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.

Before I go.......

Text from York University
"Is £33.00 a lot for an electricity bill?"

Reply
"For how long - a quarter, a month, a minute?"

York University
"Oh yes. Good point. Will check"

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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Saturday Stuff



I have spent a pleasant day on my own. Some of it was spent creating a thing of beauty. Stand back and admire the peg bag people. There is plenty to see here. And it cost me nowt. Just an old hanger and some material from my stash. Well I say stash. I mean one of the two spare pieces of material that I have accumulated. Mostly, I am just pleased that we have managed to replace the old cushion cover that we used to keep pegs in. Do you think it is like this in the Beckhams'?
I just wish I could learn to be a bit more tidy when I worked so that I didn't double the time it took to do everything.

We creative types just have to go with the flow and worry about the consequences later.

Then FOW1 remembered that only last week he had parents and phoned to catch up which was nice. Pizzas  are being eaten, ciders are being drunk, the church surf is booked and there has been a "discussion" in his student house about who keeps stealing the cheese. Seems all is well.

Then my mum phoned. She has organised her part in our Christmas and now it is time for me to do my part.

Mum.   I've spoken to Liam. He is bringing me down on the 21st. Did you find out about my train back?
Me       Yep. There is one a week later.
Mum    Have you booked it?
Me       It's a bit early
Mum    It might fill up.
Me       It won't
Mum    It might.
Me       I'll keep an eye on it.
Mum    OK.

Mum    Isn't it best to book now?
Me       I don't have my card by the phone.
Mum    OK

Mum    Can't you get the card?
Me       What? now?
Mum    If you want to.
Me       Do you want me to?
Mum    No. It doesn't matter. You'll keep an eye on it.

Mum    Wouldn't hurt, would it? To book now.
Me       I'll get my card.
Mum    Well, if you think it's best.

Mum    What's that tapping noise. Are you on the Internet?
Me       Yep.
Mum    Quite rude, while we're talking.
Me       I'M BOOKING YOUR TICKET!
Mum    I'm not sure it's not too early

Cue strangling noises from my end of the phone. As the kids say - there is only one Nana Bez.







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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Snakes in the camp.

Etsy
It may well be just me but have you ever uttered the phrase "Why does it have to be so complicated Lord? Why can't you just deal with it and take the problem away?" We have uttered this prayer plenty of times in Hargreaves Towers but even more than usual as FOW1 has returned to University and is dealing with a hassle that is not of his making which, to my highly expert eye, God could be dealing with quite easily.
While this is going on, I am learning about the Children of Israel. I am becoming quite taken with the Children of Israel. They remind me of me. They are slow to learn, quick to whinge, lack vision, take a long time to get to where they need to be and try God's patience on an almost minute by minute basis. I like them.

I'm reading the passage in Numbers 21 about the snake of fiery copper. I am with Indiana Jones on snakes. I am very suspicious about creatures who are sometimes shaped like the last thing they ate.  Back to Numbers. Israel are travelling and on a detour. They become irritable and begin to complain to God. This behaviour fits in with their normal pattern but this time for what are probably entirely understandable reasons, God reacts.

"God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died."

He's not messing about here is he? Maybe something to consider next time I am thinking of  forgetting to count my blessings?

Anyway..showing commendable if tardy wisdom, the Children of Israel apologise to God and ask Moses to pray for them to take the snakes away. And Moses prays, God listens, the snakes return to the places where snakes live and everyone lives happily until the children of Israel find something else to complain about (approximately twenty minutes later usually)

But no actually. God doesn't take the snakes away. They are to continue living in the camp. Jumping out when you least expect them and generally annoying people by biting them until they die. What God does supply is an antidote. A way out.

"Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live."

The snakes are not leaving the building.

And you just know don't you? Well I think I do. He doesn't always take it away. Not so that your problems never existed. Sometimes, they stay with you and again and again you have to look to God to deal with things as they are occurring. I suppose as well that, as the Israelites learned to live with the snakes, it became a habit. Every time someone got a nasty surprise behind the woodshed they would automatically look at the copper snake as a matter of course.  Hopefully, they also remembered the God who sent this miracle.


I'm thinking that this is something I need to building into me, and my life. God is not my magic fairy. He has told me what to do to live my life with any degree of contentment and achievement - I keep looking at him for help and healing. And what will be supplied will be sufficient for my needs at that time. God is willing and able to do things that I am not even able to visualise. But somehow, there is a balance. None of this means that all problems will be taken away. Because as we know life is hard. Indeed as Jesus never actually said
"I beg your pardon. I never promised you a Rose Garden."
Apologies to Lynn Anderson and Jesus. Not necessarily in that order.

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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Me v the young people

Wikipedia
So you l know I love the young people, almost without exception. I support them when they want to worship God very loudly in church and I have no time for old ladies who come to a service labelled as livelier then sit with their hands on their ears.

However, I think we may have parted company on this one. So we are singing this in church at the moment.

"I've made a place for you here so c'mon, c'mon...
All things are possible here so c'mon, c'mon"

I know that I am old but I can't tell you how disappointed I will be if I get to heaven and God speaks like an extra from Scooby Doo. Just saying.
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Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Sort of Catch up Week



You know. You think your family love you and then you see a photo like this and you wonder how anyone who loved you could let you go out looking like that! This is me in the garden enjoying the dregs of summer with a very relaxed Morecambe. I haven't really been out in the glasses. They were £2 from Primark and we call them my Harry Potters. This week has been funny. I really can't think of anything to tell you.....really nothing to share....except

Now I think about it, I haven't exactly been tied to the kitchen sink. We went to the theatre to see "The Ladykillers". I remember the film with Alec Guinness and it frightened the life out of me - all very sinister. This was played much more for laughs except when it all goes pear shaped. It was done really well (I have never seen anyone stabbed to death with a bit of banister before) and the set was superb. Best set I have seen since the helicopter came on in Miss Saigon  (That is the only bit I remember about Miss Saigon - the rest seemed to drone on a bit) I did have the chance to see Blood Brothers with Marti Pellow but to be honest, I would rather poke my own eyes out with a spoon. Nothing against Mr Pellow who I am sure is jolly nice but I hate "Star Vehicles" in musicals. I like to watch something without all the mumbling about "Was she in Eastenders?" and giggling when the "Star" comes on.

Oh and...

We had a Vintage Fair in Plymouth. Proper vintage fair mind you and not one of these events where you wander round looking at stalls with dodgy looking mattresses and old bits of plastic piping. This was all lovely and 1940s/1950s based with everyone all dressed accordingly and a live band playing stuff like "In The Mood". I have never seen so many vintage tea-cups in my life.

Oh and...

Also, had a small moment when I was certain that dementia was setting in. Sat at Church Communications Team meeting and a chap refers to some work that has been done regarding advertising for volunteers and putting together some  ideas and lists etc. and I am nodding my head and grinning at no-one in particular and thinking "Well done whoever that was" and then when I look - everyone is looking at me and smiling and waiting for me to explain what I did. It was me! I had done the lists! I honestly couldn't remember doing it for what seemed like an age but was probably a few seconds. Then it all clicked back. In my defence we haven't had a meeting all summer and I have had a lot on my plate but was slightly concerned that it took me more than a few seconds to work out what the jiminy they were all on about. Think I got away with it.

Oh and....

BEWARE-SPOILER ALERT
Caught up with Parade's End. I have loved this so much. So beautifully written. Each line and each performance seemed so rich. Sir Benedict of Cumberbatch did really well making a strange character so sympathetic as did Rebecca Hall. I think she did almost too well because I was very nearly rooting for her at the end. (Only nearly) I loved the end. I loved how low key and gentle and well just - happy it was. One of my TV highlights this year. Also Doctor Who, end of the series (and of certain people - never did really love her that much but really liked him) also very good. The Weeping Angels are a genius creation.

Oh and...

Have been packing and stuff all week for FOW1's return to university. We have loved having him back but it is time to go and he is ready as all his friends have gone. I never quite understand how people cope with this kind of thing who don't have access to prayer. I pester the living daylights out of God at times like this and am very grateful that I can.

Oh and just wanted to leave you with this just because it it  - well just very, very good. I made a decision to try and use Bible verses from the Message as much as possible on the blog because it is very accessible but I have really loved it and am getting so much from it myself. Like this from Philippians 1...

"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings So that your love is sincere and intelligent  not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary  A life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God."

Sometimes people make out that Christians are nice but dim. That our God commands us to follow blindly and not be thoughtful and intelligent. Read this and you will see that sometimes people are wrong.
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Thursday, 27 September 2012

And this one...we don't do no more


Paraphrasing slightly (as usual) from Father of the Bride. There are hymns which I grew up with that used to be part of the national, Christian consciousnesses. For instance I used to love "When a Knight won his Spurs." We don't do them so much now. Remember it?

So lovely and to my old, slightly jaundiced ears, so much better than some of the Jesus is my girlfriend songs we get now. (Don't get worked up, I can give you the names of several thousand witnesses who know that I really appreciate good loud worship and that I bow to no-one in my admiration of Tim Hughes et al)
FOW1 spent some of the summer reading a book for his archaeology degree called "By Sword and Fire - Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare" From what I can make out, most knights spent their time a-pillaging and
a-massacring anything with a pulse rather than your actual gallanting and chivalrying.
This may be why it has fallen out of favour, which I suppose is fair enough. Still, it makes me a little sad. It always made me think of truth and honour being important and seemed to have this spirit of commitment running through it. And I like that and I don't care.

On a less edifying note.Went out Friday night and had to record last episode of Parade's End. Still haven't had time to watch it so have commanded the few people I know who are following it to refrain from any mention of ANYTHING at all that went on. Especially the prospect of jig-a jig. Am not sure this programme is doing my spirituality any good at all as am very much hoping that he leaves his wife and goes off with Valentine. I am not proud of myself.













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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Remembering



I remember you always wandering off as a little boy and having to send Pedro - our chihuahua to find you.

I remember you sitting on my knee when you were perhaps six years old. You and your friend were being interviewed by the police as someone had reported you for vandalising their garden by pulling up all their pansies. You were so upset and full of denials and the policeman was so lovely that we all knew that it couldn't have been you. Until the police man left and you gave me a big theatrical wink.

I remember us decorating Mum's front room and you falling off the step ladders (in a non-ambulance needing kind of way) and the whole thing descended into a Laurel and Hardy farce. Then Mum came in and really told us off while we stifled giggles. I was 28 and you were 20.

I remember how you used to lecture me about God being faithful in all things, especially our weakness and how I should lighten up a bit and just be grateful.

I remember sitting on the train with you to go to Manchester for a job interview. You had had such a bad time with a workplace bully in your first job and this would be such a leap. I was so proud when you got the job and prospered.

I remember that you were the first person I told when HOH first kissed me.

I remember when HOH had his eye operation and how you ferried me backwards and forwards to Manchester. We couldn't have done that without your kindness.

I remember when you lost your way and you hurt so many people in your confusion.

I remember when you told me you were gay and saying "So I'm supposed to be surprised"

I remember as we watched your lifestyle and the concerns we had for your safety both physical and for your heart. I remember us losing each other completely as my disapproval and fear came up against your behaviour.

I remember how you turned up out of the blue and how Liam told us that you had wanted to get your life back on track before you came back. When we came to the celebration at your civil ceremony you asked how I had got to this place. I told you how easy it was. The day that I realised that God just wanted me to love you - not judge you - that was never my place. And I did love you and that was that and everything else flowed from that.

I remember that first Christmas with you and Liam and the evening with the Beatles Rockband. You were very unkind about my drumming.

I remember your breathlessness which became pneumonia. We wondered if it was as a result of your lifestyle (not that it would have made a difference) but the doctors said not. I remember the nurse who told me that although they saved over 90% of people with pneumonia that still meant that they lost nearly 10%.

I remember the day you became one of those 10%. Two years this week. I miss you Bro.

Dave Carter 1969-2010



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Monday, 17 September 2012

This one is for me

Mostly dear readers of mine, I write a bit for me and a bit for you. I try and take into account what you might like to hear and scribble accordingly. This one, however, is more for me this week. I kind of know it but wanted to write it down because it will do me good to see it. Feel free to ignore.

A long reading - bit and pieces from Exodus. You can read it in more coherent form in the Bible

Sooo, the Children of Israel are on the run from Egypt, because Pharaoh had decided to let them go and then changed his mind, as you do when you are an all powerful despot I suppose. (Just a word of advice - bad move)

They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light;this way they could travel by day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by Day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.
God spoke to Moses "Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon." And that's what happened.

Just to note here that the children of Israel who are not particularly noted for their unquestioning obedience to God are, for once doing exactly what they are told. They followed the Pillar exactly as God commanded and suddenly find that the whole thing goes massively pear shaped as they look behind to see lots of Egyptian shaped armies making a bee line for them. They are trapped. They are on the shore of the sea and the lie of the land means that they cannot go left or right - not to mention the fact that they are quite obviously NOT an army - they are a band of refugees who are not equipped for any sort of fighting at all. They have, to all intents and purposes, followed God into a trap. They then revert immediately to type and begin moaning and groaning and wishing they were dead etc. Moses - again to type - makes a big pronouncement about God while also telling then to back off.

"Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. take a good look at the Egyptians for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!"

The rest is history as they say. The very Pillar of Fire/Cloud that had proved so treacherous to Israel, turned on the Egyptians and they ended up sleeping with the fishes as Italian type people are sometimes heard to say.

So what to learn?
Not all messes are of my making. Sometimes I am being as obedient as I am ever going to get in this lifetime and it still ends up a big pile of poop.
It seems that God actually leads us into horrible places, where there is apparently no escape.
But, if I believe in God is it realistic believing in a God who
a) Ain't that keen on me
b) Is too wishy-washy to actually do anything to help me.
And anyway, all the evidence at my disposal points to a) and b) being a pile of piffle.

There is, of course, always the possibility that God leads us/me into these places to show us
a) How much he loves us by...
b) being God and doing something stupendous and rescuing us.

All I need to do is hand it over, carry on doing what I am told and believe.

Mark 9
I believe. Help me with my doubts




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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Things Old Christians Remember (Last Time)

I think this will probably be the last time I post on this because I am struggling to think of things now. There are of course a few bits and pieces.
Faith Teas - this was deliberately unplanned because it was an exercise in faith after all and God would make sure that we all brought different things. He didn't.
Street Witness / Theatre/ Door to Door To this day I cannot believe that I stood on Bolton Precinct doing the "I am the Devil" sketch or that I knocked on complete strangers' doors asking them if they wanted to be a friend of Jesus. I don't suppose it is the concept I dislike (although I have no time personally for uninvited people who knock on my door during Pointless) so much as how absolutely useless I was at it. I would be sick with nerves all day before and not much better after. I was a rubbish actor which is weird because I have done some speaking and enjoyed that. There used to be a sort of unspoken blackmail that said only the most spiritual people could do these things. Ha! My favourite ever door to door night was when I was paired with the man who was eventually to be Head of House and we went to the newsagents, bought a big bag of Maltesers and spent the evening sitting on a wall debating the best Woody Allen film ever made.
Sinners Bucket. HOH wanted me to write about this although I didn't ever see it. You were supposed to bring things like records, cigarettes, alcohol and other wrong things and leave them in a bucket at the front of the church. HOH says he would just like to say thank you to whoever it was in 1986 who brought the Marvin Gaye album because he had been looking for it for months. (This is possibly an urban myth. Possibly)
Washing up after the Sunday night meeting. I know lots of people will still do this now but it is one of my fondest church memories. Various members of the youth group would wash up after the coffee had been served on a Sunday night. We all got on really well and had a whale of a time. I laughed until snot came down my nose. Serving isn't always sacrifice to be frank.

Thank you for all your responses to these posts. It has been really lovely to remember all this and although much has changed for the better, there is very little in my Christian past that I would alter. Except possibly to utterly refuse to do the "I am the Devil" sketch.

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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Perceptions


Matthew 6:30
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?


As usual, here in the South West, the tourists have gone, the children are back at school and the Indian summer begins. We were visited by some northern folk this week who have been saying how lucky they were with the weather. I think not. This week is always sunny. Odd but true. We went out for tea which is a rare treat and sat outside by the harbour. All very lovely and I enjoyed my meal very much. It was only after it arrived that I realised that I had ordered exactly the same meal (chicken in cream sauce) that I had eaten for tea the day before. I am so predictable.

FOW2 has started 6th form this week and has had to go back to homework so that means less chance of walking into the house at 5pm to find her watching some ridiculous programme on channel Zog or something. For the uninitiated, there is usually a woman interviewing some poor girl or stalking that woman from Steps about either their weight/looks/talent (or lack of it) or reduced family circumstances. There then follows 40 minutes in which a so called "expert" signs her up for plastic surgery or a diet of cauliflower and tissues soaked in orange juice. After six weeks of this when the victim is too woozy to complain, they usually get some fashionista  in, who has the air of someone who cannot believe that they are getting away with this. This expert then dresses them up in clothes that would make your cat laugh, tells them that they are beautiful and launches the poor girl out into an unsuspecting world. No wonder our perceptions of ourselves are all over the place.
This week HOH and I had to go to hospital for me to be re-measured for a new prosthesis. (Or Boob in a Box as we like to call it.) Since my skirmish with breast cancer all those years ago I have a kind of pathological distaste for being messed around with physically, especially by people I hardly know. No touchy unless I say so is my motto. Because of this, I have put off re-measuring for far too long and the aforementioned false booble is now looking very much worse for wear. We turned up to hospital. HOH is always my wing-man on these trips. He takes no nonsense - especially from bossy medical people. (Probably because it takes one to know one) So I went in for the fitting and was introduced to a very nice lady called Mandy who asked to have a look at my rubber booble. There was a moments embarrassment as I tried to surreptitiously remove a bit of sticking plaster that I was using to cover up a bit of it that had split but she pretended not to notice so that was ok. Unfortunately, as it was so old, we couldn't see what size it was. before you go for a fitting you are supposed to go and get your bra size professionally decided on at M&S or somewhere. Well that was never going to happen (see reasoning above) so I just read out my bra size from my own bra. The size for this bra came from my own very loose calculations which assumed that I had put on quite a bit of weight and was veering towards hefferdom. Mandy frowned a bit and did a bit of complicated measuring. then produced a bra and prosthesis for me. It fitted perfectly and lo and behold when I turned sideways - I had a rack! Mandy gently broke it to me that (a) my back size is four inches smaller than I had given her and (b) My boob size is 3 sizes bigger! It's a win-win!

So you are wondering, after all this unpleasantness why I am sharing this with you. It's because once again I find out that I always fall into the same trap.Too many times I assume the worst about myself - not just physically as here but spiritually and as a person. If in doubt, it is sometimes so easy to look at ourselves and veer towards the negative and shrink into ourselves. I am aware of how imperfect I am before God but he looks at me (and you mate) and points at us and says "Ooh she's lovely she is. Lovely enough to rescue and love and encourage and do great things with." We simply have to get hold of this and get confident enough to harvest fields, change worlds, challenge injustice and throw our shoulders back admiring our lovely contours.
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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Elbow Room


Hullo. Man, I've been ill. Only a cold but good grief - a shocker. Thank you so much for your encouraging remarks and wishes. Kept trying to get past it but body absolutely refused. Legs went from under me in shower (unattractive), kept falling asleep all the time and then finding myself crying a bit. I am known for this at Hargreaves Towers. I am very rarely ill but when I am, I lose my sense of perspective and can get a bit depressed. (You probably can't hear everyone I have ever met shouting A BIT?) I have unstinting respect for those who cope with ongoing illnesses. Watching lots of Paralympic stuff this week like most people, I am obviously and quite properly awestruck at the things I am seeing. However, I have to tell you that I am equally impressed by people with debilitating life conditions who get up, get going every morning and manage to function with a reasonable amount of positivity. This level of stick-ability is as least as admirable to me as a washboard stomach.
Anyway, think I am on the right side of it now. My arms and legs still feel like lead and I am prone to the occasional bout of sudden coughing which makes the little dog peg into the garden with horror but am definitely getting there.
The offspring have returned from camp with the usual interesting suitcases. Sometimes, when I feel a bit intimidated by the thought of heaven, I look at how the kids are when they return from these things and think it might well be fine (Don't tell me you don't get a bit scared by Heaven sometimes. Especially when people say it will be like one long Sunday service.)
One brilliant story. One of the younger kids is Romanian and his grasp of English isn't perfect. However FOW1 was happy to help him when he came up and asked
"Excuse me. Where is the toilet?"
That was fine, except that was day four!!?! What had been happening up until then? Don't think about it. I'm trying not to.
I have been rooting around my Bible a bit as usual. (When I'm ill I like to look up - "This is sickness is not unto Death." - #encouragement) I just wanted to tell you this. It has helped and challenged me. I did tell you that I was working on the concept of thankfulness after reading Ann Voskamp's book. One of the things thankfulness does for me is that it puts pauses in my life. It stops me going off on one. I know someone (not me for once) who, when bad things happen sort of howls "Oh noooo God why are you doing this to me?" as a sort of immediate response. In a way that is a natural response but it jumps too quickly to complaint mode for me and if I start complaining I am liable never to stop. I am trying to train myself to pause, so that when things happen, I take a breath, then think.

1. Is it likely that God wants to kill me?
2. If not is it more likely that God is on my side?
3. What are my evidences in my life when God had most certainly been on my side?
4. Say thanks for these evidences
5. Take logical next step which means that same God will invoke same process of listening and intervening, spurred on by his inexplicable love for me and pray sensibly and thankfully rather than in hysterically whingey voice.

What I think that this can do is provide God with elbow room. I know that he is God and doesn't need elbow room -don't write to the Baptist Union. I mean elbow room to work with me. A pause for him to ask me a question, to point something out or even to re-position things. I'm not saying that all things then immediately fall into place but it seems to be saving me a lot of worry. Rather than thinking "Well what if this is disastrous and God doesn't help?" I am trying to move to "Before you panic too much, remember what God has done for you. He may well be happy to do even more."

On a sadder note. Hal David has died. So many lovely lyrics to chose from. This is just about my favourite piece though it'a close run thing. "The moment I wake up. before I put on my make-up. I say a little prayer for you." Just perfect. HOH and I argue about whether we sing lead or backing on this when we join in when no one is listening. I always sing backing which shows how humble I am. He sings Aretha's part. You can draw your own conclusions about his humility.

Anyway, have to go. Back to work tomorrow. Time and Tide and the Ring and Ride bus wait for no-one. (Well the bus does obviously otherwise no-one could get on and off it but you get my drift.)
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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Miserable Crow


Can I just apologise? I know I haven't said anything yet but I find it saves time. The photo is my nose. My piggin' nose. The nose it is a block-ed. The eyes they are a-running. The throat it is a-killing. I have a cold and it makes me a miserable crow. I hate having a cold. I hate being ill. I suppose no one likes being ill (although thinking about the way some people carry on when they are ill - I suspect they secretly enjoy it) See. There I am, being horrible. Get used to it. There may be a lot of it in this blob er.. blog.
I'm just annoyed that's all. I had such plans for the weekend. Kids are off at youth camp. HOH at work. I get two days to myself to do housework and potter about. I had a lovely blog in my head about something God had shown me in the Bible. Do a bit of baking. Maybe meander off to church this evening. Pah! Yesterday I barely had enough energy to mope about and today, when left to my own devices I fell asleep. Rubbish! And to make matters worse. Tomorrow is Bank Holiday. HOH has the day off from the hospital. He never gets Bank Holidays. Never! He has tomorrow. The kids are away, we have the day to ourselves and I AM ILL. ('scuse capitals) 
And to make matters even worse I have been on the Twitter account of one of those women who are Super Christians  You know the sort. They are making every second count for the Kingdom. They are permanently productive. Never tired. Full time ministry, kids, husband not an ounce of fat on her. Bet she doesn't fall asleep for a whole afternoon.
And to make matters even more worse (I know, I know) I am not at Greenbelt again and all Christianity seems to be there and it looks dead interesting - if a little muddy - and last year we talked about going and we haven't and it's making me annoyed.
And, as if I haven't suffered enough, I intended to do some writing this weekend and I tried a bit but it was rubbish so I stopped. 
Anyway, before you all run from the room screaming. I finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp this week. To be totally honest, I enjoyed the concept more than the book really and I thought that before I started being horrible. She is so lovely and thoughtful and gracious and I struggled to get on her wavelength, which is entirely my fault, I am sure. Part of the idea of the book is that you start to notice everyday blessings in your life and so develop a natural culture of gratitude. I flung another sodden tissue to the ground and decided to give it a go. After 15 minutes, I had come up with two and one of those was, "I suppose I'm not dead yet" so it didn't go too well initially. So, I had a brew and some chocolate. (Kate. Can I just say your cold cure "A Mars Bar and hot coffee" does not work at all. Haven't had a Mars Bar in years. More comforting than a Lem-Sip though, I can tell you) I tried again and did better. I am nowhere near the thousand mark but thought I would share a couple.
First gratitude point. Watched Parade's End. Of course, was in no way influenced by the presence of Mr Cumberbatch. I was very taken by it though. First thing is how much beauty was on show. The houses, the landscapes, Rebecca Hall was wonderful and stole every scene she was in. Adelaide Clemens as Valentine was, quite simply, luminous.   There was more comedy than I expected. The scene on the golf course was great and Roger Allam's Colonel, who at one point got out of a car in full military regalia for no reason at all as far as I could see, was brilliant.
The language is as dense as fog and I needed to pay attention. Sometimes I wasn't entirely sure what was going on (No idea why Anne-Marie Duff was snogging The Cumberbatch's companion twenty seconds after meeting him for instance) I do have a feeling though that it will be ever so slightly wonderful.

Second gratitude point. Fruit of Womb Two got the results she needed for sixth form. Probably wrong to boast but she did very well indeed. As you can see - her brother is thrilled for her. They are very close.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not an idiot and I do know that I have a lot to be thankful for. If you can find it in your heart to come back again next time when normal service should have been resumed, I will be eternally grateful. 



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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Things Old Christians Remember (3)

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The hat. Now memories are very subjective and mine are very much my own about this. But when I was a lass, hats in church were more or less compulsory. There were always a few brave souls who were willing to tell you about how they had been freed from this tyranny but I was only 14 and no-one was listening to me.
Allaboutyou.com
I hated it though. I really did. Firstly because my suspicion was that for some women it was not so much covering their glory as showing what a big hat they had.
Secondly, and if I am honest, more importantly for me, they interfered in the Farrah Flick that I was cultivating - big time. It was a pain spending hours with a dryer and curling tongs and then giving yourself lung disease with hair lacquer only for it to go all flat under a hat - and it made my head itch. So I asked my Mum to knit me a hat. A head covering if you will. So she took up her knitting needles and after much deliberation produced a hat. It was a small woolly skull cap. It fitted on the back of my head, allowing the Farrah Flick to flick unencumbered and yet, I was still wearing a hat. People will say with some justification that this went against the spirit of the hat wearing rules. But it was still a hat. Definitely a hat. It was soooo small though. In fact, I was reminded about this when I saw this photo. It was about this small, I think.



So when I see my daughter going to church, sometimes voluntarily putting on a nice beret. It can cross my mind to lecture her about the change in women's place in the church. Then I think about the hat I wore and think that i should keep my mouth shut.
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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Back to Life etc etc


We are back from our holidays and a good time was had by all, except possibly our bank account. I do love Center Parcs, as I believe I may have said before but £45 for a takeaway for four is a little steep n'est pas? However, we enjoyed ourselves and the weather was lovely. We all think that this will be the last time we would do this type of a holiday as a family. The kids are a bit old for it now. (I personally am WAY too old for the bikes. My more delicate parts may never recover. Can I say that? Will look it up)
Still. it was very lovely. Fave bits included: walking out for an early morning coffee with Head of House before anyone was up, going for manicure with daughter which was administered by a lovely girl who was straight out of a Victoria Wood sketch, going bowling on the night Mo Farrah won his gold medal leaving the whole bowling alley in uproar and sitting out, late at night, swaddled in blankets, playing 15 addictions. (This is where you go round the table and everyone had to come up with 15 things they really, really like. Excellent game.) These are times that stay forever.
Then we moved on to the three day relations visit. Quite tiring - being nice for three whole days but all went well I think. We went to the Trafford Centre, which was like the third circle of hell for me but I suppose it takes all sorts. It certainly attracts all sorts. There are people that you can smell the money on as they waft into the champagne bar at Selfridges. (Fair play though. If I had champagne at 11am, I would probably fall asleep at the bar within 20 minutes) There are also some scary people who have tattoos and multiple piercings as well as the Olympic Rings shaved into their heads. Their husbands are quite intimidating too. These people usually have more Selfridges bags than the minted people. Isn't life interesting? Maybe I have changed and gone a bit Plymouth and seasidy. I don't know but it was certainly hard work in there. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that! Many thanks to all who put us up (and put up with us) and fed us and made brews for us. Apologies to all those we didn't get around to. Especially because we didn't manage to visit our old church this time.
So now we're back. From outer space etc etc. The house looks like we have just moved in. The ironing is frightening. I need to get stuff ready for work. It is very important that I spend Saturday catching up on everything I need to do. Soooo, we thought blow all that and we went to Flavour fest. Flavour fest is Plymouth's annual food festival. Ignoring the torrential rain (you know that could be Plymouth's motto this year - they could out it on a shield or a statue of Francis Drake or something. Believe it has not been much better elsewhere.) As I was saying - ignoring the torrential rain HOH and I wandered round the lovely food market buying stuff we wouldn't ever usually shell out for. Please find a photo of our haul above. This includes: cheese scones, fruit scones, salmon and rocket fish cakes, crab cakes, potted mackerel, pork pies and home made piccalilli  Unfortunately, the cheese straw didn't make it to the photo as HOH was peckish.I didn't partake in the food that I fancied most because I have been brought up not to eat in the street as it is common apparently. This means that I had to walk away from a battered mackerel barm with tartar sauce. When St Peter calls my name and I am waiting for them to put the duvet cover on my heavenly bed. Hopefully, I will be handed a battered mackerel barm cake to munch on while I wait. Heavenly indeed.
Now I really do have to go and get some work done. Kids are off to Youth Camp on Saturday. FOW 1 is going as a leader this time. He is not that kindly disposed to young teenagers as a rule, so that should be interesting. Pray for him. Well pray for them actually.
Anyway. back in the saddle. Rest was much needed. If we need a rest, we should take it. Constant tiredness makes me ineffective, miserable and a general pain. God rested and Jesus recommended it. Must be good then.

Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; lets take a break and get a little rest"

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