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.

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..


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

Sunday, 4 November 2012


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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