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. 


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Things Old Christians Remember (3)
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.
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.

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"


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Things Old Christians Remember (2)

Flannel Boards (Source
When I taught Sunday School the preferred method was the flannel board. Well to be completely honest - it was what you used if you hadn't prepared anything. It was a sort of fuzzy felt stick-on Bible story. I could never get the hang of it. Everyone in the stories was always turned slightly sideways for some reason and at least one figure would never stay stuck on. I had quite a struggle with John the Baptist I seem to remember. Then I could never get the perspective right, so Noah was always bigger than the ark he was going to fit all his family and all the animals on, which probably confused quite a few littlies. You had to be careful if you were using them with older children. I remember an unfortunate incident at Sunshine Corner with what we used to call "unchurched kids". I had turned my back for a second, only to find that Mary Magdalene and an un-named disciple had been moved into an "interesting" position. Pretty soon I felt the need to be a bit more creative - although not always entirely successfully. (My attempt to illustrate turning water into wine by using water and carefully hidden cochineal in the bottom of a jar worked a little too well. Younger members of the church were very impressed and rumours began among the children that I may have had special powers) I wouldn't be surprised to learn that flannel boards have come a long way and are very successfully used now by teachers with more flair than I ever had. However, reading about Summer Clubs and Church camps on the excellent Tracing Rainbows Blog and also seeing what goes on for children at my own church makes me want to wag a finger and say "You don't know you're born."

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lets squeeze this lemon!

Pinching my title from the GREAT Siobhan in "Twenty Twelve". It would seem churlish not to write about the Olympics after so much good stuff. For me the best bits so far are
a) Anything won on water - particularly the white water canoeing. As someone who is scared of water, I have full admiration for anyone who has enough presence of  mind to keep paddling at great speed when the temptation must surely be to burst into tears and cry "I don't like it!" until someone comes and rescues you.
b) All the cycling medals. It's really fast isn't it? And high up!
c) Mo Farrah. That's a really long way to run without a sit-down.
d) Andy Murray. To come back so soon to the place where you had lost and then win so well was such a great thing.
e) Gymnastics - that looks like it could hurt quite a lot.

Lots of other things have been great - the beauty of the stadium at night, Ian Thorpe, lovely Becky Adlington, Radio 5 Live's cycling coverage (outstanding Simon Brotherton), singing God Save The Queen, just saying the words "pommel horse" - the list goes on.
One of the strongest themes that I have picked up from the post event interviews with the athletes was the constant appearance of the words "sacrifice" and "discipline". People saying that everything they had given up or all the hard work that they had done was worth it. It's all a bit old fashioned maybe and a bit negative but it does seem that all this glory doesn't seem to come without sorting yourself out. Like my old mother used to say (or would do if I asked - I'm sure) "Nothing comes of Nothing. " (Actually just realised that's Shakespeare. King Lear. Look it up. hah!) If we are looking to achieve anything of worth then it seems that regular "keeping going" and not giving up is the order of the day.

On a slightly sadder note Bob Babbitt died last week. HOH and son have been in mourning for seven days. You may not know the name but you will almost certainly have heard his work. He was the bass player on zillions of Motown hits including - Signed Sealed Delivered, Tears of a Clown and Ball of Confusion. He suffered I think sometimes by playing at the same time as James Jamerson who was routinely called "The Greatest Bass Player of All Time." Yet Babbitt's attitude was lovely - eyes filling up with tears when he talked about how wonderful Jamerson was to him and how he was his mentor. Even though Jamerson's problems with drink and drugs must have made him a nightmare sometimes. Lovely man. Great talent.

I have to go now - I have a birthday cake to finish. FOW1 is nineteen today! Nineteen! Both Hargreaves Towers males have had birthdays this week. Expensive times. HOH had a new turntable. (Still plays vinyl. Says it sounds better) FOW1 had some kind of pedal for his bass that makes what I have called "wow-wow" noises  This has produced much derision. I am not respected in my own home. Still - at least they are cheap dates. Head of House and myself had civilised breakfast overlooking Plymouth Sound last week - see above (nice round here innit?) and FOW1 went out with chums yesterday so tonight we are staying in, eating Chinese and watching Th'Olympics. It is not my job to entertain everyone you know! Even you lot! Have a great week.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Things Old Christians Remember (1)

Before the days of Songpro there was the OHP. But before the technical wizardry of the OHP and its operators, (who were highly skilled people who had learned not to put the acetate on back to front at least seven times out of ten) there was the Redemption Hymnal and its partner - the yellow chorus book.  The big skill we all developed was singing the verse reading from the hymn book and then whipping it under your arm for the jiggy chorus so we could clap. We knew how to funky it up

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