Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Compliments of the Season


Happy New Year! Hope your Christmas went well. We did fine. Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve, HOH pulled his back while getting some logs out of the boot of the car. This curtailed the general jollity somewhat but otherwise fine. If I am being brutally honest I rather enjoyed three hours on my own in the kitchen - without help -  with Kermode and Mayo's Film Review of the Year on Radio 5 Live.

I inherited a Kindle Fire for Christmas and managed to thrill myself to nuclear levels by downloading a Barbara Pym book at 9pm at night to read that very same bedtime! These are thrilling times that we live in, indeed they are.

TV was a bit rubbish was it not?  As the weather is making going outside only possible in short twenty minute bursts until the dog has finished his ablutions, I could have done with a bit of good telly. Death Comes to Pemberly has been ok and the last thirty seconds of Doctor Who when we got to see Peter Capaldi  was good as well. Also, Toy Story 3 made me cry but other than that ----BRING ON SHERLOCK!
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Monday, 23 December 2013

Rules

Trussell  Trust

Usually, I don't really speak on here about either the weather or politics. Mainly because the weather is boring (unless it is documented rather wonderfully on The Maple Syrup Mob ) I intend to break both of those rules in this blog. For a start, I am thinking about going out and finding some railings to lash my family to until this latest storm has passed. Plymouth is like a scene from Moby Dick. (Ok, no whale, I'll give you that) Much hilarity ensued when the BBC sent an intrepid reporter from its slightly breezy capital city, to Plymouth Hoe to get the locals' opinion. Locals, not being dimwits, had made themselves scarce and were holed up at home. Intrepid Reporter was left alone on seafront shouting into microphone and wondering if local lifeboat service would be able to find him when he was swept into the Sound. This weather is awful. It makes you think about those with nowhere to sleep tonight. I work on an office based on the ground floor of a local car park (Don't ask) and as soon as we leave the rough sleepers move in for the night. We don't mind as long as they don't set fire to the place or draw felt tip diagrams of their er.. underpants' departments on the wall. When too much loopy juice results in this kind of behaviour, we have to say non but otherwise we prefer to turn a blind eye.

On a slightly related note - politics. Usually I find that word as welcoming as the sentence uttered at the beginning of our Carol Service this week. "Tonight, we hope to be playing a few contemporary songs" Noooooooooo!
However, this is important. You may or may not know that Foodbanks were debated in our House of Commons this week. It didn't go well. It seems that the Government is wary of being railroaded by groups with political agendas on this issue. Well first of all, you are politicians, I would have thought that political cut and thrust was easy peasy for you. Also, this is a big deal. People need these places to feed their children. In 20th Century Britain! Really! It isn't the war you know. 

I am quite an old biddy and I have never seen anything like it in my time. I thought this kind of thing had passed - like Z Cars and rickets. I have no idea why the people in charge don't feel the need to hang their heads in shame and I mean any political party. For more information, please refer to Jack Munro. She has known plenty of poverty in her time and is a tireless campaigner. 

It's Christmas and for some people, all that means is a big shiny sign of how awful their life is. It does my head in because Christmas was meant to be the sign that it was time for things to change for the better - Jesus was here and the rescue plan had moved into gear. It is a bad sign for our society that for many people Christmas doesn't mean very much at all.
If you can give to your local Foodbank or the Sally Army, please do so. They are packed to the drawstrings with Christians who are trying to make a difference. If you can't give, you can pray. I'm no expert but I don't think it's supposed to be like this.
Wishing you a loving and peaceful Christmas xx
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Monday, 16 December 2013

This week


This week I will be mostly


  • Rooting round the bottom of wardrobes to find presents that I cunningly bought ahead and have now lost.
  • Trying to keep patient with old ladies who cannot believe that we don't run a bus to visit the pub on Christmas morning
  • Washing the back of my eyes out to try and rid myself of the picture of Sir Alec Ferguson coming down a long staircase at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, while Russell Watson sings "To Dream The Impossible Dream." *Rubs eyes hard* Nope - can still see it.
  • Wondering if it is ever acceptable to not wrap presents. Surely more environmentally friendly?
  • Getting snotty when Mums on Facebook who have a month of exciting Advent activities for their children are making me weep with inferiority. 
  • Trying not to get to upset over Syrian children in that horrific winter and also that video on You Tube of the abandoned puppy running after the car that it had just been chucked out of. As you can see, my priorities are expertly balanced.
  • Re above - what is the matter with everybody?
  • Re above and the above that - Am having unsavoury fantasies re puppy abandoners, Syrian generals on both sides and big stick with a nail in it. Am aware that this is probably NOT what Jesus would do. Probably.
  • Re above and above etc etc. Think I am very tired
Am working on personal  theory that God invented Christmas to save the world and then decided to put it in winter to try and cheer me up a bit. You may feel that this is a little ME-centric and you could be right I suppose. It is working for me at the moment though. As is kids assuring me that twenty and seventeen is too old to be making snowflake cut outs and they would rather watch Die Hard and run informal yet somehow quite aggressive competition to force as many Ferero Rochers into their mouths as possible. Not much like The Waltons. Funnier though.

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Ungrateful



So there's this conversation about Christmas presents with my Mum.

Mum    Do you know that Call the Midwife?
Me       Er...yes
Mum    Have you seen it?
Me       Now and again.


I'm sorry, I cannot be doing with Call The Midwife. I know a lot of people love it so I am probably wrong but it does my head in. It's like Downton Abbey with mucus. A monkey, a typewriter and as many stereotypes as you can fit into a brown paper bag and you are away.

A mad nun
A serene nun
A salt of the earth slightly sweary nun
A good looking young doctor
A tart with a heart midwife
A beautiful midwife with a dark secret/ broken heart or both. (Don't worry - she will love again)
A slightly dowdy midwife/nun who will come into her own later.
Miranda Hart who gets to fall off her bike a lot.

And Sunday night TV is your oyster.

Mum    Well, I got the DVD you for Christmas. Series 2
Me       Er  Ok. 
Mum    You'll love it
Me       Do you like it?
Mum    Never watched it. Don't think I would like it.

I am thinking bad thoughts. I am a bad person.
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Present

Outside of Hark The Herald Angels - nothing, I repeat nothing puts me in the mood for Christmas like this. People in America - you are very blessed to have this every year. Prepare to be blown off your tootsies. No need to thank me. You are more than welcome.



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Sunday, 8 December 2013

I Am





God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you Exodus 3 (The Message)

So, we are doing Exodus in church at the moment right. We come across this that God says to Moses. This is just after the Burning Bush incident that was done so well in the new TV version of The Bible. (To be honest, I've seen it done better with a flannel- board.) However, back to this astonishing statement. It stopped me in my tracks when I heard it. I have to confess something here. (It's ok. I have already confessed to God and he's good with it. He likes me.) For a tiny-teeny nano second, the song line "I am what I am" flitted into my head, complete with jazz hands. This is, obviously, a bad thing. It is not, however, unconnected. Imagine being so happy and content with yourself. Imagine being the finished product so you could say. "I am who I am" Obviously God can say it because he is God and, therefore, the finished product - if indeed he was ever started - following at the back?

Some people might be so comfortable with their progress as a member of the human race, that they may feel that they are near enough complete when it comes to being a decent person so they are quite happy to er  shout out - "I am what I am." I am not one of these people. But I am accepted, as I am. Even though God knows me completely.
There is, I think, a tension between accepting who you are and realising that you still have a way to go. It is, in the words of Yul Brynner in The King and I, "a puzzlement". Getting hold of this may be one of the great secrets to life.

I am completely known by God. All my ins, outs, positives, negatives. He has seen it all. Even the things about me that I bury so deep that I am barely aware that they exist. Then, even having scanned me top to bottom with his intergalactic, Star Trek-like scanner and seen all of it, he then accepts me totally. Known, that's what I am.

I know that God doesn't leave it there. I know that he has to lead, guide, teach, try, push and pull for the rest of my life. A lot of the time, I am not going to fancy it much but God will carry on drawing me forward and up.

I need to get that, when I drag my sorry bones into bed in the evening. I am known, secure and safe. God knows it all. He is not afraid of what he might find in me someday. He has already seen it. And it is ok. 
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Sunday, 1 December 2013

New Every Morning


I have had mini blog shaped crisis of faith (Do I continue with this blogging business?) which has kept me away for a couple of weeks, apologies. Anyway God used a couple of people to give me a swift kick up the how's your father and I am here again. I think there is an awful lot of nonsense talked about God has told me to tell you this or that but when a couple of people you barely know say something that completely hits the spot, when they are not really trying really trying to be all spiritual, then you have to take notice I think. 
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, first thing wake ups. (I do realise that I hadn't actually got round to WRITING anything about early mornings yet but I was thinking about it and am about to do so. Be patient.)
One of my favourite writers is Caitlin Moran as I think I may have said. I probably disagree with about 50% of her opinions (and passionately agree with many of them) but she is so clever and warm hearted , that I seek her out wherever she has left prose to read. This includes Twitter. (Do not follow unless you are a broadminded sort of chap.) Anyway, I found this  as an excerpt from her writing day on The Stylist Magazine

There has only been one time in my life, ever, that I’ve woken up and thought ‘YAY! HURRAH! I HAVE WOKEN! I FEEL A TREMBLING REVERENCE FOR LIFE!’ – the morning I went youth-hostelling to Wales, when I was 11. I woke up very perky that day. I was super-excited. I jumped out of my top bunk shouting ‘PUPPY POWER!’ Every other day of my life before or since, however, I have woken up going ‘UGH this is too early. This is GHASTLY. This system is bust.’ Even if it’s 2pm.

Early mornings are a weird time for everyone. I saw some research recently that said that one of the functions of sleep is to sort of wash out all the thoughts we have had during the day, including the destructive and negative ones. If sleep is interrupted or we don't get enough, then the process is incomplete and we can wake with all this negative nonsense wooshing round, even if we aren't normally inclined to depression. 
When I was ill, a few years ago, I would wake every morning and within five seconds, I would remember cancer and dip. This went on for years, long after I became well.
What changed it was God. A sensible God. (I think we underrate how full of common sense God is) I learnt to plug into him. Make contact with him asap. "Hullo God. Morning." You might even try a piece of scripture. (I can't find my slippers in the morning, never mind quote scripture) When I find him, he finds me back and things are better. We are not meant to fight our way through any of this alone.

On a more negative note, I would be a bit dishonest if I didn't give you my thoughts on *shouts into echo chamber* THE BIBLE. This is Channel 5's showing of the epic series from America. First of all, I have to say how good it is that something slightly Christian has made it to TV at all. I also have to point out that the American culture is perhaps more different from the British culture than we realise and this has an impact on the finished product. However, I'm sorry, I'm disappointed. Questions, so many questions.

Why does Pharaoh's son have a gold head?
Why are all the baddies (Egyptian royal family, slave drivers, the entire population of Sodom) British?
Where did Joshua get his teeth done?
What had made Mrs Lot such a miserable crow?
Why is Jesus wearing a wig? (I know Jesus often wears a wig in TV adaptations but I was hoping, you know?)

But the thing that I liked least was the characterisation of Noah, Abraham and Moses. Here they were spiritual super heroes, off away with the angels half the time. The Bible spends a lot of time pointing our that Noah liked a drink and it got him into trouble, Abraham pimped out his wife and Moses was a coward who sent his brother into the front line against Pharaoh. And still they were loved by God and used for great things. I missed it. The depth, the ups and downs, the redeeming love. I shall be getting the BBC Nativity DVD out and watching that. For my money, a bit closer to real life. Still I suppose that if it stirs debate about God, it can't be a bad thing. And, as you probably know, I am quite a shallow person who is probably missing the whole point. But I will watch some more. Apparently, some woman from Eastenders will be playing Delilah. (More British baddies...grrr)

Also, who knew angels were so...well.....hot?










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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Stream of Consciousness



Right, dead busy, sorry. No planning or anything about this today. Well YES it is usually planned meticulously actually. So just musing and reviewing (posh way of saying if I liked something or not. However, I do have exceptionally good taste so you can trust me.)


To the piccys this week to see Philomena. It was a three tissue movie about how nuns in Ireland made "fallen women" sell their children. (All proceeds to the nunnery - not to the women, you will be surprised to learn.) Dame Dench was wonderful and Steve Coogan was excellent as well. I was a bit surprised to find out how many laughs there were. Also, it wasn't just the usual one dimensional, "If Christians can behave like this, then there is therefore obviously no God" drivel that you usually get. There are some Dick Dasterdly level wicked nuns and I couldn't help thinking that things were probably a bit more complicated than they were presented. However, it was (and still is) a horror story about man's inhumanity to man and highly recommended.

Also to the theatre to see People by Alan Bennett. This could have been made a bit awkward as the two seats next to us were filled at the last minute by someone I know slightly from work. Nothing
wrong with him - very nice person. However, he was with his lovely lady-friend and I was with Head of House and you are thinking - Do we want to spend half time together chatting and trying to be interesting or just split up and run off to separate corners of the same room? In the end, we went for the latter as we had an appointment with a pre-order of gin at the bar and I think that was for the best. The play wasn't my favourite Alan Bennett ever - I am not sure what the National Trust have done to upset him - however, it was still head and shoulders above half the stuff that is out there at the moment and his way with words makes me think that I am playing at it.

Read as promised Pen Wilcock's Breath of Peace and loved it. I love the way that she has built these characters so that when the plot starts to develop the way that it does , you think that this is exactly how they will behave. If you haven't read The Hawk and The Dove series, may I respectfully recommend that you check it out. If you know what is good for you.

OK, that's it. Back to de-cluttering. Am trying to get house something like normal as Christmas approaches and we have to make room for people to sleep here who don't normally do so. Including, apparently, my mother. This is bizarre because she now only lives five minutes up the road. Conversation as follows

Me.    Mum, will you be ok to sleep in the back room on Christmas night so we won't be getting you back too late?

Mum   Oh yes, I will be fine for one or two or even four nights.

Oh dear. 


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Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Roots of Happiness

Daily Mail

Hello newspapers of the world.My name is Katherine Wales. You take photos of me all the time. This week, you were all charming enough to print lots of photos of me showing my grey roots and pointing out that I might be letting myself go a bit since the birth of baby George. Some papers even had helpful hints about how to keep on top of this terrible problem.
Let me just tell you a little bit about the way we roll at the moment here at Wales Towers. I have a baby boy. An astonishing, loud, demanding baby boy. And you never did see anything more beautiful - ever. He is our obsession. He has changed everything. I love his chubby arms and legs and the way they look like they have elastic bands on his wrists and ankles . I love the way his head smells and how his head goes a bit wobbly when I pick him up. I spend hours with him in my arms, just holding him close to me - just because I want to. In fact, because I almost feel it is impossible to do anything else.
My chap feels the same as me. Whenever we can, we bring him into bed with us in the mornings and we lie there and play with him. The chap likes to blow bubbles on his belly. It makes both of them laugh like drains. I like to secretly bite my baby's bottom. My mum told me I would want to and I do. If we are feeling really silly, we get my eyeliner and draw a little monocle on him or put a paper hat on him. Because, God willing, he will one day be king, but for now he is ours - mine - and we can just play at it. He is exhausting, frustrating,  scary and fifteen types of wonderful.
So by all means point out my roots. Send me helpful advice. Suggest ways that I can improve myself for the consumption of the masses. It's just that I think you may have confused me with someone who gives a monkeys. 
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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Not just bouncy


So last Sunday night, we are at church and singing this song, I'm usually a bit allergic to songs that invite God round and tell him he's welcome and offer him Victoria sandwich and a cup of tea. As if you would. As if. Still this is alright.

I remember once that a girl told me that she never sang songs about inviting the Holy Spirit to meetings and asking him to overwhelm us and fill us and things - just in case the Holy Spirit took up the invite. She told me that the last thing she wanted was the meeting to be all full of "happenings" and people falling over and  BOOM - Benny Hinn's your uncle. You get the idea. Because of this, she didn't really bother much with the Holy Spirit. 

Now that's an opinion you may or may not agree with. If I'm brutally honest, I have to say that I have been in meetings when I can hear Mrs Sketchley's voice rising an octave and I know we are going to be there an extra half an hour because that seems the polite thing to do, although really most people would be happier if we just put it to bed and went home. However, I think it is also essential to give the Holy Spirit some elbow room in our meetings and supply an atmosphere which allows receptive listening to anything God is trying to say.

I think what is even more important is that this approach to the Holy Spirit sells him a bit short. It's all about much more than bouncy, singy meetings. Being overwhelmed by the Spirit is about much more than Sunday at Seven and lying down. I think that we need to be overwhelmed to function as any kind of half decent Christian. Left to my own devices, I will never be kind enough, or love enough or have enough self-control. Yet they are fruits of the Spirit and only with enough Spirit in me, will I begin to show them. So even if you struggle with what someone with a stern face once called the "new performance culture around the Holy Spirit" Christians need the Holy Spirit - on Mondays, when work is making you entertain axe-murderer fantasies, On Wednesdays, when that woman won't get off the phone and on Thursday night when sleep won't come because you are so worried. Without the  intervention of the Spirit - even in the most undramatic way - I know I have no chance of living the God filled life.


    Galatians 5:22-24
    But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Bullied





Just a brief rant, I have books to read and Rachel Riley and Pasha to worry about on Strictly so I can't stop. BUT, can I just say to M & S and Boots with your three for two Christmas offers and Argos with your Christmassy aliens that look a bit like little sperms and Aldi with your Christmas themed emails etc etc......

I will do Christmas when I am good and ready. If I were a betting woman, I would say that would probably be around December time - if only to fall in with hundreds of years of tradition. I am not afraid that things will run out. I see no reason to stuff my freezer at this stage. If the apocalypse happens between now and December and there are no sprouts in the shops, we will eat chips or cute little sausages on sticks. We will live. 

We all have a vague idea about Christmas presents but I see no reason to panic buy. The world is full of enough electrical gadgets to choke a pig so I doubt that we will run out. I love Christmas. I am a Christian. For me, Christmas celebrates that extraordinary time when God's amazing rescue plan began to form into a living human and I am very glad about that. But you are ruining it! I am sick of how pushy and steam-rollery you are about it. The decorations are up in the shops. By the beginning of December, we will either be completely sick of them or not even noticing them.

When the time is right I will be singing carols, watching "Nativity!" ( Things are really COOL in Nazareth - sing along) and  looking uncertainly into a box of tangled Christmas lights with the best of them. BUT NOT YET. STOP BULLYING ME. Thank you. 

By the way.  Tom Hanks. Captain Philips. Fantastic. Very tense. Left teeth marks in the seat in front but still fantastic. 

Now I need to go and nurse my dog through his annual firework induced nervous breakdown. Goodbye.

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pool


Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.

So thinking about this right. Just thinking. Don't feel the need to build a church round it or anything. For thirty-eight years you live paralyzed in this horrible place, surrounded by filth, sickness, moans and groans. You are alone, no-one to support you. You see your whole life ebbing away and there seems to be nothing you can do. You are tantalisingly close to the solution. If someone would just give you a hand into the pool. The pool is where it's at. You can almost touch the pool - only almost. Then you see Jesus. Jesus with his international galactic eye for the lost and the hopeless has zoomed in on you. Jesus knows what you need. He'll give you a leg up into the pool.
As usual, he doesn't do what you want straight away. He has a question. He asks if you want to get well. Well duh! But the question has focused your mind. Do you really want to see the change? How much? Your mind goes back to the pool. To the thing that you think will rescue you. You explain the situation. Tell him about the thirty eight years and how alone you are. But he doesn't give you a leg up. At least not one that you can see. And he doesn't seem that bothered with the pool. Doesn't he know about the pool? You thought everyone knew about the pool. Jesus says, you do it. Do it. You. No pool. So what are you going to do now? Get all upset about the lack of your special pool-shaped solution? Thirty eight years you have been going through this. Haven't you earned the pool?Or you could just do as he asks. Take a chance. So you respond. You DO something. And Jesus responds and you get up. You find you can. You couldn't before but now you can.

How much of it is up to us? To DO something. To respond the way Jesus asks rather than the way we have decided will make things right. Is something new needed? How much do we really want it? Like I said, just thinking.
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Out and About

Theatre Royal Plymouth


On Friday, despite the threat of impending wind and rain based doom over the South West of England,  HOH and I ventured out to the ballet. We went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, partly because we wanted to and partly because I didn't want to be the last person in the western world to go.
I have seen a bit of Bourne, I took FOW2 to The Nutcracker (which she could have taken or left to be honest.) HOH and I also went to see his version of Joseph Losey's The Servant - Play Without Words, which was fan yourself hot actually and I'm glad I didn't go with my nana.
Anyway, this Swan Lake was a sort of cross between a Grimm fairy tale, an astonishing feat of beautiful dance and er .. A Bronski Beat video. As you probably know, the "Big Thing" about Bourne's Swan Lake is that the swans are played by blokes rather than girlies. This has obvious repercussions when the Queen's son falls in love with the lead swan. I trust you are following my meaning here. 
My first mistake was not checking out the story before I went. I am too mean to pay £3.50 for a programme advertising lots of shops in Plymouth that I already know about so I went in completely ignorant. By the time I reached the interval - so many questions.
Who is he?
Is that his mother?
Why is he chasing the swans?
Is in love with a swan? Is that allowed?
Does he want a swan as a pet?
Wouldn't the Queen have something to say about that? Doesn't she own all the swans in England or something? 
When does Natalie Portman come on?

We had also managed to find ourselves sat next to a group of understudies on one side of us - all taut limbs, straight backs and spontaneous applause every five minutes - and a very charming old man on the other side who was struggling manfully with a cough and had to keep putting sucky sweets in his mouth. I tell you, the whole event could have been fraught with tension.

I have to report though that it was quite wonderful. Such amazing physicality, and beauty and humour and wonderful music which they managed to keep the spirit of despite moving so far away from what I suppose is the "Classic" version of the story. The scene in a club called "Swanks" where people managed to to do sixties dancing to a Tchaikovsky score was inspired and the startling finale make you leave the theatre feeling that you had been in the presence of something special. 

I came home and read the story and it all made a bit more sense - as much as any story about people being turned into swans ever makes sense - and although I did realise that the was also an agenda at play - I couldn't be bothered with that. I stood up at the end and clapped. All the theatre and me and the annoyingly lovely understudies. They were all very tall. I've seen Billy Elliot. I thought you couldn't dance the ballet if you were too tall. Another mystery that my lack of culture means I will never be able to solve. 

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Bit depressed?

Nah - you're not. Not after watching this.



You're welcome
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Saturday, 19 October 2013

Recommending


It has been a funny couple of weeks. Some sort of disk went on my laptop which has meant that it has been at the menders for a fortnight. Also, I have had a ten day headache/migraine thing going on so kept away from screens as much as possible. All well now - thanks for asking. Well, laptop still waiting for part but there you go. 
Can I just bang on a bit about these. You don't have to take any notice if you don't want to.
Firstly - inappropriate crush number 718. Francis Spufford and I haven't even seen a photo of him!!! this book certainly isn't for everyone and I'm not sure that it is even for Christians to be honest. Some of it I can't make head nor tail of because it is quite clever but there is one chapter on Jesus that is probably the best chapter on Jesus I have ever, EVER read. It captures the essence and the impact of Jesus in a way that makes me want to be as much like him as I possibly can. (Which isn't much I know) I have read it several times now and still find it amazing. (Please don't read if you will be offended by the use of the f word. I think I was offended but I appreciated his honesty and openness more than I was offended and who was asking me anyway?)
Secondly, we rushed off to see the new Woody Allen so that we got a chance to see it before any more revelations came out about his "interesting" private life and people started throwing rocks at us in the queue. Blue Jasmine reminds me why I love Woody Allen. It is funny, sharp and witty. Everyone is brilliant but Ms Blanchett is absolutely amazeballs as the young people say. I think there is a lot of faff talked about actors but she is just fantastic in this. Proper good.
Lastly recommending something I haven't read yet. The next Pen Wilcock monk book is out! Hurrah! Actually the series is called The Hawk and the Dove  and, having read the last six, unless there has been some sort of rip in the time-space continuum and life is not continuing as we understand it, then I can say with some certainty that this will be good. Am slightly worked up that William (inappropriate crush number 642) and Madeleine may not be living happily ever after but am prepared to try and cope. We must be brave.

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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Eventful! Well no not really



A few things going on this week, nothing for you to lose sleep over but why would you? You hardly know me! The flowers in the photo were my brother's favourite - yellow roses. (I know, I know he certainly was not afraid of a gay stereotype, bless him) It was three years since he died this week. Because my Mum lives here now and can't go to the crem, I was trying to think of something memory thingy to do. I thought of taking some yellow roses to the beach and throwing them into the sea. Then I almost heard Dave's voice saying "Have you gone mad? You look ridiculous!" So we shoved the roses into a vase, I made a chicken pie and we sat round and told funny Dave stories. Better way to remember for us I think. Thinking of you this week Liam. (Sorry if you are a fan of the old lobbing things into the sea method. I expect you have more natural dignity than I do)

Head of House has returned safely from dropping Fruit of Womb 1 back at York Uni. There was a small problem in that the hire car provided for the trip was not the roomy economy that he had ordered but a last minute replacement Mercedes. You may think this would be a "good thing" However, call me ungrateful but..

  1. HOH spent the whole weekend with his bottom tight with fear in case anything happened to the stupid thing.
  2. The usual £60 fuel cost jumped to £90. (Apparently, Mercedes owners don't have to worry about trivial things like fuel consumption).
  3. When FOW1 goes back to uni he takes nearly every possession he owns. Try fitting a base guitar, large amp, clothes, tv, music system, sports equipment etc etc into the back of a poncy car whose seats don't even go down!
  4. Apparently it flipped unbidden into cruise control. It can be quite scary to find yourself suddenly travelling at 80 mph with your foot OFF the accelerator.
This weekend was the 40th Anniversary of the first night Northern Soul Allnighter at Wigan Casino. I am writing this with HOH sat next to me threatening to "help" me with this bit so it may be cut short if I stop and hit him with the laptop. I have never been to Wigan Casino. Too young for one thing and probably not cool enough either. But, every Saturday night for three years from 1973 HOH would go and spread talcum powder on the floor of the casino (to aid slippage) and dance from midnight to 8am. It was a phenomenon among the young working class who liked their soul music with an edge. This week - The Culture Show had a terrific documentary about it. It is on the BBC I-player here but
only until Wednesday. 
Even though I am only the other half of a Casino veteran, I do love a lot of the music (not all of it - trust me) and can certainly see how it attracted such loyalty. The program is certainly worth a watch, especially for my kids who were struggling to believe that their aged parent was once a member of one of the coolest groups of people in the universe.!
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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thoughtful Home Thoughts



I'm watching and loving The Story Of The Jews at the moment on the old BBC. I love this for lots of reasons. Firstly, Simon Schama. I think that he is the daddy of all this sort of thing. I loved his History of Britain and his book on The French Revolution - Citizens is one of the best things I have ever read on it. ( A not at all snobby or superior warning here. If you are not interested in The French Revolution or you don't already know a bit about it, I wouldn't start with Citizens. You may lose the will to live)

I love the Jewish depiction of God - passionate, loud, argumentative - ultimately always believing in his fatherhood.

Anyway - as he has got older he has got a bit more er... theatrical in his delivery but I love it. The word my kids use is fey but either way - I could watch him for hours. He is Jewish, un-apologetically Jewish and a Zionist. Not wholly uncritical but certainly partisan. And he is living this series. Lips a tremble, hand waving, head shaking sometimes quivering with indignation. 

I have learnt loads too. I would not claim that this was a specialist subject and I am a bit embarrassed because I sort of thought that all Jewish men in the Old Testament dressed like Hassidic Jews. Whatever you think about the Jewish nation though and there is probably a good argument that says that modern Israel brings a lot of its trials down on itself; no-one could say that they have had an easy life. 

For many hundreds of years they had no area to call home. They lodged in other countries - locked in at night, forced to wear clothes that made them easily identifiable (this is all pre-second world war - we haven't got that far yet) and when the home nation got fed up, then they were expelled (if no one felt like massacring a few thousand of them)

I have struggled to get my head around not having a home country. I have my problems living here - I worry - Did we choose the right Millidee to lead Labour? What sort of government thinks it's ok to tax disabled families more for having an extra bedroom where carers can get some sleep? Will X Factor eventually lead to lions running in and eating the unsuccessful candidates? Will Sherlock EVER come back? However, it is my country. The place that I was born in and, at least at this point in time, it is the place that I can call my own and anyone who says otherwise is actually an invading force and we would feel well within our rights to deal VERY severely with them. 
I can't imagine not having that. It gives me pause.



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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bethany


So, if you are feeling robust. Have a look at this. Keep going if you can - it's worth it in the end. 


Just made me think a bit. Ever felt like Bethany? Too far gone? Too hurt? Too exhausted? In too much of a mess?

Corrie Ten Boon once famously said "There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." She knew what a pit was.

All things are recoverable from. Everything has a way back. God is involved in the serious business of recovery every second of every day. Often with the same people and the same recurring fault lines. Even for those who try so hard to be good that it leaves them all churned up inside sometimes. He is constant. He is an inveterate void filler. He is world champion broken people scooper-upper. The lost and the lonely are his people baby!  I suppose you have to be like Bethany and trust the healer enough to let him in and to give it over.
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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Bit of a catch up


Can't stop long - have promised to make chicken pasties for tea and this will be taking a lot of concentration from me so all the inside bits don't pop out at unexpected moments. This, I think, is a good rule to live by. 
FOW2 is back at school now after summer school in London (apparently the work bit was good, "Wicked" was excellent but one or two people were a bit strange) Also both are back from church camp. More successful I think. FOW1 was a leader and he didn't hit anyone so that's very good. He isn't a natural young people person and concentrates hard on the thought that this is a "good thing" that he is doing. He finds that helps. 
FOW2 was in a tent with lots of girlfriends and enjoyed the whole thing very much. She described this year's camp as "less showy but more spiritual depth" which would make some of my old pente friends do a little shudder but I rather like the idea of a thoughtful, slow God legacy. On a less spiritual note they had fantastic weather and she has come back freckled for the first time since she was a teeny. Made me a leeetle bit sniffly.
HOH and I contented ourselves with a week of minimal cooking and cleaning and watching an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip every night. I need very little to keep me content.
FOW1 is bracing himself for returning to York, which he can't wait for. (I have my rejection issues very much under control) He is slightly unhappy that Frank Turner (a very sweary singer with an impressive way with lyrics - don't listen to him. It's a bit scary for old people,) is not going to York when he tours. He is however coming to Plymouth. I know this because FOW2 has a ticket. This has caused some friction among the young people.
So everyone keeps announcing that "Summer is over" because we have had some rain. I suppose it is. Summer is the only season that people keep making these pronouncements. You don't hear anyone saying - "Well that's our Autumn done" when it starts snowing do you?  It has seemed a nice, long and languid summer this year. A very encouraging person has informed me that we can really only expect summers like that every 10 years or so. So pack the paddling pool up nice and tight.

We went to see "The Way Way Back" This is just lovely. Really lovely. It's funny and sweet and I cried twice. It is your basic coming of age movie. I suppose like Dirty Dancing but good. (That's not fair I have never seen it. It's not for the want of trying. I kept starting it but just couldn't do it. Even I have limits. Sorry) Anyway, not original but brilliant. Steve Carrell is just horrible. Sam Rockwell is really funny. Well I just loved it. I will be dragging FOW2 to it, with or without her consent as soon as it comes to the Arts Centre.
HOH and FOW1 went to see Elysium.  Someone's head exploded. I rest my case M'lud.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

It's Just Funny

Why is this so funny? Dunno, Just makes me laugh.......




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Sunday, 1 September 2013

People I have a sneaking regard for and probably shouldn't (2)


Job's Comforters.

You have probably heard the phrase - "You're a right Job's Comforter -you are!" (N.B. carries more weight with a Northern Accent.) This is quite obviously a "bad thing to be". However, I sort of feel sorry for them - a bit - sometimes. The reason being that they remind me of me and, in line with my policy of always being fair to me, I am prepared to give them some slack.
Be honest, if you were one of Job's mates, how would you have reacted? This was a man who had always done things the right way. He had it sorted. Yet when disaster upon disaster began to fall, it did so at breakneck speed. In fact, things happened so fast that disasters happened while the survivor of the earlier one was still telling Job about it. Oxen, donkeys, sheep, shepherds, camels and finally children - all snatched away in separate disasters with only a sole survivor left to report back the carnage each time. (I don't think that this was the same person, otherwise he would be getting a bit of a complex about being a bit of a Jonah.) Be honest - how bewildered would you be? And wouldn't you wonder, just a leeeetle bit, what Job had done to have brought this on himself. (I said - be honest!)
So his mates turn up to sit with him and they are genuinely devastated for him. They tear their clothes in grief and share his suffering. Then, they decide to try and "help". They decide to give advice. 
I am not sure what would have prompted this change of approach. They could have become a bit nervous about Job's full frontal attack on God. They could have been trying the old "a word in season..." or they could have been so sick of Job's complaining that they thought that it was time to  - you know - jolly things up a bit. 
Have a look at what they say. There's very little wrong with it. It's really the timing and probably the motivation that's wrong. 

So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
    Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!


Yep - thanks for that. Try not to trip over the corpses of every animal I have ever owned on your way out.

Or

But you can be sure of this,
    you haven’t gotten half of what you deserve.


Good Grief - really?

You may be much wiser than me but I have tried to talk people out of their pain. Tried to find a God-based reason for the unfathomable. I have just talked twaddle. A Christian counsellor told me once that he saw someone for several months and during their time together - all they would do was sit in silence. She wanted someone to grieve with her. And he did. 

God comes in at the end of Job and proves that he is quite capable of telling Job a few home truths himself actually - without their assistance. They didn't need to try so hard to appear wise under such a barrage of suffering. What Job needed was "I have no idea mate; have a tissue and we will sit and cry together for a bit." There is friendship, forged in suffering, honesty and waiting on God. It's not about the person doing the comforting but those needing comforting. It's about rubbing someone's back and zipping it, as it probably never says in Job
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Friday, 30 August 2013

Top Class Thinking


Sometimes I have no idea what these people are going on about but today - the final thought from Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks was actually really rather wonderful...Find it here


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Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Normal Scene

So... this is a cat, in a shark suit, riding a vacuum cleaner. That's it really. Doesn't seem to be a big deal. I am now off to find out if I can be adopted by this family for whom this is a perfectly normal everyday scene.


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Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Reality of Brokenness

To London on Monday to deliver FOW 2 to Summer School. (Three and a half hours on a train, then, 10 seconds after we get off, she catches sight of the team from UCL. "Bye!" she shouts and runs off towards them. So much for me guiding her safely through London) So I was left, slightly redundant with an afternoon in London to fill.
The British Museum called me and therein a small but beautifully formed exhibition (Room 69a in case you are interested) on coinage in the Bible. I love this sort of thing - real denari(s) ?? and shekels and things. Genuinely fascinating. In the middle of all this, I came across a small case containing 30 pieces of silver. That was all. 30 real pieces of silver. No one was suggesting that they were the actual ones that were used as Judas' pay-off but they were from the same time.
I found it surprisingly moving. Just the reality of these tiny silver coins in front of me. Judas wasn't always a traitor. He lost faith in Jesus - partly because he never really knew who he was. Yet the act of betrayal must have been heartbreaking for both I think. Jesus had lived with the disciples for three years and he loved them. Sometimes people used to say that Judas was put into the disciples for one purpose - to betray Jesus - and it was therefore as if anything he felt was of no value and that Jesus wasn't too fussed about him because Judas was part of a bigger picture. This goes against everything I have ever learnt or felt about Jesus. I don't think Judas was picked to betray. Jesus would never single anyone out as that hopeless. I think that he was aware that if he picked 12 people to share in his life that eventually someone would lose it. It could have been anyone of them. It could have been all of them. For the record, if I had been in the disciples, I think that there is a pretty good chance that it could have been me. Judas never recovered. 
By the Last Supper Jesus knew that Judas was lost. He knew that his frustration and impatience and self obsession had caused him to hand himself over to wickedness. 


The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”
Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, “It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?”
Jesus said, “Don’t play games with me, Judas."
Matthew 26

Jesus was well aware that he was following the path laid out in Scripture but I don't think it hurt any less. People sometimes say that everything happens for a reason which is probably true but that seems a bit bloodless sometimes for me. Looking at these coins brought home the reality of a betrayal or a hurt of a friend. On both sides. I forget sometimes that Jesus really experienced these things. Loss and loneliness and disappointment. The Son of God isn't just an interested onlooker but someone who recognises the pain of a broken relationship as something that he has experienced in his own life. It would serve me well to remember this I think, next time I whinge to God that he doesn't know what I am going through. 

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Stepping Out....


... with my baby
Can't go wrong 'cause I'm in right
It's for sure, not for maybe
That I'm all dressed up tonight


Well, actually no, not that kind of stepping out. Sorry to get you all worked up. It's this kind of stepping out

Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Matthew 6 v 31

So I did - (step out that is)  because there was (constant coming and going). The idea was that I would spend a goodly proportion of my jolly hols writing and blogging but I er..didn't. I stepped out of all day to day responsibilities and that included this - what can I say? 

If you missed me (Who? You are thinking) Why thank you. If not - well who can blame you? I have returned now. Not exactly rested but pooped from nice things.
  • We had family down for a few days which was really good.
  • We met a friend in Totnes. Still haven't had a decent cup of coffee there. They could do with a big chain moving in if you ask me.
  • We went to Warwick to look at the university and accidentally called in at Ikea on the way back.
  • We went to Flavourfest which is my favourite Plymouth event because there are lots
    of opportunities to eat.
  • Lots of meals out and long breakfasts on the Hoe. 
  • Lots of dog walking.
  • Cinema and home movies catching up
  • Bit of ironing (Felt I should for appearances sake.)
  • Read two books.
  • Helped get my mum settled in Plymouth.

So, that's my catch up. Wot I did on my 'olidays. Anyway, off to devour a Harry Potter film and a caramel wafer. You can have this from me to you. Enjoy.



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Friday, 9 August 2013

The Last Thing



Mark 11:22-25
Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. 

I have a lot going on at the moment. I am in the middle of a few things. Crisis would be too strong a word and some of the things that are happening, we are on the better side of. We will get there. As usual, after a trying time I come back to the same question. Why is praying about it the last thing that I do?

Do I think it seems a bit presumptuous? Well sometimes.

Do I forget? Often.

Do I automatically just jump to sort it myself mode? Yep.

I have an ongoing fantasy about my life (no not the one where I am manager of Manchester United's most successful ever team) In it I am a woman of prayer with a notebook full of prayers - some answered, some ongoing. Some for friends, some for entire continents. The book would be full of different coloured pens and crossing outs and added bits and stuff where God had told me stuff. And I want to be a   pray-er. I do pray. Of course I do but I want it to be my default mode rather than my - "Oh yes I could always try praying" mode. And the thing is that this fantasy is completely attainable. I don't expect a better prayer life will get rid of all my problems. I just expect it to give me a better life because I do the best thing to deal with them.

It's down to me to sort. Puzzling though isn't it? Why I would not run with something so beneficial and so life enhancing? Am thinking it may be time to look at how this is done. All suggestions gratefully received.
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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Food Issues


Awesome is an over used word but this is the quite frankly awesome Jack Monroe and her son. 
She has experienced food poverty and written very movingly about it on her blog - example below.

"Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one Weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam."

She is now a food poverty campaigner and comes up with great ideas about cooking etc but also about GIVING.
I am expecting that I am teaching masses of grandmothers to suck eggs here but this is where the Christians rise up like the mighty army they are and make it happen. We need to be supporting Trussel Trust or whatever the local foodbank is up to. Loving watching what my chum Pat Cass and Urban Outreach are doing up north as well as Lord's Larder etc. where I am. But the very least - the VERY LEAST, LEAST, LEAST, LEAST any of us should be doing is wapping a bit extra in our supermarket trolleys and bunging it in the cages as we go out. And Bob - i'll est votre oncle as they say in France. 

If you need any more nudging - try Matthew


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Thems the hard cold facts about our faith. It's who we are.














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