Thursday, 30 October 2014


I don't think I would call myself what is sometimes charmingly referred to as a "rabid feminist".  (Although I would say you are a lady feminist if you are female and vote, or expect the same pay for doing the same job as a man, or expect your name to go on the mortgage if you pay into it or indeed expect that if your husband decides he would rather live with the chambermaid, you do not expect to be turned out into the cold without a possession or any of your children) Anyway I digress. It's just that something that happened this week that made me think - would it happen to a man?

There has been a post circulating on Facebook this week called "Her name was Reeva Steencamp" This is because in all the shouting about Oscar Pistorious and whether he did or whether he didn't and the debates about the effect it was all having on his life and his career etc etc - some reports haven't even mentioned her name. Some just call her his girlfriend or a lingerie model. Anyway her name was Reeva - Reeva Steencamp. The piece about her is here if you are interested. 

On a lighter but connected note. Can I just say that I have always liked Daniel Radcliffe? I haven't been too impressed by many of his films since his Harry Potter days to be honest but he's young and he will develop. He has almost made it on to the list of people who it would be acceptable for our daughter to bring home with a view to marriage. Almost but not quite but still a creditable try with this.

In case you can't read it, he picks up on a reporter who says he struggles to regard him as handsome after having watched him grow up in Harry Potter. Radcliffe replies that men do not seem to be having the same problem with Emma Watson. As I say, creditable sentiments and he came quite close to getting on the acceptable suitor list but Head of House has vetoed him - because I put in a vote for Roy Keane but that has also been deemed unacceptable. Honestly, young people these days.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014


HOH has been out in the garden, cutting stuff back, pulling stuff up, digging things over. Our back yard doesn't exactly look dead glamorous at the moment. It suits my mood. It's ages off Christmas, a grand summer has come and gone, because we are saving for aforementioned Christmas and double glazing, we are skint. Everyone is working really hard with nothing much else going on. 
Do you think though, that this may be a healthy attitude? If your life is abundant all the time as Kim Kardashian and some tele-evangelists would have it, then do you forget how to celebrate during the special times? If there is no paring back and scarcity then surely you become clogged up and bloated. If we take our cue from nature which benefits from land that lies quiet and fallow for a while, then we should expect there to be quiet times, poorer times and slow times. I get annoyed with people in T'Internet who gabble on about how much they love Autumn and when you look further into it, it's because the new coats are out at Primark or because Yankee Candles have a half price offer on their "Fallen Leaves" range. They then post photos of themselves from a jaunty angle with a full make up face pretending to kick up leaves while not actually letting any leaves touch their new boots.
That isn't Autumn for me. There are lovely colours of course but they are the colours of nature drawing a veil, battening down the hatches and preparing for what is to come. That's not as bad as it sounds. We can, if we want to, slow down a bit. We can read a bit more, sleep a bit more. We can give more attention to our inner lives. Pray a bit more and don't be afraid to not be as busy. It is truly ok I think to let things go and be a bit less for a while. Trust me - Christmas will be here soon enough. Close your eyes and you can almost hear the sound of the Marks and Spencer adverts.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Reality Bites

For reasons that are too complicated to bother you with here, I have just spent a weekend dipping in and out of the X Factor and Strictly. As regular readers will know, I am more inclined to one rather than the other of these. FOW2 and my good self have just joined Strictly. I usually like to give it a bit of time to bed in and also, I do think that it goes on for an awfully long time these days. There at least thirty eight couples in the starting line up. There has been a bit of a hoo-ha today because Thom has been sent home and he is a reasonable dancer. The thing is, I don't get up too worked up about who goes though on Strictly. It's all a bit of a gamble. The public can be quite weird and will vote for people that they take a fancy to for no other reason than they just like the cut of their jib. I don't think the best dancer has won Strictly for years. The thing is that it doesn't really matter because the pros and the slebs are already in the game. They have "Showbiz"  careers (even if some may be a bit more successful than others) they know the game. They understood how it might be when they started and when they go they go back to slogging away at whatever branch of showbiz they have come from. (Again, some more successfully than others)
I find the X Factor more troubling. For a start, some of them look like children. When did we start lining children up and then rejecting them for our personal delectation and delight? Also, when they are rejected, they don't return to panto or Gardeners Question time or whatever. Most of them go back to the sausage factory from whence they came. Even winning the thing seems to be the kiss of death as far as I can see. I don't like it. I try to because, at this time of year, not liking the X Factor can leave me feeling very much alone but I can't. Also, can I just say, a lot of the singers are just rubbish? Is that acceptable? I watched some lad last night do things to "Try A Little Tenderness" that would have got him arrested in seven states in America. Also I'm pretty certain that the lyric is "shabby dress". NOT "SHAGGY DRESS" Good Grief.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Grim Up North

Look - you knew we would be going to see this. If you have spent more than 15 seconds looking at this blog you will know that HOH spent much of his twenties chasing Northern Soul venues around the country, buying records and looking for somewhere to dance to them. 

So this film was eagerly awaited here by at least a proportion of the inhabitants of Martha Towers. First of all I have to refer to the cinema we had to go to to watch the film because it was on a limited release. I have never been there before. I will not fight to go there again. There was enough of that going on in the foyer as far as I could see. I don't think I have ever been scared at the flicks before (unless you take into account how I felt when I realised that Tom Cruise's Cocktail had another hour to go before we were mercifully released) We stood in a queue with a lot of other slightly ageing soul type people, many of whom were on sticks or had dodgy backs (probably because of all that backdropping) while about a hundred drunk, grubby hipster/biker types pushed past us to get to their film. Well it felt like a hundred to me. I have no idea what they were seeing. I don't think that it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 
Inside the cinema, things did not improve. I did not know that they made screens that small. HOH had to wear glasses to see the film. The hygiene was not what you would call top notch. The toilets were actually in the room we watched the film from - raising the unedifying possibility of flushing and other noises during quiet moments. Also, I think I was sitting in something sticky. I don't know. I didn't look and my jeans went straight into the wash. Bijou vintage it was not.

To the film then. You would probably only see this if you knew what it was about, if you get my drift. If you love the music or remember the scene, you will like this. The scenes in the dance hall were fantastic, the best I have seen. It was truly exhilarating and I would have liked to see more of them. There were some great little moments where people were learning to dance and just going for it. Lisa Stansfield shouting "I were right shown up today!" in a very broad accent is a happy moment that will stay with me for ages. I think you can hear a "but" coming. At the risk of sounding like I know what I am talking about, I think it was underwritten. It needed a better script rather than people just saying things to move the story on. You know the kind of thing...

"Whatever you do - don't start injecting drugs - it's a mug's game" Cue toilet scene with needles

"If we get caught with these drugs it's ten years in jail" Thrill to totally unexpected blue flashing siren.

Having said all that, it was beautifully shot - in Bolton, I think a lot of it and it did capture perfectly a northern town in England in the 1970s. Although it was a bit grimmer than I remember it. That's probably because I am sooo much younger than HOH. Yep that will be it.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

A Tough Fruit

Galatians 5:22New International Version (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

These things are known as the Fruit of the Spirit or as the Message calls them - the things that happen when we live God's way. There are some big groovy concepts here. LOVE! JOY! PEACE! These are all huge things that you can spend a lifetime trying to attain and then die having failed miserably. (Joke) (Bad Joke) I got to thinking about one of the fruits which is a bit unassuming looking but may be the most muscular of them all. 

It takes courage to be kind. 

This morning I was absorbed in the newspaper and my other half was staring out of the window. "I'm just going to see Stan - he's just standing in the street." Then HOH disappears out the front door. Stan is our elderly neighbour. He hasn't had a good year health wise but is doing ok now. HOH was just concerned that he might have come over a bit peculiar and wanted to know if he needed help.  HOH is very good at this sort of thing. He just sees something and reacts kindly. As it turned out, Stan was just a bit puffed and didn't need HOH. 
I'm not sure I would have reacted as quickly, not because I don't care but because I lack courage. I think before I put my head over the parapet. What if Stan doesn't want help? What if I'm embarrassed? What if he reacts angrily? (I have never heard Stan react angrily to anything - I didn't say that it was logical did I?)
It takes courage to be kind because kindness can sometimes be perceived as weakness. Choosing not to wipe the floor with someone and giving them another chance can mark you out as someone who can't hack it or someone who is scared of confrontation. 
At the other end of the scale, it takes courage to join an aid convoy to take much needed relief to a war torn country. Kindness there may actually lose you your life in the most horrific of ways.

I suppose like most fruits it grows when it is cultivated. You do it again and again and it becomes easier. It becomes a way of thinking to say the kind, inclusive thing rather than shrink back and agree with the unkind majority.  You begin to learn that it is ok to see if someone needs you or not. These worst thing that can happen is that they can tell you to sling your hook. A while back I came across an elderly lady who was sitting among the dog biscuits in Sainsbury's. After a fair bit of prevaricating I asked if she felt unwell. She said that she was fine thank you and to leave her alone (with added F words to covey to me how strongly she felt) So I did. No harm done. 
And kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit - so God helps us to do it by giving us the desire to help. The Message translates kindness as

a sense of compassion in the heart 

which is really good. Just not always that easy to do. 

Monday, 13 October 2014


I have been to London. Yes I have and I have learnt things. I went to the Association of Christian Writers Writers' Day about Christian Fiction. It was truly interesting and I took notes and everything. Some of what I learnt was less than interesting except to me, but, since when have I ever applied that filter to the things that appear here?

  1. I have learnt that I cannot "network" or make polite conversation with people that I don't know. Can I just apologise to all those lovely people who tried to come and chat to me. It's not that I am completely self obsessed. It's just that I was so terrified while you were speaking to me that I couldn't remember anything that you said and therefore had to fall back on talking about myself.
  2. I learnt that when I am having a bit of a flush and someone moves your chair from the back of the room by the door with a slight breeze to the front of the room so that we can all be closer or something, it is not terribly Christian to curse under my breath and it was just as easy to do what I eventually did and quietly move the chair back.
  3. Lots of people are cleverer and a lot further on than I am.
  4. Writing "properly" takes a great deal of organisation  and time  - both to write and to imagine the world that you are going to write about. (I also think that this is true of non fiction writing as well)
  5. CS Lewis was really very, very good at what he did.
  6. When the lady leading the seminar informs a room full of Christians that she would like them all to get up and dance to Mud's Tiger Feet to illustrate her point that writing needs a brain and a brain is a part of the body and therefore responds well to physcical activity, a good proprtion of the room would have rather scooped their own eyes out with a spoon. (I did better than I would usually do at this sort of thing. Firstly because I was at the back and secondly, it is a little known fact that when I was twelve in the early seventies, I loved Mud and was actually engaged to Ray Stiles their bass gutarist. This was so little known that Ray Stiles was unaware of it as well but it was a nice nostalgic three minutes for me.)
Anyway, many thanks to Penelope Wilcock and Tony Collins for their kindness and for a thought provoking day and to everyone else who put the whole thing together. There is a possibility - however small, that this may have been quite an important day for me.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tres, Tres Occupe

What a weekend. All go. This is me and my colleague Debbie at the British Transport Awards (or something) Never heard of them? No, me neither till we got a nomination. Didn't win but we got a trip to London, a lovely meal and then a photo with JEREMY VINE!! Actually very lovely man and a good after dinner speaker which is more than I can say for some under Secretary of Transport who also spoke and needs some lessons on how to work a room. (Am quite shocked at how short my hair is. You never imagine yourself to look the way you do in photos do you?)

Also we went to the flicks again.
This is completely fine. If you like Outnumbered then you will like this. There is a lot of kiddy improvisation going on which the adults handle very well.
Rosamund Pike is yummy. David Tennant is yummy. Billy Connolly looks slightly bemused yet yummy. Amelia Bullimore completely steals the whole thing with a fantastic YouTube video that had the cinema I was in shrieking with laughter.
Scotland is impossibly beautiful. It's really funny and I suspect nothing like Gone Girl will be which is Rosamund Pike's next big movie. Gone Girl is an 18 certificate. Nothing gets an 18 certificate these days. What on earth do you suppose is going on there? I shan't be troubling it I don't think.

Lastly, just a little thank you. A couple of posts ago I mentioned how much I was enjoying the Shardlake novels and that I wished I had bought them in paper form. Well a friend saw the post and has given me all his copies! How generous is that? So thanks very much David and (probably more relevant) thanks as well to your Mrs who is insisting on you decluttering a bit (well a lot)

Right, I am off to try Grantchester on catch up. Dunno anything about it. Will give it a go.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A New Venture

The weather is changing here in Devon, a bit misty in the mornings now and a bit chilly until the sun comes out. Probably about time, if only to kill off some of the alien size spiders that have taken up residence in our garden. I heard someone on the radio say that all the house spiders we see are male and that we would know if we saw a female, because apparently they are THREE TIMES THE SIZE OF A MALE SPIDER! How can that be possible? I have been out and given the garden spiders a strict talking to about the rules. "Stay out here and you live, Enter my house and I cannot be held responsible for the consequences - especially if you are thinking about bringing the lady wife with you." Time will tell if they take the wise course of action.

I am looking into starting a new group at church. It's a group for young adults. Too old for youth but not part of the student community - at least not yet. Most of the ideas are still forming in my head but I will get there. The idea is that they spend one night fortnightly at our house - your basic time honoured Bible Study vibe and then, on alternate weeks, go and do something social without me. This way, I get more recovery time from young people and they get time to build community without an old fart in tow. It's a win win I think you will find.

The only slightly jarring note so far is that someone suggested that I might like to think of a name for the group. You see I don't really hold with all this modern naming stuff - you know - ZOOM!, DYNAMIC! or THRUST! you get the idea. Or worse still things that are almost acronyms. IYBIHWC! (If You Build It He Will Come - in case you were wondering) At the moment, I am thinking of going with "Young Adults". I think it has a ring to it.

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