Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Er No Thank You

I think there has been lots of progress in the church since I first became a Christian. We no longer judge a woman's spirituality by the length of her earrings. Most of us accept that other doctrines and religions deserve, at the very least, our respect. We now very rarely think that a member of the youth group needs to be released from oppression just because they don't want to play that game where we have to pass a balloon to each other through our legs. And if we are still struggling with where we are on LGBT, at least we are less likely to chase a gay person out of church with a flaming torch.

However, I have not budged at all on Halloween. I am not convinced by its claims to be a funky, family affair. Growing up in church, I was taught that it was not a good thing. Nothing has made me think any differently.  I still can't bear it. Why? How long have you got?

It is now sold as funny and cute. It is not funny and cute. It smacks of bullying. Give me treats or you will get yours old lady. I dislike the dressing up. What is good about dressing as a blood covered zombie? Or a battered corpse? The violent undertones make me slightly queasy. That is before you get to the highly sexualised clothes that girls are wearing (It's always girls - never chaps) Sexy Zombie in stockings or ghouls etc. Often these girls have fake blood and cuts and bruises etc. Who is that playing to?
We had some kids turn up at our house the other year in Scream masks -with fake knives. Really? Turn up at Aged Parent's house like that and I'll give you something to scream about. 

I also resent the way Halloween has been allowed to usurp Bonfire Night. I grew up with Guy Fawkes being the last great national celebration before Christmas. I know that we need to be careful about being too celebraty about an event where several people were tortured to death after trying to overthrow the government. But it is a huge historical event, where democracy triumphed - part of our amazing history. We used to celebrate it by gathering together round bonfires, wearing bobby hats and scarves and eating lovely food. It's so rare to find a community bonfire now. We seem to have put all our efforts into huge expensive firework displays or dragging our kids round the streets in terrible witchy dresses.

There is one more thing about Halloween that makes me uncomfortable. I am old fashioned enough to believe that not all of it is good fun, that there are things in this world that are not good for us and should be avoided. There is an undercurrent of "bad" to the whole thing, that I could do without.

I understand that for our American friends, the whole thing is far more wholesome and family orientated - which is nice. And I am aware, of course, that without Halloween, ET would not have been able to disguise himself and go home. But I am going to let you keep this one for yourselves guys. You are Americans and that is lovely but I am a Brit and different from you. We don't have to do all the things exactly the same do we? 

So if you wouldn't mind staying away from my door next Monday because I am a bit of a party pooper. Oh and while you are at it, if in a couple of months you knock at Martha Towers to "Carol Sing" you better make sure you know more than the line "Away in a Manger...." which you then follow with an expectant stare because the likelihood is that this is another party I am going to poop.

Monday, 24 October 2016


Several worrying signs of ageing to report at the moment. I decided to treat myself to an Amplified Bible. It was only a couple of quid on Amazon but I didn't take the time to check the dimensions. When it arrived, it was nice and compact. Unfortunately, I can hardly read it! Well, that's not strictly true. We have a magnifying glass knocking about and I can read it if I use that but it's a bit embarrassing on the bus!
I have also noticed more and more that I make a noise when I sit down - a sort of oompf noise. 
Worst of all, this has been joined by the problem with my chin. A bristly type problem. This is like a Job sort of thing for me - that which I feared most has come upon me. I know in these days of migrants and Brexit and collapsing economies, this may seem a mere trifle, but I don't do hairy chins. I work with older people and I can deal with most things - I can speak up nice and loud, I can listen to the same story several times and seem interested and I can clean our ladies' loos after incidents. (This is not a frequent occurrence and not in my job description - anywhere - I checked.) I do struggle with a chin though. I work hard (too hard possibly) to fight this scourge of old age.
All these indisputable signs of the march of time can make me a bit depressed, if I let them, because I sort of feel that I haven't finished yet. However, I was reading about Zachariah and Elizabeth this week and I am quite taking to them. They were what the Kings James calls - "well stricken in years" or knocking on a bit as we say round here - maybe in their sixties - some sources say older. Yet they were faithful, true to their heritage and going on with God and still serving.

 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honourably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old (Luke 1)

And then - she went and found herself pregnant, surprising even themselves. 
It just made me think, I might be feeling my best days are behind me, the cult of youth is strong these days young Skywalker (sorry) and it is sometimes difficult to see what you are meant to be doing with the rest of your life. But it seems that, once again, God isn't bound by what society (and many churches) say. He reaches in and does the miraculous and it seems not to matter that you or I think it may be too late. And maybe it never is for him.

Friday, 21 October 2016

You know - he's not sick

This follows on from the thinking about how we have structured our society which I was looking at after Sally Phillips' film about Downs Syndrome. (It's a couple of blogs back) If you have time, have a watch it's only a couple of minutes. (I needed a tissue) It's a father talking about his son. His son lives with a terrible diagnosis, yet his father's radical claim says that we don't put him away - we put him first - and all the good and real things follow on afterwards.

It reminded me of this

Matthew 6:33The Message (MSG)

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Which is obviously this

Matthew 6:33King James Version (KJV)

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What does this dad feel he has missed out on when it comes to a "normal" life? I would guess nothing. I am so challenged at the moment by the radical nature of Jesus' "agenda" and how it is so rarely reflected in me. I'm woolly on this, you are probably all ahead of me. I read on Tracing Rainbows this morning that Ang said she felt she needed to show more love and have more faith. This is certainly true and for me, it maybe needs to be reflected in a completely different set of values about the value of life, getting rid of a stupid fear of missing out and seeing things and people the way that God sees them.

Here endeth the incoherent rant. 

Monday, 17 October 2016


Treated myself to some flowers today. Yellow roses to remember my brother because it would have been his birthday today. Spent a smiley half hour wandering home with them and remembering the weekend we decorated Aged Parent's living room. He actually fell off the stepladders and into the wallpaper paste - like Laurel and Hardy. Thought I was seriously going to make a puddle. 
No need to be troubled. Just wanted to mark the day here.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A bit of Hygge

The sun is lower in the sky and yesterday morning, after my usual stumble to the back door to take in a bit of air and let the dog do his ablutions, I noticed that I could see my breath. We are on the cusp of Winter Mes Braves.
I live in Devon and, apart from the occasional anomaly, It's mild. I have very little time for people who complain about the weather round here. It's sometimes very wet. (The heavens tend to open as thousands of holiday makers are pitching tents - it's a bit of a tradition) but basically we are blessed. I am not discounting the absolute horror of those in England who are flooded out year after year by the way. But, in the main, other places have "weather" - think and pray for Haiti for one.
However, the start of Winter can bring with it a kind of lowness. I don't really get SAD or anything. I don't need a lightbox but the lack of sunny days can be a bit of a drag on my senses.
I was very interested in all the hype about Hygge - which is kind of the Danish art of cosiness. A few enterprising people have brought books out about it and good luck to them. I don't think I will be bothering Amazon though - unless I am mistaken the Danish have been practising the flaming obvious. Still - like most obvious things - it still doesn't work unless you actually DO something so here are the things I thought might be useful.

  • Cosy up at home. Soon my famous hand-made door curtain will be making an appearance. The V and A have have asked to borrow it for an exhibition on craftsmanship but I have said No! because it keeps out the draughts. We have rugs and throws and stuff all over the place so when I settle down to get depressed watching "999 What's Your Emergency?" I am at least snuggly while it happens.
  • Get twinkly. We are a bit hot on the old fairly lights anyway. We use them all year round in the evening which Aged Parent thinks is a bit common. I don't care. I like a candle as well. I find them very cheering. They don't cost a lot yet in the winter walking home, the most welcoming houses are those with a candle flickering I think. 
  • Get outside. You will need a scarf and some gloves but getting out in the fresh air as often as you can will get you all tingly in your face. Also you are meant to socialise as often as you do in the summer. I suppose the Danish do their winter socialising in a sauna? (A bit racist?) I never like socialising in a sauna - especially on the night we accidentally went to "Naked if You Feel Like It" night at the Center Parcs spa. Do not talk to me when you have all your bits out. It's a good rule to live by.
  • Read. The Telly is only good if you like Strictly or the X Factor. (No one really likes the X Factor.) But tape your best programmes. (I'm sorry - I do still say tape) and spend some more time with books. If possible under a throw with big socks on. The more I look like a vagrant on Criminal Minds - the more comfy I am.
  • Skin. Look after your skin. Hand creams, facial oils, lip balms. If you are all cracky and sore you will not enjoy winter at all. Feel free to look after yourself a bit and rub things in that smell nice. Try not to be too greasy on the cushions.
  • Pastries. The Danish eat lots of special pastries at this time of year. I can't really. I can't eat one without eating ten and they make my old-lady belly a bit squeaky. You should do so though if you feel you must. Hob Nobs are certainly an acceptable alternative.
There you go. that's your basic Hygge. Saved you a few bob buying the book. You are welcome.

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