Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Very Important and Interesting News

A tad self-indulgent this posting and I hope that is ok. If it's not ok, I'm sorry. Feel free to move on and spend some serious time deciding if you like the new Bake Off. (Personally, I've not seen it. I know it's not Christian to be as annoyed as I am by Sandi Tosvig but I am a work in progress and I haven't made much here. "I don't watch much TV - I'm more of a reader" is not an acceptable answer when someone asks you about your new presenting gig in British TV's bestest baking programme) I'm sure it will be fine though. It's really about the bakers I think. Anyway - I have two Nadia's Food Journeys (or whatever it's called) to catch up on and as I love Nadia she takes precedence. I will get round to Bake Off eventually. 
Is anyone watching Strike? I read the books and have really enjoyed them. I watched the adverts and was a bit concerned that he was going to be a bit too pretty. The Cormoran Strike of the novels is a one legged, chunky, slightly uncouth, drunken detective with very bad hair. Is Tom Burke too pretty? Well yes he is. Now ask me if I am bothered. Nope he's really good (and pretty - don't care) and Holliday Grainger is equally good and equally pretty. I thought it was very watchable. I am (because it's me) a bit concerned about how nasty it is going to get - because the books get a bit nastier as they go on but we shall see. 
Also *makes little excited ooooh noise* - Strictly - Rev'd Richard Coles! Yasss. If you don't follow him on Twitter you should give it serious consideration. I will almost certainly be Team Coles - even if his mother insists he will be well out of it by Michaelmas - whenever that is. I am almost 100% certain that I will not be tempted into Team Jonnie Peacock, despite his winsome charms. (Although I do work for a disability charity and I should possibly be showing some solidarity? No?) 
To move on. There will be some changes on the blog in the next week or so. I had thought it was time to move it to content I owned. Views have been going up a bit and I had thought about blogging a bit more often - ("Thinking is not the same as doing Lesley" Aged Parent's voice in head ) Also, I think something may have got into my stats because I appear to be the third most popular blogger in France which I think is unlikely. However if it is true  - Bienvenue Tout Le Monde! (A level in French failed - coming in handy there) I have tried to sort it but it's not going well, so I think I need to move. I have been assured by the powers that be that all followers etc will be unaffected and there are things that they can do (What things? I ask. Just "things") It's not that I don't have any confidence in science or anything but I wondered if you read this blog reasonably often - you would consider following me elsewhere so that you have a back-up way of contacting me if all else fails. I know that's a bit pushy but not as pushy as those marketing people on Twitter. 
You can find me on Facebook where I have an author page and if you "like" it - you will get a message whenever I post which you can jump with joy at or ignore. You can befriend me on ordinary Facebook if you like but that is just a lot of photos of my dog and me and HOH trying to get the tops off bottles and other elderly things, so maybe a bit boring. Or I am on Twitter and Instagram - just my name Lesley Hargreaves should find me. I usually say hello to most people (unless you are that woman on Twitter who wanted to show me her knickers) The best place to start would probably be searching Lesley Hargreaves Author on Facebook and like that page. Or you can leave it and see what happens. It might be exciting - like those space films where the airlock is opened and you wait to see who suddenly finds themselves floating alone through space. No pressure obviously but it would be nice to take you with me.

Arrrgh! See what happened. I had a really good thing in my head about when Jesus turned water into wine which made me feel very hopeful about things and now I don't have space to tell you. Sorry, I have gone on. Here's to meeting on the other side.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

East West Street

One of the joys of being on holiday is that I have the time to tackle a book that takes a bit more out of me than my usual fare. Not that there is anything wrong with the stuff I like to read in my usual life but, if I have a bit more time, I like to use some of it on a book that needs a bit of effort. This makes me a) a cheap date and b) anti-social and boring. 
I bought East West Street because I don't think I have ever seen a book so highly recommended. The book is dripping with people and book reviews making a fuss of it. They are not wrong. 
The author, Phillipe Sands, is a barrister and Professor of Law. His family's roots are in the Ukrainian city of Lviv and he begins to dig into their history. He weaves the things he discovers into the story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who develop the ideas of both "Crimes against Humanity" and "Genocide". I found it - as they say - unputdownable. However, I did have to stop reading it late at night because - well it's about Jews, in Europe in the thirties and forties - it is very sad and bleak sometimes and it was keeping me awake. 
I would not claim to be the font of all historical wisdom but I had no idea that, before the Nuremberg trials, there was no personal culpability for crimes you committed as part of your state. I always thought that the defence that "We were just following orders" was so weak as to not be bothered with but it wasn't a weak defence. Before Nuremberg changed the game, there was every possibility that the people in the dock would be found innocent. It was the policy of the state, whether they agreed with it or not was irrelevant; they could not be held accountable. The book looks at how lawmakers and the testimonies of survivors changed this. It also contains less visible acts of bravery and defiance - such as Christian missionary Miss Tilney, who risked her life to hide people and to take children out of the country. 
I've also thought about the book this week as I have watched people march with Nazi symbols on flags. These people march in a country where protest is protected and legal. Having read stories of parents singing to their little children to try and distract them before they were executed, I look at these people and think - You have no idea what you are wishing for. You live in your protected little bubble and you have no idea of the evil that was unleashed. What happened would have eaten you alive. 
I don't think there are two side to this story. Once you raise a flag with a Nazi symbol on it you prove yourself ignorant of real history and disrespectful of the sacrifices made by those who went before us. 
I have no idea why leading evangelicals have kept quiet in the face of this. Some misguided idea about protecting Christian values possibly? More likely a protection of self interest. I'm always a bit suspicious of Christians in positions of power. I'm not saying that about every Christian but it seems to take a special kind of person who can take his humility and good judgement with him as he moves up the greasy pole. Jesus always seemed to go out of his way to align himself with the unpopular, the outcast, the poor, the disenfranchised. And when he needed to say something was wrong he said so. And we need to say so too. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


We are just back from our holidays. Well we are still on holiday in that we are not required to return to work yet but all the planned trips are over which is just as well because I am needing a good lie down. I am not sure how people jet off here there and everywhere. I admire their stamina. 
We returned to St Ives for a day. St Ives is really lovely and we are really blessed to live somewhere that means a trip to St Ives is a day trip. We basically just hung around in the sunshine and then ate. Then we went to the Tate. That was a bit disappointing though. I may not entirely understand "Modern Art" but I think I am quite open to the idea and I do have on my art appreciation CV, standing in front of a Rothko and filling up because of the sheer beauty of the thing. (My family will confirm this as they were all standing and pointing and laughing at me) However, I am not at all taken with the latest exhibition. Part of it reminded me of dust sheets that you take up when you have been painting.
I think you were supposed to be overwhelmed by the size of the thing but dust sheets are usually pretty large in my experience.
Then there was another room with lots of things made from clay. There didn't seem to be anything you could put a bunch of bananas in. I'm sure it's just me.
Then we went to Bath for a couple of days. I've never been before. I thought is was excellent. For me, being shown round an area of historical interest by an expert pretty much represents peak happiness so I loved the Roman Baths and the Georgian House/Museum. HOH was mind-blown by the fact that despite the Romans being all into washing and being clean etc (albeit in a lead lined swimming pool) the Georgians were untroubled by running water and bathing. This seemed to him like an unfathomably retrograde step and he proceeded to question each guide in each room about this abomination. However, it seems it was true and your basic Georgian was no stranger to the nit scratcher. 
Then we went to London for a day. We worked out that we probably paid an exorbitant train fare to have lunch on the South Bank and go in Zara. Not very environment friendly. We mentioned to Aged Parent that we were going. After a heavy silence...

AP    Be Careful in London
US    We will.
AP    Don't go getting in any fires or anything.

Also came across the chapel above - not I think a place of worship anymore unless it is highly unusual and doesn't bother opening on a Sunday. Am loving the full on evangelism though. 


Saturday, 29 July 2017


Time for a little update on me. Because it's all about me - as you know. We have (whisper it) changed church again. I may or may not have said that we had decided to accompany Aged Parent as she has tried to settle in a new church. She is very big on signs from God and so was very keen to attend a church which had the same name as the church she was christened in. This was all very well but the church in question had just been taken over by Holy Trinity Brompton which meant that lively and jiggy was the order of the day. I'm not too bad  with church jiggyness but Head of House isn't that keen. As I have got older, I have been more persuaded by the position of introverts in church, who sometimes have to accept people of  a louder persuasion informing them that their natural personality is, in fact, a fault in their spiritual make up and they need to get with the beat. Anyway, on top of all that Aged Parent didn't know any of the worship songs and she struggled to find anyone her own age. She decided she would like to back off for a bit and reconsider her options. 
We had also decided that, on balance, we probably weren't in the right place either. I really liked the preaching and the music was very professional. There were a couple of new experiences for me. As they would play pop songs as we waited for the service to begin, I can say with complete certainty that the Sunday morning that I sat in church hearing Justin Timberlake singing "Gonna have you naked by the end of this song" was a very definite first and having someone lean over me and ask "Red or White?" at the end of the dedication service is not something I have any memory of happening before. I can't say I was too bothered by any of this. I think it is refreshing that they are trying new things. It just didn't seem to fit us. Even though, as you are aware, I am as hip as it is possible for a person to be - especially with my knees - I never felt that comfortable. It may be unfair to say so but I felt that numbers were very important to them and that my age group wasn't really the target audience. I think it finished for me the morning the vicar encouraged the congregation to yell out their thanks to God and a small, middle-class and obviously uncomfortable lady in the row in front, felt she had to have a go at a loud Hallelujah and then, quite obviously prayed for the ground to swallow her up. I thought - you know - I'm too old to spend too much time trying to make my square peg fit into a round hole.
Anyway - I was having a coffee with a nice Christian chum who said - "What you need is a nice C of E where you can just sit for a while and find where you belong." So that's what we have been doing. We found a posh C of E. We have been going to the family service. It has been like cool water to be honest. The preaching has been excellent which was a bit of a surprise. (How patronising am I? It's just that last time I was in an Anglican church the preach was a lady sharing a "homily" about a bird in her garden. Didn't work for me. Sorry) The place is so beautiful. I come from a background of worshipping in pale rooms in Ambulance Halls. I thought that God didn't really approve of anything more fancy than that. Yet the place is full of God. I have to admit, I am finding the altar rail a bit daunting but I am not sure how important that is. We shall see. It's early days. If you are interested, I could keep you updated.
The photo at the top of the blog is my family - down from the North to visit. It all went very well. Aged Parent and her sister seemed to enjoy it - possibly a little too much - they are at an age where a little bit of wine can loosen tongues beyond what is usually advisable but all ended well. Handsome bunch ain't we?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


I have had a traumatic time. I demand that you feel sorry for me. I have actually unfollowed people on Social Media. Well I am still working out how to actually unfollow someone on Facebook but I am determined and I will do it (eventually). Instagram was easy so I ditched a couple there. I have replaced them with a few people who put up photos of their kitchen cupboards and I am at peace. My reason for all this chopping and changing is that I'm a bit bored by the lack of kindness. The latest hoo-ha is around Eugene Peterson. In case you don't know, Eugene Peterson, wrote The Message (Yes, I know, I know as it is a kind of Bible translation you could argue God wrote it but you get my drift.) He wrote things like this

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life (Philippians 4 6)

and this

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11 28)

He is, indubitably, a "good thing"

He is also 83 and, I would say, very much in the "When Jesus says 'Well Done'" category. Recently, in an interview, he was asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. All Christians who are being interviewed or have dipped their teeniest of toes in the waters of leadership must have a satisfactory answer to the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. The question being, obviously, "Where are you on the old same sex attraction thing?" (It will usually be phrased more elegantly than that)
Pastor Eugene's reply, when asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS, was a bit non-committal. He had known gay people in his church. Some were in positions of leadership, their sexuality hadn't seemed to be the most interesting thing about them. He felt that he could do a same sex marriage blessing. 
Well, this certainly put the cat among the chickens/pigeons/other feathered things. In fact, there were probably more cats than there were clucky things. It was carnage. People on Social Media were queuing up to condemn, to stand up for "pure theology" and to generally make sure that right won out. A bookshop said that it would no longer stock his books. Within 24 hours Pastor Eugene had withdrawn his statement. He was then roundly condemned by the LGBT community. 
Now, as you know, I don't claim to have all knowledge about this subject. I have personal experience because my brother really struggled with church after he came out as gay, but I'll be honest - I dunno. I'm still working through it. However I do know that I am quite perturbed about the way we react to people who make any kind of statement we don't like when asked the QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS. Everyone rushes to take up their positions to defend their little corner of theology. You must all know where I stand and understand that "I am correct on this and God agrees with me." Then, when we are nasty with people (and some people can be very nasty indeed) it is excused because we are standing up for the Bible or for an oppressed minority depending on which way your particular mop flops. Reasoned person to person debate, where people can ask one another difficult questions without fearing the wrath of an entire community, seems to have disappeared. People could ask Jesus anything. They asked really stupid questions sometimes and they did make him sigh deeply but all genuine questions were answered thoughtfully without bullying. 
My old mother used to say that you should never wash your dirty washing in public. It's true. Christians are genuinely struggling with these questions and Social Media is not helping us to be rational or reasoned or even more importantly - kind. So I'm not engaging. I'm not joining in and I'm not watching. I'm not getting involved when "Conservative Christians" subtly suggest that their hotline to God gives them "Defender of the Faith" status and I'm not putting up a flag for those whose belief in "Progressive Faith" give them the right to smugly patronise those who are not "as far along the road" as they are. I'm not withdrawing from seeking or talking nicely. I'm just not very good at all the one-upmanship. Maybe others feel called to that. I don't. Rant over.

Our Father is kind; you be kind (Luke 6 36 The Message)


Monday, 10 July 2017

I rather like him

I came across a lady of advancing years (not Aged Parent) who informed us all that she "couldn't stand that Andy Murray." On further enquiry, it was established that she hadn't ever actually met him. This was not a surprise as she is a lady who has rarely left her home town and he is a man who has possibly never visited her home town. It is the way of the world. On enquiring about the reasons behind her negative judgement upon Mr Murray and all his camels, she informed us that she had seen nothing about him that made her like him. Leaving aside the question of whether it is Mr Murray's responsibility to get us all to fall for him, I have to tell you that, despite a dearth of face to face evidence, I rather like him. As it is Wimbledon fortnight, I thought I might tell you why.
1. The dog incident
In 2014, on the way to Wimbledon practice, Andy spotted a runaway labradoodle in the road. He immediately stopped his car, ran into the busy road and rescued the dog by pulling it into his back seat. This immediately marks him out as a top person.
2. Dunblane
In 2013, when speaking about the Dunblane massacre (Andy and his brother Jamie were actually in the school when it was happening) he didn't speak about himself although he did say that he had been affected emotionally by it, he only became tearful when he talked about the town and the way they had been affected and said he was so pleased that he had been able to do something for them. 
3. Losing in the Wimbledon Final
In 2012 after losing to Roger Federer, he fought back tears again and told the Wimbledon crowd "I'm getting closer" He managed to be graceful in defeat while letting us know how upset he was. 

He seems to me to have nice manners and I was very taken with his habit of wearing his wedding ring on his shoe laces. I was also rather charmed when, after winning Wimbledon for the second time, he collected his trophy and then found time to tell Benedict Cumberbatch that he was a big fan of Sherlock. So, he doesn't play the game of trying to make everyone adore him. I know he sometimes gets annoyed with himself  when he messes up but so do most of us. The difference is that usually only the dog sees me grunting with frustration whereas he does it with thousands of people watching. He seems to be a natural introvert and I am not sure why he should be any different just to please old ladies he has never met. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Oh no Mr Bond

Peggy Fortnum
Michael Bond has died. It shouldn't really be such a big deal. He was 91. It was, as they say, a good innings. Michael Bond for those of you who are visiting from under a rock was the creator of Paddington Bear and therefore one of the most awesome people to live. Ever.
They say that Paddington reflected the outlook of his creator. He was kind, funny, unflappable and unfailingly polite. Michael Bond said that the tipping of his hat, which Paddington was very fond of, came from his own father, who even wore his hat when in the sea in case he needed to greet anyone.
I loved Paddington Bear. I know lots of people loved Paddington but not like me. I LOVED him. Paddington Bear taught me lots of things. He taught me that to just be nice and kind hearted was a desirable ambition. He taught me that sometimes, even with the best will in the world, things do go wrong and he made me feel that it was fine to be a bit vulnerable like he was.
So, in that vulnerable vein, let me share a little bit. As a child, I never remember my parents having much of a marriage. They were never abusive or anything like that, they were just, quite often caught up in their own unhappiness with each other and that was perfectly understandable I think. 
Because of this, I was never really aware of what a "happy" home was. Again - no need to send for a counsellor - it was what it was and I think everyone was doing their best. Christmas was particularly difficult because everyone was around and cracks are more difficult to paper over then and I didn't really look forward to it. Anyway, I remember being tucked up in bed one night and read a Paddington book about Christmas - as usual Paddington was doing his best and everything went wrong - and it was full of such humour and warmth that, I sort of got what Christmas was about. It was just lovely. I read lots of Paddington books after that and I wanted to be in the Brown family. It was all so lovely - not perfect - Paddington saw to that but people bore things with great patience and loved each other through it. And, when despite his best intentions, Paddington found himself in trouble , he would always be able to go and find his friend Mr Gruber who would listen to him and often offer sage advice.
This may not win me Family Leader of the Year Award but I partially based the way I wanted my family to be on the Browns. They were chaotic, imperfect and not often in control. Yet, everyone was welcome there, Mrs Brown was often worried but it never meant that people felt insecure. That's how I tried to make things here at Martha Towers. This was the first place I ever saw a map of a family that I wanted to be in and I am grateful.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Bitter and Twisted Ranting

 Another day, another day of mowing down innocent people in the street. Do you remember when we all thought 2016 was a terrible year and we all wished it was over? Be careful what you wish for as my old mother used to say. Life is full of terrible fires and people sleeping in sports halls and being told they can't bring their puppies with them or they'll have to share a bed with their mother - or their puppy AND their mother. Because basically it's their fault for being poor and spoiling the view. Nothing new to add really. My head is all over the place. I think it's the weather. I am very ranty. I'm not that keen in joining in the current national obsession with trying to make the Prime Minister cry in public but I am struggling a bit at the moment. (Can you tell?) 

While we are at it, even as a Labour type person, if I see Jeremy Corbyn at one more event grabbing the mike and milking the applause I will go bonkers. He went down well at Glastonbury. What did he expect to happen? Well-meaning, middle class politician smiles and waves at hundreds of very drunk, well meaning middle class people on their weekend off. Off course he went down well. Get on with your work! Also John McDonnell. I do not want a Day of Rage. I do not want to shout in the faces of policemen who two weeks ago were running at knife brandishing maniacs to protect us. I am not going to take to the streets to insist that this government leaves. You could think about doing better next time. Go away and do better. Work on actually getting voted in - like we do in a democracy. Think about reaching the percentage of the British Public who are terrified at the thought of voting for you. 

Even the telly is depressing. I'm not bothering with The Handmaid's Tale because I read the (very brilliant) book and I am not sure if I can cope with actually seeing the things that happen in it occur in front of my actual eyes if you see what I mean. 

Then Brian Cant died - which I took more personally than was strictly necessary. Also found out my friend who I haven't seen for a while has had one of "those" diagnoses. Also have you ever done that thing when you pull your neck and your shoulder without actually moving. Do you see what I mean? This is why I am a miserable crow at the moment. 

So what does a troubled soul need at a time like this? A bit of poetry - the poetry of God. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

There you go


Sunday, 11 June 2017

I'm only 56!!

Hello all. Very little to report this week. It was my birthday which was very nice. Nice to be thought of and everything. I got some lovely presents and cards and a visit for tea from Aged Parent. I am of an age when birthdays are not quite the thrill ride they used to be. A friend messaged on Facebook and asked what I was doing on my birthday. I was hoping for a night in with a Chinese takeaway, a glass of wine and possibly a little nap. It's enough really isn't it? Especially when Aged Parent had been for tea the night before. 
She had endeared herself to the young people, who are back in situ for a while, by continually mixing up my year of birth with my actual age thus congratulating me several times on my 61st birthday. She then regaled the room with tales of her friend downstairs who has found a boyfriend through the pages of "Chat" magazine. Well I say "boyfriend"; it's a bit of a loose description really. They have talked on the phone a couple of times and he had come to see her last weekend. Aged Parent doesn't really approve of finding boyfriends through the pages of a magazine and she may have had a point. Her friend downstairs came and sat with Aged Parent during the visit because her new friend had to go into town to buy his return ticket from the bus station. It was a couple of hours before AP discovered that her friend downstairs had given her flat keys to the visitor to let himself in when he got back. Aged Parent felt like this was taking trust too far, even for a Christian woman burdened as she is with uncontrollable sexual urges, and raced to her friend's flat to see what was going on. Sure enough, the "Boyfriend" had come back from town and let himself into the flat. He said he was just watching the ping-pong but AP, naturally suspicious when it comes to men, was having none of it and instructed her friend to throw him out and check her envelopes under the bed - which is where all old people keep their policies.
Friend downstairs didn't seem too fussed about that and Aged Parent returned to her flat with grave warnings and saying that no-one better come running to her when people are found dead in their beds. Nobody was. Aged Parent seemed a bit disappointed. 
Anyway after that story and a bit a casual racism directed a her dentist who she is sure is a Muslim and clearing her plate even though she wasn't really hungry she took her leave with this uplifting gem.

AP  How much is it costing you - feeding these two now they are back. I can help you know.
Me Oh it's fine. We are fine - we won't starve. Anyway, with my belly I could do with a bit of starving haha!!
AP You don't have a big belly! Well no bigger than a woman your age should expect anyway.

Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

One of the Secrets

I thought about not even mentioning the latest London atrocity. I am certain that the endless publicity that surrounds each event - especially around the criminals rather than the victims - does nothing but feed a strange sense of crusade that these people feel they have. For what it's worth, my own feeling is that someone, somewhere is getting rich from this. Leaders are tucked away feathering their own nests while encouraging the vulnerable to stir up instability on their behalf. It's usually the way.
But London and Manchester leaves a quiet pall over us I think, even as we determine to go about our daily business undaunted because it's the best defence we have. We can get downhearted about how we live in such a world. Fearing for friends and loved ones and wondering what is to become of us all. Possibly one of the secrets about how we live our lives and carry on is in the photo above. This motley crew is part of the team that I manage. Access Plymouth they are called and the people you see are a team of volunteers and staff who work to get the elderly and disabled out and about in Plymouth. It's a task that has become harder as the cuts bite and we are spread ever more thinly but these people are determined because they know the value of what they do. They have learned one of the great secrets of life which is to give of yourself for free - putting in without expecting to take out. Most of them do this for nothing but even the staff could get more money elsewhere for what they do. Charities, for the most part, are not known for massive financial rewards, whatever the Daily Mail tells you.
I read about a mother who was struggling to help her child deal with all the news she was seeing. She told her "always look for the helpers". Whenever you see the people hurt and distressed, look for the strangers kneeling with them. Try to see the people holding them while they cry. Look at the adverts for people offering their beds to strangers who are stranded. It is humanity at its most Christlike and it is here that we can get some comfort. 
The people above are a challenge and an encouragement to us all because they have found at least some of it - some of what life is supposed to be about and it is through such selflessness that some peace and purpose will always be found.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

June Books

This is the June plan in the reading department, all being well. As usual, it's a mix of charity shop, second hand and a couple of new. I have cheated and have done a couple anyway and am on my third. I have a carry - over from last month which is the Tim Keller one. I'm not sure what it says about me that the only book from my pile that I didn't manage to read last month was the Christian one. I'm sure it's nothing good.

So from the top...

Two CP Snows. Found on a second hand book stall on London's South Bank which makes me seem impossibly glam. But it's true!! That is where I found them. A fiver for the two which is a bit more than I would usually pay for second hand but they are 1960s editions and dead gorgeous and I have gone all completist about the Strangers and Brothers series. Am reading "Homecomings" at the moment and am not bothering about reading them in any order because I have read them all before. 

Out of Sorts - Sarah Bessey. Author of Jesus Feminist. Nice lady finding her way through church struggles. Should tell you all you need to know.

The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and her Lover. Simon Parke. Historical Fiction. If I tell you that the soldier is Oliver Cromwell and the Lover is Charles I you will get the idea. Read this pretty quickly. Interesting and quite sad. Liked it a lot.

The Crime at Black Dudley - Marjory Allingham. First in this crime series which I intend to read through. Actually this book was a bit weak I thought, because apparently, Ms Allingham had not, at this stage decided that Campion was going to be the hero of her books. The hero in this was a bit dull I found - I thought his fiancee was the murderer for most of the book, so I missed the whole point. Hopefully more Campion in the next one.

Ink. Alice Bradshaw. Can tell you nothing about this. Young Adult Fiction - Something to do with tattooing your life on your skin. Will report back.

Quiet - Susan Cain. A book about Introverts which I am just starting. Am dead interested in what people have to say about introverts - especially in the church where I am beginning to be a bit suspicious of the prevailing thought that people who don't want to spin on their heads have something wrong with them and need sorting. As you can see I am very early on in this thought process. The author has put five years of study into this book and sometimes it shows. It's not a light read but I am finding myself nodding in agreement quite a lot. (I am also finding myself muttering - "I have no idea what you are talking about" quite a lot as well)
There is is. Thank you for your attention. June already. Shocking isn't it?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Thunderbolt and Lightning

Photo Helen Boylan, Plymouth Herald
I usually quite like storms. So long as I am inside obviously. I grew up with a Nana who would put blankets on the mirrors and pull us all away from the windows while she covered the budgie's cage so it is a wonder that I am not completely traumatised when the thunder monster comes to town. Anyway, on Friday evening the South West of England was struck by a storm the like of which I have never seen before and I am over half a century old! I know that I am prone to exaggeration but really, this was immense. It wasn't so much the thunder which was quite sporadic (well the dog didn't think it was THAT sporadic) It was the lightning which was intense and constant - flash after flash after flash - no gaps just a continual lighting of the sky. We were chatting in town the next day and someone was saying that they have only seen storms like that in Mediterranean countries. Global Warming? It was certainly unlike anything I have ever seen. If a couple of the spaceships from War of the Worlds had come through the clouds, I wouldn't have been THAT surprised) FOW1 was watching it while out with his chums. He said that he was enjoying it but kept thinking "What if this isn't lightning? Is something really unusual happening? Like bombs or something?" We are all a bit jumpy at the moment. 
I have seen and read a lot this week about standing firm and not giving in to terrorists. Of course that is all true and admirable and I will sing Oasis songs as defiantly as the next man but it is also surely normal to be upset and uncomfortable and fear for the future. This week 29 Coptic Christians were taken from a bus  - men, women, children and killed. Also, over 100 civilians were killed in air strikes in Syria. And, at a time when people should be perfectly entitled to look to their leadership...well you probably know the rest. 
If you are as old as me you will probably remember this hymn written by Sunday School Teacher Priscilla Owens and based on Hebrews 6. It's an old style barnstormer - definitely one to bung your hymn book under your arm and do a bit of clapping. But as well as that there are strong grown up truths here. That things will happen and they will make the very ground under us feel wobbly but we have someone trustworthy and capable and able to see us through.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
 We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
  Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

For my darling Manchester...

There is so little to be said about the actions of a criminal who deliberately targets children and so tonight while mothers weep and worry, I just wanted to pray for comfort and for peace. We pray for healing - physical and spiritual and though it may be too soon for those who are in their deepest valley today, I just wanted to re post this poem of pride and defiance for the rest of us. I know and love Manchester - it has no truck with division- it is the most truly together place I have known. Poet Tony Walsh expresses who Manchester is


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Jolly Hols

I always mean to keep up to date with writing when I have a break from work but I just couldn't manage it. I have been off for a few days. I spent a couple of days in Bristol on a Community Transport conference. No need to detain ourselves further with that. I work for a charity that provides transport for the community (well the old and disabled members of it - the rest of you can sort yourselves out) It was perfectly fine although the geographical positioning of it left a bit to be desired. I know that I live in the South West of England and that's a difficult area to get to and from - rubbish rail links, roads with cows on them and two little airports. I have lost count of how many Christian Conferences and retreats I haven't gone to because of the time it takes to get there and the resulting prohibitive cost. However, that goes with the area, I chose to live here. BUT, when you have styled the conference "The CTA South West Roadshow and then put it in Bristol which is closer to Birmingham than it is most of the South West, well just Pah! 

I then took a couple of days leave and it has been lovely. We had a day in London, which, as you probably know is a big treat for me. We went to see David Baddiel's "My Family. Not the Sitcom" which is about his parents; his mother, who died last year, and his father, who has Pick's Disease which is dementia related and results in a lack of boundaries in speech particularly. The show is both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. I highly recommend it - you should go if you can but maybe don't take your maiden aunt. (Unless she's a bit sweary) 
Then we went to see Their Finest which I wasn't too sure about but it was really good. I'm a bit late to this party and it may not be at your cinema anymore but it is a lovely old fashioned type of film with more British character actors than you can shake a stick at. All this as well as a lovely meal out for the wedding anniversary has left a warm glow here at Hargreaves Towers. Tomorrow noses will once again be pressed to their respective grindstones as we sally forth into the world of work. Ah well.
Just a teensy-weensy post script here. I am sure that no-one who reads this in the UK would be so non-sensible as to not register to vote or anything like that - we are too old for that kind of nonsense aren't we? However, just in case you have recently moved here from the Planet Zog and are keen to take part in the democratic process, because obviously, if you choose not to then you need to keep your traps shut if things go pear shaped after June 8th and that's before we get to women throwing themselves under where was I ? Oh yes, please don't forget to register to vote - tomorrow is the last day. This is a grown up thing to do. Don't be a donk. No-one likes a donk. As you were. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Booth

I haven't seen much of The Antiques Roadshow. In fact, I'm not sure that I have seen it since Michael Aspel left. However, my favourite bit is when people bring in their treasures and the experts tell them that they are worth a few bob. You see their eyes light up - just for a split second - and then they announce "Oh no, but I would never sell it. I just wouldn't. I never could. No, no - not me. No indeed." We often wonder if, when the cameras have moved on, these same people run around asking "Where's the booth? You know - the booth where I can flog this much loved family heirloom. Do you have a booth? Pleeease?"
Anyway, we were at a group this week and a lady there had been to a Christian medical conference in America and they had something called "Prophesy Booths". As far as I can understand it - you had to wait your turn and then you went into a booth and someone prophesied over you - as the parlance goes. I have to admit - this made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I am never that tuned into something which kind of makes God at our beck and call. I always imagine him having more of the Heathcliffe about him. I'm not trying to be flippant - it's just, it's God - you know - I couldn't hope to reduce him to a box. However, the lady that told us about it said that what was relayed to her was unfailingly accurate, including an almost word for word repeat of a conversation she had had before she went in to the booth. (No - not within earshot of the booth lady - cynical) So maybe I'm a bit old fashioned. Maybe God, who doesn't want to be without me is willing to squeeze into a booth to tell me something. I don't know what I think about God responding when I press a button that says "Tell me something I want to hear". I come from a tradition where people asked and prayed for answers so this is something alien to me. You may be thinking, "Where is this going? What brilliant conclusion is she about to come to?" You are obviously new here. I have no idea. If you have any thoughts, bung 'em in the comments. Interested to hear what you think. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Not My Finest Hour

As part of an ongoing determination to get out of the house more - even returning sometimes when it is dark, we had planned to go to the theatre on Friday. The play was the NT production of Jane Eyre. It is supposed to be fantastic. Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books and it my favourite Bronte book by miles. I find Wuthering Heights a bit overblown to be honest. For goodness sake, just calm down, have a cup of tea and discuss this like sensible people. We booked to go months ago. I rushed home from work, had a bacon buttie, shower etc and generally ran around like a running around thing. We were just leaving the house, having scrubbed up well, when HOH glanced at the email with the ticket details, only to discover that it started at 7PM!!!!! We had missed the beginning. What starts at 7pm? Nothing! One of the nurses that HOH works with goes to this theatre all the time - she sees all sorts of rubbish just because she loves live theatre and she said she couldn't remember the last time anything started that early. Soooo disappointed. I understand that any sensible person would have read the email well before they were grabbing their car keys to leave but it just had not occurred to me. Felt a bit responsible really because I had booked it but HOH was very good about it. As we were clean and hair brushed and everything, we went out to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (It's OK. I liked the first one better but it's fine) Arrrrrrgh.
On another subject, this is me modelling one of the new Fashion Targets Breast Cancer T Shirts. As you can see, I am very middling at modelling (Thank you Victoria Wood) It is OK although I could probably have done a size smaller (Hurrah!) It's not what you would call "Editorial Fashion" really. I noticed that Twiggy is supposed to have designed it and she must be in her early nineties now I suppose so I don't think the young people will be flocking to it. I think Fashion is Targeting Breast Cancer and also Targeting Slightly Matronly Women Who May Have Had A Brush With Cancer and Are Always Soft Touches For This Kind of Thing. It is for a good cause though.
I don't buy the T Shirt every year. I didn't buy it last year because it had the word "FEARLESS" on it. And I'm not - fearless that is. I don't think many cancer or ex-cancer people are. We just live with it. I'm not quite at that perfect love point where all fear is cast out but I will keep you up to date.
Anyway - fear isn't the worst thing. Joyce Mayer says that courage comes after fear and it's what you do with fear that is important. (Actually - I'm not sure that it wasn't the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz that said it) I'll look it up. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

I'm reviewing....

Look - you're busy, I'm busy. No really I am - work, family, eating digestives, lying down with a flannel on my head - you know how it is. So I thought I would just do some mini-reviews of stuff. Melvyn Bragg isn't going to feel threatened but he doesn't have to deal with a Jack Russell with anxiety issues. 
Usual disclaimer - this is just my opinion and it may well be wrong - badly wrong.

Deep Breath...


Granchester (Episode 1)
Too much snogging - not enough killing. Well by that I mean that the mystery (flippin pathetic mystery in the first week) was a very poor second to vicars and policemen pressing women up against doors. In my day ALL vicars thought Rock and Roll was of the Devil. That boy with the cheekbones needs to get on with his work.

Car Share
Haven't seen last episode - was at a new small group (I left the house in the evening people!) but there was an episode in this series with a monkey that was very funny. Peter Kay has tapped into something - normal life, things we all recognise. He is a comic genius. He is just funny - that is all.

Our Friend Victoria
A Victoria Wood retrospective - by her friends. Hilarious and heartbreaking. She was only 62. Her words have been the backing to much of my adult life. As a family we quote her endlessly without even thinking about it. For example, we never go to Manchester anymore - we only go to Manchesterford. And the phrase "Tony Blair!" (Dinnerladies) has become the go to phrase for the exasperated here.

The Durrells
Absolute poppycock. Absolutely love it.


Marjory Allingham - Police at the Funeral
She may be my new obsession. Golden Age crime drama. An interesting hero in Campion and really readable unlike...

Death at the President's Lodgings - Michael Innes
This must just be me. I was so bored. I think he is too intelligent for me. Sometimes I had no idea what he was talking about. There was one sequence where we get an interminable description of the layout of the university rooms. It's obviously a vital plot point but I completely lost track - there's a wall here, a shrub there, you have to climb over this to get to that. Take a tip from the Famous Five. Enid Blyton does a very good "How to get to the secret cave".

A Drink of Deadly Wine - Kate Charles
More C of E Vicars who need to pay more attention to their work rather than snogging each other. Sorry, tried hard. A bit florid for me. Didn't finish.

Chasing Slow - Erin Loechner
Beautiful looking book. Blogger's search for meaning  - as usual meaning giving up work. A bit er..slow?


Sunday, 30 April 2017


Charlie Mackesy

Hello All. I am a Line of Duty widow tonight. I'll be honest I was out when Thandie Newton came round on the kitchen floor and the man from Nativity! was standing over her with a chainsaw. Sometimes you just know when a programme isn't going to be your thing. 

So, I thought I would just call in and show you this. This morning, the Vic was talking (extremely well) about the Prodigal Son and this painting was up on the screens. It is by Charlie Mackesy and I wanted you to see it. (By the way I have worked quite hard to get this to you. I hadn't noticed that I had written Chris rather than Charlie in the search box (Helpful predictive Google) and I think I nearly broke the Internet. It gave me Christopher Biggins, Chris Eccleston , Chris Pratt (a LOT of Guardians of the Galaxy stuff with that one) a rapper called Prodigal and a lady teacher called Chris who has knitted some nice finger puppets. (I may have imagined that one) Like the rest of us, Google needs as much help as it can get sometimes.
Anyway - back to the picture.  I think it is extraordinary. I love the sense of collapse into the Father's arms - the right hand, draped helplessly over is beautiful I think. Also the way the Father - overcome with emotion holds on so tight. Hugging him and kissing him. It is a beautiful and comforting picture of the Father's Love. The Vic spoke really well about the unconditional love of a parent which HOH and I found really challenging.  A good morning, despite getting soaking wet in the South West's first significant rain of the Spring and Aged Parent's post church trip to the Co-op during which I once again failed as a daughter as I was unable to find two of her favourite ready-meals which were (a) not curry and (b) had no onions in. My life is blighted by my shortcomings.

Can I just tell you what else the painting made me think of? Today marks ten years since the disappearance of Madeline McCann. I know they have taken a lot of flack for one terrible mistake and there is probably some truth in the theory that working-class parents making the same mistake would have found the law of the land less forgiving. However, I can't really imagine the pain they must go through every single day. The longing to have their child fall into their arms and to hug and kiss her must haunt their every waking moment. The Father's love has proved itself to be an urgent, constant love. Those who have experienced it must know something of what the McCanns go though. They deserve our thoughts and prayers today.


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

It's a Wimmin Thing

I read this a while ago. It's a great read, well researched and full of enlightenment. I liked it because I related to a lot of it and, as you know by now if you have been reading this blog for a decent amount of time, it is usually all about me. Bessey is a Canadian writer and speaker and a wife and mother. She writes well. Some of it is quite emotional sometimes but not cloying or annoying like some Christian women's blogs. Sorry, I should rephrase that. I find some Christian women's blogs a bit cloying and the fault may well lie with me. I could possibly warm up a bit, I know that but I struggle a bit with those blogs that are a bit...

" I am washing the clothes by hand, in the kitchen and I am grateful, my heart is full of gratitude, gratitude for the pleurisy, for the rickets - the gratitude of a Mama"

I know, I know - it's my fault. I'm cold and heartless. Bessey isn't like that though, she is warm and encourages grace in what is sometimes a difficult subject. Some of what she says about Christian women and their place in the church may well be challenging to some people but I think it probably needs to be said. She is an encouraging, positive writer who builds confidence in her readers and I like that.
Bessey has recently stirred a bit of interest on Twitter by starting the hashtag #thingsonlychristianwomenhear

Among the comments that women reported hearing were 

Dress modestly because men are too weak. Also men are in charge of you because they are spiritually superior 

"You're a Christian feminist? Good luck finding a husband!

"If you preach, I will get up and walk out." 

I make no comment about these but it is quite interesting to hear that things I heard when I was young - many, many aeons ago - are still being heard. My impression is that young women are less inclined to take this kind of thing lying down these days. I personally find that very cheering and may power be placed heavily upon their elbows.


Monday, 24 April 2017

I wouldn't have thought you were old enough!

So I am now officially no longer the mother of children. Not that I am no longer a mother but now it's adults all the way as the FOW2 has just celebrated her 21st birthday. 
Now there is a strong school of thought that says "Adult is as adult does." or, put another way "You are only as old as the adult you behave like." (Neither of those are right I think but you get the gist.)
Both offspring exhibit many admirable qualities but there is still a bit of a skill gap in the adult department as far as I am concerned. Both of them struggle to help their clothes make the arduous journey from their wash baskets to the washer without prompting. Both seem to think ironing is  a mug's game. Unless Yours Truly is the mug by giving in and doing their ironing to show them how much nicer their clothes are when a nice pressing has happened.
We have all had a lovely weekend celebrating. Friday night was a meal with Aged Parent which was fine when we eventually sorted it.

Aged Parent..........."Are we having a meal for the birthday?"

Me........................."Yes, FOW would like to go for an Italian"

Aged Parent..........."Well she should have what she wants - it's her birthday. But I don't like Italian, the onions double me up."

Me........................."I know so we are going out separately with you for some nice Fish and Chips."

Aged Parent..........."So I won't come out on her birthday"

Me........................."No, because she wants Italian."

Aged Parent............"Well she should have Italian. It's her birthday   but I can't eat Italian"

Me............................Through gritted teeth "I know. Therefore etc etc."

In the end - she came out for Fish and Chips, polished the whole lot off with extra bread and butter, returned home after having a great time and then rang next day to tell us the the batter had doubled her up. At the moment FOW is avoiding having her boyfriend in the same room as AP for too long in case he thinks that's how we all are secretly.
It's cliche, I know but just where does the time go? They are just wandering around on chubby legs, hiding Lego in the video recorder and then suddenly they are writing essays on Film Noir. Sometimes mothering children has been the most satisfying part of my life. At other times, nothing has made me feel more inadequate. Either way - it has been a privilege. Here's to the next set of "Interesting Parenting Challenges"


Thursday, 20 April 2017

A Cookbook - Really?

This is me, recommending a cookbook. I'm not getting paid for it or anything like that. I have to tell you that I have no love really for cooking. It's ok. I do it. I do a lot of it from scratch but I have been known to eat an Easter Egg for lunch because I couldn't be bothered to cook. (Today actually) I have never been to a cookery class to learn new skills because I'm not that fussed really. Unless you count Domestic Science at school, which chiefly consisted of winding up a Vera Lynn lookalike teacher who despised us all with a passion - but she disliked me particularly because we didn't have a set of scales at home and she thought that this was slovenly. 
I don't mind hanging about in the kitchen if the football is on the radio. (Radio 5 Live football commentary is one of the things that makes this country great.) However, I'm not too fussed about creating dinner party masterpieces and, although I can do Yorkshires from scratch if the mood takes me, it very rarely does. 
This book appeals for lots of reasons
1. Economy. The title is self explanatory. Each meal costs one of your English squids. (I have to be honest - for me it's usually a bit more than that.) The food is often from your "discount supermarkets" but that's where I shop anyway. There are lots of ways to use leftovers etc. Lots of cheaper ingredients like veg etc
2. Ease. There are very few fancy-dan methods here. This is good because I have only the most basic of skills. At no point are you asked to light a blow-torch, spin sugar or puff some pastry. You can if you want to. I don't want to.
3. Health. Everything has vegetables in it of one sort or another. This is a good thing. Portion sizes are reasonable, if a bit loosey-goosey on the measuring. (Suits me - see non-affinity for kitchen scales above - although we do have some now.)
4. Flexibility. Because all recipes serve one - you can mix things up. It helps to use single pots to cook in. Someone doesn't like mushrooms - leave them out in one pot. Someone else is going through an incomprehensible vegetarian journey - replace meat in one pot with Quorn. If someone is due in late. Put one dish in fridge etc etc. Also - all dishes scale up for bigger meals with more people. Win-win. 
5. Variety. We are quite boring eaters. Our friends call us "The Blands" but there are curries and other more exotic things here, as well as your Chicken and Mushroom Pie. 
If you are mildly interested One Pound Meals is on Instagram for free. So you can have a look first. I understand I am not the first person you would think of when you thought of a recommendation for a cookbook so feel free to research. Here endeth a blog I didn't really expect to be writing.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Reporting back

I did say, for those of you that were paying attention, that I would report back on "doing" this book through Lent. First though, a couple of things
Thank you for all your comments on the last blog about Jesus and Tesco. I didn't comment on any of them, partly because I couldn't think of anything to say and partly because every time I wrote about it, I just got a bit more worked up - so I left it alone. Your support was appreciated though. 
Also, on a less impressive note - did anyone watch Maigret? I haven't read any of the books so I have to admit that I have no background knowledge on this. I stuck with it for an hour and a bit and then decided to go off and watch some paint dry instead. I prefer Vera. You know where you are with Vera. Someone dies a terrible death in the wind and the cold. Vera comes along and calls a lot of people "pet" while eating pasty and chips. She invariably calls the wrong person into the interview room and accuses them of murder - "I think you did it pet". Then she has a flash of inspiration where she suddenly spins round and asks one of her interchangeable minions to check something and lo and behold! It is sorted. None of this is a criticism. Vera is ace. Better than watching Rowan Atkinson trying to look deep and French and, Lord help us, sexy and smitten at one point. Anyway - Mr Cheekbones is back in Granchester next week. 
Back to the job in hand. The Wilderness Within You by Pen Wilcock had a reading for each day of Lent. It imagined a visit by Jesus to the author - an ordinary person with a job, living on a housing estate, just normal really. There are conversations and questions. The author has to deal with the fact that if Jesus is talking to you, he knows exactly how you really feel about something so, sometimes, things are more transparent than she would like. What really came over to me was the person of Jesus. The way he sees things, how he feels about us and the depth of his personality. I liked it a lot. I did a read it every day and it was easy to stay with it. HOH read a few chapters a day (he's a very contrary person) and he was writing down bits from it because it described how he felt. It turns out that Jesus is a practical sort with lots of ideas about how we can help ourselves a bit. I know it's a long way off but next Lent - if you are looking for something - this is good. (Actually, coming over all Puritan, you could just do it as daily readings - you don't have to attach it to Lent - let yourself go!)

Friday, 14 April 2017

Of Fairy Stories and Mercy


You may or may not have seen the furore about this advert. The ad's a bit annoying but with the level of spiritual ignorance around now-I wasn't really all that worked up. (Although I am looking forward very much to the next advert when they will replace the words Good Friday with Eid - you don't think so? Why ever not?) I would just say that before you pour all that money into an advertising campaign, just get someone to run an eye over it and ask whether it is appropriate to have an advert like this on the day lots of people are remembering an innocent man being tortured to death. Me being picky? 
What did bother me was, when Christians complained, Twitter was full of people saying things like "Why should we be bothered about your fairy tale?" or "It's just a day off work for the vast majority of people." Actually, comments were a lot more offensive than that but I will spare you the details, gentle people that you are. I don't understand why people who are not Christians get so worked up. Why is it such a big deal for you? 
I am not demanding that anyone become a Christian, it is entirely your decision but I am so fed up with believers being treated like idiots - usually by people who haven't given anything outside social media any more than twenty seconds thought. 
I have been a follower of Jesus for more than forty years. It has not been a bed of roses, I have given him plenty of grief and, like most I have known dark nights of the soul. However to know Jesus has been to open my life to a level of consciousness that has been beyond anything else I have experienced. The sophistication of his thoughts and the depth of his understanding have challenged me on levels I could never hoped to have approached. He has challenged me on every level possible - my thoughts, my dreams, my behaviours and through it all I have experienced love and acceptance which continually changes me. To be as loved as I am helps me get past my own insecurities to love others and to do good. To experience mercy and grace has opened my eyes to impossible things. 
Knowing Jesus has inspired people to change the world - Wiberforce, John Newton, Martin Luther King, Archbishop Tutu flawed like all of us, yet driven on by the knowledge of Jesus. This is not some silly little joke that people can just have a pop at to get more followers. 
Not all things supposedly driven by faith are good of course. I would ask anyone who says they start a fight on behalf of Jesus to have a very hard look at what he taught. But, of course the assertion that without religion there would be no war is just plainly stupid. In the words of Frankie Boyle
"Some violence is caused by religion. Some violence is caused by lager."
Anyway, today is Good Friday. I am very pro Good Friday (Sigh of relief from God.) It makes me stop. It makes me think about things bigger than I am. It makes me muse on the nature of humanity. It makes me wonder about sacrifice and generosity. All the things that, if left to my own devices, I might not bother with too much. 
Jesus helps me to step out of the shallows. He is lots of things but Airy-Fairy he is not.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Gull's Alright With Me

I have unashamedly pinched the idea of this blog from Kindred of the Quiet Way. Pen was writing about seagulls. I am a big fan of seagulls. I live in Plymouth and one of the things that first charmed me about the area was the noise of seagulls in the morning - it reminded me of childhood holidays in Torquay. However, few Plymouthians share my enthusiasm for seagulls. Admittedly, it takes a brave person to walk through the centre of Plymouth eating a Scotch Egg. They will dive and take it. They are also making Plymouth's attempt to promote a pavement coffee culture very difficult - unless you bring your own water pistol to warn the blighters off. The FOWs' school actually brought a hawk in because of the problems the children were having in the playground. I am not sure this is workable at the Coffee Bean Cafe though. It's a bit disturbing watching them fight to the death when you are trying to bite the top off a tomato sauce sachet.
I once spent an entire lunch break in companionable silence with a seagull who was waiting for the last bit of my tuna roll. In exchange I got to stare at him/her close up. The bird was extraordinarily beautiful. Its white was brilliant white, contrasting with jet black on the wings. After checking that there were no seagull haters about - I was more than happy share lunch. 
( I understand this is not allowed - we had built a beautiful bond though)
Our local MP instigated a ridiculous debate to have them declared nuisances or something but, in my opinion, they were here first and if they are scavengers, then whose fault is that? If you had a choice between following a trawler in the howling wind  for fifty miles or lifting a battered fish from a bin bag, which would you choose?
Seagulls are monogamous, can live up to 50 years and have shown tool using capabilities when opening up shells. We mess with their heads and then when they respond accordingly, we think it might be convenient to cull them. Sums up our approach to the environment perfectly don't cha think?


Sunday, 9 April 2017


I wrote this on Palm Sunday before hearing about the terrible attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt. I thought twice about uploading what is an essentially light-hearted account of my day. However, on reflection, I would rather carry on as normal, which is what this attack was meant to stop. It goes without saying that I am praying for my Christian brothers and sisters who continue to be persecuted and for those whose lives have been changed forever today.

Today was my first Palm Sunday attending a C of E church. I'm not used to church dates and celebrations. Having quite a lot of non-conformist people in my upbringing - some of whom thought that Oliver Cromwell was a bit on the frivolous side, I was a little bit apprehensive.  This wasn't helped by HOH musing that he was sure that he had read that Anglicans marched around the church waving crosses and shouting Hosanna. Consequently I probably didn't look as grateful as I could have when I was handed my Palm cross on the door. Aged Parent didn't seem too bothered. 
"Ooh is this one of those glow sticks?" she asked the steward. (She is very keen not to get left behind by the young people)
Like I said, I'm not really good on church dates and celebrations. Although there is a certain lovely constancy about markers through the year which have been there through generations. But, thinking about it, today, Jesus, riding into town on a donkey - defying the expectations of those who wanted someone to lead the revolution against the Romans. He knew that today was the beginning of the end of this chapter. From today, there would just be an ever quickening run towards the event he had really come for. It's quite a big date really - when you think about it. 
In the end, it was just a really good service. A good preach based around the events of Palm Sunday and no one asked me to wave anything or clean up after a donkey. 

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