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?

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