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.
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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.
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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?
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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.

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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

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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 horses...er 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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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...

Telly

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.

Books

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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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Prodigal

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.

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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.




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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"



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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.
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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!)
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Friday, 14 April 2017

Of Fairy Stories and Mercy

RANT KLAXON!!!

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.

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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?


















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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Palmster

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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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

How Low Can You Go?


This is how my mind works. All over the place. You can try and keep up if you like. Try not to get frightened. 
I have just finished catch up on SS-GB. I understand that I am the last person in the world to watch this but I have things to do. I quite liked SS GB, I thought it was an interesting idea - I had to turn it up a bit and could possibly have done with a crib sheet to explain who half the people were but that's more to do with my attention span than any inconsistencies in the plot. 
Musing on a possible German Occupation (well it's not impossible-apparently we are on the verge of war with Spain at the moment) I think the best book I ever read about WW2 was "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boon. Ten Boon lived under German occupation in Holland. Her family - driven by their Christian faith - sheltered Jews from the Nazis. When they were discovered, they were shipped out to Ravensbrook Concentration Camp and Corrie lost her sister there. It is an extraordinary story, full of suffering and man's worst excesses, yet it is also full of forgiveness. It was a groundbreaking book. When I was young, people were entitled to doubt that you were a Christian if you hadn't read it. The most famous quotation in the book is probably

No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still


They should know I would think. 

So, thinking about deep pits. Not an actual pit with dirty water and old bike frames etc. Just about finding yourself in a low place, a place where you don't think anyone understands or can help. This comes to mind. 

Matthew 9:20-22The Message (MSG)

Just then a woman who had haemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.

When I was young - we used to call this; The woman who touched the hem of his garment. The woman - bent double by the weakness caused by constant blood loss - was as low as she could go yet found that she couldn't "out-low" Jesus. I wonder if she could even look up to see his face - just maybe the edge of his clothes - yet it was enough. She was rescued. It is a great comfort I think, for those who are struggling to raise their game in any way at all, for those who a low and stuck low, to find that Jesus is down there too, knowing and understanding and able to act. There is a lot to be said for being cheerful in the face of adversity but if you simply cannot get up, if you have tried many times and have no capacity left to stop sinking, there is someone who you can't sink past, capable of lifting you and changing the things that you can't. 
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Monday, 3 April 2017

April Reading

I'm a bit ashamed of the size of this month's book pile. In my defence, some are charity shop finds, some are re-reads, some second hand but some are undeniably new. Sorry (not really) 
I did get some library books out but I took them straight back next day because they were rubbish. It's my own fault, I am too much of a sucker for self help books. At least, knowing my weakness means that, wherever possible, I try them out at the library first. So now I know why French Women Don't Get Fat - because they hardly eat anything and the reason they hardly eat anything is because of the recipes in the French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook. Bleugh. 
Anyhoo. Some of the above I have read already "A Glass of Blessings" is a re-read. I am like Phillip Larkin (a sentence that I never thought I would write) and I would rather read a Barbara Pym novel than a Jane Austen. Controversial that but Pym is a top notch novelist for me.
In the Company of Women is a lovely book of photos of female entrepreneurs and artists. This means it is an important feminist tract and also pretty enough to live on our lounge table covering the bit I made go a bit funny by putting a hot drink on it.
I have looked out a couple of books from the Golden Age of British Detectives. I think I have done all the Wimseys now. So I am trying Margery Allingham and Michael Innes. 
I found Little Women in the hospice shop. I am a bit suspicious of anyone who hasn't read and loved Little Women. Even Aged Parent thought it was good and she openly doesn't like anything vaguely heartwarming. 
Robert Harris's Fatherland is a thriller set in Germany after they have won the Second World War. I thought it was excellent - did exactly what it was supposed to. It is, as they say, a page turner.
Prodigal God is my first read by the theologian Tim Keller. I have only just started it. There doesn't seem to be many laughs so far. I know. I know. Not everything needs to be funny etc etc. I will give it my full attention.
Write Away is a book on writing by Elizabeth George. I could say that she is one of my favourite writing teachers or I could tell you the truth and say I thought I was buying a writing book by Elizabeth Goudge - who I really like. Note to self - wear glasses when charity shop cruising. 
Lastly, I am in the middle of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. This is currently a best seller. I am about a third of the way through and it is fantastic. It's about someone's disappearance in the Summer of 76. Boiling hot if you remember. Two little girls set out to sort out what has happened by finding God - on their street. It is beautifully written with sentences that roll around your mind. 
So there you are then. Off to do a bit of reading.


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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Er..well hello


I am sorry. I have been a tad disheartened. No need to call for help. I have just been a shining example of how lots of tiny nicks can stop you in your tracks and suddenly you find that time has got away from you and you haven't blogged and just how much of a time stealer Twitter is. So, for all those who are calling in on the off chance, I have been mostly


  • Suffering with a migraine that lasted about eight days with a couple of breaks in the middle. This meant that screen time had to be limited and the people who pay me for the work I do on a day to day basis were not likely to say - "No - go ahead and use what little energy you have to blog - we'll be right here when you get back"
  • Making sure Aged Parent is ok. She has taken up with a lady who, in her younger days, was what we used to call "a bit of a girl". She is a very nice Christian woman apparently who has recently been widowed. We are only slightly concerned that last week she informed Aged Parent that God had cursed her (lady not Parent) with an "unacceptably large sex drive". She has been signed up to a Christian Dating Agency but apparently there are only slim pickings there and she is looking at signing up with Chat magazine. Aged Parent is liking her company when they talk about church - less so when talking about men. Both of our FOWs are seeing her as a very promising development in life.
  • Speaking of FOWs both are on verge of living at home at the moment and indeed - for the moment. Eldest child has finished university for now - possibly and is looking into ways to get involved in chosen field while working part time. Youngest child will be doing last year of Uni from home - because she can. Because it saves money and her chap lives locally. HOH and I are well on the way to being totally at peace with these unexpected developments. 
  • Anyway to return to Aged Parent. After being ill for much of the winter, she would now like to return to church. She does however feel a bit weak and feeble on her own so HOH and I have been accompanying her. It has been quite good actually and we are seriously considering moving with her so that we can keep an eye on her. It will mean going to a C of E which I would have said is against my religion (pun intended) but it is very groovy. More details to follow if we actually make the leap.
  • I have been a bit naffed off with my blog. Not blogging - just the blog. Some stupid thing has got into my stats which means that some posts are showing as having 3000 views a week or something. I got quite worked up about it. Someone said I should go the whole hog and get a website and change things up a bit. I dunno - I'll think about it. 
Anyway, thanks very much for calling in - if you did - I have no idea with these stats. I could be whistling into an empty bucket for all I know. Or transmitting to the whole of China. Ain't life grand?
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day


I'm late I know but I'm really mad busy (watching the football) and I didn't want to have the day pass though without acknowledging International Women's Day. This is me and my baby girl and I think because of the work of those who went before, she will have plenty of opportunities to make the life she wants to live. Sometimes people get a bit huffy and say you can't be a Christian if you are feminist and vice-versa. I would just ask (and I know I have said this before) if you are a woman


  • Do you vote?
  • If you buy a house with your partner - do you expect to have your name on the deeds?
  • If your husband gets a bit fed up with you and runs off with the maid - do you expect not to be thrown out on the street - losing all rights to see your children?
  • Do you expect not to see the words "Males Only" in an advert for a job?
If you take these things for granted, it is the feminists that have gone before that you need to thank. And if what you want to do with your life is to stay at home and care for your family and build a good life for them, then feminism doesn't want to stop you - it is about you having the same opportunities that's all.

In church, people sometimes talk about feminism or women in leadership going against hundreds of years of tradition. I'm not really a natural leader but I think
  • Tradition - "the handing down of statements, beliefs, customs" isn't always a good thing. There are children suffering fgm every day because it has been done that way for generations. 
  • If God doesn't want women to minister - why does he keep giving them something to say and gifting them to say it? 

There are people more learned than myself who say that the New Testament is scattered with examples of women leading, ministering and sharing the Good News. It is also full of women cooking, doing housework and running families. There are also plenty of women being healed, hearing from Jesus directly and even having him save their lives. It is full, therefore, of vibrant, alive females - living their lives to the full, in the manner they were called to, under obedience to Jesus. If that is feminism and I believe it is, for an individual female to be given the chance to be the person God wants her to be without having to be put into a restrictive box, then I think you can probably call me a feminist.
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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Coming Apart


I am having a "Biblical Theory with No Biblical Evidence" moment. I have spent the weekend with an award winning migraine. I haven't had one like that in some time. It was a codeine level interruption to my weekend plans. And I did have plans. HOH is working the night shift in the hospital - helping people to get back into bed and wondering how anyone can need that many toilet visits. So my idea for the weekend was to do a lot of catching up - housework and all that stuff while he was asleep. (I am a very quiet housewife type person) Then work happened - with quite a lot of stress for some reason and I was pooped. But I still intended to work through everything on the to-do list. Then my head exploded so it was all I could do to copy small dog pictured above and place head under cushions and sleep. I think that I was definitely in need of sleep because I did and awful lot of it.
Which makes me wonder (back to non-Biblical theory) do you think that sometimes, instead of claiming healings and bouncy jigginess, we should accept that maybe God would rather we put our heads down and did nothing. And when we refuse to do so, he is able to make us do so? I have little or no evidence for this theory - except that I wouldn't have stopped unless I was made to and that I feel better now than I did before I was ill. 
Also - does this sound sometimes more like a command than a cosy invitation?

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat 
Mark 6 v 31

And does it make you think that if I had just stopped when I needed to rather than when all the unpleasant Scanners type pain started, it would have avoided a lot of trouble. Interesting theory? No? Probably just me then. Anyway - back in the saddle and feeling much better thank you.

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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Lent


Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. (Sorry for rubbish photo - last minute as usual) I am not really overwhelmed by Lent. I come from a non-conformist background where this sort of thing was not acknowledged at all as it was considered "Papist" or something. Also, there is nothing gets on my nerves more than hearing people say things like "Uh, it's like er Lent so I am like going to see if I can lose some weight." I just think, if you are going to give something up, you should possibly have a look at the spiritual significance? At least put to one side some thinky time - otherwise it's just what is called "a diet".
Some people wear crosses made of ashes on their foreheads which is quite powerful symbolism. I heard that a gay rights Christian movement is selling ashes with glitter in them. I am all for campaigning for what you believe in but this doesn't sit very well with me. Thinking about what we remember happening at the end of Lent - I just think there is a time and a place.
I see that Theresa May held a reception for Christian leaders in 10 Downing Street to commemorate Shrove Tuesday and to say thank you for the work that Christian Communities do in our society. "About time" is the phrase that comes to mind and well done Mrs May for celebrating Christian life in Britain. If I could just respectfully point out that Christian life involves: feeding the hungry, taking in the displaced and healing the sick (not shouting at them that there is nothing wrong with them because they have managed to walk five paces across a room - that does not count as healing). Making sure your government supports these things is maybe another valuable way to celebrate the Christian contribution to society.
So I'm not giving anything up for Lent. I have done it before and it doesn't work for me. I am "doing" a Lent book. The Wilderness Within You." by Pen Wilcock. It looks like it is a tiny chapter a day and I like her writing. Will let you know how this worked at the end. Thank you for your time people.
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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Oscars

BBC

Just a little summing up of the Oscars as you do. Most of the films I liked didn't win much which is probably tells you a lot about my life.

Oscar night used to be a pretty big deal in our house because we go to the flicks quite a lot and it used to be a flippin good laugh when Billy Crystal did it. Now Sky have it and we don't usually get to see it but FOW1 had bought NOW TV for a month to watch the football so we got to have a look. Jimmy Kimnel, who I get mixed up with Jimmy Fallon, seems to have done ok as the host. He seemed fine but I wouldn't go a bunch on him as my old Nana used to say.
So Moonlight won Best Picture but I can't help you with that I'm afraid. I haven't seen Moonlight so far, partly for the childish reason that when someone tells me that something is the "Best Film Ever Made in the history of anything - EVER and that anyone who doesn't like it and see it is basically useless" I tend to put my money back in my pocket. I'm just a bit contrary that way. Also I think I will struggle a bit with the bullying of the little boy. I'm not very good with that. I dunno - I might see it. 
I never quite understand it when Best Director doesn't go to the person who directed the Best Film - maybe they think you have had enough awards. But it went to Damien Chazelle (La La Land) who has a name which suits being the director of a musical I think. A lot of people I know will be disappointed that La La Land didn't win - especially those who go to the pictures rarely and went because, for once, they found a film that they liked and could get on board with. I wasn't thrilled with La La Land personally but I know what they mean. 

Emma Stone, who seems like a lovely person, won for Best Actress but, for me, it should have gone to Natalie Portman for Jackie - she was amazing. Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester By the Sea which was all good and correct - he was astonishing. My favourite film of the year "Arrival" won very little. I think it got an award for "Best Noise Made When You Rattle A Stick In A Bucket" or something. I don't understand the technical awards.

The biggest hoo-ha seemed to be because someone put the wrong card in an envelope and the wrong name was read out. This was corrected within about 15 seconds. Anyone who has ever got on the bus and tried to show the driver the wrong ticket will understand that this is an easy mistake to make. The difference is that normal people get over these things very quickly. As far as fancypants showbiz people are concerned - it seemed like the end of days. I am assuming that heads will roll. Ah Hollywood, what are you like.
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

My Favourite Character


This is about the book of Jonah. If you are not familiar with it, you may find it helpful to read here

I love Jonah. I think that have a lot in common with Jonah. Obviously not the being eaten up by the big fish bit. We don't share that experience. I'm supposing you're the same. If you do think that you have shared that experience, you should write a book, or get interviewed or have a nice lie down in a dark room until the feeling passes.
We also don't share being an amazing preacher which I assume he was. Well, when he preached an entire nation repented. Practically overnight. Turned on a sixpence. Even the dogs sorted themselves out. (Anyone who has met my dog Morecambe will know that this is something I definitely don't share with Jonah) Not many can say that they have made entire nations repent, I wouldn't have thought. We may have heard a few preachers claim that they did this and we may have suspected that it wasn't entirely correct. Jonah did it though.
Jonah is one of the main "I'm not having that" things that people throw my way about Christianity. They say things like "But Jonah and that whale. Who believes that?" For what its worth, even as a child I wasn't sure that there was a literal whale, although I have found it a useful rule of thumb in life not to underestimate God. However, it has never really mattered whether there was a literal event or not. I just love Jonah.
He's all over the place. God tells him to do something, and although we can assume he has the gifts to do it. He ignores the instruction completely and goes in the other direction. We are not even told why he legs it. Fear? Inadequacy? Can't be bothered?  He gets in a boat and the weather happens. When the storm hits, he knows that he is the problem and heroically offers to sacrifice himself to save the others. (I don't think he had any possible ideas about whales and bellies - would you?)  When God saves him, he is repentant and contrite. He does what God asks him to do and is hugely successful. Instead of being chuffed and full of faith and optimism, he gets all ratty. Why should Nineveh get all this forgiveness? He has a go at God for his mercy - despite having been a recipient of it pretty recently. God responds with grace and covers him from the sun. Jonah calms down. God removes the cover. Jonah gets nasty again. God gently reminds him who is boss.

I love the passion of the relationship between God and Jonah. Jonah knows God. He knows exactly who he is. Yet Jonah gives God a hard time, he gets fed up, he accuses God of things that aren't true, he is irrational. Jonah has a short memory when it comes to God's goodness. He sees great miracles but prefers to concentrate on how rubbish he feels now. He is upset by other people's blessings and greedy for his own. He has everything within him to serve God and it seems to be a chore. I don't know if I identify with any other biblical character more. 
You know what else I notice in all this. The character of God. He is patient. He gives out second chances. He heroically saves, knowing that any gratitude will be short lived. He provides shelter then removes it to gently instruct and inform. He reminds Jonah who he is without using fireballs, plagues, pestilences or anything else that might make Jonah permanently regret his stroppiness. It is a story of a man and his God. It shows the chasm in behaviour and the way God reaches out over the chasm. Knowing what I am like, with my unfailing tendency to be a ratbag most of the time. It is very comforting to see how God feels about someone just like me.
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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Reality

Full confession - I love reality TV. Not the TV where people of no discernible talent, usually from a disadvantaged background are encouraged to perform like dancing monkeys for our entertainment. You know the kind of thing I'm sure. No, I really love the kind of show where people take their passion, which they have been developing for some time and work with professionals and mentors - kind of in competition but usually with a heartwarming team spirit. At the moment I am setting the Betamax for The Great Pottery Throwdown and The Big Painting Challenge. I really like the people hosting them - Sara Cox is from Bolton and therefore untouchable and the Reverend Richard Coles is a bona fide National Treasure. Also in there is Mariella Frostrup who makes the men in my house emit a strange noise when she begins to speak. I love these and, if the Bake Off became a bit overhyped last year, I still hope that they manage to salvage something of its lovely warmth, wherever it ends up.
But - hold the phone! I read this week that my favourite  - The Great British Sewing Bee, has not been recommissioned yet. This is unacceptable. I love Claudia on this. I love the way men and women come together to sew things they will never wear. This is British TV at its absolute zenith. It also shows you how skewed my priorities are. It took me a couple of days to get round to signing the petitions about refugees but when one came round about the Sewing Bee - I was on it like a shot. As the highly competent new President  of the USA would say. Sad.
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Monday, 13 February 2017

Northern Returns


We have been away, Now we are back. The undeniable climax to Aged Parent's 80th birthday celebrations was a return to her northern roots - for a few days at least. With the dog safely ensconced at home with FOW1 for a few days, we climbed into the car and began the five hour trundle to Bolton. We were a bit worried about Aged Parent in the leg department - what with the Arthritis and everything but we found that liberal application of Tramadol sorted all that out. (Please don't write to Age Concern. It has all been legitimately prescribed)
I may or may not have mentioned that Aged Parent has a sister. She is a few years older than AP but otherwise a carbon copy of her. It is, I think, written somewhere in Leviticus, that two such similar people, when left in close proximity to each other for a few days will inevitably clash. This will always happen - no matter how much they adore one another.  We dropped Aged Parent off with Aged Sister and went off to meet some very nice friends. When we returned the next day, it appeared that they had been re-enacting the film "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane." There was a great deal of moaning and groaning about each other - most of it though was under-breath grumbling so neither of them could hear the other one doing it. We had arrived to take Aged Parent to our old church, giving her the opportunity to meet some friends. We were all taken aback when Aged Sister - who has never shown any interest in Christianity - announced that she thought she would like to come as well.
We arrived at church with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in tow and were warmly greeted at the door by the dreaded words - "How lovely to see you. You know it's the Youth Service don't you?" For the uninitiated - the Youth Service involves flashing lights, driving beats, jumping up and down and high-fiving - all the while informing ourselves and each other how awesome we all are. It's fine and dandy for young people. Not so much for two octogenarians , who sat at the back wondering what was going on. Still, it gave Aged Sister something to think about. 
The next few days were taken up with meeting friends and relatives (see above) which they seemed to enjoy and constant bickering which they also seemed to enjoy. 
Anyway, when we set off home and it occurred to them both that they may not see each other anytime soon - they promptly burst into tears. Which was nice. As for me and HOH we planned in a cheeky little trip to Ikea on the way back. It all was, as the young people say, win, win.

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Golden Hill

I am not a natural book reviewer. If I like it I will come on here and say so. If I don't I will probably wap it in the bin and we will never speak of it again. I'm not very good at being negative about people's hard work so I just tend to be quiet. I also know that book reviews do not seem to set my blog alight with traffic so I may be just writing this for me. Hey Ho.
This is a very good book. (I could end this here to be frank but I won't) I'm pretty sure that I have said on here before that Unapologetic -  Francis Spufford's book on his Christianity is one of the books that has influenced me most in this part of my Christian life (as in old and haggard). So I have been interested in anything he has written. However, this is not a Christian book. It is fiction - set in New York before the revolution. It is a rattling good read. If you are like me and a bit slow on the uptake, the pace and the language can take a bit of getting used to. It is set in 1746 and the language reflects that. Once I got the hang of it though, it fairly races along. There are some great set-pieces - a chase along rooftops, a duel and a really effective piece set in the theatre. The hero is handsome, mysterious and made for a movie adaptation. (I suggest Tom Hardy if anyone cares) There is a heartbreaking death and a final scene that made me almost want to stand up and cheer which would have been unfortunate as I was in bed at the time. It is a fantastic book. 

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