Sunday, 5 February 2017

It Isn't Supposed To Be Like This!

It isn't supposed to be like this...but I am not complaining!

A cursory glance at this ecclesiastical snapshot and you may have assumed that it was taken in the summer, but look again and you can see the winter bare branches of trees.  For this picture was not taken on a sweaty summers day, but in early February. I quickly took the shot on my phone, as I hurried in to ring at the second church we visited on Saturday afternoon.

Normally the weather on this date  is unremarkable. Dull, damp, cloudy with rain - temperatures close to average for the time of year - nothing to write home about.  How do I know?  It is my birthday - shared with Alice Cooper and Norman Wisdon...oh, and Dave Hargreaves!

My mother was advised to anticipate my arrival on my father's 40th Birthday.  However, babies rarely arrive on time and I was not about to buck the trend, making my appearance two days later. I have maintained this habit of being very slightly late for most occasions throughout of my life to date.

My father's birthday was Candlemas, or Groundhog Day if you are the other side of the pond.  Year after year we would compare the weather on our birthdays. Usually the 2nd of February was bright sunny and cold.  Two days later and the weather would have changed, to damp & dreary.  This happened nearly every year!  Given that our birthdays were in the coldest part of the year, you may have thought that one or other of us would have snow on their birthday, but no. I only remember one white birthday, and that was relatively recently. We don't get a lot of snow in this part of the Midlands, usually a couple of light coverings a year, with a more substantial deposit every few years, just to keep us on our toes!

My Dad's last birthday was just after the turn of the century, about eight weeks before he slipping away in his sleep after suffering a stroke, the way he would have chosen to depart this life without any great fuss or drama. Old habits die hard, and I still find myself comparing the weather on our birthdays.  This year the second day the second month began cold and cloudy, but later the skies relented and did brighten, as the sun put in a brief belated appearance.  Two days later and we had glorious Candlemas weather with the sunshine trying its best to convince us that spring had arrived, tempting us to ignore the low temperatures, discard our coats and dive into summer!  Sun on my birthday. Beautiful blues skies! Unheard of!

It isn't supposed to be like this, but no-one was complaining, least of all, me!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Window shopping

The KHT does not like new clothes.
She prefers the familiar.
The safe.
The ones that help her to look like the KHT.
Any new items introduced into her wardrobe are by careful diplomatic negotiation.  No good buying too many, they will NOT get worn.  For example, a jumper and a hoodie are sufficient for her needs.

Sometimes she will look at totally impractical clothing, safe in the knowledge that the wearing of them will not be expected.  Browsing through the jumble sale of M & S ladies clothing after several week of the sales, she spots a top which may well look great with the right combination of other items, I just lack the vision to see what they might be...

"Hmmm," says she "What do you think of this?
I play along,
"That's a nice top."
"Wait a moment!" she declares dramatically, "Is it see through?"
"It could be" I reply
"Let me check" she announces, in the voice of one who is an expert in these matters.
Sure enough her hand is faintly visible through the fabric.
"Just as I thought! I couldn't wear that!  People might see my..."
I nod.
"Your....." I agree
There is a pause for perfect timing.
Not too long,
not to short.
Her face betrays a prospect too terrible to verbalise.
Then the conclusion is delivered with a flourish
" stomach!" she declares triumphantly.
Safe in the knowledge that no-one could ever expect THAT to be exposed.
We do not buy the top.
Not that it was the right size for either of us!

Never a dull moment shopping with the KHT.

Monday, 2 January 2017

I should be in bed

Outside, unseen, the world is imperceptibly turning white, as the frost silently breathes a crystalized coating over any surface it can reach.  Mystical lines appear of the surface of the pond.

In the kitchen the dishwasher begins its baptismal cycle, removing the detritus of dining, ready for another day of gastonomic disasters. There is nothing new.

On the street bins like silent sentries keep their watch, awaiting the early morning arrival of the refuse collectors, who will race sure-footed along the street, defying the perilous pavements.  Too soon the reversing alarm and rumble of bins will disturb my sleep.

But first I must catch up on the news;  Turkey and Trump (both equally sad), lives cut short, stories of survival. I must check the weather (cold) and lose another game (predictable).

Tomorrow is the end of the Christmas holidays. Work and college recommence.  Meetings arranged. The Bank Holiday limbo has passed, real life recommences. We put behind us thoughts of Christmas and New Year celebrations.  But first I must admit defeat. Give in and climb the wooden hill.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017 - the welcome visitor?

Happy New Year.  2016 - infamous for apparent consumption of celebrities, has been replaced by 2017.  This 'new' year does not yet roll comfortably off the tongue. It is the name of a new acquaintance - whose existence I have been aware of, but until now no direct interaction has been required. At the stroke of midnight, the new year burst into the room.  I cannot accuse 2017 of gatecrashing, for we held a small gathering in its honour. The arrival was anticipated, expected and certain, heralded with great celebrations.   Unlike Christmas, where mentions of the person whose birth is being celebrated, are tolerated by an increasingly secular society, but only if it stays in the category of 'cute'.  Most have no real desire to consider why Christ was born, and to mention his bloody and undeserved death at a time of celebration, would be considered unnecessary and irrelevant.

We embrace 2017 like a four leaved clover -  a talisman to give token protection against the death of our heroes and loved ones. The clock struck twelve, bad luck will change...  It is not bad luck, it is life in a fallen world. We are born, we live, we die. Our names are remembered for a few generations, unless we do something spectacularly good or bad... In time our very existance will cease to be remembered. Even our digital footprint will, in time, be deleted, eaten away, byte by byte, as space for storage, unlike God's mercy, is finite.

Today has been subdued, as our bodies try to compensate for the change in sleeping pattern as we celebrated the completion of one year, and the beginning of the next, and recover from the effects of food eaten long after we should have been asleep.

In the days ahead many of us will return to school or work, and after a few hiccups, 2017 will feel as familiar as its predecessor.  I would love 2017 to be a year of peace, of wise and fair use of resources, and for the world to make a concerted, united effort to begin to redress the damage we have inflicted on our planet, for the sake of future generations.  As C.S. Lewis says "You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream".  My prayer for 2017 is that we move from goals and dreams to action.  But how?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Seasons Greetings

December sees a flurry of crafty activity, yes Christmas card making gets underway again!

In November I am too busy doing other things to get stuck in, but as December advances, so does card making. Drifts of backing from double sided tape lie around me, deep and crisp and uneven....

I like my card to have some theological significance, so they usually feature a star. I favour simple uncluttered designs. This set are mainly wooden trees on a foil back ground, with glittery stars.
Once, made and written cards need to be handed out. Sometimes the recipient looks guilty because they have not got a card at hand to give back.  However that doesn't bother me. I do not give cards just to get one back. Instead I regard them as blessings to be freely given, rather than a mutual arrangement of contractual expectation, with a penalty of being blacklisted for non delivery.

People who receive a card from me are likely to fall into one of three categories:-
Firstly, I have a small list of people I like to wave 'hello'  to - relations and friends -  it is probably the only time in the year I do, and a time when my card is likely to be lost in a sea of santas, reindeers and robins. Perhaps my New Years Resolution should be to remember some birthdays in 2017, and to actually post some cards!

The second group are people I wish to say thank you to. People who have made time to help with projects over the year, particularly relating to Mission and outreach.

The third group are my neighbours.  We live in a relatively new development. I do not see some of them very often, we just do not go out and return at the same time.  Last year I made a point of delivering a card to the houses close by, and most of the others returned the compliment.  It is good to wish each other Happy Christmas, but it also serves the purpose of reminding each other of our names, because after 18 months it is a bit embarassing to admit that you have forgotten, again!

As I work through my list, there are inevitably some people I forget.  If I didn't get round to sending you a card - I am sure that you had lots more from other people.  Treasure the ones you do receive, they have been sent with love.


Friday, 16 December 2016


Today wasn't Wednesday, but Wednesday was too busy with things that HAD to be done, and sadly the things we normally do, like go and have lunch in M & S cafe, went by the way...

Today was not Wednesday, but we had time to do the things that we did could not do on Wednesday, and so we did.

The KHT knew that a visitor was returning, so she waited to see the visitor arrive, and depart, for completeness is important.  Then we set off for lunch.

The KHT carefully selected her seat.
"Wouldn't you rather sit by the window?"
"Oh no, " replied the KHT, "I want to sit beside the Christmas Tree!" and smiled a smile only the KHT can smile, a smile that lights up her face in a way no camera can easily record.

Our food duly arrived.

Then suddenly tragedy struck....

The tree was gone!

The KHT was not impressed, as she was left with a view of a display of biscuits....!

Me, I wasn't bothered. After all I now had a tree beside me....

All the best laid plans....

Monday, 28 November 2016


At our evening service on Sunday we read the set readings and then had a time to ponder on them.
My daughter illustated this passage from Matthew....

Matthew 24:15-28New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

15 ‘So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation,”[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 

17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 

18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 

19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 

21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again.
22 ‘If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 

23 At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 

25 See, I have told you in advance.26 ‘So if anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the desert,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not believe it.
 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.