Monday, 29 June 2009

A Special Day Spoilt

On Saturday (27 June) we went up to Cambridge to see my son graduate. After a lunch at his college (Homerton) we piled into a taxi up to the centre of Cambridge for the graduation ceremony in Senate House. Cambridge, being 800 years old, does this in a very traditional way - in Latin! I didn't understand a word but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Afterwards we all met on the lawn outside with the chance to take photos and have then taken. It was when my wife suggested we pay for a photo of all the family that I discovered my wallet had gone so, after some frantic searching, we spent the next hour on the phone cancelling cards! We subsequently heard that some people had been warned about pickpockets targeting the graduation ceremonies - shame we weren't warned.

The only plus point was when my daughter went to the King's College plodge (Cam speak for porters' lodge) to see it had been handed in there and was addressed as "Ma'am". As she graduated 3 years ago she was wearing her graduates gown and so had been recognised as a member of the university.

Luckily I didn't have the debit card for my wife's account with me so we were still able to go out for an evening dinner.

I am meant to be picking up a new guitar on Wednesday but at the moment I don't have a way of paying for it!!! Hopefully the replacement cards will arrive soon but it is so annoying having money in my account and not being able to get to it.

Anyway no-one was hurt and we cancelled the cards in time so I only lost the cash from my wallet.

To finish on a high note (I never do - I'm a bass) here are a couple of pictures any parent would be proud of:

Update:- The nice people in the guitar shop took a cheque without a guarantee card so I have my new shiny red electric guitar - my first ever electric guitar. However due to the cut thumb (see below) I'm unable to play it at the moment.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

National Health Service

Thank God for the NHS- literal. I have needed the NHS 3 times today.

This morning I needed the nurse at my GPs' to change the dressing on the hole in my shin that I did while gardening on Saturday.

This afternoon I went to my "local" hospital (6 miles away) for the results of a scan on my back and some other tests. It doesn't look as if any further action is needed.

Early this evening I had to go to the nearest hospital (under 1 mile away but doesn't do everything) to have the top of my left thumb taped down after I cut it preparing dinner - which was very late as a result.

At least I'm still here and nearly in one piece!!!

'Oldest musical instrument' found

... and it wasn't Keith Richard's guitar!

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Father's Day (again)

Looks like I was at the wrong church on Father's Day:-

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Of Worship Leaders and Pagans

A couple of articles on the web caught my eye today but I still haven't worked out why I think they are connected.

The first was an article about worship leaders becoming pop stars and this triggered one of my on-going worries - when do we cross the line from leading the church singing to being performers? It is something that worries me when I play in church and I don't know what the answer is. We don't, generally, have one person in front "leading the worship" which helps but it is all too easy to turn it into a gig instead of something to glorify God. By the way if you hadn't noticed I don't like the term "worship band / leader" - singing is only a small part of a life of worship.

A short version of the article can be found here:

The other article, in the Guardian, was about the rise of paganism in the UK. It struck me that what was attracting people was a form of pantheism and we in the church have to find a way of connecting with these people if we want to bring them into the Church. One thought - there is a panentheistic vein running through Christianity (the idea of a creating and sustaining God)so shouldn't we be able to find some common ground so that we can get alongside them? Any thoughts?

The full article can be found here:

Father's Day Update

Father's Day went much better than I feared it might have done. To start with I was exhausted after spending Saturday sorting the front garden (missing the Lion's match in the process) so it now looks like the arty picture (I had to rotate it to get it to look anything like it does in real life.)

My son had posted me a card a book of father jokes (My Dad only hit me once but it was with a Volvo - and many more like that) and after church we went to have lunch with my daughter who is flat sitting for some friends from church. Home made burgers and chips with salad - delicious. She also gave me a photo of her on my shoulders when she was very small (and my hair and beard weren't white) mounted between 2 blocks of perspex - it is now on my desk at work.

I was also kept busy playing guitar at church morning and evening. The morning was fairly easy going with just 2 songs for me to play. I wasn't on the rota for the evening but got called in when one guitarist had hives on his hands and the other fell off her horse.

All in all I didn't have to much time to think which, on this occasion, was good.

Friday, 19 June 2009

A Poem

Someone sent me this at work today and I just had to share it.

I want a floating duck house

I want to clear my moat

I need to mend my tennis court

That’s why I need your vote.

I have to build a portico

My swimming pool needs mending

My lovely plants need horse manure

And the Aga needs much tending

A chandelier is vital

Mock Tudor boards are great

My hanging baskets won awards

And I’ve earned a tax rebate.

I need a glitter toilet seat.

My piano so needs tuning

Maltesers help me stay awake

And my orchard must need pruning

I could have said the rules were wrong

And often thought I should,

But somehow it was easier

To profit all I could

The public really have to see

That the rules are there to test

And by defrauding taxpayers

We were just doing our best

The Speaker of the House has gone,

Our sacrificial beast,

But the public are still braying

For our corpses at the feast

What do the public want from us,

Those vote-wielding ingrates?

They really should be grateful

To be financing our estates.

The message is so very clear,

(we’re merely learning late)

That the British way of living well

Is to screw the bloody state.

Father's Day

This Sunday in the UK is Father's Day and, in one way, I'm not looking forward to it. I have already received a package from my son as he will be out of the country but I will miss not giving a card and gift to my father who died last year. Under the joy and happiness of the day there will be the sadness of loss.

My sadness shows that I had a good relationship with my father but what about those who never knew their father or to whom the idea of father meant abuse? What do they make of a day to celebrate fatherhood? Taking it one stage further what do they make of the church continually talking of God the Father - what image does that conjure up for them?

When Jesus spoke of the Godhead as father he was reflecting on the relationship he had with his earthly “father” Joseph. We must always be on the lookout for an appropriate positive image to describe God the “Father” to other people whose concept of fatherhood may be negative or we may drive them away.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Is natural good for you?

Last week my asthma was very bad - I had to come home from work early on Monday and didn't get back into the office all week, although I did manage to work at home on Thursday and Friday. What puzzled me was that I felt fine when I got up and my peak flow readings were fine but within the hour my breathing would get difficult.

It took me until Friday to realise that I had started using a different shower gel on Monday so I swapped back to the old one and my breathing is back to normal. Now I only use Original Source shower products as they only contain natural ingredients but it appears that there is something in the Dragon Fruit & Capsicum shower gel that disagrees with me.

Just because something only contains natural ingredients doesn't mean it is good for you. After all pollen and arsenic are natural products.

I know what they meant but...

I just opened the BBC News site and the first headline was:

Flu risk 'still low' after death

Now that's a relief - I won't haved to worry about catching the 'flu after I die.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Al Gore turned me into a climate change sceptic.

One of the odd occurrences in my life is that watching An Inconvenient Truth was the point at which I started being sceptical about man made global warming. Up until I saw it I had just gone with the flow and accepted that man's activities were making the climate warmer.

There were two things in the film that made me stop and think "that doesn't look right" and, by doing a very little research, made me want to swim against the flow.

The first was the "hockey stick graph" which showed thousands of years of steady temperatures followed by an accelerating upturn in the last few years. Now I wasn't any good at history at school but I even I know that there was a Roman warm period, and medieval warm period which was followed by the "little ice age" which means there can't be a straight handle for the hockey stick.

The other point was the "graph" Al Gore produced showing the historic movement of temperature and CO2 in the atmosphere. If I had presented a graph like that at school with no scales it would have been given back to me unmarked. It also brought to mind my sixth form stats teacher who pointed out that we could measure the height of the school entrance step and the height of the bushes planted beside the door and prove conclusively that as we trod on the step we were pushing it down and the bushes up - a correlation does not prove cause and effect. In the case of atmospheric CO2 recent research shows that historically the CO2 change happened after the temperature change - not surprising as a dissolved gas (carbon dioxide in this case) always becomes less soluble with increasing temperature. Again something I learnt at school.

My big problem is that most climate change sceptics use this as an excuse to do nothing about our over use of the worlds resources whereas I believe that, as Christians, we should be cutting our use of all the worlds resources to sustainable levels and ensuring an ethical division of resources around the world. Here in the UK our oil and gas consumption per person is about 2.5 times the global average which is socially unacceptable even if the world’s current rates of consumption are sustainable.

God gave us a beautiful planet to look after and enjoy not exploit.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

101 Things

From Stephy's blog.

To participate, just copy and paste in your own blog, and bold all of the things you have done.

1. Started your own blog (doy)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (if you count the worship team at church)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (Pilate in the St John Passion at church)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight in your underwear
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Ran a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (I’m sure we must have done this)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (Got = given)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy (My mother used my baby toys to start the church crèche)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (a bit difficult for a man – my wife has had two)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
101. Learned to play an instrument (Provided chord bashing counts as playing)

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Since my daughter got engaged the entire household has been rushed of its feet trying to get everything booked for next April. Despite having the best part of a years notice we have had trouble getting a venue big enough for 170 guests so will be using a marquee on the church lawn. This means we still have to get someone to do the catering but have have booked the car and photographer.

I'm hoping that once we have everything booked life will quieten down for a while.

2 Medical Mysteries

The first mystery is that I have been having trouble walking since before Christmas as my left leg wasn't working properly. It wouldn't move through its full range and was noticeably weaker than my right leg which meant I was walking with a limp all the time. I went to the doctor who sent me to a consultant who sent me for scans and tests.

On Monday I saw a doctor who tested the leg by sticking a probe to measure the electrical responses straight into the leg muscles. By the time I left my leg felt worse and wasn't always locking the knee when I walked so that I was in danger of falling over. This continued through most of Tuesday but by the evening the leg was feeling a lot better - in fact completely better! I now have full movement back in the leg and can walk properly again although it will take a while to get back to full speed. As far as I can tell the test has cured the problem which we thought was caused by a nerve trapping in my back! I wonder what the scans of my back will show.

The second mystery is this, as well as the leg problem the doctor was also testing my left hand to see why the little and ring fingers on my left hand were numb - something that is making playing the guitar hard work. Apparently I have cubital tunnel syndrome with the nerve trapping in the elbow. However according to an article on the Daily Telegraph website this is caused by using a mobile phone too much - something my family will tell you I am in no danger of doing! Read the article here: