Monday, 30 November 2009

Gone to the Dogs

The organist is away for Christmas, leaving me searching for CD versions of carols for a few services. We often sing to CDs so it shouldn't be a problem. But finding decent versions is proving harder. The worst of the lot is this CD of Christmas Carol Favourites for Dog Lovers. Until you have heard Spike and Jerry bark along to Hark the Herald, Christmas hasn't really started. You can check for yourself if you wish....

The one about the Bishop and the Carol Singers

Thanks to the BUGB website I give you this excerpt from today's Daily Mail, quoting the Bishop of Croydon:

In Why Wish You A Merry Christmas - a new book published by the Church of England - the bishop also criticised schools which introduce snakes and grizzly bears to nativity plays.
He said it had the effect of 'relegating the story [of Christ] to fictional fantasy'.

'I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away In A Manger as if it actually related to reality,' he writes.

'I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said "no crying he makes", but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?'

However, the Right Reverend Nick Baines calls carols 'embarrassing'
He said that Jesus would be abnormal if he had not cried as a baby.
'If we sing nonsense, is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?' he added.

'Once In Royal David’s City has Jesus as "our childhood’s pattern" — even though we know almost nothing of his childhood apart from one incident when he was 12 years old and being disobedient to his parents — and invites children to be "mild, obedient, good as he", which means what, exactly?

'This sounds suspiciously like Victorian behaviour control to me."

Has to be said I have some sympathy for him.
PS - I have posted the picture of the Bishop in case anyone thinks it's the other Nick Baines, out of the Kaiser Chiefs.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Bowie to come to Burnham-on-Sea?

More in hope than expectation I searched just now for details of ANY dates from the Thin White Duke, who has just denied stories that he is to play Glasto next year. On the first site I tried I get a pop-up box asking, "Do you want to be notified when Bowie comes to Burnham-on-Sea?"

Not sure the chances are high.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Homesick for a place that is no longer there

The joy of the iPod. I keep it on shuffle a lot of the time which means I am occasionally laughing aloud to the juxtapositions it throws out. More unlikely mixes have included Kraftwerk followed, without missing a beat, by Hugh Palmer (a fellow who's sermons I listen to regularly). It's even better when it's the other way round and following a sermon the guy says let us pray and where they haven't taped the prayer you go straight into something like Coz I Love You by the Wonderstuff (genuinely the last thing to come up on my listening).

Today the Skids came up with Working For the Yankee Dollar and I thought of Steve Mills as I always do when I hear the Skids. Neither of us were great fans but I remember an occasion when we all jumped over the wall of the school playing field we spent all of our time in and into the alley. Steve sang "Into The Alley" (a clever word play on the Skids' biggest hit) as we did so and we all laughed. He will not remember it and if he does he may deny it but it happened. I was there. Happy and uncomplicated days.

Funny how music takes you back.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Terry Henry

Well, I was cheering for Ireland this week while my wife wanted France to win (for lesson planning reasons). What a shame that the winning goal was nothing of the sort, both offside and a double hand ball from Thierry Henry. Although, as my wife commented, the French are very good at the sport of handball; the men were Olympic gold medalists in Beijing.
Henry's comment after the match was "I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him," In other words, "It's not my fault guv, blame the ref!" (can be read with optional French accent if you prefer.)
Thierry went down in my estimations this week. Something that I'm sure won't bother him unduly, but here was a great player who lit up the Premiership and then... this. He knew it was handball and he kept it shut. What a shame. What a missed opportunity to be truly heroic.
Having said that, who's to say that none of us would have done the same thing? 70,000 French fans go ballistic because you have had a hand (I know) in the goal that put your team through to the World Cup Finals. Do you hold up your hand and confess? It would take some real guts to do that. What would you do? What would I do?
There was someone on the radio this morning who, I believe, hit the nail on the head. They were saying that in the nineteenth century sport was promoted as an activity that would develop character in people. The flip side of that is that sport also reveals your character. I discovered this nearly 25 years ago when I was a new Christian and playing Men's Hockey. I was aware that my language didn't fit my new profession of faith in the heat of battle.
I guess this is what is so sad about Henry's handball. It's revealed something of his character and it's not pretty. I'm glad that my flaws are not exposed so publicly. We sometimes say that sport is totally unimportant but perhaps we see exactly here why it is important. In a tight situation, it reveals who we are and what we are really like - the real me rather than the sanitised version I like to project in life and on blogs. It reminds us that we are not as great as we would like to think that we are. And that we need saving from ourselves.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


It's the time of year when the Carnival comes to town. If you have never seen it you really should, it's quite a spectacle, part of the world famous Bridgwater Carnival circuit. It was a cold but dry one and the two hour parade contained some amazing floats. At one point the Helloween cart was followed by one with the theme the Kingdom of Heaven (all wings and harps and Robbie Williams' Angels). That kind of thing seems to sum up Carnival, throw in some young farmers in drag dancing to the Wurzels and you get the idea.
I make it sound awful. Come and try it. It's said to be the biggest illuminated Carnival in the world and quite unlike anything I had seen before. And it comes down the end of my road so it's really easy to get to.
The pictures here are of the winners of the two main classes. The top one is a Robin Hood tableau - the class where the people on the cart have to freeze into position for the whole two hour procession and they are judged on their cart and their ability to stay stock still. The second, Joust, won the overall category and the thing that made them stand out was that the dragons on the front actaully breathed fire.

And it goes very well with a flask of mulled wine.

Vinyl Countdown

Well, it had to happen one day and that day was last week. I packed the boxes and headed to Oxfam in Exeter. They were very understanding and gentle with me, leading me to conclude that they must have had special training. Perhaps a one day seminar on "Middle Aged Men and their Records - Bereavement, Empathy and Grieving". I realise that those who know me will require photographic proof, hence the picture. It doesn't look like much in my big boot but it was 160 albums, 120 12" singles and a stack of singles too.

I'm doing okay. Thanks for asking. Some days are obviously easier than others but a day at a time, I guess. Time is a great healer they say and so long as I don't linger near Radio 2 for too long and hear a tune that sets me off I should get through.