Friday, December 23, 2005

Getting ready for christmas

Didn't get that job in developmental genetics and i was feeling quite down about that the other day, but at least i'm still in work, need to make a more concerted effort at applying for science jobs next year.

No work today - woo hoo, had a bit of a lie in and then popped to town to finish a bit of shopping and also donate some blood. Wasn't intending to give blood, but I saw the donor place and remembered I was due to give some more. I got an A+ when I last donated, which must mean i did very well.

This time it didn't go quite as smoothly, the nurse messed up injecting the needle. i couldn't believe it because my veins are huge and very obvious. She dais "oh dear I've messed that up, I better take the needle out so it doesn't bruise. I don't want you to have a bruise for Christmas." Yeah and I was considering wearing my strappy top too, and that bruise would just ruin everything (!)

Anyway, i didn't want my wait to have been a waste of time, and I'd been given a key ring as it was my second donation, and I would feel a little undeserving of such a gift as I'd not actually donated anything. So i allowed them to try again with my other arm - this time success and 11 minutes later they had the required amount of bllod.

Got to wash my car now as it is filty, the roads are really wet and muddy this time of the year and it doesn't take long for the car to get dirty.

Have a great christmas blog readers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sending christmas cards

cartoon church advent calendar has a great diagram about the great christmas card sending dilema, which you can see here

And followers of Siobhan's time in Kenya will be pleased to learn that there is a new newsletter uploaded on her blog.

Carol Singing

Yesterday evening some members of CVM went along to the nursing home over the road with James to sing some carols and have a short service. Margorie and frances were there, and seemed really pleased for us to have come to share amongst them. Quite a few of the residents were in attendance, and Frances' friend, who couldn't speak, chose most of the carols by pointing to them in the carol sheet. Those that could manage the hymn book seemed to enjoy joining in with the singing, and James did well to delivery a short message and prayer. The message was of course straight forward and simple, like something you would use with children, which made me think about faith a bit. When you're a child, faith is so much more innocent and easy to accept - which i guess is why christ says you have to become like children to accept his message. The reason being, is that his message is difficult to accept if taken critically with no room for the mystery of god in faith. As you get older, i certainly find, that i begin to question my faith. Which is not a bad thing, and is worth while doing, as it certainly helps me to appreciate my faith and see new aspects of it through such critiques. Then I guess when infirmity kicks in and once again the childlike faith returns, not that this faith is any weaker then that which has undergone the rigours of intellectual critique, but is the result of a lifetime of experience and realisation of the fragility of life. And i think it was this context that made the prayers in the home really quite moving, not through any noble actions of making an annual visit to those members of society that have been pushed to the edges, but through knowing the peace of god in singing and praying with people for whom life is now quite difficult.

I wish i was a bit better at communicating with the residents as I collected the hymn books, i'm not too bad at chatting with Margorie and Frances, but that is after weeks of ferrying them to church and chatting to them there. Even though Frances sometimes gets confused. I am in admiration of the staff at these places, who show great love and care for these people, and yet are paid incredibly poorly. I get paid more to photocopy bits of paper and file things.

We were also invited to go and sing on the top floor of the nursing home, where the residents who are much more confused, but again they seemed to be really enjoying it and the carers came and joined in to. We sang much more than we anticipated, and my throat was quite dry. These homes seemed to be kept at tropical temperatures!

Monday, December 19, 2005

virgin suicides

I realised that I never got round to reviewing this book. It's quite a while since I read it now, so it's not too fresh in my mind. An interesting read, that certainly gripped me as I finished it in little over a week. The aspect that makes it interesting is the way in which it is written in the first person narrative, but the character of the first person is never revealed. All that is know is that it is a boy who used to live on the same road as the sisters of the title. You would expect a story revolving around the suicide of four sisters to be rather macabre, well this isn't the case. Instead it looks at the strange secluded lifestyle of the girls which bring such fascination and lustful desires to the boys in the street who wish to get to know them better, but are resticted by the lack of socialising the girls are afforded by their mother. It's quite wordy in a few places, and this is something I notice from american literature, like catcher in the rye, and i'm not really sure of it's place. Using first person narrative that includes words that are seldom in everyday language somehow appears strange to me, perhaps american novelists feel they ought to show a good grasp of the english language to produce a book of literary note.

The essence of this book is the story teller looking back retrospectively to a time when life seemed much freer without the resposibilities of jobs etc, and that perhaps the sisters escaped the drudgery of life in their suicide pact.

Worth reading, but not fantastic in my opinion. Must get around to watching the film now.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Walking in the peak district

I'd planned to go for a walk on saturday, so after I popped into town early in the morning to finish my christmas shopping, i headed out to Hope and set off on a walk. Went up loose hill, along the top, down mam tor and around onto the limestone way, down past peveril castle into castleton and back to Hope.

It was beautiful, and though quite windy on the top, the weather was fine, certainly beats the bustling crowds shopping.

I had a sit down on Mam Tor for a short while, to take a bit of food, in a little enclove nestled on the side of the hill. This little alcove would've been the site for a celtic iron age hut about 3,000 years ago.

The last coupld of miles of the walk were quite bad, somehow I'd managed to hurt my knee, twisted something, I don't know, but it really hurt to walk. I had to negotiate this fairly steep decline that was really uneven, and managed this like some kind of geriatric. It's amazing how an injury affects movement, in fact I resigned to walking along the road back to Hope because it hurt so much, and spent the rest of the day trying not to move my leg it was so painful. Thankfully it's getting better, and though my limping brought some amusement at church, I can now almost negotiate the stairs with no trouble at all.

Hemel Hempstead

My friend chris is working in an office on the same industrial estate as the Buncefield Oil Depot. Or at least he did, this is what it looks like now:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Carols with sally army

Stephen Hill, one of the churches in our circuit were hosting a carol concert by the sheffield citadel branch of the salvation army. I love a bit of brass band, so i went along, and was pleased that I did. There wasn't a great deal of carol singing as it was interspersed with lots of brass band arrangements, that on the whole sounded pretty fine. There was also some singing, and one particular song was really good. Hearing songs sung in parts is wonderful, it's an aspect of modern songs that is lacking.

Pre-implantation genetic screening of embryos

Currently the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority are working on a consultation around the screening of human embryos for genetic diseases pre-implantation. Already there are screens available for fully penetrative diseases like cystic fibrosis, where the parents have the option to select only embyos without the disease. This consultation is whether to genetically test for other diseases that aren't necessarily fully penetrative, like breast cancer. Where the genetic element only leads to an increased risk, rather than being difinitive in terms of inheriting a disease.

This obviously raises many moral and ethical questions, is it right to positively select against embryos (with the potential to be human beings) on the grounds that they will or may get a genetic disease. For example, the embryo discarded may well have developed into a human who discovers some new cure, whilst dying young because of a genetic disease. Is it right for us to determine what 'quality of life' is, and what genetic illnesses are bearable? Just look at the recent trial of Mr Wragg and his diminished responsibilities in killing his son who was suffering from Hunter's syndrome. It's quite a difficult issue to comment on, not having any first hand experience with such genetic diseases as familial cancer or cystic fibrosis etc.

However, if you wish to comment on this consultation then you can at:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Flat tyre

What is it about commuting to work on a wednesday - this is twice in a row now. Left the house this morning and the passenger front tyre was looking quite low, need to get some air in that I thought. Drove about half a mile when I consolidated that the tyre needed immediate attention and so would have to be replaced with the spare.

Easy enough, or so I thought. It turns out that the spare tyre is fixed into the boot by a screw to hold it in place. This screws into the base of the car and is exposed underneath the car - which results in rusting of the screw. It was impossible to turn. Luckily I had stopped near a window manufacturing company and I asked if anyone could give me some asssistance. This great guy came and brought a tool with which to loosen the screw and freeing the tyre. He then helped me replace the tyre too.

There's a tyre garage on the way to work so I called in there and they replaced my old tyre with brand new one and fitted it all within about 7 minutes. Excellent service. So gogt to work a bit late, my hands covered in oil and muck, my trousers too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

King Kong

The original 1933 film was on uk gold this weekend and I watched it ready to compare with the new peter jackson film, should i get round to watching it.

I'm only familiar with the iconic scene from this movie, with Kong atop the empire states building surrounded by flying aircraft. However the rest of the film stands up really well considering it's age, and though the stop animation models are quite obvious, at it's time it really must have been cutting edge, though they did remind me of the old chewits adverts. The female star, Fay Wray, is pretty stunning, and at some points during the film when Kong has ripped away some of her dress, her appearence must have been considered quite risque

Up until the appearence of Kong her character does begin to challenge the preconceived ideas of the feminnine model held by the men on the ship - which unsurprisingly leads to a romantic encounter. After the appearence of Kong and the various prehistoric monsters on the island, she barely says another word and spends the whole time screaming, which does become a bit annoying. Another thing that surprised me about the film, was the number of deaths, Kong has no hesitation in eating many people, or flinging them from great heights.


Mick got in touch last week as he'd spotted that the levellers were playing at the octagon in sheffield. Unfortunately the gig had sold out, but I suggested that he pop along anyway cos we might get some tickets off of some touts. So last night we headed out, and after a bit of bargaining, managed to get ourselves a couple of tickets, for not much more than face value. I'm only familiar with a few Levellers tunes from way back in the early 90s, Mick was a huge fan and had been to see them on several occasions. It was interesting looking around the audience, as it's about 10 years since the levellers were a really huge act, to see how the crusties and hippies from the 90s had morphed into accountants and the like. You just knew that some of them had fashioned their hair into a mohican for the first time in years, and come monday morning it would be a sensible side parting again!

Where as some of the audience had moved on from their teenage hippy ideals, the levellers came on stage and it was clear that they had not, in fact I'm sure the bass player, sporting long dreads, hadn't washed his hair since 1991. They played with passion and great musicianship. Me and Mick became a bit frustrated with the group of people in front of us, standing completely stationary, with a harry potter look-a-like taking numerous photos on his digital camera. All of which will be blurred, cos you have to keep the camera rock steady when using the zoom function. Anyway, we couldn't keep still any longer, and during one of the classics we pushed our way past and entered the mosh pit for some deranged jumping and dancing. It was great fun, not done that for years, but then most of the bands I see aren't the moshing types, and those that are generally attract sweaty long haired 14 year old boys to the mosh pit. Anyway, the folky roots of the tunes had me dancing like michael flatley, fantastic.

For the encore they brought on a dijerido(sp?) player, and though it sounds quite haunting, it's not really a rock music instrument, and so to compensate the player had painted his face white with huge black eyes and splashes of orange that fluoresced under the UV lights, sporting a larger red feather boa. He then did his best to try and detract attention from the rest of the band by waving his instrument high into the air - but to be honest it just wasn't rock & roll.

Listening to some of the charged political messages of the songs got me to thinking, that since Maggie left power there hasn't been any bands coming through with political messages like in the 90s, where we had carter usm, chumbawumba, levellers and even the manic street preachers. More's the pity..

Saturday, December 10, 2005


During this mornings shop I bought some stuff to make some christmas cards with, even bought some glitter, which i was quite excited about using. It's ages since I've made Christmas cards, and I'd forgotten that I'm pretty crap at art. However, once I moved away from trying to make trad cards and moved into more abstract patterns I seemed to improve somewhat. Whilst making them I've been listening to:

Which has to be the finest Christmas ep every released. Known for their melancholy tunes, Low even manage an upbeat tune to get things going. Then there's the aching lyrics of "if you were born today"

if you were born today
we'd kill you by age eight
never get the chance to say:

joy to the world and
peace on the earth
forgive them for they know not what they do

Christmas shopping

nearly got it all done, which is very efficient of me. Got into town early today, and it really makes a difference, you can walk around the shops at ease. Though come 1020 I could feel my blood beginning to boil, and my heavily laden carrier bag was annoying me too - rolls of wrapping paper are so inconvenient to carry!

Anyway amongst all this rushing around, lets not forget the progress made in getting Make Poverty History onto the political agenda - even the new Tory leader is wanting to put more emphasis onto social justice issues. As you might have seen the white band at the top of the page is now a link to send a christmas card to Tony Blair. I suggest you go and click on it now. It only takes a few minutes, and there's opportunity to read cards sent by others too.

The cartoon church advent calendar continues to be a source of amusement, give it a look!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Four hours

Four hours, that's four hours!!!!

I work about 15 miles away from home, a usual 35 minute journey in the morning. Not today. Four hours I was stook in my car.

I was just eating my toast when the local news mentioned that the M1 was closed between juncion 36 and 37. That's alright I thought to myself, I don't use the motorway going to the office in Barnsley. Then it suddenly dawned on me that as the office is just off the A61 in the centre point of these two junctions, that all the three laned traffic usually on the motorway would be diverted down this road that is in no way designed to take such a huge flow of traffic. So I quickly grabbed some extra tapes to listen to in the car and set off. There were no other ways in to Barnsley either, without travelling miles and then encountering traffic that had been diverted via the A1M. I could've walked it quicker.

Siobhan has sent another newsletter on her experience in Kenya and it can be read on her blog.

As promised (or did I?) here are some pictures from AWE on sunday. They aren't too good as they were only taken with a video camera and don't really do the piece justice. Still, better than nothing I guess.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Saturday evening I went round to dave P new house, he was complaining it was a bit cold and required warming up a bit. There were a lot of people there trying to help warm the house. David supplied some home brew to aid the process, it was really good too. The only downside was knowing that I'd have to get up sun morn to set up church seeing as there would only be a few of us again. JC was speaking which reminded me of the pulp song where jarvis sings "I am not Jesus, though I have the same initials". Likewise JC isn't jesus either, and has a reputation of being rather dull. However, the service was really nice and the singing was great despite the few numbers. JC had some good things to say, but continued often down irrelevent tangents which extends the time she's talking so you loose the thread.

Sunday eve we held our monthly circuit alternative service, AWE, following our theme of the trinity, we were looking at the Spirit. We met up at the host church about 3:30 to begin the setup. At the planning meeting we had decided to make a visual aid for the service, and so clearing the front of the alter and chairs and advent candles, emma and andrew started an Art Attack to produce something from a mass of coloured paper and crete paper, incorporating 4 tv screens. Whilst they were busy arranging these items around a cross, Matt was busy producing a video of a fire that would be shown on the above mentioned tv screens. The transformation was really amazing and probably quite difficult to describe how it looked in words, but I thought it was really effective, Dave brought along some lights to light it up in red/orange, with his lava lamp running at the front too.

We also moved all the chairs out of the way to make the space more open, placing chairs at random, so that people could just sit wherever they liked, in groups or whatever, to get away from the formal lines of people.

After the band had finished practising, the first people began to arrive who usually go to this particular church for the eve service every sunday. It was interesting to hear how appalled one person was that 'her chair' was not there, and she couldn't sit in her usual place, so the minister had to patiently explain that it was an alternative service and by it's nature it challenges some of our traditional expectations of church. I thought he did really well, as i just can't understand why a chair can be of such importance. However, most of the regulars actually found the experience refreshing.

The service started with some Taize music, followed by discussion time, bit if singing, visual meditation, talk, bit more singing. It was a wonderful service in my opinion, and the visual display was really stunning, the Spirit of creativity at work for sure. I still don't fully understand the trinity, but the talk described the Spirit as the paracleet, the word translated in numerous ways into english to try and describe it 'being alongside' JS described the Spirit as that which cements relationships, interweaving in a dance with the Godhead. Which i think fits well with the idea of conversation from earlier AWE services. The Spirit is that which gels the relationship with the Godhead together and also gels the relationship of God with the people, enabling conversation to be within and with the trinity.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sod cutting

Well that is what it was advertised as, but seeing as the steel was already up, cutting a lump of earth would seem a little pointless. So instead a bit of brickwork some mortar and a trowel did the trick.

Publicity shoot at work to show off the new primary health care centres, I was quite keen to go along as I've never seen such an event before. There were all kinds of VIPs from the local area, the mayor and Ed Miliband the local MP. One of the funniest sites was the wife of the mayor hobbling onto the site in the only safety wellingtons left, size ten. I reckon she probably takes a size 3 normally!

I managed to get myself onto some of the Bluestone photos, not the ones that are likely to make the local press. Though I did offer my services when they asked for doctors to join the shoot with the NHS big wigs.

this chap in the front with the brick is Ed Miliband the MP, obviously not a local lad!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Advent Calendar

Just put up my advent calendar, it's great isn't it. I've had this Mr Greedy calendar since I was about 3. Every year I stick the doors closed with a bit of blu-tak.

Dave Walker of Cartoon Church has produced an advent calendar which promises to be entertaining, check it out here.

World AIDS day

Today is world AIDS day, and since this time last year countless people have become infected with HIV, millions have died through an AIDS related illness, numerous children have been orphaned because their parents have died through AIDS related disease.

And do people in this country care, it appears not. I remember in the late 80s when we were inundated with safe sex advice from the government, but it now appears to be less of an issue, seen by most to be the disease of homosexuals.

Despite this HIV continues to spread rapidly in developing nations, and the worrying trend in the increase in sexual diseases in this country, shows that this virus could well spread rapidly in this country too.

Thankfully we have a health service that provides free drugs to aid those living with HIV to lead normal lives, and help them fight secondary infections. If only this could be the case where HIV infection is rife.

It's hard to believe that in some areas of the sub-sahara more than 25% of the population are infected.

This time last year I was in Sydney and many buildings were decorated with huge red ribbons for World AIDS day including the harbour bridge. I've yet to see one so bedecked this year in the uk. Wouldn't it be great if the churches put them up on their buildings and hopefully start a trend. Google have hung theirs on their search engine - nice one. For more info on AIDS the bbc has produced a great resource here, and for some personal stories about living with HIV here.

Don't ignore this disease, give thanks for those working to improve sexual health, working with AIDS orphans, and promoting safe sex.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Arranged to visit Mick and Eva on Monday eve after work. They live in Hemsworth which is really close to where I work. It was good to see them both as it as been a while. Mick's just started a new job as youth worker in the doncaster circuit, so I suggested he needed to start a blog, as that is what youth workers seem to do these days! Mick has been reading my blog and so this post is for him, I'm sure he'll be very excited to read his name on the world wide web (!)

Enjoyed a really nice meal, and after quite a bit of chatting, Mick suggested that we watched a film that was a bit of fun. Mick seems to have the idea that i only enjoy films that either have an interesting plot or are some kind of arty high brow affair, and he critised my over analysing critiques of gigs and stuff. Still, I feel that if i like something i need to justify why that is.

So we watched Happy Gilmore, and I was unsurprised to find it distinctly average. Though I must agree wit Mick, that it does provide entertainment, and should I have found myself on a long haul flight I'm sure I would have found the time it passed watching it on a tiny screen quite welcome.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Despite there only being a few at church again on sunday, the service was alright. Some thoughts that I had listening to the talk: So advent is looking forward to the coming of Christ, not just the historical coming, but the future coming to usher in the final kingdom of god. The second part is something not often discussed in church, and why? Due to the numerous ways of interpreting the relevent passages in the bible. In fact I think AM was a little surprised when Brian gave such an example 'realised eschatology'!

Anyway one of the points AM was making is that in todays society we are bombarded with news, that is more often than not bad, and it breeds a pessimistic vision of the future, and that pessimism breeds apathy. As Christians we have to counter this culture of apathy with our vision of the kingdom of God that we believe will be ushered in at some point in the future (however that might be) a place where the first is last and the last is first and the servent is the greatest. It's not a vision of death and destruction but of life, and perhaps if we lived our life anchored in such a vision we can bring a message of hope.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Planer polarity

I was informed about a post doc research job going at sheff uni and today I've been to have a chat with the guy offering the position. I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do career wise, but I must admit that I enjoyed the chat and discussion about the project. It's been quite a while since I've read a paper, and the past two lunch times I've read one and it made me think of quite a few questions and think of experiments - which is a good sign.

It's a topic that is potentially interesting, though I'm not too familiar with all the background. Planer polarity, or in laymen terms telling your arse from your head. Not as easy as you might think if you are a developing cell that from a distance doesn't appear to have a top or bottom, or back or front. It's essential it does though!

questions to consider, can i live with the amount of hard work necessary, the disappointment of failed experiments, the continues amount of reading around the subject, the long hours.

the challenge certainly excites me......

Emma Pollock

As some of you know the delgados are one of my favourite groups of all time, their music is simply stunning. Unfortunately they split up as a band earlier this year but continue to run their record label, chemikal underground

Emma Pollock was vocals and guitar in the group and has subsequently signed to 4AD records to release some solo material. You may remember that Alan Barr had told me he had heard some demo stuff at the arab strap gig. Well on wednesday she played a live set in London, and on Thursday went on the Tom Robinson show on radio 6 to play two tracks with jamie savage on keyboards (the younger brother of paul, the delgados drummer). I awaited the performance with anticipation and trepidation, what would it sound like, how would it compare to the sound she created for the delgados? A world exclusive radio broadcast of any of her solo stuff and I wasn't disappointed. The basic setup of guitar and piano worked just fine, and the tracks played were quite beautiful, if a little ragged around the edges. I can't wait to hear how these will develop into the finished recorded product next year. In the mean time if you are quick you can use the listen again facility here. Emma plays about 1 hour 5min into the programme and again about 15 min later, chatting in between numbers. Her website is under development at

Slug sex

I've got quite a few blogs in my head, and I'm never sure whether to put them all down at once or just a few at a time. We'll see how it goes.

So did anyone see that new bbc documentry on invertebrates called life in the undergrowth, it was absolutely fascinating. I must admit, I'm not the biggest admirer of things without a backbone, especially if they come crawling anywhere near me. However, the photography in the programme was outstanding, some of the places they film is incredible, crisp images of insects smaller than a millimetre in length, slow motion film so slow you can see the beating of a flies wing - incredible.

The most memorable part of this weeks episode was the film of two leaopard slugs having sex, you could not imagine anything so peculiar. I'm not sure if this is how your common garden slug gets it on, but here's some screen captures.

Firstly they dangle on some slime from an overhang, intertwining before getting down to business. Now slugs are hermaphrodites, and firstly they get out their male organs from the side of their head!! And relatively speaking they are gigantic. These white organs then intertwine themselves, forming a bulb shaped object that fans out into this flower structure and it is at this stage that sperm are swapped.

Have you ever seen anaything like this:

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Surreptitious posting

I'm on site today, and don't have a great deal to do. There's nothing more boring than sitting at work trying to invent jobs to fill in the time. It just makes the minutes drag by, maybe when you're bored you are actually travelling closer to the speed of light, without realising it. I think only someone who is bored could've ever contemplated that last sentance!

The thing is, from a distance, blogging looks like work, and certainly sounds like it, with the click click sounds as i tap away on the keyboard. Don' fear fellow reader, I'm not turning into a slack worker, just consider that I'm doing this in the same amount of time that admin assistants all over the country will be using to talk about soap operas and minor celebrities, and perhaps file their nails. I'm just trying to break the stereotypical mould, being male and blogging.

Why try blogging at work today in this covert manner, well it's to inform you that there is another excellent email post from Siobhan about her recent experiences in Kenya. I suggest that, if like me, you want to make your day at work more interesting you go and give it a read.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Just got back from a short walk around redmires and up to stanedge pole. Again to wear my new boots in. It's great to go for a walk, reckon I must've covered about 5 miles, but I didn't want to go too far with the sun setting so early. It's funny how walking is a past time, people driving their cars to beauty spots and wondering around. When did walking go from being a necessity for transportation to a past time. I was thinking as I walked with my fancy boots, if I'd enjoy it so much if I had to walk so far every day just to collect some water from a well.

Church was nice this morning, but there was only 6 of us cos of people away on holiday and it really does make you question whether or not it is right to continue with this reletively expensive relocation and redevelopment for so few, because we surely couldn't manage it financially. Which is a shame, because there is something special in the way we meet, informally, I get so much more out of our weekly worship these days. Even if it is just from a chat with margorie or francis as I wheel them across from the nursing home.

I'm all for the idea that there are far too many church buildings doing more or less the same thing, with next to no-one in them so why not close the buildings and re-use the capital to do more culturally relevent ways of being church for and with the community (whatever and wherever that community might be). Which I guess a lot of people agree with, until it becomes their church targetted for closure/merger.

Biochemistry and Genetics

Ten years ago there were about 14 of us starting a degree in biochemistry and genetics at Nottingham university, and some of us have managed to stay in touch. So yesterday we met up in Nottingham. It was great to see them all again, and though we looked a little older, those friendships had not suffered through lack of contact. Not feeling or looking especially old, I commented on the fact that new students looked really young to me these days, and pondered if we looked so young back then, Lisa said we probably looked about 14 years old back then! I was very lucky to be on a course with such a great bunch of people. There were a couple of people there who I had not seen since graduating, and I was excited to catch up with them. In particular, with Nadeem, who was my lab partner during our many practicals. Recently married, Nadeem brought along his beautiful wife, who was lovely and didn't seem to mind all our reminiscing conversations. During practicals we always seemed to take much longer than most to complete our experiments, but during one practical, we won t-shirts for a reason we could no longer remember, apart from the fact that we didn't really know what we were writing, and choosing phrases that sounded good!

A walk around the campus and a wonderful Thai meal made a really great day.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Doctor in the house

Do you remember that, it was a song by coldcut featuring the plastic population I think. They introduced us to Yazz who was the vocalist on that track.

But what I really mean is that these last two days has seen two of my friends pass their PhD vivas, introducing Dr Dave P and my housemate Dr richard T. Nice one!

Off to get some fish and chips and sample some of my home brew which is ready today, I used demarererererererererer sugar and some honey, so I'll see how it turned out. Then I'm off to meet the new dr p at the fat cat for a few beers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Just been helping Dave and Jo collect some stuff for his new house. His downstairs loo was not in a very good condition so he posted on freecycle-sheffield that he was looking out for a toilet should anyone be getting rid of one.

Freecycle is this really cool idea, an email group where you offer any old rubbish that you are getting rid of, as it is surprising what people can find a use for. It's possible to make requests too. There are groups all around the country, so if you're after something, or want to get rid of something that might be of benefit to someone else, why not try freecycle.

It just so happens that someone was getting rid of a toilet as they were in the process of renovating their home, so off we went to collect and Dave sealed off the pipes and waste for them.

A short history of nearly everything

Some might remember that I started reading this ages ago:

well it started out as a fairly good read, some of the scientists in previous centuries were incredibly resourceful. Some of the things they calculated was astonishing. However, because this book is aimed at the lay person I often found that I wasn't getting enough technical detail. When they talked about weighing the earth, i didn't just want to know the name of the person and that they acheived their goal, I wanted the calculations, because I wanted to try and do it too!

I began to read it much more sporadically as time went on, particularly through areas that i have some expertise in, as it was nothing new. I guess it's not designed to be a gripping read like a novel, just informative and well written. Just gives a little taste to some of the questions that have been tackled with regards to the earth. It's still fascinating to read how finely balanced life really is on this planet - more encouragement for us to be better stewards of this place we call home.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cold tabs

Just been in to town to do a few odd things and it was a refreshing walk there and back. The sun is out and the sky is blue and it's the first time this autumn that the wind has been cold and biting. My tabs are freezing, so cold that they ache, I'll have to wear a hat soon. I do like a brisk walk in the cold.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Commons defeat

I'm not so sure about our political system in this country. So the 90 day detention without charge bill is defeated - and rightly so, I see no justification for holding anyone that long without charge, we'd be apalled if it were to happen in another country. The response from the newspapers - well it's all about Tony losing the grip of his party, and Tony says that his MPs are not in touch with how the electorate feel. Thank goodness for that is all I can say, because if the MPs voted just how populist opinion of the electorate dictates then we'd have legalised euthenasia a complete ban on genetic engineering and who knows what else. Probably some pop star as prime minister. Anyway my point is this. If you are elected to represent your constituency surely you should be free to decide how to vote that best suits the needs of the people you represent taking into consideration all the facts regarding the issue. Why is it then that party politics plays such a big role, even if you disagree with a bill you are expected to tow the party line, and are considered a rebel if you don't. I have great respect for those MPs who publically anounce they are not towing the party line on issues that they feel passionately for. Particularly the likes of Robin Cook and Andy Reed who had concerns over the war with Iraq.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Christmas decorations

Went to Tesco this evening and they already have their Christmas tree up and christmas decorations hung up. Can you believe it? It's enough with the Christmas adverts on TV already. I can see where E scrooge was coming from - Bah Humbug!

I should inform you all that there is a new newsletter from Siobhan out in Kenya and you can read it on her blog here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Stuck in traffic

Was asked to go and help out at the leeds offiice today cos they were down on secretaries thru holidays and illness. Bit annoyed cos I had quite a bit to do from the barnsley office. Went, got stuck in traffic, got there, did the work I could on the computer that I could've done in barnsley. In addition I answered the phone about 5 times and that was it - what a waste of time - to travel all that way for nothing. Sat bored for sometime cos couldn't complete some of the work that I'd got planned to do in barnsley cos that was where the info was. Then the journey home was just as bad - 1 hour 20min, stuck on m1.

Still, there was a parcel on my return, the prayer manuals and 'time to talk of God' books that I'd ordered for church.

Listening and watching the Gorillaz live here on radio 1, I think it's available for about a week. It sounds alright, not much difference from a cd mind, and definately doesn't capture the live experience.

Arab Strap live

Went to see arab strap play live at the leadmill on saturday evening. It's ages since I've been to a gig, so it was good to see a band I've admired for ages. Janet got me a cheap ticket cos she knows some members of a local band called Corleone, who were the first support act. They were pretty good, especially their first tune. A blend of guitars and feedback not unlike mogwai and God Speed! You Black Emperor, with hints of 65 days of static. Which is i guess their achilles heel - though sounding very good - there wasn't a distinctiveness in their sound to make them stand out from the crowd. That said I'd rather listen to their music then a lot of the rubbish on the radio and in the charts. If I was a dj I'd give them and airing.

The second band were my latest novel the latest of the great bands hailing from Glasgow. An intersting indie art rock making good use of vocal harmonies. Tunes that will grow on me I'm sure - definate potential, though the sound mix wasn't great and the crowd were a bit too noisy to appreciate them fully.

Finally Arab Strap took the stage, and were sounding great - the best I've heard Aiden. His lyrics, though quite rude, are so enlightening and witty. Some of his comments can be so cutting. Malcolm's guitar work is magnificent to view live, he really is a master at it, as his solo albums bare testimony. They fuse melancholia with wonderful riffs that build to some awesome crescendos. They'd also employed the talents of Alan Barr on cello and keyboards. He's played with the delgados since their first album and I've gotten to know him from my many gigs (I like to think of him as my rock star friend!). It was good to chat with him and enquire about the music scene in scotland, and I also got to mock him for his performance. During one song he was supposed to play the backing strings on the keyboard, but as he brought his hands down in dramatic fashion - nothing, no sound. He realised his keyboard wasn't plugged in, and had to quickly chase the lead through the jumble on the floor and fix the problem. He also mentioned that he's heard some of Emma Pollock's solo material (ex delgado) and that it is brilliant. Can't wait to hear it myself.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


It's been a fairly odd weekend in that I've caught up with a couple of friends from years ago. On friday I was working on site in Doncaster when I received a text from my friend John. We grew up together in Pilsley and went to the same school and have done quite well at keeping in touch, if sporadically. Sadly his dad is unwell, hence him being in the area, but it turned out that his dad was actually in ICU at doncaster royal infirmary. Just half a mile from where I was working. So I took the opportunity to go and spend some time with his dad. It's always fairly shocking to see someone with so many machines and wires attached, but I guess with all these medical dramas it's not an uncommon sight - except this is for real. I've not seen his dad for quite some time, and as i introduced myself, I'm sure he recognised me as his head moved and he tried to move his eyes, and a small tear trickeld down his cheek. It was quite moving, I spent some time chatting about what I'd been up to, when his partner arrived - who I've never seen. It must have been somewhat surprising for her to hear that there was someone at his bedside - and then someone she didn't know!

Anyway, on saturday I was able to meet up with John back in Pilsley and had opportunity to catch up over a pint, and also chance to meet his partner who was lovely. It's great to have friends who you rarely see, but when you meet up conversation flows naturally and it could've been just last week that you last met. Though our conversation did move to a bit of reminiscing which must've bored Suzanne a bit.

Then today, I receive an email out of the blue from the guy I used to share a bathroom with in halls at uni. I must've sent him a message on the uni alumini portal not expecting any results - but it did. Great to hear from him, and see that he is also considering career change too. Interesting that - maybe it's something that happens in your late 20s.


These are those paraphrases from John's gospel that I mentioned in my post the other day, some ppl might find them useful

It all started with a conversation; Jesus was with God and the conversation was between them.

The conversation brought all things into being; nothing came into being except through the conversation.

This was life and the conversation brought light to all people.

The conversation took place in the world; indeed it brought the world into life although the world did not listen to the conversation.

And the conversation became human, we’ve seen it was glorious; it was as if a new born baby was amongst us full of innocence and beauty.

No one has ever heard the conversation except through Jesus who heard it and made it known.

Don’t worry, believe the conversation continues.

If you know me, you can hear the conversation. From now on you can take part.

You’ve known me all this time, Philip, and still have not heard what I’m saying. If you know me you have heard the conversation. How can you say you do not hear?

Do you not believe in the conversation? I do not speak on my own – the whole of the conversation is heard through me.

Believe me, there is a conversation; look and around you see all it has achieved.

Believe me; the one who joins the conversation will do greater things than I did because I have to leave the conversation.

Out of the conversation, shall come another to converse with you.

On that day you will know I am in conversation, you will converse with me and I with you.

Without love there is no conversation; with love the conversation is not with me but with the one who sent me.

16:2b, 3
Indeed, the hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they take part in the conversation. And they will do so because they are not part of the conversation.

Very, truly, I tell you, if you ask for anything in the conversation, you will receive it.

I have said these things to you in figures of speech, the hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but speak plainly in the conversation.

16:26, 27
On that day you will ask in conversation and I do not say you will need me to speak on your behalf, because you are loved as part of the conversation, have loved the conversation and believed I am part of the conversation.

I am from the conversation and part of the world; when I leave the world I shall still be part of the conversation.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Got a call on the community centre emergency phone this evening. It's a new system we have in place now that the caretaker has retired. It was the saudi union and they couldn't get access to one of the rooms they use, someone must've locked it today. So I headed up and got the keys from the office (only when the path was clear of women for me to pass). After opening the door the guy who had rung invited me to return to share a meal with them as they celebrated Eid together. It felt quite an homour to be invited so I took him up on it and returned. It reminded me that I'd had the privilege of attending the prime minister's open house in Malaysia for the Hari Riya (eid) celebration last year. I would link to my travel diary, but seeing as it is in old fashioned pen and paper I can't, nor can i be bothered to type it up. Suffice to say I got to shake the hand of the Malaysian prime minister and get on the front page of the english language Malaysian newspaper (albeit in a where's wally form, though a white man, 10cm higher than everyone else isn't that difficult to spot!)

So anyway, I felt it an honour to be invited to the saudi society get together. At first I was put in a room of arabic speaking men partaking in a quiz game that seemed to be causing much merriment, though I was not understanding anything, and remembering what it is like to be the ethnic minority for a change. During the meal I got chatting with a guy called Iyad who was very interesting and was explaining all manner of Islamic history from a saudi islamic perspective. Which was refreshing, much more moderate than I would've thought. Though of course we chatted on common religion ground and a bit of religious history etc. I found it quite refreshing and hope that perhaps this dialogue can continue.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shepherd guiding us to the future

Today I attended the funeral of a well liked lady from church, it was a sad occassion, but comforting in seeing the wealth of support from the people who turned out. From her family and also from church. I was pleased to be able to get some time off work and go along, and I was also able to pick up Margorie from the nursing home. She was really pleased to be able to attend. The service was lead by inderjit Bhogul, who some may remember as president of the methodist conference or speaker for christian aid. He once was the minister at the cv and became good family friends with Edith and her family. The ceremony was conducted in a real sense of peace and I felt comforted by that amongst the sadness. Using Psalm 23 Inderjit spoke of Palestinian shepherds of the time constantly moving the flock to pastures new, in a sense leading the flock to the future from a place of death to a place of life. Sharing how through Jesus not even death can separate us from the love and presene of God. In true crookes valley fashion there had to be something in the service that was a bit different: Edith's grand daughter had prepared a series of photo collages that adorned the casket and as Inderjit finished the commital he pressed the automatic curtain closing button when natalie called out to Inderjit that she wanted the photos. Well he tried to stop the curtains by pressing the button again, but to no avail, so as the curtains slowly closed Inderjit nipped in and out collecting the photos and rescuing them from the furnace. It made me smile, and I knew Edith would've done too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You'll like this, not a lot...

My friend sent me this link in an email last week, it's an optical illusion, and it's pretty smart. You should give it a go.


So Sunday I was writing my blog and time seemed to fly by and before I knew it i had to go and help set up the circuit AWE service. But I'd mentioned this:

  • To live and communicate as Christians we need to live out the heavenly kingdom, and thus we need to learn the conversations and actions of the heavenly kingdom of which we are part.

  • I really enjoyed AWE this sunday, I always like helping set up all the av stuff, and though it can be quite exhaustig, I feel like I'm using some technical gifts in worship. In AWE we've been trying to explore alternative worship but it was beginning to feel a lot like any other service, but just with newer songs and fancy av. For this service the planning team put together a completely different order of service that leant more on participation and group work. Following our contemplation of the trinity the speaker lead us into a time of discussion as we considered the role of Christ as Son within the trinity. As an introduction to the discussion this is kind of what was shared. One of the earliest theologians to descibe the trinity, Tertullian (i think) described God as three person, or in latin persona. The literal translation being through sound. Interesting to think that our word 'person' has such a strange derivation. The reason being that the masked actors in greek theatre were thus termed as from a distance the character could only be distinguished by their voice - or through sound, and it was not unusual for the same actor to play several characters - the same person, but different sounds. So consider the trinity as three 'through sounds'. Intresting. Consider a given translation of John 1, in the beginning was the Word, as in the beginning was the conversation. The conversation of God. Using this idea CS had paraphrased a number of reading from John and reading them in this light really opened up a new way of considering the trinity (well for me anyway) It seemed to give the relationship between the three a kind of fluidity and life that sometimes the 'i in the father and the father in me' etc fails to portray. A conversation then invites participation, allowing us to be drawn into the conversation of God. Then when i look back at what i was rambling about before heading off to AWE about learning the conversations of the kingdom of heaven really seem to link in. I still don't think i can articulate it yet, but there's definately something exciting there. When I get them I'll try and post some of these paraphrases.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Some thoughts on church

    Had some good conversations at bible study again on thurs. It's often interesting to chat about passages in a group as you see more things and think of new ways of looking at them, it's easy to get into tangents and having good conversations from them too. We were looking at some parables, esp those where something lost is found, a coin, a sheep, a son. The discussion point was what does your church do to meet the lost? My question was - who are the lost? From the passage it appears to represent a sinner repenting, therefore surely the lost is everyone. We went on to comment on this idea called time to talk of God which came out of the methodist conference. It's strange to think that in a church/worship setting we rarely talk of God with each other, and if we can't communicate well with those whom we share fellowship, how do we best do it with those who don't? Why is it that all our conversations with new people start around where do you live? what is your job? and it's difficult to have conversation without those starters. It's as if our job defines who we are, and definately I felt that when I was a scientist and answered such a question, with out doubt i'm sure it influenced my perception to the questioner. And now when i answer I'm an admin assistant for construction firm it doesn't feel so good, and i know it gives a different impression (i sometimes want to tag in, i'm a doctor too, but then that might make me appear even more pathetic!) So where am I going with this ramble, not sure yet, there's more of this rambling then i'll sum up.

    When communicating with people we have to set ourselves in a heavenly situation and the values of stature there are completely different to western culture where prestige and money is a sign of success. There is no doubt that capitilism teaches us that success comes to those that work hard, and that this success is demonstrated in wealth. It's taught at school, work hard etc and you'll get a good job. The thing is I know from experience that you can work hard and attain academic success, cos it's something i enjoy and am good at, but it doesn't necessarily give you a goal for a career, especially if you think there are things that are more important at measuring success than money and career. So it's within this experience that I feel we should meet and communicate with people as people, not their job, not their musical taste (which i'm afraid is my yardstick!), not the clothes they wear, not the colour of their skin, not their sexuality. It's something else that makes the person, and at the moment I don't think I can articulate what that is, but what I'm sure of, is that it is the 'yardstick' of the kingdom of heaven, where the first are last and the last are first. If we can master this, then we are halfway there at communicating the love of God.

    Next is this problem where do we do this, of course we should do it at all time, but for people wanting to explore the kingdom of heaven, where do they go. Where do we invite them too. I'm acutely aware that if i am to have conversations about a heavenly kingdom with non church people then it will be at work, and no one I work with lives anywhere near the church i attend, a problem with how 'communities' work these days. So even should I wish to invite them to collective worship, the commute would seem pointless. However, I really feel that collective worship is important, cos Luke tells us it was Jesus' custom to go regularly to collective worship. Here is another stumbling block, what if the week a guest comes, church is rubbish. No one knows the songs, the message from the preacher is less than bearable and the whole time you feel slightly embarressed at inviting a guest. Why? not because church was a bit crap that morning, because God speaks in many ways in collective worship that sometimes you don't spot. i think the reason we get embarressed is because collective worship on a sunday is perceived to be what knowing God is all about, and you perceive your guest thinks that this last 2 hours has summed up your entire experience and understanding of God. Of course it hasn't, in fact there are aspects of worship that I have grown to like more now then I did as a teenager. We need this collective worship just to be the tip of our expereince of God working in and through our lives.

    Because this probably doesn't make a deal of sense I'll try to conclude it:

  • To live and communicate as Christians we need to live out the heavenly kingdom, and thus we need to learn the conversations and actions of the heavenly kingdom of which we are part.
  • We need to encourage others to seek the heavenly kingdom on earth and in their lives, using Christ as an example of the heavenly kingdom lived out.
  • In doing this we need to encourage collective worship of some sort, but need to teach that this experience of worship is part of our understanding and worship to God but not all.
  • We need to make collective worship more accessible to those 'communities' of which we ourselves are part.
  • Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Moving house

    Helped dave p move into his house this weekend. It was great to be able to repay the many times he's helped me with odd jobs around my house. Though I'm no where near as efficient at such skilled manual labour as he is. It's good to have a place of your own.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    John Peel

    So it's exactly one year since the great man died. I had just taken a day trip to Hells gate national park near lake Naivasha by matatu, returning to stay with andy. It was whilst watching tv that he informed me that he'd heard that John had died.

    Now I know there's loads of tributes and stuff going on, but i really think that this guy made a difference to my life, and i guess i'm not the only one to say that. Which is really something, i can't imagine any of the current crop of djs having such an influence - they seem more preoccupied with their own ego, but for John it was all about the music. I'm not saying that i enjoyed every show he did, sometimes there's a limit to how much german industrial techno you can take - but due credit for playing it in the first place. But john introduced me to some fantastic music, some of my favourite in fact, and those he didn't introduce me to, he inevitably played tunes by them.

    I recall being a young teenager, recently into music, listening to the radio one sat evening and john was on playing a fantastic electronic tune, and i made an effort to get out of bed and scribble on a piece of paper "papua new guinea by future sound of london, dumb child of Q remix'. Sometime later, whilst at university i purchased that single!

    Another peel highlight was whilst revising for my winter finals, a cold january evening reading my notes and in the background he played a song that made me stop and quickly place a blank tape into the recorder to capture this tune. It was pull the wires from the wall by the delgados. After playing it he said, i could play that again and again it's so good, but I won't, I don't want to overuse such a special track. It went on to top the Festive 50 that year. Within a fortnight of hearing that track i'd been to derby to hear them live for the first time. Amazing.

    I think the last band he introduced me to were Architecture in Helsinki as he played a white label by them during a programme where the delgados were playing a session.

    So thanks john for helping create my diverse musical collection

  • mogwai
  • delgados
  • malcolm middleton
  • arab strap
  • belleandsebastian
  • boards of canada
  • broadcast
  • architecture in helsinki
  • super furry animals
  • joy division
  • inspiral carpets
  • nirvana
  • nick cave
  • sleeper
  • the smiths
  • godspeed you! black emperor
  • low
  • 65 days of static

    this list could go on and on...

    Stewart Henderson, the bass player with the delgados, gave an account of the times he met the great man in his diary, read his 3 entries here, here and here. btw it's got swearing and stuff in it.

  • Bored at work

    again, i hate having nothing to do, but I received a timely email from siobhan and I have now created a blog for her so that you can read about her adventures in kenya. It's great and I'd certainly recommend that you visit it here.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Backdoor to conference??....

    Despite forgetting to submit my application as a district rep to methodist conference it appears there is still another avenue open to me. A friend of mine, John Cooper (who's blog is worth reading) is a member of methodist council and informed me that they can send a couple of people to conference as 'council nominated' or something. Seems a bit of a farce cos you go, but then don't officially have to report to anyone. He rang me and said he'd like to nominate me, which was very good of him.

    I won't find out till december if i'm chosen, but i won't be disheartened if i'm not, as i see it as merely a bonus now. I'll prob take the week off anyway to go and see my friend get ordained and perhaps do some walking, if I'm not debating!

    Singing in the rain

    well not so much singing as walking, and not so much rain either.

    Had to go and check that a user group could get into the community centre this evening and it was absolutely chucking it down with rain. I decided that I'd give my new, early christmas present, hiking boots a road test in the downpour. Put all my waterproofs on and ventured out to brave the weather and walk up to the centre. I was about half way there when the rain stopped - typical. Still there was quite a lot of surface water to splash through - the boots were great, i'm going to enjoy doing some hiking in these.

    On sunday morning this girl came up to church all in a flap about some children's party she had booked for this friday. She seemed to think that there was a play scheme running at the same time. 'I've not slept all night', 'my son has been looking forward to this for weeks' etc etc. Checked the bookings diary and she was all booked in, no sign of the play scheme. Contacted the play scheme people yesterday and they said they'd only booked the hall mon-wed. So I rang the girl whilst i was at the community centre to explain she'd been flapping about nothing.

    Worked from leeds today - and the traffic was fine, a little slow, but none of that stop-start nonsense. What a difference half term makes.

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    al fresco church

    Couldn't get up this morning, I'd woken up around 7:30 and decided that was far too early to be thinking of getting up and promptly fell asleep, and into quite a deep one at that, as my alarm woke me rudely and I still felt quite groggy. Just laying there thinking i ought to get up, wishing i didn't have to get to church so early. Another hour in bed would've been great. Just calculating how late I could lay there before having to get up and fetch peter when the phone rang and made the decision for me. It was james informing me that the appointed local preacher for this morning was unwell and wouldn't make the service, leaving us to sort out our worship. Hmmm 9:10 i've got 20 min before I have to pick up peter, a quick phone call to andrew, shower and into the car - took my breakfast to church. Explained the situation to peter and asked if he would help lead us studying the lectionary readings between hymns which he agreed to do. We're lucky to have such a wise local preacher in our congregation. I think officially if the preacher doesn't turn up it is methodist protocol to get out the 'emergency' book of sermons by john wesley and read one of them! We were quite quick setting up and were able to cobble together a kind of order of service. It was interesting, a selection of favourite hymns interspersed with prayers and bible study, and went quite well. Speaking to our eldest member, margorie, who's well in her 90s, she told me with a grin: "I've really enjoyed the service today - al fresco!"

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    traid craft and memento

    Went along to a traid craft evening tonight, more out of duty than choice. Felt that someone from cv should make an effort - couldn't remember what time it started, so arrived 1 hour late. Not too much of a problem as i was in time for the food ;)

    There was the expected abundance of rainbow coloured handbags, cardigans and purses, does anybody actually use these? It was interesting to see the range of products on offer in the catalogue, though the highlight for me was the paper bag game. I say game, but in actual fact it was to highlight the working life of many in india who construct similar bags from paper to sell to shop keepers as their living. So for 20min it was quite fun, but 10 hours a day 7 days a week....... makes you think.

    got home and watched memento.

    not as good as i was expecting, perhaps my expectations were set too high from hearing so many glowing reports. Interesting story idea, though not quite sure if the backwards storyline/plot was just gimicky or a tool to try and describe the fact that the lead character doesn't understand the context of any of his actions due to his short term memory loss. Still it was better than a lot of things i've seen.


    Had some things to do in town this morning, including getting some things from ccc. Wanted to get a couple of albums too and decided that as i was expecting to be paid sometime soon i could justify a trip to fopp for the first time in a while. I've not been in for ages, because it has a dangerous effect on my bank balance, and indeed the shop floor lay out had changed since i was last there. However I was able to purchase the new album by arab strap and boards of canada so i'll review them in the near future. Was pretty good and wasn't tempted to buy any other albums, though i did purchase a book, the virgin suicides, only £3 - bargain. I think i'll read this and then get the film from the library, it's a film i've wanted to see for ages and not got around to yet. Directed by sofia coppola, and i did like her other film, lost in translation, so it bodes well.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    DVDs from the library

    Got back home about 5:15, giving me quarter of an hour before the library closed. I quite fancied watching a dvd tonight, so walked round and had a browse in the collection. It costs one whole pound to borrow a dvd for a week, how good is that! Two films caught my eye, big fish and memento.

    So this evening I decided to watch big fish whilst eating my fish and chips. I usually like tim burton films and never got around to seeing this when it came out. As with all tim burton films it had a great look about it, visually stunning distinctively burtonesque. Steve Buscemi is also great, he's such a good actor, portraying so much through the way he controls his facial movements. However the film itself was taking a while to unravel where it was going, i'd not read any synopsis, so had no idea what to expect, but it eventually became clear. What is a story, why do we use stories, what is fact, is there place for the mythical in stories or should they be as factual as possible. Made me think about the way we treat the creation story, sometimes the mythical helps us remember and brings more character than a factual re-telling would. As the movie progressed i didn't realise it was going to bring a tear to my eye :( it's quite an emotional ending.


    Was asked to go and work from the leeds office this week to help put together some operation and maintenance manuals for some completed projects. The commute is quite annoying, especially in the morning, even leaving at just after 7am the motorway is just one long stop start journey until the M62 is passed. Takes about 1hr20, quite frustrating. At least the journey back is quicker. Pleased I don't have to do it everyday, and at least i'm fairly busy when i get there.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005


    Went round to the manse yesterday to have a meal with james, the new minister, and his wife followed by some discussions around the crookes valley project. Or that was the intention. Nicola, his wife, is a minister in another circuit and is part of a team investigating emerging church for the 20-40s and was interested in some of the things we were doing at cv and some of the plans we have. So it was interesting sharing ideas and also being challenged to what is the central vision for cv, which i think is basically somewhere for the current congregation to meet and continue to worship in this dialogue/cafe style manner as we continue to explore God's grace, and to be a witness in whatever location we find ourselves.

    After dinner me and james turned our attention to investigating funding for the cv project. However, we soon became side tracked, talking about my current situation and what i wanted from a job etc. It was a very useful discussion, as it is something that has been concerning me for sometime. The fact that i don't actually have any definitive vision for my life, it's all very wispy if you know what i mean, ethereal. I have no concrete goals, just ideas of things i'd like to do. We of course discussed whether i had considered working for the church at all. Which i have, but fleetingly, and i shared my initial concerns over such an idea, which makes it such a brief consideration for me. Like, just because i could do it, and know that ppl think i could do it, doesn't mean i should. And my lack of patience i would have with ppl who moan and argue about trivial matters. And seeing first hand from friends who work for the church the hassle they get from ppl as they try to do their work. These matters were discussed at length and james shared his own concerns for going into the ministry, it was interesting and really useful. I was recommended to read 'what colour's your parachute' so i'll look it up...

    let's sneak out of this party
    it's getting boring
    there's more to life than this

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    This time last year

    I began walking up Mt Kenya....

    Today I got up and take breakfast about 8am and meet up with Andre and Patrick at 9. We buy loo roll and water purifying tablets and await the arrival of Robert. He's delayed waiting for some chicken. Eventually we set off after 11 and take a van up to the Sirimon gates. Here our chef, John, prepares us some sandwiches, chese, salad and avocado. We then start the trek up to OPld Moses hut. The incline is steady, mainly like walking up to Broomhill from uni. After a water break, we set off at different times, and I go a bit later. As I walk along the path I hear a noise in the bush and looking around I spot two baboons. Which I think is an impressive spot, until I turn the corner and see about 30 on the track ahead! immediately I feel a bit vulnerable and stand still wondering whether to head back to the guide. Eventually I press forward and they leave the path as i approach. Unfortunately I tried to take a photo, but it didn't work. The flora and fauna on this trek is incredible, from a forrest with the baboons, which moves to a more scrub based landscape with heather as the tree line is passed. Many beautiful coloured birds exist up here too. We reach the hut around 4pm and make ourselves at home as the clouds begin to encoach around 5pm.
    We watch the sun go down and then take tea, which is remarkable considering what is available. Afterwards we make a set of cards from paper to play some games with. My nights sleep was odd, I was warm but a little cramped. Didn't appear to fall into a deep sleep, more a kind of limbo, but I was quite relaxed in the morning.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005


    so it didn't go that well. It's for a clinical trails co-ordinator, and the job sounded quite interesting and i thought I had most of the skills required, bar any real knowledge of research and development policy. Though I thought that i wouldn't have any problem learning it quickly. Something I tried to make clear in my application form. Anyway, most of the questions they asked were about R&D policy and I had to say I had no idea at all about it, but had worked within legal policies before etc. Then they tell me that although the job is advertised in the first instance as a two year placement, they hope to secure funding to make it a permenant position and where do i see myself in 5 years time. My head is screaming at me "not here!" so i have to try and pretend that nothing excites me more than entering a job that i will do for the rest of my life, and that I'd love to work my way up the career ladder.

    I'm single and pretty young with no real ties, why on earth would i want to tie myself to a job that I see as a means to an end. Why do I have this lacklustre attitude towards work, i want my life to be more than a 9-5, i want to explore, learn, be challenged, get to know god better, share my stories, make a difference in some way, challenge people, challenge attitudes, write a book, climb a mountain. Maybe these are the dreams of a child and i should grow up....

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005


    Had a really good long weekend away with my old uni friends, and I think it was just what I needed. Leading up to the weekend had been quite draining emotionally with getting this job and other stuff and despite feeling like the last thing I wanted to do was go away, it was a great time.

    On arrival we took a taxi to our apartment, but we were taken to the wrong street, so another taxi was required. Once settled we headed in to the old town for a delicious meal of Latvian fare. A huge meal for less than £3, Jonah and Nick then took us to a bar/club they'd visited earlier in the year and we had a great time. After a few drinks we headed down to the dance floor where we danced the night away in the company of some very beautiful and pleasant Latvian girls.Dancing to a mix of english, russian and latvian tunes was good fun. I even danced to cotton eye joe by Rednex for possibly the first time since 1995, Nick organised a bit of a ho down which went down a treat! We left at 4:30 and dancing was still going strong.

    Woke up to a fabulously sunny day, wonderful blue skies, so spent the afternoon exploring the city including a trip up to a viewing platform in the steeple of St Peter's church. The panorama from this point was amazing, I took quite a few pictures, and it was interesting to see a bit of history about the building with the steeple being rebuilt in the late 60s after the original was destroyed in the war. I think Latvia must have a very interesting history, a country that has often fell into occupation.

    We had intended to watch the england football match in a bar, but we left after the first half. The problem being our fellow country men who had entered the pub and who were chanting in loud and abusive manner whilst being quite disrespectful to the waitresses. It's such an embaressment to know that they are from the same country. What is it about football that makes it become this very tribilistic occasion?

    Saturday evening was extremely quiet in the old town, and we later discovered that the influx of tourists had made all the bars too expensive for the locals, and I fear that it could result in a beautiful city being turned into some kind of stag party haven, which would be horrendous. Cheap flights make it easier to visit these interesting places, but the tourism it brings, although bringing much needed capitol, merely serves to make the place less accessible to those that live there.

    Tried some Absinthe as I was sure that it would inspire me artistically like Toulouse Lautrec. In reality it burnt right down to the stomach and made me feel a bit ill the next day - although that might have had something to do with the tequila as well, and i was trying to be good.

    Boat trip on sunday afternoon was nice and relaxing, before a final latvian meal and heading off to the airport.

    One of the other things that struck me about the place was how it immediatly reminded me of Crime and Punishment that I'd read last year. There's still something about the place that has a very different feel and is something I'd love to explore. Perhaps travel from the baltics up to moscow one day.

    click below for more photos, and on the page that loads click on the link that say Riga under tags on the right of the screen for all the pics.

    One of those days

    Do you know what, sometimes i wish i didn't do anything except work, eat and sleep. No sooner had i got home then i got a phone call i was supposed to be meeting the centre manager at the community centre so i headed on up there. Got home, no food, cos i was too tired to do a proper shop last night, and it had gone past that threshold where you can't be bothered to cook or anything. Decided eventually on a take away despite not really being able to justify the cost - in the end convenience won. Then my mobile went, I'm supposed to be at another meeting now to organise a circuit service, i feel a bit bad that i can't go. It's just too much...

    Anyway, on a better note I got an email from Siobhan in Kenya:

    Well, I've made it to the second email! Yes, I know I lied in the last one. I was viciously attacked by a fit of blond-ness and wrote next week instead of 2 weeks. Please forgive me! Perhaps so called 'African time' is rubbing off on me. I've even noticed some Kenyans talking about American time when they want something to start promptly!

    You'll be pleased to know that I've become used to the food, although I still think cabbage is seriously over-rated. As food is one of my favourite topics I'm going to continue for a while. Last Saturday I learnt how to make chipatis but I didn't learn how to spell it - I hope that's right. I have also tasted sugar cane, which is like rock but you have to spit bits out and you can't get any with your name written through the middle. I almost lost some more teeth eating it, watching some of the kids filled me with awe. They either have good technique or their jaws are made from titanium. Most of the time they lop of a cane from one of the plants around the home but you also see men with overflowing wheelbarrows in town. Another thing you find in wheelbarrows is live chickens. In fact I've just remembered that on my 4th day in Meru I was with Esther and she bought one of these infamous live chickens. Being the young fit and able one I was the one who had to go and fetch it and put it in the boot. I don't think that beats Janet but it was a bit weird.

    It's not just my stomach that's settled in - the rest of me feels more at home as well. I think I've just about got the hang of the routine. I don't feel so much like a torist any more but I've discovered that I myself am I torist attraction! Every time I walk through town I get stared at like I have two heads. The other day I even got a bunch of kids following me back through the slums. However, I do feel a bit out of place sometimes because some of the 'children' are older than me yet I'm counted as staff - where do I fit in?! Woe is me!

    The school system here starts at 7 with 8 years of primary followed by 4 years of secondary (which is usually bording school). Which means that the end of primary school is like GCSE age but quite a few started late or had to repeat years so they end up being older than me. Free primary education only came in a couple of years back when the 3rd President (yes, they've only had 3!) was elected.

    He appears to be making quite a lot of changes (like surfacing roads!! Whoo!) but the main one is the constitution. Everyone here is bananas! No, that is not a prejudiced assessment of their mental capabilities, it is a judgement of the current political climate. Honest. Due to high levels of illiteracy, when they vote on the new constitution it'll be bananas for 'yes' and oranges for 'no'. How cool is that? Most people round here seem to be bananas but we'll have to wait until November to find out.

    I've been spending a couple of days a week at CCM which is a feeding project in Meru town that feeds some of the other street children the Children's Home can't take in. Just so you know 'street children' doesn't mean 'homeless'. Most of them have a parent/guardian but choose to spend most of their time on the street because home isn't very pleasant. Poverty is a big issue, just being able to get food is a problem let alone paying rent and HIV/AIDS only compounds the problem. As well as giving out lunch they're encouraging the guardians of the children to grow their own food. (The school where it's based has given over some land for this, which was very nice of them.) The social services and Food for the Hungry do quite a lot of home visits to guardians - the theory being that anything they do will be a waste of time if it's not backed up by the parents/guardians. I've tagged along on a few of them, hense the pied piper impression through the slums with the kids following me. These visits have been very interesting in a horrible kind of way. I will not attempt to describe the homes of some of the people because it will make me cry.

    In order to continue walking around Meru on home visits when the rains come I've invested in a lovely pair of wellies, they are a stylish black so will always be fashionable. Sometime in the next two weeks all the bright red dust which is currently choking me will turn into bright red mud which will no doubt make me fall over. It's slightly bewildering to see people preparing for some rain. One of the things we've been busy with over the weekend is preparing a field for growing maize. Which means I helped with the lovely job of moving tons of manure, I did attempt to balance the bucket on my head but I think manure isn't the best thing to pratice with.

    I've also had my hair plaited, which felt like a xylophone had landed on my scalp. It took ages! As in, 5 hours! But it looked good, at least everyone here seemed to appreciate me looking like a 'proper' Kenyan girl.

    Church is much better now I can understand what people say. This Sunday was the first sermon I could actually follow! Success! My Swahili lessons have taken a musical form, as the Home has a choir and they've started teaching me the songs as well. It'll be even better when I know what they mean! Kimeru is still beyond me, my tongue is having serious problems, at least I can greet people now.

    And with that I'll say goodbye.


    That's cool, cos it's exactly a year since I set out on my travels, starting with Kenya

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    ,Pretty tired

    Had a good time in Riga, will post later when I'm not so tired. Flight got into Stanstead about 1130 last night, so by the time I set off on my way back to Sheffield it was 0030 this morning. My journey was accompanied by some fantastic radio, why isn't daytime radio like this? First off there's an eclectic mix of top tunes from Gilles Peterson which was followed at 0100 by two hours of John Peel a compilation of stuff from John's travels and exploration of world music. It was great. Didn't get to sleep until about 0330 and then up for work at 0720.

    Though distressing to hear about the tragic loss of life in the asian earthquake on the news.

    Still, discovered I have a job interview on thurs for a job I applied for ages and ages ago. Hopefully I can arrange some time off work.

    Can't believe how warm it has been today considering it is october, the trees are just looking great too. Parts of them are beginning to turn beautiful golden orange shades. And yesterday the moon was a deep orange over Riga, a proper harvest moon, which now always reminds me of red moon rising which is an inspirational read. Right, off to bed.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005


    retrospective blogging

    If I could just
    Compose myself
    I'd radiate just the right amount of cool and heat
    So you'd never know
    How I tremble to touch you

    lyrics from b-line by Lamb

    well that pretty sums up what i was feeling tonight, but looks like it's not to be

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Light equipment

    I don't know how he does it, but David p always seems to be able to find stuff for church or ebay. Today I met him to help pick up some odd lighting equipment that the union had chucked away. It was stacked up outside the octagon, and david had been in touch with his contact who said that it was free to a good home before they got round to skipping it. So spent some time loading up his van with odd bits of lighting equipment, that probably dosn't work, but might do with a bit of tinkering.

    It was good to meet up, and I can't believe it was a week ago that we were delivering flyers in the pouring rain.

    Off to Riga for a long weekend with some of my old uni friends from nottingham days, mainly housemates. It should be good to get together for first time since new years day. So I'll not be posting again 'til some time next week.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said, "I don't know."

    Still feeling a little grey, and I think it has something to do with jobs. Today I started a full time placement at Bluestone, but it was a struggle to get up this morning. I should've been pleased, but the only thing that raised a slight smile was the fact that I'd be getting paid regularly and more than at any time this year - though still fairly pitifully. And to do what? Photocopy, answer the phone and file things away, what on earth is happening that I'm reduced to doing this, why can't i get a proper job (well that's cos i want to stay in sheffield cos i feel called to seeing out this church project). Bumped into an old friend in tesco's and her friend was there too - "ooh Chris, last time I saw you you were just finishing your thesis, what exciting things are you doing now?" "Hmmm crap jobs, but i did travel round the world" i add to try and make things look better. Still count it as experience, at least this way I should have work during the christmas period - hoorah(!)

    Janet came round last night to get her Magic Numbers ticket, I'd unfortunately double booked myself. Booked a w/e away in Riga ages ago with my old uni friends, turns out that it's this w/e, just like the Magic Numbers gig. Oh well.

    this was quite a good idea for a harvest service - take it to tesco martin poole's blog