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.