Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Emma Pollock teletext review

Emma Pollock Teletext reviewJust before we left to go to greenbelt on friday I had a chance to see my teletext review for the emma pollock gig at the leadmill. Emma sent me an email saying that she had seen the review too! I always find it exciting to see one of my reviews on the tv. In fact when i got back from greenbelt I had a letter from teletext as I had won another £10 gift voucher for 'review of the week' don't know for which review though. maybe it was this one, but the letter was dated 11th august, and my previous review to this was probably my adem one.
Just for your info, any further greenbelt posts will be dated retrospectively, so that those who aren't too interested in the minutiae of the details can skip them. My photos from the weekend are now uploaded onto flickr in my greenbelt 2006 set.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Greenbelt - Sunday

communion serviceA bit of a lie in on the sunday, despite being in a tent I am able to laze through to gone 9am, which makes a change for a sunday. It's the communion service in the morning and we congregate around the main stage, thousands of us. There is something quite special sharing communion with such large numbers, though in comparison to say a football match at old trafford, the numbers really aren't that large. There is definately something different to worshiping in a large number to supporting a football team in a large number. It is some sense of community, and that is one of the things that sharing communion signifies, the communion of us and the saints with god. The service runs smoothly and unlike previous years keeps to a reasonable length. Most of the songs are new to the people gathered, but I find it quite refreshing to use these songs from various worldwide traditions. Focusing on slavery and the liberation of the israelis from egypt, and it is quite poignant when the bible reading is read by Norman Kember. This is also a good time to meet new people as we gather in groups to share the elements. After the service h goes to meet jonny baker for a bbq where she engages in conversation about Bill Viola and why she My Morning Jacketthinks his art is manipulative, whilst me chris and andrew have a delicious meal of meatballs and potatoes. After eating I head down to purchase and get a signed copy of dave walker's guide to the church. It's a superb little book and I head back to the tent to read it. After a bit of a snooze I then get to meet some people whose blogs I have stumbled across since GB last year. Dave has organised a gathering of wibbers and hangers on. It's certainly good to meet some of these people in the flesh and also to meet a few more bloggers to add to my blog feed list. Meet back up with the guys in the evening and enjoy listening to My Morning Jacket.

Greenbelt - Saturday

So on Saturday morning I went along to the new forms venue for morning worship led by a group called the garden from Brighton. It was an interesting experience. The venue had more video projectors than you can shake a stick at, it was image overload, but i quite liked it. They told a creation story using general scientific perceptions of the timeline of the universe. This was accompanied by a visual represenatation of time in a spiral formed by rocks. As a girl moved from the centre spiraling outwards she lit candles on the timeline indicating significant events, sun, planets, life (missing amino acids and rna, but hey!), metazoans, dinosaurs etc. Interesting to see that most of the events of human history are just a mere twinkling against this timeline. We were then encouraged to use a rock as a symbol of something that is made of the same matter as we are, matter created at the same moment. Then to think of the wisdom of the stone, something from ancient jewish mystecism, due to it's age. Well I drew my picture on the stone, which I liked, but I didn't get anything from the rock's wisdom. Maybe I'm not enough of a hippy. Then I went to a disappointing talk on 'what should i do with my life' which turned to be a monologue on what the speaker did with his life and how great he'd been. The only thing I got from it was that the skills of an educated person can be greatly used in developing countries, even in fields for which you have not studied. At lunch time I listened to Christopher Booker discuss the 7 basic plots of literature, up to the last 200 years. Fascinating, but he didn't go on to discuss these in light of religious stories, well not much anyway. Enjoyed John Bell in the afternoon, despite not hearing anything new, he just has a really good way of relating his talks to a diverse audience, I always enjoy his thought of the day on radio 4 if i hear it.
In the evening I attended the taize service, it was a wonderful experience. I find the music and chanting a great way to engage with God. The idea is that the whole service is a prayer, and it certainly feels like I'm communing with God during that time. After the service I met up with Helen and went for a quick drink at the organic beer tent before danial bedingfield. However, it took us ages to get served as the beer and hymn singing had been hugely popular and there were still many people singing loudly with beer in hand, a very bizarre experience. Then I get a text from chris c that danny b is already on, he'd come on early. Tsk, well I finished my drink, met up with some of the guys from highway projects then headed for the mainstage. Trying to get over the bridge from the race course I could hear the distant sound of pop, but when I got there all DB was doing was talking about the slave trade in his girly high voice, with teenyboppers cheering his every incoherent sentance! Then started the ballads, well it was more than I could bear, so I headed back to the beer tent. The evening ended with Kit ashton, and I quietly refrained from the goth worship! Another good day.

Greenbelt - Friday

The afternoon was spent enjoying the sun, reading and deciding what to do over the course of the weekend, so much choice.

Before we could eat, we required water to cook the noodles, but the plumbing had yet to be connected to serve water to our campsite, so I had to go on a traipse onto the race course to find some water. It took ages, and I was pretty tired after lugging the water back, which made me think about those people who daily have to walk miles for water and then get on with many jobs too. Not me, I collapsed and handed the baton of food preparation to Andrew and Helen. It was almost delicious. Got a text from siobhan, she was just back from her time in Kenya and was at greenbelt, fantastic to see her again. that strange, can't believe it's almost a year, kind of encounter. Here is someone who has experienced life in a very different way, whilst in the same period things have plodded on in the uk, it must be quite a strange time adjusting again. You should check out her blog though to hear of her experience.

The first event of the day was to go and see clarky cat, who hail from Notingham. These were probably my favourite band of the weekend, for the sheer enthusiasm and energy that they put into their music. It certainly wasn't the best music I've heard, definate room for improvement, but if they continue in that passionate vein, I'm sure something will come. Great to see kids getting enthusiastic about music, obviously been listening to a lot of their parents punk music, but re-interpreting it with drum machines. The bass player thought he was Sting, bleached hair and Sting like bass playing movements.

Then we queued up for Fuse Factory, a group form switzerland who use electronica and vjing for worship. It sounded interesting, and whilst in the queue we were just in front of jonny baker whom h was hoping to meet to enquire about grace, a worship event in london, near to where she was moving to. Anyway, he was there with all his trendy 'alt.worship' dudes with their trendy glasses and little beards on their chins, looking ultra cool. They seemed friendly and h arranged to meet them later in the weekend to chat about grace. They did remind me of this cartoon.
Fuse factory were interesting, I really liked the idea of creating four walls of projections, the front wall being thin gauze where it was possible to see at the same time the projection on the back screen as well as the projection on the front screen. Some girl was singing in the middle of all this. Found the songs a bit irritating, and the images a little tiring after a while, there's only so much swiching back and forth from video loops you can take. But I think this idea of projecting can be taken further.

Back from Greenbelt

A shower and a shave this morning, a welcome relief after a weekend with no showers and no inclination to get my razor out. It starts on Thursday, and after giving a talk to house group members about my time in israel/palestine, I meet up with helen and chris. Now the plan to travel to greenbelt involves four of us, two tents, camping stove, food and clothes squeezing into the fiesta, so when h arrived she was mocked for elephantine travel bag. Next stop andrew's house where we would spend the night giving us easy access to the m1 in the morning and to collect utensils and pans etc too. It's just gone 10pm and everything is going to plan, andrew asks h and c about collecting their tickets at greenbelt. Tickets, hmmm, that would be useful, and I knew exactly where mine was, still in the safe location back at my house. So back to the car and back to mine to pick it up, what an idiot. Still, better making that journey at night than getting caught in rush hour traffic!

So starts our journey.

In fact the travel down is pleasant, the roads aren't too busy and we make good time, reaching the site around 1030. This year, not only does greenbelt have the opportunity to explore creativity, listen to music, be challenged by talks and spend time in worship, but a chance to perhaps meet one or two bloggers whom I became aware of after blogging about last year's festival. One such blogger is 'world famous' dave walker of cartoon church. A blog that has been an amusing read all year. A few cars ahead in the queue to enter the site we spotted a camper-van, and knowing that dave is an owner of such a vehicle, we wondered if he would be on board. Alas, no, just another punter, still not to worry, there would be opportunity to meet him during the weekend at either book signing or the wibsite get together. Once on site we headed over to campsite 9 taking random turns in a search for a spare plot of grass on which to pitch our tents. Due to some erroneous manoeuvre we seemed to end up traversing outside the cordoned road way, with no apparent route back onto the correct path, in fact we seemed to be heading further and further towards the perimeter wood and fearing getting the car stuck in a bog, drastic measures were called for. The cordon, appeared to have quite a bit of give in it, so chris got out the car and held the cordon aloft as I drove underneath in a kind of car-limbo dance. Ahead we spotted a space, but as we were still confined to the maze-like road network, we decided to employ our cordon defying technique and take a cross country route to the sighted plot. Off we headed, chris in front lifting cordons, me squeezing the car underneath. The plot was reached, next job to check that it wasn't being reserved for a multitude and to scan for any children under ten who may be awake and playing football against the side of the tent come 6am. No kids, good, check with the neighbours, and wait a minute, we have only just gone and pulled alongside cartoon church dave!

"Hi, are you cartoon dave?"
"I am."
"It's chris, I read your blog a lot and commented a few times as the moog"

Obviously my blogging exploits haven't set the blogging world alight, much to the amusement of my friends.

Still, dave is a very friendly chap and we soon make ourselves his neighbours and settle down to read the programme and decide what things we wanted to do.

So that is the tale of how we arrived at greenbelt, when I've uploaded some pics to flickr I shall give a review of some of the things that I did over the weekend. Which reminds me, I've got a new camera, decided to treat myself and replace my camera I lost earlier in the year in Cambridge.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

alternative worship

We had a go(o)d discussion on tuesday evening about the circuit alternative worship service that I'm involved with. It's actually part two of a discourse that began earlier in the summer as we looked at where we had come from, if it was worth carrying on doing what we do, and who do we do it for. It started as a youth service, and it has failed to shake off the image that it is something that the young people do. We've experimented with many different ideas and has been poorly attended. Sometimes we felt that we were just doing it for ourselves. The service is designed for those disenchanted with traditional church, for those already in church who just want something more than the five hymn sandwich. A place to be creative and to share ideas, a place to develop friendships. Which is more than singing the most up-to-date songs (which is the perceived), but questioning our faith, engaging with current issues, challenging our conformity.

Through the discussion it became apparent that what we did worked on many layers and levels, whilst pertaining aspects of many traditions. Within all this is the fellowship that we have managed to foster, not least between ourselves, but those few who do attend. Something we seek to progress, for me the whole experience of setting up the room is part of the worship, allowing me to use technical gifts I don't often get chance to exercise. The camaraderie that ensues from working and sharing food together is really integral to the experience and perhaps is an area we have to bring more incorporation to.

So we've decided to continue, but to reduce the number of events, as the monthly occurrence was draining on our time, no sooner had one passed then it seemed we were meeting to decide the next service. I think this will help, we also need to 're-launch' within the circuit, advertise it a bit more. However, it does seem that perhaps we are the only people who are (have realised) that we do not find the current format of church entirely engaging, and perhaps we could develop the idea for those not currently engaging in regular fellowship.

If we were pretentious we'd call it church for the creative, post-modern existentialist.

But we're not, so we just call it AWE.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


It's near Pontefract don't you know.

I wonder if anyone blogs about Hemsworth? I doubt it, nothing noteworthy from my visits, but then you never know. I'm only blogging about it cos I went to visit my friend Mick there last night. He lives there, and he isn't famous, which is probably why no-one blogs about Hemsworth. Though I guess if he was famous, then there'd be a blue plaque on the wall and thousands of web pages dedicated to the town. As it is, this is probably about as famous as Hemsworth gets.

It was good to see Mick, it's been a while since I last saw him, and it's always good to chat and you can rely on having some tasty food too. Yesterday his wife cooked a delicious curry. So we chatted, played pop quiz on the playstation and chatted some more.

Work is a little slack, hence the sneaky and relatively uninteresting blog. Today I am a little worried about my hair line, it is rapidly retreating and there appears to be no halt in sight. My head even feels tingley, so I'm imagining that I can feel my hair dropping out.

Looking forward to greenbelt, if you are going I recommend 'One Nation' always very good live. In fact I've just ordered a new camera to replace the one i lost earlier in the year, as I am missing adding to my photos on flickr. Two gigs and no photos.

Filming church

On Sunday, two girls from the local catholic school came to video our communion service as part of an RE project looking at the differnet ways communion is done in various denominations. Our minister asked if we would be comfortable with that at the coffee morning on saturday. We replied that it was fine, though we began to wind him up, suggesting that we could all dress up as pirates for the service. I don't know how representative of the methodist church we were mind, especially as we do meet in a slightly unconventional way, around tables with more discoursive teaching than mere sermons. The actually ceremony is as per worship book, but then it does say the congregation receive the elements as per the local tradition (which could well have been dressed as pirates!) The girls seemed to like the idea that we had a more interactive service as they'd never been somewhere where you could question and give ideas as part of the sermon.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

V for Vendetta

Visited my sister on saturday as I have not seen her since her return from uganda. Nice to catch up and hear about her time at an orphanage out there. We watched v for vendetta, which I had previously seen on the plane on the way to israel/palestine, and thought it would be good to see on a larger screen. I'd initially meant to go and see it with v when it was on in the cinema, but we never got round to it. The film is one that I wouldn't mind seeing repeatedly, not least because natalie portman stars, but also for the storyline, set in a state ruled by fear. It portrays an england in the future which has come under the rule of a dictator, voted democratically into power by a nation in fear from groups within society they don't understand. (A fear that later turns out to have been fabricated by the party itself). A dictatorship that brings peace and order, but at the cost of many lives, especially of those 'undesirables' the homosexuals, the immigrants. A power fuelled by hate and fear is ultimately defeated by the seed of an idea. An idea to overthrow and start afresh, an idea that if grasped by many can succeed as an idea cannot be killed. Of course there are many parallels, and it is why i think this storyline works well on many levels.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Monkey Swallows the Universe - live

It's gig central at the moment, two in two days, this time it is monkey swallows the universe at the boardwalk. I first heard of this band in a review in some local music press and they sounded interesting. I subsequently forgot about the artical until ben mentioned their album was very good. I saw it in Fopp and purchased it, getting home and listening to it. My first impressions were it was a bit twee, but I gave it a few more listens and I now think it is fantastic, definately my favourite album of the year so far. There are actually some quite clever layering of melodies, in a simple format giving a nice lilting folky sound in the vein of Belle and Sebastian. The sound also has a distinctive Sheffield feel about it, whether that is just from the lyrical input I don't know. I think perhaps not, it's fairly hard to describe. It turns out one of the members of the band used to work in the same lab as my housemate! Chatting with the lead singer/songwriter after the gig and she is sure that she knows me from somewhere. After a while she places me from the pop quiz I used to attend regularly at the hallamshire house, she used to serve behind the bar. Then I remembered her, amazing to think that now she is writing these really great songs. Oh and the band members all seem to like the Delgados too!

Emma Pollock live

Thursday night I went to the leadmill to see emma pollock support a guy called m ward. I'd been quite excited about this gig for a while, a chance to hear how her solo project was coming on. It certainly sounded good, and strange to see her playing without the rest of the delgados. These tunes have taken a more folky orientation with the vocals being central. Though with this being an acoustic set it is difficult to imagine what the fuller sound of the album will be like. The showcased melodies certainly sound like a good starting place. I got chance to have a quick chat with her and jamie after the gig. There was a rumour going around last year that she was writing some songs for the sugarbabes. She informed me that this was correct, she had been approached by their production team, but they didn't select any of her tunes. Her solo album should be out next year on 4AD, something to look forward to.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Geographical spread of surnames

Sometimes I listen to radio 2 in the car on the way home, why?, cos i can't get 6 music and scott mills is annoying. So excuses out of the way, (actually maybe it's because listening to steve wright in the afternoon reminds me of my teenage years listening to him at this time on radio one or one fm or whatever it was called those days) tyhey have a feature called website of the day. On monday they spoke about an interesting site where you could track the geographical density of a surname. The site used data from a census in 1881 and the electoral role of 1998 to calculate these densities. It is interesting comparing the two maps. I've learnt that Iddon has a frequency of 27 in every million people. As I knew the name is localised in the north west around lancashire, and by 1998 had spread, most notably to the area around Durham. People of my great grandfather's generation migrated here to work down the coal mines and my own grandad originally came from this area. There is striking localisation of most names, which demonstrates how little migration has really occured in the last 100 years, and there is a very striking north/south divide too. This probably derives from the ancient anglo and saxon kingdoms that probably had slightly different dialects and therefore names.

Should you wish to check out your name, the site is here

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blessed are the cheesemakers

it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

Of course.

And one such manufacturer is Muller, creator of the crunch corner, my favourite flavour being tropical crunch. But back in March i wasn't blessing Muller, oh no, i was cursing them. After stiring my tropical crunch corner into it's delicious yogurt i noticed a dark hair in the pot. Another sign of my ageing, a rogue hair from my dwindling hairline. Or so I thought, as I fished it out it was far too long to belong to me, and was encrusted within a portion of the crunch. Well what can you do, but write to Muller exclaiming the horror of discovering such a repugnant vagrant hair within my delicious yogurt. I was asked to send in the offending artical so that it could be paraded around Muller Heights and shown as an example of the result from a lack of adherence to hygenic standards, or some such thing. This I dutifully did, and the months past, and then i found the letter asking me to send in the offending artical and i thought to myself, those sly people at Muller have just gone and taken the evidence from me and discarded it. So I rang them up on Friday - hey what about that hair in my yogurt?!!!

Today an apologetic letter, we can't understand how it could've happened, but we have ordered the management to don sack cloth and weep in ashes for such a catastophic failure in our hygeine procedures. To compensate you for you inconvenience in discovering the offending artical please take these vouchers as a token of our repentive souls. Yes that's right, I am the proud bearer of not one, or two, but ten whole pounds of Muller vouchers. So the crunch corners are on me!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


So i have finally finished reading this novel, and it has given me a good two weeks worth of enjoyment. I found it so much better than Eugenides debut novel, the virgin suicides, as it is certainly less 'american'. Sometimes I feel that I don't connect well to american literature, never getting into hemmingway, frustrated with the lead of 'catcher in the rye', continuing reluctantly with Kerouac, but this novel trancends the geographical confines and culture of the US. Here a story begins in the 1920s in greco-turkey, a story of love amogst the atrocities of war. The searching of the american dream and the penetration of a recessive genetic mutation leaving Cal born with non-specific gender. Raised as a girl, it is during her formative teenage years she realises that actually she is genetically a man, but with deficiency in one enzyme resulting in mal-formed gonads. Certainly an interesting subject matter, and told in a story that covers the subject matter with sincerity and not titilation. Of course anyone studying biology past gcse level will realise that there is more than a Y chromosome that makes one male, and studying developmental genetics shows how finally balanced the chemical soup of morphagen gradients, controlled by a comparitely small number of genes, is that ensures the organs grow correctly. The book also asks questions about identity, what makes us male or female, not new questions, but can be extrapolated to many other aspects of life, the ideologies we choose, the faith we have. Are all these tightly wrapped in the union of nature and nurture, what has the greatest pull? In this book it is obviously the male genetic make up that pulls Calliope to her male counter part Cal. But it also challenges the superstitious nature of faith, is Cal the punishment from God for an illicit incestrous relationship, or the elevated chance that recessive traits have of showing their prominance amongst closely related families from geographically secluded areas. Christ actually refuted the belief that disabilities were punishment from god, but this mindset still seems to prevail. Where does the boundary of superstition and spirituality lay, are prayers mere protective talismanic chants, or a communion with the divine? I think this book does really well to demonstrate the shades of grey through which life is lived, nothing is black and white, even something as straight forward as sex determination. Which is why I often sit on the fence over issues of faith, not because I want to shy away from saying faith is this or that, or christ means this or the other, but because I recognise God to be multi-coloured, multi-faceted, and to work in ways that i can't fully perceive. I think i like this book because it asks of us, who we are? which leads us to why we are? (for which 'life of pi' is a great book to read). And just sometimes we realise we are loved by god and we are to show that love.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Acrington Stanley.....who are they?


Everyone who grew up in the eighties will be familiar with the lines from the milk advert, claiming that if Ian Rush didn't drink milk, he'd be playing for Acrington Stanley. I remember my dad telling me of the days when Acrington Stanley used to be a league club, and today a bit of history as they win their first match after gaining promotion back into the league last season.

Chesterfield, however, score five goals whilst I decide to go for a walk instead, as I'd already paid to see them once this week. A goaless mid-week draw, which certainly showed a lot of promising signs for the season. I can't remember the last time they scored so many goals. I think four is the most I've seen them score in a game.

So where have i been in my blogging lapse, well not doing anything of note. Another walk on monday evening after work along stanedge edge was particulalry stunning. A bbq at house group on thursday was a nice relaxing time. Though most of my time has been spent reading, I'm really enjoying this current novel and only a few more pages left to go.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another fine start

Last year on aug 6th I blogged that chesterfield were top of the table, well they've gone and done it again this year, though their name stands them in good stead for alphabetical favourability, taking the top spot from Port Vale, who start with a lowly P.
Of course it is early days, but this is a very good and promising start, hopefully this season they can keep the momentum and not drift into mediocrity once relegation has been seen off.

A nice walk

Sheffield is such a great city, I take the tram to the end of the line, walk ten minutes and begin following one of the many rivers. All of a sudden the city landscape has receded behind, and I'm following a path that is reminiscent of many throughout the peak district. I had visions of a great 16 mile walk, but after an hour i realise that months of commuting to work rather than walking has had it's toll on my walking ability. So after a slight unplanned deviation from my prefered route due to a confusion of interlinking footpaths I find myself in Dungworth. Consulting my map I decide to carry along a road, overlooking the damflask reservoir before heading upwards over the moors. It is here I stop and have some lunch and do some reading before the my push to the summit. The view is really spectacular as i look down onto Hollow Meadows, with the peaks of win and lose hill in the distance to the right and to the left the far off high rise buildings in the city. Down into the valley, and back up again, over moorland to redmires where I head to catch the 51 to the universit, on the way I walk past the three merry lads, and pop in for a well needed coke and read a bit more. So an edited walk, but an interesting one as i navigate fairly unused and overgrown pathways that once were probably hives of activity linking farming communities before cars allowed travel in and out of the city as a quicker alternative to traversing the valleys. Ten miles isn't a bad walk, and I feel much better for it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Emma Pollock

Just been browsing emma pollock's website and discover that as part of her summer uk tour she will be playing at the leadmill on 17th august. Superb, some of you may know that emma was one of the members of the delgados perhaps one of the best ever bands, and also founding member of the seminal chemikal underground records. I heartily advise people in the sheffield area to check it out (she will be the support act on the night) and if you are not in the area, check her website in case she is playing near you. I have heard a few tracks when she played on Tom Robinson's show on 6music, and also a track performed for a scottish music programme. All of them excellent. Can't wait - though I best get myself a ticket!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Down and out

There hasn't been any reviews on here for quite some time so i shall try and re-address that over the coming days. A couple of book and cd reviews. Today I just finished reading 'down and out in paris and london' which is Geroge Orwell's thoughts and recollections of living with no money. From pawning clothes to buy food to survive, working 18 hours a day in a hotel, various squalid bed sits, to living the life of a tramp in london. It's not a bad read, and is quite an eye opener to the abject poverty experienced by many in this country merely 70 years ago. The novel concludes with some interesting thoughts, ideas to give hope and work to the 'tramps' and thoughts on class, which I guess are the seeds for his most well known novels, 1984 and Animal Farm.
In this book he is incredibly critical of the hospitality offered by the churches, despite the fact these would offer free food and drink, it always seemed to come with a forced prayer or a sermon. The tramps seemed to despise this charity, perhaps because they were starving they needed food and found it embarassing to have to take it from someone with excess, or perhaps it was felt that this charity was done out of some christian duty, rather than with any thought for the person. But it makes you think, people don't like to receive charity, they want dignity and the ability to leave a life of poverty. Which I guess is why things like fairly traded goods are a good way of engaging people to break the chains of poverty.