Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's just words

Went to the sheffield beer festival organised by sheffield camra on friday night. It was only £1 to get in, and absolutely incredible deal. There were a huge range of beers on offer, and i sampled quite a few, not too many, as I was meeting some friends from my uni days, and they were heading off for a curry at 7pm. My favourite of the night was bagpuss II brewed by abbeydale, if i recall I also enjoyed their bagpuss brew at the festival last year.
Today I attended synod, and it was the dullest ever, and my last for a while. I had been encouraged to take on a district role, but was feeling that I wasn't really getting anywhere with it, and to be honest I have no passion for the district, so I decided someone else migh be better suited. I think it works well as an administrative forum but that is all. It is far too large geographically and diverse for any district events to be attended. But I digress, the morning session was held jointly with the anglicans, and in fact as i was walking to the sports hall chatting with a women from network I knew from conference, we were accosted and asked were we methodist or anglican. I said it didn't really matter what we were, but it seems she needed to register the anglicans. Then I wondered if I should be offended at being mistaken for an anglican.....
Would you believe it - no tea or coffee at the start. If this is how the anglican methodist covenant is going to manifest itself, depriving the methodists of their cup of tea then I think we should retreat back to our dis-established and non-conformative ways. I don't know. We were then subjected to an hour lecture on some church sociology report called 'faithful cities', and my word was it dull. I'm sure there are probably some interesting points to be made, but it was delivered as if talking to a group of sociologists, rather than a mixed group of laity and ordained from various backgrounds. There followed discussions in groups about how the 'church' can impact the cities, but to be honest I thought it was just a load of words. It's so easy to go into huddles and write these reports and talk about the changing social attitudes and the diverse needs and recognise all these, but at the end of the day it doesn't help us engage with the message of christ. Maybe all these words make us feel better in the light of continued decline.

Monday, September 25, 2006


johnThis evening I'd planned to go and visit my friend in hospital, but unfortunately it was too late. The cancer that had been ravaging his body finally won it's battle. Expected since it's prognosis, it doesn't detract from the sense of loss and frustration, my friend a mere few months older and an ever present through my life. Gone. He was there when we watched the combine harvesters in the field that backed onto our houses, when we walked to school, when we played water fights with washing up liquid bottles, when we played lego, when we thought we were characters of star wars at school, when we played football. On going to secondary school I was so pleased that we were to attend the same school, and despite being in different houses, we were in gsce classes for english and maths, going to school together until we could drive ourselves in various embarrassing transport for adolescent lads, my parents temperamental vauxhall viva which required wd40 an overnight blanket on the engine to ensure it started, or traveling with rebek in her dad's skoda. Of all the people I went to school with, it is these two early friends of mine that I have kept in contact with. John and I would exchange letters at uni and then emails, occasionally meeting up when we were both around chesterfield. Whilst I was traveling John was one of the few people to whom I corresponded by postcard from every country I visited and he described me as being like uncle matt from the fraggles, sending postcards to gobo. When I started writing this blog he was one of the few early readers, and it was the knowledge that someone was actually reading and enjoying these witherings that inspired me to continue. When we met he'd frequently talk about it and laugh at the articulation of some of my teletext reviews. Meeting his fiance and future wife late last year, we talked of his recent promotion and of course football, and his beloved liverpool. It was in March that we last met before his illness had really taken hold, and I still owe him a drink from then! Since then each meeting has seen the ravages of his illness reduce his body to a shadow of it's former self, though I will remember our last hand shake as i left a few weeks ago, still firm in it's grasp as we bid farewell.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Monkey Swallows the Universe and other tales

It was the company golf day and I was granted half a day leave to avoid it which I used to travel to london. Went on the coach and it was a very grey journey, rain and spray and i began to wonder to myself how uncool I would look traipsing the streets of this chic city in my pac-a-mac. However it was a wasted worry as the sun sprang into action as we arrived in london. made my way to the hall of residence which I had booked for a night's accomodation in angel. This was chosen due to it's location, being just about 1 mile away from the Buffalo Bar which was my selected destination for the evening. After some fish and chips I made the bar for about 8:45 in time to see the majority of a set by the mary epworth band who I quite enjoyed. A kind of country tinged music, but with some really fine strong vocals. After the set I met john earls, who edits planet sound the teletext page that occasionally prints my gig reviews.


We'd arranged to meet after I'd recommended mstu to him and he said that he'd probably go as there was another band he wanted to check out. He'd come to see the pocketbooks who were on next. I wasn't convinced, fairly average to me, girl vocals were either endearing or a bit rubbish, i tended towards the latter. You could tell it was an early gig due to confusion between songs and indifferent xylophone playing. The next band, however, were very good indeed. fanfarlo, based around a swedish singer songwriter who recently moved to london. A kind of avant garde rock style in the vein of arcade fire and clap your hands say yeah! I liked this a lot. Finally upstepped monkey swallows the universe and they did not disappoint. Their tunes won the hearts of the audience and even an encore was called for. John seemed to like it too, so hopefully there may be a review on a teletext screen near you!

Saturday was another gloriously sunny day and I spent a couple of hours wandering around the national gallery, thinking to myslef that it's great that some of my tax money goes towards making this fine museum free to all. I enjoyed browsing the paintings from the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th. As it had just opened there was plenty of time to admire works like 'sunflowers' by van gogh that are usually crowded out. Spent some time looking at the works of Degas, who is an artist I like a lot. Not sure exactly why, but I find his portrayals of women, especially the washing hair type scenes, really quite fascinating. I discovered a book about the artist in the museum shop and it was a mere £5 so I decided to invest in it. Met up with CEM for lunch and caught up with what we'd London eyeboth been up to the last few months. Then we spent some time wandering around the galleries of the Tate Modern. Unfortunately they were in th emiddle of installing a new feature in the turbine hall. But there's still plenty to see, and it was busy too. Great that art like this is popular. It garners so many different reactioins tho, over hearing two blokes exclaim "effin' hell" when confronted by a canvas coloured grey all over amused me. I then inadvertantly wandered into an art piece, with these modern affairs you are never quite sure of the interaction allowed, but the piece of mirrored cubes I was wandering between to admire the reflections was strictly out of bounds, and if I'd approached from another direction I would've seen the 'do not cross this line' warning! It annoys me a little that you aren't allowed to take photos of some of these works, they just cry out to be photographed, and I'm sure it would promote some of these works. I tried to take a few sneeky pics, but always come out shaky, with not using the flash and all....

pictures of the mstu gig
pictures in and around london

Friday, September 22, 2006

Football triumph

So on Wednesday, Chesterfield humbled Man City in the league cup, winning by a tremendous strike by Niven. Really superb esult, but I wasn't there to witness it as I'd decided to represent cvm at the student church search bbq. Oh well. Still the bbq was ok, though I don't know how successful it was on our part. When me and andrew arrived there were masses of people representing all manner of churches and christian societies and we felt a bit overwhelmed, so i don't know what the freshers felt like. There were people with fancy t-shirts and enthusiastic extrovert representatives who didn't seem to mind in butting into conversations. Me and Andrew decided that if we'd given this some more thought we could've grown those little chin beards sported by the more 'cool christian' characters and also devised tactical maneouvres in order to speak to students who weren't already affiliated. Pincer movements to catch students as the arrived, or at the end of the food queue where they could be ensnared food in hand with no way of escape!
Instead we spotted someone with one of our flyers and chatted to her with kevin from our circuit. James, our minister and uni chaplain also introduced us to a couple of other people interested in methodist churches.

The food was terrible too.

Quite excited as today I'm going to London to visit a friend and also see the superb monkey swallows the universe.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jordan and spiders

Met up with helen yesterday on the way back from work. She has just returned from Jordan where she has been on mission with highway projects. It was good to hear her stories and to exchange our thoughts about mission and the middle east. You can read some of her initial thoughts on her blog here.

In other news I was almost attacked by a spider this morning. It is bin day and I had to go and put the bins out, for which I have to walk thru a gate and down a path at the side of the house. A spider had built a giant web spanning the gate at head height which I didn't see. So I inadvertantly walked into it, which gave me some alarm. When I turned round I saw a huge spider in mid air trying to repair the damage and blocking my route back with the bin. It took me quite some time to encourage it out of the way so that it wouldn't fall on me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Circuit meeting and Stanedge

Stanedge EdgeSaturday was our circuit meeting and we continue with our experimental format of worship, business, workshops, free lunch and final business session. It was a chance to meet the new super intendent minister who had an air of a strict head master about him, it must be difficult in a new appointment trying to make sense of all the different characters. Especially when in a conversation about the correct method of listing local preachers I suggest that we could have a top ten and people could vote who they thought was the best preacher for the quarter. I'm joking of course, but then I wonder if he realises - I hope so. All the groups were discussing the same questions relating to where our circuit was at and where we felt we would be in 10 years and what we thought would be beneficial. Some useful discussion actually, and it reminds me that I ought to write up our groups thoughts to pass to the circuit review group. In this age circuits clearly do not opperate in a fashion for which they were designed, communities are different, people travel to church, people travel to work and therefore what a 'local community' is is very different. Discussions on buildings, worship styles, ageing congregations. Maybe if I'm inclined I may drop a few of the more intersting thoughts on here when I write up the notes. Sunday turned out to be a really nice day and we had a local preacher who hasn't been to cv for quite a few years. She really utilised our informal settings to advantage. Asking us to share our stories to what we had done in the past few years and challenging us on how we were no interacting with the local community. Quite pertinant really, as we are about to undertake a review on where we are at and how we should continue to develop - if at all. Redmires ReservoirThis was followed by the sermon which was then open for discussion before finishing with songs and prayers. Refreshing to order the service in this way. In the afternoon I took advantage of the warm weather to repeat a walk around Stanedge Edge that I did a few weeks ago, but this time i was able to take my camera round and capture some of the beauty. The recent rain had raised the level of redmires reservoir suffiently for it to pour down this weird overflow hole. It intrigues me to know where it goes! Does anyone know? There has also been a lot of stanley kubrick films on cable this weekend and I've been busy recording a lot of them. I really love his films and there are some that I have yet to see, so shall look forward to watching them. Perhaps a film orientated blog will arive shortly.

More photos from my walk in the stanedge edge photo set

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Twelve Baskets

There is this superb new site called twelve basketsthat has recently been launched to share worship resources. It is part funded by the methodist church and I heard about it at greenbelt.
You create an account and upload any powerpoint presentations or movies or images etc that you have created for worship. Add some tags and a description and upload the media. Then should anyone else be interested in using your work they pay a small amount of money to download said item. This money helps to pay for the site maintenance etc, 10% goes to charity and a proportion gets credited to your own account. You can either use this money to download other material from the site, donate to charity or have sent in cash when you accumulate £20. Sounds like a fantastic idea. Please share it if you think it would be useful. for more info.

The church using web 2.0 technology - whatever next!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


The alchemistFinished reading this book a couple of days ago. V recommended it to me a while back, and the title awoke a vague recollection, that someone else had also recommended it to me. I think it was HRK. When I was round at the minister's house I noted that he and his wife had a huge number of books and his wife had just finished reading 'on beauty' by zadie smith and she said she hadn't read 'autograph man'. When i was next up I took along my copy of 'autograph man' and I asked if they happened to have a copy of the alchemist, and they did. In fact they had a copy that had been read by madonna, or at least she had left comments on the cover. It's a short story and would probably be better read in one sitting, but I'm not on holiday, so that wasn't acheived. The writing style is very simplistic, overtly so in my opinion. It's a story about following dreams, becoming aware of creation around us and the creator speaking through that. It's a story of aligning yourself with your heart to find your desires. All wrapped up with biblical 'mythology' and mysticism. It's worth a read.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Garage junk

Another fairly busy weekend, and again no jobs acheived around the house. Though I had already got some things sorted during the week, mowed the lawn and tidied the lounge (which included sorting out my cds where I came across some cds that I thought had been mislaid, but they were just hiding in the wrong cd case). Highlights included watching chesterfield beating rotherham, not an especially good match but I got to meet a fellow blogger whose blog I have been following for a while. So I can now add phil to my 'blogger eye spy' book. Then in the evening I went to see this very enjoyable film, little miss sunshine. It's hard to describe this film without giving away plot details, basically it's a comedy looking at the fuitility of the success of winning.
Spent Sunday afternoon with Dave sorting out some of the stuff from cvm that has been stored in my garage since selling the old building. It has been decided that we no longer need the items, especially in light of having no place of our own, so we are now ebaying and freecycling the items. Another church in the circuit was interested in some of our items, including metal cupcoards, so we were able to get those delivered which made much more room in the garage. All other items were then re-packed into the garage with items we are freecycling near the front and stuff for skipping near the back. If anyone reading this is interested in having/making a donation for the following please contact me in the comments: rangemaster cooker (huge double oven type thing), old filing cabinets that fail H&S regulations, dining table and 6 chairs (ideal for 80s decor), drop leaf table, set of two drawers, ancient microwave, deepfat fryer, various flight cases.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Do you have a degree in incompetence?

are you being rude mr iddon?
no, i was asking a question, do you have a degree in incompetence, because your colleague clearly does.

Why am I so irate? Well nPower that is why. I have been using their electricty for about three years now and pay monthly, getting a statement every quarter informing me if I am paying enough/too much. This quarter I get a statement saying I owe in the order of £300, which is obviously concerning. It is an estimated reading, so i go and check the meter. The estimate is miles out, in fact it turns out their meter guy last read the meter in may, so four months ago, in which time their estimation algorithm has calculated that I have since used nearly twice as much electricity as I have ever used from them. In four months. So I rang and told them, and whilst I was at it I told them my gas reading too. As I had given them an accurate reading I asked them to update me on what my current account would be so that I could see if i needed to adjust my monthly payments. I'm sorry sir I can't do that. Why not, I've just told you the meter reading? You will get your statement in a few days. But I would like to know now whilst I am speaking to you. And so I have to work it out by hand with him, as all the required info is on the bill, price per kW etc. Why it can't automatically calculate it is beyond me. Well, I think that the whole charade is over.

Until today

my new statement arrives

Now it says I have used even more electricty, unbelievable, so hence my question today when the guy from nPower answers. In the meantime, whilst waiting on the phone forever, I realise that the idiot I was speaking to a few days ago has only gone and entered my gas meter reading in the electricity bill.

This isn't the first time nPower have shown incompetance, my friend changed his supplier to Southern electric, all sorted etc. Three months later he gets his bill from southern electric, then a week later gets a bill from nPower for the same period, despite the fact that he no longer uses them as a supplier.

So anyone googling for nPower, hope you come across this, their customer support is useless as they only hire people who are either stupid or don't listen properly, or both.

Utility companies - bah!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Teletext and visit

BSS teletext reviewGot another one of my reviews published on teletext yesterday, this is for the broken social scene gig I went to on Friday. I also went to manchester to see john in christie's. Haven't seen him since his wedding, and he is very much weaker as he undergoes his chemotherapy. He was quite tired and kept dozing off, but my presence allowed his wife to go and get something to eat, giving her a break. She really as been superb in supporting him through the illness.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

BSS, football and MSTU

Broken Social SceneAn eventful weekend, which is good, but not so good for getting jobs done around the house. So it started on Friday night when i went to the leadmill to watch broken social scene. This is a band from Canada that is a collective of members from a number of canadian indie groups, and they play some very fine tunes. I saw them earlier in the year in manchester, and again they put on a great show. They really seem to enjoy playing their tunes and there can be up to 9 people on the stage at any one time playing guitars, brass, strings, percussion or singing. It's a great spectacle. However, I do think that they enjoy themselves a bit too much and sometimes their tunes can become self indulgent as they repeat 'movements' from their songs endlessly. It can become tiresome.
Saturday I pop into Hillsborough to do a bit of shopping before heading to chesterfield to pick up scott. England vs AndorraIt's raining, quite a lot, and I get very wet. Before I return to my car I get a few things from the supermarket, on leaving the shop I put my hood up and somehow catch my glasses and my lens goes flying across the floor. I retrieve it and think, great, just what I need, cos I'm off to watch england, I can't see to drive to old trafford, let alone be able to see the match. There must be an opticians in Hillsborough, so back into the rain and I trundle along the street, but I can only really see shops on my side of the road, those opposite are not too clear. Thankfully I come across an opticians who fix the glasses, it's just the screw that had gone. Eventually at chesterfield I decide to print a map of the side roads around old trafford, so that I don't have to pay astronomically for car parking, using my dad's computer. He has dial up, it's slower than reading 'cartography for beginners' and drawing the map yourself. Eventually, map in hand I pick up scott and head for the match. I really enjoy it, despite it being a simple walkover. Andorra really are terrible, but watching the movement of top quality football players is a real joy, you just don't get the whole picture watching on tv, and you certainly don't see that movement at Chesterfield matches! It also amused me that the name of the Andorran 'keeper was Jesus. Jesus saves, or at least not in 5 instances here.
Leaving today, a nice service in the morning at church, where a hymnal error had the keyboardist literally playing from the wrong hymn sheet. We had H&P, he had SOF and starts playing 'o little town of bethlehem' Monkey Swallows the Universeonce the error is discovered the correct hymn is found, and no-one knows the set tune, but by some bizarre coincidence the tune of 'o little town of bethlehem' actually fits the words of the chosen hymn, it works quite well! This afternoon me and andrew went to listen to some sheffield unsigned bands playing a mini festival on devonshire green. monkey swallows the universe were playing, and they are superb. I can't praise their debut album highly enough. The set was unfrotunately let down by some really terrible mixing, throughout the enitre gig the cello was making horrible noises whenever a bass note was played amongst other levels being all over the place. That aside, the tunes still stood out as being spectacular. Hopefully they will merit a wider audience sometime soon. Check them out if you can.
Photos: football set
mstu set

Friday, September 01, 2006

Change of email

V is obviously as busy as I am when she is at work, and has put together this little picture of us both in a south park stylee.

This is just a quick post to inform you that I will be no longer using my fish email as they no longer support webmail, only as part of an ISP package, which I do not require. Which is a shame, however, it has caused me quite a lot of bother over the years and I have stuck with them as it is a christian aid account, and i was kind of advertising them indirectly. I now have a google email account which gives me gigabytes of free space, MMmmmmmmmmmm.