Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The name's Bond

DP cooked a delicious meal for a group of us and I got to sample some of his superb home brew, a blend of a couple of kits that gave a wonderful flavour. Enjoyed the company and the meal, afterwhich we headed to the cinema to take advantage of orange wednesday and watch the new bond film. This, believe it or not, is the first time I've ever seen a Bond film at the cinema. I think I must've have seen all the bond movies by now thanks to bank holiday tv watching and in my opinion this episode doesn't rate amongst the best of the genre. It starts really well with some fantastic stunts in a 'jump london' style. In fact the stunts at height were making me feel quite giddy, but it slowly went downhill from there. The turning point of the movie is a poker game and I don't suppose I need to give any spoiler warnings about who wins the contest. There's no suspense during the game it's so cliched. Oh no james, you've lost all your money, what are you going to do now?! Then there are the necessary plot twists just when you think the movie has finished, and then when you think it's finished, and then when you think surely this movie is finishing soon, and then when you're looking at your watch thinking surely that must be it! Not that the action is bad, it's all the laboured dialogue inbetween. Daniel Craig makes an interesting Bond, very heartless and someone you can believe is a fighter. He doesn't have the charm and charisma that previous incarnations have had, though still manages to have his way with the ladies. Nice bond girl, so it's not all bad ;) You can also play 'spot richard branson'

I went to the post office and bought a...

You never know what you'll come back with if you go to the post office. During work I took some post down to the local post office and happened to walk past a house which had a hand written note pasted on the gate. Not a very obvious note and hand written in biro, but as I passed something must've caught the corner of my eye and I back tracked to get a better look. The house had recently been sold and some furniture was for sale, including a large TV for £30. My TV is pretty old and for about the last year needs a bit of coaxing to display any picture. In fact if you want to watch a programme it's wise to turn it on at least 10min before the programme starts in order for the picture to appear, and even then it has a tendancy to just go blank requiring a turning off and back on again ritual, which seems to please it, allowing it to spring back into life. It had been my plan to scour ebay etc after christmas for a second hand set as I figured there would be plenty of people receiving new wide screen, high definition, flat screen tvs. So £30 an offer not to be refused. Knocked on the door and someone was in, I said I was popping to the post office and would be back soon and would like to see it working. Got to the post office and a queue was wending itself back and forth up and down the length of the waiting room, a quick calculation and I judged I'd probably have to wait about 30min to get to the front of the queue with the two serves on duty. No time for that so headed back to the TV seller who demonstrated it working, it had scart and s-video inputs so it was looking better all the time. Picked it up on my way home from work and headed down to DPs house for tea.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Awe was interesting on sunday, again short in numbers but I guess that's not a measure really, quality not quantity. The advent prayer worship trick worked quite well. Numbered envelopes were adhered to the wall, so that cards could be dropped in place and attenders were asked to write a prayer of intercession in a card and place into an available envelope on the wall (we were then supposed to use this as a prayer station later in the service, but ran out of time). JT then led a discussion around advent, looking at the 'hope' aspect of the advent season. The hope of the coming saviour in christ a couple of thousand years ago and the hope of the church for his return however we might imagine that. We were then asked 'what do you hope for' and I really struggled, what do i hope for? I couldn't think of anything that sprang straight to mind, JT spoke of issues like apartheid that as a student he had hoped would be abolished, and we talked about social justice 'hopes', but they didn't really seem realistic. Even though the abolition of something as huge as apartheid would've been unthinkable a few years before it actually happened, when I look at things like sustainable energy I find it hard that people could take on such a vision without any financial gain. For instance in these health centres we are building at work we have had these sustainabilty surveys carried out on the design showing how solar panels and wind turbines can be incorporated into the design, but when these things are put through the financial models the energy saving is not cost effective against the installation and maintenance of the energy producing devices and therefore they won't be included in the final building. However, I'm digressing, but you can see the kind of 'hopeless' air I have around things, and trying to think of a personal hope was still not forthcoming. Then a little glimour of a thought appeared and that was the kind of idea from 'it's a wonderful life where george bailey gets to see a vision of what life would be like for his family and friends if he hadn't been born. That idea that you can have some kind of positive effect on people and their lives is something that I guess I hope for. In someway I hope that not only have I made an impact as a friend, but that through me a glimour of the love of christ and the nature of god has also been revealed. Later in the service as we meditated on the question what would you do/pray if you knew there was 5 days to christmas/christ's second coming/your death, these ideas began to crystallise, if I had a short time I would want to spend time with those people who I wanted to leave an 'impression' on, my friends and family that in someway I would live on in their memories and leave a 'footprint' of christ.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

in case you were wondering

i forgot to include anything about football in the previous post. Well that is in part because there really wasn't much to say. In fact scrappy goal, scrappy match pretty much sums up the chesterfield game. Watched brewster's millions on sunday, one of those classic 80s films you watch as a kid and think are amazing, but probably don't really stand the test of time. I'm happy to report that I think it did stand the test of time, whether or not War Games, Flight of the Navigator and DARYL do too, remains to be seen. Brewster's millions was also a film i remember chatting about with john on a journey to school as we both enjoyed it, I guess it also made me feel a bit like i was getting old too in a strangely nostalgic way. Church was better as there was quite a number in attendance and after the coffee morning it felt like the vision was beginning to become apparant. We've been joking along a 'pirate' theme in church meetings for quite sometime since steve had suggested we all came to a service dressed as pirates as some school kids were coming to film a methodist communion service for an RE lesson or something. The joke was to claim that this was the methodist way. For a while our minister wasn't sure if we were joking, and then with the recent 'international talk like a pirate day' I highlighted the youthblog post lamenting the lack of pirate liturgy. Well JT announced that he had been working on a pirate themed service and that he would be delivering it next sunday, so I'll look forward to that!
Awe planning meeting last night, and although I thought that it was a bit of an effort and that ideas weren't really flowing, when I wrote up the ideas today they did seem to be crystallising together. The theme is advent and we started by looking at some 'input' to the idea of advent:

  • eschatology
  • realisation of christ in us
  • when/do we expect christ to return?
  • what do we expect on christ's return?
  • does it make a difference to what we do/how we act knowing that He will return? eg jesus is coming - look busy
  • is advent and adventure?

and the train of thought took us into something along the temporal aspect, the waiting, the finite time we have on earth and how we use it. Hopefully itshould spark some intersting discussion.

grrrr my keyboard has had it, the space keeps sticking and it's making it difficult to post. I need a new o ne.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CSS review

CSS review on teletextHooray, another review on teletext. This time for the excellent Cansei De Ser Sexy gig from the other day, though I'm pretty sure I rated it at 9/10 - oh well. It's taken a while to be published and after contacting the editor I'm informed it is due to the fact that he has to limit pages to a maximum of 7 articals due to directives from his bosses. Booo I say, as it means much less space for the excellent reviews that appear on planet sound, and therefore less opportunity for live reviews from people like me. As always, click on the image to see it enlarged if you want to read it!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Beer, tea and football

Yesterday i went to the cask and cutler beer festival. It was, as expected, very good. I sampled quite a number of the beers on offer, and my favourite of the night was gaucho from the salamander brewery. Unfortunatley it had soon gone and replaced by another brew. When they have the festival they have a stack of casks in addition to the hand pull, and it amuses me when they go round with the watering can watering the towels draped over the top.
In contrast this morning was a church coffee morning round at Peter's house. He is one of our more elderly members, but is always very quick with his dry humour. Most people at our church are tea drinkers (maybe that's what makes us methodists!) and on asking what people would like to drink Peter said "would anyone like coffee, I guess I ought to make some with it being a coffee morning". There were a few takers, but the tea drinkers far exceeded them. It was also a good chance to talk about where we are going as a church, and how our thoughts might help in the current circuit review. The conversation was really useful and we plan to undertake some conversations within the circuit and also with neighbouring circuits. My feeling is that although we have a vision we want to offer the 'circuit - or whoever' and that there are probably people who would want to buy into that vision and help us attain that critical mass of people tomake it work, most people feel too committed to their own 'local efforts'. People are busy keeping their own walls from falling down without trying to build somenew ones, to use a metaphor. Perhaps this is true in general for methodism, instead of pooling circuit resources, individual churches are too busy maintaining their own local efforts, though i acknowledge in certain places these are working really effectively. But if we want to stop the decline in numbers then brave and difficult decisions need to be made on plant. There maybe less people, but these people are probably very passionate and unfortunately they probably become drained by the efforts of maintaining plant or church. These people should be freed to dream dreams and work in effective groups, without feeling obliged to maintain the status quo.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Booking tickets

I enjoyed the css gig so much on saturday I have bought tickets to see them in manchester next month and I'm looking forward to it already. Jonah and his friend are coming too, as they've heard good things. CSS are a brazilian band made up of a number of 'arty' friends who started the band as a joke, record producer, fashion designer, film director and fashion assistant. There's more info over at wikipedia if it takes your fancy.

Pretty polly is a pigeon

The last couple of weeks I've been finding church quite trying, it's not that the service is bad, it's just the effort in 'making it work' is spiritually unrewarding. I think we have dipped under the critical mass of people in order to make it work. It's really frustrating, cos I think we have something unique as a church of wide agerange, but all of a similar mind in terms of wanting to get something more from worship than compared to the traditional service. I just feel that we don't quite have the numbers to really grow these ideas, and then begin to focus on how we can share our faith with others. Particularly those dissatisified with traditional church, and those wishing to explore their faith. It is these latter ideas that would really excite me, but all efforts seem to go into hosting worship,and sometimes it just feels like putting on a performance. In fact the highlight of this sunday's service was when andrew discovered a pigeon had somehow managed to get into the community centre and was hiding in the office. i had to coax it outside using a cardboard tube and box lid, it eventually was coerced towards the door, which andrew opened and I edged it outside. I saw it later, pacing up and down the pavement!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tired of being sexy

LovefoxxI've been admiring a song called 'alala' that has been on the radio a fw times. Earlier this week I heard it again, and this time caught the name of the artiste, so I checked them out on the web. They are signed to sub pop and you can download a couple of tracks on their sub pop site. I noticed they were playing the leadmill, so I bought an impulse ticket, and I'm pleased i did. What a superb gig. This band make music that has to be seen live, a blend of bubblegum pop and punk, played with such enthusiasm and passion, it really is infective. Lovefoxx, the lead singer, is not only attractive, but one of the greatest stage presence I've seen. Dancing around the stage, diving into the audience, and generally being fairly unhinged, makes for a fantastic spectacle. in fact before they came on, Lovefoxx could be seen taking photos with fans and dancing at the front along to the support act. I recomend seeing this band.


today was the debrief meeting for highway projects and it was an unusual experience. The last time I was with a large group of this team was whilst out in Israel, and for some reason it felt weird to be around them agian. Seeing photos of the people we were working with made me realise how I miss them, and although at times it was a difficult mission, I really felt I was part of something larger, something that I couldn't grasp, but knew it was of worth. So the reminders today made me feel quite down, difficult to describe really. The worship was good, but it lacked something that we had whilst worshiping out in israel. In fact some of the worship and singing times we had out in Israel were superb, you could really sense the closeness of god's presence. Today there wasn't quite that connection, and maybe part of me was hoping that that would be there. That meeting up with some of my fellow missioners it would recreate that experience, that intimicy with god, that relationship with people, but no, it just felt vacant. So i left the day, not feeling refilled and excited and with fresh understanding of the mission, but really rather weary and despondant.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Living in a material world

The collapse of fare pack shows yet again the importance of wise investment. On one hand it looks like a great scheme that encourages people, particularly those on low incomes, to save money towards the cost of Christmas. The media response has been quite surprising and I wonder why this investment collapse is more newsworthy than the many other collapses of pension schemes etc that have happened. The collapse must be most hurtful to those people who have encouraged their friends and family to use the scheme, under the impression that it was a safe means of saving. They must feel like they have conned their friends. The aspect of this story that really concerns me is the way in which it is portrayed that without money and gifts it will be impossible for these families to have a good Christmas. MPs requesting money to help families have a good Christmas, supermarkets (who will benefit from the shopping in their stores) offering to help out, just fuels this idea of a capitalist Christmas, a celebration of wealth and the giving and receiving of gifts. It really seems that this is now what the public’s perception of this traditional holy day has become. A pagan sun festival adopted for the celebration of the birth of a saviour now demeaned as a day which requires wealth to enjoy. I remember my friend telling of how as a kid during the minor’s strike his family really had nothing at Christmas, no means at all to purchase gifts. The only gifts he received were some donated by the salvation army, yet despite this situation and the hardship, it really was a Christmas to remember, about a steadfast community united in a cause and not about how many gifts he received.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not making the grade

My reviews from the gig the other night didn't make the teletext grade :(

So I thought I'd post them here, seeing as I went to the trouble of writing them, I guess they aren't much good.

Monkey Swallows the Universe

Sheffield Foundry (student union) supporting Long Blondes 29/10

On the back of a highly rated debut album and acclaim in the Sheffield scene, mstu were given the opportunity to support the long blondes on their current tour. Distilling the folky pop sensibities of the Delgados through the ardour of Sheffield life, mstu produce a distinctive sound. Tonight the crowd are quickly wooed to the mix of guitars, recorders and strings accompanied by the beautifully beguiling voice of Nat Johnson. With performances like this it can only be a matter of time before their work is known more universally.


The Long Blondes

Looking back at times gone by it is easy to filter out all the awful foibles, fashion statements and Fame, and so watching the Long Blondes is like what you wish the eighties were really like when you reminisce. Power pop fused with punk served in retro-fashion splendour. In fact Dorian's haircut almost verges on 'Flock of Seagull' like majesty. The music could be dismissed as revivalist if not for the vocals and stage antics of Kate Jackson. Singing with the same passion as Poly Styrene from X-ray spex gives them an edge over their peers


Monday, November 06, 2006

Nice is nice

Alpes MaritimeJust spent a few days visiting my friend in Nice. It's still pretty warm out there, especially in the sun. Managed to fit in quite a lot of activities whilst there including a good deal of walking. Was chatting to my parents on my return yesterday, but they thought I'd been to Greece, not Nice, obviously some confusion!
So Nice really is nice, depite the upheval caused by the construction of some tram lines, the old town and market are pleasant to walk around. We also went to a nearby village, eze sur la mer, where we then climbed up the mountainside to the village of Eze, secluded atop the mountain with vast views across the sea. Being a sunny day we could see some bulges on the horizon which were quite probably the mountains of Corsica. In the afternoon we had a look around a museum dedicated to the biblical works of Marc Chagall, which I'd highly recommend, he has a very distinct style and there's some examples on flickr. Unfortunately the pics of the stained glass work did not come out. In the evening we went to the cinema and as Scoop was the only english film available that was not dubbed we settled for that. King David by ChagallIt was actually not too bad, though it was clear that a lot of the audience were woody alan fans as there were cheers when he appeared on the screen. You won't be surprised to find that he plays a bumbling neurotic character. Nevertheless there are the odd humourous moments, harmless fun. On the friday we took a train out to Saorge, a beautiful journey on a recently reconstructed track following an old important line bringing rocks, cement and salt. There are a number of villages dotted along this line, they are all built into the mountain side, high above the valley bottom. They really look incredible, and a feat of engineering, but I wonder how precarious some of the older buildings now are as they hover over these long drops. C has done many walks in the area, so we walked onto the other side of the valley to which she has previously walked. The paths are well marked with regular yellow rectangles to ensure that we are going in the correct direction. It was quite a challenging walk as we climbed up to 1300m above sea level, the views were incredible, seeing the border with Italy, the sea in the distance, and many more magnificent Alpine mountains. I do enjoy a good walk, though on the decent I realised that my wallet was no longer in my pocket. After first thinking that it had fallen out at the summit when we sat down to eat lunch, I decided it was more probable that it had fallen out in the train. At the end of the walk, we still had a couple of hours so we walked up to the village of Saorge, one of these mountain hugging villages. It was surprisingly large, with maze like narrow streets, quite picturesque. There was a wonderful shop selling cakes and nougart and a variety of incredibly tasty honey, sourced from various areas in the region. What an incredible array of flavours dependant upon the pollen used from the delicate acacia honey to the dark and nutty horsechesnut.I purchased a pot of high alpine honey with it's incredibly sweet taste and myriad of flavours. Fortunately someone had handed my wallet in to the lost property and we were able to retrieve it the following day, alas (that is probably the first time I've ever used that word, though I don't believe I've ever used it in conversation, or indeed ever heard it thus!) there was no longer any cash in it. On the flight back I got some good views of the alps with the moon above them. Photos can be found in my flickr set.