Sorting out stuff again. I think this is about 1966 or so. This was my little family then. Dad, Mum, me and Rosebud. (Rosebud is the doll – not my brother – he wasn’t born then. Although he did once try and change his middle name to Sparkly so he would probably be ok with the name). Apologies for the quality – it’s an old photo and it’s seen a lot of life. I think – even with the reduction in pictorial values, you can see that I was a stunning child – always beautifully turned out and a credit to my parents. By the way, you shouldn’t get the wrong idea. Despite appearances, I think it is unlikely that my parents were actually on speaking terms here – they usually weren’t. However – weren’t they gorgeous? Really good looking. I feel that Rosebud and I may be lowering the aesthetic tone a little. Now my father is ravaged by dementia and cancer and my mother has her own struggles – some of which I have documented here.

Again – I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression. I don’t really look back on this with much fondness (although I loved Rosebud very, very much). My father was a distant figure and AP and I have a “complicated” relationship. I think what surprised me about it most was that I remember it. I remember the photo being taken. And, cliched though it is I cannot believe where the time has gone.

I am a time waster. I don’t mean that I should spend every spare moment in noble pursuits that bring peace and harmony to the world. I can barely bring peace and harmony to my knicker drawer but I am aware of the time wasted reading stuff on my phone (not about Megan and Harry though – pages and pages in the papers and have you met one single person in real life who is bothered what they do?) But when I think of what I could have done from when this photo was taken to the present day I can feel quite defeated.

So, as an antidote to getting maudlin at Christmas and New Year (Not that I do obviously), I’m thinking of making a few changes. What’s the best way? Do people set targets? I’m not sure I would be very good at that. I always end up losing the exercise book I make the list in. But you don’t want it to be so wishy-washy that you think “What was I meant to be achieving this evening?” and then you can’t remember so you eat a Twix and play PS4 for six hours. (Again – not me equally obviously).

Lots of people I read have come up with words for the year. These are creative, organised people. I’m going to use “Redeeming” – the context being Redeeming the time from Ephesians. I think the King James Version has the edge here although I do like The Message talking about “Jumping out of your coffins.”

So I’m off now because I have important things to do. Because (klaxon) Vera is back!! Hurrah. I am off to mindfully watch it. Have a good week.

Tat-Ta 2019

There’s a scene in the new Star Wars – I don’t think it’s a spoiler because it happens in most Star Wars films, where someone has half the fire power of the galaxy thrown at them. There’s a huge blast with lots of smoke – the person must be dead. Then, out of the blue, he walks out of the smoke and everyone is astonished. This week, my friends, I am that person.

Blimey we’ve worked hard. Every spare moment has been spent getting Aged Parent moved and then settled. She is now in a nice flat with lots more support on site and a three course meal served every day in a lovely dining area. Obviously it isn’t plain sailing. Firstly, all the other residents are “too elderly.” The lady who runs the daily activities is “very bossy and needs putting in her place” and some of the meals have been “just awful.” This led to AP cancelling her lunch twice and living on Marks and Spencer pineapple cakes for two days. We are hoping that this is just a temporary glitch because she is a bit nervous and unsettled. Still it was borderline funny watching the lady from the Crisis Team, (who has always insisted that AP would be fine here) as her face fell when confronted with an unhappy AP who told her “There are not my kind of people in here.” HOH and I are not too worked up about all this at the moment. We know from experience that it could just as easily turn on a sixpence and she will love everyone all of a sudden. Either way, there’s no Plan B so lets hope so.

I hope all are well. I have been lurking and reading blogs even though I haven’t had the wherewithal to comment. Lots of people have been very thoughtful about 2019. I haven’t really had time to be looking back at things although I wish I had. Best I can manage is Favourite Film – Knives Out. Catch it if you can. (Little Women nearly made it but botched the ending – simply wonderful other than that. Will talk about it at later date.) Favourite Book – Probably “Educated” by Tara Westover although I also listened to “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker which I loved. It was the first time I had listened to an audio-book and I liked it a lot. Does anyone else do it? I am thinking of a subscription to Audible or something. Best Christian book was Pete Grieg’s How to Pray – nearly always normal and very helpful. Best Telly for me was Chernobyl (and I had to be cajoled into watching that) with Mum a close second. I didn’t bother with Dracula. There are times when you know that you are not the target audience. Although, I loved the line in all the adverts – “I’m undead – I’m not unreasonable.” Also, I very much enjoyed watching Marcus Rashford score the penalty that – against anything that right-thinking people could ever believe would happen – sent Manchester United through to the next round of the European Cup by beating Paris St Germain. I don’t suppose that counts as a telly programme but it’s the only thing that made me stand up and cheer so there. Best Podcast was Fortunately – which makes me laugh every episode and Brexitcast was very helpful (and funny). For the record, I have been a big fan of the BBC’s election coverage and I include Laura Kunnsberg in that. I think it is unlikely that she or any of them for that matter are secretly in the pay of (a) Big Business or (b) Russia.

Most overrated things for me? The Irishman on Netflix. The performances were very good but three and a half hours long! I cleaned the bathroom halfway through and came back and it didn’t seem like I had missed much. Also Fleabag. I mean it was fine and everything and shes obviously very clever but….I don’t think I found it as shocking as I was supposed to.

So onwards hopefully. Last year’s worst event was the loss of Morecambe which we are still dealing with. Both of us have been surprised by just how much a snappy Jack can get under your skin. Speaking of loss, Rev Richard Coles lost his husband Rev. David Coles just before Christmas. Now how you feel about gay marriage is up to you. I am not your conscience one way or the other (heaven forfend). As I have said before, I am not really sure where I am, so I’m happier not preaching or judging – just liking people as best I can. However – the Reverend Richard has received hate correspondence over the death of David. Much of it contained scriptures (often underlined in green etc.) which he has had to hand over to the police. Now, quite apart from what kind of light this shows Christianity in, I am going to make a bold statement. I would say that if your only reaction to a tragedy like this is to preach and scold, then I would question your faith. I would question if you have ever looked into the face of God and known his forgiveness and grace or the relief of sins forgiven. There. I have said it and I am unanimous in this. (Thanks Mrs Slocombe)

I think that I have nagged enough. Except to say that if you follow me on Bloglovin’ I am thinking of unsubscribing from it. I keep getting new followers that want to show me their knickers and things and there is no way to block them. I am not important enough in the firmament to put up with this nonsense so at some stage in the future I will probably quit – when I get time. If you still want to read my stuff I am on Facebook (Author Page) and Twitter (When I remember but I always post a link). I will post further updates as and when. Have a good week.

A Poached Egg

Please ignore the title. It will prove fairly relevant hopefully. Stay with me. The photo is of me. We found it clearing out Aged Parent’s flat. I am approximately six years old and am being forced to go on Whit Walks against my will. Whit Walks. for those of a tender age or from faraway lands was – indeed probably still is – a parade of Sunday School Scholars in Manchester held very Whit Sunday. I was being forced to wear a headdress with tight elastic and I wasn’t happy. This lack of interest in putting in any effort when it comes to my looks is lasting well into my dotage. I don’t remember much about the walks. There was always an older girl with a really long train with fabric handles in it. All the younger children then took a handle and walked behind her in a parade while our mothers ran alongside shouting things like “Keep your head up!” and “For goodness sake straighten your face!” I remember it being quite competitive between the churches and I also remember really good brass bands and rain. What it had to do with the Feast Of Pentecost, I have no idea.

The expression on my face is an accurate reflection of my mood at the moment (the election, AP’s flat move, Manchester United, how rubbish the new series of The Crown has become etc. etc). Also, as part of an Advent Pause I am here to complain about The Nativity. Not the original one which is beyond reproach. I am talking about some of the modern ones.

A school in Chingford has just decided to take all references to Jesus being King out of their Nativity to prevent it being too exclusive. So “Jesus the Saviour” in one Carol has been replaced with “Jesus the Baby” and “New King born today.” has been replaced with “A baby born today”. (On top of everything else, these are rubbish lines that could be part of the theme tune to “One Born Every Minute, they are so naff). Apparently, it was all done after consultation with local church where someone needs to be re-thinking their life choices. I mean I am quite happy to spread my wings with a Nativity. I have seen them with astronauts, steel bands and once with Puff the Magic Dragon. (We all felt that teacher maybe needed to look at what Puff the Magic Dragon actually was and then ask herself if a song extolling soft drugs is quite the thing for five year olds to be singing)

But – it it what it is. And if it’s not about Jesus being King/Lord/Saviour, then it’s not a Nativity and you need to be telling another story. I saw one about flowers once – it was rubbish and a little red headed girl sustained a nasty plastic daffodil injury – but at least it was honest. You can’t pick the bits of the story that you like and ignore the rest. CS Lewis, in this famous paragraph, puts it much better than me (Obviously)

‘ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

See? Title? Got there in the end. Phew!

And, if churches aren’t prepared to stand up for this and lily-livered, half baked Christians like me are the last line of defence for the Gospel, then goodness knows where this is going to end.

Here ends A Rant in Advent. Be Blessed.

Before I go – I am not sure that I will blog this week. It’s Aged Parent’s move week as you know and there is a lot going on. I may or may not emerge intact. She is excited though and I leave you with our exchange about how up for it she is. I tell you no secrets – there were five people in the room.

Me HOH has been up to the flat and the decorating is great and the carpets are all cleaned. It looks fab.

AP Oooh. Don’t get me all excited. I have lots of wind in my belly and I don’t know what might happen.

Have a good week.

More of the same…

Hello all. Just calling in with a couple of recommendations etc. It’s all a bit busy this end what with the move and everything. HOH, myself and various people who Aged Parent calls friends (sometimes) are rallying to try and avert almost certain disaster in the moving department. AP has decided that her contribution will be to sit on her favourite chair and dispense orders to her loyal packers. (Think Yul Brynner as Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments and you’ll have the idea). All AP’s friends are gentle souls and they get on with it. I, however, am not going to take lying down an instruction that the entire contents of a six foot tall storage cupboard should just be loaded wholesale into the van.

“Well, if you don’t, I’ll have nothing to wear. I can’t find any trousers as it is.”

Hmm. Cast your mind back a couple of weeks and see if you can remember why you now only possess one pair of pink cord loon pants that two of you can fit in. (This I think but do not say.) Anyway, we continue and we make progress and that is enough.

Did you see the Glenda Jackson performance in “Elizabeth is Missing” ? I’ll be honest, I thought the throwback story was a bit silly but I suppose you have to hang the tale on something. Some of the dementia scenes were so accurate, they were upsetting, which is, of course, what dementia is. Jackson was extraordinary I thought and if any other actors are hoping to win a BAFTA next time, it is probably best to give it up now and move on. It’s for the best.

We have managed two trips to the pictures which makes me happy. There are a lot of very meaningful and deep movies out there at the moment – many of them on Netflix and I will be there for them. However, there are times in a person’s life when what they need is Jumanji 2! Hurrah. Cinema full of kids. Bag of Maltsesers. Laughed like a drain. No regrets. No apologies.

We were slightly more dignified at Knives Out. This is highly recommended. An Agatha Christie pastiche – a clever, very starry, whodunit, lots of twists and turns, a great performance from Daniel Craig which makes a pleasant change from him mugging miserably through the latest Bond. It’s not everywhere but if you see it, it’s definitely worth a trip.

And finally – a book. Miracles and Other Unreasonable Things by Sarah Bessey – the author of Jesus Feminist and a woman going through a Christian crisis. She struggles with her faith community, the things she’s always believed and the black and white certainties of the prosperity gospel she had been brought up in. (By the way, by prosperity gospel, I don’t mean people shouting I’M RICH BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS! I mean having a formula for answered prayer, miracles, etc. which does include I’M RICH etc etc sometimes). On top of that she is involved in a car accident which almost kills her and is very difficult to come back from. She documents her time after the accident – including an eventful visit to meet the Pope – and the way her one to one relationship with God progresses. This is not a simple “I was there and now I am here and all is well” type of story. She writes about her feelings and the way she sees God. I’ll be honest – there were times when I had no idea what she was talking about but there were also times when I found it very moving.

Right then, I’m off to peek round the corner of the election results and see what we will be dealing with. I felt that however I voted that I would be letting people down, such was the quality of the candidates before us. But, vote we must and then pray that all will indeed be well.

Pause in Advent 2

It is the week of the General Election in the UK and I am possibly be a little negative. (Really? You cry?) Just a small set of thoughts about Advent interrupted as it is by the General Election. Please note that this is not a “Don’t Vote” tirade. You must vote. The Democratic Election of our Representatives is essential. Just..who? Also, when I say General Election, I’m not sure if it is that at all really because surely that implies sane and sensible choices that we have to make about the brightest and the best of us who are seeking to lead the country.

The Prime Minister – Boris Johnson

The prime minister also said the availability of social housing acts as an “enticement” for young women to have children, and used this position as an argument for cutting benefits in order to leave women in “destitution on a Victorian scale” – to act as a deterrent to unmarried women having children.

Luciana Berger – ex Labour Party MP

Of the six people convicted in court of offences against her, four were from the political right and two from the left. Four of them received prison sentences, and more cases may follow. She recounts the various incidents with a calmness that is almost jarring given what she is describing: images of her head being Photoshopped onto rats and pornographic photos, letters signed by self-declared supporters of her former party leader and delivered to her office by hand, warning that she would be raped, stabbed and covered in acid.

Andrew Garcarz – Brexit Party Candidate

Islam is the problem, and until we destroy them, the world will never be a safe place’.

Jo Swinson – Liberal Democrat Leader – Voting Record

Almost always voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the “bedroom tax”)

Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices

Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability

Also in this election campaign – a thirteen year old boy is arrested for stabbing a woman to death. A man is identified making monkey chant noises at a black footballer in the Manchester Derby and a man stabs to death two people who are working to rehabilitate him back into society in a terrorist attack.

It’s hard to concentrate on Christmas – Goodwill to all men, presents, cards. joy etc. But, the whole idea was always that Jesus was to be born into such a world as this. This week I saw someone on Instagram talking about how we tackle the world’s ills in a “Post Christian World.” Nincompoop! First of all try telling Christians in Latin America, China and Africa that this is a post Christian world – all the millions of them. And I believe that the baby, in the stable, was the beginning of the rescue plan. We obviously cannot do this on our own.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel