Whatcha watching?

I am seriously considering having a glug of whatever is in the water these peonies are in. They are bonkers!

Anyway, what are you watching? Or reading? Or listening to? I’m going to forego the usual reminders about extra free time and people (i.e. me) who are working just as much as they were before because everyone’s working hours seem to be increasing now. This may explain the mad rush to the beaches of Britain like the last days of a holiday. There’s a lot of warnings around about second waves of Corona etc. If that happens – Devon and Cornwall will be at the forefront of the spike judging by how many millions of people are trying to get onto the beaches. Go Home! It’s not as if any of the shops are open so the traders can benefit from the extra sales. I live round here and I can get to a beach in about five minutes but these people are in the car for hours. Keep your nasty virus round your way if you don’t mind.

I have just finished reading One, Two Three, Four by Craig Brown which is a book about the Beatles. Usually, I wouldn’t bother about a book about the Beatles – not because they weren’t jolly good – because obviously they were but because I kind of think I may have seen it all before. I used to live in a house with FOW2 who is a Beatles nerd so much of it is known to me. But, this is excellent. There’s lots of stuff I didn’t know, lots of different angles on the commonly known things and brilliant descriptions of the current Beatles business. It’s also really funny. A couple of caveats. It’s a hardback and new so it’s quite expensive at the moment. I have nineteen people on the waiting list to read it. Also, if you are a big fan of Yoko Ono and her contribution to both “World Peace” and art, it may be best to give it a miss. The author isn’t her biggest fan. The passages about her poetry are some of the funniest in the book.

I am actually watching very little on the Telly. HOH is very taken with The A Word (although it makes him cry) and State of Happiness (set in Norway) but I can’t be bothered with all the angst. The most I can deal with at the moment is repeats of Lucy Worsley documentaries on BBC4. Speaking of which, there was a rumour going around that the BBC were thinking of ditching BBC4. This means that – apart from Match of the Day – I would formally have no reason to pay my TV Licence. Along with many others, I signed a petition about it and apparently the BBC are now saying that it was all a misunderstanding. It better be!

We did watch the Michelle Obama documentary on Netflix. She seems lovely and properly aware of the impact of having a woman descended from slaves in the White House. It was all very inspiring although I could probably do without the people weeping hysterically in front of her while she was signing their books. She’s a very, very interesting and inspiring lady but, I wouldn’t have thought she could actually cure your diseases. To be fair to her, she looked quite horrified at people’s reactions. It’s easy to get carried away at these things I know. Aged Parent met Alvin Stardust at Blighty’s nightclub once and she said that was very nice.

We are, of course watching Sewing Bee. This is a tonic for the nation. I know nothing about sewing and am continually astonished at the complete masterpieces people produce in ninety minutes. It’s all so kind and lovely and Patrick Grant looks like a WW2 fighter ace which seems weirdly appropriate – perhaps because he was closed his company to exclusively make PPE. And, I will take no criticism of Joe Lycett. I know not everyone likes him but his little chats with the models are the highlight of my life at the moment.

Aged Parent is a bit fed up but otherwise well. The Retirement Home manager sent a quiz round this afternoon. She had no hesitation in phoning me three times (when I was in the middle of a webinar) because she didn’t know one of the answers. When she couldn’t get me – she phoned her friend who went on Google. This is actually cheating I know but she is unrepentant. The fact that they got any kind of answer from her at all is a miracle anyway. It was beyond me.

AP…….Which King had the same name as an actor

ME…….(Completely nonplussed) No idea.

AP…….(Triumphantly) Jayne Seymour!

ME…….That’s not a king – that’s a queen!

AP…….(Unconcerned but quite snappish) Same thing. Anyway – it’s only a bit of fun.

Living and Learning

Captain’s Log – Stardate…Well, I really don’t have the faintest idea. Heaven knows how Captain Kirk et all kept track of everything while they were stuck on one spaceship indefinitely and zig-zagging in and out of time zones. I am losing track of time and life actually.

Speaking of Zigging and Zagging, it’s all getting a bit fraught out there now that it’s a bit busier. I have noticed that people of a certain age – i.e. me (also HOH) naturally step into the road to let people go past. If the people we are moving for are also of a certain age then usually they will say thank you and sometimes we exchange lockdown pleasantries. However, I have to be honest, a lot of the younger sort don’t even seem to notice that you have moved and, if they are running, you can forget it. (Good grief! I am turning into my Nana whose hobby was hating everything and everyone. She had an upbringing that resembled a Dickins novel. We gave her a lot of slack).

Anyway, behold some of the things that have been giving me jip this week…

I have been really busy sorting out stuff for the charity I work for this week. I saw a webinar about charity giving saying that it was down across the board. Obviously, lots of people have less disposable income but actually quite a few people have more because they are not going out and spending it. Unfortunately giving is down because people are so uncertain about the future. People are giving to NHS charities (although my thoughts about this are well documented elsewhere on this blog) and to national charities. A lot of those will be alright as well because the government is giving directly to them. (A charity person said to me this week that Covid 19 was the best thing that had happened to a certain big charity – they were struggling before and financially this was going to be a huge boost). If charity giving is part of your thinking, please consider giving locally to smaller schemes. A lot of them will fall through the cracks.

I also heard a sermon this week that annoyed me because it was true. The preacher questioned our relationship with money and asked what we could be doing for the poor that we are not doing. Could we help more than we do? Well, I certainly could.

I have apparently been quite controversial this week by posting this on Facebook. A few people got in touch because it appeared quite negative. It wasn’t meant to be particularly negative. Realistic maybe but not negative. Once I was in a situation where I believe God told me that the people/person I was talking to did not have my best interests at heart. (Actually, there was no “I believe” about it – he deffo did tell me). This was not a woo-woo voice in the sky. (Apologies if you are often in receipt of those – I am not). I saw a message – not written on a wall by a ghostly hand or anything. It was an email that I got to see by mistake. I wasn’t mad at the person who sent it (well I was a bit mad). However, I was more grateful that God hadn’t let me carry on making a fool of myself thinking that this person was being genuine with me.

I think I just posted it because I was thinking that Christianity is full of adulting. It requires doing things right like looking after the poor and the needy. It requires being open and loving to people and not just pretending to. I am guilty of having failed at all of the above with big, brass shiny knobs on but I’m not just supposed to leave it there. It’s not like learning to crochet or do a handstand – neither of which I will ever master so I have walked away with a dismissive wave of my hand. I am under no obligation to give them another go. Other people can do it much better than I can. This faith I profess does not give me that option. I am underpinned by love. and that makes it a bit weird really because I am secure as I am, yet despite or maybe because of that God-given security, I am still obliged to keep trying to do better.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jeremiah 31


So – that’s fine then. Our Prime Minister has spoken and now we just need to…well I’ll be honest, I have no idea. To be fair, I’m not sure what he was supposed to say. The fact is that the only reason that infection levels have dropped is because we are all holding each other at arm’s length. If we all come skipping out hand in hand (as a few did on V.E. Day apparently) things will soon be exactly as they were in April surely?

Still, there was a lack of detail and, for me, the biggest gap was any give on family. Can you visit and have a socially distanced cup of tea? Who knows? I have no answers either. Aged Parent is working on the premise that the lockdown is permanent I think and she seems to be fine with it. The thing that annoyed her most is that the manager at the sheltered housing has put a notice on her door saying “Do Not Enter!” It has not occurred to AP that this is a safety measure for her own good.

“The trouble with her is that she doesn’t want to know us. Fancy putting a notice like that on your door. Too good for us is she?”

I’ll be honest. I didn’t contradict her. Sometimes it’s all quite tiring.

This weekend was going to be our son and his girlfriend’s wedding. It was disappointing obviously but, in the end, they weren’t too bad. I think strong drink may have been taken. It made HOH and me think about some of the things we had begun to plan that has all gone South now

  1. Weekend in Amsterdam
  2. Weekend in Paris with FOW2
  3. Weekend in Rome (Possibly pushed to December but who knows.)
  4. FOW2’s trip to Canada to see chum
  5. FOW1 and Enamorata’s trip to Vegas

And that’s just us. I’m sure lots of people have much more than us going on. We went to church this morning ( i.e. our setee and YouTube) and the speaker was talking about James Chapter 4

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Well, we are all walking, talking personification of this now. It would never have occurred to me that planning to go here or there would be such a big deal. If this wasn’t all so horrible, you might say this was a long-overdue wake-up call. Life is fragile. We say it a lot but we don’t really believe it – until we find a worrying lump or have a bump in the car that could have been so much worse. (Or the world is hit by a GINORMOUS VIRRULANT PANDEMIC THAT COULD KILL MILLIONS!)

We talked this morning about a lost year and the plans we may never fulfil. Then we were chatting about Syria (as you do) and saying that this insecurity about tomorrow is something that your average man on the street there has lived with for a long time (combined of course with the ravaged health service and hiding under the bed with your babies to hopefully escape the worst of the bombing).

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making plans, looking forward to things and having ambition. But I am learning that I don’t have a right to anything. My life is not on a plate served up for me to take whatever I feel entitled to. (HUGE CLICHE ALERT) It is, however, a gift that I have done nothing to deserve. In my better moments, it makes me go all Michelle Obama and ask myself what I am going to do with it all – if I get the chance.

Times and Seasons and all that

What are you reading? It is with great regret that I am announcing my abandonment of Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I am a big fan of the precise and warm writing of Robinson. When I read Home – I was thinking about it for days. I got into a conversation on Twitter with people who weren’t that thrilled with her and I trilled on and on about the glory of this writer. And now I am giving up on her. I feel bad. Except I don’t really. It’s the time and the season I think.

I think even Robinson’s fans will tell you that not much really happens in her books. But I haven’t read, anyone who evokes the dirt poor, life on the edge existence of rural America as she does. She is not Lee Childs in a frock – nor would she want to be. And at the moment, I just can’t do it. In fact, because I have read Home, and I am reading them in the wrong order, I do know more or less how it ends. Without spoiling too much an old pastor falls in love with Lila but she has a past full of abuse and is – by her own admission – unreliable and ready to bolt. Will she break his heart? Will she make him cry? I currently don’t have the wherewithal to find out. If she hurts him I will do myself a damage. I am also sure that CS Lewis said that if you don’t like a book then it’s ok to abandon it and that is good enough for me.

I think I may be living with too much else at the moment. Worry, sorrow, being completely pooped. I’m not sure and I know that I am certainly not alone. I am shaking my head at the news and, just when you think the levels of incompetence can’t go any lower (higher?), you suddenly find that they can.

So I have abandoned what is a beautiful book for now and bought the Andrea Shulman book about Clothes. AND it’s a hardback. AND I paid almost full-price. AND I flipping love it. At one point last night I was reading a chapter which started with her listing everything that was in her handbag. I love that kind of thing. Obviously, she doesn’t just say – this is a bag, this is a cardi, this is a skirt. She talks about trends, and craftsmanship and what certain items mean to her. I am very nosey. She likes a bit of a gossip and I appreciate that and I am enjoying it very much. If you’re shallow and you know it clap your hands!

If I understood self-care and all that, I would probably say this was an example of it. But, I’m just doing something I like and don’t feel I need to impress myself. That’s all. Anyone else the same?

Also – re Devs. We finished it and I almost understood it all. All I want to ask is (trying not to be spoilery) at the end is Sergei now going to be involved in the same bag over the head carry on or will that not happen again? Don’t expect you to know really. Thought it was good though.

Aged Parent is still doing well. Partly because she has never considered herself an old person. So when she says “This disease is running amok among the elderly”. She never for a moment considers that this might include her, which is a good way to be at the moment I think. She is very keen though that I don’t think that she is too happy or settled.

Me What have you been doing this afternoon.

AP I’ve been in the garden, we had a laugh

Me That’s nice.

AP Well I didn’t laugh too much. Don’t get carried away.


I put this photo on Facebook this morning before we settled down to watch a Sunday morning church. Like the religious maniacs we are – we tend to do a couple – one is our local church and the other is a pastor who used to be at our church and is (a) a really good speaker and (b) a top-notch bloke so we aren’t going to miss this opportunity to hear him speak while we can.

Church looks very different at the moment. And, whisper it, some of it is better. Obviously it’s not the same actually “being” there and talking and sharing and being able to show your displeasure at any dodgy theological points by folding your arms and coughing loudly. I think Admin must be a bit of a nightmare because – let’s face it – Zoom is not the same as a meeting with Church Council that finished with a nice cup of tea and Sheila’s scones. (This is an actual thing. If left to my own devices I could probably eat about seven before I started to feel a bit odd) We have used Zoom for work and everyone is so excited about actually getting it to work that we spend far too long on it because we are so thrilled at our technical know-how. Then, of course, no one wants to be the first to leave the meeting. What is the etiquette?

I did notice as well that despite being up an hour before it started and only having to walk ten feet to the telly, we still only just made it. What’s that about? BUT. Maybe, there are some serious things to think about. Some people have been saying that they have taken crafts and knitting to “new” church. And I have to ask why not? Is it just because we have never done it? Is that a good enough reason? A couple of years ago, we went to a groovy new local C of E for a few months. Aged Parent had decided that she would like to try it for a while and we decided to support her. (The desire to attend this church was more or less based on the fact that the vicar had said that he felt that God had told him that she was an encourager – like Barnabas. I feel it would not be encouraging for anyone for me to share what HOH muttered about the vicar working on his discernment gifts because something was definitely awry here) Anyway, when we arrived, we were steered to the bar to pick up coffee and pastries to eat during the meeting. It was very popular, especially with the local homeless community who quickly worked out that there was a decent Continental Breakfast to be had in exchange for a couple of handshakes on the door and a quick dance with a lady in a life-sized teddy bear costume who was there to welcome the children. Excellent.

I didn’t ever really partake, to be honest. Being brought up in a church where sucking an Extra Strong Mint (other mints are available) in the service might get you a reprimand for disrespecting the pulpit, coffee in the service just didn’t seem right to me. Any decent reason why not? No, not really. And there are plenty of people I have seen in meetings who could probably do with a shot of two of caffeine before we get the ball rolling. I’m saying nothing but if you are telling me that, after a particularly long week, you haven’t struggled with droopy eyelids sometimes then you are a better man than me.

I just wondered, how much do we do just because we have always done it? Believe me, I am the Queen of Tradition. I’m not sure that there has been a better hymn written since “O For A Thousand Tongues” and one of my fondest childhood memories is an early evening trip to church, seeing people walking to the meeting, carrying their bibles. This makes me a bit snippy when it comes to people not bringing bibles to church – even though loads will now have them on their phones and also, this snippiness does not apply to me when I am in a hurry. But, this is a once in a generation chance to ask ourselves, is it time to look at things differently. Apparently, the numbers of people searching for meetings online is huge. People are still searching, still wondering and although the message is the same as it ever was, do we need to meet people where they are first? How do we welcome people to “church”? I wouldn’t much want to miss whatever it is that’s happening here.

In the spirit of something different – you have probably seen this but it is so brilliant I am sharing it here. Sometimes, when church gets it right, it is really right. Not only is it musically special but note that it is a blessing. In these times – a blessing – on you and yours and me and mine.