The week has been mainly taken up with sorting out FOW2’s move out, HOH’s Birthday (he doesn’t want to talk about it. He feels the numbers in his age are the wrong way round) and trying to qualify for the Olympic Coughing Team. The sore throat spoken of last week (do try and remember) has turned into a hacking cough. Entertainingly for HOH it is worse when I lie down to try and sleep. I would move to the back room but FOW1 took his bed when he left so am showing willing by propping myself up on pillows. Not helping much – I keep waking up bent double with my face on my knees and panicking that I may have gone blind.

The Top Vicar came round as promised. As usual with new visitors, he made very bold statements about liking dogs but, after a short while, he was very relieved by our offer to lock our bouncy Jack Russell in the kitchen. Morecambe is only trying to be friendly but he does overdo it I know. It doesn’t help that HOH keeps telling people about how Morecambe once became so happy when the gas man came, that he widdled up his leg – just from pure joy. TV was wearing shorts and therefore also a guarded look whenever Morecambe ran up to him. The meeting went fine. I am not sure Vicar knows what to do with us. Not that he has to do anything of course, it’s not his responsibility to make us happy. I would just like to find my niche, you know? I am a woman but I work full time and my kids have left home so I don’t get to go to Toddler Club or Ladies’ Bible Study etc. We shall see.

Brexit continues to vex my troubled mind. I have stated that, on balance, I was a remainer. (Although it was a fine balance and, even if we had stayed, I would have liked to see plenty of reform) However, I held my hands up to the will of the people, as I have said. However, in the course of my work, I come across a lot of old people and…well, I’m finding it troubling that they had a vote. One chap kept going on about Churchill and how he wouldn’t have stood for it – Europe that is. Well…This is Churchill in 1957

We genuinely wish to join a European free trade area – and if our continental friends wish to reach agreement, I am quite sure a way can be found and that reasonable adjustments can be made to meet the essential interests of all.

Another bloke spoke about Margaret Thatcher and that her dearest wish was for us to leave, except, this is her speechwriter

“She fought hard for specific British advantages, where necessary to opt out of some of the EU arrangements, but she never in her time as prime minister contemplated or spoke about leaving the European Union.”

By all means vote for something you believe in but don’t base it on some fantasy idea about what a past leader would vote for. While you are at it, let’s see if we can canvas the support of Captain Mainwaring, Elsie Tanner, Richard The Lionheart and Gracie Fields as well.

I have spent more time than usual in front of the Telly Telly Bunkum Box (Thank you Roald Dahl for the genius description) and have come across “Keeping Faith” For those who don’t know, this is a Welsh Drama about a lawyer whose lawyer husband disappears – without trace – poof! Faith – for she is the lawyer wife in question, now has to find her husband, while keeping the law firm going and looking after her small children, All this she does admirably. Indeed, she seemed to spend most of the episode that I watched slinking in and out of police cells on her beautifully long legs and kicking off her lovely high heels to speak to clients. She has also developed a disconcerting habit of wafting into rooms in her underwear and lying down on a convenient table or worktop and staring up at the ceiling while being filmed from above. Now, I’m not saying I blame her and if I was as beautiful as she is, I would do my fair share of slinking as well (see above). All I’m saying is that when my friend’s cat went missing for about five hours, the only lying down she did was face down on the carpet while she cried and snotted for England so I would have expected Faith to be a bit more upset. Also, there is a baddie policewoman who is trying to pin the whole thing on Faith by the looks of things. We know she is a baddie because she has a terrible kind of Human League haircut, the most unflattering dark brown hair dye and a permanently disappointed air. Having said all this, HOH has annoyingly pointed out that I happily watched the whole thing from beginning to end and will certainly go back for the next episode. Bah!

Aged Parent continues to recover. I had arranged Meals on Wheels for a few weeks. (It’s now called Community Meals Service – not as catchy if you ask me) She had the first one which she declared delicious, then promptly cancelled the whole thing after the second meal arrived.

“They sent me a baked potato! One baked potato! Me! I ask you!”

I have no idea. Have a good week.

In my defence, I sat down to post here on Sunday and something horrible was going on with red words that I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t get into the blog at all. I don’t know about you but if something technical goes wrong when I blog, I have no idea where to start. I texted someone I know who is very technical but he is always very busy and didn’t have time to get back to me but then I signed on tonight and it is working. Maybe my technical person has done something remotely, maybe it would have got better anyway or maybe it’s a miracle.  YOU decide.

To update you, because I know you are worried about me. Aged Parent has come home, having made good progress. Well, to be honest, I think the respite care home may have got a bit fed up of her bellowing “EVERYONE IN HERE IS DEMENTED!” at perfectly sane people so they turfed her out. Her friend with the tight socks had put a lovely, rather touching note under the door about how much she missed her. So I left them, discussing all the gossip in the sheltered housing unit that Aged Parent had missed. They were both very taken with the news that someone had sprayed a full bottle of tomato ketchup over the front door of their neighbour. Why would someone do that? Against my better judgement, I decided to spice things up a bit and joked that maybe it was some kind of Mafia warning. Disconcertingly, they both felt this was completely plausible. I left them working through how their neighbour had come to the attention of the Mafia. Aged Parent has to have her arm in plaster for five weeks and she is very keen that I look on the Internet for a way to sue the driver who ran her over. (I am not going to look on the Internet)

So, Head Vicar visited tonight and managed to be very normal and nice. We blathered on like idiots about how strangely settled we had felt in the C of E after so many years in the Pentecostal movement. I, by the way, have to give some credit for this to Pen Wilcock and her amazing Hawk and the Dove series which is about monks and therefore a very structured way of life. All her characters are so lovely and approachable that I kind of felt an affinity with them which made me more settled with the idea of worship with an altar in the room etc. This would go against all my Aged Parent (male version) taught me as he is from a brethren background and feels that, in the main, Ian Paisley’s white mac was just the wrong side of frivolous.

On Tuesday night my head (complete with sore throat) hit the pillow and it was immediately filled with

  1. Aged Parent and multiple visits to check she isn’t living on chocolate oranges and trifle
  2. FOW2 and imminent move to Exeter
  3. FOW2’s imminent need for job to fund move to Exeter and Masters study
  4. Trips to shops for HOH’s birthday present
  5. Dog’s new hobby of waking at 4.30am and demanding to be taken into our bed
  6. Inability to lose half a stone and be able to zip up work dresses
  7. Remembering to clean bathroom just in case Head Vicar needs to go
  8. Returning linen jacket bought in sale because it gives me shoulders like Dave Batista
  9. Need to phone people in North of England to let them know about Aged Parent saga

All these things need to be done (except perhaps number 6) and lying there with eyes wide open on verge of minor panic attack, I was thinking about the quote above and then, rather ungraciously, I thought – “well it’s ok for you with your hours of reading and philosophising and nothing else”. However, when I thought about it, maybe he was saying that, ok these things have to be done and sometimes there is pressure but do things have to be done with worry and hand wringing? What if they were done with peace and calm and trust and then, while in the middle of doing all the things, I made sure that I slowed down before launching myself into the next exciting episode? Maybe it is possible to do many things slowly, eliminating hurry and replace it with deliberation and calm. I’m not saying I have ever found it to be so but if it were possible, I think it would be a very good thing.

 

Four things to talk about.

Can I talk about the football? I know that if you don’t like it, it will be a trial but bear with me. I will not bore you with the challenges of VAR or whether France really were all that. I wanted to just talk briefly about Gareth Southgate.  I don’t know about you but I have watched a man model a different kind of leadership. It has been born out of humility and empathy. His players were encouraged to be respectful – both of their opponents and each other. It seemed that this was part of his upbringing where hard work and respect went hand in hand. Even the fabled waistcoat was inherited from his grandfather who would always wear one to a formal occasion because that’s what decent people did. I was very proud of our reputation in the World Cup – we played ok – a bit too much reliance on dead ball moments for my personal taste but more than that, we were fun, diverse and forward looking. Oh and this photo of Gareth and his Mrs after it was all done is my favourite of the whole World Cup (including all the ones of Marcus Rashford and that is saying something)Brexit. I don’t do politics because I am trying to avoid stuff that makes me think that there is no hope – at all – ever. But, I have to say that is is all very worrying. I’m not really a fan of the European Union – there’s a democracy gap and the idea of ever closer union is not what you would call thrilling but it is the jobs I fear for. At this very moment, companies are making plans to withdraw from this country if it doesn’t go well. This is not a drill, investment has been frozen in car manufacturers and financial services are making plans etc. If we don’t do this properly, I think many, many jobs will be lost. And I can’t escape the sneaking suspicion that there are those in power, with huge personal wealth, immune to any financial crash, who feel that this risk is worth taking in order to regain “Sovereignty” My old mother always used to say that only God was sovereign, I think he’s the only one can be trusted with it. The rest of us should be concentrating on kindness and other assorted tasks.

Speaking of Aged Parent, she has managed to get run over. Well, I say “run over” no-one can work out exactly what happened. I had a phone call from paramedic who assured me that she was ok – just a nudge with a car – she has a broken wrist. There was then a sort of scuffling sound in the ambulance which, I assume, was Aged Parent wrestling the phone away and she informed me that “It wasn’t a nudge. I have been properly run over and am very, very injured.” Anyway, we spent a happy evening in A and E in which the broken wrist was established. She was fairly well behaved, except when she informed a startled nurse that she had “banged her cock pretty badly” (coccyx Mum!). She is now in a residential home for a few weeks. These people seem far better at dealing with her than I am. I rang to see if she had settled and the carer seemed puzzled. “Er yes. She seems fine. We haven’t heard she isn’t.  Believe me, we soon know if there is a problem.” I have to admit, I had a bit of a quiet teary moment in the hospital when it all got a bit too much. A very kind consultant noticed me and came up and reassured me that Aged Parent would be fine. Felt too ashamed to say that I was crying for me as I am sick of hospitals and have just started a much needed week off work which was now going to be packed with medical stuff etc. Am selfish but just couldn’t help it. Just a word here about my lovely Head of House. He has been my taxi, my asker at Reception, my glasses finder and all round good egg. Would just like to make my thankful heart public here.

The best thing. We all went to Exeter University to see FOW2 graduate with a First in Film Studies. (See Happy Family above) For those who think that Film Studies is just watching a lot of movies – I have to tell you I can’t make any sense of her essays. To give you an idea of what they are aiming for, a chap was awarded a PHD in Film when we were there. The title was “Trauma, Modernity and Hauntings: The Legacy of Japanese Colonialism in Contemporary South Korean Cinema.” So there you are then. It was a lovely day. Even though we had to clap at least 785 people before our girl got her turn. At least this year I remembered not to eat the canapes after the unfortunate incident at FOW1’s graduation where, trying to be witty and urbane with academics, I continued to eat several of the things, even while noting that they were quite warm and smelt a bit off. You can guess the rest.

It’s been quite the fortnight. Am sharing now because this sea is a bit more becalmed but it has been a bit bumpy here. You may recall that I spoke of someone I am awfully fond of who had found a horrible lump and had to go and get it identified. While we were waiting for all that to be sorted, I had to go for my three yearly mammogram. Now those who know me know that I have been quite unsuccessful at mammograms in the past but that was a long time ago, and, although I am not exactly blase about them, I didn’t give it much thought, what with everything else that was occurring.  I was more than a little taken aback then, to receive a recall notice to the breast care clinic. Well, when I say taken aback – let us say er… devastated and er…terrified.

Rather than keep you in suspense, I should tell you that all is well. I have some calcium deposits which they wouldn’t normally do much about but with my history, it meant a biopsy just to make sure nothing nasty was lying underneath, which it was not. Hurrah!

I was just quite surprised at myself really. It was like stepping back in time. Everything was vivid and real and all memories were bang up to date. Things that had drifted away with the passage of time (like how much a biopsy hurts!!!) came galloping back into focus. In case you think that this is just me being a bit odd, HOH was exactly the same. So it has been a bit of a tough June, however, I would like to think that things are getting back on track a little now and I think you for your forbearance as the blogs have been – well a bit rubbish really.  Can I tell you that I was an ocean of peace and trust and calm during the past few weeks? Well I could tell you that but it would be a lie. However, I can tell you that faith and promises were re-visited and re-examined and that I learnt a lot about myself. I was very taken by a Tweet by Beth Moore

Either worry yourself sick

Or trust your God well.

That’s what it’s going to come down to.

It’s about the truest thing I have read in the past weeks and I was thinking of having it tattooed on my arm but it’s a bit long and therefore probably quite painful. If I could cross-stitch I would probably give that more consideration.

In other news, we continue to be Church of England folks. This week was Sea Sunday. A couple of weeks ago, Head Vicar asked us how people with such a Pentecostal background were faring in his church. (Very well actually, as HOH pointed out, we were often called the least Pentecostal of Pentecostals in what our friends said was a loving observation) This was a Sunday that was outside my previous Christian existence in so may ways. There was a parade with the Mayor and uniformed types and flags. I mean Navy type flags – not ladies of a certain age running to the front waving silk scarves and frightening the living daylights out of me. We sang “For Those in Peril on the Sea” which is, quite frankly, awesome. And, wait for it, we sang THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! I felt like Harry Kane in a sundress. The shine was only slightly taken off what was a very moving morning (including a really good sermon on the conversion of John Newton (see entirely accurate painting above) – writer of Amazing Grace but  life-long slaver until his early sixties) by what sounded like a salty sea dog type sharing his problems with constipation with his friend and all of us within a ten pew radius. “BETWEEN YOU, ME AND THE GATEPOST, THE MEDICATION IS PLAYING HAVOC WITH MY BOWELS” Yep mate, just how far away is that gatepost? The younger me may have been a bit sniffy about this kind of meeting. The current me thought the meeting was quite lovely and God was all over it like a rash.

And finally…

Me (To Aged Parent)       Have found DVD of Jesus of Nazareth in Charity shop. Do you want it?

Aged Parent                       Oooh, yes please. They are difficult to find.

Me                                        Right, will bring it on Saturday.

Aged Parent                       Where is it?

Me                                        On my desk at work

Aged Parent                       What if someone, beaks into your work and takes it?

Me                                        What are the chances Mum, of someone breaking in, leaving the till and the computer and                                                      taking a second hand copy of Jesus of Nazareth?

AP (Unconvinced)             Well, if you are sure. It’s Robert Powell you know.

Me                                         Of course, I’m sure.

(Puts phone down. Considers. Slips DVD into lockable draw, until Saturday – just in case.)

 

Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were dug.

This is from Isaiah 51. For those of a more poetic bent, it’s also rendered as “look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,” in the King James.

I thought of finding a photo of Michelangelo’s David sculpture before completion or a half finished Barbara Hepworth to illustrate what I had been thinking about. Instead, because it is more in keeping with the way my mind works, I am giving you a photo of Han Solo encased in carbonite – which is a real thing. (It’s not a real thing.)

In my ignorance I had always thought that “the rock” spoken of here would be Jesus – because of his well known rock-like qualities etc but if you read the verse following, it isn’t that at all

Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
    and Sarah, who bore you.
Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
    but once I blessed him, he multiplied.

For the children of Israel, they were being reminded of their heritage – their lineage. The things that had happened that had moulded them. The people in their past who had laid the foundations of faith for them.

Now for some people, the example of their parents would not be the most thrilling thing they could think of. I don’t think that’s just what it means. (Although you have to notice that even the strangest people can be held up by God as decent examples. Abraham was such a coward that he told the admittedly terrifying person who was taking a shine to his wife Sarah, that she was actually his sister. He was, therefore, risking pimping his wife out to avoid getting into trouble. Charmed, I’m sure) Yet God built a whole nation around him.

I also know that parents don’t have to be perfect to be a good part of the rock. My parents were first generation Christians who came to faith at different times after their marriage, and couldn’t stand the sight of each other. (Talk about my ways are not thy ways) Yet, despite what could, on it’s better days, be described as a tense family atmosphere, I am aware that their paths to faith introduced me to Christ, to Christian people and thinking and, when the marriage finally spectacularly imploded with more casualties than a scene from Dunkirk, there was an understanding that the children came as near to first as they could possibly manage at the time.

So I don’t think this is just parents. It’s the people you met, the mentors, the ministers, the friends. The big, strong base of faith that had surrounded and moulded us, watched over and prayed for us. Pointed at us and laughed when we got too poncy. Let me give you the idea…

Mrs Foster. Must have been about 120. Always sat with Mr Foster. Second row, second seat in. A hat was non-negotiable. Tiny little thing. Would tug quietly on my hand as I walked past. I was fourteen and still considering dealing with life by going completely bonkers. I was a complete mystery to her but she always told me she was praying for me. I knew she was.

Ruth and Karen. My best church friends. We had nothing in common at all. Nothing. I was always in trouble for eye-liner, use of curling tongs and too short skirts. (“Well, I think that one is a little more like it don’t you dear? At least that hem has a passing relationship with your knees” Ha ha ha) They had little interest in appearance – too little I thought. But Ruth came from a solid Christian background, took me under her wing and explained how “church” worked. Karen was the most sensible person I had ever met – she taught me about being steady and stable and that not everything needed to be responded to by running into a toilet cubicle and slamming the door behind me. She married at 16 and I have never been so certain that a marriage was going to work. (I was right) Ruth married a beautiful Muslim man, had four children (all boys – made her very popular with the in-laws) and lived out a different version of her faith than expected.

Mrs Danks. Ran the Sunday School. Asked me to teach. Couldn’t understand why. I had no idea about children and only slightly more of an idea about who Jesus was. She stuck by me when my visual aid for turning water into wine was just too good and parents complained that their children were coming home saying they had seen an actual real miracle. (Cochineal hidden at the bottom of a water bottle in case you were wondering) I loved it though. Studied to get it right. Learnt so much about the Bible.

These are the people I am carved from. These are some of the first, but as time has gone on,  there were countless others. They have helped influence me, carry me, make little chapter tabs for my Bible and all the other stuff that people do to chip away and reveal the character that is me – or ideally the better me that God wants me to become. So, if you get a chance, have a think. Have a grateful think. Unfortunately, I’m not in touch with any of these people. (Surely Mrs Foster will have been transported now) If you are – you could say thanks. Or think about doing a bit  yourself. Being someone that is the support/rock that people are carved from.