Saturday, February 28, 2009
Anyway we stopped and had a quick talk and a quick time of prayer
and suddenly ...
Then a couple of people had time to talk. I had a nice friendly chat with two guys - one has a friend who's dad is a pastor - the friend is "très croyant mais pas pratiquant". A couple of folk said they could do the longer questionnaire. And I didn't notice my backache any more.
Funny old thing, isn't it. This need for prayer and for perseverance. And patience. And persistence.
It was lunchtime. Two students had these gorgeous sandwiches. They pointed out the shop, but they're four euros a shot. £4 for a sandwich ! Another guy though had bought a déjeunette (a half-length baguette) and a bar of chocolate and as we talked he would break off a chunk of bread and a piece of chocolate, bury the chocolate in the bread and munch. I got my usual Thursday treat of the sub du jour from Subway. 6" of nice bread roll with ham, two kinds of salami, some cheese, mounds of salad and mayonnaise and the chance to practice your oo's and u's, all for 2€90. Bargain !
Friday, February 27, 2009
"The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold.
"Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times."
"After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening - on a lucky day - without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena."People feel 'not very safe at all' in Bideford because of the way the media talk of violent crime (which remains very rare, especially in Bideford). The current financial crisis, being largely a crisis of confidence, is worsened by EOTWAWKI-style reporting.
(EOTWAWKI - end of the world as we know it)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
This became the wan "If you go away" in English, where someone tries to persude their better half not to leave on a business trip or to go and look after Grandma for the afternoon.
"Don't leave me" is MILES better than "don't go away from me"
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
We had a couple of technical hiccups - for some reason the powerpoint of the hymns didn't fit entirely on the screen, so for some of the words people were left to their imaginations. Still...
Some folks came back for lunch - suddenly. What can we feed them ? So it was that people dined on sweet and sour pork, quiche, pizza, rice, chips and grated carrot. (We ought to plan this in advance, shouldn't we.)
I ran round like a headless chicken assessing our stocks of ice-cream (low) and anything else that could serve as dessert when I remembered that we had inherited 18 litres of milk from a cancelled young people's outing and that we had a fair amount of small, tubiform pasta. Yes ! Macaroni pudding here we come ! With the addition of our entire stock of sugar (except the cubes) and a small amount of dessicated coconut a very filling dessert was quickly obtained ! (Hint - you need less pasta than you think...)
For the evening International service we again met round the tables with tea and infusions flowing freely. We sang extremely well - folks learned some of the songs so quickly with no accompaniment, I preached quietly on Isaiah 53:6 and we spent some time in discussion and prayer before closing the evening. I counted 18 people - I'd printed 15 hymn sheets !
In January these evenings had become so low in numbers that I wondered whether they were serving any useful purpose. You wouldn't have said that about this Sunday, though, thankfully !
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Another has had an intermittent fault with the monitor (I hope). It now has an good old-fashioned IBM surplus monitor and so far so good.
Another won't boot because of a lousy shutdown of Windows XP (yeah, yeah, I know, if we all switched to Linux we wouldn't have half these gripes...)
Then on Sunday the Powerpoint of songs was offset to the right so you lost the last word of some lines here and there... And to think that when I left BT I thought that I was giving up being a system builder and becoming a computer user !
Still - before long we won't have electricity to run the things, will we.
Count it all joy, brother, count it all joy.
The chap said "Can you read that.. and that.. and that.. and that..?"
I said I could.
He then said "And can you read this ?"
He blew in my eyes, then stared into them through various gizmos.
Then he said "All fine. Some time you'll have difficulty reading and at that stage you get glasses but for the moment all is fine. Come back when you can no longer read."
Jolly good !
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
There were three of us on the list to collect today. One man took six screens, among them a 21" monster that really was a enormous beast.
Now all I have to do is drive into the city centre to be able to get the screens into the student centre. You don't cart these things around on the tram !
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Meanwhile some friends say that they are surprised that France is so quiet, that we have not returned to a revolution on the scale of 1848, given the reforms that the government are bringing in, in education, in the justice system, in the health system, in everything. "Il casse tout."
Shortly afterwards a number of us got text messages relayed that said the same thing.
I've searched on the internet but the only thing I can find is a reference to what happened last July. I suspect it's another strange game, an odd joke that is being relayed round the world.
It's not nice to be suspicious, wary, cynical... but when people play such weird games....
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Thursday : Conseil Présbytéral
Friday : collect old 17" monitor from Cestas, followed by permanence displaced from Thursday
Tuesday 24 : Opthalmo ¤
Mustn't forget. They're all in my diary but I forget to look at it...
¤ it's a laugh this age thing, isn't it ! I made the appointment with the ophthalmologist because some years ago when I was merely 40 the optician in North Wales told me that I had an astigmatism, that my eyes were changing and that soon I would need glasses.
I have been OK except for a few small things : Pat reads the signs over lanes of traffic for me because she sees them before I do. I find it hard to tell if the overhead projector is focused or not and I keep fiddling with it to get it into better focus when nobody else can see any problem at all!
Anyway for a while after making the appointment I could barely read anything at all at a distance ! Once I forgot that I had the stupid thing coming up I could read everything perfectly well again (with a bit of normal 'fill in the gaps')
Which confirms my opinion that it isn't my eyes that's the problem so much as the stuff behind them that they're connected to that's duff...
Monday, February 16, 2009
I am very enthusiastic about this for various reasons.
The first and most important is that it gives people the opportunity to spend time together and get to know each other better. Another reason of course, as one of our newcomers remarked, is that we eat very well indeed ! And the meal is preceded by a short prayer meeting.
Poor Gwilym has picked up a tummy bug ( un gastro ) from a friend and vomited all night and slept a lot of the day. For this and other reasons a projected teenagers-club houseparty has been shortened and postponed and instead of them sleeping over two nights they'll just do one.
Meanwhile my rough period of asthma continues irritated by guinea pigs then aggravated by (I suspect) candles, so I have been puffing like a grampus all day.
Pat and I had planned an evening out ( either one of the chinese restaurant buffets or perhaps a trip to the cinema ) but of course with the house being plunged into sickness we are not doing that. We won't do it tomorrow evening, either, because it's the English Class.
Oh well - another time !
Meantime outside the sky has been blue and the sun has shone enthusiastically, though the nights are COLD.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I walked to Victoire through the stalls of the Grande Braderie - when in theory the shopkeepers sell off at knock-down prices their remaining unsold sale goods. There's also lots of extra stalls for doughnuts, ethnic clothing, etc, and the Assemblée de Dieu have a Bible Stall right by Victoire every year. I stopped to have a look what they are giving away as cheap Bibles (the same one as we use, though they bought in vast quantities and got a better deal).
Anyway a very neat chap came up and said :
"Have you read the Bible ?"
"Um, yes, a bit..." (Typical Alan answer... In English it would have been "It has been known...")
"And the Coran, I imagine ?"
"Come again ?"
"You're Muslim ?"
"No, I've only read small parts of the Coran.."
I put the guy out of his misery by confessing that I was a missionaire and that I wanted to know what Bibles they give out. But I think I'll keep the beard.
1.The Laughing Policeman - http://www.youtube.com/wat
2.Spectrum, Gilbert Vinter - a brass band test piece that I just LOVE
3.The Padstow Lifeboat, Malcolm Arnold - a brass band concert piece that is brilliant
4.La chi darem la mano, Mozart - I sang it really badly at school. Sorry Janice !
5.Wellington's Victory, Beethoven - I bought it cheaply and discovered orchestral music !
6.The myths and legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Rick Wakeman - I went through a "clever rock" period in my mid-teens
7.This town ain't big enough for the both of us, Sparks - some of the rock wasn't quite so clever...
8.Cam ye o'er frae France, Steeleye Span - and some was folk-rock
9.Sweete birdes deprive us never, Emma Kirkby - a teacher told me of a free early music concert in Cardiff Museum and I will ever be in his debt. It was Emma Kirkby and Anthony Rooley !
10.Immortal honours, Gadsby - my all time favourite hymn / worship song
11.Matthaüs Passion, Bach - I borrowed this from the library in Aberystwyth and it brought me to tears
12.Beatus Vir, Monteverdi - sang this with the excellent Aberystwyth Bach Society
13.Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz - very privileged to play percussion for this - it was WONDERFUL !
14.Fürchte dich nichte, ich bin bei dir, Bach - sang this, too. It's great.
15.Flute Sonata, Poulenc - Exam piece
16.Mi glywaf dyner lais - Welsh-learner in Cardiff. It was either this or Ar lân y môr
17.Flute Sonatine, Milhaud - wonderful flute piece I used to play with Steve the pianist
18.Chaconne, Bach/Busoni - heard in a free concert in Cardiff (music paradise) and immediately found my happy place
19.Appalachian Spring, Copland - also heard in Cardiff
20.Dumbarton Oaks, Stravinsky - Cardiff, too. Brilliant chamber music
21.Fantasia d-moll, Telemann - Also flute exam piece. I was glad to have likeable pieces to play !
22.Akhnaten, Philip Glass - all the operas seem to start the same way - ascending arpeggios in the bass instruments, but I like 'em anyway
23.Messe H-moll, Bach - the Credo in unum deum is surely the pinnacle of civilisation
24.Belshazzar's Feast, Walton - sang this. All bang and slash. Great fun. SLAIN ! This choice could have been the Berlioz Requiem, which we also sang in Chester Cathedral. Deafening ! I switched from bass to tenor, turned the page and had to hit high b-flat.
25.Turangalîla Symphony, Messaien - Not easy to listen to but very rewarding.
This is one of those Facebook taggy things, but I thought I'd pop it on here for all those wiser than I who eschew the delights of the volume of countenances.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Turandot is a beautiful but unpleasant princess who poses three riddles to her suitors. The one who solves the riddles may marry her. Those who fail are beheaded, and Turandot remains unmarried.
The hero falls in love with Turandot and solves the riddles. She is unenthusiastic about her forthcoming marriage and so, for reasons that remain unclear, the hero says that if she guesses his name by dawn she may have him beheaded, but if she doesn't she must marry him. Turandot orders that nobody sleep in all her domains while she tries to guess her suitor's name. The hero, meanwhile, belts out "Nessun dorma" (None shall sleep), singing in anticipation of the sweet victory when he marries the cold, ruthless, bloodthirsty, cruel and unpleasant Turandot.
"Vincera, vincera..." I'll win, I'll win.
Hey, it's an opera. It's not meant to be credible.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Melanie Phillips thinks that his views are still evolving and may evolve "into faith".
I reckon he's held a "faith" position all along - if you ask me he is still 'kicking against the goads' as the risen Jesus put it to another adamant opponent.
In the park another tree is over. I think the park is still closed after the big storm. A road-sign down. The pizza delivery mopeds fallen over. The tram service is a little disrupted.
Monday, February 09, 2009
The most likely thing to happen is a sleepless night as we listen to the blustery wind.
Anyway, we've battened down the hatches as best we can and this time I have parked the car where any tiles that fall off the roof would have to go into reverse to fall on it.
Oh, I hate the wind.
kindled by a spark of grace!
Jesu’s love the nations fires,
sets the kingdoms on a blaze;
fire to bring on earth He came;
kindled in some hearts it is:
O that all might catch the flame,
all partake the glorious bliss!
2 When He first the work begun,
small and feeble was His day:
now the word does swiftly run,
now it wins its widening way;
more and more it spreads and grows,
ever mighty to prevail;
sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows,
shakes the trembling gates of hell.
3 Sons of God, your Saviour praise;
He the door has opened wide,
He has given the word of grace,
Jesu’s word is glorified;
Jesus, mighty to redeem,
He alone the work has wrought;
worthy is the work of Him,
Him who spake a world from nought.
4 Saw ye not the cloud arise,
little as a human hand?
Now it spreads along the skies,
hangs o’er all the thirsty land;
lo! the promise of a shower
drops already from above;
but the Lord will shortly pour
all the Spirit of His love.
Charles Wesley, 1707-88
1) Don't join "groups"
2) Don't add "applications"
3) Don't become a "fan"
4) Don't chat on Facebook
All these things for me are just one big waste of time ! So learn to do what you want to do and just do that. For me it's
a) check for birthdays
b) check for messages in the "inbox" and delete them because they are almost always invitations to add applications.
c) check for notifications - people have tagged you in photos. Take a look.
d) change your "status"
e) off you go - there's nothing more to see here !
Sunday, February 08, 2009
in all Thy plenitude of grace,
where’er the foot of man has trod,
descend on our apostate race.
Give tongues of fire and hearts of love
to preach the reconciling word;
give power and unction from above,
whene’er the joyful sound is heard.
Be darkness, at Thy coming, light;
confusion, order in Thy path;
souls without strength inspire with might
bid mercy triumph over wrath.
O Spirit of the Lord, prepare
all the round earth her God to meet;
breathe Thou abroad like morning air,
till hearts of stone begin to beat.
Baptize the nations; far and nigh
the triumphs of the cross record;
the name of Jesus glorify
till every kindred call Him Lord.
God from eternity has willed
all flesh shall His salvation see;
so be the Father’s love fulfilled,
the Saviour’s sufferings crowned through Thee.
James Montgomery, 1771-1854
We changed the format to make it more like a kind of Sunday evening midweek meeting, and it worked a lot better I think for the people who come.
One person came to the French service this morning and to the International service this evening after finding us through the website.
I hope I don't get into trouble for this but I am progressively dropping the name "International Christian Community of Bordeaux" and opting for "Bordeaux Church". It's recognisably English, so nobody will mistake what it is or what it means. Also it won't be confused with the Anglican chaplaincy because they call themselves "The English Church". And the website then explains who we are and has the links people need : www.bordeauxchurch.info
Saturday, February 07, 2009
1) Carry a man-bag. It's practical. And my little computer fits inside.
2) Kiss the chaps at church. Hey, it's not such a big deal.
3) Eat bleeding steaks. They're nicer, but the restaurant has to be dimly lit.
4) Eat mussels. They were fine.
5) Enjoy hot chocolate for breakfast. Yum !
Things I thought I would never do that I think I will probably do one day
1) Wear a beret. They're great when you go a bit thin on top and they pack away flat in your man-bag.
2) Shop at Le Mutant. It's a low-cost supermarket and apparently it's fine, but I just can't do it yet.
3) Eat andouillette. I can't even imagine this at the moment but I guess one day I will eat one at a day conference or something.
Things I thought I would never do that I still think I will never do
1) Wear a bracelet. LOADS of French chaps wear bracelets. Little fine chains or strange industrial thingies in steel and black leather or rubber. Some wear two. And when you shake hands your fingers touch the bracelet.
2) Eat snails, oysters, steak tartare (i.e. raw mince). There is a limit.
3) Go on a demo. I mean, why ?
4) Go swimming in speedos and a bathing cap. Compulsory wear in French public swimming pools. No pool is worth that.
When they say that Olivier Besancenot is the most popular political figure in France after Nicolas Sarkozy it is good to remember that thousands of people march regularly through the streets yelling their opposition to M. Sarkozy. M. Besancenot is less popular than that.
Popular is, after all, a relative term, not an absolute one.
Friday, February 06, 2009
After lunch to student centre. A slight concern because there was a demo scheduled for 2pm and I thought they'd stop my tram and make me walk with the BIG HEAVY MISSION LAPTOP from St Nicolas, but the tram went straight through to Hotel de Ville. Great.
At the student centre -
1) build Ikea bookshelf. Our old bookshelf had lived in many locations and finally could only stand up if propped against something and if nudged it threw its books everywhere. So on Wednesday I bought a new bookcase (Fiona had previously seen pictures and give her approval - MONTHS previously I confess !) It all went together well.
I considered leaving the books to be sorted by someone else, then remembered the old slogan "If not now, when ? If not you, who ?" and got on and did it.
2) Fix computer. The screen on the student centre office PC had yielded up the spirit. A friend had sent 50 euros recently and madame had given her consent to this being put towards a new screen but first .... I took the screen and plugged it into the mission laptop. It worked fine. Hah ! The problem was the anti-surge multi-adaptor. I threw it in the bin and off we went.
3) Get wifi working under Vista - episode II. Fiona's laptop wouldn't connect either. I found the button on the Dartybox and the option in the menus deep in Vista's innards and - Bob's your uncle ! Yay !
4) Prepare bible study on Isaiah 40. In the final event we only really started this by talking about the context and about the exile and Hezekiah and stuff, then about our context and financial crises and so on. For some of the students from Caribbean ex-colonies of France food inflation at home is a major issue. Spent time in prayer together.
5) After the Bible study off to a café to celebrate Fiona's birthday. This is where the cherry got put on a pretty good cake because (get this) there was me and 6 young ladies in the Café des Arts near the Musée d'Aquitaine, a café I have always wanted to go to. Me and 6 "young ladies" - I think the waiters were probably wondering what my secret was.
Night-bus home. Tired today !
Thursday, February 05, 2009
We have a possible speaker for Calvin. What about an expo ?
Well look at www.calvin09.fr - there you can find a natty expo which MAY do the trick.
For the church an expo on Martin Luther King, ( who is far more significant to French people than to British, I hasten to add ! ) linked with a conférence on something like "Why did the slaves adopt the faith of their masters?" and a gospel-music concert. A speaker for the conférence is not obvious... Bill Edgar would do a grand job if he were in France at that time - he's just done that 'Spiritual roots of jazz' thing at Grove.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
a francophone Caribbean country
a Gulf state, where all university education is conducted in English
India, where English is an official language
It makes the classes very interesting, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.
I got out my pot of tongue-twisters again for the first time in AGES.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
10 am came. Skype worked fine. Just one glitch when our wifi stopped working for a little while. All OK. All hunky-dory and dinky-doo.
The evening for the English Class I turn on the PC so I can print out the scripts I need.
The screen doesn't work ! I use the old slow laptop instead. When I warn Fiona that the screen is giving problems she says "Oh yes, it was like it last week."
The dear old thing got itself together for our Skype conference then collapsed again !
Thanks, screen !
Aha ! Our assurer has links with a network called Santéclair and an optician in Pessac is a member of the network, right by our supermarket. So off we went.
One week and 60 euros later madame has new varifocal lenses in her glasses and she is very pleased to be able to, for example, watch TV and knit at the same time.
I get my eyes tested on 24 February. hmmm.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Our roof is fixed. They fixed the roof and suggested demossing and treating with chemicals to make the tiles more impermeable and put it back as good as the day it was first put on.
We'll see !
So back to normal - whatever "normal" is.
Oh yes, we still have our shared "jardin public" between us and the two young families in front. They're debating what to put up - maybe a wire fence with hedges behind...
"Can you help me to get the wifi working ?"
"I'll try, but the last time I tried to get wifi working under Vista I failed miserably and the guy ended up phoning Sony to get it working..."
Anyway after the service, after the clear-away, just before the dash home to get to Anglade, there was the beautiful laptop, so new, so clean, so Vista...
Oh boy... "Hey - there's a button you have to press on the Livebox, I'll show you..."
One button press later, wifi works, laptop connected, friend exclaims (and I shall always remember it...)
"Alan, you rock!"
Yesterday friend j-p was ill so I stood in for him preaching at Blaye. We leave the house at 3 to get there for 4, so it was a hasty chicken dinner, a quick session adapting the morning's order of service, a high-speed print-fest and hit the road running. The GPS helps in enabling you to drive as fast as possible while warning you if you break the limit.
It was great to be preaching at Blaye and we enjoyed our leisurely drive home, leaving the building at 5h30 and dawdling through the vineyards.