Sunday, January 31, 2010
Amazed by the intense worldwide interest in a product announcement by an American computer company. They don't make life-saving drugs, rockets that go to the moon or a solution to world-ending catastrophe. They make computers and music players. Yet all over the world there was intense speculation preceding Steve Job's speech and much discussion afterwards. We care SO MUCH about all these things that don't much matter !
Underwhelmed by the iPad itself. Basically it's a big iPod tOuch, and it looks like it's too big to fit in your pocket. Meanwhile the iPod tOuch has utterly wooed Pat, especially since she's discovered a treasure-trove of free books to read courtesy of Stanza.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Alan : "I say, chaps, would either of you toppers have a Systematic Theology in French that I could borrow do you think, what ho ? I've got plenty of the jolly things in English, don't you know, but not in French !"
(I've translated, of course...)
Pasteur et conseiller presbytéral : "Sorry old boy, no can do, love to oblige and all that, but if you go there you'll find the cupboard is bare, not a thing - just a couple of chapters of Berkhof and the promise of Grudem one fine day !"
A : "What ? Not one ?"
P+CP : "One did used to be able to get one's hands on a big Berkhof, but a lot of water has gone under the old stony crossover since those days and the white rose having bloomed thus far refuses to repeat the exercise."
A : "You know what, old beans, all suddenly becomes clear as the briny off Cap Ferret !"
There is, apparently, no decently thorough Systematic Theology available in French at the moment. One brother went so far as to suggest Packer's "Knowing God" as the best thing on the market just now. The Excelsis 2010 catalogue promises Grudem soon. Berkhof was translated but is long-time out of print, apparently.
This explains a lot !
I am constantly stunned by the doctrinal eccentricity which is characteristic of the scene here.
Ha ! Stunned no more ! This is what systematic theologies are for, it would seem. To help us to become slightly less nuts !
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Evening meetings (English classes, Bible studies),
The question is, could these things be done elsewhere, freeing us to be more in the streets and on campus, and also economising rather a lot of money.
It's a discussion we have had from time to time over the years, and we will meet up on Friday morning to talk it over once more.
The programme was interrupted by the 7pm news, which focused on the progress of the anti-burka law. Hmm. Makes you think.
It is foolish to legislate against an item of clothing. A woman ought to have the right to wear whatever she wants as long as she is decently clad. If parental or marital abuse is suspected there are laws to deal with those things. We risk having the situation where a woman has the right to bare all on the beach but not to cover all on the bus.
Laws that target one small part of the populace are a bad idea. We risk institutionalising the current climate of muslimophobia.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In fact, so impressed was I that this afternoon I left Skype running so that our Scottish Secretary, Revd. Iain Cameron, could call me on it. There's a nice big button for speakerphone, so you can just put it on the desk, yell at it and hunt for flights using your computer. Jolly useful, what.
This evening is the English Class and my poor beginners are learning how to give commands and how to ask people to do things, or how to ask people for things. We'll do a bit on when to say "Shut up !" and when to say "Do you perhaps think that you could please shut up ?" and then they'll go on a visit to a virtual Little Chef. I shall be the rather stupid waiter and they must order from the menu (thanks, Little Chef, for publishing it in pdf format) those items they think they could conceivably manage.
Monday, January 25, 2010
In the morning after despatching the kids to their various halls of academe, Pat and I scuttled off to do the shopping. This morning this included visiting Leroy Merlin to get a soldering iron. I'm sure I threw my old soldering iron away before coming to France. It was rubbish anyway - it had this big fat tip ! My new one has a little screw-driver style tip and once Pat and the kids had left me for the afternoon I exercised my new soldering iron in repairing Gwilym's electric guitar lead.
Then a spot of reading. A session listening to Radio 4 (it's months since I listened to Radio 4). A bit of trombone practice and the family descended like the wolf on the fold once more.
This evening I took Gwilym to his guitar lesson. In the hall outside his lesson there's four sofas - three are always occupied and I sit in the fourth. On the sofa next to me sits a pleasant-looking guy and his little daughter aged about 6 I would guess. Over the weeks we've progressed from a curt nod to a cheery wave to a hearty bonsoir. I thought 'One day we'll have to introduce ourselves...' but it wasn't to be today. Instead we launched into a conversation about kids, music lessons, instruments, solfège lessons, etc.
One of the brass teachers came along and we talked about his father, who's 59 and in intensive care down in the Pyrenees awaiting heart surgery.
In the evening we ran out of Bibles and hymn books. The meeting seemed to go very well. Someone proposed that we sing "The God of Abraham Praise" - it's YEARS since I sang that.
We cleaned up and went home, tired but happy, thinking of how God is at work, so you have to hold on tight and keep going !
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Then the kids have their ado-club which is followed by burger and chips at Dik and Hetty's.
Tomorrow we have the morning service when no Daveys are on duty as such - we may even get to sit together, and if so it'll be the first time since Christmas Day.
Then we have lunch and discussion for the preachers and accompanists, followed by the English service where the Daveys are on duty.
Then warm and welcoming bed, and Monday again !
Friday, January 22, 2010
I'm the youngest player in the band. You are supposed to have been playing for something like seven to nine years and to have passed an audition to play. I've been playing for two years, but I get in on various technicalities : I have played other instruments for years so I am a reasonably good reader, I have a car with a big boot and my trombone teacher is the conductor. And we have a critical shortage of trombones. All these factors more than make up for my shortcomings as a trombonist !
Well, I say that I am the youngest player in the band, but last night I suddenly realised that I am the oldest, possibly by some years ! I realised this when lugging the bass guitar amplifier up the stairs and people reacted as I would have if I'd seen my father doing it. 'Hey, Alan, I'll do that...'
Hah ! I may be an old codger, but I can still unfold a music-stand quicker than these young whippersnappers can ! Big up, small down, twist, twist, pull, voilà !
Oh boy ! Now I sound like my father... I think I might shave off my beard. Or at least the gray bits at the side...
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Of course for me Borders started dying the day when their coffee shop was turned over to Starbucks. Instead of the nice coffee we used to buy now we had to pay through the nose for hot coffee-flavoured milkshakes.
Well I didn't buy that stuff.
I didn't often buy books either. Maybe that's the problem. Too many people like me who would browse but not buy.
Anyway, it's gone.
When I worked in computing many moons ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth I used to have to sometimes visit London where I loved scouring Tower Records for obscure flute recordings. I have some beauties on vinyl in the loft somewhere. Wonderful Bach obbligato arias played by a decent flutist and sung by dodgy singers. .. Is Tower records still going ? I certainly can't find anything like it here in Bordeaux.
Instead we buy our books on Amazon and download our music from Amazon and that's all very convenient.
but you can't browse Amazon. Not like you could Tower Records or Borders ! It's the physical aspects - the touch, the smell, the funky automatic doors, the sheer sight of all those records, the joy of finding something weird and wonderful.
Oh Alan, you sound like a boring old codger... (Speaking of which...)
In Toulouse we popped into the CLC bookshop. In Bordeaux we have Maison de la Bible.
However, like many Christian bookshops in my native Wales and all bookshops everywhere (witness Borders), the Maison de la Bible is struggling. We've all discussed it a lot.
It seems to me that if Christian Bookshops are to survive - well OK we can diversify and have some armchairs and sell Rich Tea and Traidcraft coffee and those nice wooden frogs that croak when you rub them with a stick (so do I, as it happens...), but it's not enough. Starbucks alone couldn't save Borders. Christian Bookshops have to be seen as a ministry, as a form of mission.
That means we have to think differently about everything - deco, stock, staff, welcome, everything - and about funding. Someone somewhere has to foot the bills. Because book sales won't cover it.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
We went to visit them yesterday and spent a splendid few hours with Aaron and the rest of the gang.
Thanks, guys, for your welcome and for showing us the work that you're doing.
Monday, January 18, 2010
However there's another way of looking at it :
1) God knows I can only be in one place at one time and do one thing at once and it was his idea and a good thing..
2) He gives me the choice of several things to do ( Luxury ! Some people moan because they have nothing to do ! )
3) I get to choose which option to do and which ones not to do !
Monday - day off (that means shopping and ferrying people hither and yon) !
Tuesday - Toulouse to see the work of the Agapé team there, especially the Café Théo.
Wednesday - Permanance au Centre FAC, evening meeting at church.
Thursday - visiting on campus plus étude Biblique au Centre FAC plus LE BIG JAZZ CONCERT.
Friday - visiting on campus, Pessac guys group plus preparation for the weekend.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
So we picked up the amplifiers and stuff at 16h45 and took them in our Berlingo and someone's Vito down to the venue and set up. At about 19h we did the balance and got the singers amplified right. Then we were due to play at, I think, 20h15 ? So there was lots of hanging round, orange juice and peanuts.
Befre we played they were putting big band music over the sound system and it was nice watching a dance troupe doing various show dances: jitterbugs, charleston, etc.
Then it was our turn and we ran into our two sets. First half a mix of stuff including some jazz-funk, some swing, etc.. People were up a dancing before you could say knife, and it was very genial playing and watching people dance happily. Second half mostly swing.
In between we ate. A savoury for starter, with a slice of parma-style ham and some nice salad. Then a very nice piece of beef with something that looked suspiciously like gravy but couldn't have been and mixed southern vegetables. Pudding was a slice of baked alaska. All was very nice, and we just got our coffee down before going to play the second half.
While we ate the Jazz Chamber Orchestra played and again folks were up and dancing very expertly.
It all went very well and afterwards we packed up quickly and took everything back to the music school.
Our excellent singers did a good job selling cds and advertising the concert on Thursday evening in a very smart venue in Bordeaux.
Afterwards the Davey family dispersed a little - first Pat took Gwilym to see his good old friend Pierre. Gwilym took his guitar as Pierre is a songwriter and who knows, one day maybe our boy will be famous and we can stay in his luxury penthouse in Cap Ferret.
Then I took Pat and Catrin round the periodically blocked rocade to Bassens (the traffic jams were at the exits leading to the shopping centres - It's Sale Time !) where Dik and Hetty had invited everyone for a Galette des Rois. This is not related to a crazy galoot in any way. It is a special cake eaten in January as an excuse to get together and eat... It may be of pastry with almond paste stuffing, or my favourite - brioche flavoured with orange water - this is made in a ring and called a Couronne des Rois. They had a vry agreeable time.
I then high-tailed it to the music school to help shift the matos (piano, drums, amplis, music stands) for the PJB concert at Le Pacha in Pessac. We were part of a weekend of Tap and Swing that had been organised by Tap, Swing and Co. Bordeaux - a swing themed dinner-dance. I think basically we were playing for our supper and for the publicity. All went very well !
A couple of linguistic items - there's always one or two...
On Friday after our last rehearsal someone said "eh oui, c'est quoi knotty sing ?"
As people enjoy teaching me the darker side of French vocabulary - I now can recognise a wide variety of words used to describe the various parts of our bodies below the waist - I suggested "naughty things ?", but this as a false assumption !
The vocal part for Blue Skies cleared up the mystery : noticing... Alan, you SHOULD have realised...
Then last night one of my colleague trombonists said "Après on bois des penntes !" It was clear that this had some reference to Britain, but I was being dim again. "Oui, des penntes et des boques". A bit of discussion and I realised they were speaking of pints. I explained that France doesn't have anything that any self-respecting Welshman could drink by the pint and tried to describe what bitter is. People liked the names that I dredged up from my memory of the shelves in Asda : Bishop's Finger, Old Peculiar, Spitfire. Guinness is as close as anyone gets here. I rashly promised to bring back some bitter from the UK next time we go. Could we fit in some cans of Brains, I wonder... It doesn't really matter because we aren't due to return to Britain till July and by the time we see people again in September they'll never have remembered the promise of a boque of Brains !
Oh yeah - apparently a boque is a half. Spelling unverified.
And of course after the concert we packed up the matos, took them to the music school and dispersed, tired but happy !
This had my fretting the other day because I remember rehearsing this with some choir or other - really I do.. I know the tenor line better than I should from just listening. However I can't remember with whom or where or when... Had me worried, I can tell you.
I still can't remember but I've stopped worrying about it.
If I'm going nuts I don't want to go nuts and worry about it.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The letter boxes are just as diverse. Some are slits in the door, like in Britain, high, middle, low, horizontal or vertical. But most are mailboxes.
One was placed so high I had to stand on tippy-toe and stretch to put the leaflet in. I saw the postlady afterwards. The very short postlady.
Some had been brought from Spain and said CARTAS and were in the form of Spanish villas. Very nice.
And there's a lot of tiny studios and single people living in flatland around the church...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Then the conseil presbytéral, which is always a happy time but where there's always lots of important matters to discuss - including big issues relating to finance and not fogetting our reason for being here, which is to reach the area with the gospel.
I took my trombone with me because it takes an hour to get to the church by public transport, 1/2 hour by car, so there's no point trying to go home for lunch. I intended feeding quickly, then taking advantage of the church to do some of my forte staccato broken arpeggio stuff, but Dik also stayed around so instead we ate together and talked about important things, like the future for the various ministries we are involved in here.
There was a prayer meeting in the evening at Latresne that I had anticipated going to, but by the time I got home at 19h, ate, made some important phone calls about student accommodation and correctly identified the family, distinguishing the male child from the female child ( easy, he's the bigger one ! ) and getting the name of each right first time, it was too late to go.
This morning is a bit more mobile - leafleting round the church. Good-oh ! Followed by the afternoon at the student centre. In theory I should stay for the Bible Study this evening, but since that would mean that I would leave the house at 8h30 and not return till about 23h, I think I had better come home instead and eat again.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I plan to phase the renewal because it costs so much here - it's 150 euros per adult and 75 per child, so we'll do one a month over the next few months and spread the cost like that. As long as they're all renewed in time for July, when we plan to come to Britain, and as long as Gwilym's is renewed in time to serve as his id for his brevet we'll be OK.
Now - mustn't forget !
Monday, January 11, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Most of the journey is on major roads or motorways, but a part is on country roads.
The problem is that they haven't been gritting the roads and the other week on the way home from Blaye we saw a car upside down in the ditch at the side of the road !
But I am pretty sure that it hasn't snowed overnight and that we'll be OK to get to Blaye and back.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
if it ain't got that swing
We talked about encouragement and after a survey of Barnabas' life everyone shared an incident where someone had encouraged them. we were 15 members present - a handful couldn't make it.
During the prayer and discussion time at lunchtime we talked about membership and how pro-active the church should be in encouraging folk to come into membership.
Update : I found a recipe for Grenier Médocain :
Friday, January 08, 2010
Yesterday was ham and mushroom, and chicken and something, and we got the preaching rota sorted out until May. Not bad, eh ?
Today the Pessac guys meet up to read and pray together, and this evening there's a members' meeting in Portets.
Meanwhile Pat is meeting up with the FACfolk preparing for the next wave of activities, then meeting up this afternoon with a Moroccan friend.she's coaching in English.
I said, "Yes, but there's more people than seals in London and the zoo might not be very pleased. Gluklik, you just can't compare one place with another like that. It's different, that's all."
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
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The thing is, we have draughty single glazed windows and no central heating.
But we do have a wood stove, thick wooden shutters and those electric radiator things in the bedrooms.
So until the sun shines the best thing to do is shut the shutters, stoke up the woodstove and huddle up !
Meanwhile the other day I found Gwilym in a tee shirt in his room nonchalantly watching a Top Gear extract on Youtube.
"Aren't you cold?" I asked. "No..."
In fact he'd convinced himself that his fan heater was broken.
It was only when he was going to bring it down for me to check over that he found it was working after all.
It's still snowing.
If you think the English as wusses when it comes to snow, well the French are not as used to it - at least not the French who live in Bordeaux !
So I expect that the trams will stop running soon, and the buses, too.
And as I drove home through about 1/4inch of snow the snow-plough / gritter passed me.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Monday, January 04, 2010
Natural trumpets ! Crackerjack !
And played with such style - one hand on hip - just like they should be played !
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
We're having pork.
Last brass carol of the season.
I warned Pat that French people do not eat sticks of raw carrot, but they were game and had a try - one of the nippers really liked them. Still, Pat had rescued me from a major panic attack in the supermarket when I was shopping for crudités and carrot sticks were the only things that came to mind !
I warned everyone that mince pies are extremely sweet and we had crème fraiche with them to kill the edge of the sweetness, but they went down a treat !
Pat warned me that she only had three words in her list for Pictionary (Pictionnaire ?) so I thought quickly and whipped up a list of twelve words / expressions - we played gars contre filles. It was interesting, but seemed to work OK, even for such things as "Les Bienveillants","boite à vitesses" "l'Italie", and "On ira tous au Paradis"... I decided to give "Avatar" a miss.
But the candles took my voice away, so I was nul when it came to singing. (I'm such a diva !)
"How nice of our student worker; Liz, at present ensconced in the bosom of her family in Polporto in Cornwall, to think of us and send us a message", quoth she, sending a long reply in French saying where we were, what we were doing and why...
At 3am her sister replied 'Tisher, I don't speak French', from her holiday cottage in Cornwall.