Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Anyway, I went, armed with my quote, to Leroy Merlin. I confessed straight away that the quote dated from April, so that threw them into debate. One chap said "So what ? Nothing will have changed. We'll just do it." Another said "We can"t do that, we'll have to start all over again". I feared secretly that the stove may have been discontinued, but thankfully no ! Well, they solved their dilemma by sending me over to the Installation Service Office where I waited a very long time before explaining the problem to a chap who said "Change any prices of parts but keep the same labour charge".
So I went back armed with a note from him and they proceeded to place the order. It was at this point that something happened that I have only just realised was a bit strange in the end. They had to re-enter the parts on the order system and sure enough some of the prices had gone up. However, the system overcompensated for this by giving me a 7% trade discount, to which I was not entitled. So the chappie adjusted the prices until I ended up paying exactly what I would have paid according to the old prices.
Hmmm. Confused ? So were we ! Anyway the stuff is now ordered and I paid my deposit. It won't come before 6 September. When it comes I must go in and pay the difference and draw a map of how to get to our house. Then they'll arrange an installation date.
We must also get a woodshed. Rustic life here we come ! Didn't Jonathan Edwards keep himself in good health by chopping wood ? I imagine it's probably a good anti-stress activity, too.
I've just finished opening the post and there were no nasty surprises, thankfully.
Now today I have various errands to run, including collecting the cheque for the agents' fee from the agency that did not rent a house to the Griffins, paying in another cheque from a different firm (we have to do this by post), see a man about a stove, then make various phone calls about the church youth work and the student centre. I don't like using the phone, ever, in English or in French, so I have to tackle it straight away without fussing. I think this hatred of the phone dates from my years at British Telecom where I was very happy amidst a great team, but I did grow to hate telephones more and more.
Am I preaching Sunday ? I might be, but then again I might not. I'll find out tomorrow night at the latest.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Some photos of the garden.
It being July, we went to the France Mission church in Châteauroux, about an hour's drive north in the Indre department. The church folk were very friendly. They meet in the ground floor of a block of flats. (I did wonder what the people who live above think of it all, and I smiled sweetly at the lady who stuck her head out of the window as we talked outside the church door).
One advantage of a drive to church is that you pass fields of sunflowers.
Following the Second World War a number of Welsh men and women – some of them students – were converted. This group of new converts from all over Wales came together. Meetings, missions and retreats were organized, with Revd J Elwyn Davies taking a leading role. All the activity testified to their evangelical faith, rooted in personal experience and a sure belief in theefficacy of Christ's death. Unknown to Elwyn and his fellow believers, the foundations of the Evangelical Movement of Wales were being formed, with evangelical Welsh Christians, old and new, coming together across traditional denominational barriers.
Over the next months the Cylchgrawn Efengylaidd (Evangelical Magazine) was established and Elwyn and his friends became known as 'Pobl y Cylchgrawn' (The Magazine People). With the blessing they were experiencing came not just enthusiasm but also a more formal structure, and in 1955 Elwyn Davies was appointed as the General Secretary of the Evangelical Movement of Wales.
With other members of staff appointed from 1956 onwards, the work grew with the publication of an English language periodical, The Evangelical Magazine of Wales. While he was General Secretary, Elwyn saw the formation of the AECW which sought to link together evangelical churches in Wales. From being a Welsh language work the Movement grew to become a bilingual organisation, arranging camps and publishing literature. Elwyn Davies was also instrumental in assisting dozens of ministers and religious leaders in Wales and beyond. By his preaching, his personal conversations and gentle character he became a friend, a teacher and mentor to numerous people. His particular burden was to see God's people sharing and being united in the traditional Biblical faith of Wales.
He laboured tirelessly during his long lifetime, emphasising that Wales – which he loved dearly – had its unique spiritual features and needs. In his preaching, teaching the Bible, or writing a pamphlet or booklet that love for Wales was always to be seen. He worked without ceasing for God and for Wales. His great desire was that the country he loved so dearly would be reconciled to the Christ whom he loved even more.
He accomplished so much during his lifetime. He was a Congregational minister in Blaenau Ffestiniog (1950–55), and worked for the IVF (UCCF) between 1955 and 1962, a part time minister at Seion, Cwmafan at a later date, the President of the British Evangelical Council (1969–72) and a part time minister of an English Evangelical Church (now known as Free School Court) in Bridgend. All of this and more whilst heading the work of the Evangelical Movement of Wales (1955–1990), and finding time to minister for short periods in Australia and Patagonia.
Elwyn was ably assisted by his wife, Mair Humphreys, whom he married in 1951. They complemented each other perfectly, and they were glad to be able to spend more time together when he retired as General Secretary in 1990. During these last years of weakness Elwyn relied heavily on Mair's support and that of the extended family. We extend our deepest sympathy to her and the six children and their families. We thank God for the hope of the Gospel which speaks of a heavenly home 'not made with hands', and thank God that Elwyn has reached that home.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
When I heard him he usually spoke from John's gospel, from chapters 14 - 17, and usually chapter 15. I would listen hard while he spoke and afterwards I would think long and hard about what I'd heard, but I have to confess I usually didn't find him an easy preacher to follow. But the effect of his preaching on me was amazing, nonetheless. I could listen to him all night. And basically what I took away was the message John apparently used to pass on in his latter years, "Little children, love one another, because God is love".
Elwyn Davies' life marks a turning point in the history of Wales. I have no doubt of that. He was at the centre of the little revival that took place amongst students in the late 1940s. He became instrumental in the establishment of the Evangelical Movement of Wales and he was right at the centre of its life for many, many years. This movement has had an incalculable effect on the future of Wales by its magazines, books, conferences, camps, bookshops, ministers' training courses and ministers' fellowships and, in later years, the AECW. Many churches in Wales and beyond owe their existence largely to the work of the EMW.
He was very much a Welshman of his time. A man of the heart. He could bring together gospel people whose convictions on secondary things might differ widely. You felt he loved you.
And once on the seafront at Aber I tried to give him a tract. There we are...
I learn from him to be what you are, to love God and to love his people. And to let them know. Somehow.
Rev 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them."
Apo 14:13 Et j'entendis du ciel une voix qui disait: Écris: Heureux dès à présent les morts qui meurent dans le Seigneur! Oui, dit l'Esprit, afin qu'ils se reposent de leurs travaux, car leurs oeuvres les suivent.
Dat 14:13 Yna clywais lais o'r nef yn dweud, "Ysgrifenna: 'O hyn allan gwyn eu byd y meirw sy'n marw yn yr Arglwydd.' 'Ie,' medd yr Ysbryd, 'cânt orffwys o'u llafur, oherwydd y mae eu gweithredoedd yn eu canlyn hwy.' "
Saturday, July 28, 2007
In this movement I almost got to play the piano, but I was outranked by a pianist. So it was back to half a bass drum and the cymbals, which are probably more fun anyway. (The piano was used to double the tubular bells playing octave Gs and Cs)
I lookd for some information about the French TV series Kaamelott, and this is what I found.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The problem is that the tour is really very very hard indeed. I mean like ridiculously hard. Like almost impossible hard. I mean like people die on those mountains hard.
What do you do ? It's really a distillation of the whole sporting prowess thing that affects swimming, athletics, gymnastics.
Do you make the competitions easier ?
Is there a limit to unenhanced human performance ?
Is it reasonable to expect people to continue to break world records ?
What does it mean if they do or don't ?
Now this is French.
1) Listen for the pedal trombone rasp when the march tune plays after the longish intro à 1:44 ->.
2) I played percussion in this symphony as a student. I played half a bass drum (two players, one drum. We beat that thing silly !) and the cymbals. Great fun.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Ben flies back to Manchester on Saturday - he's due to preach in Cardiff on Sunday.
Please pray for a house to be found, reasonably accessible for the language school etc.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I picked up the term SCEOTS from Leith Samuel's autobiography "A man under authority", which is a cracking good book.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
How do you do it? You could close down emotionally - become the person nothing touches. You could throw your sorrow into the pot - "Yes, I'm hurting too" - but usually the story is not about you.
I found this prayer of Augustine's. It helped me so much I put it on the wall of my study. I still find it helpful from time to time.
God of our life,
There are days when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and weigh us down;
when the road seems dreary and endless,
the skies grey and threatening;
when our lives have no music in them,
and our hearts are lonely,
and our souls have lost their courage.
Flood the path with light,
turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise;
tune our hearts to brave music;
give us the sense of comradeship
with heroes and saints of every age;
that we may be able to encourage
the souls of all who journey with us
on the road of life,
to your honour and glory.
it turns me to Isaiah 40 and specifically verses 10 - 31.
Monday, July 23, 2007
OK. So when we spoke to the agent about the Griffins' house we started with just that. And repeated it. More than once.
This morning the agent rang to tell us that the dossier has been rejected. He isn't sure why and will try to find out for me. I suspect that it is because they tried to get their assurance company to cover the rent payments.
OK. So we begin again, and we avoid that agent.
It's a performance of the suite by a chamber group with Roger Moore reading poems. The poems are rather twee. You lose the impact of the big orchestra but the players are so involved that it's very impressive. Does Aquarium have flutes, though ?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Et nous les donnes chaque jour,
Reçois ô Père notre prière
De reconnaissance et d'amour.
Le don suprême que ta main sème,
C'est notre pardon, c'est ta paix ;
Et ta clémence, trésor immense,
Est le plus grand de tes bienfaits.
Que par ta grâce, l'instant qui passe
Serve à nous rapprocher de toi !
Et qu'à chaque heure, vers ta demeure
Nos cœurs s'élèvent par la foi
goes to Alsace
Saturday, July 21, 2007
- Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
- As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
- That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend
- Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.
- I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
- Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
- Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
- But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
- Yet dearley I love you, and would be loved faine,
- But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
- Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe,
- Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
- Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
- Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
I don't think like that at all. You can't divide the anguish of losing a child by the number of lost children and share out the pain. Every child is unique, bearer of God's image, uniquely precious in his sight and every child should be uniquely precious in their parents' sight and in ours.
Every missing or dying or suffering child demands the kind of response that people have given to Madeleine's disappearance. If we don't give it it's because we are hard hearted. I am glad for the outcry over Madeleine. I wish there was more outcry for all these children.
I think there's a gospel link to it, too, though I am about to descend into incoherence ! (Well I am ill !)
Jesus died. Loads of people die every day. He was crucified. That's what the Romans did. He died a sacrificial death in the place of others. Lots of people do that.
(I remember one classic early Deeside communion service when I spoke about the heroism of Captain Oates, who said "I am going outside. I may be some time." People said, "Who ?")
Another chap said "three hours, that's all he suffered. Eighteen months my mother suffered." Of course, for Jesus it was more like 33 years suffering, but that's beside the point...
The point of the cross was the pact between the Father and the Son, whereby the Father gave his Son for our guilt. At one and the same time He (the Father) makes His soul (Jesus') an offering for sin and it is His Son with whom He is well pleased.
That's why the cross is unique.
The Father gives his Son.
Anyway this may the fruit of crazed dreams, but how does one write Mrs. ?
Mr - Mister, M. - Master, Miss you can't abbreviate, Ms. deserves all it gets, but what about Mrs ?
I know it comes from Mistress, but that's too Shakespearean now, surely. And Missus is too Andy Capp.
Is there a full form ?
When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire—and the bedclothes conspire of your usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles—you feel like mixed pickles—so terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you’re hot, and you’re cross, and you tumble and toss till there’s nothing ’twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick ’em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eye-balls and head ever aching.
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you’d very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich—
Which is something between a large bathing machine and a very small second-class carriage—
And you’re giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations—
They’re a ravenous horde—and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);
He’s a bit undersized, and you don’t feel surprised when he tells you he’s only eleven.
Well, you’re driving like mad with this singular lad (by the by, the ship’s now a four-wheeler),
And you’re playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
But this you can’t stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you’re as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too—which they’ve somehow or other invested in—
And he’s telling the tars all the particulars of a company he’s interested in—
It’s a scheme of devices, to get at low prices all goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors), by treating retailers as though they were all vegetables—
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they’ll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree—
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant, apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys—
The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing—
You’re a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head’s on the floor, and you’ve needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg’s asleep, and you’ve cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and a thirst that’s intense, and a general sense that you haven’t been sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed, and it’s daylight at last, and the night has been long—ditto ditto my song—and thank goodness they’re both of them over!
Friday, July 20, 2007
We don't do concerts. But Youtube is great ! And it's the Proms and tonight is an all French programme. Berlioz, Dutilleux and (I think) Fauré ?
Meanwhile there is Begles Plage and Bordeaux Lac Plage, but the trams don't go there.
And a 2 euro return special bus to the beach at Arcachon for families and the under twenties.
There are good things about it.
1) I have refound some old friends
2) I can see photos of family members at special moments of their lives
3) I can keep in touch with people in a nice, relaxed way
4) Sometimes if email can't get through a Facebook message is useful.
There are some bad things.
1) It could easily take up a lot of time. A lot of time.
2) It has all the usual potential of written and electronic media for misunderstanding and hurt.
There are some things I don't get at all.
1) "Applications" One adds and removes them with lightning speed.
2) "Groups" One joins and leaves at breakneck speed.
3) "Favourites" One's favourites change quick as winking.
On balance the ease of keeping up with people's graduations, with folk who've scattered to the four corners of the globe etc. makes Facebook worthwhile for me - as long as I keep it to quick scans morning and night !
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The American canon is different. We share a language (almost) but we don't share our books. Isn't that interesting?
In France there's a "cultural canon", too, but the authors are different again of course.
So it seems to me that globalisation hasn't yet effaced the national canons of culture.
(Now when does that Potter book come out ?)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
1) Learn to dance the tango free on the riverbank. www.danseavecnousbordeaux.com
2) Learn about wine at the school of wine for 22€ per person.
3) Follow the trail of the Bordeaux public executioner from the Grosse Cloche.
4) Replay the battle of Castillon which finally booted the English out of France. www.batailledecastillon.com
5) Visit the Cordouan lighthouse, "Versailles of the sea".
6) Take a boat trip from the base of the dune de Pyla.
7) Splash to your heart's content in the miroir d'eau on the quays.
8) Learn circus tricks at Cenon.
9) Watch the sailing boats on the Garonne.
I started to worry when we got to the public executioner that we were going to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, but they settled down after that.
There's a discussion about this (see comments) but our kids know that even I am not allowed a TV in my bedroom.
How do we distinguish between different uses of the media, however ?
For example watching Neighbours is not exactly the same as watching Horizon.
Reading a well written biography is not exactly the same as reading a manga.
And surfing Youtube is not the same as reading a blog by ... shall we say Mohler ?
Somehow we have to train ourselves and our kids to use media well, not just to choose between media.
This page from France Mission gives several links for finding a church while on holiday in France.
Don't just limit yourself to an English-speaking church, either. After all, if you did French in school why not give it a go, and anyway the Bible is in the same order. Hymn numbers will probably baffle you but you can always just mouth it à la Bean or Redwood. You may be surprised by how much you can follow of the message.
Not only that, but French people do English in school, just like we do French (OK, I know that doesn't promise much) but also like us they have constant exposure to American culture in films and pop songs. So you may well find someone who would love to chat with you before or after the service just as long as you try and remember to speak like Kojak rather than Inspector Morse.
Who loves ya baby ?
Monday, July 16, 2007
My hayfever used to be pretty constantly in June. It coincided with exam season and by the summer holidays it was all over. Yesterday was too late, too severe and too nasty. You know when you can't breathe through your nose so you can't speak or eat properly ? You know when you blink and blink and blink but your eyes still feel like there's grit in there ? I ended up asleep on the sofa with my nose facing the ceiling and (I am told) snoring. Yuk. When he's not sneezing he's snoring.
Nice for the family we'd invited round for lunch ! Maybe the best thing would have been to just absent myself from the table and hide till I was better...
Anyway, he's happily strumming at G and C and playing kazoo at the same time. I have started him on trombone and Catrin is going to start on flute soon. Isn't it good that one cannot play trombone and guitar at the same time.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
to praise Your Name, give thanks and sing;
to show Your love by morning light,
and talk of all Your truth at night.
Sweet is the day of sacred rest,
no mortal cares disturb my breast;
O may my heart in tune be found,
like David’s harp of solemn sound!
My heart shall triumph in the Lord,
and bless His works and bless His Word;
Your works of grace, how bright they shine,
how deep Your counsels, how divine!
And I shall share a glorious part,
when grace has well refined my heart;
and fresh supplies of joy are shed,
like holy oil, to cheer my head.
Sin, my worst enemy before,
shall vex my eyes and ears no more;
my inward foes shall all be slain,
nor Satan break my peace again.
Then shall I see, and hear, and know
all I desired or wished below;
and every power find sweet employ
in that eternal world of joy.
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
but please, not to Deep Harmony. Instead to Orlando Gibbons' Angels song
Friday, July 13, 2007
Anyway here we have three French canifs and one Swiss army knife. The canif has a blade about 4" long and would almost certainly be illegal in Britain under the Offensive Weapons Act.
Banned from schools, of course, but jolly useful when mushrooming or if your meat is a bit hard to cut and you have been given plastic cutlery.
but the man next to me is huge.
At the hairdressers they have these bright lights and big mirrors
that make your gray hairs shine out
like shooting stars in the night sky.
At the hairdressers they ask you
if you want them to do a tour of your ears.
At the hairdressers I know how to get my hair layered,
but not how to ask for it to be thinned.
They thin my hair anyway.
At the hairdressers I have big bags under my eyes,
but the man next to me is balding.
At the hairdressers I wonder if
I'd look better if I shaved -
every morning -
At the hairdressers I feel old and foreign,
but it still feels good when they wash your hair
and the man next to me is a nice guy, too.
Suite française (Irene Nemirovsky)
It's finely written but without much apparent affection for the French. I do lose track of the characters, most of whom are somewhat larger than life. Perhaps when life becomes crazy one becomes larger than life? If this is anything like an accurate depiction of the events of the occupation it was chaos. Chaos.
Quel petit vélo à guidon chromé au fond de la cour (Georges Perec)
About the efforts of a group of friends to prevent their friend Karasomethingorother from having to do his national service by breaking his arms. It's books like this that sabotage my French entirely. Wonderful and perplexing in equal measure. Where does the bike come in, I ask myself? At the end of the courtyard, comes the swift reply.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
2. Decide whether the other missionaries here in Bordeaux act as joint guarantors for Ben and Liz. If not what do we do - just present the dossier without guarantors and see what happens ? (I think the owner would go for it anyway !) Or does Ben hunt among his other contacts in France for a guarantor ?
3. Go along at 4 this afternoon to the offices in the centre of Pessac and present all we have for the agent and owner's deliberation. I get the impression that we will not know definitely today that the house is theirs...
Fun this, isn't it !
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
It is not without drawbacks. No garden (well, a tiny patch in the front). Newly built and poorly finished. You don't want to practice the tango on that balcony. It gives alarmingly.
But it is well placed and plenty big enough.
They're going for it.
When we put the legs back on again the piano had a list to starboard. It looked very fetching, unusual, interesting but it was decided that it was impractical. So we swapped the legs front and back.
Now the piano looked like it had reached take-off speed and was just about to pass through the clouds..
"Oops, wrong hole", said the piano transportation technician positioned at the rear (tailplane) of the apparatus, and equilibrium was restored.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
My favourite agency turned belly-up. The guy in one branch said "I have nothing, goodbye". The lady in the other said, "I remember you from last week, I still have nothing, goodbye."
This is the Anne Robinson school of estate agency !
A hunt on Seloger.com (you know you're getting desperate !) turned up some to ring about, and one agency made an appointment to see a nice sounding house in Pessac Haut-Brion tomorrow. Well placed, I think we may have caught it early. Not only that - it's expensive. Still ! It could be the one. So we go tomorrow morning at 9h45.
The day started at about 7am for Pat who went out to clean the new house. Then we other Daveys went at 10 for the lifting and toting.
The new house is a Girondin - I'll take a picture one day for you. It's a stone house, down a country lane, no street lights, an astronomer's dream, but a trifle remote. It has a big garden and a massive garage and they soon will have dogs.
The day ended with pasta bolognese on the terrace and everyone was chilly, wrapped up in fleeces, jumpers and anything else we could find. A bat was doing its best with the mosquitoes. We wended our weary way home at about 10:30, tired but happy (perhaps the finest and best-loved expression Enid Blyton ever penned).