Showing posts from January, 2008

OK. Flights booked. Tax return done.

It's good to get those things done. The tax return is my UK one - as I declare my income in France it made my UK tax return very simple. My declaration d'impôts here in May, however, will be much more complicated ! The worst thing about doing my UK tax return is trying to find where I recorded our user ids and passwords. I keep them in a safe place. Yes, you guessed it. So I run round the house in a vague and silent panic hunting in all sorts of odd places. Moving house every year doesn't help, either. Still it's done now.

They say that confession is good for the soul, don't they

This eeePC is supposed to serve for UK church visits. It shows every sign of doing that very well. It weighs FAR less than my laptop, is more robust, is quicker ( my poor laptop is starting to struggle just a bit. After all it is two years old ! :( ) and it will be so much more easy to cart about. But it doesn't have a DVD drive and UFM produced this wonderful piece of art cinema called 'Bordeaux, Brittany and beyond' which churches can see if they want. But how ? Well how do people watch films on their iPods and so on ? It must be possible to load a DVD onto a computer like you can load a song from a CD. ( Rip , is what one says.) Some Google searches later, with results in French, English and both at once, followed by downloading a piece of software onto my poor struggling laptop (the stupid DVD wouldn't read on the big computer) and Bob's your uncle ! The entire "Bordeaux, Brittany and beyond" DVD is now loaded on the little SD-card that fits in the eee

It is with some trepidation that I approach the repartitioning of the laptop at the student centre !

I have only done this once and it didn't go wrong then so I have no reason to fear except that I am messing about with the PC at it's deepest level. Still... if all fails I format the whole disk and reinstall everything from scratch (sigh !) Last night for a time it looked as if I would be spared this electronic surgical intervention because of a bigger problem. No connection was possible to the wifi printer or to the internet. I tried the usual blather. Was it Sunday ? Is this a case of the strict sabbatarian printer again ? Could it be too much nylon in the shirt, sir ? Seriously, in the personnel department of a national TV company they had me convinced that one particular Canadian lady had recurring problems with the sheet feeder because of her choice of fabrics... But then I was about 23, single and thrown into the nearest thing I have ever known to a lion's den ! I will never forget their comments when I delivered their acoustic hood. My rosy cheeks date to this time.

Skype again

We don't often use Skype. Why ? Various reasons : 1) if you don't use a headset people complain of echo 2) so we have various headsets in various cupboards, drawers, nooks and crannies 3) and one which sprawls on top of the screen in the living room trailing wire everywhere 4) but is never plugged in when the PC starts ringing (how weird is a ringing PC, by the way ?) 5) and with Free we get free phone calls to nearly everywhere anyway but with the advent of the eeePc I have started using Skype again because it is so EASY, because it has a built in webcam that just works and because it is utterly wireless. You just pop the thing on your lap and talk. Crackerjack !

The Telegraph asks

why the French are so unhappy

Phew - that's a relief !

MacDonalds here follow the popular films to get the themes for their happy meal toys. Sweeney Todd is really very popular at the moment ... but MacDo are doing Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques ... thankfully !

One of the things I love about France

is that when my son arrives at school he shakes hands with the lads in his class and does la bise with the girls.

The morning after the raclette before

Parents and teachers evening : talk with Gwilym's teacher. We started with the English teacher. He wanted us to see her. "We are very lucky to have Gwilym in the school" she said. Then to Maths, French, Science and his form teacher where the story was more nuanced. The French teacher said "So how long has he been in France ?" "Two years." "Really ? Oh well ..." Then the Griffins came round with their visitor Izzy for raclette. It's very nice but it does weigh heavily on the old tummy overnight...

OK - it's time to resize partitions

Some years ago it seemed a really good idea to divide hard disks into partitions - just like in big companies' databases . A small partition for software and a big partition for data. The only problem is that with windows and typical home or small office use you need masses of space for all the software (90% of whose functions you never use) and you could fit all your data on a very small USB key . So I am going to have to resize the hard disk partitions of the student centre laptop . I have pondered the question for a little while . I did the exercise once before on my old athlon ( since died - no connection , honest ). I have hunted down some free software, downloaded it and burnt the required CD . So on Thursday , God willing , Partition Logic will be unleashed on the student centre laptop .

Bob's been to hear Wolfgang

I am going to ask if he liked the Stravinsky

I am a bit preoccupied this weekend

with the precarious nature of so many churches in France. We were a bit late setting off for Action Biblique this morning so we diverted instead to see our friends the Bixby's at Pessac Baptist Church. When the service started we were about 20, but I think by the time we finished we were more like 30. Two families had phoned in ill - that meant 10 fewer people, but we Daveys added 4. The Pessac Baptist Church is doing well. It's one of the stronger churches. (We sang "In the sweet bye and bye we shall meet on that beautiful shore" in French ! I recognised it from a Charles Ives setting. I shall ponder that for a while.) However although the Pessac Baptist Church is doing well you hear now and again of churches struggling and wondering about their future - even city centre churches. A Pentecostal group in Blaye has closed down. I spent a while the other day talking with a chap from one of the city centre churches. Numbers have fallen and people say that the pastor'

Groupe Rive Gauche

Oh yes - Groupe Rive Droite is now Soirée Evangile Rive Droite, so Groupe Rive Gauche has become Soirée Bonne Nouvelle Rive Gauche. And it'll meet on 8 February. We are going to be using the fiches théologiques of the Union Nationale des EREI - you can find them at It'll be useful to do that. They'll be kind of converted to Bible study format, but the advantage of following these statements is that they do define the doctrinal stance of the church relating to various issues, so they'll give people who are not necessarily from a réformé background a chance to suss out the church a bit further.

Good for your heart

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace ... Hebrews 13 v 9

A quiet weekend.

Groupe rive droite met last night and I went along to see their format. They are going to meet fortnightly , or thereabouts . I must email the groupe rive gauche people today and suggest a date for our first meeting, and this Friday would be a good time to get together . We'll cover the same material , but will we meet fortnightly , too ? Only time will tell. Today , shopping for an AC adapter for a student's laptop at Carrefour, Darty , Planète Saturne and Surcouf in Mérignac . This afternoon Classe d'anglais at the student centre. This evening get the projection of humns and songs ready for tomorrow . Tomorrow is a quiet day . We have in mind to visit the Eglise Action Biblique in the morning and then we have the usual set-up at 3 pm for the service at 4h30, but I am not preaching , reading , or anything .

Well we're back to barking Bordeaux weather

This morning I scraped the ice off the car before meeting a student at 9h30 to shop for an AC adapter for another student's laptop. This afternoon I'll go to the student centre in shorts and tee-shirt. This evening on the way home the St Bernards will have to come hunting for me, miniature casks at the ready. OK, I exaggerate a little, but not that much.

There was I thinking it was the usual unconscious conspiracy

and all the time it was a young guy in a bank pressing the wrong button a few times too often... The housing market, the international economy, it all gets on my nerves sometimes. If enough people say that houses are losing in value - well, sure enough, they lose in value. If people start selling rather than buying then stocks and shares drop. If we spend too much we fuel inflation. If we stop spending and save we spark a recession. It's all about "confidence" . Which means what we think and how we feel. It's the nearest I come to believing in a global conspiracy. I am a firm adherent of the incompetence theory of global events, except that sometimes we exerce our incompetence all together at once - a kind of unconscious conspiracy of incompetence. However, it seems that the stock market falls may be linked rather to one young guy, perhaps poorly supervised, who pressed the wrong button a few times too many and lost his bank 5 milliard euros. They call it fraud. I ask

Our boy's off school today

with a kind of general malaise - a cold, fatigue, generally under the weather. He's had a hard week, a couple of bad grades in school (though his maths was OK thankfully). It is hard for these ex-pat kids. The school day is longer. There's more homework. The language is still not your own. And the bugs still do the rounds. Catrin's school was ravaged by a "gastro", a tummy bug, earlier this week. Maybe Gwilym's coming down with that.

Trees by the cathedral

looking very dark and wintry

Conseil presbytéral

It's today that the convention between me and the church gets signed at the presbyteral council at St Loubès at 4:30. Pat has an afternoon of errands with the car so I looked at trains. There's a train from Pessac Alouette to Bordeaux at 2:00, and then from Bordeaux to St Loubès at 4:00. To come back I have a nice quick journey as long as the council finishes by 6:00 ( ha ha! not a chance ! ) Otherwise it's a case of take your sleeping bag ! Or get Pat to come and get me in the car after it finishes. We're about 45 mins away by car. I am thankful that presbyteral councils are not every week and that I don't have to go every time !

It's a while since we had a pome

The windows, by George Herbert LORD, how can man preach thy eternall word ? He is a brittle crazie glasse : Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford This glorious and transcendent place, To be a window, through thy grace. But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie, Making thy life to shine within The holy Preachers, then the light and glorie More rev'rend grows, and more doth win ; Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin. Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one When they combine and mingle, bring A strong regard and aw : but speech alone Doth vanish like a flaring thing, And in the eare, not conscience ring. ( a nice poem but appaling spelling )

Wednesday is music day

First the children have solfège, which being interpreted means theory of music. Then Gwilym's saxo lesson. His teacher is a really nice guy and he'd given Gwilym a piece to play along to an MP3 accompaniment. It's a very simple piece, but extremely effective. Anyway he said "So can you do a couple of extra lessons to practice with the pianist, and it's for February at la Salle Royale, do you know where it is...?" All was OK, except that I was sure that Gwilym had not entirely understood that it meant he'd be playing in a concert. I was right. When Gwilym understood he went forty shades of white. He's not a natural performer, our lad. So will he play ? We'll see. Then Catrin's flute lesson. Catrin's teacher is really nice, too. She's of Breton origin and her name means Catrin. Catrin is using a method where you play along with the computer and it really works very well. Have you been practicing ? Has you dad been helping you ? Well she d

A bit on computing

One of the things I hate about computing (and friend and brother Emmanuel will tell me it is because I have not yet migrated to Linux) is scanning for viruses and spyware and stuff. This morning is scan morning for the laptop. I need to keep it running nicely because it does the PowerPoint for church. So PC Tools Spyware Doctor is scanning as I type. It's been going for ages. However one of the good things about computing is its usefulness in all sorts of areas of family life. Catrin has just been doing her flute practice - she plays along to accompaniments that she plays on the family computer using iTunes. It works really well, it makes practice much more interesting and fun and it helps her to learn to play in tune. When I started learning flute in 1981 or so I had to buy a scales book, a studies book, pieces, the list went on... I have started learning trombone and scales and arpeggios are available on the internet, as are lots of pieces and even piano accompaniments for scales

Death of a poilu

Only one World War 1 poilu is still with us following the death this weekend of Louis de Cazenave, who fought alongside Senegalese riflemen before being transferred to the artillery. He said that he never stopped thinking about the line of combat in the Vosges but never spoke about it. "The war was a stupid, useless thing. What's the point of massacring people ? Nothing can justify that, nothing." The WWI soldiers found themselves in the filthy, lousy, rat-infested trenches where they couldn't wash, let alone shave ! So they grew extravagant moustaches which they wore with pride and gained the nickname " les poilus " - the whiskery ones or the hairy ones.

Chinese New year at FAC

Four Chinese workers came down from different churches in Paris to hold a kind of early Chinese New Year mini conference. From what I could tell it went very well.

Thought you might like to see a real fire.


Croc me !


Carrefour Théologique at Montauban

Montauban became protestant very quickly - by about 1561 if I heard the guide correctly - so it was eventually besieged but did not fall. The medal thing (I am sure it must be a reproduction) commemorates the action of the most Christian King in making heresy extinct by the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685.

Carrefour Théologique at Montauban

The building that was used for the Carrefour Théologique at Montauban was built in the 1300s. In its time it has been a convent, then a prison for protestant girls and women, then a convent again, then a prison for priests, then a protestant seminary, then a military hospital. Now it's a retirement home. In the attic there's a museum of artefacts relating to the building's history. A list of the protestant women imprisoned. Some graffiti and a diary entry dating from those times. At the revolution the nuns were carted off to Paris and "more or less guillotined" said the guide. We all decided that the less guillotined we were, the better. The priests were "hanged or killed". The diary extract says "the 14th January 1686 Mr. Mubasson the consul, followed by several archers and sergeants, took by force and with the greatest v iolence my youngest sister whom he imprisoned, by order of the intendant, in the convent of Saint Claire at Montauban. My de

It is forbidden to forbid to forbid

France was rocked by a sudden cultural shift in May 1968 which has left its mark on the society ever since with a determined anti-authoritarianism. Forty years on there's a great commemoration on the go. One of the slogans of May 1968 was "Il est interdit d'interdire" (It is forbidden to forbid.) This wag says "If it is forbidden to forbid, then it is also forbidden to forbid to forbid."

Glorious things of theee are spoken

I'm preparing the order of service for Sunday, and we will read Psalm 87. It set me thinking of John Newton's brilliant hymn which goes to Abbot's Leigh. I sang it once for a choir audition in Chester. Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God! He, whose word cannot be broken, Form'd thee for His own abode: On the Rock of ages founded, What can shake thy sure repose? With salvation's walls surrounded, Thou may'st smile at all thy foes. See! the streams of living waters, Springing from eternal love, Well supply thy sons and daughters, And all fear of want remove. Who can faint when such a river Ever flows their thirst to assuage? Grace, which, like the Lord, the giver, Never fails from age to age. Round each habitation hov'ring, See the cloud and fire appear! For a glory and a cov'ring, Sh

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a crisis well-handled

My phone buzzed during one of the meeting at Montauban. I sent a message saying "stuck in a meeting". Back came the reply "xxx having fits, can you please phone an ambulance". OK. Out of the meeting and get on the phone to Pat. (What did we do before mobile phones ?) No reply. Phone Carol Foucachon. She said that Pat had been on the line to her and was heading off to help. They all handled it so well. Pat phoned the schools and arranged for our kids to stay for lunch. Ben rang for an ambulance, but didn't get through for some reason we don't understand. So they phoned the doctor and when Pat got there they bundled the lad in the car and got him looked at. The doctor was not too concerned - there's a tummy bug ( gastro ) going round, he had been unwell, his temperature had spiked and he'd had febrile convulsions. It's a case of keeping him cool and just watching him closely. And ho

Here's an unofficial translation of "In Christ alone"

You are the Reeces ! Let's have a cymanfa ganu !

Yesterday was the carrefour théologique at Montauban. Paul Wells from the Faculté Libre d'Aix en Provence was due to speak, along with another speaker from the CEEF. However, Paul has the flu and his doctor ordered him not to come so Dik did a kind of survey of views of sanctification looking at Augustine, Wesley and Keswick. Sammy and I manfully set off early for Montauban. It was a good opportunity to talk about everything as we travelled. I shared the image that Hendryk Krabbendam used all those years ago at a Carey Ministers' Conference when he spoke about revival using the equation 100% + 100% = 100% . In Christology, in conversion, in the inspiration of the Bible, in sanctification - it applies in all sorts of areas. I decided not to share the Blue Peter "Bread in a flowerpot" illustration of positional and progressive sanctification, though it had proved quite helpful at church. It would have meant too much of my voice and I don't want people realising to

Oh no. My nice coat.

Yesterday on the way to the student centre I felt very smart in my nice coat - Auchan sales last year, black corduroy, very black, very nice. We passed a building that was in the process of being cleaned. As we passed I thought 'Funny, smells of bleach.' After the meeting I went to put on my coat, but there was a brownish mark on the shoulder. Bird poo ? It didn't come off. Fiona said "What's that ? It's bleach". It had dripped down the sleeve and onto the pocket. OK. So far we've tried a product that is sold to re-blacken black clothes. It's much better than it was, but still the splashes are a little visible. When I see some black dye I'll get some.

Carrefour theologique at Montauban

It's been a week of meetings so far. Yesterday we began with a Skype conference call uniting all the MPEF people, in Savoie, Bretagne and Aquitaine. The evening saw a group of us met at Izon to discuss where we are at with the church and where we go from here. Tomorrow there's a carrefour théologique at Montauban, so it'll mean catching the early train into Bordeaux, then hopping on the one to Montauban. We'll be back pretty late so I hope there'll be a train back home ! If not I'll have to tram to Pessac and then walk from there.

OK - so that's Apple's new announcement !

It's gorgeous, it's high quality - and it's EX-PENSIVE... Time to look again at that ASUS eeePC.

Church visits coming together

The gaps in the schedule are gradually filling up and thus far the itinerary suggests a planning hand ( not mine !) I start in the north of England , proceed to Scotland , then descend through Wales via Leicester . There's just one untidy but very welcome sortie to South Wales between North of England and Scotland . I now need to get that credit card sorted so I can book tickets and car.

Rain !

It's TAMPING down out there, with lashes of flightning and everything. Our water table is apparently about 17 metres down. (I find that hard to grasp when there's a dirty great river running through the city but there we are... An architect told me and they tend to know these things...) So we are unlikely to flood unless with flash floods. But it reminds us to pray for the flood-threatened new housing estates of Britain.

OK - looks like Easyjet and Easycar

Did my sums. Spoke to people. Looks like Easyjet to Bristol and Easycar rental. The one drawback - I need a credit card to hire a car! I did have one in the UK, but after moving here I hardly ever used it and I have not yet applied for a French one. Better get on and apply for one !

The Eglise Libre and the GBU

On Thursday a chap was at the Bible Study at FAC and we got talking afterwards. Anyway, he said that on Sunday morning the Eglise Libre, newly moved out of their building during its renovation and into a room at the Protestant Hospital, were holding a service for the GBU. The travelling secretary would be there as well as a number of the students. Well the one good thing for me about meeting in the afternoon is the opportunity to visit some of the other churches in Bordeaux. The Eglise Libre was on my list. I know the pastor because he is the chairman of the local Evangelical Alliance and, I think, Protestant Federation, so I went along. It was very good to be there. I got to meet the Trav Sec, who is Australian, and various students from the two different groups (see below). I also met a chap who is about to become engaged to a Chinese girl from Paris who is from the church of the pastor who comes to lead the monthly Chinese Bible Study in our centre. It was good to strengthen these l

Last night - and my ears

Lest night there was a visiting preacher at church, a military chaplain, who was quite a live wire. He moved around a lot while he preached - he reminds me of a lecturer in the Botany Department who used to walk back and fore as he lectured. We measured his circuit and the number of times he went back and forth and worked out that he did about 1/2 mile per lecture. So if he lectured 4 times a day that's two miles a day for a start. Not bad, really, eh ? Anyway meanwhile I was trying to record the message. We have a really nice Sennheiser radio mike that we used to use to record, but while we are in the hired hall then everything is placed differently, so I can't be near the mixing table to use that. So I try and use the built in mike in the machine. Anyway, all was probably in vain last night as the guy approached and retreated time after time. But my ears - wow - they just followed the guy everywhere and picked up whatever he said perfectly. It's amazing how well we're

A quick prayer request for wisdom and guidance

really concerning the practicalities of the Britain visit in March / April ; 1) air tickets. More particularly, where to fly to and from ! I start out in Darlington and finish in Swansea passing via Glasgow in the north and Bath in the south, Whitby in the east and Swansea in the west ! I had assumed I would fly in and out of Manchester, but I also assumed I would probably be based in Shotton and make sorties hither and yon. That may not be the most practical thing to do in the end, though Shotton is excellently placed for the motorway networks and the joys of the M6, and not bad for the train, either... 2) transport. I won't be bringing the car to Britain. So do I entrust myself to the rail network or do I try and get a car to use for the three weeks ? There are firms that hire old cars to missionaries, and sometimes these are quite reliable (!) but that would mean flying to somewhere near their office. Alternatively I could simply hire the smallest car available commercially in

A bit more culture for you

This time it is Saint-Saëns setting of a Victor Hugo poem, Une Flûte invisible . There isn't a performance on Youtube but I found an MP3 file of it - to hear it you'll have to click on the title above. I think this song is lovely and it is not too technically difficult for either flutist or singer. Here's the text : Viens ! - une flûte invisible Soupire dans les vergers. - La chanson la plus paisible Est la chanson des bergers. Le vent ride, sous l'yeuse, Le sombre miroir des eaux. - La chanson la plus joyeuse Est la chanson des oiseaux. Que nul soin ne te tourmente. Aimons-nous! aimons toujours ! - La chanson la plus charmante Est la chanson des amours. translation (not mine !) Come! An invisible flute Sighs across the orchards. - The most peaceful song Is the song of the shepherds. The wind ripples, under the oak, The dark mirror of the waters. The most joyful song Is the song of the birds. May no care torment you. Let us love, let us love forever! The most charming s

Tony and Nick ... "and in France I would probably be..."

Tony (Blair) and Nic(olas Sarkozy) get along very well. Tony came and talked to the UMP and if you click on the title of this post you'll get the 20Minutes report of the meeting (in French, of course). Tony got a good response from the right-wing UMP audience when he said : I am a centre-right politician. In the USA I'd be a Democrat, in the UK I'm labour and in France ... I'd probably be in government (laughs from the audience...) No, I'm joking, I'd be in the Socialist Party side by side with those who long to see it transformed.

Bishop's "Lo here the gentle lark"

It's good to have a spot of culture. We used to try to bash our way through this in Cardiff, but it's hard not to laugh while going "tweet tweet tweet tweet".

Speak of the ... Derek

A Welshman in exile interviews another Welshman in exile, but who can no longer spell. Guy Davies "talks" with the below-mentioned Derek Thomas. Hiraeth - think of homesickness with the volume on full and the loudness button pressed and you come close.

La sainte cène and the Lord's Supper

Long-term readers ( with very good memories and nothing else to occupy their minds ! ) may remember how surprised I was at a synod in Branoux to see the bread lifted up and broken at the communion service ( Elévation et fraction du pain ). It has been stewing away somewhere in the darkest recesses of my neurone and so I found this article by the eminent and immensely good lad, Carl Trueman, very stimulating. The most informal sainte cène I have ever been at was during a discussion-format-service where the bread and wine circulated as people discussed in groups. hmm. I would be very interested in simply tracing the development of communion service theology and practice in the French and Scottish reformed churches, sharing as they do a common ancestor in Geneva. Is there anything on that in print, I wonder ? Meanwhile Trueman is very stimulating and a lovely boy, though he does give Derek Thomas dreadful stick for no greater crime than bei

Helpful thoughts on giving up smoking

Many aspiring ex-smokers find a displacement behaviour helpful. L'Internaute magazine suggests singing. Pat's favourite is L'amour c'est comme une cigarette. Gwilym likes J'ai un bon tabac , sung by Franklin ...? My favourite is Aldebert, who takes to eating paperclips (unless he means musical trombones)

Phew ! That worked out OK.

Estimated electric bill. Much more than we've actually used ! OK - how to give them the actual meter readings? There's a phone number. Ring the phone number. The phone number says to do it online. Do it online. The website still has me connected to the old house in Villenave. OK. I'll disconnect that house from my account and connect the new one. OK that worked eventually. Now to enter the readings. Oh, I can't. Phone the bills service. Explain. "OK, What are the real numbers?" "Hang on a minute while I do the calculations in my head : Sixty-fifteen-thousand four hundred sixty-ten and Four-twenty-sixteen-thousand seven hundred fifty-two." "I'll send you out a new bill and if you do this, this and this then every two months we'll send you an email for you to enter your meter readings online." Isn't technology wonderful...

Never, never, never give up...

It was in this building that General deGaulle, on learning that the new government was preparing to seek an armistice, took the decision on the night of 16 to 17 June 1940 to continue the fight side by side with the allies, so refusing to give up hope for the future of France.

Bordeaux' Roman Amphitheatre

A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Sarko courts the model but narks the media

More online applications allows the use of OpenOffice online. That means that you can use the same office suite that you use at home anywhere without having to download it and ensure it is up to date, etc.

Pat during the répétition musicale

She sang with Laurence (Sammy on guitar) to help us learn a new tune.

Martin marks a milestone

"The death of French culture" said Time

They rather put the cat among the pigeons...,9171,1686532,00.html,9171,1699245-1,00.html,9171,1699246,00.html

Conventionné !

I met up with Sammy the pastor and Patrick the elder yesterday to discuss and finalise the text of the convention that defines my role and mission in the church. We hope that it will be signed off at the next conseil presbytéral once everyone who needs to has seen it. These partnership agreements are important for French charity law. They document who does what and who is paid by whom and so on, and the relationship between different works, like missions, churches and student associations. They're also important in recognising and encouraging gospel work. They establish a framework for supporting and enabling workers' roles.

The Court Jester - The Pellet With The Poison

I know it is Danny Kaye, but stay with it for a little while. It's the words that are great.

Two parrots sitting on a perch ...

One says to the other, "Can you smell fish ?"

Ben juggles the New Year in

The background music is Minnie the Moocher. Don't ask me why.

I liked this elderly chap's shopping trolley

covered in cacti.

At the Bègles supermarket

First the ammunition aisle where you can buy your hollow tip slugs. Then the oyster aisle.

No Smoking in cafés and bars from now on. One of the things that shocks us in France is the number of young people who smoke. It's frightening. All four of our parents smoked. Both my parents died of cancer. None of our brothers and sisters smoke (unless they hide it very well indeed !) though some of our nephews and nieces do. Anyway, no more smoking in public places in France, i.e. cafés, bars, restaurants, etc. Meanwhile, I am sure that I have read somewhere that the Pope has granted a plenary indulgence to all who stop smoking this year. Don't just rely on that, though. Check your facts !

Meanwhile, in the Council of Europe "If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights, which are a key concern of the Council of Europe." Are they nuts ? Where did dissidents flee when rationalism threatened to punish their disagreement with death ? To sacral Britain, with its state church, christianity upheld by the monarch and gospel freedom of conscience. Since when does the absolute conviction that all human beings are created equal and belong equally to the God who made them infringe human rights ? And have we so soon forgotten the carnage wrought by 20th century atheism because only the strongest have the right to survive ?

Bonne année 2008

New Year in the church here in France is pretty similar to what we used to do in Deeside, really. In Deeside we used to hold a Noson Lawen. People would play musical instruments or sing, there'd be sketches and jokes (some guys in particular were very natural comedians - one chap would appear in his flat cap and we would start roaring with laughter, another played his trombone and I laughed till I cried), there'd be reflective readings, pomes, and then at midnight we'd sing and pray and sometimes there'd be a sort message from the Bible. Here you add food and a film. Last night we had few entrées, so we put the quiche and salad out with the rice and the sauces ( a daube - which turns out to be boiled beef and carrots, a boeuf bourguignon , a chicken stew and sweet and sour pork ). Cheeses: a camembert, some roquefort and something hard. Desserts were Pat's trifle, a cake with yogurt, lemon and a chocolate topping, a chocolate mousse and so on... Coffee. I took so