les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy lively Sunday

began early with the preparation of the Powerpoint file - we project our hymns and songs so that we can draw from several books.

Off to church for 10 to set up.

Bully - no, encourage someone to read David's prayer from 2 Sam 7 during the service, leaving me with just the offering and some other things to lead.

Afterwards church lunch ( hoorah ! ) Pat's chilli (with no chilli powder in it) and trifle went down well and there was LOADS to eat this time.

Then brief church meeting followed by film on persecuted church. I set up the film but had to leave before the crucial bit of the church meeting to go and preach in Blaye.

Well, I say "brief church meeting" but Samy does have a habit of stringing things out. When it was obvious that I was going to have to leave half-way through the meeting I joined in his game, feeding him distractions and discussing irrelevancies while people did their nuts (i.e. chanting le nom, le nom, le nom...) wanting to get to the nub of the matter - i.e. what progress has been made in inviting a new pastor to Bordeaux.

Blaye was great. It is hard to explain what it is like to preach to a good turnout of 8 people who represent the only protestant gathering in an area of some 50,000 people * , all of whom listen keenly and follow and encourage as you preach. It's a privilege. Blaye needs a worker. It can't be us but it does need someone who will do the legwork and spadework.

Then back to church to get the family, lock up church and take family home.

Update blog !

* The Canton de Blaye numbers some 13,000 folk, the arrondissement de Blaye (sous-préfecture) has about 54,000. We are not aware of any other protestant churches in the arondissement.

Helter-skelter Saturday

8:30 get up - I have taken to the French idea of the grasse matinée, a lie-in. It's GREAT not to get up at 6am / 6:30 !

10:30 at the church for preparation of order of service for today.

12:30 get home quickly to take kids to Eysines for them to go back to the church with Ben for club.

Type up the Order of Service and send it to all and sundry by email (we're very high tech !)

Quick trip to supermarket for emergency rice and cheese (see below)

Prepare for International Bible study.

Correct error in Order of Service and send it out again ! (Vite fait, mal fait)

At 6 people arrived to eat. "Can we all pile in?" said one of the seven people at Pessac tram stop. "No !" quoth I, "it's against the law, I'll do two trips." We were 12 in total and we ate a super ham, nice chilli (without any chilli in in it) and gorgeous cakes.

Study at 8 on the Bible. Some of these folks have never held a Bible so it was REALLY BASIC !

These meetings are so happy, We're so blessed. Most of the folk who come are Chinese and they just love sitting round the stove and hearing people talk about the rock-bottom basics of what Christians believe (i.e. what the Bible teaches).

After getting people back to the tram stop flop into bed tired but happy in Blyton's immortal words.

( Neglect to update blog )

Friday, November 28, 2008

Phew ( did I say the buses and trams are striking again today ? )

"Help ! Jenna's car has a flat tyre so Ben said he'd drive her home and now he's stuck at Place Victoire and I am at LeClerc with a trolley full of shopping and the kids are stuck in school !"

"OK, Alan's about to leave to get our kids from school and he'll come and get you afterwards".

Meanwhile great discussion whether there are trams and buses tomorrow for folk to come for the International English Home Group... (Yes, there are.)

So after leaving the house at 4:20 I got back with our children at 7pm having driven no distance at all and very very slowly ! Everything is blocked solid.

Two guys

Yesterday doing student surveys. Two guys stand out to tell you about.

At the end of the quickie survey I asked the first guy what he thought about doing the longer questionnaire. He said "Ok, but I am busy this afternoon."

"Yes, but we can make a rendezvous to do it another day."

"Oh, let's do it now !" So we started. We got through the initial part, then started the "Partie philosophique".

By what criteria would you judge your life to be a success ?

"That's a bit personal !"

"Well yes, we aren't asking about Descarte's philosophy but about yours !"

Anyway after a bit of reflection we continued with the questionnaire in a very happy, relaxed way. He said he was born into a catholic home and did all the stuff but was now not practicing. We finished the questionnaire and chatted for a moment. Then he said :

"Can I ask you a question ?"

"Yes..." (wondering what was coming...)

"The suicide rate amongst the young is very high in France. A Portuguese friend says that the rate is much lower there because catholicism is stronger. What do you think ? Do you think that strength of faith can affect suicide rates ?"

Well we talked about hope, and about knowing that God is there and that giving a sense of security even when things go wrong, and of there being a purpose and a destination and so on. I felt I ought to mention that the catholic church's past view of suicide may give people strong inhibitions about taking their own life, too.

I said "What do you think ?"

"Yes", he said, "I would think that it is linked to that sense of hope and purpose."

The second guy was a muslim. You can always tell by the way they answer the question "Do you believe in God." It's always a very forceful "Yes", as if God were looking over their shoulder and waiting to see what they would say...

We talked at length. I hope I showed him grace and firmness. We talked about sin, grace, pardon, the need for forgiveness and the possibility of assurance of salvation, but I felt that he hoped to convince me that I was wrong and that nothing reached his heart, really. However, what do I know ?

I know what Mark means in Mark 10:21. These are nice guys treading water in a big, wide ocean. Oh to have your feet on the rock.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another tram and bus strike tomorrow !

They are striking because the contract for running the public transport in Bordeaux is passing from one company (Veolia) to another (Keolis) on 1st January and the public transport workers are concerned that their conditions of service may change.

So it's down tools all day.

A friend had Kipling's "If" on his wall

It's a memorable poem (if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same) though it doesn't do a lot for me. Maybe I am not gung-ho enough, insufficiently "Roger of the Raj" to identify.

However, one does detect faint echoes in what Tim reads in his Guinness.

Phew ! That worked out OK.

Last night at about midnight the computer hollered uncle and the disk finally copied (using DriveClone). I had already gone to bed but I woke at about midnight and checked on the beast to see what had transpired and all was OK.

This morning, after lighting the stove (it's frosty here) I switched the disks. ( Much ineffectual tugging with inadequate small screwdrivers till I tried an enormous screwdriver handle with a tiny bit. That worked. Never underestimate the motive force of intimidation on the inanimate object ! )

And here we are ! Now instead of an 80 gb disk and 2gb free space, there's a 160 gb disk and over 80 gb free space. That'll keep it going for a while.

Can I get another three years out of the thing ? We'll see !

As Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up..."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yahou !


1. Robert Johnsson: Have you seen the bright lilly grow / Andreas Scholl


Boy have I opened a can of worms or what !

Basically the disk cloning program Acronis TrueImage thingie ground to a halt 3% through the copy.

So after a few attempts I downloaded a different program, which complained about a particular file.

So I thought "You should have run chkdsk anyway". I ran it. It ground to halt 37% through checking something or other.

So it appears that my poor laptop has an unhappy hard disk !

I'll try a few other wizard wheezes to see if I can kick the disk into submission. If not then I'll have to just pop in the new disk, restore the Fujitsu xp system (I have the restore disk), reload every piece of software I have on the beast, copy over the data that's on there and so on. Probably take a week all-told !


Scary moments II

It wasn't working.

So this morning I ran chkdsk (the disk is clean) and am currently trying again.

And again it seems to be stuck on 3% copied.
I am not going to look for a good long time.
I'll let it plug away.
Who knows ... maybe it'll get past a bottleneck or something.

And anyway, for the moment I have no better ideas except to download different disk cloning software and try that...

Tony Payne is thinking about ministry


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scary moments

This morning something (can't remember exactly what) didn't work very well on my laptop - the laptop that belongs to the mission, that I use for PowerPoint at church and for the English Class etc. I just wondered how much space there was on the hard disk - I have been contemplating doing a hard disk transplant.

Ah. Not very much at all !

So even as I speak Acronis True Image is copying from the laptop hard disk to the new, improved, bigger one. Then comes the scary moment when I have to take the old disk out of the laptop, put the new one in and hope it all boots up OK.

I did the same thing on the desktop computer months ago and that worked OK. But the laptop is more important than the desktop.

Oh come on ! Why shouldn't it work ?

( Two hours later and a couple of false starts... I think it really is working now... )

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sometimes Europe is just too wonderful for words

I spotted a cheap second-hand book I fancied on Amazon.fr.

The book is in English, but the vendor is "German books" (Livres allemands).

So I ordered it.

I just got a message from paperbackshop.co.uk telling me they are dealing with my order.

Great, innit !

There must be more to this than is reported, surely ?

This can't be true, can it ?

I make no comment

and I trust that neither will you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Montauban Morning

I had a great journey to Montauban.

It started with a 6:30 trot through Pessac Alouette's deserted streets to the station. Buy my ticket to Bordeaux from the machine and compost it before getting on the lovely new double-decker train. It was gorgeous, with power outlets by the seats and all mod cons.

In Bordeaux I tried to use a machine to buy the ticket to Montauban but was disconcerted by the fact that there are about 5 Montaubans in France. I know the one I wanted is in the 82 (Tarn et Garonne) but the machine doesn't care about that. I thought it was Montauban Ville Bourbon, but I feared getting the wrong ticket and into trouble so I went and queued at the ticket office instead and that was fine.

The train was an old corridor-style but it meant I had lots of room and could parade back and fore looking out of the window at the fields, rolling hills, little housing estates and the river and canal.

At Montauban I realised that I had no real idea of how to get from the station to the bridges over the Tarn, but I had no worries because it is extremely easy. Opposite the station is a sign for centre ville and this takes you right to the old bridge, and the church is just a few hundred yards from the bridge.

I thought I'd just mention the meals we had.

Lunch :

Asparagus with tomato.
Mushroom omelette and creamed spinach (lots of)
Lettuce and vinaigrette
Crème caramel

Dinner :

Stuffed squash (stuffed with meat)
Cheese and oranges
Dessert of stewed apple.

It struck me that the standard starchy part we Brits always eat (rice, spuds, pasta) was missing. Instead lots more vegetables.

You can see from the photos that Montauban is a very attractive town.

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A fight to the death !

More on the French Socialist Party leadership here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In honour of Jean-Pierre Démoral

who invented démoralisation.

All for one, and

They reckon they have found the tomb of D'Artagnan !

Would you credit it ?

He's in Holland !

France's socialist party is seeking the way forward

The papers have been full of their catastrophic conference. The BBC reports here.

It's Pat's birthday today !

Younger every year, she is now officially 24.

Interesting - but don't tell the children

about this

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flanders and Swann - The Gnu Song - Ich bin genug / I'm a gnu / je suis un gnou

Strange how different two songs can be.

Ich habe genug / I have a gnu / j'ai un gnou

You will have observed that I like music. Like a true Brit this is utilitarian. Music for me is useful as medicine for the mind. When I am on the edge a short burst of a well-chosen piece of music can just make the difference between being a blubbering wreck or a gibbering idiot.

Today two pieces on the eternal theme of the gnu. First Bach's sublime and comforting aria from the funeral cantata "Ich habe genug", or I have a gnu. On the point of death the singer consoles himself that he has the love of his gnu, and nobody can take that from him.

Song doesn't get any better than this. Bach has it all. Later composers will make adjustments here and there, but probably Bach still does it better. This is a lovely performance by the bass and the organist is moved beyond expression, as you will see.

Etat du réseau jeudi 20 novembre : dépôts bloqués, aucun tram et bus ne circule sur le réseau

Nous vous informons qu'un mouvement de grève a été annoncé par les organisations syndicales des transports en commun de la Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux.

What a disaster !

The kids are in school and can't get home.
Catrin finishes at 12.
Gwilym at 4:30.
Pat can't drive.
I want to go on campus and do surveys but I can't.
The students can't get to campus anyway.
I can't get to the centre of town for the student centre.
A Chinese student is worried about how to get home this evening at 7.
My phone has more messages coming in and out than the Paddington Telephone Exchange.

It's a shambles !

Oh well - at least I still have my gnu...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fresh fields and pastors new

Well by now I do not risk blowing the gaff on information that people do not know.

The church has been informed.

Everyone who needs to know knows, I am sure, and we are working hard to discern the way forward.

Because our friends and well-loved colleagues, the Foucachons, are leaving next summer. The church is seeking a new pastor.

The EREI is a movement where pastors stay about 6 to 8 years in a church, and Sammy has been here for 8. It is time.

What can one say ? We don't want him / them to go, but we accept that this is God's plan for us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anyone know what this plant is ?

There's loads of it by the Pessac Centre tram stop and it's wonderfully fragrant and long-flowering. We'd like some in our garden. Maybe if we see them pruning it one day we can beg some cuttings...
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Hey ! Veterans !

Since that guy guessed my age as 56 people seem to be queuing up to tell me that I look older than I really am, or whatever. I think it's a conspiracy - and before you respond just let me point out that even paranoid people are sometimes the victims of plots...

Meanwhile we have had a visit from Jean-Marc, the under-head-honcho of the mission, flying from Swindon to see Fiona, us and the Griffins. He reminded us of one of two workers going through hard times - at least one of whom is in the departure-room for this sad, old world. His visit reminded me of the comments of one hard-pressed stalwart, "It takes 10 years to feel really at home and useful in your new country."

Well after 3 years things feel a lot better than they did before, though lots of things are still a struggle. The only way is up, I guess. :)

Family-wise, we are going to look for a student or someone else who can give Gwilym (and Catrin ?) a bit of help with their French. They're doing great, but a helping hand would not come amiss.

Pat is moving ever upward and has developed a severe loathing for our freezer - it's a chest freezer (lovely in very hot weather - we all hang over the edge and freeze our chests) - because it was while delving in the depths that her disc slipped. I feel that it is precipitate to blame the freezer when her back is simply one big disc waiting to slip. Anyway she would like to see the chest freezer exchanged for an upright. But then we could not bulk stock Lidl blue-box ice-cream. (To try it is to love it. I wonder if they put illicit substances in it we long for it so much...) The next long-awaited big step is when Pat resumes driving.

Meanwhile on the music front I am battling with this trombone a bit, though now there are more ensembles than I can shake a stick at. Well, there's a fortnightly brass ensemble and a weekly orchestra, but my stick is busy, OK ?

I think one of the things you learn from learning ( be it languages, instruments, sport, whatever ) is that from time to time it's all a bit hard, but you keep going until you get through that barrier, past that plateau...

Anyway, a much nicer slant on all this came from Jim at Missionary Blogs.

It turns out that we are veterans !

Imagine that !

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jonathan loves Christianity Explored



Our numbers were swelled by folks from Blaye, by Chinese students and by other visitors and the building managed very well. Great !

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

International Home Group

We were between 15 and 20 people for the international home group, probably half Chinese.

Jean-Marc, the under-head-honcho from the mission, spoke helpfully from Acts 3 and Andy translated into Chinese on the fly. Lots of great questions and lots of opportunity for folk to chip in their helpful two-pennorth. A really great evening.

We had a lot of fun picking people up from Pessac Centre. Here's what happened :

1) Alan's phone starts beeping saying the battery is flat - he puts it on charge in the bedroom

2) some kids are here for tea - lots of singing and noise

3) An sms arrives to say that the first group are boarding the tram. We don't hear it come !

4) Alan thinks 'We haven't heard anything from the guys boarding the tram', runs to look at phone .. aha !

5) Alan phones guys . "We are at Pessac Centre," they say

6) Phones Liz (backup transport) we head off for Pessac Centre.

7) find people - there's seven of them. We wait for Liz - for a while - then decide I will set off with the first load and come back for the second lot in case Liz has got lost.

8) as people get in the phone rings - someone is delayed and will be at Pessac Centre in about 20 minutes

9) drive off - notice there's a LOT of heads in the back ! We have four (slim) ladies in the back of the car. Pray that we won't get stopped despite the interior light flashing on and off because the door is not quite properly closed...

10) deposit first group - return to get second lot.

11) second lot not there - eeek - Pat phones - they're at the house. Liz comes up trumps. Great. Delayed person comes running down the platform of the tram stop.

Thanks Father - all are safely gathered in.

Plan for next time is to spread out the tramstop shuttle by eating together before the home group. Long term plan is to extend the tramline to our house, but that may take a while...

Ubuntu 8.10 / XP

On my study computer I had to do various different things with photos this morning for various church things happening today. To do this I needed to begin with Ubuntu and then switch to XP for reasons I won't go into - on the same PC. I quite liked doing that because it gave me an opportunity to compare the two operating systems much more directly than I have heretofore.

Ubuntu : I started in Ubuntu Linux - and it started up very quickly. Once it came up I went straight into Firefox and Gmail and got the first photo I need to fiddle with. All very quick. I downloaded the photo then though 'Aha, why don't I do this in Picasa ?', so went into Picasa which then proceeded quickly to find all the photos on the PC. Meanwhile I had thought "Why don't I upgrade OpenOffice 2.4 to 3.0 while I am at it ?", so I did. Then I thought "and I could set up some podcasts on Rhythmbox...", so I did that and then it went off and found all the music on the PC. Then I did what I needed to the photo, shut everything down and restarted the pc. All so swift even though some of the things I had done were quite big tasks.

XP. Start-up ... yawn. Click on Firefox. Oho - the PC's not fully started up yet even though it looks like it is and this despite my streamlining of the start-up using CCleaner. OK - there's Firefox - I'll download the picture I need to get and print it out. Meanwhile for light relief I watch some paint dry.

I think I need to do some more fiddling with Ubuntu - for example set up Wine, so I can access Online Bible and the Theology books I have on my hard drive, network the printer and so on... Then I'll switch permanently. But when to fiddle like that... It's always the "fiddling about curve" that puts me off.

Soirée d'ouverture au Centre FAC

We were full of Chinese for a very happy and up-beat soirée d'ouverture.

We need more Chinese Bibles. We need a worker who speaks Mandarin.

But what we have already is wonderful. The promise of a great year working with these super folk at centre FAC and also in the International Church.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catrin's flute teacher

You practiced the duet with your father playing WHAT ?

The school canteen

Papa : What'd you have for lunch ?

Enfant 1 : Potato balls.

Enfant 2 : Didn't you have the meat ?

Enfant 1 : No, I didn't like it.

Enfant 2 : It was nice. It was chicken.

Enfant 1 : No it wasn't, it was lamb.

Papa : So what about dessert ?

Enfant 1 : A yogurt.

Papa (thinks) : Potato balls and a yogurt - to you, sir, 5 euros...

Enfant 2 : I had apricots in juice.

We later found that the meat was pork chops, and that enfant 1 had also eaten some bread. Oh well. It's only now and again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brilliant !

Look ! Your cable catching misery is over.

Remembrance Ceremony at Pessac

Photos taken while waiting for the start.

I find it very reassuring that even the Remembrance Day ceremony doesn't begin on time. First photo because I thought you'd like to see a képi or two.

Various representatives of different groups lay wreaths of chrysanthemums. There's lots of speeches. No singing, no prayers.

Not much music - just two bugle calls : "Cesser de feu" and "Aux morts", and a VERY EMPHATIC Marseillaise to finish.

And one poppy.

There was a very good turn-out and I got to shake hands with the maire of Pessac and with the chairman of the Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux.
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A useful little article

can be read here.

Of course, this goes far beyond all our grumbling about this that and the other at church.

It addresses the Great Evangelical Cult of the Personality, too. When I was a student towards the end of the last century it was bad. Now it is SO MUCH WORSE. Spectacular and publicised scandals involving prominent evangelical heros have taught us nothing. Bof !

After reading Tony Payne's little post I thought "Yes, and it's not about me, stupid, either."

I may post up some of my reflections. Here's one, for a start.

Preaching is not about what I really want to say, it's about what the hearer needs to hear from God's word about Christ.

What I want to say doesn't matter a peanut. Utterly irrelevant. Couldn't matter less, - well, except in that it helps a great deal if I want to say what God's word says about Christ !

But I am not the important one in the equation. Get out of the way. Or, as so many have so helpfully said "It is impossible to say at one and the same time that Jesus Christ is great and that I am clever."

Here's another :


I don't mean keeping your trap shut. I mean being as unnoticable as it is possible to be. Paul says For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

A good servant is discreet.

Have you ever been to a wedding or to a restaurant where the service was just great ? Your water jug always seems full. You are never surrounded by dirty plates - somehow they seem to vanish. You next course arrives while you're in mid-conversation and you aren't sure how it got there. You never have to look around to try to find the waiter, but you never really notice them either. That's good service.

I remember an office end-of-project meal once in the "Old Orleans", some time in the 1980s ! We had a good time together, and so did our waiter, Howard. He told us jokes. He came and sat down with us. We found this behaviour odd and unwelcome. Some of us were not at all amused. Some tried to explain simply, "Howard, you are forgetting that we have paid to eat here and you are paid to serve us..." Some were actually rude to him. But no, nothing worked, Howard was there to stay. That was not good service.

I have friends who have served the Queen at London and at Windsor. One had the task of tidying the Queen's sitting-room. You wait till she leaves the room then you rush in, sort the room out and rush out again. The goal is that the room becomes tidy with no hint of human intervention. Another friend's job was sometimes to hover in the sitting-room until a member of the Royal Family needed something - then rush off (imperceptibly) to fetch it, then again to disappear into the background.

Not us, eh ! We need to be noticed, recognised, mentioned in despatches, praised, thought highly of, fussed over.

And it's me I am talking to !

Bof ! Bunch of prima donnas, the lot of us !

Were the Stones American ?

They know how to hurt you, don't they.

Gwilym's guitar teacher taught him the riff from 'Satisfaction' last night.

So I taught him to strut and pout like Mick Jagger.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bach - Bwv1069 Orchestral Suite - 02 - Bourrée

Hurrah for the grasse matinée

There's no school tomorrow !

This is extremely good news - a lie-in.

Oh boy do I need it.



Pat had her scan today. They very wisely gave her the time of 12:45, but it was 12:45 for 13:00 (the scan itself was booked for 13:00). This gave us time to constitute the dossier using our Carte Vitale (the card that carries your health service details). We forgot the card from our complementary insurance (mutuelle) so we had to pay the difference and we have a bill to send off for 9,23€.

The dossier complete, we went and waited and a little while afterwards a lady came and called Pat through to the scanning area. She was back within about 10 minutes, then after another little wait she was called through again to get the results. A very pleasant doctor explained (after we'd all shaken hands) that she has a slipped disk, that the treatment nowadays is medical : pain relief and rest, and that she must not lift heavy weights or be too much in the car etc. We came out with the scans, a typed-up report and a cd-rom of the results. I haven't tried the cd-rom yet. I suppose in all we were there about 2 hours.

It's good to have confirmation of what the problem is. Next step is for Pat to see her own doctor and decide what to do.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Whatever POSSESSED me ?

I left the KETTLE at church !

God's workmanship

This morning in French on Ephesians 2:10 - about being saved by grace through faith for good works - and stuff.

This evening in English on the paralysed man from Mark 2 : 1 - 10. More new Chinese.

One girl came up to me and said "Thank you very much for the message. We have only been in Bordeaux for a few weeks and we are from China so we don't know anything about any religion so it is good to hear about Jesus Christ."

A nice lady from the Anglican Chaplaincy came along, so it was great to talk with her. The one frustrating thing is that we thought our carol service wouldn't clash with the chaplaincy because theirs is always held on a Saturday evening so ours will be Sunday December 14th. Aha - so will theirs this year. Oh well. At least everyone knows we are not trying to clash with each other !

I have come to the conclusion that preaching in English is helping my French preaching. I can't say much more than that, but Stuart Olyott would understand.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

At the trombone workshop

"I am glad we're not the oldest people here" I said to the balding, white-haired wrinkly teetering beside me behind the tiny lads and lasses with specially written parts because their arms are too short to play beyond third position.

"No", he said, "I am sixty next birthday !"

"Are you really ? And how old would you say that I am ?"

"Oh, I don't know", he said, "Fifty-six ?"

So I hooked my slide round his, gave a quick jerk and sent his dentures flying... (not really...)

There was a display of like really expensive brass intruments 'à libre essai' which means you can have a go. The tinies had a wonderful time blasting on £7000 tubas ! I had a go on a pichotte, a tenorhorn. That took me back ! It's alarmingly easy to play after the trombone !

Thomas needs a new case that he can carry on his back on the bicycle, and there was this lovely one on display. He bravely asked the price. "250€" We got up off the floor and reflected that it is made of real kangaroo leather, but worth more than the trombone..

Renaud's other pupil was there. Neither of us had ever seen him, we just know he's Jérôme the fireman.
"I tell you it's him."
"He's not old enough to be a fireman."
"Come on, he's mid-twenties, and he looks like a fireman."
We were both too chicken to go up and ask but later the guy piled his case by ours. I said "Es-tu pompier ?" (Are you a fireman)
"Oui. Ca se voit ?" (Yes, can you tell ?)
"Tu t'appelles Jérôme ?"
"Voilà, je t'ai dit ! Nous sommes les autres élèves de Renaud."

I saw Albert, director of the school of music afterwards. I confessed to him that I have tried to solve the bells and whips problem by asking Renaud to borrow them from the army percussionists. "That's a good initiative", said Albert, so he didn't mind.

I said "Hey, I had a go on a pichotte."

"Where did you learn that word ?", he said.

Oh no. Not again ! Renaud ?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tired today.

I think this past fortnight has caught up with me a bit.

Still today is a day for working at home : orders of service, sermon notes, resend emails in formats people can read, that kind of thing.

I may even take a siesta at some point, ready for the weekend.

Travailler en équipe

There's a team from the YWAM discipleship school near Paris spending a week in Bordeaux. They've done various things including working with our friend Sebti running a kids' club and doing street evangelism in Bordeaux.

Yesterday they were with FAC, so we met up at the student centre at 10 to pray, then went onto the campus to do surveys. Some worked in pairs but I was on my own. I had a super conversation with three lads and another guy came along to the student centre later to do a questionnaire and to find out about coming for Bible studies or to the English Classes. I gave away my Bibles, as usual. There are always guys who are really pleased to receive a Bible, and we give them a little booklet to help them read the main themes, too.

The evening was scheduled for street evangelism once more, involving students from FAC as well, but I wasn't able to stay.

Ah well - that's that out of the way

Flu jab done. Doctor pleased with blood test results ("prise de sang parfaite"), everything.

Pharmacy has their paperwork.

Everyone content.

The doctor said "Je vous ai fait mal ?"

"Pas du tout", quoth I, "c'était très confortable. Pas souhaitable, mais confortable"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just had some bank statements arrive from Britain

I am a little concerned about falling interest rates and their effect on the long term value of our savings in the UK :

In our Firstdirect Accounts we have :

Everyday Savings = 0.00
Current account = 0.39p (we really ought to transfer this into savings account)

In our Virgin One account we have £47.92 following the addition of 4p interest this month.

What got me, though, was their closing calculation :

An update on your overall financial position

What you own
Your home, based on the last valuation = £5.00

What you owe
Your One account balance as at 31/10/2008 = £47.92

The difference between what you own and what you owe = £52.92

It looks to me as if they have just given us a fiver... That CAN'T be right, can it ?

(Yes - you've guessed it. Pat married me for my money.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Paul puts it well


On living by grace in the church

Martin reflects on Dave's link to Tim and Steve's videos (The link to the videos doesn't work now)

The presidency

Glad we haven't got one ! As a friend said recently "I'd find it hard to choose between a president who supports killing babies and a president who supports killing Iraqis".

Most French people I speak to feared a McCain presidency. For them McCain means more "Bushism", which means more war.

The ones who would support McCain are usually people who have roots in the Bible-belt of America where the astonishing rate of abortion in America ( millions of children killed before birth, MILLIONS ) weighs heavily on their conscience.

Meanwhile it is good to see a black president. However I fear for the American economy. I doubt if American foreign policy will improve under Obama. It is hard to imagine anything short of a dramatic work of God that could improve American foreign policy !

Meanwhile I'd much rather have a queen like Elizabeth than one of the presidents that get chosen in our republics.

There we are, that's my two-penn'orth for what it's worth ( and I don't think it's worth tuppence ! )

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

For your prayers

OK. Pat's scan is scheduled for next Monday lunchtime. She's started on the morphine and it does work for pain relief and she's not having strange dreams yet ( it's a low dose ! ).

We are working out how to ensure the children are where they need to be while Pat can't drive and when I am not available. They'll eat more at the school canteen. This is a bit expensive at 5,15 euros a meal ( so 10,30 a day for our two ), but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

They'll also travel back and fore on the bus sometimes and for this they'll need travelcards. To get their travelcards they'll need certificates of scolarity and I don't know what they are or where they come from. I've asked the school. It'll be fine !

Other practical things are still a bit difficult to imagine ( the car is due for a service, for example, which has to be done before 18 November ), but I am sure there's a way for everything to come together.

Meanwhile things to pray for in the church :

1) The international service is drawing Chinese folk. That's GREAT ! We thought it would. Their English is basic which is great, too, because it forces me to preach simply, directly and slowly.

2) For the French church we held the first gospel meeting this Sunday - I came into the tail end of it and it seemed to be going fine. I guess there were 15 to 20 people there, mainly younger folk ( students etc. ).

3) We are very grateful for our new premises but on Sunday morning it is a bit of a squeeze and, unfortunately, the room has been designed badly such that there is too much room at the front and not enough at the back ! ( I seem to remember British meeting rooms having the same problem )

4) This Sunday I am preaching am in French and pm in English. Last time I did the same message ( kind of ! ) in each service but this Sunday I am not going to do that. I will probably continue in Ephesians in the morning and preach from Mark in the evening.

5) You could also pray for the community in the Blaye area. The folk are mostly elderly, they face big challenges to restore one of the church buildings and wintertime is difficult for the group anyway. However they have a good spirit and are keen to reach out and grow, but how, with little strength ? I was talking with one chap on Sunday afternoon about persecution of Christians in certain African countries and he said 'Oh yes, but you can never stop Jesus Christ from building his church, no matter what you do.'

Very true !

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pat's progress

1) Pat's seen the doctor again

2) she's beginning morphine

3) she'll be getting scanned

4) afterwards, depending on the results of the scan, possibly nothing, possibly physio, possibly other treatment.

Ca s'opère.

Sometimes life can be scary, can't it.

Comment va Patricia ? C'est une sciatique. Ah, ça s'opère.

Patricia va mieux ? Un tout petit peu, c'est une sciatique. Ah bon, mon mari a passé quatre semaines à quatre pattes avec cela, avec des piqûres deux fois par jour.

How is Pat ? It's sciatica. Ah, they operate on that.

Patricia's better ? A tiny bit, it's sciatica. Oh, my husband spent four weeks on all fours with that, with injections twice a day.

note - à quatre pattes. Patte is roughly equivalent to paw in English, but to say "on all fours" you say "à quatre pattes" - it sounds like a cat pat.

An expression I like a lot is the equivalent for 'if everyone lends a hand' - si chacun met sa main à la pâte - if everyone puts his hand to the dough. This becomes sheer poetry if you exchange patte for main : si chacun met sa patte à la pâte.

Wonderful !


A speedy Sunday

Well the children had a good time on their weekend camp sleepover thing. It rained pretty well all weekend so the fact that there's no outside area to play in near the church made little difference.

My morning began with a panic - we had no bread for communion ! I should have checked earlier in the week but our routines are all to pot... Anyway I thought "no problem - the baguetterie round the corner will be open for this emergency". Not at Toussaint, they weren't ! So I scuttled off to get J-P. He lives in one of our seven high rise blocks of flats, which is also where the highest concentration of muslims in Pessac live. Their baguetterie was open so I queued up to buy a "déjeunette". Then hared round looking for J-P who was not in his usual place because I was not in mine. Then off to church.

What with everything we were ... well we were late. And I had the videoprojector, the videoprojector table, the PC with the hymns and songs, the bread and wine for communion AND the previous day J-P and I had studied the book fo words for the heating and worked out how to turn it on and off...

Anyway you'd be amazed how quickly we can set things up, once we've kissed everyone of course, and the heating was on and everything.

After church a long wait for how's your father and discussion about the evening service, then home to whip up "Saucisses de Strasbourg aux pâtes et petits pois", light the stove, then off to Blaye.

The service at Blaye seemed to go OK, though their attendance is struggling a bit with the cold and rain and possibly the afternoon start. I discovered that Georges sings bass so we harmonised for "Torrents d'amour" (O the deep deep love) and so on. Afterwards we chatted about his war service - Indo-chine and Algérie. Read up about the late 1950 and early 1960s in France. It makes your hair curl. Or watch the film 'The day of the Jackal" - the early one with James Fox.

Back to Bordeaux through traffic jams and accidents (caused by the wet roads I expect) to catch the end of the evening meeting and take J-P home to Pessac.

Today is gentler and slower. The biggest drama will be Pat's visit to the doctors. We'll shuffle through the rain-drenched streets for her 16h45 appointment.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Today - a varied day

We would have been making the homeward drive from Lloret de Mar today, but instead it's been a nice gentle kind of day so far. Here's the agenda :

10 am : kids to their Young People's sleepover weekend, me to the order of service planning meeting. picking up our friend J-P en route.

12 noon : end of order of service planning meeting, so get stuck in traffic heading through Bordeaux. It's Toussaint today and Bordeaux was very quiet in the morning but it livened up at noon and there were a LOT of people pouring out of the Catholic church that we pass en route to the Pont de Pierre.

Drop J-P, head off to the supermarket to buy something for lunch for Pat and myself. They have organic beef steaks that have to be eaten today dirt cheap. Pat wants curry so I buy a jar of Patek's tikka and we'll have beef tikka. It's almost sacrilege to curry this meat, but at least it's a bit old...

After lunch the order of service has arrived by email so I sort out the PowerPoint file - we project our hylns and songs because that way we can select from various books. I am struck again by the extraordinary richness of English hymnody. Sometimes there's a theme that you just can't find a French hymn or song to fit.

This evening is the International Home Group, so I tidy and clean the end of the room where we'll sit, and light the stove. It's quite mild today so we may not have bothered just for us. We are going to watch the film "Amazing Grace" together this evening - with subtitles ! So my next job is to ensure that the DVD works, and then to make some popcorn and get it all sorted. We know we'll be seven, we may be eight or more.

So a nice gentle day. Nothing happening at a speed you can't manage !

Tomorrow I am preaching at Blaye. I'll do a rerun of the morning message from last week on Ephesians 2:8, but I'll try and preach it more like I preached in the evening in English. I think I can do that if I pretend that people there don't really speak French very well, so I have to be slow and simple... Hmmm. Good thing I believe in the Holy Spirit !

So tomorrow will be more hectic. Early for church - say 9h30 for the 10h30 start. I wonder if J-P will be happy with going that early. Then back home for lunch (kids still on sleepover). 2h45 head off for Blaye. Service is at 4. Then back to Bordeaux - if I am in time to Cenon for the evening gospel meeting. If not - home full stop. By then the kids will be back home.

Ubuntu 8.10

The other day I called on my friend X to pick up Gwilym. X had been downloading the new realease of Ubuntu, 8.10, Intrepid Ibex. We couldn't resist trying it on his desktop computer and on the new laptop he got from his firm.

On the laptop it seemed to work quite nicely. I don't know if the wifi worked, it often doesn't and you have to do some jiggery-poker to get it going.

However on the desktop he got a sign-in screen which didn't allow him to go further.

Aha ! In April I tried loading Ubuntu 8.04 on my desktop and I got that sign-in screen. The folks from Abul, the local OpenSource Association, suggested that it was due to an incompatibility with the display card and that I ought to try Kubuntu, which I did, and it worked fine.

Anyway X offered me a disk of Ubuntu 8.10, but I declined. Then when I got home I thought - oh, go on, so I downloaded it and tried it on my desktop.

It worked GREAT ! It even found, identified and installed a driver for my printer ! I was SO impressed that I have set it up now as a dual-boot with Windows.

And it is so elegant. It's a lovely release.