Showing posts from February, 2009

Couple of thoughts from sondages this week

It was sunny, we were at the town centre, everyone was in a good mood but NOBODY had two minutes for a short questionnaire. Not only that but I had backache. This was getting us nowhere. Anyway we stopped and had a quick talk and a quick time of prayer and suddenly ... nothing changed. Then a couple of people had time to talk. I had a nice friendly chat with two guys - one has a friend who's dad is a pastor - the friend is "très croyant mais pas pratiquant" . A couple of folk said they could do the longer questionnaire. And I didn't notice my backache any more. Funny old thing, isn't it. This need for prayer and for perseverance . And patience . And persistence . It was lunchtime. Two students had these gorgeous sandwiches. They pointed out the shop, but they're four euros a shot. £4 for a sandwich ! Another guy though had bought a déjeunette (a half-length baguette) and a bar of chocolate and as we talked he would break off a chunk of bread and a piece of cho

Well that explains a lot !

C'est le jeune demi de mêlée Morgan Parra qui sera ce soir le buteur du XV de France. (photo AFP) (From Sud-Ouest) Morgan Parra, the goal-kicker ? He's a Welshman , isn't it ! Sure to be ! More nice pictures here.

Tuchman's law

states that : " The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold. "Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times." "After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening - on a lucky day - without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena." People feel 'not very safe at all' in Bideford because of the way the media talk of violent crime (which remains very rare, especially in Bidefor

Jacques Brel Ne Me Quitte Pas ( English Subtitles )

This became the wan "If you go away" in English, where someone tries to persude their better half not to leave on a business trip or to go and look after Grandma for the afternoon. "Don't leave me" is MILES better than "don't go away from me"

So Sarko and her maj share an interest


A nice full Sunday !

Am we were a good number. I preached on Ephesians 2:19 - >, on the church being God's nation, God's household. I'd fretted a bit about this beforehand because it is a really important theme here in France where for all sorts of reasons it is hard to build community and cohesion among the people of God. We had a couple of technical hiccups - for some reason the powerpoint of the hymns didn't fit entirely on the screen, so for some of the words people were left to their imaginations. Still... Some folks came back for lunch - suddenly. What can we feed them ? So it was that people dined on sweet and sour pork, quiche, pizza, rice, chips and grated carrot. (We ought to plan this in advance, shouldn't we.) I ran round like a headless chicken assessing our stocks of ice-cream (low) and anything else that could serve as dessert when I remembered that we had inherited 18 litres of milk from a cancelled young people's outing and that we had a fair amount of small, t

Computers ! At least fountain pens only LEAKED from time to time..!

One won't boot because its disk is too full. Another has had an intermittent fault with the monitor (I hope). It now has an good old-fashioned IBM surplus monitor and so far so good. Another won't boot because of a lousy shutdown of Windows XP (yeah, yeah, I know, if we all switched to Linux we wouldn't have half these gripes...) Then on Sunday the Powerpoint of songs was offset to the right so you lost the last word of some lines here and there... And to think that when I left BT I thought that I was giving up being a system builder and becoming a computer user ! Still - before long we won't have electricity to run the things, will we. Count it all joy, brother, count it all joy.

That's my eyes in the clear !

Got my eyes tested. The chap said "Can you read that.. and that.. and that.. and that..?" I said I could. He then said "And can you read this ?" I could. He blew in my eyes, then stared into them through various gizmos. Then he said "All fine. Some time you'll have difficulty reading and at that stage you get glasses but for the moment all is fine. Come back when you can no longer read." Jolly good !

Well will you look at that !

Yesterday morning I was preaching on Ephesians 2.19 ->

Cerys Matthews - Arglwydd Dyma Fi (Live)

Cerys Matthews singing "Gwahoddiad" / "Mi glywaf dyner lais" at Sesiwn Fawr, Dolgellau. I think this clip expresses so much about Wales. You could write an essay on it, a book about it.

IBM Surplus screens

So I popped down to Cestas to hunt for the factory that is closing down and getting rid of its 17" screens. 120 of them ! There were three of us on the list to collect today. One man took six screens, among them a 21" monster that really was a enormous beast. Now all I have to do is drive into the city centre to be able to get the screens into the student centre. You don't cart these things around on the tram !

Living on the edge

Doing surveys at the university yesterday we saw posters everywhere advertising the next demo for today, with a general meeting in the morning, the demo in the afternoon and a film and concerts in the evening. Meanwhile some friends say that they are surprised that France is so quiet, that we have not returned to a revolution on the scale of 1848, given the reforms that the government are bringing in, in education, in the justice system, in the health system, in everything. "Il casse tout." We'll see.

Strange games ?

Last night I received an email from a friend saying that 22 missionaries had been taken by religious extremists in Afghanistan and that their lives were threatened, the executions being scheduled to start last night. Shortly afterwards a number of us got text messages relayed that said the same thing. I've searched on the internet but the only thing I can find is a reference to what happened last July. I suspect it's another strange game, an odd joke that is being relayed round the world. It's not nice to be suspicious, wary, cynical... but when people play such weird games....

Enormous !

This fortnight is school hols

but it is business as usual (well we hope not exactly as usual, but you know what I mean) at the student centre and I have various appointments which I must try to remember to turn up at : Thursday : Conseil Présbytéral Friday : collect old 17" monitor from Cestas , followed by permanence displaced from Thursday Tuesday 24 : Opthalmo ¤ Mustn't forget. They're all in my diary but I forget to look at it... ¤ it's a laugh this age thing, isn't it ! I made the appointment with the ophthalmologist because some years ago when I was merely 40 the optician in North Wales told me that I had an astigmatism, that my eyes were changing and that soon I would need glasses. I have been OK except for a few small things : Pat reads the signs over lanes of traffic for me because she sees them before I do. I find it hard to tell if the overhead projector is focused or not and I keep fiddling with it to get it into better focus when nobody else can see any problem at all! Anyway

The Griffin family's continued chase

Aha ! there we are - I can see something ahead - I can just grasp it - oh, it's my tail...

Eating together

We now eat together every third Sunday of the month ( hurrah ! ). I am very enthusiastic about this for various reasons. The first and most important is that it gives people the opportunity to spend time together and get to know each other better. Another reason of course, as one of our newcomers remarked, is that we eat very well indeed ! And the meal is preceded by a short prayer meeting.

Sickness and changed plans

Oh dear ! Sickly lot ! Poor Gwilym has picked up a tummy bug ( un gastro ) from a friend and vomited all night and slept a lot of the day. For this and other reasons a projected teenagers-club houseparty has been shortened and postponed and instead of them sleeping over two nights they'll just do one. Meanwhile my rough period of asthma continues irritated by guinea pigs then aggravated by (I suspect) candles, so I have been puffing like a grampus all day. Pat and I had planned an evening out ( either one of the chinese restaurant buffets or perhaps a trip to the cinema ) but of course with the house being plunged into sickness we are not doing that. We won't do it tomorrow evening, either, because it's the English Class. Oh well - another time ! Meantime outside the sky has been blue and the sun has shone enthusiastically, though the nights are COLD.

Law and Gospel at the White Horse Inn

To read and reflect upon

Calvin in cameo

This year is the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great French reformer

Consider the lilies of the field, consider the birds of the air

Prepare your minds for action today !

At the ADD Bible stall

Yesterday I had an appointment at 10 at the Gambetta postoffice and then I did a quick tour of cafés (just from the outside) looking at possible venues for soirées, English classes, etc. I walked to Victoire through the stalls of the Grande Braderie - when in theory the shopkeepers sell off at knock-down prices their remaining unsold sale goods. There's also lots of extra stalls for doughnuts, ethnic clothing, etc, and the Assemblée de Dieu have a Bible Stall right by Victoire every year. I stopped to have a look what they are giving away as cheap Bibles (the same one as we use, though they bought in vast quantities and got a better deal). Anyway a very neat chap came up and said : "Have you read the Bible ?" "Um, yes, a bit..." (Typical Alan answer... In English it would have been "It has been known...") "And the Coran, I imagine ?" "Come again ?" "You're Muslim ?" "No, I've only read small parts of the Cora

25 Personal Pieces of Music

OK . I was tagged to do 25 random things when I have already done so. So instead I have a list of 25 pieces of music that have been important in my life for one reason and another. 1. The Laughing Policeman - ch?v=hI1nPd7hezM . From Forces Family Favourites, a big part of my childhood. 2. Spectrum , Gilbert Vinter - a brass band test piece that I just LOVE 3. The Padstow Lifeboat , Malcolm Arnold - a brass band concert piece that is brilliant 4. La chi darem la mano , Mozart - I sang it really badly at school. Sorry Janice ! 5. Wellington's Victory , Beethoven - I bought it cheaply and discovered orchestral music ! 6. The myths and legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table , Rick Wakeman - I went through a "clever rock" period in my mid-teens 7. This town ain't big enough for the both of us , Sparks - some of the rock wasn't quite so clever... 8. Cam ye o'er frae France , Steeleye Span - and some was folk-rock 9. Swe

Something for Saturday reflection

Nichols on Augustine on glory

The Griffin family need your prayers

They're battling with a knotty administrative problem at an inopportune time.

Nessun Dorma (None shall sleep) - from Puccini's Turandot

Turandot is a beautiful but unpleasant princess who poses three riddles to her suitors. The one who solves the riddles may marry her. Those who fail are beheaded, and Turandot remains unmarried. The hero falls in love with Turandot and solves the riddles. She is unenthusiastic about her forthcoming marriage and so, for reasons that remain unclear, the hero says that if she guesses his name by dawn she may have him beheaded, but if she doesn't she must marry him. Turandot orders that nobody sleep in all her domains while she tries to guess her suitor's name. The hero, meanwhile, belts out "Nessun dorma" (None shall sleep), singing in anticipation of the sweet victory when he marries the cold, ruthless, bloodthirsty, cruel and unpleasant Turandot. "Vincera, vincera..." I'll win, I'll win. Hey, it's an opera. It's not meant to be credible.

You have to laugh...

We sometimes watch Sky News in the morning, and I was amused by the report that certain MPs had doctored the Wikipedia entry on Titian so that when the Prime Minister was quizzed in Prime Minister's Questions he would get Titian's dates wrong. A jolly jape ! A wizard wheeze ! In a worldwide financial crisis etc. etc. I am not that bothered if Gordon Brown gets Titian's stats right or not. Catrin's birthday today. Among her cards and gifts was a lovely card with a nice picture of a dog and the message 'Merry Christmas'. Madame thinks her "filing system" is at fault.

Catrin is 12 today !

Penblwydd hapus, ngeneth i !

Will It Blend? - iPhone3G

What are you doing ?

They would kill this and leave "The Weakest Link" in its place ?

Laughter is the best medicine - Human Face, The

I suspêct that the naughty BBC will nto allow you to watch this without double-clicking on it to see it on the Youtube website.

"A serious case could be made for a deistic God."

Who said that ? Follow the link to see. Melanie Phillips thinks that his views are still evolving and may evolve "into faith". I reckon he's held a "faith" position all along - if you ask me he is still 'kicking against the goads' as the risen Jesus put it to another adamant opponent.

Oh well that wasn't too bad

A plastic table and a couple of chairs have been overturned but the roof looks OK and everything else seems in place except our mailbox fallen off its wall again. In the park another tree is over. I think the park is still closed after the big storm. A road-sign down. The pizza delivery mopeds fallen over. The tram service is a little disrupted.

cot, cat, cut, city centre / got, gal, gut, gentle giant.

Klaus' little brother is on the way

An orange storm alert for the whole of the north of France, plus la Gironde and les Landes has been issued for this evening. At present it's a lovely moonlit evening, quite mild and very pleasant, but the wind is rising and they suggest staying at home after 9h30. The most likely thing to happen is a sleepless night as we listen to the blustery wind. Anyway, we've battened down the hatches as best we can and this time I have parked the car where any tiles that fall off the roof would have to go into reverse to fall on it. Oh, I hate the wind.

We didn't sing this one, either, but it's a cracker !

SEE how great a flame aspires, kindled by a spark of grace! Jesu’s love the nations fires, sets the kingdoms on a blaze; fire to bring on earth He came; kindled in some hearts it is: O that all might catch the flame, all partake the glorious bliss! 2 When He first the work begun, small and feeble was His day: now the word does swiftly run, now it wins its widening way; more and more it spreads and grows, ever mighty to prevail; sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows, shakes the trembling gates of hell. 3 Sons of God, your Saviour praise; He the door has opened wide, He has given the word of grace, Jesu’s word is glorified; Jesus, mighty to redeem, He alone the work has wrought; worthy is the work of Him, Him who spake a world from nought. 4 Saw ye not the cloud arise, little as a human hand? Now it spreads along the skies, hangs o’er all the thirsty land; lo! the promise of a shower drops already from above; but the Lord will shortly pour all the Spirit of His love. Charles Wesley, 1707-8

Farkas Quintet plays gorgeous Milhaud

Nice, smart chaps playing gorgeous Milhaud. The flautist has a funky wooden flute. Nice ! All musicians should ask themselves "Am I a musician or a dancer ?" The horn player has got this right.

Al Mohler on Facebook

Read his reflections here . I'd add : 1) Don't join "groups" 2) Don't add "applications" 3) Don't become a "fan" 4) Don't chat on Facebook All these things for me are just one big waste of time ! So learn to do what you want to do and just do that. For me it's a) check for birthdays b) check for messages in the "inbox" and delete them because they are almost always invitations to add applications. c) check for notifications - people have tagged you in photos. Take a look. d) change your "status" e) off you go - there's nothing more to see here !

A hymn we didn't sing today

O SPIRIT of the living God, in all Thy plenitude of grace, where’er the foot of man has trod, descend on our apostate race. Give tongues of fire and hearts of love to preach the reconciling word; give power and unction from above, whene’er the joyful sound is heard. Be darkness, at Thy coming, light; confusion, order in Thy path; souls without strength inspire with might bid mercy triumph over wrath. O Spirit of the Lord, prepare all the round earth her God to meet; breathe Thou abroad like morning air, till hearts of stone begin to beat. Baptize the nations; far and nigh the triumphs of the cross record; the name of Jesus glorify till every kindred call Him Lord. God from eternity has willed all flesh shall His salvation see; so be the Father’s love fulfilled, the Saviour’s sufferings crowned through Thee. James Montgomery, 1771-1854

International service in English

Encouraging this evening. New folk present. We changed the format to make it more like a kind of Sunday evening midweek meeting, and it worked a lot better I think for the people who come. One person came to the French service this morning and to the International service this evening after finding us through the website. I hope I don't get into trouble for this but I am progressively dropping the name "International Christian Community of Bordeaux" and opting for "Bordeaux Church". It's recognisably English, so nobody will mistake what it is or what it means. Also it won't be confused with the Anglican chaplaincy because they call themselves "The English Church". And the website then explains who we are and has the links people need :

Yippeee ! Here we go !

Here we go, here we go, Here we go, here we go, here we go.

Living in France does change you.

Things I thought I would never do that I now do routinely 1) Carry a man-bag. It's practical. And my little computer fits inside. 2) Kiss the chaps at church. Hey, it's not such a big deal. 3) Eat bleeding steaks. They're nicer, but the restaurant has to be dimly lit. 4) Eat mussels. They were fine. 5) Enjoy hot chocolate for breakfast. Yum ! Things I thought I would never do that I think I will probably do one day 1) Wear a beret. They're great when you go a bit thin on top and they pack away flat in your man-bag. 2) Shop at Le Mutant . It's a low-cost supermarket and apparently it's fine, but I just can't do it yet. 3) Eat andouillette. I can't even imagine this at the moment but I guess one day I will eat one at a day conference or something. Things I thought I would never do that I still think I will never do 1) Wear a bracelet. LOADS of French chaps wear bracelets. Little fine chains or strange industrial thingies in steel and black leather or rubbe

In time of war... when the struggle is long ... and the enemy seems strong

it is so much easier to fight each other. When they say that Olivier Besancenot is the most popular political figure in France after Nicolas Sarkozy it is good to remember that thousands of people march regularly through the streets yelling their opposition to M. Sarkozy. M. Besancenot is less popular than that. Popular is, after all, a relative term, not an absolute one.

Ah - they don't happen twice running, do they.

Kids late for school, keys forgotten hither and yon, brain generally not in gear. Oh well, it was good while it lasted ! Better be on form tomorrow - lots to do !

Wow ! What a day ! Quelle efficacité !

Began with the team prayer meeting chez les Griffin, which was a good time. Then collect Gwilym for lunch, Catrin ate in school, Pat doing student surveys. After lunch to student centre. A slight concern because there was a demo scheduled for 2pm and I thought they'd stop my tram and make me walk with the BIG HEAVY MISSION LAPTOP from St Nicolas, but the tram went straight through to Hotel de Ville. Great. At the student centre - 1) build Ikea bookshelf. Our old bookshelf had lived in many locations and finally could only stand up if propped against something and if nudged it threw its books everywhere. So on Wednesday I bought a new bookcase (Fiona had previously seen pictures and give her approval - MONTHS previously I confess !) It all went together well. I considered leaving the books to be sorted by someone else, then remembered the old slogan "If not now, when ? If not you, who ?" and got on and did it. 2) Fix computer. The screen on the student centre office PC ha

It's all systems go for this mission at Easter

For the student centre we explored the possibility of an expo / conférence on François Mauriac , or on Blaise Pascal, or on Calvin . We have a possible speaker for Calvin . What about an expo ? Well look at - there you can find a natty expo which MAY do the trick . For the church an expo on Martin Luther King, ( who is far more significant to French people than to British , I hasten to add ! ) linked with a conférence on something like " Why did the slaves adopt the faith of their masters ?" and a gospel-music concert. A speaker for the conférence is not obvious ... Bill Edgar would do a grand job if he were in France at that time - he's just done that 'Spiritual roots of jazz' thing at Grove .

Tongue-twisters in the English class :

We really do have a variety of levels of English. Last night several regulars were away, but the four folks who were there included people from: a francophone Caribbean country a Gulf state, where all university education is conducted in English India, where English is an official language It makes the classes very interesting, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. I got out my pot of tongue-twisters again for the first time in AGES.

What's the chances of this ?

This morning we had a Skype conference organised with our President in Brittany and with our treasurer in Savoie. I had dark forebodings, so I went in early and did a test call to Liz, which worked great. 10 am came. Skype worked fine. Just one glitch when our wifi stopped working for a little while. All OK. All hunky-dory and dinky-doo. The evening for the English Class I turn on the PC so I can print out the scripts I need. The screen doesn't work ! I use the old slow laptop instead. When I warn Fiona that the screen is giving problems she says "Oh yes, it was like it last week." The dear old thing got itself together for our Skype conference then collapsed again ! Thanks, screen !

and how is madame's vision now ?

For a while madame has needed new glasses, so we waited till we'd paid our taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation then booked an appointment. Prescription in hand I looked on the internet at our mutuelle's website to get the procedure as clear in my head as possible (we never did get reimbursed for the last pair and I hate paying twice for one thing...) Aha ! Our assurer has links with a network called Santéclair and an optician in Pessac is a member of the network, right by our supermarket. So off we went. One week and 60 euros later madame has new varifocal lenses in her glasses and she is very pleased to be able to, for example, watch TV and knit at the same time. I get my eyes tested on 24 February. hmmm.

A week after the storm

The last thing to be fixed was a set of traffic lights on the way to Gwilym's school. We noticed that they were working this morning. Our roof is fixed. They fixed the roof and suggested demossing and treating with chemicals to make the tiles more impermeable and put it back as good as the day it was first put on. We'll see ! So back to normal - whatever "normal" is. Oh yes, we still have our shared "jardin public" between us and the two young families in front. They're debating what to put up - maybe a wire fence with hedges behind...

Tim on the importance of love

Alan, you rock !

A friend at church has bought a beautiful new laptop, which runs under .... VISTA (eeeeeeek!) "Can you help me to get the wifi working ?" "I'll try, but the last time I tried to get wifi working under Vista I failed miserably and the guy ended up phoning Sony to get it working..." Anyway after the service, after the clear-away, just before the dash home to get to Anglade, there was the beautiful laptop, so new, so clean, so Vista... Oh boy... "Hey - there's a button you have to press on the Livebox, I'll show you..." One button press later, wifi works, laptop connected, friend exclaims (and I shall always remember it...) "Alan, you rock!"

Helter-skelter Sunday

Our morning service is at 10h30. I do some of the setup so we normally aim to arrive by 10, whether I am preaching or not. Yesterday there was extra setup to do so we arrived for 9h30. Due to various factors, such as the need to kiss everyone before and after the service and the fact that après-culte is the main opportunity for talking with each other, it is not unusual to leave the building at 13h30 and get home at about 2. Yesterday friend j-p was ill so I stood in for him preaching at Blaye. We leave the house at 3 to get there for 4, so it was a hasty chicken dinner, a quick session adapting the morning's order of service, a high-speed print-fest and hit the road running. The GPS helps in enabling you to drive as fast as possible while warning you if you break the limit. It was great to be preaching at Blaye and we enjoyed our leisurely drive home, leaving the building at 5h30 and dawdling through the vineyards.