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)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every new year / chaque nouvel an

I think of George VI's famous Christmas message, delivered in 1939, at the outbreak of war.
je pense au célèbre message de Noël du Roi George VI, diffusé en 1939 au commencement de la guerre.

The link gives a recording . Le lien donne un enrégistrement mais il cite ce poème :

J'ai dit au gardien de la porte de l'année:
"Donnez-moi une lampe
Pour aller sans danger vers l'inconnu."
Et il m'a répondu: "Avance dans la nuit
Et met ta main dans la main de Dieu.
Ce sera mieux qu'une lampe
Et plus sûr qu'un chemin connu."

Brass 4 Five - Christmas Crackers part 2: A Carol Fantasy

The Christmas season is drawing slowly to a close.
Just time for some more of this fine group of brass learners.
The arrangements they are playing are published by Chester Music (I think) - look for "Christmas Crackers" and "Just Brass" and maybe "Iveson"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm sure that you've realised that I am absolutely convinced that the key to life is

What you believe in your heart will out and will express itself in your life.
I have no doubt about this whatsoever.

I sometimes wonder if in our insane pitting of biblical theology against systematic theology we are not storing up great problems for the future.
Well no, I don't wonder.
I am positive.

Anyway, what sparked this little diatribe is a few conversations recently. I mentioned the Sunday when we used the definition of chalcedon as our confession of faith, remember ? One of the reasons for that is that you sometimes hear amazing departures from orthodoxy. For example 'Mary was a surrogate mother, she gave nothing to the unborn Jesus Christ but the welcome of her womb.' That may sound plausible, but it is not the Christian faith and it is not the teaching of the Bible. Jesus' humanity was continuous with ours. He was born of her and derived his body from hers, by God's intervention.

One of our chaps wanted to discuss this the other week and I referred him to Stuart Olyott's book, 'Fils de Marie, fils de Dieu', which he got and read. This Sunday he asked , 'What about the resurrection and the ascension ? Is it the same body that is now seated at the right hand of God ?'

Oh yes ! Oh yes ! Although now glorified, the hand that steers the universe was once nailed to a cross ! The man who slumped by a well in the heat of noon and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink is the one who rules forever. Boy, does he know that we are dust. He really does know !

A man there is, a real man - a hymn of Joseph Hart

A Man there is, a real Man,
With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran,
In hands, and feet, and side.

‘Tis no wild fancy of our brains,
No metaphor we speak;
The same dear Man in heaven now reigns,
That suffered for our sake.

This wondrous Man of whom we tell,
Is true Almighty God;
He bought our souls from death and hell;
The price, His own heart’s blood.

That human heart He still retains,
Though throned in highest bliss;
And feels each tempted member’s pains;
For our affliction’s His.

Come, then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is canceled by His death!

His blood can cleanse the blackest soul,
And wash our guilt away;
He will present us sound and whole
In that tremendous day.

Christmas trees by Morticia Addams

outside the Grand Théâtre
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Christmas shopping decisions !

Pintade ?
Canette ?
Chapon ?
Cerf ?
Chevreuil ?
Cuisses de lièvre ?

In the end we had pork.
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I. Bach: Jauchzet, frohlocket / Monteverdi choir

Just beautiful !

I tried to pop this on early this morning but I got lost in the system

Monday, December 28, 2009

When you give a trombone to a violinist, this is what happens

Why oh why oh why did I do it... ?

I went and ordered something from Orange.

Nothing ever works properly between me and Orange. It never has. It probably never will.

Why I retain this naïve optimism that one day something will go OK between me and Orange I will never know.

Sheer dumb stupidity, I guess.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


It's always very important to us on all sorts of levels and for all sorts of reasons :

1) Personal - Christmas forces us to face questions that we just find too difficult to grasp - how can it be that God could enter the creation he made? How could he become an embryo, a foetus, a baby? How could God be nursed and changed, and that in a stable? What does that say about God, about us, about the world?

2) For ministry Christmas is a brilliant time when people are more open than usual and when the great themes of the Christian faith can be discussed a bit more freely than usual. It does make Christmas a bit busy, though!

3) In the family. Gwilym was born on Christmas Eve, so it's a very special time for us, with celebration on top of celebration.

This year Christmas activities started really early with carol singing and stuff really from the first week of December. The Bordeaux Carol Service was on 12th December, and so on.

For the family Christmas Eve was the big day, with Gwilym's birthday in the morning, a special birthday lunch with friends invited, then Christmas dinner in the evening (but pork, not turkey... we did buy lamb for a special treat, but Pat grabbed the wrong joint from the fridge!) and then opening presents in the evening.

Christmas Day was spent basically at church! We had a rather nice, intimate Christmas Day Service at 11, followed by lunch together at church, three families and various singles were there.

Pat's brother gets married today in Cleobury Mortimer, but it would be impossible for us to go - air fares to Britain at the moment are expensive - Easyjet for four people from Bordeaux to Manchester would cost something like £1000. And to drive there we'd have had to leave a few days ago. Part of the implications of living overseas, I'm afraid !

We are pathetic at getting cards and letters done for Christmas. However now we have a little more time - perhaps we can get down to it and send New Year's Greetings instead!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas poem

Until recently I didn't really appreciate this poem. Now the combination of simple, earthy, banal terms like "snow had fallen, snow on snow" and amazing, imponderable expressions like "cherubim and seraphim thronged the air" seems to capture something of the wonder of the birth of God as a baby in a stable.

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay.
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.

and here it isd in Welsh ( just three verses - no cherubim or seraphim )

Ganol gaeaf noethlwm
Cwynai’r rhewynt oer,
Ffrid a ffrwd mewn cloeon
Llonydd dan y lloer.
Eira’n drwm o fryn i dref,
Eira ar dwyn a dôl,
Ganol gaeaf noethlwm
Oes bell yn ôl.

Metha nef a daear
Gynnwys ein Duw;
Ciliant hwy a darfod
Pan fydd Ef yn Llyw.
Ganol gaeaf noethlwm
Digon feudy trist
I’r Arglwydd Hollalluog
Iesu Grist.

Beth a roddaf iddo,
Llwm a thlawd fy myd?
Petawn fugail, rhoddwn
Orau’r praidd i gyd;
Pe bawn un o’r doethion,
Gwnawn fy rhan ddi-goll;
Ond pa beth a roddaf?
Fy mywyd oll.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra Jingle Bells

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Happy Christmas Everyone !

Happy Christmas from the Daveys of Pessac !
We hope this Christmastime finds you in good health and in good spirits, as it finds us.
What did 2009 bring our way ?
Exploration ! We made our first summertime sortie into the Dordogne where we stayed a couple of days with friends. In the autumn we spent a baking week in Carcassonne and recently we went to a wedding in beautiful Alsace. Alan had meetings in places as diverse as the Cévennes and Cambridge, and crossed the Millau Viaduct through icy winds. Gwilym and Catrin went on camp to Tywyn and have vowed to return !
Education ! Gwilym and Catrin are doing fine in school, Gwilym in a new collège in Bordeaux where he goes by bus and tram. He's just done a week's work experience in one of the most prestigious châteaux in Pessac. OK for some.
Music ! Catrin continues with her flute and plays very often at church now. Gwilym's electric guitar is progressing well. Pat has recently taken up the harmonica, half-heartedly, it must be said. Alan now plays trombone with the Pessac Jazz Band, though he's seldom asked to play at church, strangely.
Health ! Swine 'flu. Well, probably. We weren't tested but since we all became ill the same day, and two days after a friend's daughter got it... We're all fine now, though (except for Alan's persistent non-smoker's cough).
Family ! We didn't get to Britain as a family this year, but the Hodgsons came down like the wolf on the fold on the unsuspecting inhabitants of a town near Bordeaux. The motive was our centenary. 100 years of Pat and Alan (shared pretty equally between us).
Church ! We have now been over a year in our rented building and this year the major project is to buy it. For a new church in a big, expensive city like Bordeaux this is a huge challenge ! We also had a change of pastor with a fond farewell to the Foucachons and a hearty welcome to the Brienens.
Menagerie ! We think that Pat and Catrin have at last got the hang of sexing and separating guineapigs
early enough. Well, I say early enough – but had they got the hang of it earlier we might not have ten of the things.
Ministry ! Things continue well with the student work – mostly French people at the moment, the French church – more outreach projects taking shape, and in the International Congregation where we welcome folk from all over the world, from Brazil to Malaysia and all points between.
Plans for 2010 ! This summer we hope to come to Britain, with a couple of conferences, camp for the
kids and some church and family visits on the agenda.
We also hope to find homes for some guinea-pigs.
Any takers ?
With all our best wishes at Christmastime and for 2010.
Alan, Pat, Gwilym and Catrin

Brass quintet playing Christmas music

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Deck the Halls

Philharmonia brass

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

While Shepherds Watched - to Cranbrook, of course !

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.

"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind.

 "To you, in David's town, this day,
Is born of David's line
A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;
And this shall be the sign:

The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling-bands
And in a manger laid."

 Thus spake the seraph,--and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:

"All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease."

Once In Royal David's City

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

German Brass Christmas Oratorio BWV248_No 64

I am letting slip a bit on the old Christmas brass music, I know...

Where to begin telling the story of Christmas ?

Al Mohler reflects on this festive theme.

It all depends on how you look at it

Alan is thinking... (that's a warning, by the way)

In Bordeaux you see rather a lot of people wearing leather jackets and coats, some of them real overcoats. The other day I saw them for sale in a shop and I had a quick look at the price tag. 900 EUROS !

Later that day I was talking with Liz, our volunteer. ( Happy 21st, by the way, Liz ! ) I heard myself say, "Yes ! That means there's people walking round Bordeaux wearing 1000 euro coats - and I mean young people, like us !"

It's a funny thing, this working with students. Makes you forget how old you are.

Then last night we were talking with the airforce types who play with the jazz band. We were talking about relationships and making compromises and adjusting to changing circumstances. "Je ne ferais pas ça pour une nana" said one single guy. I heard myself say, "Voilà, c'est un ado, il n'est pas prêt, c'est tout", and our friend agreed, while the others protested that he was 30 and it was high time that he was ready !

Yeah. There's your age in years, and there's your age in your head.

Of course, you have to live somewhere between the two !
After all, too many late nights (early mornings) and I end up half-dead !

The JWs come

Well they came and we talked. They spotted that we have a Bible or two in the living room and asked questions about that. We talked very nicely and politely. I talked about the gospel, but they have no idea of what is meant by the word gospel (apart from the four books.)

It was OK for a start. They said, "next time can we try and explain why we think everything changed in 1914 ?" I said OK, thinking "next time can I explain as fully as possible what we mean by the gospel"... but I have this feeling that they won't come back.

Apparently at the Kingdom Hall in Pessac Monteil they have two meetings because the place is full. It holds about 150 people and there's 200 that attend, mostly from Pessac. That would make them the biggest religious assembly in Pessac by far, I should think. I can't imagine that there's 200 people at the RC churches and the two protestant churches together wouldn't get to 100.


The concert last night was at a centre in Gradignan for kids with severe behavioural problems. Some of them were obviously handicapped in some way. Others were all there, but you could see that they were pretty hard. They learn to live together and hopefully some skills for the future etc.

It went very well. We were three trombones, two trumpets and 5 saxos. Four trombones if you count Renaud but these days he seems only to play his solos. During Critical Mass we invited kids to come up on stage and play bongos, congas etc. The noise was deafening and we need some new drumsticks !

Afterwards we dropped off the drumkit (ba-tte-rie, three syllables) and chatted at the music school. It's always very good for my colloquial French. Renaud : "Tu répètes pas ça à l'église." Me: "je répète tout..." It's useful really. You have to know what you can and mustn't say !

And we were paid. And paid well. The money will go to the music school and will enable us to buy more equipment - for example saxophones are extremely expensive and the baritone sax belongs to the school, etc.

And we were fed. The first course was a salad with some kind of terrine on top. Completely unidentifiable, I suspected it came from inside the head of a cow, but really I didn't know and neither did anyone else. OK. Get it down quick. The second course was nicer, fried chicken with rice and a kind of mousse of tiny mushrooms. There was a dessert, too, of a chocolate cake served with custard.

One of our trumpeters was sick. I don't really think it was the terrine, but the others thought so.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm very excited !

1) we have a bilingual service on Christmas morning - our first-ever Christmas service - and afterwards all them as wants are staying for christmas lunch and festive frolics. We'll watch Aladdin together in the afternoon. Oh no we won't ! Oh yes we will !

2) Pat has ordered an iPhone for me for Christmas. She suggested it over a week ago but at that time the prices were a bit ... prohibitive. Then I noticed that Orange had cut the price by 90 euros and were giving 100 euros 'cashback'. When we tried to order it we hit a snag because the website demands either your identity card or your passport as id, and our passports have just expired. Then an online counsellor popped up and told us to use our driving licences.  So we did and it worked and it should come for 23rd. Don Whitney (SDFTCL, etc.) says it is spiritually beneficial.

3) This evening the most excellent Pessac Jazz Band, with whom I have the honour and privilege to play the odd wrong note in the odd wrong place, are doing a concert in a rehabilitation centre - I think it's for youngsters  with mental handicaps. We are hoping to get them to join in on assorted percussion in some of the more jazz-funk numbers. 

The Christmas Tale

We played this at the international camel service last year, and this year the ados did a French translation of it for the francophones.

Sorry about the manner of reading. That's how we read poems in Britain these days. It's like a nation of pantomime Richard III's...

And I think "natal nurse" means midwife, not South African...

Sunday encouragements

Sometimes I am tempted to think that the nay-sayers were right and coming to France was a fit of madness and that we threw away everything we had and did for nothing. Nothing.

After all, there we were in a biggish, happy church. I still miss them so much it hurts when I think of them. We would have carried on to retirement age, which for pastors in Wales is normally 87. We would have perhaps gone to conferences in the States eventually, if we could choose which microcurrent of US calvinism to identify with. Or we could have got involved with a mission and visited people working in Tahiti or something.

Instead here we are lighting the woodstove at 7am on our day off and working with small groups everywhere : in French, in English, with students, everything - small groups... We do have invitations to visit all over the world, so maybe one day we'll do that round the world trip on pushbikes...

Anyway then some things happen that just encourage you. Folks find you via the website. Our neighbour has started coming to church with us. And one guy who came to the international church last night. Every time I talk with him I learn something new that helps.

Last night he was recounting his first visit to Britain around 1970. He said, "I was amazed by all the different denominations : methodist, baptist, congregationalist. In Bordeaux in those days we had nothing at all. There was just the Roman Catholic church and the Eglise Réformée."

Suddenly I realised that, just like in Wales, God has been establishing churches here and there. Now there's perhaps 20 churches that would be able to explain the gospel to people and that are trying to reach the million Bordelais. We need more, of course, but in 30 years that's déjà pas mal.

And it's worth it.

Pray for the JWs of Bordeaux

There's quite a few of them spread out in about 10 Kingdom Halls. There's a Kingdom Hall in my favourite little square in Pessac, just about 2km from our house. Maybe one day we can buy it from them and turn it into a church (you know, put in windows, for a start !)

Anyway it is striking how many folks are welcoming the JWs into their homes to try and help them. The Griffins, Didier, and now we Daveys have a couple coming this morning.

None of us want to do the battle of the verses, clever-clogs Christian thing of "Aha ! So John 17:46 makes it clear that we have to have a Christmas tree !" That always irritated me anyway. We want to love them and talk gently and respectfully with them.

For me loving them meant getting up at 7am on my day off to light the stove so the place can be nice and warm when they come later...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We cancelled the English Service this evening

because in the French church we were holding our Fête de Noël (songs and stories for Christmastide), but some new people turned up anyway, so we held an informal impromptu time and it was good to round the day off like that.

It had started with the Culte de Noël at Anglade. There's a nice electronic piano in the church but no pianist so we sang unaccompanied but Catrin and I took our flutes and we played some carols before and after the service and during the offering - simple things, she played the melody and I the tenor line for Silent night, In dulci jubilo and Away in a manger. The service went well, really.

I have to tell you about the corps de ballet. I had a message from a ballet dancer asking about a carol service. I explained that that was last week, but that there's a bilingual service on Christmas Day and that after that any folks that want to will eat and play together. We may watch Aladdin together, too. And the Queen, if we can ! So I hope they come !

Life is so unpredictable. I love it !

Night-time... DAY-TIME !

Catrin played this to me last night and I just laughed myself silly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One of the nice things about jazz

is that when you play totally the wrong note, there's every chance it'll sound OK anyway.
Or at least not as bad as in more harmonically simple music.

Brass 4 Five - Christmas Crackers part 1: Jingle Bells - Deck the Halls

Free to become the fourth mobile phone operator

We have our internet service with an outfit called Free. For 30 euros a month we get :

unlimited ADSL at some ridiculously high speed,
14 000 000 TV channels, all awful, including Sky news, BBC News 24 and BBC Entertainment (24hr Terry and June) with a Sky+-style set-top-box.
unlimited phone calls to almost all the world.

Not only that, but Free are committed to open-source software, so with the help of free programmes we can watch TV on any computer connected by wifi in our house, and now we can remotely start recording a programme on the hard disk of our Freebox via the internet.

Mobile phones are REALLY EXPENSIVE here in France and we are only just starting to get the special deals that have existed in Britain for years. Now you can get a contract from the supermarkets and sometimes these are good deals.

Enter Free. They aim to produce proper flat-rate charges of the order of 20 euros for 3 hours with unlimited sms. Good on yer, lads. After all, for the work here we don't actually need 24hr Terry and June, but we do all need mobile phones, sadly !

A bit about health

Well I finished the steroids.

I didn't notice any weird effects from the pills - well, perhaps a small change in my regularity and frequence - the Brits will immediately know what I mean.

As I feared, the inhaled steroids gave me little nose-bleeds. I used to use Fixyournose nasal spray for my hay-fever years ago, but that always made my nose bleed too. Sensitive nose, see.

Anyway here I am post-steroids and the cough is back, but nowhere near as severe. I hope that with normal general care and mainlined orange juice it'll settle very soon.

Who made God

Very much enjoying this book, which is a cross between a book of apologetics and a book of popular maths / cosmology / nuclear physics. It's so long since I read a popular subatomic physics book - it's given me the urge to find some more of that kind.

Respectable sins

Pat has been meeting up with some women under the auspices of the Bordeaux International Church to read Jerry Bridges' book, Respectable Sins. She highly recommends it as a good, though not entirely comfortable read.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday cancelled - we're moving straight into Saturday

Well we had rain overnight, and very glad I was to hear it.

However today there is :

1) A bus and tram strike - the staff want an index-linked pay-rise and the company doesn't

2) ice on the roads on the right bank

So basically everything is cancelled. Catrin doesn't have school anyway. The Ladies' group can't get there so they can't have their meeting or do their carol singing. And we are calling off the Gars de Pessac guys group.

Gwilym still has his work experience and we'll get him there no problem through the freshly rain-washed streets. And I'll be good and ready for Sunday. Maybe even for Christmas !

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Meeting the consul

The Consulate Christmas Reception with Carols was probably not the best way to meet the British Consul, but it probably wasn't the worst either.

Nebo Philharmonic Brass Christmas 2009

Gwilym's form teacher's visit

to his work experience seemed to go OK. He was told that he is third in his class, and the top boy. Great guns !

Ever since he's been singing, "I'm just so white and nerdy...".

-6°C ? I don't think so !

The little weather gizmo thing this morning said that it is -6°C in Pessac but Pat and I don't believe it because if it was really that cold the house would be a lot colder than it is.

Last night after the prayer-meeting there was a general 'Oh, it's so COLD' session. Because the winter here is short and not generally VERY cold, houses often don't have very good heating and insulation. Today a record peak in the consumption of electricity is expected, and people in some parts of France have been warned to turn off, turn down or face possible power cuts. Many houses are heated just with electric convector heaters.

Fiona and Liz live in attic flats (you know, like when I was a student in Aberystwyth and I used to scrape the ice off the inside of the window in my room...) Dik lives in a big upstairs flat with a badly fitting front door through which the draughts blow. They have this reversible air-con heating which works well for cooling in summer but doesn't make a lot of difference in the winter. We have our woodstove which is great when heated seven times, but which doesn't do a lot for our bedrooms or for my study. And our living-room is very large and has a very high ceiling. Lovely in summer. Nippy in winter.

Of course, the real problem is that we all go so soft. Some of us are from Holland , where the polders and guilders freeze over and everyone skates to school from August to May. The last time I had a cosy, draught-free house was in 1991 in Cardiff ! ( I had this brilliant balanced-flue gas fire that was so efficient you could have cooked a turkey in the living-room !) But a couple of years in the South of France is enough to turn any ice-skater into a hot-house flower.

However a fortnight ago we had 18°C in Pessac, this cold snap is predicted to finish around next Tuesday and in February sometimes we can start barbecueing again !

So stop moaning, you lot, hand me my hat, scarf and gloves and I'll pop into the kitchen and make some hot chocolate !

The Christmas mayhem continues

this evening with Carol Singing at the Consulate Christmas Party. Here are some photos of the Carol Singing at Place de la Victoire and at the Christmas market. You will notice that at Place de la Victoire at least one of we three kings from Orient are. By the way, this is my street trombone. It is old, mean ... and very, very flat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eee it's cold !

It got down to -3°C last night and at present it's supposed to be about 1° outside. We're making inroads on our wood pile and stoking the stove.

Meanwhile a homeless person died last night right in the centre of town near the Cathedral. He was sleeping on a piece of cardboard in the doorway of the Maison des Associations. They'll do a post-mortem to try to establish the cause of death. Meanwhile the Plan Grand Froid (Big Cold Plan) has been in action for some time, even though the legal threshold for activating it hasn't yet been crossed (i.e. remaining below zero all day). It's supposed to get warmer and wetter from Friday.

Well this week has been quieter than last week ! We have our English Class Christmas Extravaganza this evening and I am at present not sure what's happening on Thursday. Tomorrow is the student centre AGM and I stay and work at centre FAC on reception for the afternoon, though with exams and stuff I anticipate being able to work on messages for Sunday - twice in French.

And Gwilym is on work experience at Pessac's most prestigious tourist venue, the Chateau Pape Clément. He said today was crazy with loads of orders of wine for Christmas, he was on the phone, hunting down orders and generally being very useful - especially with clients from Britain. The poor lad's come home bushed ! "Why did I say I'd go there rather than the mairie ?", he said with a smile.

Four Trombones Four

We should always have known that time is not a constant. Anyone who has to get up early in winter knows that it is much earlier in the cold and dark than in summer in the warm, bright mornings !

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guy Noir's Younger Brother - Les Hooper Big Band

Anges dans nos campagnes

Si les canards chantaient dans no campagnes - des saxos !
Si les vaches chantaient dans nos campagnes - des violoncelles !
Si les anges chantaient dans nos campagnes - des trombones !

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hang on - I might go pop !

This afternoon we held an Assemblée Générale Extraordinaire where we discussed the future of the church and decided with utter unanimity to begin the proceedings to buy our church building. This is a very brave step for a small church like ours in a big, expensive city. You can imagine how overjoyed I am !

From blessing to blessing

This morning just before going to church Pat had a text message that a friend wanted to come, someone who'd mentioned coming along some time ago, but this message came out of the blue ! And lo and behold, she did come...

We used for our Confession of Faith the Definition of Chalcedon. I did this deliberately because French christians sometimes have a rather reactionary approach to Jesus' humanity. I have heard more than once the opinion that Mary was a surrogate mother to Jesus. This may be a very anti-Mariolatry line but it isn't a valid Christian position.

The Bible makes clear Jesus is of our humanity, continuous with us in every way, but without sin. Chalcedon (AD 451) makes this clear by it's repeated assertions :

of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; 
like us in all respects, apart from sin; 
as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer

In the ensuing discussion I went to get one of the Heidelberg Catechism booklets, and this makes the Bible's position clear, too :

Question 35. What is the meaning of these words "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary"?
Answer: That God's eternal Son, who is, and continues true and eternal God, took upon him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; that he might also be the true seed of David, like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted.

Christmas is doctrinal and theological. It cannot be otherwise, can it !

What a happy weekend !

Well we're in the middle of the busiest weekend I remember for a while.
Yesterday's Carol Service rehearsal began at 3, then a couple of us flautists gathered and played some carols arranged for three flutes, which was very agreeable. We did decide to play after the service, but something happened and we just didn't.

The Carol Service was splendid. The place was full to overflowing and everything was very happy an constructive. The readers read well (thanks, Fiona, David and Andy !) and Paul's message was spot on. Our joint welcome and benediction worked well too. The point where I really knew that God was answering our prayers was when the children sang a rather sweet Christmas number from Steve and Carol Owens, "Christmas isn't Christmas till it happens in your heart.", which very gently and sweetly confronted everyone with the need to respond to Jesus Christ personally. (They even pointed at people, which I don't think I or Paul could really have done in those circumstances.)

The real evidence comes in the weeks, months and years that follow, but for the moment, Thank You Lord so much.

Now this morning a pre-Christmas message in French. We have an extraordinary AGM this afternoon to take an important decision about the future of our building, then pre-Christmas in English this evening.

Glad of those steroids !

Saturday, December 12, 2009

EMVH Concert de Noël

The FAC Christmas meal coincided with the Music School Christmas Concert. We are a good team at FAC at present, so I played with the Music School.

So after avoiding Albert, the music-school director (I missed ALL the cycle 2 Symphonique rehearsals) I finally popped my head in through his door and he said "Look, play, and if you get lost stop playing." I'm good at that so I did.

I dropped Pat and the kids at the centre, along with a pork casserole and a really stupid quiz I'd done, then had 1/2 hour to kill so I called in a café in Pessac where the owner had said he's keen on English and had talked about the evangelical churches in the area. We talked some more about the Carol Service and the International Church and also how he can make his café buzz in the evening. If it was in the centre of Bordeaux I am sure we could do some stuff at his place.

Went along for the concert and everything was just great. The starters played things like "Frosty the snowman". The percussionists sneaked onstage and played solos during the chair removals etc. The excellent and famous street band (BDV) played and kept everyone bouncing along. The cycle 2 orchestra played really well - Mambo No. 5 rocked - especially with four trombones - and we had to encore Renaud's Norwegian Bossa-nova thing. Then the PJB, and it was exceptionally good. By that time (rather late) the hall was very full and the atmosphere was warm and happy.

Afterwards there were snacks at the back and the BDV played while people danced and bought their PJB CDs. I talked with a few folk then resisted the temptation to go to a late night café with the PJB folk (there's a lot to do today - and tomorrow !) and came home to find Pat and the kids tucked up in bed after coming home on the wonderful bus de soir.


Well I went to the doctor with my chest and came back with steroids. She had a good listen and made me cough (very dangerous because once I start I don't stop) and she said that there's nothing brewing in the depths of my lungs but the inflammation after the 'flu is not clearing very quickly (common in us asthmatics).

She said "On va vous sortir de ça". Six days of steroids - pills, nasal spray and some codeïne cough syrup at night, though I sleep like a log anyway... I am coughing less already.

But I forgot to take my cheque book. How dim can you be ! I told her I'd pop it in the post and she's cool anyway.

Penn State Trombone Choir performs "Silent Night"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Carol Singing at the Christmas Market

went OK. At one point we wondered if some stall holders were not thrilled to have us around, so we moved down the other end of the market and as we sang I popped into the stand behind us - Ca vous gène? Pas du tout ! In fact they looked disappointed when I popped in to say goodbye.
We finished our stint with a waffle (they're TOO BIG, guys! we should have shared one) and a kebab from some guys who run a brasserie (très bon et pas cher, then pas vraiment cher ... I laughed!)
Then off to FAC to prepare for the Bible Study Bible Study - we've done author's intention, literary genre, structure etc. Last night was Special words (like propitiation, etc...)
Then off to Pessac for the PJB rehearsal for the grand concert de Noël. The 48 bus took me from within 150m of FAC to within 300m. of Salle Bellegrave. I was thankful to be in time for the bus.
Afterwards Renaud (prof de trombone) said "You're playing with the symphonique ?"
'No, I haven't made a single rehearsal and there's only one piece I've ever played before...'
"Well he's expecting you to play, and I am playing."
'Well yeah - but there is a difference after all !'
So there we are. Our list is : 
Symphonique : Mambo No. 5, Ding ! Dong ! The witch is dead ! Bossa til hosten, Aladdin, Lawrence d'Arabie. 
PJB : Spain, Fly me to the moon, On the street where you live, Georgia, J.B., Call me irresponsible, Out of nowhere, Corcovado and As long as I'm singing.
In addition Joseph's Ensemble de saxos is playing, the symphonique for the little kids and the célèbres Brasseurs de Vent
Strangely though singing and speaking makes me dissolve in a fit of coughing, the trombone doesn't. I think it's because you don't BLOW as such down the thing. Rather it's a question of internal pressure to make the lips buzz.
Anyway... So today : Doctor with chest, Gars de Pessac (reading group - where's my book !), Grand Concert de Noël, plus final sorting out for Carol Service on Saturday and services on Sunday

tRombone cHristmas

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Boston Brass - "Twelve Days of Christmas"

I DID have swine 'flu, I DID, I DID....

There has been some discussion in the Davey household as to whether we all had swine 'flu or only some of us.

Mrs Davey shares the opinion of certain doctors who build their case on strict principles of diagnosis.
It could be expressed in a paraphrase of Bob Marley's immortal and inscrutable words : "No fever, no 'flu!".

My views are coloured by human genetics and basic epidemiology. Not all people react to a bug in the same way, and if three people in a family develop a repiratory disease within hours of each other, then it is extremely likely to be the same disease.

Well our debates are over ! Enter http://quizz-grippe.fr/
Answer a series of simple questions and the likelihood of your having swine 'flu is writ large on the screen.
My result said I should have called an ambulance ! Hmm...

Remember. No book; magazine or website can ever take the place of a doctor's advice or common sense !

Why I did / didn't / did / didn't sign.....

This Manhattan declaration thing, and why folk did or didn't sign...

Hmm. It's the same old questions, isn't it.

1) What is a Christian ? 2) What is a church ? 3) What is the gospel ?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Are those flakes of chocolate ?",

said the American lady, examining the breakfast cereal.

'Yes, it's great !', quoth I.

"OK. The milk's hot..."

'Yes. That's so you can make hot chocolate if you want.'

"Hot chocolate ? For breakfast ?"

She tastes her cereal. "Oh - it's kinda like granola with chocolate. Not bad."

"And what's that ?", indicating the Nutella.

'It's ground hazelnuts and chocolate', I said, beginning to see a theme emerging...

OK - this week's agenda

1) Get well - get rid of this cough !

2) English class this evening, followed by an early night (see 1)

3) Carol singing / tracting / surveys

4) Get ready for the Bordeaux Carol Service on Saturday. My good frend Paul Vrolijk, the new Anglican minister, is preaching and I am looking after the prayer times. I also have to assign three readings to different readers, and I feature in the choir and among the musicians, alongside Pat, Dik, Hetty and Marije. It's brilliant to have an Anglican chaplain who is a straightforward evangelical. Pity that he covers an area the size of Wales and is centred on Bergerac, though !

5) Get ready for Sunday. I am preaching in French am and in English pm.

6) Conseil presbytéral on Wednesday afternoon and early evening.

Actually it'll be a quieter week than normal, I think. I hope so, anyway, because I could really do with getting well again. It's been weeks, now !

Monday, December 07, 2009

Just a word on the car

Fantastic !

It took us 1000km to Grendelbruch then 1000km back, in comfort, at reasonable speeds and without hiccup.

Well, there was one moment on Saturday when the automatic electronic oil level gizmo flashed 'Minimum !' as if there was a problem, but the next day it was obvious that it was just a momentary glitch.

Our Berlingo is fantastic !

A book ? Did I order a book ?

Oh yeah ! Who made God, by Edgar Andrews !

Great !

Nine examples of the internet changing our world

Trevin Wax is a person who has considered and written about how the internet is changing our world.

Ven wub, twoo-ooo wub

For all those who could not be there - there was a striking resemblance...

It's a pity to come so far and not visit Strasbourg !

Me : Well yes, but the kids have school on Monday.
Friend : That doesn't matter ! Phone the schools ! Stay another day !
Gwilym : It does matter. I've got my Brevet Blanc (mock O-levels)
Me : What ! On Monday ?
Gwilym : Monday and Tuesday.

Hot wine, village folk and a BANQUET with silly games

After the wedding, to the salle des fêtes for hot wine and apéros. We needed the hot wine (hot anything, really!, it was REALLY COLD), my cough had returned and Pat's front tooth had shot out during the second verse of Amazing Grace.
The folk of Grendelbruch are charming.
The French are all so NICE !
Then to the camp centre for the meal:

More apéros (Valse de bulles et ses amuses-bouches)
Seafood starters : lobster, crayfish, raw fish of many kinds, asparagus, mange-tout and haricots verts.(Entre embruns et terroir)
A sorbet to cleanse the palate. (Iceberg Alsacien)
Guinea-fowl with morels, potatoes and carrot mousse. (Gigolette de pintade aux morilles et sa garniture)
Cheeses galore (Senteurs de France et sa panaché de verdure)
Desserts of many kinds.(Farandole de gourmandises)
Fruit juices to finish (Elixir de nuit)

All interspersed with games, little speeches, songs and dancing.
Ben seems to attract nutters. I pointed this out to him.
He didn't deny it but just said "and what does that imply about you?"
I have no idea what he meant.

Had some nice and useful conversations with various folk, interspersed with coughing, then we coughed our way to bed.

I am so aware that for almost all of these people this was their first time to hear Christ preached.
For some of them their reaction showed it.
What a privilege ! Such a treasure in jars of coughing clay.

What a pair of wilburs !

Wedding morning and we did a quick tally of francophones and non-francophones. The wedding would be in French with a bit of English for the non-francophones. We raced off to print and photocopy the hymns. All things bright and beautiful, and A toi la gloire.

We went to inspect the church. Grendelbruch has no protestant church so everyone uses the Catholic church. Ben needed to make a cd with the processional music - a choir singing Amazing Grace, and "When I'm 64". We could only check that the cd worked just before the church service.

OK. 14h30 at the Mairie, 15h at the church.
The Mairie was nice, and the Maire charming and medalled ! A champion maire ?

I scuttled to the church. M Tortellini was rehearsing his aria with the organist.
"Can I have an order of service ?"
No, there isn't one, but it's "All things bright and beautiful", then "A toi la gloire".
"And "When the saints go marching in" ?"
pfffrfffrrr (the noise for sorry I know nothing of that)
"Well I don't have the music for "All things bright and beautiful"

Ben arrives. "But I gave him the music. A toi la gloire goes to When the saints go marching in."
Does it ?
So you told me.
Did I ? (how nuts am I these days...?)

The CD doesn't work. Quick confab with organist. Pat, Ben's mom and his aunt will sing Amazing grace while Nora comes in. We'll skip "All things". Can organist please play "A toi la gloire" (Handel) for going out. He says yes. I hear (from the organ loft) Amazing Grace and see Nora coming in.

There's never a fireman's pole when you need one. I process quickly down the stairs and sneak to front of the church.

Mawwidge ! (without coughing ! prayer and Potter's pastilles !).
Not a dry eye in the place.

A toi la gloire does not go to "when the saints go marching in", but it does go well to Handel.
Message goes OK. Marriage - Alliance (wedding ring in French) - God's faithful promise - Christ to the cross for us - give yourselves for one another (rough road map...)

Exit to Mendelssohn.  

It was a lovely wedding. Warm, personal, friendly, intimate, full of love.

Later I remember - I had told Ben that sometimes we sing 'Toi qui disposes" to "When the saints go marching in" ! It's a DIFFERENT SONG you great wilbur !

So we coughed our way to Grendelbruch

Ben, my American friend from the DEFLE, was marrying his fiancée Nora, who comes from Grendelbruch in Alsace, near Strasbourg. They asked if I could please conduct their wedding and I was very honoured to be asked !

Grendelbruch is a lovely little village in the Vosges, just outside Strasbourg. They'd hired a children's camp for their family and friends to stay in and when we arrived it was to a late evening Spaghettis party with a lovely mixture of Americans, Tarbais (Nora used to live in Tarbes, in the deepest South-West of France), Alsaciens and a couple of Brits. "There'll be snow", they'd said, but though the cold was a shock after 18°C in Pessac, the roads were all dry and the only snow we saw was on the volcanic peaks of the Auvergne on the drive up.

You're doing WHAT ?

If I'd announced that we were roller-skating to Strasbourg the reaction couldn't have been more extreme! 
But why not fly ? Oh yeah - four of us ? 
But it's a two day journey ! We only have one day to do it, grasshopper.
Anyway we do North Wales in two days !
1000km, about 9 1/2 hours, not allowing for stops.
That is not two days.

Gwilym's parents' evening

I had a Bible study at FAC so Pat went along, and found a gang of happy teachers, especially the Spanish teacher. Jolly good.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

OK. This haircut

So long overdue that I was considering adopting the traditional "Welsh manic bard" style, with long flowing locks swept vaguely back. French arty types wear their hair a similar way... Anyway I didn't. I went to the new salon clutching my money off voucher.

I was greeted like a new best friend and had to give my full name (which they promptly mis-spelt), birthday (not date), address and grandmothers' maiden names and place of birth. Then they led me to the shearing.

It started with a hairwash. Nothing new there. Ha ! Think again ! The coiffeur flicked a switch on the chair and I started moving. It lifted my legs in the air and started massaging my back while my head was upside down in the sink.

The massage was almost pleasant. The ripples up either side of your spine were OK, but I wasn't sure about the end of the movement which was a bit like being poked very hard in the shoulder-blades with a full packet of cornflakes. Meanwhile my hair was shampooed to within an inch of its life. Longtemps.

Afterwards the little coiffeur started cutting. He cut very well and we chatted about his background and his life in France. He's Hmong.

He said, "It must be two months since you had your hair cut !"

I thought that it may well be longer, but since this seemed to be a very serious point to him I just shrugged and tried to look as if this was significant to me !

Perhaps I should go and get my hair cut more often than I do. Once my shoulder-blades have stopped aching.

SPECTRUM BRASS BAND FRICkTAL cond. roland fröscher part 2

Spectrum part two.

Doug Yeo, bass trombonist extraordinaire and earnest Christian, loves this piece and has performed it with his New England Brass Band. He's also produced extensive performance notes to help conductors.

SPECTRUM BRASS BAND FRICkTAL cond. roland fröscher

This piece is a bit of brass-banding history. It did for brass-band music what "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faun" did for the flute and what "Rite of Spring" did for all classical music. It changed the world forever.

Previously serious brass-band music had been well-meaning rather stodgy "tone poems" with earnest names like "An Epic Symphony" and "Life Divine". Think Finlandia with Euphoniums.

"Spectrum" brought weird rhythms, funky harmonies, jerky tunes and exotic percussion.

For me, it was my favourite piece in my heady brass-banding adolescence.

Thanks Dirk, Dutch trombone brother, for posting these videos (in two parts). Be merciful in your judgement. This is very difficult for the euphonium especially...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

D'une seule voix

So the plan was to pop into the cinema at 5 to see the film "D'une seule voix" with Pat's French class. Pat's French teacher has connections with all the glitterati, apparatchiks and 'the powers that be' of Pessac, so she'd arranged for all her class to go and see the film too, and she wanted me to go along too.

So I bowled up at 5 and found... Pat and Andy Cheung (dear friend, church member ad part of Pat's French class). Nobody else showed up. OK. So making and keeping contacts was a non-starter, but I got to see the film.

It was very moving. It tells of how a French guy had the idea of getting various musicians from various parts of Israel and Palestine to come and play a three-week tour of France together. I think that I would actually encourage you to see it if you can. It's basically in English with French subtitles.

1 Timothy 2 1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

MOZART: Die Zauberflöte (Overture)

John Eliot Gardiner.
Funky trumpets.
Class !

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I just can't believe how good my printer is

I scanned in 32 pages of carols as jpg, cleaned them up a bit with picasa, then asked picasa to print all 32 pages, setting the printer driver to print them as a booklet.

I thought "This'll NEVER work".

but it is !

Cool one, Pixma !

O well, God disposes, and

man has toes-es... or something...

Plans changed. All the leaflets have been finished after just a couple of sessions. Tribute to the efficiency of the French mailbox and the EREG folk.

However we are Carol singing on Campus tomorrow, so I am busy compiling a Carol Booklet ready.

Haircut tomorrow.

MOZART: Die Zauberflöte (Overture)

John Eliot Gardiner
Funky trumpets.
Good stuff.

Tuesday morning is panic time !

Because Monday is my day off, on Tuesday morning I think of the week ahead, plan it out and try to imagine how it will all work out.

Strangely Tuesday is one of the more busy days of the week, with a team meeting in the morning and the English Class in the evening plus whatever preparation is need for the class. Today I hope to add in leafleting round the church (rendez-vous at 14h) and a haircut if possible in that new salon by Géant that gave me the money off voucher. Oh yes - and Pat's French class are going to see a film at the local cinema (free !) and I have been invited along too. I'd really like to go if possible for the contacts' sake. Better make sure I get a proper lunch.

Of course I could always do the haircut tomorrow. Wednesday there's another opportunity for leafleting round the church (rendez-vous at 10h) but also student surveys at 11h30 followed by my tour of duty in the student centre 14h till 18h, then prayer meeting at 20h30. Tomorrow afternoon is probably going to be when I do the bulk of the preparation for the wedding on Saturday (form of words for intro, vows etc.)

However, so far Thursday is relatively quiet. Just the Bible Study in the evening with preparation beforehand. Maybe that's the best day for a haircut. I also have to ensure I have something to wear for this wedding - it's four years since I last wore a suit or a formal jacket. Even if they still fit, they'll surely need cleaning. Oh, and I imagine we'll still be leafleting on Thursday at 10h and 14h.

hmmm. Better try on my jacket this morning. In case of disaster Géant have cheap suits at the moment. 50 euros ! Not bad. Not what you'd call a nice good quality suit but it'd do for what my Dad would have called a "weddings and funerals suit". Alternatively I try to find a reasonable black jacket.