Showing posts from January, 2010

Amazed and underwhelmed

by the iPad. Amazed by the intense worldwide interest in a product announcement by an American computer company. They don't make life-saving drugs, rockets that go to the moon or a solution to world-ending catastrophe. They make computers and music players. Yet all over the world there was intense speculation preceding Steve Job's speech and much discussion afterwards. We care SO MUCH about all these things that don't much matter ! Underwhelmed by the iPad itself. Basically it's a big iPod tOuch, and it looks like it's too big to fit in your pocket. Meanwhile the iPod tOuch has utterly wooed Pat, especially since she's discovered a treasure-trove of free books to read courtesy of Stanza.

Phew ! Oh boy ! I'd forgotten just how confrontational

Ephesians 5 is of all our stupid ideas about holiness, spirituality and the good life ! Shattered now ! More to come !

Sarah Vaughn The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael)

Boy - shall I pick the Rod Stewart version. Ah no, no video... Continuing the Hoagy Carmichael series.

My Resistance Is Low - Jane Russell, Hoagy Carmichael

Happy Hoagy Day ! "What's on yer mind, bai-by ?"

Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind

Continuing Hoagy series

Wot ? No Théologie Systématique ?

A conversation : Alan : "I say, chaps, would either of you toppers have a Systematic Theology in French that I could borrow do you think, what ho ? I've got plenty of the jolly things in English, don't you know, but not in French !" (I've translated, of course...) Pasteur et conseiller presbytéral : "Sorry old boy, no can do, love to oblige and all that, but if you go there you'll find the cupboard is bare, not a thing - just a couple of chapters of Berkhof and the promise of Grudem one fine day !" A : "What ? Not one ?" P+CP : "One did used to be able to get one's hands on a big Berkhof, but a lot of water has gone under the old stony crossover since those days and the white rose having bloomed thus far refuses to repeat the exercise." A : "You know what, old beans, all suddenly becomes clear as the briny off Cap Ferret !" There is, apparently, no decently thorough Systematic Theology available in Fren

We have a big think going on

At present we rent our own premises at the cost of several hundred euros a month. We use these for : Office space, Evening meetings (English classes, Bible studies), Afternoon "surgery", "Public face". The question is, could these things be done elsewhere, freeing us to be more in the streets and on campus, and also economising rather a lot of money. It's a discussion we have had from time to time over the years, and we will meet up on Friday morning to talk it over once more.

OK - today's about

surveys on campus, followed by permanence at centre FAC (including a quick exploration of blogger and of googlepages with Liz, our creative intern), then home with Liz and Rhys for scran then prayer meeting.

A really bad idea

On the way to the amazing English class (by the way, come back lads - I promise not to let Rhys and Ben do the class again) I listened as usual to Radio Classique's 'Desert Island Discs'. It was some Jewish guy who escaped 1930s Germany as a child and so survived to tell the tale. The programme was interrupted by the 7pm news, which focused on the progress of the anti-burka law. Hmm. Makes you think. It is foolish to legislate against an item of clothing. A woman ought to have the right to wear whatever she wants as long as she is decently clad. If parental or marital abuse is suspected there are laws to deal with those things. We risk having the situation where a woman has the right to bare all on the beach but not to cover all on the bus. Laws that target one small part of the populace are a bad idea. We risk institutionalising the current climate of muslimophobia.


OK, it's Hoagy Carmichael time. This is the most wonderful "Stardust", and it's the arrangement I remember playing from brass banding days. I didn't play solo trombone ! I played 2nd tenorhorn, but you still don't forget the arrangement.

For WHAT ?

Queueing longtemps in the post office to collect the chequebook that we had to sign for I gazed at the little pile of as yet unsold diaries - agendas . Agenda des chats. (The cats' diary). Uh ?

SkypeConf and virtual LittleChef

Tuesday morning is team meeting time and this morning we had lots to discuss from our visit to see the Agapé-France team in Toulouse and then a Skype call with our Mission Director, Revd. Peter Milsom. We had a spot of trouble with Skype, but ended up crowding round my Christmas iPhone running Skype via the Griffins' wifi connection. I was very impressed that it just worked - first time of trying, too ! In fact, so impressed was I that this afternoon I left Skype running so that our Scottish Secretary, Revd. Iain Cameron, could call me on it. There's a nice big button for speakerphone, so you can just put it on the desk, yell at it and hunt for flights using your computer. Jolly useful, what. This evening is the English Class and my poor beginners are learning how to give commands and how to ask people to do things, or how to ask people for things. We'll do a bit on when to say "Shut up !" and when to say "Do you perhaps think that you could please shut u

A nice day off

It started well - I slept through till 6am instead of waking to cough at about 4 ! (Classic asthma, that...) Hopeful that my lungs are starting to move on after that dose of 'flu so long ago ! Pat was pleased, too. In the morning after despatching the kids to their various halls of academe, Pat and I scuttled off to do the shopping. This morning this included visiting Leroy Merlin to get a soldering iron. I'm sure I threw my old soldering iron away before coming to France. It was rubbish anyway - it had this big fat tip ! My new one has a little screw-driver style tip and once Pat and the kids had left me for the afternoon I exercised my new soldering iron in repairing Gwilym's electric guitar lead. Then a spot of reading. A session listening to Radio 4 (it's months since I listened to Radio 4). A bit of trombone practice and the family descended like the wolf on the fold once more. This evening I took Gwilym to his guitar lesson. In the hall outside his lesson th

Pretty full and lively Sunday

We didn't sit together in the morning even though none of us were on duty for anything. Instead Pat and I were together but Gwilym was with some students and Catrin with her friends. The morning service was followed by lunch 'tiré du sac'. Nobody is very clear about what this means - whether you are meant to bring a picnic to eat yourself or various courses to share. Anyone we did a kind of smudgy mix of the two and I think everyone ate well. In the afternoon the preachers and accompanists had a lively discussion about the things we sing and how they're accompanied. Then we Daveys and Rhys remained to set up for the evening service. In the evening we ran out of Bibles and hymn books. The meeting seemed to go very well. Someone proposed that we sing "The God of Abraham Praise" - it's YEARS since I sang that. We cleaned up and went home, tired but happy, thinking of how God is at work, so you have to hold on tight and keep going !

The way we were - Jiggs Whigham

Carl Fontana - "If I only had a Brain"

Saturday evening music for quiescing to.

A full and exciting weekend for the Daveys

Today begins with Catrin off to spend the morning with a schoolfriend then lunch at her father's restaurant. Then the kids have their ado-club which is followed by burger and chips at Dik and Hetty's. Tomorrow we have the morning service when no Daveys are on duty as such - we may even get to sit together, and if so it'll be the first time since Christmas Day. Then we have lunch and discussion for the preachers and accompanists, followed by the English service where the Daveys are on duty. Then warm and welcoming bed, and Monday again !

Ha ! So now we know !

Look ! I KNEW it !

Victor Borge, What Does A Conductor Do?

Old codger

We played our big band concert last night to a reasonably full house (thanks to Donerse, Liz, David, Manu and Nat for coming - I hope you liked it half as much as you said you did !) I'm the youngest player in the band. You are supposed to have been playing for something like seven to nine years and to have passed an audition to play. I've been playing for two years, but I get in on various technicalities : I have played other instruments for years so I am a reasonably good reader, I have a car with a big boot and my trombone teacher is the conductor. And we have a critical shortage of trombones. All these factors more than make up for my shortcomings as a trombonist ! Well, I say that I am the youngest player in the band, but last night I suddenly realised that I am the oldest, possibly by some years ! I realised this when lugging the bass guitar amplifier up the stairs and people reacted as I would have if I'd seen my father doing it. 'Hey, Alan, I'll do that.


I'm really saddened by the demise of Borders. For a long time Borders was my third place, my bolt hole, somewhere I'd go when I just needed to stop thinking and feeling for a while. Of course for me Borders started dying the day when their coffee shop was turned over to Starbucks. Instead of the nice coffee we used to buy now we had to pay through the nose for hot coffee-flavoured milkshakes. Well I didn't buy that stuff. I didn't often buy books either. Maybe that's the problem. Too many people like me who would browse but not buy. Anyway, it's gone. When I worked in computing many moons ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth I used to have to sometimes visit London where I loved scouring Tower Records for obscure flute recordings. I have some beauties on vinyl in the loft somewhere. Wonderful Bach obbligato arias played by a decent flutist and sung by dodgy singers. .. Is Tower records still going ? I certainly can't find anything like it here in Bor

We saw the Beluga leaving Toulouse for Deeside - it made me homesick for a while


The view from Aaron's apartment


Even more Toulouse


More Toulouse


When Russian architects in the Soviet era failed their stringent

final exams France offered them asylum and gainful employ designing university buildings.

Toulouse - the church where Thomas Aquinas is buried

In the golden chest

Toulouse - more of that church



Here's the one by the river. We didn't find the other.

Toulouse - more of that church


Visit to Toulouse

In Toulouse there's an Agapé-France team working to reach students with the gospel. We went to visit them yesterday and spent a splendid few hours with Aaron and the rest of the gang. Thanks, guys, for your welcome and for showing us the work that you're doing.

Hmmm - a lot depends on how you look at things

I often have several different calls on my time at once. Sometimes I end up on guilt trips and, of course, sometimes people try to use the old guilt manipulation thing ! However there's another way of looking at it : 1) God knows I can only be in one place at one time and do one thing at once and it was his idea and a good thing.. 2) He gives me the choice of several things to do ( Luxury ! Some people moan because they have nothing to do ! ) 3) I get to choose which option to do and which ones not to do ! Brilliant !

The week in view

It's a calmer week but with some exciting things in view : Monday - day off (that means shopping and ferrying people hither and yon) ! Tuesday - Toulouse to see the work of the Agapé team there, especially the Café Théo. Wednesday - Permanance au Centre FAC, evening meeting at church. Thursday - visiting on campus plus étude Biblique au Centre FAC plus LE BIG JAZZ CONCERT. Friday - visiting on campus, Pessac guys group plus preparation for the weekend.

Un petit gastro

Poor Pat spent yesterday never veru far from the toilet. She's better today.

Une soirée super-sympa avec le PJB

The excellent Pessac Jazz Band was engaged to play at a kind of function-rooms in Pessac. There's quite a big complex of function rooms and a disco, and we were part of a weekend dance school organised by Tap and Swing Co. Bordeaux.We were playing for a dinner-dance. So we picked up the amplifiers and stuff at 16h45 and took them in our Berlingo and someone's Vito down to the venue and set up. At about 19h we did the balance and got the singers amplified right. Then we were due to play at, I think, 20h15 ? So there was lots of hanging round, orange juice and peanuts. Befre we played they were putting big band music over the sound system and it was nice watching a dance troupe doing various show dances: jitterbugs, charleston, etc. Then it was our turn and we ran into our two sets. First half a mix of stuff including some jazz-funk, some swing, etc.. People were up a dancing before you could say knife, and it was very genial playing and watching people dance happily. Secon

After work comes play

Fiona, Liz and David came round on Saturday to discuss some aspects of the student work and specifically Thursday evenings and what best to do. We decided to start Christianity Explored from February 4th (which will actually be when Liz leaves), and rather than use the French translated one directly we'll do our own thing with the talk outlines like we used to do some years ago (the one with the film clips from Titanic, Good Morning Vietnam, Les Misérables, etc.) Afterwards the Davey family dispersed a little - first Pat took Gwilym to see his good old friend Pierre. Gwilym took his guitar as Pierre is a songwriter and who knows, one day maybe our boy will be famous and we can stay in his luxury penthouse in Cap Ferret. Then I took Pat and Catrin round the periodically blocked rocade to Bassens (the traffic jams were at the exits leading to the shopping centres - It's Sale Time !) where Dik and Hetty had invited everyone for a Galette des Rois. This is not related to a craz

Logitech TouchMouse for iPod tOuch and iPhone

Jolly good !

Mozart, Gloria in excelsis Deo, Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner

This had my fretting the other day because I remember rehearsing this with some choir or other - really I do.. I know the tenor line better than I should from just listening. However I can't remember with whom or where or when... Had me worried, I can tell you. I still can't remember but I've stopped worrying about it. If I'm going nuts I don't want to go nuts and worry about it.

Leaflet distribution

One nice thing about posting leaflets through doors in France is the wide variety of the houses and of the letter-boxes. Around the church the houses range from wooden shacks, through old stone-built echoppes (one was just a facade -  I saw through the letter box that there was nothing behind) through to big modern swanky houses. The letter boxes are just as diverse. Some are slits in the door, like in Britain, high, middle, low, horizontal or vertical. But most are mailboxes. One was placed so high I had to stand on tippy-toe and stretch to put the leaflet in. I saw the postlady afterwards. The very short postlady. Some had been brought from Spain and said CARTAS and were in the form of Spanish villas. Very nice. And there's a lot of tiny studios and single people living in flatland around the church...

Architectes et conseils presbytéraux

Yesterday was spent basically sat on my tail end at church ! A meeting with our architect to discuss plans to buy the building and to produce a dossier showing our project for the building - a dossier we can use for the authorities (town hall, etc.) as well as for churches and people who may like to help us. Then the conseil presbytéral, which is always a happy time but where there's always lots of important matters to discuss - including big issues relating to finance and not fogetting our reason for being here, which is to reach the area with the gospel. I took my trombone with me because it takes an hour to get to the church by public transport, 1/2 hour by car, so there's no point trying to go home for lunch. I intended feeding quickly, then taking advantage of the church to do some of my forte staccato broken arpeggio stuff, but Dik also stayed around so instead we ate together and talked about important things, like the future for the various ministries we are involve

You have to laugh

Google are very keen to protect the privacy of people found in their photos of streets etc... So they blur out the faces of people. and statues...

Wot ? More admin ?

All our passports need renewing. Pat's and mine ran out in December. The kids' run out in April. I plan to phase the renewal because it costs so much here - it's 150 euros per adult and 75 per child, so we'll do one a month over the next few months and spread the cost like that. As long as they're all renewed in time for July, when we plan to come to Britain, and as long as Gwilym's is renewed in time to serve as his id for his brevet we'll be OK. Now - mustn't forget !

"Do you realise that Bordeaux is

just about the only place on the planet that is not under snow ?" said some wag after the international service on Sunday.

"Hank cinq" - Britt Woodman with Ellington

So that is what awesome means !

Good dry roads, sun shining, cold - but no problems travelling !

DELFEAYO MARSALIS Tenderly (Lugano 1993)

It doesn't seem as cold today, thankfully

I say that because this morning I am due to preach in Blaye about 50 km away. Most of the journey is on major roads or motorways, but a part is on country roads. The problem is that they haven't been gritting the roads and the other week on the way home from Blaye we saw a car upside down in the ditch at the side of the road ! But I am pretty sure that it hasn't snowed overnight and that we'll be OK to get to Blaye and back.

Man down ! Send reinforcements !

Our preacher for Blaye tomorrow is unwell and can't go. OK. No problem - now to get down to it !

Delfeayo Marsalis @ Blue Note - It don't mean a thing

if it ain't got that swing

Well that's the week of preparings and meetings over

It ended very genially with a members' meeting where we started with an apéro of little tarts, followed by an entrée of Grenier du Médoc (looked like a pork terrine) and patéand a plat of entrecote from a little butcher in Villenave (we all asked) cooked over the fire, accompanied by bundles of beans in bacon and little cubes of fried potato. Dessert was crumble (two kinds), apple pie and coffee meringues. We talked about encouragement and after a survey of Barnabas' life everyone shared an incident where someone had encouraged them. we were 15 members present - a handful couldn't make it. During the prayer and discussion time at lunchtime we talked about membership and how pro-active the church should be in encouraging folk to come into membership. Update : I found a recipe for Grenier Médocain : Ingrédients : panses de porc (estomacs), ail, sel, poivre, épices Rabelais , cognac Progression du travail : Dégraisser et nettoyer les panses Les rouler avec l’assais

Another picture of snowy Bordeaux

This time from

Delfeayo at Dizzy's - "If I were a bell I'd go..."

Meetings, meetings, meetings !

I love 'em. Well, when they're productive and when they involve pizza ! Yesterday was ham and mushroom, and chicken and something, and we got the preaching rota sorted out until May. Not bad, eh ? Today the Pessac guys meet up to read and pray together, and this evening there's a members' meeting in Portets. Meanwhile Pat is meeting up with the FACfolk preparing for the next wave of activities, then meeting up this afternoon with a Moroccan friend.she's coaching in English.

Thoughts on the weather in Britain

My Inuit friend Gluklik says he can't understand what all the fuss is about. When he watches the news it makes him so homesick he just wants to fly to London, build an igloo, hunt seal and fish through the ice. I said, "Yes, but there's more people than seals in London and the zoo might not be very pleased. Gluklik, you just can't compare one place with another like that. It's different, that's all."

I forgot to pop this on before


Even when it's perishing cold

it's still kinda lovely. This picture from Sud-Ouest, without a doubt the best regional paper in Aquitaine.

'snow one on the terrace today


Catrin leaves for school in the snow


Well this is exciting !

Basically I am stuck in the car in Pessac. It hasn't snowed much but the roads have not been gritted so it's very slippery. I have pulled in to the side of the road behind a bus that seems to be well-stuck and blocking half the road. I am thankful for ABS that stopped the car on an icy descent just before the traffic lights. - Posted using BlogPress

Bienvenue chez les troglodytes

When it is very cold we become troglodytes. Well, kind of. The thing is, we have draughty single glazed windows and no central heating. But we do have a wood stove, thick wooden shutters and those electric radiator things in the bedrooms. So until the sun shines the best thing to do is shut the shutters, stoke up the woodstove and huddle up ! Meanwhile the other day I found Gwilym in a tee shirt in his room nonchalantly watching a Top Gear extract on Youtube. "Aren't you cold?" I asked. "No..." In fact he'd convinced himself that his fan heater was broken. It was only when he was going to bring it down for me to check over that he found it was working after all.

VIII. Handel: The King shall rejoice / Paul Agnew

with the debonair trumpeters - one hand on hip.

It's sneauxing in Bordow

On the way to the tram stop with Gwilym we noticed that it had started snowing. It's still snowing. If you think the English as wusses when it comes to snow, well the French are not as used to it - at least not the French who live in Bordeaux ! So I expect that the trams will stop running soon, and the buses, too. And as I drove home through about 1/4inch of snow the snow-plough / gritter passed me.

Airmen of Note - Jingle Bells

for all our friends in snowy Britain. (It's cold here, but no snow)

Meetings pretty much all day today !

UFM Bordeaux team plan and pray meeting this morning. ADIL Association for tenants this afternoon. More news this evening perhaps !

Handel: Zadok the priest, HWV 258 / Les Arts Florissants

Natural trumpets ! Crackerjack ! And played with such style - one hand on hip - just like they should be played !

Back to school

in the cold, dark, damp, early morning. brrrr. Roll on March !

When you cut the kids' hair

don't burn the hair clippings in the woodstove. It stinks.

Stanza for iPod tOuch and iPhone

Stanza is a book-reader program that is free at the app-store, and that has lots of free books for download in English and in French, and a couple fo other languages, too.

On New Year's Day

we invited some folk for lunch (we had pork) and then went for a little stroll in one of the nearby parks - Bourgailh - as the sun was setting. I noticed that some of the gorse is flowering a little.

Decisions, decisions - what to eat for New Year Lunch

Sanglier ? Cailles ? Chapon ? Autruche ? Oie ?  Antilope ? Cerf ? Canette ? Canard ? Kangourou ? We're having pork.

Brass 4 Five - Christmas Crackers part 3: We wish you a Merry Christmas

Last brass carol of the season.

Bonne année à toutes et à tous

We welcomed the New Year with some other church families at the home of some friends. I warned Pat that French people do not eat sticks of raw carrot, but they were game and had a try - one of the nippers really liked them. Still, Pat had rescued me from a major panic attack in the supermarket when I was shopping for crudités and carrot sticks were the only things that came to mind ! I warned everyone that mince pies are extremely sweet and we had crème fraiche with them to kill the edge of the sweetness, but they went down a treat ! Pat warned me that she only had three words in her list for Pictionary (Pictionnaire ?) so I thought quickly and whipped up a list of twelve words / expressions - we played gars contre filles. It was interesting, but seemed to work OK, even for such things as "Les Bienveillants","boite à vitesses" "l'Italie", and "On ira tous au Paradis"... I decided to give "Avatar" a miss. But the candles took

You have to laugh

Last night Pat got a nice message at about 23h saying "Happy New Year from Cornwall". "How nice of our student worker; Liz, at present ensconced in the bosom of her family in Polporto in Cornwall, to think of us and send us a message", quoth she, sending a long reply in French saying where we were, what we were doing and why... At 3am her sister replied 'Tisher, I don't speak French', from her holiday cottage in Cornwall.