Showing posts from March, 2010

The Telegraph celebrates April Fool jokes

Read about them here.

Monsieur ! Monsieur !

Est-ce que vous êtes Anglais ? Non. Est-ce que vous êtes Americain ? Non. Est-ce que vous êtes Allemand ? Belge ? Non. Espagnol ? Hollandais ? Italien ? Non. Monsieur ? Vous êtes d'où ? Je suis Gallois. Ah bon ! De Galilée !

Several new faces at church this morning, again

If all our regulars came every week and all our visitors stayed we'd be bursting at the seams right now ! As it is I need to take pictures of people and put their name alongside to try and remember everyone (but I don't dare...) I was preaching on Ephesians 5:21 - mutual submission shows the fullness of the Holy Spirit. That's one we tend to forget, eh !

Festival de Jazz de Pontenx-les-Forges

Yesterday the celebrated Pessac Jazz Band was playing at the 8th annual Pontenx Jazz Festival deep in the heart of the forest of Les Landes. We went by bus, shared with a group from the St Médard-en-Jalles music school. Also playing were the Mimizan Big Band and the orchestra of the Pontenx music school. It was a fine time spent in this really small town with a full hall of people who'd spent 5 euros each to hear some pretty good stuff. Some of the players were really not bad at all, and the Mimizan Big Band is coming on in leaps and bounds. Their music school has started a jazz workshop for people to learn improvisation etc. We played last on the billing, then a new English friend who plays saxo for St-Medard but who lives way down in Bazas came zooming into the changing room and said "That was brilliant". He was very complimentary, though we were not awfully happy; the amplifiers for the singers were a bit rotten and we felt we'd done better on the past. Still.

Sleepless nights

Friends who live in the heart of Bordeaux are anticipating sleepless nights as the Girondins de Bordeaux beat Marseille in the Coupe de la Ligue this evening, then as they proceed to beat Lyon THREE TIMES over the next couple of weeks. It's a tough life sometimes.

Spring forward !

This weekend we change the clocks. On passe a l'heure d'été ce weekend.

You have to be a realist !

After the catastrophic failure of the mother-board on my study computer I decided to reflect a while to see what my computing needs are and what I ought to do about them. Here's the "fruit" of my reflections. 1) My study computer (deceased) is really my master storage for all my files, including music, photos, ebooks, etc. That doesn't really need to be a PC. It could just be a hard disk. 2) My main work computer is the mission laptop, bought in 2005 and beginning to show signs of its age. The wifi fails in the middle of the most important emails and a hard disk diagnostic programme that I run occasionally always says "Blimey, mate, I hope you've got this hard disk backed up!". 3) Then to carry round to churches etc. I use my little netbook. It's great for presenting powerpoint and for work on the fly. To carry to Britain and on the trams and buses it's super. But it's no good for preparing powerpoint files or even prayer letters becaus

DÉMOGRAPHIE. Dans la région, à peine 30 % des habitants ont moins de 25 ans

Trois jeunes sur dix vivent chez leurs parents à 24 ans à lire ici.

Third Millennium Ministries - not as scary as it sounds !

Look ! There's some really good stuff there .

What !

Well that's my head done in already, and it's only 7:50.  Google warns that someone in the USA is accessing my account - must change my password tout de suite.  We're back into changing our password once a month, it seems.  Roll on iris recognition !

Malcolm Arnold - Fantasy for Brass Band

This is a bit more accessible !

Joseph Alessi plays Malcolm Arnold's 'Fantasy for trombone'

You may not immediately like this piece of music, but I think it'll show you Malcolm Arnold's sense of fun.

Boom and bust

Pat continues to improve gradually. Meanwhile Bordeaux is doing its usual boom and bust weather thing.  In winter you go from early morning freezing your toes off to afternoon scorching your hair off. In spring, summer and autumn you go from bake to baste - i.e. blazing sunshine to pouring rain.  At present it's POURING down. Still, at least when it's raining you can see when the traffic lights change.  That's why people honk, you know,  because you might be the only person in the queue of cars that can tell that the lights have changed,  so you honk to tell everyone.

Tam o' Shanter by Sir Malcolm Arnold

Continuing the Arnold season. (Can you tell where this is going, yet ?)

Malcolm Arnold : Three Shanties : CASCAIS QUINTET

Well the plan was

that I'd be at the meeting about the future of the Maison de la Bible from 10 till about 11:40, then scuttle off back to Pessac where Pat would take the car and Catrin home for lunch and I'd do my stint in the chapelle ("Our Father" - the giving and forgiving father in Luke 15). What actually happened was that at 11:30 I got a phone call from Pat saying that the hip which she fell on last Friday was extremely painful, that she could no longer walk or support her weight, and that an ambulance had been called. I skedaddled to get Catrin and got home to find that a doctor was on the way. He arrived, examined Pat and said that he thought her femur may be broken and an x-ray would confirm or deny it. Then, if so, it would mean an operation with pins. He called the ambulance and left. When the ambulance arrived it was driven by two very cheerful ambulancières. Catrin was taken back to school by our friend Rhian. I helped them get Pat onto the surgical trolley and into t

In Morocco, a Crackdown on Christian Aid Workers

In Morocco, a Crackdown on Christian Aid Workers


"coquillée" ready to go to hospital.

Quick review of the weekend

Saturday began with me hauling myself out of bed to crawl off to Formapre. This is a kind of Theological Education by Extension thing that runs over France and the weekend was about Church history and French culture. There was a session on Friday evening but I didn't want to miss big band rehearsal because I am missing the one this coming Wednesday. Anyway I arrived a quarter of an hour late ( only because they'd changed the time ) and came into a super session all about the history of the church in France from the emergence of France really, and the whole thing of the balance of power between King, Church and Nobility, then reformation and the power play between the protestant and catholic nobles, then the revolution etc. I always had the intention of  attending Formapre - it's good for your theological French, for catching the nuances in French theological thinking and for getting to know people. However to begin with our English classes were on Saturdays so it was im

So I had this dream, right,

that we had to audition to play trombone in the big band and that everyone had to audition, even the people who already play, and that there were QUEUES of trombonists lined up and that when you got to the front of the queue you had to play along to any given piece the trombone part you were assigned and I just chickened out, gave up and went home ! J'ai fait un rêve où il y avait un concours pour jouer dans le big band et qu'il fallait que tout le monde essaye, même les gens qui jouent déjà, qu'il y avait une FOULE de trombonistes ( c'était en ce moment là que je me suis dit que c'était sûrement un rêve ! )  et qu'il fallait attendre en ligne et à ton tour jouer avec un enregistrement une partition donnée et j'avais peur, j'ai laissé tomber et je suis parti en courant !

M. Arnold Quintet 3rd mov - ITG 2008

And the third movement ! It's fun !

M. Arnold Quintet 2nd mov - ITG 2008

OK - here's another try !

I love Monday mornings !

You can catch your breath !

And the second movement

of the Malcolm Arnold Brass Quintet can be found here.

Let's see if I can share the Malcolm Arnold season this way

Here's the first movement of his brass quintet.

OK - this calls for coffee !

LOTS of STRONG coffee !

Un weekend chaud

It's all go this weekend, don't you know ! The family and I are "like chips that pass in the fat" ! What with a rehearsal for a big concert next Friday and a day conference on catholicism and French culture and so on and so forth.. I leave the house in 15 minutes and the family are all still asleep. Still, it calms down briefly this evening and then we're all together from tomorrow lunchtime !

I'm coming out

People have noticed the iPhone that Pat got me for Christmas. (Speaking of which, Orange have been as good as their word and refunded 100€ off the price which was 59€ to start with, and then another 15€ because it arrived a week late - it means that I haven't paid any thing to them for months !) Anyway my ploy of stuffing the thing up my sleeve to make calls finally failed when I used it to look up a Bible text and someone said "You have an iPhone ! Aren't you ashamed ?" "No, of course not !" I said, stuffing it quickly in my pocket and blowing my nose to disguise my blushes... I have to confess. The thing is brilliant. Here's an example. This morning I noticed the button to record your answerphone message. It's been on default for all this time. I pressed the button and spoke. It recorded. It's done. So easy ! No pressing 1, 7, 14, 3, 2, 9, ##, *... Are Macs this easy ? And did you know, Macbooks have a SEVEN HOUR battery life ? I have

When breakfast goes badly

I always think breakfast is such an easy meal. If you can manage to pour with any degree of accuracy... If you can locate your mouth with a spoon... If you can lift a cup... Basically breakfast is sorted. So when breakfast goes badly it's wise to be on your guard for the rest of the day.

Wot, no music ?

Well I've tried. Honestly, I've tried. But Youtube no longer pops videos on the blog. I don't know why. It's computers ! Anyway over on Facebook (where it does still work mostly) it's time for a little season of Malcolm Arnold.

Peter Hitchens

brother of prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens, writes here

7 Counterfeit gospels - thanks, Justin, for this thought provoking item

 itemIn one of his books (co-authored with Tim Lane), How People Change , Paul Tripp identifies seven counterfeit gospels — ”religious” ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from the gospel of grace. Formalism . “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.” Legalism . “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.” Mysticism . “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discour

At the computermonger

I took my study PC to Surcouf, my favourite computermonger, for them to diagnose the problem. They're good for that because they can swap parts around and corner the defect. Anyway I told the chappie what had happened - that it had started with loss of USB ports, then XP would hang on loading, then finally it stopped even doing the BIOS diagnostics. He agreed with me that the motherboard or the power supply were the most likely culprits and so he swapped out the power supply. Zilch. Not a peep. No attempt to do anything. It's the motherboard. Because it's slightly aged now, swapping the motherboard would also mean a new processor and new memory, by which time you had just as well buy a new PC. Bof. But he only charged me 9€. Thanks, chum. It's not essential to replace the PC straight away. I have my important files on an external hard disk anyway, so I will just wait for a while and see what options there are. Generally something turns up !

A bright shiny day off after a full weekend

Well that was a super weekend full of activity and food, what with our anniversary dinner on Saturday night (does ANYONE eat a starter, main course and dessert ? we certainly couldn't have !) and the Anglophone supper ( sweet and sour and curry ! ). This morning I cannot quite face the thought of fruit and fibre - just coffee and tea for me ! Today's agenda includes : 1) the weekly shopping, 2) take the office PC to the computer monger for them to do their diagnostic - it's probably worth 29 euros to save at least half a day of messing about ! I suspect some deep motherboard issue because the problems started with the loss of USB then ended up with a total failure to boot at all - not even the bios... 3) hack at the trees with a pruning saw

Weekend reflections

After the lycée pro open day we scuttled back to Pessac because Pat was off to the jumble sale at Eysines, where she found some incredible bargains. Then off to the music school where there was a rehearsal of the orchestra from 15h30 to 17h - there's a concert some time soon (27th ?) and I am drafted in a reinforcements to my colleague Thomas. We play a lot of film music, (Narnia, Top Gun) and so on... Then swiftly to Eysines to drop the kids off for their teen club sleepover. Which left the course clear for Patricia and me to go to the posh Bistro round the corner. Today is our 17th wedding anniversary and with some money that we had been given we went out for a meal. We skipped the starters and I ordered sauté de boeuf avec son amertume de cacao et polenta while Pat ordered magret de canard sur son lit de legumes oubliées . The restaurant was dimly lit so it was the flavour of mashed swede that alerted me to the fact that we had the wrong meals, but we were content with

Au lycée pro

Gwilym is thinking of becoming a mechanic. To do this he has two possible routes before him. One is to do an apprenticeship in a garage somewhere. Another is a lycée pro to do a Bac pro in vehicle maintenance. There's a lycée like that not far from Ikea and today they were having their open day. We went along to look. I loved it ! Huge workshops full of cars to fool around with. AND you can take your car there if it needs work. You get your own parts and they charge for labour at 1/3 the rate the garages do.

The BBC on M. Sarkozy

Tomorrow is the day of the regional elections. Our region is Aquitaine. Even though central government in France seems pretty firmly placed into the hands of the right-wng (for France) UMP, the Regions are mostly governed by the Socialist Party and the town halls nomally reflect the character of the town itself. Pessac being a university town we tend to be rather bo-bo (bourgeois bohème) champagne socialists while Bordeaux is right wing because it is straightforwardly bourgeois. The BBC's take on the regionals can be found here. I am not sure that French voters link the regional elections with their opinion of M. Sarkozy. In fact he's not supposed to campaign for the regionals (though the papers think that he kind of has been by being more visible than usual...) We could vote in the regionals if we registered to vote. We probably ought to.

The Telegraph on M. Sarkozy

You can read about him here.

Funky VCub cycle

While on campus today I took this photo to show you the funky VCub bikes. Look ! No chain ! No derailleur ! It has a propshaft and Shimano hub gears ! Cool or what ?

One out, all out !

Innit marvellous ! There's a bus and tram strike today in many cities in France and here in Bordeaux guess which line has been affected ? You guessed it. La ligne Davey - La Liane 4 ! The trams are still running every 6 mins, so that means that today to go to the student centre I'll need to be ferried back and fore to the tram stop in Pessac Centre. Bof ! Meanwhile the médecins généralistes are on strike, too (the GPs) to protest at their feeble remuneration and to demand an increase of the consultation fee to 23 euros. It has been 22 euros for a couple of years now, so I wouldn't object myself.

Poor Catrin

went back to the doctors with both her ears now, and her sinuses. He gave her some more tablets and some antibiotics to use "if Pat feels she needs them".

Poor Catrin

has been bad in bed since Monday with her ear. Pat took her to the doctor and he gave her tablets, drops and cream but so far she's just got a little less pain.

All of a sudden

the way we heat our home has become a topic of hot discussion ! We have some friends staying and it has to be said that we do try and encourage people to visit us in the warmer months - I mean Bordeaux is just nicer when you can be out and about, eat in the garden etc... However this week we have this cold snap on and our friends have developed a deep attachment to the wood stove ! Then we met a new friend at the barbecue here on Saturday. He's a handyman of the "I built my own house" variety and he is keen to get his hands on our boiler to see if he can raise it from its sleep of death ! If not he'd like to bring a specialist to give us some advice. He's very keen. He is pressing for a time to come round and I don't think we can do anything before Friday at the earliest. Anyway I think we'll end up with a specialist coming to see - the system is weird and I suspect that it never worked well ! I for my part don't want to end up with a system that i

It's been cold, but not that cold...

Our esteemed local rag, le Sud-Ouest, encourages us with the knowledge that though it has been cold, it has not been all that cold.

French people say that they are no good at languages

but they're MUCH better than the English ! 1) Yesterday in LIDL I thought I heard the cashier say "Sorry". I said "Vous avez dit 'sorry' ?" She said "No, but we can speak English if you like..." Me: "Non, ça va merci, mais vous êtes forte en anglais." She: "Not really. I cope, that's all." 2) French radio plays loads of stuff in English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, you name it. One popular guy at the moment is Charlie Winston who's English and lives in Paris. He's popular for his songs "Like a hobo from a broken home" and "My life as a duck." He never made it in England then decided to move to France where his career took off. He says that in England you have to be boy band material - late teens, early twenties - and for a thirty-something like him it's too late. But here in France a thirty-something Englishman can hit the heights.

A happy Sunday ... and then ...

We spent a happy Sunday - I was not preaching at all and it was good to sit and listen - I hope attentively! We had an urgent emergency call at lunchtime, too. The Griffins' lunch-guests hadn't arrived so would we like to go and help them eat the huge dinner they'd prepared. Well as you can imagine, we hummed and ha'd - OK, we hopped straight into the car and zoomed round there as fast as the rocade would carry us (= 90 kph). Today we got up and - what ! Frost on the ground ? It has been really cold all day ! And after a nice warm barbecue, too !

International barbecue

We had a super barbecue, with the fire fueled from the clippings from our trees. First time for me to do a wood-fired barbecue rather than charcoal, and it worked pretty well. The sun shone beautifully and it got rather hot on the terrace ! Folk seemed very happy and relaxed - and full.

Brief bulletin

Just got back from a couple of days sneaked in the home of some friends in Languedoc-Roussillon - which may just usurp Provence as my favourite region of France. Provence is still a little more gorgeous but the Langeudoc is just three hours away. They live in a super little house on a hill in a village outside a town in the depths of nowhere. A rutted track overdue for a landslide leads up to the house. It's just as you imagine living in the South of France and nothing like our lives in Pessac ! And the views ! Got back to find that my desktop pc is sick. It's hardware. It takes a Very Long Time to do its bios diagnostics and then hangs when booting either Windows or Ubuntu. I don't think I'll be able to perform surgery this week as we have people staying with us so the study is becoming a bedroom and the dining table will be used as a dining table. I'll start with reseating everything in its sockets, just in case. Then memory perhaps ? It could do with more anywa

Family pictures


Is this true ?

I was told yesterday, by people whom I trust, that the spectrum actually has only six colours : Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple. This makes perfect sense from a colour theory point of view. It also solves one of the great dilemmas of my life : what colour is indigo, since everyone knows that blue jeans are dyed with indigo but everyone says that indigo is purple. Since blue and purple for me are troublesome to distinguish this has always provoked existential crises of unimaginable proportion - unimaginable to anyone with good colour vision. However we lose Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. Richard Of York Gave Battle Pointlessly ? Prosaically ? Postprandially ? Periodically ? I need to know two things : 1) Is this true ? That the spectrum has only six colours ? 2) Why have you all deceived me for so long ? This is a major conspiracy against all we differently colour-visioned !


Xynthia is the name of the storm that gave us a couple of hours of discomfort on Saturday night, and an awkward journey to church on Sunday morning, but that deprived 1 000 000 homes of electricity, 50 people of their lives and caused the evacuation of many others. She's caused a big discussion of the pattern of development in rural seaside towns. Holiday homes are very popular here. In fact it's far from unknown to rent the home you live in and buy a maison secondaire - this can be quite practical if you're in a job where they love you round the country. And a holiday home on the beach - what could be better ? Well - perhaps retiring to a house on the beach. A beachside home. Lovely ! Until a combination of an extremely high tide and an extreme depression move the sea up the beach, through your garden and halfway up your stairs... So there's a big debate opened up on beachside home-building.

Things will be done

"A mass will be said" said the radio. "Prayers will be said" they say on the news. It's such a strange way to put things, isn't it ? I am sure we never talk like that. I'll / we'll pray.

You just have to get on and do it...

These prayer letters. The next one is due in February. Yes, that's right. The thing is that we are in a state of flux regarding premises. I keep thinking that one more week will clarify things and then I can write a prayer letter that reflects a kind of settled state. But no. I'll have to just get on with it !

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