Showing posts from May, 2010

Our Monday destitutional

Mrs Davey and I set out boldly for Pessac town centre for our Monday morning destitutional. (You'd understand why we call it that if you saw the state we're in). Anyway we tottered smartly up to our favourite square, Pessac Monteil, where the JWs have their hall, then round by the railway line and back along the vines to our place. We saw our ideal little house for a few years' time - looking out over the vines, very quiet and private but 50 yards from the bus stop and very near the centre of town. We passed a woman who returned our greetings politely ("Bonjour !" / "Sieur-Dame!"). I smiled at her when we passed each other again on our return journeys - then we both turned round and said .." C'est vous !" It was one of the teachers at DEFLE, the one who ran the creative writing workshops where Dustin and I collaborated on a rather Pythonesque tale of horror and hope in the archipelago of dragons. She said "I was thinking of you

Changeover Sunday

Hardly any students at church in the morning. We were about 30. Before heading off for the evening Pat and I looked at each other and did mental arithmetic. I had just set out the benches in "small, intimate number" arrangement when a family of holidaymakers came in. We thought "Ah! It's changeover Sunday." So we were (just nationalities now): British Turkish Dutch living in France Dutch living in Sweden Canadian Iraqi Algerian French (including one chap from Pessac) It's holidaytime again. The highlights were a French lad who hopes to become an evangelist. I hope he can find someone to encourage him. I'd have a go but he's very pentecostal and I don't have a charismatic bone in my body. I know because Stuart told me. So I'd drive him NUTS within a couple of hours. Oh yes, and a muslim girl who said "I'm muslim but I want to become a Christian", and asked lots and lots of questions.

More on the building project

Our architect brother has seen the building and he is enthusiastic about it. Woah ! All we need now is the funds... I am rather excited, too. And you know how phlegmatic I am ! So seriously, if you know of any profoundly rich people who have a heart for mission in France, then let them know about us ! Hey ! I just thought of someone !

Play, child.

The building we went to see yesterday

This is the main room at the front. It opens directly onto the main thoroughfare right by the tram stop.

Just behind

there's a kind of mezzanine and basement arrangement. The mezzanine could work as a balcony or be partitioned off for childrens rooms perhaps. The basement may be useable as a basic kitchen for preparing drinks, or perhaps as office space.

Further back

there's this little yard. It could ne used as an open area or part of it could become children's rooms.

Right at the back

is this huge warehouse thing. The thought is that we could begin in the front building and let out all the warehouse. Then quite quickly divide the warehouse up, convert part of it into one or more dwellings (including a manse) and let the remainder. Then when need arises convert the rest into a big sanctuary and turn the front area into meeting rooms, bookshop, outreach centre, etc...

A warehouse next door

has already been converted into eight little maisonettes.

Today's Bossa Nova is a classic

I thought the dear girl was miscounting at 1:01, but she does it again on the reprise. Perhaps she's miscounting twice ? Perhaps she's meant to skip a beat each time. I watched the faces of the band but nobody gives anything away... Stay tuned for the incomparable Julia Mackenzie...

Grève nationale de bus et trams et d'autres machins

There's a tram and bus strike today. This means 1. No no. 4 bus 2. Saturday service for trams 3. The possibility of everything stopping. It's quite exciting. Once during a tram strike Pat and I went into the student centre only to discover that there were no trams home ! We had to ring trusty Ben to collect the kids from school. Apparently Toulouse has a motorised metro system and nothing ever affects it. Strikes, wars, floods, disease, death and destruction, the metro runs anyway.

Off to see another possible building

which is opposite where we meet now, is right by the tram stop and is significantly bigger and more adaptable. I'll report back soon.

Today's Bossa Nova - Desafinado/Out of tune

The blog is quiet

Why ? Because I am doing all the boring things I have left long undone, that's why. At this time of the year student activity dies down - some have even gone already ! We say goodbye to one after another of our English Service folk. We still have lots of planning meetings and committee meetings etc. However - once thing we also have is food in the garden. Last weekend we ate in a garden in Cavignac, in the garden that joins on to ours and in our own garden. This weekend we are inviting all vaguely English language related folk to come eat on Saturday evening. Soon we'll do a Sunday lunchtime come and eat for all francophone links. And catching up with the tedious admin continues...

Continuing Bossa Nova week with Corcovado / Quiet nights of quiet stars

Chega de Saudade / No more blues - continuing Bossa Nova week

Bossa nova week - Águas de Março / Waters of March

I first heard this song in Art Garfunkel's version and I was fascinated by its simplicity and the atmosphere it creates. Here it is sung by the author of both the Portuguese and the English versions.

And here's a highly-regarded Portuguese version

Pentecost Sunday

was very warm here. We were a little thin on the ground for the morning service - it's a bank holiday weekend. In the afternoon we were invited for lunch to some friends - along with some other families from the church. It was a big family gathering - 49 people in the grounds of this 19th century house out in the Entre-deux Mers. It seemed very pleasant and very French to us - apéros of crudités with dips, endives filled with salad. Then a massive paëlla. Then cakes and ice-creams. One of the family is a winemaker and he brought along the wine. Another brought some bottles of champagne. We sat at big tables set on decking under huge spreading trees. It was lovely to see a little gang of cousins bringing ice-creams out to the table for the children, hurrying along, laughing and talking all the way. Soon they'll be stood outside a church in nice dresses laughing a joking as a little gang of bridesmaids. I met a family who live near some friends who are in pastoral ministry in

Music School Concert at Villa Pia

So the orchestre symphonique of the music school played in the chapel of the Villa Pia. I imagine that this place was once a convent but now it is a retirement/nursing home. One of our oboe pupils has her father living there and she says that it's a good place, though quality doesn't come cheap, does it. I like the way that the grounds were divided up between parking / garden areas and a public park with children's playground. It was fenced off and secure so no forgetful resident could wander away but they could still see and hear the kids playing. The acoustic of the chapel was very live so some of the music was very loud !

Well if you never ask...

Would any of our esteemed readers know of any churches or groups in the UK who would have 40 to 50 copies of Christian Hymns going spare (or Praise ! or Grace Hymns or Christian Hymns II) ? We could give them a very good home and a useful life in Bordeaux and we could collect them some time this summer. Thanks !

Glad they're not all like that !

It's been a busy week - but one of those weeks where you spend all your time either sat on your bottom in a meeting or sat on your bottom travelling to the next meeting. Late nights. Early mornings. Bright spots were surveys on the campus and the Thursday evening Bible Study at FAC. Dik called round with a letter for me yesterday evening and I think that meant that we'd seen each other every day. Still, today is quieter. Kind of. The school of music orchestra has a concert in Bordeaux at 5 that I have to play at. Apart from that all is about getting set for tomorrow evening's service.

Repetitive music

Catrin and Steve Reich

Catrin loves repetitive music. Her piano teacher (friend Jenna) has given her something to play that is very repetitive, and Catrin loves to play it over and over. This morning, suddenly, I thought "Hey ! I like repetitive music, too ! " and introduced her to Steve Reich : Vermont Counterpoint and Eight Lines. She likes it !

Jeudi ascension - on the quays


Phew - the week should be plain sailing from now on...

I got in after a meeting to discuss the future of the Christian Bookshop in Bordeaux and after my permanence at the collège and had a quick nap before re-tackling the article for Four Corners. Eventually got something finished. My words to the editor were "It's shoddy but it's the right length..." hmmm. Says it all. I guess that that book that is apparently inside me will just have to stay there ! From here in the week takes a more normal rhythm : surveys on campus this lunchtime, church council this afternoon, prayer meeting this evening. Meeting with one of the Bordeaux pastors, followed by more surveys tomorrow lunchtime, FAC permanance in the afternoon, then Bible study tomorrow evening. It's turning into a mad week...

"How can I compete with internet sermons ?" asks Prof. Dr. David Murray

He answers here . I always think that it's great to eat a wonderful vindaloo in a café, but momma cares about you and looks after your health and cooks her scrambled eggs on toast with love .

Life issues

After the funeral it was stark to be in a meeting this evening to discuss abortion, IVF and eugenics. I remembered the JW I talked to last week who tried to tell me that the world is overpopulated. Meanwhile in our Western European countries we are going to have trouble sustaining our pensioners because we didn't have enough childen to work in the future ! Crazy, this world !

A rather sad funeral

A while ago one of the ladies of our church up in Blaye lost her grandson in tragic circumstances - a house-fire. Her two twin grandsons were staying with their mother in her flat in a building undergoing renovation. As a result, it seems, of human error rather than technical problems, a fire broke out in the early hours and destroyed the building. She got one of her boys out, but the other was killed. So it was that today we were at a very calm, dignified but sad funeral at the Church of the Trinity in the Grand Parc area. The priest has just written a novel which takes a snipe at the traditionalists (Latin mass etc..) in the RC church. I was still surprised to see him conduct the funeral in his jumper and trousers. (It has to be said that the French are far less formal than the British, but even so.) Our Dik (in his suit) preached briefly from two passages, Matthew 19 and Isaiah 49 The Little Children and Jesus   13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place h

Preaching today at Cenon

in French am and in English pm on Psalm 24 - An Ascension Psalm. Tonight we're eating together and we say a fond farewell to some of our folks. At the same time, this being the best long weekend of the year, Le Pont d'Ascension, a good number of our folks are away - the youth on a camp, the students in Nantes, so we'll be few today I should think.

Health care

We are well-cared for in France. This means that every year after the age of 40, at the discretion of your doctor, you have a blood test to check for pretty well everything. So now the blood-letter at the local laboratory and I are firm friends. Though we don't see each other often I certainly enjoy our little conversations as he fills one vial after another. It also means that after the age of 50 we are screened for bowel cancer. This is less pleasant and certainly less social.

L'Abri Ideas Library

Thanks, Mostyn, for drawing our attention to these recordings, many for free downloaded. Mostyn's blog is to be found here .

Ascension Day witness

Today we're off to the quays with a gang of students, a bunch of tracts and so on and so forth. Being as it's a bank holiday we're hoping for nice weather and a nice crowd of people sauntering along. And the article ? I did my plan, then did some more research, then had to redo my plan, then some JWs came and we talked. Back to the article this morning... The esteemed editor of the august journal says "Don't worry about the article. Just write it."

Belle vidéo, non ?

Bordeaux fête le ciel !

No, it's true. From now till the end of May we are celebrating the sky. And why not, eh ? Without the sky we'd have nothing to look up to.

Now where's my pen...

I can't write for toffee. But I have to. On church-planting in France. For the mission magazine. That's why the blogue and Facebook are so quiet. Writer's block.

of course, the Greek word means...

Bill Mounce makes a good and valid point, here .

Today I saw my first

lizards and first stick insects of the year. Maybe this time summer's on its way.

A sunny day-off

It's sunny today and pleasant (18° indoors). I thought I'd give the garden a strim but the foreman says the grass is wet after overnight rain so instead we went for a long walk through the oak-woods of Parc Bourgailh just near our home. We talked about Pessac, and the English services, and the women's group, and the kids, and the student work, and Blaye, and everything. It was good to catch up on it all together.

One knows how to live, eh !

Deezer playing Keith Jarrett, sweet and sour duck drumsticks sizzling, PGtips in my cup. It runneth over, it really doth.

A full day ahead

Slept 9pm till 8am. Feel somewhat better. Why do I get these colds ? I eat loads more salad and stuff than I did in Britain, honest. Could I REALLY have caught it from the brother who I saw on Thursday who had a cold ? Are you REALLY saying that it's viruses and there's not a lot I can do about it ? Anyway. Today it's : 10:30 assembly at Town Hall ready for Victory in Europe commemoration. 11:00 Marseillaise 12:00 to music school for lunch (thanks for the pizza, Pat) followed by extraordinary practice 16:00 to Eglise Libre for meeting of Fédération Protestante, followed by supper (thanks for pizza, Pat) 21:00 home.

Anglicans are so much better at it

I know I am not an Anglican any more but I was when I was little, and it struck me today. RC robes always look like they were made out of grandma's old blankets. CofE robes look like they're made of the finest silk and lace. CofE processions look like they're modelled on the Ballet Russe. RC processions look like they're modelled on Anfield. Or maybe it's just the rosy lenses of memory...

It's so cold

Today I had on my black wooly jumper and my big thick winter coat. In Lyon they've put the heating back on in the schools. In MAY ! In the South of France !

Oh I am so ILL

Ok, I have a cold. Anyway in between preparation for Sunday (I gotta be ready because tomorrow there's lots of stuff going on) I hauled myself off to the collège this morning where there was a portes ouvertes. We couldn't care less about that, but Catrin was performing in a little pièce de théâtre. She was by far the best, with a curly lad in a white djellaba coming runner up. Once she'd done her thing we went home, then back to the collège this afternoon for the bénédiction de la chapelle and the inauguration du collège et du lycée, in presence of Monseigneur Ricard, M. Benoît (the mayor) and M. Rousset (Président de la CUB and ex-mayor of Pessac). Now I'm off to bed because I feel lousy and tomorrow we muster at 10:30 for the Marseillaise at Pessac Town Centre (Victory in Europe day here), then lunch at the music school and an extraordinary practice till 4, at which time I scuttle off to the Eglise Libre for the meetings of the Fédération Protestante with eating

Take this hot chocolate and


The inauguration of the new collège and lycée


Would you believe it ?

a "Welsh" panini from Auchan, Meriadeck. It's ham and cheese.

Today's Nightingale

Praying for a strong, stable government

It's difficult to see how a coalition government can do much good. You never know. Praying.

Changed from one degree of gobsmacked to another

I should have seen it coming. I've been in France now for nearly five years. I try to understand how things work all round. In the world, in the church, in the family. But still, and it's wonderful really, I get surprised speechless. Gobsmacked.

Election day

it's today. Pray.

Today's Nightingale

Continuing our Mark Nightingale series



And another way to say that you're annoyed...

J'en ai ras le bol...

It was interesting to read this in the Telegraph ex-pat email.

Read the article here.

A nice, happy, full day ahead

Morning plan and prayer with the Bordeaux UFM gang. Lunchtime chapel duty at the collège. Afternoon prepare the Great English Class. Evening the Great English Class. Now where did I put my skates...

It's almost like being in a studio

Beginning a Mark Nightingale season - Bone Supremacy and "The Pink Panther"

A big scandal unfolding in Bordeaux

The Second Vatican Council marked big changes in the life of Roman Catholics, amongst which was the introduction of the mass in the vernacular. Some people want to maintain the old Latin Tridentine Mass (established by the counter-Reformation council of Trent) and a group has long existed in Bordeaux. In 2002 a church was given by the Town Hall for these folk to establish their own parish. There's also a school funded entirely by parents and other donors. A right-wing group called somewhat charmingly Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) has since started meeting in a basement down the road from the church, and there's also a church bookshop. Anyway last week France 2 ran a documentary showing hidden camera films of kids and teachers at the school, allegedly chanting antisemitic slogans and expressing nazi views. A history teacher allegedly taught that deGaulle was a deserter, that Petain did wonderful things for France in collaborating with the Nazis and apparently omitted the holocaus

Man down ! Send a preacher

to Anglade.

Members' meeting

Started at 7pm with apéro on the lawn. Then into the house (it's a little chilly) for the entrées - quiche, pizzas, salads Then the plat - a barbecue of various meats - there was too much meat so our duck drumsticks are in the freezer. Then discussion and dessert - home made profiteroles. We left for home about midnight. (No cheese course - our hostess is not a cheese-lover.)