Showing posts from March, 2011

"I have confidence in me" !

That may have been OK for Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music but it's a disaster for pastors in churches or for Christians in real life. And it's a LONG WAY from what Paul said in 2 Corinthians : But he said to me,   “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.   That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. .

A God-sized vision - discussing revival

Wow ! It's not often that Wales leads the world, except in Penillion / Cerdd dant, where the world hasn't even got off the starter line of course... Anyway read a review of the book here .

The Saint Matthew Passion in Bordeaux

One of the disappointing things about Bordeaux is the whole concert-hall thing. There isn't one. The Opera House is OK. It has about the same capacity as the New Theatre in Cardiff. We've been there to see the répé générale for Jephtha and it was fine. But for orchestral concerts they use the Palais des Sports - it's a covered stadium. And this coming weekend they're putting on the Saint Matthew Passion. The problem is that sports stadia are massive buildings built to accommodate thousands of people but where the acoustic doesn't matter at all. And in that building you put on a long piece of music where some parts are so intimate that you have literally a cello, a harpsichord and a voice - sometimes with shimmering strings... Other parts have two choirs and a (small) orchestra pumping out as much as possible. Then you charge 30€ a ticket. Frankly it's not on. They'd be better off using the cathedral. Honestly. .

A techie morning

Our internet company, Free, recently brought out its latest modem and TV box combination - the Freebox Révolution . As we'd had our setup for five years and it was starting to creak I decided to sign up for it. In December. Along with lots of other people. Anyway it was delivered to our local newsagent last Friday and we were summoned to collect it. Our local newsagent is a super chap who loves to speak Engleash with us so we always like going in there. I collected it this morning and proceeded to plug it in, dreading the complicated setup procedure I'd have to follow to get everything linked up. OK. Plugged in the CPL adapters and got them linked. Squinted a bit to try and detect the change from orange to green but this was confirmed by Mrs Davey. Plugged in modem. It linked up. So far so good. Plugged in TV box. It linked up. OK ! Turned on PC. Hey ! It linked up first time after neither jiggery nor pokery ! .

On renting a house in France

An English friend is looking for a house to rent in the region. It is far from easy to find something for many and various reasons, the principal being that if you decide for some reason not to pay your rent you cannot have redress through the French courts because they have no power to sequester funds in British banks. This makes landlords reluctant to take on Brits. It's easier to buy a house in France than to rent. .

English service

The English service is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. There's a core of, perhaps 13 to 15 people, then others come and go.

PJB at Bellegrave

Here's some photos of the set-up and sound check for the PJB 20th anniversary concert at Bellegrave. Everyone was a bit jittery about it because it was the first time for the music school to put on a concert of this size - cabaret-style, admission of 8€ and food available on sale. How many people would come ? Would the event pay for itself ? What if we made a loss ? In the event there were over 300 people present and all the food was happily bought. It appears as if the event paid for itself with perhaps a little left over to help the music school along. The sound check took longer than anticipated in the afternoon because the mikes had not been wired up, so instead of 1/2 hour of messing about we had an hour of hanging about. I had to sneak off to the Chinese Christianity Explored group but only half the trombones were there anyway, so I don't think it made a lot of difference !

PJB at Bellegrave

Pbone, the plastic trombone came in handy. Renaud used it for the sound check and Matthias for the jam session. If I could get 200 of these I'd sell 'em in no time and make a packet, I can tell you ! We sustained ourselves with pizza which we consumed in one of the changing rooms, like piranhas in a goldfish bowl.

PJB at Bellegrave

The music school orchestra was involved and had been told to come dressed for cabaret, which for Thomas - 6' 2" lycéen and life-guard - meant an off-the-shoulder dress trimmed with red feathers and a red tinsel wig. OK.  The Brasseurs de Vent covered the times when we had to move chairs etc.. by parading round the cabaret room playing their special brand of street dance music.


Folk here instinctively know the difference between a bar, a café, a brasserie, a restaurant and a bistro .  I have to read the menu to try to work out what's going on. From my limited study and reflection I have put the establishments roughly in order of perceived price ! Last night talking to our neighbour I mentioned that this evening's concert was 8€ including une consommation - that it was a soirée cabaret avec cocktail dinatoire , and she understood it all. Not just the words, like me, but the intended meaning, which escapes me utterly. This could be one of those moments when we get it deeply culturally wrong as neither my family nor the folks we've invited to come are French and when I asked for explanations it was like trying to explain green to a blind man or trying to get your goldfish to appreciate the Saint Matthew Passion.  Oh well. Nobody will die anyway. .

Jerusalem bomb victim was British bible translator studying Hebrew

(Read about it in the Guardian here .

Going to the bank

We'd be sorry to move from here really. For one thing the tram arrives here in three years' time. It's been three years' time for almost five years now, mind, but this time they have started digging up the roads. For another thing to go to the bank or the post office you can go on foot through the park. You have to dodge drug dealers and dogs but this morning it was mostly senior citizens and most of them said bonjour nicely, which is good.

Onion festival et LeClerc


When the Gallois is speechless

"C'est un ami de l'église. Il est Gallois." "Gallois ? Eh, beh, F*** off !" I didn't think the guy deliberately intended to be as offensive as that. Sometimes people learn those words from American films and they don't realise how rude they are. A bit like me when I described a trombone player as "pas le petit Yamaha, le gros Conn" and made people erupt in fits of laughter. I thought "Do I reply in the style of Sarkozy - gives as good as you get ? Do I laugh ?" When you don't know what to do, there's always the option of doing nothing... So I ignored the remark and said hello. He repeated it. I ignored it again. A little later he said "Were you shocked when I said that ?" and I was able to explain that that's very very rude indeed and one certainly doesn't say things like that in polite company and certainly not on first greeting someone unless one is aiming to provoke a fight, and if he was I&#

Don Carson on preaching the whole counsel of God

quoted by Justin Taylor here . A réfléchir, as one says.

Today's plan

11:30 till about 14:00 student outreach 14:00 till about 16:30 JW visit - they come any time between 2 and 4 - last week three of them came. I wasn't well, I must state that in my defence. Anyway they appeared as I was in mid-sneeze. I said "Ah ! Vous êtes nombreux !" They said "et vous êtes malade... à la semaine prochaine peut-être ?" and I said (oops) "beh oui, et la prochaine fois amenez une équipe de rugby, pourquoi pas ?" They laughed, thankfully... 17:00 till 17:45 cours de trombone - this overlaps with 17:00 till 22:00 conseil presbytéral - this overlaps with 20:30 till 22:00 church prayer meeting Normally I'd cancel my cours de trombone when there's a conseil presbtyéral, but I am not actually a member of the conseil anyway and it only takes up a small proportion of the meeting so...

My love/hate relationship with Twitter

Twitter is ghastly. All these little updates every day - several times a day. Pithy aphorisms from people all over the world none of whom matter. Bof ! You could spend your LIFE staring blankly at the screenful of twitter updates. But it's also quite brilliant. One message and everyone who wants to has received the information. I just put tweetdeck on my phone after realising somewhat slow anbd dimly that twitter is a great tool for communicating information about events here to prospective participants.

Watch events unfold in the Arab world

on the Guardian's interactive timeline here .

The good news then the bad news then the good news then the ...

Well I started off by booking the children's flights for camp and the Aber Conference. All done - under 200 euros for the two of them Bordeaux to Gatwick. I thought "while I'm at it let's look at flying to Geneva for those preachers' workshops in Lausanne." Flying there was OK but coming back - far too expensive ! OK - what about that wedding in the summer ? OUCH ! Oh dear. So far so not very good. What about the Colloque in Lyon - that's the other thing I'm supposed to be going to. That was OK ! Good news. So kids set up for camp and me set up for the colloque. Then a phone call from Lausanne reminding me that there'd be a preaching fee involved which would cover at least part of my ticket. OK - I'm on my way !

The washing machine

My first job was in Hemel Hempstead and I rented a room. In my landlord's kitchen was a Hoover Keymatic washing machine, but he explained that everyone took their washing to the launderette up the road. So every Saturday morning I took my binbag of clothes and sat and read while it turned and spun. One day I said, "Have you noticed that big white thing in the corner of the kitchen ? Do you know if it works ?" He had, and he didn't. I moved to Cardiff and soon bought my own house. I thought, "I can do without most things. I can do without a fridge, even, as long as I have a washing machine." Since then I've never been without a washing machine. I'd happily get rid of the car, and often imagine doing so. But not the washing machine ! I'm on my third since 1982. They last well, don't they ! Hans Rosling thinks they're important, too :

That clinches it !

It's been a beautiful day today and I've been like a wet rag all day. So glad that the week builds up slowly to it's crazy weekend crescendo ! Anyway, some folks were talking about supermarkets at church recently and which is dearer and which is cheaper. Our Géant Casino came in for some criticism. We know that Auchan is supposed to be cheaper but there's no Auchan near us - we'd have to drive half-way round Bordeaux to get to one. Carrefour is more expensive. The other recommended one was Leclerc, and there's one of those in Pessac. So last week Patricia and I went to investigate. Well frankly, it was very disappointing. The fruit and veg were very expensive - or at least there was no cheapie option like we get in our usual supermarket. And Pat searched everywhere and found no pork chops. How is it possible not to have pork chops ? So this week back to Géant Casino. Oranges 2 Kilos for 3 €. Apples (Ariane) 1€ per kilo. But the clincher : Seriously Stron

for you to practice your French - a fire in a garage in Bordeaux


On the superiority of the trombone

Last night I had the opportunity to examine the baritone saxophone. It's a real gasworks ! Bars, rods, buttons, levers, it's amazing. Really the product of the machine age. The baritone sax belongs to the music school. To own your own you'd have to belong to the political elite of a third-world petroleum economy, they're so expensive. It plays nice deep notes, but so can I. Sometimes we're in unison. Except I don't have to suck wet wood to make the sound. Afterwards I looked at the music for 1st trumpet. It went up to C# above the stave, and they play transposed, so it's really a tone lower. That, apparently, is pretty high. OK. Looking at his lovely old trumpet I remembered the old days on tenor horn in the brass band -  "you pull the tuning slides out, and you push the tuning slides in, and the note is out of tune, just the same !" If I had fivepence for every time I heard "You'll have to lip it in, boys" I'd be awash wit

The weekend ahead

This afternoon - Christianity Explored Easy English Edition en français fondamental with the Chinese Group. Tomorrow morning preaching in French at Blaye. Tomorrow evening preaching in English at Cenon. Youpi, here we go !

Whether or not one is paedobaptist or credobaptist, I am sure that

it takes a church to raise a child... Read the article here .

This has fascinated certain pastors on the web

the fact that Brian Croft cleaned the toilets at his church. I declined to comment for a few days. I dream of merely cleaning the toilet. We have a chemical toilet in the church since January and only I know how to empty it ! Ah bon, il y a plus embêté que moi, quand même ! .

Thursday night - FAC Ceilidh - 1 Teaching a dance

It's systématique !

I get over-tired, I get a foul cold. I tell myself I should know by now and manage things better, but sometimes you just can't avoid it. Still, it could be a lot worse. And at least these foul colds don't last long.

Sen est de retour !


PJB : Programme éventuel, conditionnel, hypothétique 26 mars

Morceaux communs symphonique : - Feeling good - In the stone 1er set - Spain - Girl Talk (FM) - All of me (L) - El taco (avec percus ?) - Misty (L) - Watch what happens (FM) - Cute (avec percus) - Fly me (L) - Mister Zoot Suit (FM) 2eme set - Don't get (L) - Foggy day (FM) - Georgia (L) - On the street (FM) - Chega de saudade (L) - Angel eyes (FM) - Summertime (L) - Chewin the fat - Call me (FM) - It don't (L) - As long (FM) Comment dire "barnstorming !" en français ?



Trueman - is it just the show ?

Read here.

A happy full weekend

Saturday evening - Découverte du christianisme en français fondamental with the Chinese group Sunday morning - Galates 2:20 - il m'a aimé est s'est donné pour moi Sunday evening - Samson's great saving act in the temple of Dagon Someone tipped off Patrick that it was our 18th anniversary and so the church congratulated us very warmly. Harriette came back for lunch and it was a good time. Yesterday we hunted for somewhere for lunch that looked good value and eventually settled on Le Relais de Compostelle near junction 16 of the rocade. It was pretty good. Pat had salmon, I had the ubiquitous and obligatory duck. Yesterday evening a good chat with Gwilym. More on that later.

Shoes belonging to the Chinese group


Friday was Synod of Toulouse day

Dik was the only delegate - it was a Synode National, and not National et Général - but Harriette, Sam Gonin and I went along as observers. Harriette took the photos. It was good to see the folks from the far east again. Most of our folks are from the far east (Provence, Cévennes). They think we are from the wild west. Discussing the exact wording of texts in a room containing 50 people is always a little wearing for me, though, so I was glad to leave Dik and Sam there and hit the road for home. One thing that struck me was the attachment the synod has to our church plant in Bordeaux. Harriette was very kind and dropped me off for the PJB practice where Pbone attracted some attention and some mocking till people heard that, yes, it's a trombone and it does what a trombone does. After a long day I'm glad to have a normal weekend. Catch up on sleep, then prepare for preaching this morning. Chinese/French Christianity Explored this afternoon. Preaching in French tomorrow


Inundated by a request for a plastic trumpet I refer you to this marvel.


MPEF Skype Extraordinary Annual General Meeting this morning. (I think that's about increasing the subscription so the secretary has a little money to work with.) Pessac Guys at lunchtime. Preachers discussion afterwards. English Class this evening - swiftly followed (if it's OK with Phil) by Conseil at the Music School).

Not a bad Wednesday

I got tyres fitted by the chap who gave Gwilym a week's work experience the other year. The price was good and all's well there. Off to the campus. A good time neath the blue skies. Back home for lunch. Gwilym had had a ghastly day in school yesterday but today went better, so that was a huge relief. Went for a quick nappette (taking a leaf out of the violinists' book) but as I settled there was a knock at the door from my JW friends. Well we got nowhere. I said repeatedly "Well isn't it possible John says one lot are Jews and the others are from all the nations because one lot are Jews and the others are from all the nations ?" They said ,"Sorry, I don't quite understand - they're all from all the nations." In the end I said, "I don't think you'll ever get my point. Let's move on." They think (I hope you're sitting down) that some people get converted into angels in the end, approximately 144 000 more or les

An article from the Sud-Ouest about airbus A380 wings that arrive from Deeside

Read it in French or just look at the nice photos here

My birthday present came on Monday - a bit early - like six weeks !

It's a plastic trombone. Yeah, I know. But this firm in England has started producing plastic trombone which are playable and have certain advantages over the usual variety - they're very light, they're very robust and they cost £50. And they're selling like hot cakes. So I obtained authorisation to have one of these for my birthday and when some became available I ordered one, delivered to a friend in North Wales and sent on here. It's a marvel. Bright yellow plastic, but it's playable. It's sure playable. Renaud prof de trombone is all agog. He wonders whether it'd be a good idea for the tinies who are starting lessons. Maybe, but also I think they'd go down wonderfully well in street bands - if we could get 200 red ones we'd sell the lot in one weekend at the Feria de Dax or at Condom for the banda festival.


On the tram into town, plenty of time, envelope of printed-out stuff for café philo in my sticky little hand, pass Peixotto, turn the corner - SUDDEN EMERGENCY STOP. (This is quite dramatic in a tram) All the surrounding cars stopped - possibly just to look, who knows. The assumption was that we'd hit something. The driver leaves his seat and walks back and fore round the tram. I text Simon. "Tram accident. Print the stuff quick." A couple of minutes later and we're rolling again. I got there early - before almost anyone else. The café philo theme was "Love". As I waited a couple came in to the café for a quick cup of coffee and a slow snog. I hoped they'd leave before the café philo started, though I suppose they illustrated the theme in a way. M. Plazy says we need tyres now, brake discs and pads soon and a fuel filter some time. OK. So this morning I must shop around for tyres. It's a fag.

Mardi gras, pancake day

Today is Greasy Tuesday, or pancake day !

Corrections to the right, to the left

Today's tasks : 1) Car to M. Plazy for service. Surely this time we'll need to do the brakes. And front tyres. But for them I'll need to shop around. 2) Corrections and simplifications to Découverte du christianisme en français fondamental and print out booklets this time with the proper Canon ink cartridge. 3) Corrections to stuff for café philo this evening and print it out. 4) Café philo this evening.

Why we never seem to be in the quickest aisle at the supermarket...


Brief report on the weekend

The first session of Christianity explored in Simple English Français Fondamental seemed to go well. There were about 10 people and we got over the linguistic faultlines of Franglarin pretty well. We'll continue to meet at 16h partly because people are never on time and partly because it'll give us more time to rephrase things, say "What's he on about" in Mandarin, etc. Afterwards I popped into the main Chinese group to say hallo but thought it unwise to stay all evening as I was starting to feel a bit used up. So home for an early-ish night. Sunday morning I wasn't on duty as such, just present at church where Dik preached on Ruth 4 noting how Boaz observed God's law and how we should find God's law joyful. The service was followed by a fellowship barbecue at a family's home in Cadaujac. The sun blazed down and I was just too warm with my sweatshirt on but I would have been chilly without it I think. It was good to talk informally with folk

We saw our first squirrel of the year today

A nice red one with tufty ears and a lovely dark tail. He was very near us and for a while pretended we couldn't see him before shooting up the tree.

Soirée membres

We arrived just after 7:30. Once everyone was there we sat at the long tables and began with prayer. Then apéros, entrées and salad : After that we passed round the architect's design for the first phase of the new building and talked about that a little. Then the main course - lasagne. Then a discussion of use of the building and presence in the community. Then dessert of vienetta. Then open prayer. Then coffee or tea. Then home. We left at about 11:45.

Learning nothing from stupid violinists

Apparently all the best violinists in the world do something very important, or so esteemed and revered colleagues tell me. They all ensure they get a good deal of sleep. Like to bed at 9pm and up at 8am and things like that. I bet French ones don't. Life here is just displaced towards the end of the day. I don't get home from work before 10:30pm most days, let alone get to bed by 9pm. (I could on Mondays, Saturdays and perhaps Sundays but that's all.) As for geting up at 8am, I just think it's sad if Gwilym leaves the house before 7am and there's nobody to say goodbye. Still, I suppose I could start taking afternoon naps ! All this to introduce the fact that this morning instead of the lie-in I was exhorted to take I burst out of bed and breakfasted alone on home-made bread rolls because although the desire for sleep is strong, even stronger is the excitement of awaiting a package from Britain that will revolutionise for ever the life of countless French peopl

My Lady Bracknell moment

so there we were in the soirée membres, having had a regal repast, discussing the principles of use of the church premises - a. do we reserve the premises for the sacred, i.e. us and our church activities b. do we open it to the profane, i.e. any legally constituted tiddleywinks club or Audrey Tautou Workout group, with the associated pros and cons of openness and management c. do we attempt a kind of middle ground where we open it to those profane activities where we have a personal link... "Par example,  quoth one dear brother, si (here it comes) la fanfare d'Alan ..." UNE  FAN - FARE   ? .

Notre hamster crétin

I tell you, Simon is a useful type sometimes. I was talking with this student on campus : "Donc, quel est ton état d'esprit aujourd'hui ?" Blank incomprehension. "Tu te sens comment aujourd'hui ?" Reponse as above. "Ton humeur aujourd'hui, c'est comment ?" ... "Tu es de cette région ?" "Non, Pérou." "Hé, Simon, vien parler espagnol avec cette fille !" I said, "Hé, Simon, tu es notre arme secrète !" "Notre hamster ? " said our dear team member ... Bof.

Films and faith

There have been a couple of films lately that have given occasion to discuss faith with people. The first is called Des hommes et des dieux  and is based on the true story of the monks in a monastery in, I think, the Atlas Mountains who were abducted and assassinated by Islamic militiaman. It gave a good picture of commitment, courage and submission to God's plan. The other film has recently come out. Based on the book Catholique anonyme , it's a fictionalised true story of a man who, in his forties, decides to attend a catechisme class for adults and becomes converted to Christ. The film, Qui d'entre vous a envie d'être aimé ? , has been made by the author's wife who does not share his faith, though they are still together and she is not unsympathetic. It charts as much the reactons of his friends and family to what happened as his own personal journey. I saw the first film, but I haven't yet seen the second. It was only being shown in an expensive cinema i

Today is quite an important day

because it's all about being nice and ready for the weekend. I need to print out about 10 copies of Découverte du christianisme en français fondamental . The printer may run out of black ink. I hope it holds out because I've ordered a new cartridge from the UK where they're much cheaper. I gave the booklet to colleague Sam to look over but I may not be able to wait for his comments before printing them out. Never mind - any changes can get in the second run of printing. And since Sam is the man who suggested a meal of pattes à la carbonara (paws in pasta sauce) I may be backing the wrong horse anyway. I could do with photocopying the music for the small selection of sings we use on a Sunday evening - we have about 20 songs that we use - this with the aim that people get to know them. We'll add more as we go on. I need to make sure I'm good and ready for Sunday evening. Then this evening we have a church members' meeting. The nature of the meeting has be


Still too big. Who has pockets that big ? Still too expensive. Who has pockets that full ? Meanwhile French firm Archos has its 70 and 100 available now for half the price of the iPad, and the Arnova 7 & 10 coming soon at, as one says, very interesting prices. Vive la France !

Today's mission - and the weekend ahead

First off - Guys group at Pessac at lunchtime. Pizzas and "Servir à nos Français" avec les mecs. Second off - Prêcher comme Jésus - Preachers' discussion group. Don't know where this'll be yet, but there's only two of us to start with so we could go anywhere ! Third off - Print lots of Découverte du christianisme - français fondamental ready for Saturday. Fourth off - Cours d'anglais this evening.  May provoke a heated debate after our cinema evening watching The King's Speech. This weekend announces itself loaded - Members' evening on Friday, Groupe chinois Saturday, Culte en français Sunday am, Culte en anglais Sunday pm. Dik has in addition to that a funeral in Blaye and the young people's group. Now where did I park that tardis ! .

It's that time of the month again

and this month Christian Audio are offering R C Sproul's "The Holiness of God" as a free download. I really like Sproul's writing. He's very clear. He also has a somewhat offbeat sense of humour which I rather like. The book comes highly recommended.

All Welshmen have a story about their encounter with Lloyd-Jones

I have two. Firstly, rushing down the hill after a biochemistry practical to hear him preach at Baker Street chapel - it must have been in 1978. He preached on Psalm 2. The second is standing in the kitchen of the manse at Gadebridge in Hemel Hempstead and hearing that Lloyd-Jones had died. That was, of course, in March 1981. Here's a video interview.

Daffodils at Castell Penryn in North Wales


Back in the rhythm

We have the student Bible study tonight - 1 Peter 4.

I'm thinking again - this time it's about principles, practice and pragmatism

Principles. We need rock-solid principles. Perhaps the word convictions is better because it's stronger. They need to be thought out, discussed, worked through and held firmly. Practice. People say, "In principle ... and in practice..." OK. Then where does pragmatism come in ? Sometimes pragmatism is wrong, but always ? Is all pragmatism simply unfaithfulness to our principles ? This perhaps assumes that our principles are perfect, absolutely biblical and supremely authoritative ? That we have it absolutely right ? Is some pragmatism necessary as the adaptation of our principles to an uncooperative world ? Because our principles are firm and solid we can bend and move. Is a degree of pragmatism the recognition that our principles are good, but not perfect ? That our principles need more reflection and refinement ? What do you think, people ? I may tell you what sparked off this reflection later.