Showing posts from October, 2013

In praise of BEETLES !

Annual pastors' conference

I am off tomorrow to the Annual Pastors' Conference of the Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Réformées Evangéliques de France, which will be held at a camps and conference centre shown on the map. You'll see that it is somewhat ... remote. Makes Bala look like Las Vegas.

Zombies on the Number 4 Bus

Well the first thing I noticed was the unusual pallor on the two children. Then a young man further back on the bus seemed to have an oddly shaped mouth that extended on the left side almost to his ear in a somewhat grotesque manner. I tried to get a good look sideways without staring and slowly realized that at least three people on the bus were made up as for an amateur dramatics horror show. Nobody paid any attention, of course. They got off at the same stop as me, and I was careful to to brush against their arms - I didn't want grease-paint on my jacket. They got the tram, I got the Autocool car to take Catrin to the airport. Then later I read this .

Catrin part en Angleterre

Catrin's off to visit friends in Cardiff and Swansea and all points South Welsh this week, courtesy of our friends, the Woolleys. MUST NOT BE LATE AT THE AIRPORT !!!

Student Services

One of our student friends is not European and needs a titre de séjour (permit) to stay in France and study. This has to be renewed every year and the student has to be quick in filling out the forms, then his university department has to be quick in counter-signing them, then the university has to be quick sending it off to the préfecture, then the préfecture has to be quick in issuing the titre de séjour. Because all these people are seldom all quick, when your request for a titre de séjour is received they give you an official receipt which works just like a titre de séjour, but which expires after a few months. As does that of our friend. Newt Thursday. And he wants to visit the UK. So he needed to chase up his application for a titre de séjour, but he's on work experience away from Bordeaux. I went to the office. We can't do anything just with his name. We need photocopies of his receipt. I went back the next day. We'll email the préfecture and phone the stud

Not much to see here, but a lovely bit of Schubert to listen to - Dichterliebe

CNEF Pastorale was great

I was sat next to a friend who's a pastor in Bordeaux and is currently on medication for burn-out. He's gone back to work part-time but we shared notes and it's the same animal. He has a mild anti-depressant and a mild anti-anxiety pill. It was good to pray with him. We're trying to plan an Easter Monday united service under the auspices of the CNEF in Bordeaux, but the town hall doesn't have any meeting place big enough for us to use. All the biggest halls are privately run and cost thousands to hire per day. (That explains why concerts are so unreasonably expensive here) There is a hall in Pessac that would do. People are looking into it. Here's the passage that was shared for reflection : Isaiah 61:1-3 The year of the  Lord ’s favour 61  The Spirit of the Sovereign  Lord  is on me,      because the  Lord  has anointed me      to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,      to proclaim freedom for

My son speaks fluent Franglais

"There's a terrific current of air in here !" "In English we say a draught", quoth I, sniffily...

Brief thoughts on Strange Fire

First the name. It's not the first time the name "Strange Fire" has been used for a critique of charismatic tendencies. It's a fairly obvious choice of name. Let's get over the name, folks. Second, the need for discussion. For some years I have been more and more concerned that there was a huge elephant in the room of "reformed evangelicalism", namely the question of cessationism vs. continuationism. We've been ignoring a big issue. When you ignore big issues eventually they make a big mess. Third, the tone of John Macarthur's conference. John Macarthur has a strong tone. He always has. Some years ago my wife and I tried a book of devotionals by John Macarthur called, I think, "Drawing Near". We did a few then stopped because we didn't like the tone. Let's get over the tone, folks. It's John Macarthur. What did you expect ? Fourth, the conference. Well, yes, it made a big mess. I think in many ways it was bound to. Whe

CNEF Pastorale

This morning is the CNEF Pastorale (Ministers' Fellowship) at Eysines. And I slept almost 9 hours solid ! Someone prayed, and also the anti-histamines worked. So a gentle breakfast, then off to get the 206 and away to Eysines !

Some more serious blog posts brewing

but they'll have to wait till after the school holidays, I think... 1) My biggest hesitation about infant baptism... I read something today that reminded me about my BIGGEST hesitation about infant baptism. A Scottish worthy compared baptism to God's engagement ring, and remarked on how often a girl looks at her ring. That's my BIGGEST hesitation. You can't see an infant baptism. It leaves no mark. A child can't look at it. Jewish boys could see that they had been circumcised, but you can't exhort anyone to remember their baptism if it was done when they were George's age. God's engagement ring it ain't. Or at least I can"t see it. Nobody can... 2) Is there such a thing as evangelical, is there such a thing as reformed ? We live in stormy times. On the one hand serious folk in France try to avoid the word evangelical because of the connotations of extreme charismatic frenzies on the one hand and the perception of it being an america

Anaesthesia sleep-over

On Monday night the girls did a kind of Disney sleepover - not exclusively Disney - they watched Anastasia and Peter Pan, I think. Meanwhile the lads upstairs watched Indiana Jones and I watched old episodes of Moonlighting ! They ate sleepover food, which seems to be Doritos, M&Ms and Haribo. In the morning I made everyone American Pancakes, which we have just discovered as a quick and easy festive holiday breakfast, and we talked about life, The USA, Singapore and stuff. Afterwards I had to pop into town on an errand for a student relating to their titre de séjour - fruitless I fear, because they didn't give me all the numbers off their dossier.

Stott, Scripture, Sceptre


Cory Band - Turris Fortissima

By Salvation Army composer, Steven Ponsford

Cours de le Marne

So Sunday morning found Catrin at Cenon, Gwilym at Lormont and us at Cours de la Marne. "The family that prays together...." Anyway, the church at Cours de la Marne is a sister-church of the Pessac Baptist church and also the church in Floirac. They have a Bible class at 9:45 and the main service at 10:30. We sang some good songs and the service was led by a friend I haven't seen for a while. It was a good time, the pastor preaching from 2 Thessalonians 2. On the tram back home we chatted with three ladies who had done a sponsored walk in aid of research on breast cancer , together with several thousands of others. The children were invited out for lunch so we decided to try a recipe for american pancakes. Very nice ! We'll do them again this week with the kids. In the evening we were missing lots of our regulars at the English Service, but we had other visitors to compensate, so we ended up being 3/4 American, eating chili and corn bread and cou

Oh dear.

On Friday night four motorcyclists were racing each other round the rocade - the Bordeaux motorway ring road. One lost control of his bike and slid and all four crashed. One has died, the other three have been pout in induced comas. Meanwhile on that part of the rocade, as an energy-saving measure, the lighting is turned off at night. Coincidence ?

On the importance of line

I was going to put a YouTube recording of a Dowland song on the blog, and I found one with a countertenor that I liked. Except. What he did was something that, I think, singers are warned about. Basically with a melody composed of long and short notes, you concentrate on your sound in the long notes, sometimes taking a little while  on each long note for the sound to arrive, to resonate, to warm up... The effect goes : nice, ok ok nice, nice, nice ok ok nice nice... (I hope I am making myself clear) It's certainly something wind players are aware of.  Essentially before you start a melody you have to establish your sound - from the first note - and keep that sound. You sing fast, you sing slow, you sing long, you sing short, but all with that sound. Of course you can vary your intensity, volume, tone, etc... but you gotta make and keep the LINE. It's the weekend. The week is busy, sometimes frantic. The weekend is sometimes slower. But you gotta keep the LINE. The

Home by Toni Morrison, two

I didn't say much about the book ! Well it's the story of a man who returns from the Korean war and travels across America to find his sister and take her home. Meanwhile you see glimpses of race conflict, poverty, compassion, insanity, evil, abuse, kindness and a deep homecoming. The book is set in the mid to late 50s. I said, "but this is a snapshot of then. These things couldn't happen now." "Oh yes they could, it's just the same," assured one of our number, an American, supporting their assertion with horrifying contemporary statistics. It left me marvelling again about the glory and the agony, the wonder and the horror that is humankind.

Home, by Toni Morrison

Oh boy, did we mess up good ! Today was the second meeting of the café reading group of the ex-pat association, so Patricia and I read the book and turned up. Uh-oh. That was against the rules. To go to our second book group meeting we have to be members, and to be members we need to have attended two DIFFERENT events and be sponsored by two members of the club, one of them a founder member. OK. So We got ready to leave, but they let us stay and graciously involved us in the discussion of the book of the month, Home, by Toni Morrison. I have since looked at the association's website to find some other events to attend, and maybe we can get the sponsors before the next meeting. If not, tant pis. I'd wondered what it would be like to be in a book group and I've done it twice !

Training day at the Maison de la Bible - tough day for Catrin

Yesterday was a training day at the Maison de la Bible to show the intricacies of the till system, which was modelled on the complications of the decorations found in the palaces of the byzantine emperors. We were safely guided through the maze by a charming colleague from Paris and the day started with lunch at the Cheverus - Poulet basquaise and gratin dauphinois with a crepe for pudding. Meanwhile Catrin was having her first day back at school after a nasty cold / cough. She started with sport - badminton - then lunchtime then hard classes for the afternoon. On the way from sport to school she checked the time on her mobile phone. I say her mobile phone, but she had borrowed my lovely old Galaxy Note, which was running fine and giving her great joy, despite its somewhat disappointing battery life. Anyway, when she got to her classes the phone was not in her pocket. Lost ? Stolen ? Who can say. I went into the Free offices to report the loss of her phone. They have this system

With Pete Mitchell in Bordeaux

Synagogue Temple du Hâ Bordeaux doorway with Mitchell hands On Sunday evening Pete Mitchell preached for us at the English Service. He's a PCA missionary who's looking at the possibly of starting a new team or teams in Toulouse and/or Bordeaux. So yesterday we met up to visit Talence, the centre of Bordeaux and the Chartrons district.

With Pete Mitchell in Bordeaux 2

Grand Théâtre Dogue de Bordeaux, I think I REALLY like this building in Chartrons Temple des Chartrons, closed and disused

TGC Announces a New Site en Français

TGC Announces a New Site en Français

We are laid low with a terrible sickness

Catrin got it first, then me. We have head colds. Bunged-up, cloggy head-colds. The type that give you a muzzy-head and make it hard to breathe. Still, Catrin is keeping her spirits up by playing Christmas Carols very persistently.

Gandhi and Parsifal

I once videoed Gandhi off the TV. I kept that VHS tape for years, till I realised that the film would NEVER seem important enough for me to consecrate THREE HOURS to watching it. A couple of years ago we had the joy of the presence of Katherine Whyte in the English Service. She was singing Jepthah's daughter at the opera house. We looked for recordings of her on Youtube and found an entire Parsifal where she's a flower-maiden. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS it lasts. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.

Another win !

This time I won a copy of the novel that won last year's Mauriac prize. You had to correctly name the monkey in the novel.

Cathy Berberian sings the Beatles - 5 I want to hold your hand.

How could anyone resist the charm of this interpretation?

Yesterday afternoon in Bordeaux

Pat has had her X-ray. She has a heel spur - a small bony spur that is growing forward from her heel bone in the middle of the tendon that forms the sole of her foot. Uncomfortable. While she awaited the results of her thyroid blood test she was confined to barracks. Meanwhile I was getting itchy to get out of that house, and I had a list of things to do that was not getting done, so I made my way into Bordeaux to do them! First off I wanted to check out VerdeNero - the café where the student outreach had the café philo last Wednesday. It is just round the corner from Decathlon, and a fine place, too. Just down the road from VerdeNero is a small music shop where I accomplished another of my errands - to get a set of guitar strings for Gwilym. He's been waiting a couple of weeks for them. Then I noticed that the Dominican church was open and popped in for a quick inspection. They have Paul Agnew, singing there this Saturday. Just 30€ a ticket. So thankful for YouTu

Well that was unplanned !

I saw a competition to win two places for Tosca in the UGC Cinema. Where is Tosca set ? So I answered the question. Then this afternoon, while discovering a super little place in the Chartrons called Paul's Place I got an email. "Bravo, you have won two places for Tosca this evening !" I met Catrin from school but the poor thing was feeling unwell, so we abandoned the idea of going together and I went alone. Called in at Flunch on the way for some chicken, beans and fruit salad. Then to the cinema. Well it was splendid. I mean, if you know the story, you'll know there's not that many laughs. And most of the characters had a pretty bad evening. Few were left standing at the end, frankly. But the music was enchanting. Tosca herself was perhaps just a tad old for her leading man - Cassassassadori (or something like that) but he didn't seem to be bothered. The cinema was mostly occupied by oldies having a wonderful time eating "Petit Ecol

Behind the Shades - by Sheila Raye Charles - A Book Review

I thought that after "Apostate", this book would make a nice, encouraging, light read. Boy, was I ever wrong ! The book is about Sheila Raye Charles' relationship with her parents - she's a daughter born to one of Ray Charles' mistresses - and it tells the story via her experiences of prison, of reading her mother's memoirs and her childhood memories. I quite liked the structure, though I skipped some parts of the long letter from her mother to Ray Charles. It's a very honest book . She talks about her estrangement from her father, about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, about racial abuse, about her drug abuse and about her own varied sexual relationships, as well as her love of music and the christianized culture she grew up in. I was hugely disappointed in this book. The author appears only to believe in unconditional love, which she interprets as being nice to people and not taking any notice of what they're mixed up in. Drugtaking an

Pat's foot

So Pat went to see the quack. She went on her bike, though it's only about 4 minutes' walk, because walking hurts and biking doesn't. He's sending her for an x-ray to see what's going on, and also she has to have a blood test to check her thyroxin levels. And I got a letter telling me to get a 'flu jab !

Today's Cathy Berberian - 4 Yesterday

My "lucky escape" (let the reader understand)

Walking to the bus-stop with Lynton, Barbara and Chris, I suddenly feel there's no pavement under my heel. It's one of those white-dust pavements that we have here. I look back - and where my heel was there's a heel-shaped hole. I look down the hole, and it opens into a BIG hole underneath. Wow, that was some rain, that undermined the pavement...! Later, on the way back from the bus-stop, we see a traffic cone over where the hole was. I moved it a little to look down the now ENORMOUS hole ! Wow ! If it had been the ball of my foot rather than my heel that could have been a broken ankle pretty easily ! That's why you'll often see me walking down the middle of the road or in the cycle-path. It's safer !

Um, someone's just driven up... Is it the plumber ? Oh no - hey, it's

Desmond with a chocolate cake ! He said, "All day I have just had this urge to call by with a chocolate cake. Get a chocolate cake, take it to Alan's..." You have to laugh ! (Nice cake, too !)

Ye which wear glasses, choose your frames wisely !

Yesterday this chap passed me in the street. The first thing that caught my attention was his ENORMOUS round glasses frames. The next thing was that there really didn't seem to be any lenses in them ! He stood fairly near and spoke on his phone, so I could try and look through the frames, and I am pretty sure there were no lenses. What's that all about ? It MUST have been for a dare !

Facebook messages

You will probably have gathered that this last weekend has been difficult for the church at Cenon and for the Davey family in its relationship to the church, this time specifically the children. The church council have been very supportive, someone called to see us, another person phoned and I wrote a very straightforward, gentle email to explain our position to all concerned. But still Monday morning found me pacing round the table and snapping at Pat. Thankfully we recognised what was going on, she's very patient and it ended in laughter. And broken sleep. I never really got that incident in the life of Elijah before. You know, in 1 Kings 19 when having triumphed in the conflict with the prophets of Baal he cracks completely when Jezebel threatens his life. Now I think I get it. It isn't a thought-through response, a considered opinion, it isn't even fear, it isn't worry as such. You just crack. It could be a small thing on top of other big things, or sm

Cathy Berberian - 3 Here, there and everywhere

Since Saturday

Well yesterday was somewhat stressful. I started pacing round and round the table again, but once we'd written an email or two things calmed down. Meanwhile our kids went off to school and things settled down for them. I chatted online with the lad who'd been abducted and he planned to go to his work placement at his dad's offices. Then today Pat had some trouble with her foot. She's due to see the doctor tomorrow morning.

Cathy Berberian sings the Beatles - 2 Michelle

Cather Berberian sings the Beatles - 1 Ticket to Ride

An unusual Sunday

The kids were somewhat laid low after the events of Saturday and Pat has a problem with her foot, so we spent a quiet morning at home and listened to Arturo Azurdia 3rd on Revelation 5. In the evening we were fewer in number than usual - generally when there's a service at Blaye we would cancel the English Service altogether ! - but it was a good and happy time with a new guy there for the first time and a veteran of two years ago returned to Bordeaux. In talking about the Passover and about the plagues on Egypt I was struck by God's restraint. Nowadays to liberate a nation from slavery we'd launch a six-week campaign of smart bombs, of shock and awe, to effect regime change, perhaps sending in ground troops once the dust had settled. Instead God escalated to the Passover judgement against a nation and regime that had a policy of genocide by infanticide. Anyway. Today I was due to meet someone to be a witness at the Town Hall in Bordeaux, but I have been pacing, fretf

From the Building-site to the Battle-field

So part of last week was spent with Chris at the church, painting, washing down, lugging things from one place to another, hunting down bits and bobs and generally acting as his gopher. Some of the time was spent with a plumber, who has fixed two taps and a nasty little drip which MAY be the source of a damp spot in Catrin's room. He'll come back to sort out other things for us, too. I missed all my meetings. One I decided not to attend. Two of them clashed with each other anyway. The last one I missed the bus ! However I did attend an art exhibition of a friend's paintings. Wow, he's talented ! And it was held in the most beautiful flat I have ever seen. Wednesday afternoon there was a kids' club at the church so we gathered Chris, Lynton and Barbara together with Patricia and myself and travelled by tram to the Lormont hotel de ville, then walked down to the river to take the Batcub boat back to the quays. It was a super trip to do and showed off the town

The interblog period

Hi chaps ! This week Chris from Mold has been here to do DIY stuff on the Cenon church, and Lynton and Barbara have been here to give us the once-over. So I have been somewhat absent from the blogosphere. Bizzy baxoon.