Showing posts from December, 2013

Reading and stuff

I used to read the Telegraph online. Used to. Well, I still do. Sort of. Well what happens is that every day the Telegraph sends me an email of its headlines - a little customized according to my interests - and then I can click on whatever story I'd like to read. It gives me about 8 to 10 headlines, I think, that could conceivably draw my attention, and I click on two or three. EXCEPT that the Telegraph only gives me a certain limited number of stories that I can read without taking out a subscription. After I pass this limit I kick and it says "Oh no, buster ! You want to mug up, first you cough up!" What this means is that : 1) I have to look on Flipboard to see if the Telegraph story will appear there, because Flipboard doesn't seem be limited in this way. 2) I read the story on my mobile phone, because that's not limited, either. 3) I have started getting the Guradian headlines sent me as well. Where I read this article about TED...  Now don&



Monday found Gwilym and I in a mobile phone repair place getting Gwilym's Christmas present fixed. Oh well. Then hurtling round the Simply market supermarket just next door for last minute supplies - the things we'd forgotten, such as extra chicken for Christmas Eve, meat for Christmas Day... Christmas Eve our meal with our ex-naighbour went very happily. Christmas Day the family was augmented by just one person, a couch-surfer who's borrowed a flat for the Christmas period. Gwilym found some pieces of beef that were reasonably priced, then reduced to half-price, so we got them, then started to worry about what to do with them. They looked like steak, but the label just said "viande bovine" (cow meat) in that especially appetizing way... I decided to throw caution to the wind and cook it briefly in a very hot frying pan after anointing with olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. We found the steak knives (!) and had the steak with chips. It was very good indee

The Wise Man, G K Chesterton

Step softly, under snow or rain,     To find the place where men can pray; The way is all so very plain     That we may lose the way. Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore     On tortured puzzles from our youth, We know all labyrinthine lore, We are the three wise men of yore,     And we know all things but the truth. We have gone round and round the hill     And lost the wood among the trees, And learnt long names for every ill, And served the mad gods, naming still     The furies the Eumenides. The gods of violence took the veil     Of vision and philosophy, The Serpent that brought all men bale, He bites his own accursed tail,     And calls himself Eternity. Go humbly…it has hailed and snowed…     With voices low and lanterns lit; So very simple is the road,     That we may stray from it. The world grows terrible and white,     And blinding white the breaking day; We walk bewildered in the light, For something is too large for sight,     And something much too pla

Christmas meals

What with us being in France and stuff it means we have two Christmas dinners, but neither is very traditional. This evening we have our French Christmas meal with our old neighbor, Joëlle and her family. On the menu: Apéro, entrée : we don't know yet, it'll be brought by our neighbour, but it will probably be fishy and gloopy, like oysters or something. It was foie gras with pain d'épices and a nice sweet Cadillac white. Plat : Escalope de poulet avec sa sauce aux champignons (i.e. the brilliant Campbell's soup recipe) et ses legumes. This worked wonderfully well, as always. Fromages : Assiette de fromages affinés. You have to have them, but hardly anyone ate any. Dessert : Farandole de fantaisies festives (Mince pies and an ice-cream log) Our neighbour brought a delicious mega-chocolate log from a patisserie, so our ice-cream log stayed in the freezer. We've been given some really nice wines this year, but we could do with something fizzy. I'll

Christmas Sunday

I scuttled off to catch the no 4 bus (what would we do without the no 4 bus!) and pick up the auto cool car to go off to Anglade for the service. Gwilym was duty musician at Cenon - all the other musical types have left for cooler climes - so we dropped him off on the way. We wondered what to do about the songs, etc. Anglade has a fine electric piano and Catrin could have played, but we decided to take the magic music machine - the Christian Hymns II mp3 files, my computer and our bluetooth speaker.  O come all ye faithful = O peuple fidèle Angels from the realms of glory = Des anges dans nos campagnes Hark the Herald = Ecoutez le chant des anges Silent night = Voici Noël. It worked very well, though we had a false start because people started singing lustily and with a good courage in the introduction for O Peuple Fidèle. Once they get going there's no stopping them, so I had to let the intro finish, the folk stop, then say "That was the intro, now we start&q

Things that are good, and Things that are essential

This is just something that's stewing away, but I think we have a tendency to confuse things that are good for Christians to do, and things that are essential for Christians to do, that is, that are of the essence of being a Christian. This little ponder, muse, reflection was provoked by something what I read in an article by a person who had, for some reason, been prevented from attending church for some time. When they resumed attendance they wrote something that I thought was a prime example of cart / horse spatial confusion. They said : Sermons are complementary to your daily Bible reading. If you want you can pick this up and run with it. I don't have time to write about this till early next week, but for me it provokes LOTS of reflection, biblical, historical, geographical, personal, ministerial...

When extreme positions seem eminently sensible

I once witnessed a conversation that went like this : A. There are so many true stories in the world we decided not to expose our children to anything fictional or made-up. B. So do you think that Jesus knew the sower who went out to sow, and the name of the prodigal son? Jesus made up stories. The Bible has lots of made-up stories. We can usually tell fact from fiction, though sometimes one does need to ask, "Is this a true story?" I mention this in connection with two things : Firstly, the whole discussion of Santa Claus, Narnia, trees, etc... Secondly, to point out that nobody who belongs to a crazy extreme sect says to themselves "Here I am in this crazy extreme sect." From the inside the sect seems logical and the rest of the world seems crazy. And here's the scary thing. There's a spectrum. Sometimes groups of people go nuts to a greater or lesser degree, but the people inside the group can't tell...

Sunday arrived bright and sunny

we went on a visit to Pessac Baptist Church, the nearest church to us and the easiest to get to - just no 44 bus to Unitec, then walk to the church. I introduced Pat and Catrin to the bus driver, who I had seen three times this week, the first time in the company of a lady who he assumed was my wife but in reality I had just met her for the first time. Funny the impressions people get... Anyway after the service, where we sang Christmas Carols with great gusto,, we hustled back home ready for Gwilym, Sally and Harriette to arrive for lunch of quiche, salad etc... Quiches out, turkey in. We'd hunted in the the carcass for the giblets and found only the neck, so we replaced it with halved clementines, enclosed it in foil then popped it in the oven for an improbably short 3 hours, which on our oven means pressing the button three times... Three LONG hours later out came the turkey, impeccably cooked. As I carved it I found the giblets, tucked under the skin at the neck end... Oh

Saturday frolics

began with printing out leaflets for the Carolsfest. One of the BIG drawbacks of the Mac - I think the only drawback, really, is that the Windows printer driver for my printer allows automatic printing of booklets from an A4 document. It's GREAT and as easy as pie. But the mac driver doesn't have the same options. However in OpenOffice there was the option - print as a brochure ! The interaction with the driver options was a bit complicated ) I got one good copy off so I used that to copy the rest. Did 30 copies. Thought we'd need 25. Then three wise men arrived from the east bearing gifts of Turkey, Bandol and tinned Pumpkin pie, the east in this case being Marseille. Lunch, talk, then off they went to central Bordeaux. I washed up and tidied everything away then scurried off to the second half of Trombone Christmasfest at Gambetta.  I was greeted like a returning war-hero, played like a short-sighted idiot and then chatted with Big Band members about why I am not ther

Book Review - The NEW CALVINISM Considered - A personal and pastoral assessment

First some necessary statements : 1) I received the book free in electronic format in return for producing a review. I am not required to write a positive review. 2) I know Jeremy personally : we spring from the same theological stock, I married his baby-sitter. I wanted to say that my wife used to dandle him on her knees, but she tells me this isn't strictly true. But Jeremy did buy a flat from us. You can hear Jeremy in an Interview with the inimitable Shaun Tabatt here . So this is a friendly review. However, sometimes they're the worst. OK. Here we go. I do welcome this book. It addresses some issues that have been troubling me for some time. Issues like : Tribalism . How do we understand and relate to all the various tribes that now exist? Jeremy names but some. T4G, TGC, ACE, 9Marks, R21, SGM, A29, Resolve, City to City, Porterbrook, etc. etc. I was thinking just a few days before starting this book that it would be good to have an infographic relating these d

Soutenance de thèse

Annie was defending her PhD thesis today. It's a public defense, so I went along and sat with the Chinese at the back of the room, just in front of the other PhD students, Annie's colleagues. I was very happy to understand basically what she was talking about - essentially about creating different substrates for stem-cells to bind to and to begin differentiating into bone cells. The techniques for detecting the results were largely greek to me - like confocal doodahs and stuff. But essentially what she was working on was not hard to grasp if you had at least a very basic knowledge of cell biology. Then we all had to leave the room while the jury deliberated. I am sure they played a round of cards, because in a neighboring building a buffet was already prepared to celebrate and the doctorate certificates were printed ready for signing, but anyway after some 10 to 15 minutes were all called in and, all standing, the president read out the procès verbal of the jury, conferring

Wow ! Providence again !

So this morning we dispersed, we Daveys... Pat and Catrin hied them to the Eglise Libre de Pessac, taking the No. 44 all the way. Gwilym was off to Lormont, while I directed my steps to the centre of town and the Temple du Hâ. The Temple du Hâ is right in the middle of Bordeaux near the cathedral and is part of the United Protestant Church of France, recently formed from the merger of the Reformed Church and the Lutherans. I was surprised to be greeted by my music friend, Seb, who I didn't recognize in different surroundings and clothed in a natty suit. "You're protestant ?" He explained that his better half is protestant and that they were there to get their daughter baptized. I haven't seen Seb for a couple of months at least, so it was great to catch up with him. The service was interesting - conducted quite quickly with usually no announcement of hymns and canticles - the organ would launch off and you jolly well kept up. Or not, as the case ma

Parsifal at the cinema

They're doing Parsifal from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in one of the Bordeaux cinemas this Wednesday. The thing is, it lasts for five and a quarter hours. It starts at 5:45 and is due to finish at 11. I don't know.... Perhaps one day.... But five and a quarter hours.

A musical day

This morning saw Catrin's first concert at the Espace Musical de Pessac. She was due to be singing "Le Mariage des Roses", a sing by César Franck. So we scuttled along at 11am, hampered by the locked gates of the park, arriving late, but well in time to hear our girl sing. Hurrah ! Bravo ! Over lunch Pat said, "so what time are you out this afternoon ?" Oh no ! The Christmas Trombones rehearsal ! So I grabbed my red plastic trombone and my music and hurtled out to catch the bus and tram to Forum and to find the rehearsal room at the Ecole Joliot-Curie in Talence. We've rehearsed there before. It took me a while to find them then, but now I know where the room is - and I found a choir ! Then locked gates, empty rooms and no sound of trombones anywhere. After about 15 - 20 minutes of hunting I turned round and went home ! Meanwhile Catrin and Pat had a more fruitful time selling cakes and tea at the Anglican Christmas Fayre and Bazaare

Châteaux Haut-Brion et La Mission Haut-Brion

Yesterday we went with the ex-pat club to visit two of Bordeaux' most prestigious châteaux, and it so happens that they are in Pessac and that we pass them every day on the number 4 bus ! Château Haut-Brion dates from the 1500s and the main house was built then. In the 1800s the château was classed among the premiers crus de Bordeaux, which means it's a very classy and expensive wine. After exchanging hands between various families (notably the de Pontac) the château was bought by an American family, the Dillons, then passed by marriage into the ownership of the Prince of Luxembourg. La Mission Haut-Brion was started by an order of missionary priests founded by Saint Vincent de Paul, who produced fine wine but also lived out their monastic discipline just a few hundred yards from their secular neighbors. In the 1930s the Dillons bought the Mission Haut-Brion, but their improvements and renovations have tried to keep the origin of the château in mind. Here&#

How does she do it ? How ?

Yesterday I made my third visit to the Irish Shop. Not bad after 8 years. Afterwards I excitedly jabbered to Mrs Davey : They've got everything. Everything ! They've got mincemeat, they've got crackers, they've got Christmas Cake, they've got gravy granules, they've got pickles, they've got this Christmas spiced tea that smells like Christmas... Have they got mince pies ? No, they haven't got mince pies.

Huzzah for the Insurance company

I had a rendez-vous at 9h30 in our insurance office at Pessac to talk about various policies, insurances etc... A nice young lady had suggested back in August that I make an appointment towards the end of the year as various new contracts were going to become available that might suits us very well. So in I went, talked with a lady who at first I dreaded a little - you know the type, the lady of a certain age who gives every appearance of having achieved unmatched excellence in dragon-taming... Anyway, she was the one who said "Monsieur" so up I went. And she proceeded to refund us 100€ at a stroke, reduce our monthly payments quite dramatically, AND we won't pay anything till March. Bravo, Madame, and "huzzah!" for the insurance company.

Last but one visit to the hospital

Yesterday morning we met up with an American missionary couple who are coming to serve, either in Toulouse or in Bordeaux, to start with alongside the existing church, then to bring a church-planting team in three years time. It was good to talk with them in Pain and Compagnie (other cafés were closed). Then to the hospital. The doctor was very pleased with the progress of Pat's thumb. Essentially, the part that she sliced off has regrown in the moisture of the plastic dressing. The smell was impressive, but so was the lovely pink healing. Now we switch to a pansement gras , that is, a dressing with vaseline, to encourage the skin to form nicely. Two weeks of that, which Pat can do herself every other day at home, then a last visit in two weeks time to ensure all is well. Pat came away with enough gauze, tubigrip, etc, to dress a small defeated army !

Hhhhmmmmm - providence

We hummed and we hahed. Which church to visit on Sunday morning ? Catrin would be with us. What to do ? Gwilym would be at our church in Cenon. Maybe we'd return to Lormont. Or maybe to the Eglise Libre. Or Lormont. Or the Eglise Libre... In the end we decided on the Eglise Libre and took the 44 from just round the corner. We got to the church and went in, found a place roughly in the middle. Then a woman came forward from the back of the church - Patricia ! Alan ! Our friend from language school, that is 8 years ago in my case and from Marie-Anne's class in Pat's case had spotted us and came up to say hello. "It is my first time in a protestant church in France. Yes, at home we are protestant, but I didn't go very often, but this weekend I just felt I wanted to go to church and this one is near." She sat in the row behind us and after the service I introduced her to the young pasteur stagiaire. I also mentioned her to some other folk who w

‘Calvinism’ – Latte? Cappucino? Americano?

So which is yours to be, the ‘Calvinism’ of the 5 points, a ‘doctrinal Calvinism’, a ‘Calvinism’ which identifies it with Calvin’s children, who went their own way when the discussion went beyond Calvin himself, or the ‘full package Calvinism’, which is not a full package at all, since Calvin’s view of the magistrate’s role in upholding the Reformed faith has been excised from it? (And in this roll-call \’Neo-calvinism in its various guises has not even been mentioned. ) Whichever it is, no-one can stop you calling your choice ‘Calvinism’. You see, unlike ‘Cadbury’s’ or ‘Chevrolet’ or ‘Calvin Klein’ ’ there is no copyright or trademark that covers the use of the word ‘Calvinism’. Any more than with \’inerrancy\’ or \’justification\’ or any other central theological term. Irritating, isn’t it? Via The Wanderer Via Helm's deep See also me  ! (I'm especially pleased that the great Professor Helm and I both independently ended up with Humpty, though he relates it to a