les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Disposing of the old sofa

Our old big sofa was given to us in 1994, shortly after we moved into The Meadows, Shotton Lane. It's a big American three-seater sofa and came with its sister, a two-seater. Together they dominated our living room along with a swivelling, rocking armchair, which in the end went to live in my study and now is back in the living room.

Anyway, now we have bought our first new sofa! It unfolds to make a really big bed. And the old sofa has gone to live temporarily on the patio.

The smaller sister found a home about six months ago in a student flat, but although we advertised the bigger one nobody showed any interest. It's big, you see. Very big. And seriously worn. It needs re-covering, really.

Anyway yesterday evening we were reminded of a student recycling project that takes old stuff, repairs it and finds it a good home. I contacted them via their Facebook page and they're coming to get the old sofa on Monday.

Jolly good!

Wednesday was a little more calm!

Morning in the bookshop, followed by shopping at Auchan on the way home. Then catching up on emails, cutting Gwilym's hair and preparation for the Maison de la Bible AGM in the evening.

The AGM was a very happy affair and was followed by a super meal together. Pat and I declared a truce on our detox for one evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Followed by big Tuesday

The agenda included:

1) going with Gwilym to Ikea, buying a sofa bed, hiring a van and getting the thing back to the flat.

Mission accomplished. The VW transporter van, though fairly enthusiastically dented on all sides, ran well and we got the sofa home in its boxes. IT WAS VERY HEAVY INDEED.

2) returning the van within the time limit of the rental, which I did comfortably.

3) Meeting up with some folks who work with students and who hope to bring a team to Bordeaux. We looked at the city and discussed the various things that are going on.

4) Awaiting Pat's return from Geneva in the evening.

We slept comfortably on our new sofa bed!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Big day off today

1) Day two of back to running - except I slept late. Very late. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

2) Detox day. Detox means no caffeine, no chocolate, no fruit, no carbohydrates except porage first thing, no dairy. I have to do this for 5 days.

3) Gwilym comes home this evening! So I have to get ready by:

4) Washing bedding

5) Getting shopping (carbs, caffeine, fruit, chocolate, dairy, all for the others!)

6) Meanwhile Mrs Davey is in Geneva and returns tomorrow.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

When everything is equally important

One of the rich and interesting challenges of Christian service is that Christians are people of conviction. Missionaries perhaps even more so. A certain determination and firm-mindedness is necessary to face up to the obstacles involved in cross-cultural ministry. This can, of course, lead to tension, because not every conviction is shared by all.

What sometimes helps us is to see that not all convictions are equally important, and not all positions can be held or argued in the same way.

For example, we make a serious mistake if we give musical style in worship the same importance that we give to the nature of God or the person of Christ. Neither Luther nor Calvin sang Isaac Watts. Augustine would not have recognised a Geneva jig. (Try singing a traditional French psalm one day and you'll find out why they had that nickname!) But all shared the same convictions about the trinity and about the hypostatic union. Some things change. Others stay the same.

I want to venture, humbly and gently, to suggest that the way we argue for things could and ought to reflect their importance in our convictions.

For example, maybe people are right to ride into battle about the question of subordination being an inherent feature of the nature of the trinity, though it is always good to moderate our language. Speak forcefully with gentle words. Try to avoid calling brothers heretics if we can!

But when we ride into battle for a biblical view of nations and try to equate the United Kingdom with some concept held in biblical times I think we're on MUCH more shaky ground. Which biblical times? Abraham's? Moses'? Isaiah's? Luke's? A democratic, constitutional monarchy, composed of four nations, with several languages and a very mixed genetic make-up, reflecting millennia of immigration? Whatever would Solomon make of that? Were the Celts the first people to arrive in these islands? We don't even know! So let's tread carefully, eh? We are guests in these islands. The earth belongs to God, not to us.

Otherwise what will we do when the United Kingdom is Untied and becomes the Kingdom of England, with an independent European Scotland and a semi-united Ireland? Perhaps in the end the reestablishment of the kingdom of Wessex should be our goal? Or a new Boudicca reining perhaps from a renewed Colchester?

Likewise the EU. Whether we voted for or against Brexit, none of us knows what the future holds, short-term or long-term. We may rejoice with those wonderful, extravagant Independence Day parties or we may mourn and explore our Scottish or Irish ancestry for possible passport options, but in the end Christians know that God is working out his plan to save his people from every nation, tongue and tribe, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

And in that we are all agreed.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

OK. Here's a plan

I thought, "Carte de Séjour". They can grant you a ten-year Carte de Séjour which will give the possibility of staying until retirement in the UK.

So I started to research online. Where I found lots of helpful government websites...

It transpires that after living five years in France you can apply for French nationality.
This contrasts interestingly with the UK where, for non-europeans, after five years if you aren't earning over £30,000 a year, home you go. Well-loved teacher? Tough!

Anyway, people applying for French nationality can retain other nationalities.

So, since we have lived in France for 11 years, we can in theory become French, hence European for the remainder of the twilight of the European experiment, and still stay subjects of Her Britannic Majesty and watch her United Kingdom untied.

This sounds like a plan.

OK - I've started looking into getting a Carte de Séjour - a residency permit

and in principle if you have been resident in France for five years, working, paying your bills, etc, then you can obtain a permanent residency permit, permanent being ten years renewable.

I'll need to amass quite a bit of documentation to prove five-years' residency, but it shouldn't be beyond the wit of man.

C25K - back on track

Got my shoes on.
Got out there.
Just 3km for now, and I'll build back up.
It felt good (though hard!) to be moving again.
And glorious to see the vines at sunrise.

Brexit: the personal consequences

As yet unknown.

But we're likely:

1) to have some difficult moments regarding our support. Financial support is given in pounds sterling and we are paid in euros. If the pound flourishes as predicted then things will be great. If the pound languishes as predicted, then things will be very tough.

2) to lose the right to drive - at present we don't have to exchange our UK licence for a French one, and I am reluctant to do that for the sake of ten years' service. If we get back to the old situation where you have to exchange your licence, then I'd rather just lose the right to drive here.

3) to need a carte de séjour. A residence permit. I am tempted to apply for one now. They last ten years, so if we apply for one now it could take us up to retirement.

4) to rethink retirement - at present we are heading back to the UK in ten years' time. However the UK may change a lot over the next few years. What will the NHS be like with all the new funding injected into it? How will Wales fare? What will happen to house prices? How will Brexit affect our UK state pensions? My UK pension plans? Our French pension?

Whatever happens, God is sovereign and I'm sure we'll be OK.
But obviously we'll have to take decisions based on how the situation unfolds.

Brexit: Look behind

What concerns me most about Brexit is not the immediate consequences of
the loss of European funding for some of the poorest areas of Britain,
or the instability of the markets,
the end of the Erasmus programme,
the UK being left without any aircraft carrier (we share one with the French),

What concerns me most is not so much what we have done, but what lies behind it. And I am concerned that in the generation that did not live through the horrors of the World War Two and the struggle against the extreme right, that we are drifting slowly further to the right.

Oh well. It will be interesting.

Brexit : Look beyond!

Great providence of heaven–
What wonders shine
In its profound display
Of God’s design:
It guards the dust of earth,
Commands the hosts above,
Fulfils the mighty plan
Of his great love
The kingdoms of this world
Lie in its hand;
See how they rise or fall
At its command
Through sorrow and distress,
Tempestuous storms that rage,
God’s kingdom yet endures
From age to age
Its darkness dense is but
A radiant light;
Its oft-perplexing ways
Are ordered right.
Soon all its winding paths
Will end, and then the tale
Of wonder shall be told
Beyond the veil.
(Hymn by David Charles, 1762-1834;
Translated from Welsh by Edmund Tudor Owen)

Friday, June 24, 2016


What I feared.
Oh well, in a context of increasing division, the work of an International Church is even more important.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why I am not voting in the referendum tomorrow.

Already voted!

There's no place like home.

Waze, the satnav app, guided me safely to the hire car depot where I returned the Flying Pistachio and waited with bated breath while the man checked it over. I hadn't consciously hit anything or been hit by anything, but you never really know. "It's fine", he said, and I danced and sang.

The Flying Pistachio was a Fiat 500 in very pale green. It was actually quite practical for one person, and would have done for two. Four would have been too cosy by far. It's worst fault was the sheer number of Fiat 500s on British roads now. I had one nasty experience in a BIG car park where I just couldn't pick it out from all the myriad other Fiat 500s. My dodgy colour vision didn't help. I had to carefully retrace my route into the car park in my mind to be able to find the car.

I had an agreeable flight, aided by my long-legs seat, extra bag allowance and speedyherding. Bags stowed, I caught up on some sleep. Too many late nights.

At the airport one of the Bordeaux public transport apps suggested I take the usual buses. "But they're on strike!" The other suggested I phone for an Uber car or walk. So I did the default long route. Bus 1 into town, bus 4 out.

I was sat next to two large bearded fellows wearing the green. After a short period of self-doubt where I wondered if we'd understand anything each other said, I asked the nearest one if they were through yet. His accent wasn't too strong. We chatted about Bordeaux (they love it), the Irish fans (just one big party) and the French police (very helpful, they're great). You know, I could get into football. Especially if I didn't have to watch the matches. This tournament has really brought something special to Bordeaux, I think.

"We've had a good time."
"I know. I've seen the videos. (he laughed) Were you under the bridge?"
"No!", he said, laughing more.

When I got home Catrin was out with mates, Pat was swinging in the hammock on the patio, the sun was shining and the world looked happy and cheerful. And it was Fête de la Musique.

After low-carb dinner I changed into my new African shirt (thanks Gwilym) and we wandered into Pessac Centre for a couple of hours.

We heard:

some rappers
a fife band
a music school orchestra
a local choir singing songs from all over the world
a recorder ensemble ( they were very good)
a gospel choir singing the Hallelujah chorus (we left on the first "for the Lord God omnipotent)
a choir singing settings of Shakespeare, including one by "the English composer", William Mathias (gasp)
and the stars of the evening, Madison Street Family, a funk band not unlike Maceo Parker, featuring Elodie, the vocalist and my friend Cyril on trumpet.

After a couple of numbers by Madison we wended our weary way homeward, thankful and tired.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Church visits drawing peacefully to a close

Well there we are!

Church visits for 2016 are almost over. Tomorrow I fly home from Bristol to Bordeaux.

I will say goodbye to my hire car, a pastel green Fiat 500 which I nicknamed The Flying Pistachio. I will also say goodbye to horribly congested motorways and to driving through torrential downpours. These farewells will fill me with joy.

I have absented myself from Facebook until after the EU referendum, mainly because the whole of my Facebook feed turned into what I can only describe as a bad issue fo the Daily Mail. We had scaremongering, of course, and the most immoderate language. "Don't trust a single word coming out of France or Germany about the referendum" was the last straw for me. I have already voted. You will see me on Facebook again once the vote is over and the shouting is over.

It is always humbling to visit our supporting churches. I am convinced that all the good things that have happened in Bordeaux have been direct answers to the prayers of many many people. You can see that very clearly in the way this year has unfolded.

Some of the churches I visited are burgeoning. Others less so. All are facing great challenges.

One big regret is that I haven't spent time visiting friends who support us personally, rather then through their churches. I wonder whether we can do something about that. Patricia and I must get our thinking caps on and see what we can come up with.

I have missed home life as usual. I miss my nice strong coffee. I miss my morning running. I miss Bordeaux. And, of course, above all I miss Catrin and Patricia.

Teg edrych tuag adref. It feels good to look homeward.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Vous venez encore pour chanter?

Those were the words I was greeted with by the representative of the town hall who had come to give a speech at the start of the performance of "A Threepenny Opera" given by Catrin and her comrades. I just laughed!

They had already presented the opera some months ago in a bar in the centre of Bordeaux, and it had been great then, but now they had a proper theatre with a reasonably sized stage, a good piano that was in tune and no cables lying everywhere.

And it was really very good indeed.  Here's a video of Catrin's song as naive Polly Peachum, tricked into "marrying" Macheath, arch-villain and subject of the song Mack the Knife.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Cheeky monkeys

I did wonder what would happen.

You see, François Hollande, President of the French Republic, was inaugurating the Cité du Vin yesterday at Bordeaux.

And his government is locked in conflict with the French unions over a proposal to  liberalise employment law, permitting a longer working day and less overtime payment - work more to earn less, one might say (travailler plus pour gagner moins).

So they cut the power to the part of the city where the new wine museum has been built.

Haha! Cheeky monkeys!

But the museum is equipped with generators; They kicked in, and nobody noticed anything.

Oh well...

Catrin's examination

The examination hall was in the basement of Pessac library, known as the Médiathèque Jacques Ellul, named after the lawyer, philosopher and reformed theologian who lived in Pessac and taught at the university. The auditorium is a decent little theatre and as we arrived crowds of children, their parents and various other people were climbing the stairs to get out. It took us a good five minutes to get into our seats.

Catrin's class looked very numerous as they crowded into the first two rows. We were with the folk scattered across the rest of the seats.

A representative from the town hall, who I knew vaguely from my days on the Music school committee, stood up to explain the evening and how it fitted into the festival "En Bonne Voix", Pessac's song festival. Then the evening was kicked off.

On the stage stood a piano, two guitars, an amplifier, and a couple of radio microphones. On the back wall of the stage a list of songs was projected. A volunteer chose a song. The appropriate student went to his instrument, the lyrics appeared on the wall of the stage and the volunteer proceeded to sing, accompanied by the student.

It was a karaoke evening.

I've never been to a karaoke evening before, and I was a little apprehensive. Catrin had texted me earlier in the evening giving me her permission, nay, her encouragement to sing. But I wasn't sure I could pull it off.

Anyway as one person then another chose songs and sang we were having a ball! Everyone was encouraged to join in the chorus. Some people obviously didn't know the song as well as they thought they did, so the students sang along to help them out. Some songs are very hard.

Catrin's course leader explained that there were perhaps four or five songs that needed to be sung so students could be evaluated. One was "Et si tu existais pas". A lively gentlemen in spectacles was one game old duffer and the star of the show, working his way through three different ballads. He accepted to sing "Et si tu n'existais pas", but he called on a little team to help him. Pat volunteered. Catrin accompanied calmly.

Other songs followed. Then Pat cried out "Allez! La mer!" and I found myself on stage with Pat at my side, Catrin at the piano, belting out "La mer" as best I could. It's a very low song, you know.

There or four more songs brought us to 10:30, the end of the show, another little speech from someone at the mairie, then a nice walk home along the vineyards, down into the basement of the flats and home.

Best exam I've ever seen!