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)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

At La Grande Poste

I had a rendez vous with a friend who wants to buy a computer and needs me to translate for him - nothing to do with French - just that he is the least tech-savvy person I have ever met, so ... well you know.

Anyway on the way I decided to check out La Grande Poste. This splendid place is an old post office that has been turned into a kind of concert hall and restaurant with shops in a gallery above and a couple of salons around the side. I wondered if there might be rooms to let.

The place was wonderfully impressive and some trombone brothers are playing there in a couple of weeks' time. It was good to look round, but there's no chance of us using a room there.

Meanwhile the owner of the theatre we visited last week is a good egg and has had his thinking cap on. He has come up with various suggestions for us, too.

Anyway I managed to steer my informatically-challenged friend towards a tablet rather than a fully-fledged computer, knowing that whatever he ends up with he needs to be able to use without me looking over his shoulder telling him what key to press!

At the massage parlour

So in my new resolve to be a good boy and do what the quack says I booked an appointment with a local physiotherapist for 10 (ten) sessions of massage on my neck. I was then thrown into confusion because the physiotherapist has two surnames and one was given in the yellow pages but I had written the other  in my diary so when I checked the address - just to be sure - I was plunged into the most profound uncertainty. But reasoning that surely I'd choose the nearest I went along and, thankfully, got the right place.

After some administrative 'ow's yer father I went up the the massage parlour, was told to strip off to the waist and lie on the bench with my nose through the hole. Then the fun began.


It was not at all unpleasant.
"If I fall asleep you will forgive me."
"You will be forgiven, and you will not be the first."

I was told to behave better, to elevate the screen of my computer and wear my stupid glasses, stupid.
OK. I get the message.

We talked about physiotherapy and the health service.
"Long may it continue"
"There's some concerns. 500 000 civil servants is an awful lot"
"It's true. We're a profession libre, so we're ok, but even so."
"Yes, that means a lot of unemployed all of a sudden who don't know how to do anything..... else"

Meanwhile in other news the nurse came on Saturday and gave me my flu jab.
8,80€ and they do it in the comfort of your own home.
If you go to the doctor you have to go to them and it's 23€!

However yesterday I broke out in a nasty case of mini-flu:

aches and pains,
longing for death,
constant desire to burst into tears,
hearing the celestial choir,
the kit and the kaboodle.

A tisane of thyme is very good for this - so at 5am I was sat in the kitchen nursing my thyme and feeling comforted.

Off to find my glasses...

Monday, November 28, 2016

They're not very happy this morning

So this morning I learnt that the day after an election it's a good idea to go to Lidl for the weekly shop.

The good folk of Pessac were unrestrained in giving their opinion of the result of the election of the presidential candidate for the Republicans (right-wing). They see M. Fillon as a "catho intégriste" (an extreme catholic), as someone who will not be able to resolve the problems facing ordinary people because he represents all the old catholic families who are loaded with money (bourrées de pognon).

They're not keen on Hollande either, especially because of the extreme measures that have come from Valls.

I think people here see M. Juppé as a moderate pragmatist who manages to find a way to make things work.

I thought about saying that we could be thankful that Mme Fillon is Welsh, but then decided to keep my big Welsh trap shut.

Friday, November 25, 2016


I've always thought of myself as a person with convictions.

Oh well.

It's a drag these cold, dark, wet mornings

6:18 - no, I'm not going to go for a run this morning. It'll be a rush anyway today.

6:22 - come on, you're awake, you feel OK, just do it.

So I trotted off through the drizzle. Just 3 kilometres this morning, though. Faster than usual, though.

I passed a chap running the other way, young, lithe, swift, running with grace.

I thought of my crazy friend, Desmond, the evangelist who lives in a van.
"What's happened to you?" he said again yesterday, "you've lost a lot of weight, sure you have*"

I haven't. Perhaps between 3 and 8 kg. That's not a lot! However:

1) All my life I have inflated in people's memories. I put on weight in their recollection. 
This means that almost every time people see me for the first time in months, they think I've lost weight.

2) Redistribution. I'm like a good French steak, whatever colour the outside is I'm pink at heart, and I've redistributed some weight from my haunches to my legs.

I thought of my good friend Larry in Leipzig, who I've never met.
He says I got him running and awarded me kudos. (I ducked and the kudos got someone else)

I thought of my good friend Gary Benfold, who I've also been able to encourage to run.
'Run, Benfold, run for your life!' I tell him.

And I gallumphed happily on.

* Desmond didn't actually say "sure you have", but he jolly well ought to have done

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Boy, I feel like such an old croc!

I have to have a 'flu jab, and to do that the nurse will come to the flat, would you believe!
Doctors' surgeries don't have nurses attached, and nurses don't have surgeries.
They come to you.

I also have to have a physio look at my neck, but for that I'm going to their office!

I've been a good boy this afternoon and sorted out appointments for almost everything.


So this morning was the pastorale of the CNEF33, the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France for the Gironde. I had foolishly agreed to bring the "meditation" so I "exhorted them to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace".

I told them from Ephesians that how we express our real spiritual unity, accomplished by the Holy Spirit revealed:

1) The triune God
2) My character
3) My commitment to it

There were about 25 people there. It was good to see our mates, colleagues and folk from the various churches. You sow and wait and see what God does with things.

One guy afterwards said he doesn't have a preacher for the 16th January and could I help them out, so it couldn't have been totally inadmissable, I suppose.

Someone somewhere has suddenly realised that M. Fillon is a practicing Catholic

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ok - the plagiarism thing

I know pastors who have been fired for it. I have seen quarrels over it.
Plagiarism in the pulpit.
Pastors who download sermons and then deliver them to their folk.

Now to put this in context - when I was training for pastoral ministry I remember someone teaching us that when time is short and you're stuck you can do a lot worse than to find a sermon outline from Spurgeon or Whitefield, take the skeleton and put your own flesh on it. This was WAY before we had access to the internet, of course.

Many years ago I remember buying a commentary on a particular book of the Bible and being surprised to find structures, approaches, illustrations, sections that I remembered hearing just a few Sundays previously from the preacher in my church.

Not only that, but in my early days in Deeside when preaching through Acts I found one particular book so helpful that I wrote to the author and told him, confessing that much of what I said depended largely on the spade work he had done.

That's not really what people are talking about, though. My use of this guy's book - well I couldn't just take his text and read in in an animated way and pass it off as my sermon. That would never work. He was a different character entirely from me, his church was different from mine and there was a whole process of bringing God's word through me to his people that needed to happen.

As for intellectual property, creativity, rights etc - I really hope that we couldn't care less about all that. I'm not an artist and although I do occasionally try to think, I don't consider myself to be an intellectual, either. Nothing flatters me more than those odd occasions when people have told me they've used my  illustration or whatever. Great!

Though I need to inform you that I have patented the Davey Blue Peter flowerpot illustration - it is available to use at a cost of £1.50 per sermon delivery or £15.00 for a lifetime licence.

I've been stewing on this for a long time. I've heard people express their concerns about all sorts of issues:
What is our pastor doing if he isn't studying the word and praying ready to preach?
What about the rights of the famous preacher to be known as the origin of the message, shouldn't he be acknowledged. (Incidentally what could be more tiresome than systematically acknowledging all the people who have helped in the preparation of a sermon?)

I was lost in a morass of "Why do we care so much about this? We aren't artists!"

Until I remembered back in Deeside when we used to run Christianity Explored a lot.

I LOVED the Rico Tice videos. He's so nice, funny, sensible, clear, helpful, direct and likeable.
I YEARNED to use the videos for our Christianity Explored groups.
But our folks said no. "We want to hear you", they said. (I know! They were mad!)

So I'd take the Christianity Explored talks and strip out all the references to Rico's posh upbringing and the illustrations from boarding school, Rugby and Australian beaches and instead put in my illustrations and my background and stuff. Mark, our assistant in those days, did the same.

And that's what people wanted. And what they probably needed. Because Rico wasn't their pastor or evangelist. We were. They didn't live in the West End of London. They lived in the scrag end of North Wales. And they needed God's truth to be conducted to them through us and through our personalities.

When you download the latest offering from Tim Piper and deliver it verbatim, then you're short-circuiting that, circumventing it, by-passing something that is really important.

And I think that thing is that your folk need to hear God's truth coming through you - through your mind, through your heart, through your life-experiences, through your personality, through your relationship with them, through YOU.

So I'd say, preachers, use whatever help you can. But don't forget that your people need to hear you, not Stuart C J Lucas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lunch with my friend Didier

My friend Didier is ... shall we say a trifle eccentric ... and now and again he decides to take me out to lunch. His taste in restaurants takes me to places I would never find otherwise, and this lunchtime I found myself in the depths of Bègles.

Bègles isn't my favourite suburb of Bordeaux. It's quite famous for its green mayor, the first mayor in France to conduct a same-sex marriage - the supreme court sanctioned him for it and annulled the marriage because it was against the law in those days. However you'd never guess from looking at Bègles that its mayor is green - the town is full of ugly apartment blocks, the new ones built too close together with few trees and wide concrete plazas everywhere. Older places are covered in graffiti. Basically ... well ... you get my drift.

Didier lives in a new flat in one of the new areas and he's just got a quote to put blinds up over his window wall because he reckons the people in the flats opposite are fed up of watching him all evening. Certainly as you hang out of his window - which I do a lot because he smokes very heavily - I could imagine each of the fifteen or so windows opposite filled with faces gazing with rapt attention at what Didier is up to.

After a lot of talk - Didier loves to talk - we took a tram to the middle of Bègles and walked to the restaurant of his choice. It's not posh, but you get a lot of traditional food. It's a shop-front restaurant with perhaps eight to ten tables in the main building but the part Didier likes is behind, a large marquee fills what was once the garden and allows another 20 or more tables where you can smoke, because you're not actually inside a building, are you. Didier smokes throughout the meal.

"Do you want the soup?"
"What's the soup?"
"Vegetable soup" - sooperderlégumes it comes out.

It reminded me of my mother's cawl - there were big chunks of vegetables loaded throughout a thin broth - it was very good and hearty.

"Elle est bonne la soupe."

After the soup came the entrée - moules or jambon macédoine. Here the wise chose mussels, they came in a big pan and Didier consumed them with gusto. I chose the ham - a slice of ham wrapped round some chopped vegetables in mayonnaise, accompanied by a bit of salad.

Next course was andouillette - pig's bowel sausage, which smells just like you'd imagine - or grillade de porc (mixed grill), which I chose, mainly because I didn't want andouillette. Now then, because my friend spends all his time talking and smoking and not eating, by the time we got to this stage there was no more grillade de porc, so I ended up with steak and chips. I wasn't complaining. Didier needed a doggy-bag to take his andouillette home. He'll eat that tomorrow.

Then comes dessert or cheese. I got a nice piece of raspberry tart, replete with big, firm, fresh raspberries. Didier got some cheese that went into the bag with his andouillette. I ought to explain, too, that the meal comes with copious amounts of wine and a coffee at the end. All for 13.50€.

I'd love to take you there. I'd love to take photos of it. The flustered waitresses charging round at a rate of knots. The substantial gentlemen doing the cooking, ladling mussels into pans, the marquee with the gas powered space heater blasting, the carafes and jugs of wine, the LOUD conversations. It is not at all what you might expect of a French restaurant.

After all that it was a pleasure to stride through the damp streets of Pessac, breathing hard. It'll take more than that, at least a few days to clear the smoke from my tubes, though.

And I shan't need to eat much for a couple of days!

The forthcoming French Presidential Election

Last Sunday was the open vote for the candidate for the Republicans, the broadly right wing party which has in the past been called other things, like the UMP, etc. The name changes are very confusing for me, which explains why I have no idea what party that nice Tim Farron chappie represents in the UK.

Anyway. As you can imagine, I look at these things with a mix of feelings.

For one thing M. Juppé has served Bordeaux so well, and he represents a moderate, broadly right-wing, liberal kind of outlook. He believes that France has a lot going for it. He doesn't much care what women choose to wear on the beach. He does believe that a woman should have the fundamental right to have her unborn child surgically removed. He doesn't believe in drastic cuts or shock taxes. He's an easy-going, good-humoured kind of guy, and I think his generally benevolent, peace-seeking attitude has contibuted greatly to making Bordeaux the pleasant city it is today.

M Fillon is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher. He wants to cut 600 000 civil servants (In France this wide category includes teachers, some doctors, etc.) He wants to cut taxes on business and increase VAT to compensate. He wants to ban the burkini on beaches, apparently. He is more to the right than M. Juppé. Sometimes he sounds like an American right-winger - he talks about small government, though not in those terms, of course. His position on abortion is not very clear. But he has a Welsh wife, Penelope.

M. Juppe was the favourite for a long time, but suddenly M. Fillon is ahead of M. Juppé. So who knows. One wag has coined the verb "filloner" - to come up unexpectedly. If M. Fillon wins the presidency then at least we can keep M Juppé as Mayor. So in Bordeaux we can't really lose too much.

Someone in the UK has suggested that to combat the trend towards post-truth, kids should learn philosophy in school, we should teach them how to think. Well all French sixth-formers do an examination course in philosophy, so I suggest we wait and see whether our dear French people can resist the force of post-truth, with its propaganda, hyperbole, exaggeration and empty promises. If France can conduct a sensible election campaign, then maybe courses of philosophy might help - or perhaps at least of logic.

If not. If not.

Mrs Davey's birthday

Yesterday was Pat's birthday. HURRAH!

With somewhat unfortunate timing the day started with a meeting at Maison de la Bible. These meetings are always a joy, and this time it included a really nice chocolate cake with 25 candles on it (representing Patricia's ceremonial age).

We then scuttled off for lunch at a new pancake place that gets decent reviews (I felt it was OK) and a nice long walk up rue Fondaudège to the Palais Gallien before coming home to watch a detective film.

Monday, November 21, 2016

We're moving on

For some time Bordeaux Church has been too big for Dan Restaurant. Dan has 30 chairs. We are often more than 30 people. One evening we were 37.

We've prayed and waited for a bigger restaurant to become available, for months and months.

But we can't carry on as we are. So we have set a date of 18 December when we will hold our last service at Dan. It will be a time of thanksgiving and of sadness as we say goodbye to a place that has become very significant to us.

Please join us in praying for the continued success of Dan Restaurant.

Please also join us in praying for a new home!
We have one possibility of meeting in the premises of another church in the city.
Maybe we need to take a further step forward and look at renting a function room in a hotel?
Maybe we need to start thinking about renting our own premises?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It takes it out of you, all this fun

Well this week has been a week of two parts.

Firstly, administration.

We have two things on the go: our application to Acts29 and our application for French nationality.

OK, Acts29. At the weekend, faced with something like 7 hours of video to watch and comment on in paragraphs of 250 - 500 words, I hit the wall. It then transpired that I didn't need to do that part (yay!) so I got back to the rest of the process, having moved from discouraged to merely daunted. People prayed. By Wednesday morning I'd finished my part and by Wednesday afternoon Pat had finished hers.

Now, Frenchiness. There is a very handy government website that tells you what forms you need and what supporting documents. So I have a checklist. Some of the documents will be hard to track down, like my parents' birth certificates. I think I know where my father was born, but opinions vary as to my mother's place of birth. Anyway, my sister has found a certificate, so that's OK. Some of the documents are inscrutable to me - like something I need to get from the tax office. Some are straightforward. Then there's the issue of official translations. According to the website our birth certificates, our parents' birth certificates and our marriage certificate all have to be translated into French (Nom du père, Nom de la mère, Lieu de naissance) by an official translator at exorbitant cost. That's seven documents, meaning hundreds of euros cost. However, we are reliably informed by our friend Vicky that since the law of 2012 it is illegal to demand official translations from one official language of the European Union into another. Obviously we care about this quite a lot.

Then, culture.

While in town the other evening we stumbled across an old friend, the splendidly named François-Marie Moreau and his group Monk, playing in a café. We went to hear, along with old friend Sally. To me the café is the archetypal French café, le Café Brun, and it was full of people. For a while we stood, but then three seats became free right in front of the band. Of course, this was a temptation too strong to resist for F-M, and so it was that the Café Brun was treated to me warbling forth "I'm a legal alien, I'm a Welshman in Bordeaux..." Monk do a kind of jazz-funk-pop thing, with Sting and Stevie Wonder featuring strongly and saxophone and accordina solos. It was the first time for me to see an accordina, and I fell in love at first sight. However they cost muchos euros, so forget it!

Then yesterday evening to the Grand Theatre for a quick aperitif concert given by the choir of the opera. The aperitif was 10€ a head at 6pm, and the concert also 10€ at 7. Well we can get a snack free at home, so we just went to the concert, and they did a variety of pops and standards from opera and operetta: Carmen, Faust, Cavalleria Rusticana, Nabucodonosor etc... I had never warmed to the conductor - his twitter account is @maestrosalvator - but he was very warm and friendly and good fun, and he seems to want to open up the opera beyond the traditional rich bourgeois regular customers. For example, students and people under 26 could get into last night's concert for 1€. "That's not bad!" he said, in his really not very good French. He is latin-american.

Then quickly on the tram to get back to Pessac for a quickie concert given by Catrin's university group at the cinema as part of the annual festival of film about history. A guy was talking about songs and his contribution as a poet, I think, though we came in just at the end of his part, and then the group would perform five different songs. Catrin was due to sing a song about the fate of a refugee in Paris along with another girl, but the other girl pulled out because of a serious attack of a cold, so her place was taken by Catrin's faithful friend, Bérénice. The songs were hurriedly prepared and there were occasional ragged moments, but the effect was good.

That's it for Patricia, but on Friday I have another shot of culture with a lunchtime concert by one of the opera's baritones, Florian Sempey.

Then it's back to normal! Youtube at home and Spotify in the tram!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

List six things on which you would not compromise

and give three Biblical references for each.

The question put to me is about "basic ministry values", but it struck me as an interesting and useful question.

What principles are absolutely non-negotiable?

How much does your list reflect your personality and how much your convictions?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Remembrance Day in Pessac

Cats! They drive you nuts!

Catkin (aka Caramel) is messing with my head.

In the morning when I am sat at the kitchen table eating my porage and checking emails he comes and asks to be let in through the window.

When I open the window he turns round and walks away, while I try and coax him with "Come on! In or out?"

I'm renaming him Brexit.

We have now been tenants here for a year

We got the keys in early November of last year.

This week has bene marked by a few events:

1) we swapped car parking spaces with a new tenant - or at least we THOUGHT we had

An elderly man has just moved into one of the first floor apartments and he called one day last week to ask if he could park his car in our space. Pat was a little puzzled so I left him a note sugessting we meet up to talk about it.

Then one day we went down into the car park and saw him - and his car was in our space - or at least we THOUGHT it was.

So we talked and arranged to swap spaces - his space is too tight for his ENORMOUS car and as we don't have a car, and the citiz cars we occasionally use are all quite small we thought it would be fine.

Well, anyway it turns out that for the past year whenever we have parked a car in the car park we've been using the wrong space! We've been using our neighbour's spot. She doesn't have a car either, so she never noticed.

What dummies, eh!

2) We discovered Sumo's name.

We hardly ever see our neighbours on the other side - they tend to enter and leave the building in their car and their apartment faces completely the other way from ours. But their cat visits us often, the redoutable Sumo.

Anyway yesterday I was coming in as they left their flat - they were startled to see someone in the corridor and once they'd settled down we talked about the cat. It turns out that his real name is Popite. The other, timid cat is called Archimède.

Oh, we call the fat one Sumo and the other Susan.

They laughed. The neighbours down the corridor call Popite Bouddha.

Poor cat!

We'll get together for an apéro or something before Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Well I have made fair progress with administration

Mainly ploughing on with a long application process.

Meanwhile Mrs Davey is struggling with a painful herniated disk once more, and has been confined to barracks since Saturday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


Our rice cooker still functions well though it had lost its on / off switch. You had to poke your finger into a hole in the body of the machine and press a little metal plate up or down. It worked but it was hardly satisfactory.

Enter Sugru, the amazing modelling paste. I fashioned a new switch out of yellow Sugru and applied it to the little metal plate with the help of the handle of a plastic fork. I then held my breath, hoping that I had not made the switch too thick such that the thing wouldn't work any more.
It appears that it's OK! Hurrah for Sugru!

Bordeaux boasts the largest independent bookshop in Europe, Chez MOLLAT

It's a real treasure, and if it only had a small cafeteria then it would quickly become my favourite place in the centre of Bordeaux.

Watch a special programme about its 120th anniversary, in French, here.

Well, the world has gone nuts

In the UK certain "newspapers" labelled three High Court Judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, "Enemies of the people".
I am shocked even as I type it.
I guess I didn't realise just how far right the right wing was.
Jesus said that those who live by the sword perish by the sword, and history tells us that those who unleash the mob perish by the mob.

Meanwhile the US elections take place, and tomorrow will reveal just how crazy the world has become.

Oh well, we are only seeing a little of what some of our friends live with day in, day out, year in, year out.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Disturbing news from Villa Koralli

Our neighbour's lawn mower was stolen from the terrace by her window! It appears that we are not as secure as it may have at first appeared. First indications are that entry was effected over a part fo the fence that was not properly re-attached after recent works undertaken in the garden right in front of our neighbour's flat.

Our plan is to get one of those big plastic lockable chests in which to store our garden tools to prevent them being taken by the thief who passes in the night.

Ten reasons why I don't like lists

1) They are highly subjective

2) They are inevitably incomplete

3) They give a false impression of order of importance

4) Little great literature takes the form of lists

5) Despite their importance, the Ten Commandments are just a small part of the Bible

6) You almost always forget something

7) You sometimes repeat yourself (see 2 and 6)

8) They're adolescent (see Nick Hornby)

9) They are pretentious - "Ten greatest albums of all time" - yeah, right!!!

10) I can never think of the right number of things to fill the list.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Oh man, what a day!

Poor Patricia.
On Friday evening she started to feel ill.
All Friday night was punctuated by visits to address herself loudly, kneeling, to the lavatory pan.
We think it was a bug. Once she had had one last big final bout at about 4am or 5am she settled down.
I, however, was in the bookshop. A friend had offered to replace me but not wanting to phone him before 9am I sent a text message. There came no reply so I hauled myself to the bookshop where several fine and wonderful people nevertheless had the impertinence to require my help or to buy things. Honestly!
A call came. Could I stay till 4? Ah no! Not today! So at 1 a redoutable young lady came to take my place and I returned home where I was greatly encouraged by Pat's recovery, by our accompanists and by some baked beans.

Oh man, what a couple of weeks!

I have made no progress with our administration at all.
No progress with requesting the final refund for Pat's cataract operation.
No progress with Acts29.
No progress with French nationality (DEntry).
Two weeks ago I spent lots of time helping a friend in a pickle with their administrative problems, which left no time for mine.
This week I had three wonderful days off.
So tomorrow I must do at least something! I'll go to the insurance office, if it isn't closed...
Then Tuesday forge ahead with Acts29 and with DEntry.

Political reflections

No, forget it. It's a minefield.
Don't step in the minefield.

Aha! To run faster

I have to sing something faster in my head.

This morning I turned away from airs from Figaro and sang through mu old friend, Saltarello instead. It's a sort of comic patter song and it got my running faster.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

So Monday to Wednesday we had a break

On the Wednesday the weather was a bit less inspiring so we abandoned our planned walk of the two riverbanks crossing the Pont de Pierre and the Pont Chaban-Delmas and instead stayed in a watched a film. Maybe two.

We had also been to the cinema to see "The Girl in the Train" which we were able to see in English with French subtitles.

So from Monday to Wednesday we had a break - Tuesday at the Jardin Public

Tuesday we spent drinking in autumn colour at the Jardin Public before eating lunch at the restaurant we went to with the folk from UFM.

So Monday to Wednesday we had a break - Monday at Arcachon

On Monday we went to Arcachon, wandered along the seafront, ate in a nice brasserie and ate ice-creams as the sun went down before coming home on a beautiful double-decker train.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Tear-jerkingly beautiful

I like the nice relaxed pace. Sometimes this first aria is taken a lot faster, which means the flute player has to either breathe and stumble, or die of asphyxiation. At this pace it can be played with clarity and the flutist lives to play another day!