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)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Plans for a brief visit to the UK in May/June

Thus far:

May 28 Sandbach (am)
May 28 Rhuddlan (pm)
May 30 Cwmbran
May 31 Swansea
Jun 1 Mynydd Isa
Jun 4 Leftwich (am)
Jun 4 Mold (pm)
Jun 5 Carmel
Jun 6 Newtown
Jun 7 Wrexham

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book review - Explore by the Book - 90 days in John 14 - 17, Romans, James, by Tim Keller and Sam Alberry

Devotional books are great, aren't they. Nobody would suggest that we need anything to supplement reading the straight Bible text, but sometimes some brief comments, some questions, some observations made by someone who doesn't think exactly like we do just help the Bible's text and message to hit exactly the right spot in order to help us.

90 days in John 14 - 17, Romans, James, is an excellent example of a helpful devotional book. Written by two leading figures in the evangelical scene, covering a good range of Bible books and giving you undated devotions for three months, what more could you possibly want?

You get the John passages and James dealt with by Sam Allberry and Romans by Tim Keller. These four chapters of John are very rich and sometimes you really need to stop, think and digest what you've read. So it's great that Allberry has dealt with the passages slowly - sometimes just a handful of verses per day - using helpful questions to bring out the meaning of the text, brief comments to elucidate and then little sections to apply and pray about what you've been considering. Romans and James are dealt with equally usefully. Keller navigates carefully the more controversial passages of Romans; Not all readers will agree with his position on Romans 7 and 10, of course. The same could be said of Allberry on James 5. But the passages are dealt with helpfully and usefully.

It would be churlish, niggardly and snide in a book of this size to want more detailed explanations. Or perhaps it would encourage the authors if we are left wanting more. Perhaps that is just what our response should be to these daily glimpses into light. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of the book in electronic format in exchange for a fair and truthful review.

Book review - Bible Studies on Mark, by William Boekestein, published by Reformed Fellowship

Devotional books are great, aren't they. Nobody would suggest that we need anything to supplement reading the straight Bible text, but sometimes some brief comments, some questions, some observations made by someone who doesn't think exactly like we do just help the Bible's text and message to hit exactly the right spot in order to help us.

"Bible Studies on Mark" is a good example. Too brief to be a commentary, this book aims to open up the text of Mark in 21 brief chapters, around 8 pages a "lesson", commenting, explaining and applying. It's a book where you read the Bible text and then read Boekestein's comments. At the end of each chapter there are questions for reflection and application, then the end-notes. Boekestein's approach is very practical and helpful, but you'll be doing quite a lot of reading.

The book is conservative, straightforward and reverent. The "long ending" of Mark is regarded as authenticated by centuries of tradition, though Boekestein considers what would be meant if the "short ending" was the authoritative text.

This is a wholesome and useful book, good for daily reading or for studies in Mark at a fairly light level. Recommended.

I received a free copy of the book in electronic format in exchange for a fair and truthful review.

Madame Pang's

We called at our friends, Jérôme and Harmonie's new place, "Madame Pang's", very near Dan where we used to meet. It's their new venture, with interior design by a talented young architect, divided into small, intimate seating areas and with a menu of dim sum - Cantonese tapas - and a long and varied list of different drinks.

We ordered three things : crispy chicken, crispy beef and vegetable tempura.

The chicken came first, super little crispy-coated pieces of chicken piled artfully into a column. We guzzled them with gusto.

Then arrived the beef, in little strips, more crunchy than the chicken, but equally good.

Last to arrive, after a little pause, was the vegetable tempura. Green beans, mushrooms, sliced courgettes, I think, and maybe courgette leaves coated in a light mousse of crispy batter. This was our favourite.

The prices start at 4€ per portion and go up to about 12€. Three portions between two of us was plenty for us, and we chose from the cheaper end of the scale.

Thoroughly recommended for anyone, whatever their budget.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hitting the road again

A beautiful morning.
Figaro going through my mind again.
Running faster in the presto.
Oh well.
Birds singing.
Out before dawn, though.
On my way back I passed Mrs Davey heading out.
We have this plan to all three of us go running together to see if we spread panic and confusion amongst the good folk of our neighbourhood.

(Mrs Davey said, "You run fast, don't you!" Honestly, she did!)

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Le Gorafi is a French spoof news agency. The name gives it away, loosely modelled on a kind of verlan version of Le Figaro. But that didn't stop some Algerian newspapers taking this story seriously and publishing it on their front pages.

It says, "Marine Le Pen will build a wall around France and make Algeria pay for it."

Oops! I suppose we are living in rather crazy times.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Citiz cars

During the week someone asked about the cost of using the Citiz cars and I started nosing around on their website. You can download an excel file of all the times you used a car during a particular period and once I worked out what to press and where it was easy to work out what we spent on Citiz cars in 2016. 

It came to 848 Euros. That's more than I thought it would be, but still a good deal when you take into account the cost of insurance, of servicing, of fuel, of depreciation and so on.

It has been a quiet week in Bordeaux

but not that quiet!

From Saturday to Wednesday some friends from England came to visit, and Roger preached for us at Bordeaux Church, giving me a Sunday off, plus the preparation time, plus a real feeling of being demob happy.

So much so that it's taken me a while to get my head back in gear again!

I plum forgot a little list of things I normally do on Tuesday or on Wednesday. Oh well!

Now spring has come to Bordeaux. We have temperatures in the mid teens, some wonderfully sunny days and soon we'll be eating on that terrace. Already the washing is out there, though it has been there for two days now - perhaps it's dry...

Here's a couple photos from a boat trip we took on the river bus down to the cité du vin.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Who do you write the blog for?

asked a friend some years ago. Actually it probably wasn't worded exactly like that, but that was the essence of the question. And a very good question it is.

My cousin who lives near London and is perhaps 20 years older than I recently read my piece on corporal punishment in schools in the 1970s and sent me a delightful email about a teacher who had an immensely positive effect on his life.

I knew the man. When I went through junior school I was taught by this man's wife and they both made a huge impression on me, too.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Chez le médecin

I have stubbornly stuck with the first doctor we went to in Villenave d'Ornon, a 30 minute drive away, rather than going to one of the myriad excellent practitioners that have their surgeries within a five minute walk of our flat, so I booked the super little Toyota Yaris Hybrid from 10 till 13:30. My appointment was at 10:45, but I was unlikely to be seen on time.

You can park right in front of the surgery, it's great, and there were few people in the waiting room. Unfortunately they were all waiting for my doctor, so I was an hour late going in. She apologised, but I said I didn't mind. If you know in advance it's OK. You take something to read or some work to do and that way it's OK.

She checked me over, listening to my heart for slightly longer than I felt comfortable with. 'It's still beating?" "Oh yes, no problem." She decided she's happy with me and sent me on my way.

The remarkable Hans Rosling. We will miss him.

The internet is a weird place

Our Mission, the unique and unrivalled UFM Worldwide, posts tweets of short prayer requests from its missionaries more or less every day. I try to retweet these, but sometimes I miss them, so from time to time I search in twitter for "UFM Worldwide" to get them all on the screen together. Twitter slips in an advertisement of its choice. This morning it was for the new "Fifty shades of grey" film.

Going to see the quack

I was supposed to go and see the doctor at the end of January. "Come and see me at the end of January", she said. But January came and January went with its joys and sorrows, its nostalgia and anticipation, and I hadn't been to see her.

Now we're getting wafted towards the middle of February. I decided that I had better go soon, but I can't go with the 'flu. Still, I'd have to ring and make an appointment for when I'm better, otherwise we'll be in late February, and that would never do.

"Hi, I'd like an appointment please."

"Is it urgent? What about tomorrow?"

Thinks: Oh help. Will I be up to going tomorrow or will I still be shaky. "Is Thursday possible?"

"Thursday would be with the locum. What's the matter with tomorrow?"

"Well it's just that I have the 'flu."

"Oh well in that case we can fit you in this afternoon."

"Oh no! I'm not coming to the doctor with the 'flu! I'm quite OK drinking lots and taking paracetamol. Tomorrow then."

So tomorrow it was. And now it's today.

After the phone-call I decided to go for a little walk in the afternoon just to get out of the flat and breathe moving air for a while. But instead I went back to bed.

Now I'm sick of the sight of my bed and looking forward to stepping out to see the quack.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

If you ever hear that I am devoting myself to an itinerant ministry

do me and everyone else a favour.

Hire a hit man - one in the head and two in the chest is what I'll need.

Let us not forget...

Well I just read a newspaper article written by a CofE clergyperson talking about the marks and scars he bears from the physical punishments doled out in his school - meted out, of course, "in the name of evangelical decency".

Obviously! What other reason could there possibly be?

Well in the case of my school you'd have to look for one.

I grew up in the Rhondda valley and attended normal state schools in the 1960s and 1970s. We had morning assembly, but the act of worship would probably best be described as common or garden liberal moralism. No muscularity here, thank you!

Yet despite this apparently laudable open-minded and flabby approach to christianity, education was still red in cane and slipper. Well, let's not go too far.

One of my earliest memories of primary school was a teacher who rolled up the trouser legs of one small lad and slapped his legs thoroughly for some misdemeanour or other. The cane was used, kids were shaken and slapped, physical punishment of kids under 11 was part of life.

In the secondary school I saw kids lined up in maths lessons to be caned - boys and girls. Others were slippered on their backside, what we called 'the dap', dap being the valleys word for a rubber soled gym-shoe. I was once boxed around the ear - I think it left a permanent defect in the hearing of that ear. Women teachers would routinely send children to men to be caned. I never saw a woman teacher use the cane.

I'm not writing this to justify these types of punishment, or to excuse or to relativise them. I still feel the horror of seeing that lad having his legs slapped and still remember with dread that one irascible teacher who I just avoided. You never knew what would send him off the deep end!

But these things had nothing to do with the brand of christianity espoused. It was the 1970s. Our schools were like that. They should not have been, but they were.

My father grew up in the 1920s and 1930s. He said there was one teacher who would throw chisels at the lads!

It's a bit like Luther's earthy language, the martyrdom of heretics, the hanging, drawing and quartering of traitors. There is such a thing as historical context and we mustn't forget or ignore it.

Our kids in North Wales went to schools where there was no physical punishment whatsoever. In the 1990s. Here in Roman Catholic France corporal punishment is against the law, but our kids saw pupils hit with books. And of course, there are lots of ways of bullying kids other than physically.

You cannot trace child-abuse to one theological current. Bullying is human, the result of sin and crosses all cultural and ideological boundaries, sadly.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Well it's 'flu and we both have it

but at least I am no longer living in denial.

I managed to get through the service, lock up etc. run for the bus home and get home before the shivers started! So it's paracetamol, lots of fluid and staying in the warm for me for a while.

Poor Pat says that so far each day has been worse than the one before. Nice!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Bourrées from Praetorius' Terpsichore

The big storm and the sickbay

We're in the middle of a big storm here, mainly with very high winds and occasional heavy rain. No trams are running, some areas have no electricity and train services between Bordeaux and Poitiers are interrupted. All night something has been banging somewhere across the street. Our flat is on the leeward end of the building, so we don't feel anything much - last night I upturned the patio tables and piled everything into the most sheltered corner of the terrace and this morning nothing seems to have moved.

Meanwhile Pat is ill with what looks like 'flu - aches, fever, coughing - you know the drill. I hope I didn't give it to her. Just on Wednesday I thought to myself how all this winter I have been pretty free of colds - then on Thursday started brewing something up. I'm currently in denial with a voice about a fourth below it's usual pitch and mild aches, shivers and coughs. Perhaps I have the same as Pat but with its fangs drawn by the 'flu jab. Who knows!

Friday, February 03, 2017

The new specs have arrived

OK. To save about a fiver I got my glasses delivered to a "relay point". Yes. I know. There are various networks of relay points in France and the online opticians use a particular one that has addresses in Mérignac, in various places dotted about Bordeaux and at the main railway station, Gare Saint-Jean. None in Pessac. I chose Gare Saint-Jean.

Now to get from Pessac to Gare Saint-Jean can take anything between 5 minutes and an hour. Trains from Pessac go there directly without passing go, the journey is not included in our monthly bus and tram card but it costs about 2€. At 15:00 I got the message that the specs were ready for collection. There wasn't a train for a couple hours.

So at about 4 I took the bus. Bus 4 to Barrière de Pessac, then bus 11 to Gare Saint-Jean. It was pouring with rain, so the buses were crowded and steamy, but we got there OK. And it took about an hour including perhaps 15 minutes hanging around at bus stops. Collecting the glasses took a little while. To come back there was a train at 18:00, so I bought a ticket and a burger from MacDonalds and assumed my new identity as a mild-mannered, nordic theologian with his signature round plastic specs.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

At the Mairie

When I popped into Pessac centre to get the cinema tickets I also went to get an address at the town hall. I had a serious letter to write.

The junction just outside our block of flats is an accident blackspot. I know of four accidents in the year that we have been here, but people whose flats overlook the road say there have been many more, perhaps 20. The problem is that just before the flats the road curves to the left and the road markings get very slippery in the rain. So if drivers are not very precise in their steering and allow a wheel to sidle onto the line then the car will be liable to skid.

The last accident was on Christmas Eve when a Peugeot 308 skidded across the pedestrian crossing, mounted the kerb and smashed into the fibre-optic internet installation, smashing the fence behind it (and the front of the car).

What concerns me is the very real possibility that someone could have been stood by the crossing waiting for the road to clear. That someone would have been very seriously injured.

Anyway, I was ushered in to talk to someone in the public spaces department, explained what is happening and later followed it up with an email and the photo of the aftermath of the last accident. "If someone is mown down by a car I could not forgive myself if I had not alerted the authorities",  I wrote, perhaps just a trifle melodramatically.

Celebrating life in a culture of death

We heard this week of a couple of books and of a film that have been produced by Anne-Dauphine Julliand. The first book is called "Two little footsteps in the wet sand" and is the story of her daughter. During a pregnancy, the author noticed that her two-year-old daughter was walking oddly. Tests revealed a degenerative disease and the little one was given just months to live. Further tests showed that both she and her husband were carriers of the disease and when the baby she was carrying was born she was also affected.

The author was impressed by a remark a doctor made, "When you cannot add days to your life, you can add life to your days". She wrote a biography of her daughter, a biography because until the moment she died she was living, and living her restricted life to the full.

I brought the book home on Tuesday and Pat read it yesterday.

Another book followed, and then a film, entitled "Et les mistrals gagnants". The title is taken from a popular song by Renaud in which he sings of the way his daughter's childhood days are passing, never to be repeated. The film is a documentary showing the daily life of five children from various parts of France, all of whom are seriously ill. One lad has a condition where his body produces no collagen, and so his skin is prone to peel away. Another had a brain tumour. Another had renal failure. A girl has problems with her heart and lungs. I forget the fifth child's problem.

The children accept their situation and live each day to the full. They have no taboos. The lad with the skin complaint insisted that his daily bath and dressings be filmed. The little lad with the tumour said, "When I'm dead I won't be ill any more." The child with renal failure said, "I haven't peed in two years." He's had a kidney transplant from his father since the film, and says, "To begin with it was great to pee, but after a while it's kind of inconvenient." The lad with the brain tumour has since died.

I don't know when I last saw a happier film. The kids enjoy their life, charging round the hospitals, terrorising the staff, planting gardens, riding bikes, acting in plays, fighting with siblings and generally doing what kids do. It reminded me of a Peanuts cartoon I saw recently.

Charlie Brown: You know, Snoopy, one day we will all die.
Snoopy: Yes, but all the other days we will live.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

It's a shambles!

The presidential election is three months away, in May.

The Republican candidate ("right-wing"), François Fillon, is up to his neck in scandal. It is alleged that he paid his Monmouthshire wife over 800,000€ for a non-existent job.

The National Front candidate (extreme-right), Marine LePen, is accused by the European Parliament of having used 300,000€ of EU money to pay two people who worked for her NF party.

The Socialist Party is quite divided, but there is a presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, who for the moment is not embroiled in any scandal.

Then there is Emmanuel Macron, an independent, who might just end up being president!

Unless we get Madame LePen.