Showing posts from May, 2020

What a difference a week makes!

Well there we are. A little while ago the church could not meet, and what's more, even if it could I couldn't meet with it. The choir could not rehearse, and even if it could, I could not rehearse with it. We could travel up to 100km and even stay overnight, but no cafés or restaurants would be open. Everything was somewhat difficult. Now we can meet as churches and I am allowed to go, too! However, we do have to wear masks for the whole duration of the service, removing them briefly for the purposes of the Lord's Supper, we have to disinfect all the surfaces, we have to ventilate the church well, we must stay always 1 meter apart,  but we can do everything else we usually do. And I can do it too. Now choirs can meet, observing physical distancing, and can sing, faces masked. And I can meet with them. (I think I probably won't until September, just to be doubly certain.) Also we can travel anywhere in France. Soon we might even be able to cross into Spa

Worse things happen in Troas

I can do tech. I can. And I can do church. But mix tech and church and I set off like Scott of the Antarctic to explore new regions of chaos where never foot trod and never finger prod. Last night it was the mute/unmute button in zoom. Sometimes I could see it but not poke it. No cursor! I poked, slid, woggled, nothing! Notably this was for the songs. So instead of muting myself like any normal human being would I had to pretend to be muted, miming a heart-felt rendition of ‘Before the throne’. At the end of the service I said “Jean-Sam pray for us”, and reverently bowed my head. After a moment wherein he was obviously gathering his thoughts there came the clamour, “Alan, what’s happening now? Alan, you’re muted.”. I unmuted and said with all the aplomb i could muster, “Jean-Sam pray for us”. Oh well, worse things happen in Troas. Our passage was Acts 20:1-12, where we meet the singularly hapless Eutychus. We discussed the government’s somewhat reluctant permission to conduct

What a palaver!

Well the Conseil d'Etat (whatever that is) told the government that their ban on religious ceremonies was too restrictive and gave them 8 days to lift the ban and issue guidelines to follow. So yesterday the government issued a décret authorising religious ceremonies once more under the following conditions : 1) physical distancing of 1m to be respected 2) 1 person per 4m2 of space 3) surfaces, doorknobs etc. to be disinfected before the ceremony 4) a one way system and people in charge to ensure no "attroupements" (gatherings) 5) all to wear masks (masks can be briefly removed if the rite demands it) 6) hand gel at the entrance You can see that they have the Roman Catholic mass in mind, where it's you, the priest and the bread, and you're broadly happy to come, commune and go. In our churches "attroupement" is part of the whole deal, so we may even decide to continue as we are until September, or until conditions allow a more normal meeting

The cat and the pigeons

This phase of deconfinement, if all goes well, will last until the 2nd of June. On 25 May the Prime Minister should outline the details of the next phase, what further freedoms will be permitted, what risks seem reasonable, what activities can be resumed and under what conditions. It is in this speech of 25 May that we expect cafés to be allowed to reopen, along with places of worship, under guidelines to be published to be adopted from 2nd June. However, Pentecost falls on 31st May, and the Roman Catholic Church would dearly love to open for worship for Pentecost. This is the background to a decision by the Conseil d'Etat published yesterday that the measures forbidding public worship are to restrictive and that guidelines should be issued so that churches can resume public worship from 25th May, a whole week earlier, which would allow mass at Pentecost. Many catholic churches are very large and would permit people to be spread out widely. This is not always the case with


Some years ago Mrs Davey concluded that she didn't really need a laptop and that an iPad would be just as good for her. This has indeed proved to be the case. At that time we had a family computer, a 2012 Mac mini, in our living room. When we moved to the bigger flat and I got an office we concluded that we didn't need a family computer - a large screen with a Chromecast plugged in would do just as well. So the Mac mini has become my office computer, in place of my 2015 Macbook pro. Since then I have used my Macbook pro as a portable computer to use in coffee shops and for projection in meetings etc. We've upgraded the Mac mini over the years. It has an ssd instead of the original slow hard drive, and I boosted the memory to 16gb. Despite the fact that it is essentially an eight-year old computer it does pretty well everything I need it to and it has a nice big screen for doing analysis of Bible passages. Its biggest weakness is that it doesn't have a webcam, so for

A brighter week in store

I'm feeling brighter this week and the reason is pretty superficial - the weather is good! But it's not just that. Also I have a less frantic week in terms of zoom meetings. Yesterday we made a little trip to Lidl together. During confinement we never went out together at all. Now in phase 1 of deconfinement we can do that, so we summoned up all our courage and hied us away to Lidl in search of goodly fare. Generally all was well but they had no porage oats so I have to shuffle off elsewhere later, bringing a moral dilemma - do I go to our nearest supermarket or do I deliberately go to the further one just so I get to walk further. I think we all know the answer... Here's some photos of the nature in town.

At the quincaillerie

One of the downsides of our flat is that quite a lot of the fixtures and fittings are not of the best quality. The windows are fine, thankfully, but I'll be surprised if the sink unit lasts 10 years. It's the cheapest tat you find in the least prestigious diy shops, and was installed with the corresponding level of care. So our Heath Robinson system of outpipes under the sink is leaking a little. I took off the trap and cleaned it out and put it back and screwed it as tight as possible, but the leak isn't coming from the trap. It's coming from some of the other joints. One good way of making these joints good is to use a little PTFE tape. It actually helps you screw the fittings together, but it also fills the threads and stops leaks. It's great. But the hardware stores were closed during confinement. Then they opened the out of town ones. Ha! They're no good to townies like us! But now the ones in town are open. I went in to one of my favourites. They made

Out in the city once more


A tough week

It's been a tough week. For one thing I've had LOTS of meetings by zoom or varying kinds. Some have been very helpful. Others have been demanding. All have been important. These have included : 1) A doctrine day on the incarnation run by the Pastors' Academy. First time for me to attend an event of this kind and it was very stimulating. 2) A conference run by a new group of presbyterians in the UK called Gospel Reformation UK. It involved three addresses, by Kevin deYoung, by Garry Williams and by Jonty Rhodes. Again, this was stimulating and helpful 3) The CNEF33 pastorale designed to share issues relating to confinement and more urgently to deconfinement. We adapted quickly and well to confinement. Preparing for deconfinement and adapting to its demands is like to be far more difficult. The national CNEF group is proving to be very helpful, producing succinct advice for churches like, "holding house groups during this period is strongly discouraged".

French Evangelical losses to covid-19

According to surveys done by the CNEF, French evangelical churches have lost 72 people to covid-19, including 31 from the church that became the centre of a cluster in Mulhouse.

Blasted gourds!

With our new status as "vulnerable persons" come some consequences. 1) We're not likely to be allowed to go to church. (yes, you read that correctly) 2) We're not likely to be allowed to sing in choirs, especially since choral singing in lethal, according to the Gospel Coalition . Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I frown.


We've received our Bordeaux Municipal face-masks, made of what seems like slightly shiny, close-woven poly-cotton. It's actually fairly tough to breathe through! The idea is that you wear once for up to four hours, then wash it at 60°C. You must not take a mask off and put it back on. That means that sometimes you'll need multiple masks to get you through the day, and some way of carrying supposedly contaminated masks home to wash them. The alternative is to wear disposable paper masks like surgeons do in hospital. The shops are selling them at about 95c each. But you can make a serviceable alternative.  You need two sheets of kitchen paper, a paper handkerchief and a stapler. Also some rubber bands or a length of string that will go round your head one and a half times. Put the kitchen paper on your work-surface and fold it into three lengthways. Open up the two sheets and pop a folded paper handkerchief between them. Take the bottom "third"


OK, I've got my favourite recipe. It's for a no-knead "turbo" bread. In a large bowl (in France once uses a salad bowl) put 1 1/2 cups of hand-hot water and a good spoonful of yeast. Add 3 cups of flour and mix till all the flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with cling-film and put in a warm place to prove for two to four hours, till it's well risen. De-gas the dough by poking it vigorously with a spoon or spatula and turn it into a bread pan. Cover the bread-pan with cling-film and put in a warm place to prove for up to an hour. Once you see the dough is rising well preheat the oven to its hottest setting. Once the dough and oven are ready, place a tin of water in the bottom of the oven and the dough on its shelf, then turn the oven down to 200°C and bake for forty minutes. Voilà !

C'est ça

After a couple of fruitless attempts to get to talk to my doctor (10am. Ah no, she's with a patient, try at 11:45. 11:45 phone rings endlessly.) I decided to check at the pharmacy. So in I goes with my prescription. The pharmacist gets my life-giving herbs. Incidentally I'm wearing my Bordeaux-issue face-mask, nice and white but tightly woven so every breath is an effort - but it does stop you picking your nose. Thinks - what is to pick your nose in French? "So does that stuff mean I'm a vulnerable person?" "Oh yes." "Because in England it's very clear - if you're called up for the 'flu vaccination you're a vulnerable person and you don't get to come out of lockdown, but here it seems more flexible." "Well, you just need to be very careful." "Like, no cinemas, no theatres, no restaurants." "That's it." Attentive readers will be aware that they're all closed just now, anyway

A quick trot to Lidl

Lidl were selling their occasional bargain sewing machines yesterday, so I made a quick trot out there, arriving probably at about 9:15. Catrin is hoping to begin sewing. They open at 8:30, but by the time I got there all had been sold. I was glad to have avoided the possible scrummage and fisticuffs and used the visit instead to buy some of their coffee pods and a couple of other things we don't find in our local supermarket at the moment. On the way I stopped to experience as much as I could the flowers and trees along the path. Below are some photographs. Our mayor wants us to wear facemasks in public transport, in shops, in parks and even in some streets. The city is providing everyone with a washable mask, so he considers this a reasonable demand to make. So I wore one of Pat's masks all the way to Lidl and back. They sure make you hot, those things! The latest tentative proposition from the French government is that, if all goes well and there is no new escalation o

Well just look what I found!

Yesterday the flat became stifling so I decided to go out for my statutory hour of walking my neighbourhood. Only problem - torrential downpours. It's been raining now for what seems like months, but is actually just about two days or so. After lunch the clouds took a siesta so I ventured out. Now, if you go shopping you can go further afield and for longer, so I ticked that box and took my rucksack and an order for lemonade from someone here with cravings for it. Off I went and ambled through the streets looking at how various buildings were progressing. I found myself by the station and thought I'd go over the west bridge and come back over the east bridge (the wibbly bridge - it zig-zags), so down I came to the station forecourt. It's weeks since I've seen the station forecourt and - hey, what's that? Just beyond the station, where the row of über-french cafés starts, I was sure I could see horse chestnut trees! And sure enough, that's what they were. I sto