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)

Friday, December 25, 2020


 It's not that early - 7:45 here in Bordeaux - but I'm still the only one up so far. This year there's been more talk of Plygain that usual.

Plygain is the old Welsh tradition of carol services. They'd take place in the early morning, usually in a country church or chapel, and people would turn out in droves - just as popular as Carol Services today or more so. The local clergy person would open proceedings then invite people up to sing, and unrehearsed groups, in the old days generally of men, would come to the front and sing the old traditional carols by heart.

The old Welsh traditional carols were full of biblical references identifying the infant Jesus as the one who came from Bozrah, the shoot from the stump of Jesse, the promise given to Adam, the lawgiver on Sinai, and so on.

I think the fear is that the tradition is now dying out and all memory of it, too. One church in Montgomeryshire where the plygain had its roots has just closed. Children who grew up with plygain are now in their 80s or 90s. 

Times do change. Maybe plygain is dying out, but this year there's been a flurry of recordings and reminiscences. A couple of internet searches will find you lots of information, from people translating some of the best-known songs - "Ar gyfer heddiw'r bore" (my favourite) and "Wele cawsom y Meseia" , for example - along with versions sung by opera stars and shepherds - and even a "plygain rhithiol" - a virtual plygain. That's one way to learn the Welsh word for virtual...


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Every day an Advent or Christmas song

 high art from Peter Warlock :

Monday, December 21, 2020

A covid Christmas

 Well today was to have been the day that we flew to Gatwick, then took the train to Norwich to spend Christmas with Gwilym and Beth in Norwich. We were due to stay exactly one week. A couple of weeks ago, concerned about the instability of the situation in both France and the UK, we decided to cancel our flights and commit to staying here.

As things stand today we're glad we did. Norwich is not in a particularly high tier in the UK, but travel from the UK to France is currently impossible. Rumours suggest that France will be reconfined early in January. If this happens we'll be back online for our meetings. So for the moment we're better off staying at home.

As it is we have a few friends coming for Christmas - we're allowed up to six people. There's still some work that I need to get done and I have some videos to film. Other than that I'm staying away from Zoom and video calls as much as I can! It will be good to have a little peace and quiet to rest and recover ready for January.

As I type the European regulator has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in the EU and the French government is intending to begin its campaign of vaccination from next weekend. They'll begin with residents and staff in retirement homes, then progress to front-line health care workers. Pat and I can reasonably expect to be vaccinated from about March to June, I think.

A covid Christmas. It's not the Christmas you dreamt of, but the gospels tell us that the Son of God didn't come into a world where all is calm and all is bright, but into a world of crazy bureaucracy, forced travel, violence and refugees fleeing for their lives.

It's to people like us, caught up in events beyond our control, that God sends his Son to be Emmanuel, God with us.

Every day an Advent or Christmas song


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Every day an Advent or Christmas song

 Unrivalled diction. Instantly recognisable rubato :

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Every day an Advent or Chrismas song

 Today Isaac Watts' setting of Psalm 98, Joy to the World :

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Friday, December 11, 2020

The next phase of confinement

 The rules change next Tuesday. From then we will no longer be confined, as such, and there will be no time limit on leaving home and no restrictions on how far we can travel within France.

However, there will be a curfew. Each evening everyone must be home by 8pm, unless they are engaged in essential work.

The rules for church gatherings are unchanged.

Each day an Advent or Christmas song

It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old, From angels bending near the earth, To touch their harps of gold: "Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, From heaven's all-gracious King." The world in solemn stillness lay, To hear the angels sing. Still through the cloven skies they come, With peaceful wings unfurled, And still their heavenly music floats O'er all the weary world; Above its sad and lowly plains, They bend on hovering wing, And ever o'er its babel sounds The blessed angels sing. Yet with the woes of sin and strife The world has suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not The love-song which they bring; O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing. And ye, beneath life's crushing load, Whose forms are bending low, Who toil along the climbing way With painful steps and slow, Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing. O rest beside the weary road, And hear the angels sing! For lo!, the days are hastening on, By prophet bards foretold, When with the ever-circling years Comes round the age of gold When peace shall over all the earth Its ancient splendors fling, And the whole world give back the song Which now the angels sing.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

At the pharmacy

 had to go to the pharmacy the other day and got served by the big boss - I say the big boss, he's quite tall. Anyway I asked how everyone is - fine, he said, but doing lots of covid tests. 

The antigenic ones?

Yes - but with not many positive tests.

That's good. Salivary?

No, in the nose, just like the other test.

And another version, with subtitles


Every day an Advent or Christmas song

 Today a Welsh carol plygain.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Every day an Advent or Christmas Song

Every day an Advent or Christmas song. 

A group of us sang this in 1981 in the Honeywell Works Canteen in Hemel Hempstead.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

A slight catastrophe

 PG Tips teabags have vanished from the supermarket shelves in our area. 



Who knows! Anyway we found some Typhoo or Tetley or something, then in utter desperation I decided to order from Amazon. Four boxes of 240 bags. That might get us through to Christmas.

They came, we opened them with great joy. The first cup fo tea was good. The next brew was dreadful. Weak and insipid.

Closer inspection of the tea bags reveals that some are filled normally, but other have only a tiny amount of tea in them.

I've contacted Unilever to ask for an explanation.

Every day an Advent or Christmas song


Thursday, December 03, 2020


 Bit of a wobbly day yesterday. 

For one thing we were all waiting for the government to decide on the rules for social distancing for places of worship. They had set a limit of 30 people. This had caused great consternation all around. Imagine the great cathedral with 30 people! 

Then we were still wondering whether we'd be able to go to the UK for Christmas. We had tickets - on the fourth flight we tried. The first booking with Ryanair was changed to a different airport. Then it was cancelled. So we booked with Easyjet. Then that was changed to a difefrent airport and we were given the choice of cancelling. We really wanted to go, but what about testing, quarantine in the UK and in France, and would our flights be cancelled last minute.

In the end we decided that we would accept that Christmas in the UK this year was not going to happen. I cancelled our flights and took a voucher so that we can go over as soon in the New Year as we can.

That just left the government. They had talked about requiring 6m2 per person. Previously it had been set at 4m2 per person which gives around 30 people in our room. 6m2 would allow fewer than 20. It would mean going back online.

Eventually the message was passed around - two empty seats between each person or family group, and leave alterante rows of seats empty. We can live with that!

The day ended with me feeling much less wobbly - still sad at not speding Christmas all together, but at least we can see a way forward.

Every day an advent or Christmas song - Come thou long-expected Jesus

Every day an Advent or Christmas song. I had to search to find one that didn't use Hydrofoil as a tune. I wanted this one, written by Stainer, I think. Sorry about the red-robed choir - and the intrusive 'r's. But we do get Wesley's words. Somehow I don't think Wesley thought of this as a seasonal hymn.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

From the 4th Century Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, born near Tarragona in Spain

 Every day of Advent a Christmas or Advent song. 

Today from the 4th century Spanish Aurelius Prudentius Clemens :

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

You have to keep your wits about you

 Anti-covid regulations change and we have to change our plans with them. So we are in a phased deconfinement at present. This means that shops are open again, with longer opening hours permitted, up till 9pm. Also Sunday trading is permitted. This doesn't affect us in Bordeaux much because Bordeaux is a tourist city, so Sunday trading is allowed anyway between certain hours.

Cafés and restaurants are not allowed to open, but they can do takeaways and delivery. People are showing huge ingenuity in finding ways to encourage people to buy takeaways. One of our favourite places was doing picnic baskets to take to the nearby park. Others are selling takeaway drinks in a huge variety of containers. 

Churches have stayed open for private prayer, but now services can be held with a maximum of 30 people, not including those officiating. Since we have a disproportionate number of people on duty, doing video-projection, accompaniment, stewarding, etc, this means we can meet with no difficulty. The cathedral, however, is severely limited : putting 30 people in that massive edifice is like serving one green pea in a soup tureen. Meanwhile the catholics of the Pius X group (LeFevre's tridentine traditionalists) held an open-air mass in the Jardin Public attended by 300 people, and are facing legal pursuits in consequence. The parish of Cauderan held ten masses in different chapels and churches, presided over by different priests in order to get the folk through.

The Conseil d'Etat has given the government three days to change this limit of 30 people into something a little more sensible, given that places of worship vary so much in size. So tomorrow at the latest we'll see what will change. I hope there will not be a massive requirement for space per person - at 4m2 per person we can function. Increase this to 6 and it's in doubt. Make it 8 and all doubt is removed, we're online once more.

Meanwhile being back at the church building has positives and negatives. It is good to leave the flat, even though once gets very used to staying indoors in warmth and safety. It is good to see each other, to great each other from afar, to share our news and admire our haircuts. Preaching through a mask is tiring and I never realised before how much facial expressions contribute to it all.

As for Christmas, well who knows what will happen. We are due for a further jettisonning of restraint on 15 December, and just a week later we're supposed to fly to England to spend Christmas with Gwilym and Beth in Norwich. However will the flights be maintained? Will we have to quarantine on arrival or on our return? For us we can live what that, but Catrin can't really quarantine because she's a teacher, so a need to quarantine means she can't go.

Every day a new Christmas song

 One of the rich aspects of being an international church is that many Christmas songs have different versions in the UK, in France and in the USA. I expect Canada adds its own fruit to the pudding, but of that I know nothing. It means planning a carol service can be a puzzle. So in a fit of positivity I decided to make a list of all the Christmas carols I know and to indicate whether the UK, FR and USA versions differ. 

( I left out things like the Cherry Tree Carol, all the ones about Apple Trees and 20th Century mediaevalism, like Sir Christemas, Wolkym Yeule and all the rest...)

Then I thought, why not share a Christmas Song every day till Christmas. Originally I thought maybe the Daveys could sing them, but covid. Then I thought it might be a good opprtunity to use the Acapella app on the smartphone. 

So here's the Kings Singers. https://youtu.be/5ZPlhAVsmPQ