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)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Effets secondaires

 (Side effects). The doctor told Pat that 50% of people who get the AstraZeneca vaccine suffer side effects ranging from soreness in the arm where the nurse injected you through to full-on flu-like symptoms for one or two days. Take paracetamol. Take it straight away. Don't wait.

Pat waited but sure enough full-on flu symptoms developed about 8 to 10 hours after the injection. So she's popping paracetamol.

I would see it as an encouraging sign. She's getting a strong immune reaction to the vaccine. Those T-cells are being made.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Medical stuff!

 So this morning I accompanied Pat to her doctor's appointment. She phoned her doctor the other day to check on the results of an annual blood test - we both get annual blood tests - and her doctor said, "Have you been vaccinated? Would you like to be?" 

So Pat made an appointment and we moseyed on over there this morning. The story is that currently people aged 50 to 63 who have serious health issues like compromised immune systems are being vaccinated. However, Pat's doctor knew she would have several doses of vaccine left over from an opened phial so rather than waste it she offered it to people who called.

First there was some computerised administration to accomplish, then we went down to the office of a very kind nurse who duly stuck it in Pat's arm. One guy filmed his own vaccination recently, so she wasn't at all surprised when I took a photo.

Meanwhile I have started my zero-residue diet. It's essentially an adolescent's idea of paradise - meat and taters but no fruit and no veg. I can haz pasta and I can haz rice. For breakfast it's out with the oatmeal and in with cornflakes and toast. When I was 15 I would have loved this.

We worked out that I am also allowed pancakes and waffles etc, so one day we'll do that. I have to do this until Tuesday, when it's clear fluids only. They imagine me drinking clear stock. I think not.

We called at the pharmacy to get my Tuesday evening "meds". I have two doses to take, one on Tuesday evening and one at 3am on Wednesday morning. I asked the pharmacist if I could advance them to, say, early evening and 11pm. No, was the categorical reply.

Oh well. It's all part of life's rich pageant.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hey pigeons, meet the cat!

 I greatly enjoyed this short and sweet little article.

The gardeners are hard at work


Yesterday they dug a dirty great hole, then filled it in. Today it's mounds of beautiful black soil. We sometimes watch and dream of tall trees full of songbirds.

More on moral failures in ministry

 This time a short plea to you, and to myself.

When someone suggests that you are making a mistake, or committing an error, or on a wrong path, or even suggests that there is some dreadful secret in your life, please don't react with anger and indignation.

Your goal is not to establish your own innocence and righteousness. Not if you are a Christian.

Your goal is to face up to your own pervasive guilt and moral ineptitude, and to accept an alien, imputed righteousness freely given to you, and then to make progress towards a holiness that at present you do not have and can not obtain, and that you need absolutely if you are to see the Lord face to face.

That means even a scurrilous, erroneous, malicious accusation could be useful in achieving your highest goal - glory. 

Entertain the possibility that there is a grain of truth in the accusation. There may well be.

Thank the person and tell them you will take what they say seriously.

Then do so. 

Consult someone who knows you well, without naming your accuser if possible. 

"Do you think that I might be...."

"Has someone said something?"

"It's not that, it's just that I wonder whether..."

If it's a serious accusation, invite investigation. 

Call in outside help if appropriate.

Get help dealing with persistent bad habits that affect your relationships, discipleship and service.

Remember, if you are sincere, you believe that the eternal fate of your soul is at stake.

If you are not sincere then leave quickly and discreetly and get some other job.

We have assured people at Bordeaux Church that all serious accusations will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. We think this will help to prevent frivolous accusations, but also that people will know that we care about their well-being here, and hereafter.

Friday, February 19, 2021

I almost put the phone down

 I get lots of cold calls from different companies, and they always try to make it sound like you are expecting their call. They go like this :

Allo ?

"M. Davey?"


"C'est la Société Machin Truc-de-Bidule"

That's the moment when I say "Ah non ! Merci beaucoup ! Au revoir !" and put the phone down.

This time the conversation went :

Allo ?

"M. Davey?"


"C'est le service ambulatoire"

Ah bon ?

"La date du 3 mars est confirmée."

It was then that I twigged who it was. The hospital was phoning not to postpone the visual inspection of my innards but to tell me that we're on and to get ready.

Ah bon.

So here's the timetable :

Saturday 28 February - begin the régime sans-résidu. Basically I am allowed lightly cooked lean meat, poultry or fish along with potatoes, pasta or white rice. For breakfast bland cereal or white bread. No fibrous vegetables. No beans or pulses. No fruit. Essentially a really bad, bland diet.

Monday 1 March 10 am get my covid PCR test - this is the stick up the nose test.

Tuesday evening 2 March - The Purge (must get the purgative beforehand ready)

Wednesday 3 March bright and early present myself at Xavier Arnozan hospital.

I hope to be home at lunchtime with it all behind me.

If you'll pardon the expression.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Getting a new battery put in the MacBook Air

 We bought Catrin's MacBook Air when she started her degree course in 2015. Recently the battery has struggled to hold much of a charge, so we looked at it. "Service battery", said the diagnostic.

You can order the batteries, the special screwdriver to open the computer and the various bit and bobs to prise the battery out, or you can get a cokmputermonger to repair the thing for you with their screwdrivers, bit and bobs and knowhow. There are three such placed in Bordeaux, but all were booked up for rendezvous-vous a couple weeks ahead. But there's a branch of one in a small town shopping centre on the way to the sea. A short train ride gets you there easily. We booked a rdv for Monday and hied us away.

"We'll send you a quote then once you've paid it'll take a week."

We retrieved our fallen crests and left the thing there.

Next day the quote arrived, slightly cheaper than I expected. We paid.

Today the message arrived that it was ready to collect so off I went to get it.

I love our trains. We have these massive thundering trains with split-level carriages, big, curved sofas and jovial ticket collectors in smart, blue uniforms. They hurtle you along through the forests of maritime pine then warn you to watch out for the interval when you descend from the train.

Some French still seems awkward, though it comes out OK. 

"Good day. It's for to recuperate my daughter's MacBook. She you has called this morning."

"You have your piece of identity"



"Thank you"

"It's good for us"

"Till next time"

"Till next time"

She may get another 5 or six years out of it now. It's working fine and all is good.

This is "La Plage" nightclub, closed now for almost a year, I think.

 It basically takes up that entire block of somewhat decrepit buildings. The owner is now selling fruit and veg in the satellite town where he lives and some newspaper reports suggest that he is planning to convert the nightclub into cafés and restaurants. 

Yesterday we scuttled off to Pessac Alouette where we used to live for a quick walk amongst the trees of Bourgailh

 Pat and I talked about the past, the present and the future and enjoyed the mild weather with its hint of spring.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

OK, here we go

So another world-famous preacher with a global ministry named after him has been revealed to be abusive. He is the latest in a long and shameful line, and he won't be the last. Here's my two-pennorth.

People say it's a problem of, among other things :

a lack of accountability

a lack of focus on and involvement in the local church

a symptom of our embracing of the cult of celebrity

I'm sure these people are all right - it's all that and more. As for me I have been personally bruised and buffeted by a good number of these public, scandalous falls. Here's what I try and learn from them:

1) you can't think your way through - it's often the most brilliant people who wreck their lives

2) you can't rely on giftedness - some of the guys are the most gifted of their generation

3) money can be a huge temptation - so I have no direct access to church funds

4) power is intoxicating, so share it out and give it away (it's why we try always to have multiple elders, duh)

5) sexual attraction creeps up on you, so set strict safeguards on one-to-one counselling. 

Here's a couple of practical situations over the years : 

Once I was cornered into driving a particularly vulnerable lady to an evening meeting, alone. When I left the house Pat and I checked the time on the clock. When we arrived at the meeting I made a point of asking, "What time is it?" and remarking on it so people would remember. Things like this keep everyone as safe as possible.

A colleague found it difficult to work at home and felt too insecure to work alone in the church office, out of sight, behind locked doors. I point blank refused to share the office. "You're very strict about these things", she said. I'm still in my job, and so is she.

I don't have a church chequebook, though I am a signatory on the church account. To write a cheque or withdraw money I would have to contact the treasurer, just like anyone else.

I've never believed that I was intended to build a ministry, but rather to serve the Saviour by serving his church. I know that ministry and service are synonyms, but somehow they are also not exact synonyms, are they?

A friend once told me that the Lord had given him the assurance that he would never fall. That must be wonderful, but as for me, he has warned me that more intelligent, more gifted and more respected people than me have absolutely wrecked their lives and damaged the lives of countless others.

15 February : I want to add a couple things :

It's not enough to argue that the correct polity will safeguard everyone. It's essential, but insufficient.

You also need a healthy does of the fear of God and a real grasp of the seriousness of the gospel call to that holiness "without which no-one will see the Lord".

Add to this a distrust of yourself and an awareness of the deceitfulness of your own sinful heart.

Finally the best and most important ingredient is joy and satisfaction in Christ. "How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God"

Friday, February 12, 2021

We're holding our nerve, and so far it seems to be working

 We watched the health minister with bated breath. No, silly, not when he slipped off his shirt to be vaccinated and caused a sensation! When he made the weekly speech. He announced that the virus is circulating and active, but the situation is stable. 

We wondered whether our current 6 till 6 curfew would be maintained, or hardened to a weekend confinement, or even a full-time confinement. Last week the government closed all the big shopping centres - eleven in our department, about 7 of the Bordeaux centres - because that's where people mix most just now. The government really doesn't want to close down the economy any further than it is just now, but some scientists are pushing for stricter measures - even for a full confinement.

Well no. We stay as we are. And it seems to be working. Last week in Nouvelle Aquitaine our R number was calculated at 1.08. This week it's 0.92. Anything under 1 means a disease in retreat. Our number of cases per 100000 is lower and our rate of positive tests is still way under 5%. We're not doing systematic mass testing. We test people who have symptoms or who request a test.

So there we are. We continue as we are for now. The health minister says that it is possible that we will avoid another confinement completely.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

How to straighten your head out during a pandemic

 As well as the usual advice, like "Get up and get dressed, even if you're working from home", "maintain contact with people and with God", "read helpful things", "don't watch the news too much"... it's important to do the thing that helps you to maintain your physical and mental well-being. For some people it's team sports. For me it's music.

It's good for me physically because I've always played wind instruments or sung. It means working on your breathing. Good for an asthmatic. It's good for me mentally because my mind works like that. There's nothing quite like listening to Bach for clearing my brain of it's mental fug. There's nothing like singing or playing in an ensemble for totally engaging your mind. 

Jigsaw puzzles, colouring or sudoku don't cut it for me. I do a frightful amount of reading in my work anyway. TV series or films are OK if I have the time and if I feel like them. But I can't remember the last time I didn't feel like listening to some difficult music.

Now here comes the problem. I don't go to expensive concerts. I barely go to concerts at all! I've always sung and played. Some folks recently were asking what was the first concert people went to, and I imagine mine was probably a brass band concert somewhere in South Wales when I was about 13. 

Enter YouTube and Apple Music. Our Choir Director has very helpfully sent out some suggestions for groups to listen to, and very fine they have been, too. In addition groups like Voces8 have done choral workshops online. YouTube gives you Apollo5 as well as the Netherlands Bach Society, the Academy of Ancient Music and sundry others. Some of these groups have organised online concert series for a quite modest sum of money.

But the big find of this time has been a group called I Fagiolini, led by a rather ... unusual ... University Reader from York. This group, in addition to posting super choral videos, also produce a series called "Sing the Score" where they'll talk you through a piece of music before performing it. They have one asset which for me is a slight weakness. To me, they sing like excellent soloists rather than like an excellent ensemble. It's a bit like the difference in an opera between the quartet sung by the principal roles and the moments where the opera chorus sings. For me it's a weakness, but for others it would be a strength I'm sure. It's a question of taste.

I think they've done about 20 of these "Sing the Score" videos, and I've watched perhaps the first 7. I ration myself strictly, otherwise I'd being watch them and lose the effect!

One thing our choir has done for me is to open my ears to Herbert Howells as a choral composer. Anglicans what sing in cathedral choirs know their Howells, but I knew him as a brass band composer, firstly of the wonderful "Pageantry"  that we played a few times as a competition piece but also of the fiendish "Three Figures" we had to play for another competition, and which I hated. Herbert Howells four Carol Anthems were a real find this Christmas!

I Fagiolini gave me Thomas Tomkins, a Welsh composer in the time of Elizabeth 1st who spent most of his life working at Worcester Cathedral and wrote some wonderful part-songs.

A couple more things coming up - one is a massed choir of Welsh people singing "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" for a March 1st online concert. I must get on and register to do that. 1st March marks the thirtieth anniversary of my leaving my employment in British Telecom to become an assistant pastor in North Wales. Another is a series of online choral workshops that I might try.

Out to lunch

 It stopped raining this morning and my phone said it would be dry all afternoon so we left high ground and took the lift down to the swamp. We decided to walk down to a street in the Saint Pierre district where there are various street food places - one place sold empanadas, another focaccia and so on. When we got there the empanada place was closed and we fell back on something we know, caféincup. I got a toasted pastrami sandwich and Pat decided to go with BLT, but changed last minute for grilled cheese. I also got some ground coffee for my morning boost.

We took our bag of scran and found an empty bench looking out over the river. Bliss.

We can stay! (till 2031 at least)

 Our new Carte de Séjour arrived this morning. They're mighty fine and say on them "Permanente" and expiry date of 21/1/2031.

This is good news. Next week we'll help our daughter start applying for hers. She'll go on to ask for citizenship.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

A marriage at the town hall

 It's been so grey and gloomy today that I have ben obsessively putting all the lights on. It didn't actually rain until just before we were due to leave the flat, so we took our new Lidl umbrellas (those swanky ones that kind of open inside out) and headed off to our neighbour's wedding.

Pat got to know our neighbour over the last year. She's a woman with three small lively lads and just before Christmas she told us she was getting remarried. We met her fiancé who seems a nice guy, and they invited us to the wedding.

So off we went on the tram through the rain to the town hall. We had the time slightly wrong and arrived early, but we weren't the only ones, so we hung around under the portico trying to stop the kids from getting too messy and waiting for the wedding.

Two clerks were looking after the wedding parties, and they came over to check which party we were with and herded us into the wedding room, then fussed for a while until the happy couple arrived.

The wedding at the town hall is pretty good. They read the relevant clauses from the French marriage laws, detailing the duties and responsibilities of the couple towards each other and towards any children. At this point the boys said "it's us, the children!"

Afterwards there comes the "consentement", the moment when the mayor or his deputy says "Will you, Fred Bloggs born on such a date in such a place, take Elsie Higginbotham here present to be your spouse". The reply has to be "Yes".

From this comes the expression "ils se sont dit oui", they said yes to each other, which is an informal way of saying someone got married.

Then there's signing of the "Act of Marriage", optional exchange of rings and presentation of the pen that was used to sign the marriage act.

Then the clerks started to worry about getting us all out again in time for the next wedding to come in.

While we were waiting to go in for the wedding the police were mustering outside ready for the next demonstration of the gilets jaunes.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021


 An unusually high spring tide has combined with the passage of storm Justine to cause flooding along the Garonne. In Bordeaux this has been limited to the river banks. On the right bank the parks and some of the riverside roads have been flooded. On the left bank some of the walkways were under water.

Other towns have come off worse, with extensive flooding to town centres and to housing. In one town the mayor has been inspecting the problem in a boat and delivering bread to people who have chosen to stay in their homes.

It's perhaps the second or third time I remember this kind of problem in our 15 years here.

Evangelicals in France

 It's not an easy time. The government wants to tackle youth radicalisation, so it's targeting religious groups with a new proposed law. This was originally called the anti-separatism law, but is now renamed the law for the reinforcement of republican principles.

The problem in France is that Evangelicals are seen as being relatively new in the country - many churches have been founded essentially since the Second World War, and as an import from US culture - in France dubbed Anglo-Saxon. Recent US history has not encouraged a positive view of US evangelical politics, especially if you have limited exposure to real life French evangelicals, so there's a lot of ignorance around.

Thus our Minister of the Interior (equivalent of the Home Secretary) quite regularly gives the most horrifying TV interviews saying things like "anyone must be able to state formally that the laws of the republic are superior to the laws of any god", and "evangelicalism is a big problem, of course, obviously different to radical islam".

The law targets 1905 Associations. In 1905 a law for the separation of state and church had widespread support from protestant and evangelical churches because it guaranteed freedom for churches from state interference and also freedom for France from interference from any politically powerful church. It gave churches the right to register as 1905 Associations and to give tax relief to their donors. This right is extended to any group formed to organise worship, whether christian, buddhist, muslim, whatever. So many churches are registered as 1905 associations and most 1905 associations are in fact churches. Most mosques are registered as 1901 associations, subject to fewer conditions and not eligible for donor tax relief.

The law proposes that associations be banned from making any statement that is seen as counter-republican, and also states that any gift from overseas of more than 10 000 Euros should be declared and should make the association liable to professional auditing. The target is pretty obvious but the law as currently framed will miss its target and hit churches hard instead.

The Protestant Federation of France and the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France have been making representations to government and have had the support of the Roman Catholic Church, too, so there is hope that the law will be amended in such a way as to preserve religious liberty.

Otherwise I can imagine many churches dissolving their 1905 associations and declaring themselves as 1901 associations, with greater freedom.

Curfew etc.

 We are not in confinement. We can leave the flat at will any time between the hours of 6am and 6pm, for as long as we like and go as far as we like.

However, there is a curfew from 6pm to 6am. During this period if we are caught outside the flat we need a good reason, such as coming home from work, walking the dog, caring for a vulnerable person, etc.

Also the borders are closed to any country outside the European Union, so we can't go to the UK, for example.

Also anyone entering France from a EU country has to have a negative PCR test from within the last 72 hours.

All large shopping malls are closed, except for food retailers.

And the concert halls, cafés, restaurants, museums etc. are closed.

We avoid public transport more than we used to and although the weather is now much milder than in January, it's pretty wet, so buying take-out coffee and sitting on a bench somewhere isn't a very attractive option.

So I've taken to walking to one of the supermarkets every morning for enough shopping to fit in my backpack. Yesterday it was our local Carrefour, about 25 minutes walk away. This morning it was Lidl, about 20 minutes walk in a different direction. Lidl is nice because it is outside the mask zone, so you just have to mask up to go into the shop. Carrefour is about 5 minutes into the mask some so you have to mask up and demask in the street under the railway bridge.

I know this is what I always advised very elderly people to do, but hey - times are strange and we must adapt.