Grammatical Rant:5

‘Your so good’

I’m sorry: your ‘what’ is so good? Your tree, dog, significant other? It certainly isn’t your grammar.

‘Is this you’re bag?’

Is this you are bag? Are you into surrealist sentences perchance?

We can all make grammatical slip ups: I do from time to time (and hang my head in shame when I do). However, the confusion of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ is so bad, so major that each time I read it on social media I am tempted to unfriend the person. How does someone over 30, with even a modicum of education manage it?

Honestly- I’m tempted to write a passive aggressive blog post about it.




Radiohead and rest homes

I have blogged on something like this before (I have blogged on many things before. Indeed, the whole of this site is like ‘ten thousand thousands were his texts, but all his sermons one’) but here goes…

I went to see Radiohead just over a week ago. It was beyond fantastic: indeed my appreciation of it has grown since I went. Since ‘OK Computer’ back in ’98 they have spoken to me (OK ‘The Bends is pretty good as well, but I only got that around the time of ‘OK Computer’); they have followed their own path and do not seem to have pandered to the easy option. They gave me a voice and a hope; someone was trying to vocalise postmodern angst without rising major chords and stadium anthems (not that I am completely averse to that). Someone was trying to be an authentic and not a borrowed voice.

The night after I was leading an act of worship in a rest home (I would love to know how many in the crowd of 15000 the night before experienced that kind of juxtaposition). There came a moment, as this group of people sang the old harvest hymns that I almost stopped singing to listen. Some were reading and singing, and some just singing from a fading and disappearing memory.

Both the gig and this act of worship had what I crave: authenticity- there was a degree of honesty that was genuine and stunning.

Sometimes only the broken can bring any truth….

Friday Music

Ok, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to go to Manchester last Saturday, get home at 3am and get up to preach 3 seperate sermons in 3 locations at 8am,9.15am and 10.30am the next Sunday. But it was worth it to see this group:-


Sunday:so what did that mean?

(If you do this, then gardening is probably not for you)

We are trying to run a holiday club in half term. As part of that, I did the speaky bit at the Parade service at the Parish Church on Sunday. The passage was soundly exegeted via balloons, getting the congregation to do some Thom Yorke (Radiohead, dummy) dancing and holding a child upside down (don’t ask- it made sense at the time).

After that, as the service progressed, the group of boys, aged 6-7 in my Beaver Scout Troop gathered around to talk about the sermon. ‘You did this- why did you do it?’….. a pause…. then an explanation and a question back to them ‘does that make sense to you?’…then a pause and some further questions and a discussion. I was so lifted up and excited by the whole process.

In old language, that would be catechesis: teaching/ ‘instruction’. I guess they experienced much more than most at that service. And I wondered: where are the spaces(and the desire?) to do that for adults?

Still, these boys are naive and have no church background. They need to learn from us that the point is to have no questions and concommittent desire to learn and grow. They need to learn that any questioning is done internally and never shared with anyone else. They also need to learn that relating to each other as human beings in the sense of ‘I struggle with this’, ‘I am learning this’, ‘How can I do this’ or ‘This is just so fantastic!’ must be discouraged or at best kept out of church contexts.


Top ten album listening during 2011 meme…


I commented on this from Banksyboy and on this penultimate day of the year, it is time to take up this meme and for a long post.

This is in no particular order as it took me long enough to winnow out just 10 albums that I have bought (some are not 2011) during this year (thank the Lord for friends, freebies,ebay and amazon marketplace).

Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz. He tours Britain for the first time in 5 years and owing to severe fixture congestion during that particular week I do not make it. Not one of my better 2011 moments.

This is still discernably him but so different. Not quite ‘doing a Kid A’ but close. A definite grower.

Low: C’mon. I saw them again this year. Utterly fantastic. ‘$20’ melts anyone with a heart.

Radiohead: The King of Limbs. A new Radiohead album is always salivating over- this one one definitely so. Never to be filed under ‘easy listening’.

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo. An album that your 7 year old son and you can share without it being cheesy is good. This one is brilliant and the gig that I saw him at was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. A bonus is that I can almost play ‘If we were words we would rhyme’ on the guitar. That is a bonus for me and not for you.

Elbow: build a rocket boys! One of the good things about this year was freakishly reconnecting with the person who introduced me to Elbow years back. This guy was (and is) a friend of Guy Garvey. His story, of being left a single parent in his mid 30s following the death of his wife, always reminded me of the back story of ‘The Seldom seen kid’ (and during this year I worked out that another friend’s referencing of her friend Brian years back was indeed Brian Glancy ‘The Seldom seen kid’……. I am so close to fame). This album is not as immediate as the last but I love it’s themes of friendship and community.

(Ahk-toong bay-bi) covered. If I have a simple rule it is that albums by ‘various artists’ or ‘best ofs’ are to be barely tolerated. This one confounded that rule. Normally ‘best ofs’ given as freebies (this one with Q magazine) are album tracks or spares given away by a band to drum up sales. This one was different: specially commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Achtung Baby’. Amidst the straight readings there were some suprises like Snow Patrol reinterpreting ‘Mysterious Ways’ in an un Snow Patrol way. I could not stop listening to Jack White doing ‘Love is blindness’; maybe this track is only effectively played by people undergoing marriage break up.

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins ‘Diamond Mine’. If you forced me to chose a ‘best’ it would be this one. Small, yet perfectly formed. I also saw them with a very good friend in a very small venue. The best two chord song in the world: ‘John Taylor’s month away’.

James Blake ‘James Blake’. This year I met and spent some time in his house. He recommended this and I bought it. I listened to it the first time and thought ‘What on earth have I bought?!’. Then I kept listening and I grew to love it. My children like ‘Limit to your love’ as the car shakes when the dub beat comes in.

Foy Vance ‘Hope’. I had been tracking this for a few years until finally it dropped into my price range. Sprawling and maybe a track or two too long, I really like the honesty of the voice and the playing. I listen to this and feel like giving up guitar playing- he is immense. Memories of summer evenings driving back from teaching ‘and gently whispered hope’. Someone I spent some time with a couple of months ago had met him…. I hate him (in the Lord of course).

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci: ‘Barafundle’. Yes, I know this is ages old, but I just got hold of it (and ‘The Blue Trees’ and ‘Spanish Dance Troup’). Even though I only lived in Wales for 5 years, I still feel a sense of ‘hiraeth’ and I have recently been buying welsh music. This is incredible: defies genre- quirky, unique and brilliant (and occasionally ‘misses’). I wanted to put the song ‘Sometimes the Father is the son’ in this posting but could not find it; that one stops me in my tracks. You will have to make do with the weirdness of ‘Patio Song’.

I could have easily taken that to 20 albums and added ‘Mwng’ by the Super Furry Animals or ‘Hardcore will never die but you will’ by Mogwai amongst many many others. I cannot ever conceive of a situation where someone has too much music.

Just looking at my list and my description; most of this music seems to involve stories, people and events. Playing it brings those events back. I have a well thumbed copy of Q at my side and I am scanning their top 50 of 2011- my wish list may get bigger…


On this day

Radiohead released this a couple of years back with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion. Both utterly magnificent and haunting.

These are the lyrics, taken directly from things that Harry Patch said:-

“i am the only one that got through

the others died where ever they fell

it was an ambush

they came up from all sides

give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves

i’ve seen devils coming up from the ground

i’ve seen hell upon this earth

the next will be chemical but they will never learn


Just like coming home…

I can highlight important moments in my life by Radiohead albums.

This came a couple of weeks back and is just like coming home.

Wonderous, wonderous, wonderous. Like all the best things in life, it takes some work and is not immediately accessible. By no stretch of the imagination is it easy listening.

Currently I am listening to ‘Give up the Ghost’ and it moves me. It makes my 7 year old son laugh for some inexplicable reason but I’m working on him…

Random things I believe in part 5

(wrong. simply wrong. on more levels than I care to mention)

I like my music so I can hold it. Income and neo-luddite tendencies prevent me from downloading en masse. So that is one thing I believe in- music you can hold.

Unless pressed to do it, I believe that a cd collection that has a high percentage of ‘best ofs’ is not a proper collection. If you like an artist, you should get hold of the whole album and hear each piece in it’s context- not cherry pick the ‘nice’ songs.

I will make one or 2 exceptions: ‘Carry on up the charts’ by the Beautiful South is one exception and a cheap ‘best of’ before a concert to update your 8 year old son before he attends his first concert is another.

But apart from that- No, no, a thousand times no. It is impossible to appreciate ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘No alarms’ without sitting through ‘Electioneering’ (Radiohead- but then you knew that) or ‘Blackbird’, ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘While my guitar gently weeps’ while sitting through ‘Revolution number 9’ or ‘Why don’t we do it in the road?’ (from the White Album by that popular rnb combo, the Beatles).

I rest my case…

Part of a totally random series of things I believe in. You may believe that I have no consistency and am a mass of contradictions. This series proves it.

 I am away for a while. August this year is my ‘turn off month’. So if you respond to this I may not follow up for a few days.

Songs of Redemption opus 6

harry patch

‘Radiohead’: the very name sends me into paroxysms of ecstasy. Again there are loads of songs which have become songs of redemption for me (I was going to include ‘No suprises’; one as it is a great song, two as I can play the riff). Watching them last year in the open at a sunny Old Trafford cricket ground with the light fading and aircraft trails across the sky as they sang ‘Lucky’ was …….. I’m sorry I have no words.

A CD of theirs is an adventure in moods. I sincerely hope no one ever releasses a ‘best of’ or I will scream (albeit very tastefully, in a supressed middle class way). They now say that full albums are no more: individual downloads are the way forward.

Anyhoo, my song of redemption is the only song I ever paid to download and best of all, all proceeds go to charidee. Find it here

It is ‘Harry Patch: in memory of’. Released just before Harry Patch, our last WW1 veteran died. It is stunning… beautiful and moves me to manly tears. With the sparse, Bartok-like strings it evokes the horrors better than any media I know….

‘i am the only one that got through
the others died where ever they fell
it was an ambush
they came up from all sides

i’ve seen devils coming up from the ground
i’ve seen hell upon this earth

I’m blogging all week on songs which move me. It’s half term and my brain is fried.

…Like Spinning Plates….


spinning plates

I’ve been running this song through in my head for a few days now; (there is no way I know to describe that properly- my head is like an i-pod- I must carry loads and loads of songs in there…):- ‘Like Spinning Plates’ by Radiohead. I can go back to a specific time and place with that song. But that is what life is like for me right now.

I can remember a scene from ‘Blue Peter’ in the 1970s- a guy spinning plates on sticks and he kept loads of them going. I feel like that- this week has been too intense…. I’ve not kept up with people, forgetting things, family and friends’ birthdays etc…. It is as if I’ve come to the end of the sticks and I’ve still got plates left….

Funny… I pray about it and sometimes my prayers are like ‘Help me to keep spinning’. Maybe God doesn’t want that (now if someone had assumed a beatific smile when I was stressed and given me that advice, I would have stifled an urge to plant them one)- maybe sometimes our prayers are around ‘Lord help me to maintain this lifestyle in the way that I want. Amen.’ And maybe sometimes that is why people get worked up and cry out ‘where is God?’ because he hasn’t….. (there are so many things where it is valid to cry out ‘How long Lord’…… most have little to do with our western expectations).

If you buy into ‘Jesus is Lord’ I think this is what you submit to…. it ain’t about your plans pal. Trouble is when you have been fed the line ‘I chose Jesus as my personal saviour’……..well that can sometimes lead to ‘it’s all about my choice…and look at my household god…isn’t he cute…….. jump jesus jump….higher…..good boy’.

Anyway…no time for blogging- out of my way-hand me some plates….