Christmas. Christmas week. Lots and lots of sweets.

That is one of my abiding memories of childhood. We hardly had sweets. Or at least sweets freely available. Except for Christmas week, when plastic pots of Quality Street and Licorice Allsorts would appear. And then…it was sweets before breakfast, in between meals and in between sweets….

Someone bought my children some marshmallows. They don’t like them. I do. To be more exact, I like anything sweet. Particularly sweets composed entirely of e numbers and the remnants of the colouring used in biological warfare, like these.
I know it’s Christmas as I eat sweets a lot. I eat them when I want to and when I don’t want to. I eat them if I have to go into the kitchen. I eat them if I have something difficult to do- in order to put it off. They become comfort- kind of a la recherche du temps perdu I guess……
I think at this time we all do stuff that casts us back & helps us recall childhood or imagined childhood.
Back to the present……. is it just me or is this a common experience(?)- I have such a comedown contemplating my first official day ‘back to work’ in January (a bit of work 2moro, a service on Sunday- so Monday 5th…. In fact its getting me so much that I have to go to the kitchen to do some jobs and eat some sweets…..
How do you do that ‘imagined childhood’/ ‘Christmas warmth’ bit? And no- you can’t have any of these sweets. They are all mine. Besides, there soon won’t be any left….

I remember the excitement of being allowed to stay up until the new year when I was a lot younger… well it is nearly 2009 & I’m excited (and my 7 year old nearly managed it).
I leave you with this from the amazing http://nakedpastor.com/. If you have not read it, you should.
Happy new year/ blwyddyn newydd dda!

…I’m not dead yet…

Being of a certain age…you may remember the title from Monty Python somewhere or another (I have just had to explain to my 7 year old as to who they were)..

Here are 2 boring Woolies pictures.

I went yesterday when I was in Oldham (Oldham is that kind of place)- it was like raking over the belongings of a dying, loved friend.

Did I really need to spend £5.98 on a DVD of ‘There will be blood’ or Neil Diamond ‘Twelve songs’ ( Rick Rubin is the producer- that is my excuse & I’m sticking to it)? No—-but they were cheap. Here is a thought- the demise of Woolies has been mourned and lamented, but give us a chance and we are ripping the fittings off the walls to try and get a bargain. I am no better- I picked up a copy of ‘Seasick Steve- I was born with nothing and I still have most of it left’- the assistant said it was only £5.98. I said ‘No thank you’….thinking that I could get it cheaper from Amazon….

Such is the loyalty of the British (or this British) consumer.

What is there left to believe in, now that we know that shopping won’t sustain? Hmmm….still have a feeling we are like junkies and if more retail fixes are offered, we will take them. We can’t, with the help of others, or Another, go cold turkey and try something different.

I’m back…2 (late night) thoughts….

Back from the frozen north to the even more frozen north…

(1) I could watch a junky movie over and over and over again. Negligible character development, wooden dialogue, gratutious bloodshed and ahigh bodycount and I’m ‘in the zone’ (I haven’t got a clue what that phrase means but it is used a lot).

Late at night, knackered, something like Jurassic Park ‘ticks all the boxes’ (I’m being paid per cliche). To my befuddled and resting mind, most of the Freeview channels are repeating various Jurassic Parks ad nauseum at the moment. One of the beauties of this series of movies is that you cannot tell which is which…it is pure mindless entertainment.

Watching one a day or 2 back hit me—it suddenly got serious. The Jeff Goldblum character said something like:-

‘You have been too busy working out that you could, without thinking whether you should’.

And just before we returned to the wooden dialogue, blood etc, I’m thinking ‘Wow….. and therein lies my weakness and the whole of my western culture’s weakness…. and right in the middle of a pulpy film.’

(2) Passing an ergonomically designed M&S lorry on the way down to Manchester. On the side of the lorry was some helpful blurb about the design of the lorry and M&S’s green credentials (I find it incredibly helpful seeing lots of interesting writing on the side of a lorry. Particularly when you are passing it at speeds of between 69.5 and 70.5 mph (and if you’ll believe that…) in tricky road conditions and you are programmed to read anything….).

Is it just me….. or would the biggest contribution to the environment be to stop making lorries full stop… and to stop making so much stuff to sell to people whose houses are so full of stuff in the first place (ie people just like me…..)?

…oh no it’s not…oh yes it is…

It shouldn’t work- bad jokes, iffy acting (in fact brilliant acting does not work), dancing, the leading man is a woman and the comedy woman is a man. It shouldn’t work but it does. Welcome to the world of panto…..

It is one of the best things about being British (alongside rain, rain, rain, talking about what the weather will do next (rain) and oh…rain). It has to be northern to be best as well. So, last night; that is where I was- in Middlesbrough watching panto- and it was glorious. Probably a lot better than the panto taking place at the Riverside ( they lost 1-0; they teeter just above the relegation zone and have the easy task of Man Utd at Old Trafford…oh dear)…

Sat there, amidst the laughs, I got thinking about the parallels of that other Great British institution- the church.

Cynically (never a good idea—- I keep thinking Psalm 1— ‘sitting in the seat of scoffers’— it is great to scoff, very satisfying, but it becomes an addiction that eventually destroys…); arcane ritual accesible only to an in crowd (in this case the British), funny costumes, jargon (‘oh no it isn’t….. oh yes it is…… he’s behind you) and things, for some reason that just have to be done for it to be ‘proper’…although no-one quite knows why…

Hopefully– a disparate group of people having fun, making sense of the world, celebrating, laughing and interacting with each other (ok- we are all facing the front, but I know of no other theatre experience where you talk to the person next to you), all ages engaged and enjoying it….

Ok- that breaks down in lots of ways and maybe I should just watch stuff and not think- wish I could. I do love a good panto, but it has to be at Christmas…. My next big experience is next Saturday in the FA cup- Middlesbrough v Barrow. I suspect it will not be like watching Brazil… and it may be like panto, but without many laughs…

Ok- the fellow on the right was in it….bringing all the acting skills of an ex joiner who won a reality TV show (the first Big Brother)- actually he was quite good. I am just jealous- I’d love to be on stage as a performer…telling jokes, riffing…getting a reaction. Hmmm…I think I do that most Sundays…

After a world beating series of successive blogs I am taking a few days off….Manchester…my in laws… a few days of watching TV…being fed and half-arsed parenting (think ‘The Royle Family’) whilst I am spoilt rotten. Chance now to quote one of my many favourite Smith’s lyrics:-

‘Manchester, Manchester: such a lot to answer for’.

..which I think says it all…

Happy Christmas part 17

It has been done elsewhere on the blogosphere, but check this out:- http://red.msn.com/.

Click on U2 (where else!) and see how a familiar song is recast: ‘but I believe in the Israelite..’ It is a frequent U2 thing- reworking something (often their own songs) to twist the meaning. Lots to think about here in (subtle) evangelism.

Have to go- house full of presents, chocolate and unwashed kids…

I’m still excited (part 2)

Random things that have made me excited since yesterday:-

(1) My Q magazine arrived this morning….. ‘they’ are on the front page (see yesterday) and there is an ‘in depth’ interview (well as in depth as a magazine that has taken the corporate dollar can be…..now there is Gen X irony for you- I’m ironic, detached, but I still read the thing)…

(2) Fractious wife and children yesterday, so I moved stuff around and went to see ‘Madagascar 2’ with Matthew and Benjamin- not as good as the original, but plenty of wry laughs. Watching films, eating junk food and it is called ‘child minding’. That for me is a result every time (my summer version of this is walking across the fields at the back of our house with Matthew and Benjamin, watching cricket, filling them full of lemonade and crisps and me drinking beer). We also repeatedly played ‘Hallelujah’: the Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen versions. The voting from a 7 year old and a 4 year old was for the ‘old man’s version’….

(3) This:-

(see image at the top- I couldn’t get it to embed)

It has been seen in loads of places on the web and I’m just repeating myself- but I like it. I have a soft spot for what this organisation do and a friend of a friend produces this clip. Note: Justin Hawkins (ex Darkness) as the singer.

I won my only preaching bet ever through the Darkness. A few years ago at Ben’s dedication, I told a friend who rarely came to church that I was going to preach about ‘I believe in a thing called love; just listen to the rhythm of my heart’. He could not believe that I would (why do people persist in thinking that church is alien and unrelated to culture…and why do large parts of the church persist in living up to that belief?) and bet me £5. I forgot this until after the service, when he came up to me, laughed and produced £5. Wonder what I could get if I tried a similar thing on Babyshambles’ ‘F*** Forever’? Maybe not…. If you google, check out Justin Hawkins new band ‘Hot Legs’ and their new download ‘I’ve found Jesus’…

(4) Check out this thoughtful upload…..


(5)My favourite hymn line of this season- rendered here in all it’s 18th century glory:-

‘Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’

Nadolig Llawen i bawb……