Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, April 29

Mrs mid-life crisis - the next installment.

Following our recent big row, my wife had come to terms with things and decided that maybe I was right; maybe we should stay in this area. In fact, there were indications of a vacancy on the PCC, and I arranged for her to get nominated. In fact, on that Sunday morning we heard that they short of people, so it sounded like a walk-in job.

However, she spent a lot of time preparing her ‘hustings’ speech, focussing on God’s concern for the marginalised in society.

We then found out that on that Sunday evening, the Vicar had gone round rounding up all the usual suspects – the ‘in crowd’- to stand for the PCC too.

So at the APCM there were 10 candidates for 6 vacancies.

Mrs’ speech was definitely the best in terms of content, but she came across as very nervous compared to all the others. It was her first time doing this kind of thing, whereas the others are all establishment figures who have been on the PCC before, and who probably didn’t really want to go on it again anyway, so they were much more relaxed.

You will have guessed by now that she didn’t get in. And that she has once again gone overboard with the sense of rejection. Obviously the nerves had a part to play, but it is hard to battle the conspiracy theory that the Vicar deliberately rounded up his favourites to keep her off the PCC.

So all the other crazy plans of selling up and moving away are back on the table.

I wish I had something sane and credible to offer her, but there really does seem to be nothing available to overcome the prejudices in the local church.

Wednesday, April 17

People in Need

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

She knocked on my door at about 9pm.

"I've had my incapacity benefit stopped and I've been sacked [from her dishwashing job at a cafe].  If it comes to it and I'm homeless, can I come and live in your house while I sort myself out?"

The above verse is very much in mind.

I have a big house, with lots of rooms.  But they are all in use in one way or another.  OK, it would be possible to make space.

But the young lady in question has a history of mental illness (schizophrenia I think) and drug abuse, which may both be related to her past involvement with 'New Age'-type religions, and I suspect that she is also what we might call 'Special educational needs'.

I can't handle her.  I don't feel I have the skills to care for her.  I don't have the time to care for myself, let alone others.  I have to protect my family first. 

She used to ask for me to pray for to be delivered of a spirit that was in her - the ghost of a World War II tank veteran. 

She used to claim that Jesus had given her the gift on knowledge, and tell me all sorts of things about my life and family - sometimes uncannily close to the truth but inappropriate to be talking about.  She reminded me of the slave girl that predicted the future in Acts 16:16-18

She got a job dishwashing at a cafe - 9am till 12 pm one day a week (unfortunately Sunday).  One day she knocked on my door  asking for a lift because she was late.  I obliged happily enough.  But that meant she came to depend on me, asking for lifts instead of setting her alarm clock earlier.  I started to say no.  So that is probably why she got sacked!

She started asking for money, for the bus, for cat food, etc.  I started feeling that it was too much, she was using me rather than sorting herself out, and I started to Say no to this too.  Not that it would stop her coming again!

So I really don't feel that I can take her in.  I feel she will manipulate and abuse and may never leave.

Of course if it was a middle class woman, I would say yes, anything.  So am I really just a snob?  Our faith commands us to treat all as equals and not to despise anyone, and to accept being used.  So I feel guilty for turning her away.

What would you do?
What would Jesus do?

What will I do?  Well, I referred her to the Citizen's Advice Bureau.  But I shouldn't stand alone in this.  She is well known to the church, which has experience and access to other helping organisations.  They will also check her story - has her benefit really been stopped?  Will she not get other benefits instead?  Will they really make a vulnerable woman with mental health issues homeless?  I can help, without necessarily having to take her into my own home.

(But I still feel guilty)

Tuesday, April 16

Sunday: Humble pie

I had spent Saturday afternoon babysitting while Mrs went upstairs to catch up on her MA essays, but it turned out that all she wrote was an essay on my sins for the past 24 years. On Sunday she wanted me to stay of church so that she could read it to me.

Now obviously there were points where she had got it wrong, but overall she raised some vary god points, and I was able to understand some of her deep hurts for the first time – things that I had been doing, thinking and intending they were for her good but which actually had the opposite effect.

Very large dose of humble pie.

So the short term practical outcome is that I have killed our plans for the future – though this is where I was probably technically correct. The long term outcome is that I will change the way I behave and talk

Saturday: Massive row with wife.

Saturday morning. It blew out of nowhere. One minute happily sharing a really nice breakfast in a café discussing plans for the future in the first warm sun of the year, then within 30 seconds I was being threatened with divorce.

In fact, time will show that on a superficial level I was technically correct in my particular comment, but it exposed an attitude which touched a very deep raw nerve and decades of pent up frustration exploded in an instant.

Friday: Mum’s Funeral

Mum’s funeral was a lovely service. She was honoured by all. The content and tone of the hymns, tributes and sermon focussed on the certain hope of the resurrection.

Minor comments:

The eulogy that I provided got lost in the email ether so now people think that I didn’t think enough of my Mum to do a eulogy.

One tribute said “She was a ‘Great Christian Lady’ and there’s not many of those left” – which I feel was rather an insult to the ladies present in the congregation.

My brother’s tribute was excellent – he is really talented at these things.

My brother in law read an often-heard psalm in a way that really brought it to life in a new way for me.

Thursday: Alton towers

Took my daughter and boyfriend to Alton Towers for her 18th last week.  There was a power cut, so none of the rides were on and she couldn’t even buy food because all the tills had also needed power.  She tied to phone us to pick her up, but we had gone to the nearby Dales and had no reception, so she was trapped.  She says there was a near riot, and many people left early.  So when the power finally came on in the afternoon, she managed to go on most of the rides she wanted with minimal queues.  And she had already given in her details to claim a compensatory free entry in summer.  So it worked out to the good in the end.

Wednesday, April 10

Am I a disaster zone?

While talking to the agent about my phone interview, I had to confess that I was using my son's borrowed phone because mine was stolen, and becasue we had lost the receiver from our cordless landline.  I then said I was off work becasue my other son had been in hospital.  And hen had to talk about my mother's death.  At thsi point I started laughing, which must ahve sounded really inappropriate, but I had suddenly realised what a disaster zone my life must have appeared to be.

Exit strategy

Mrs remains dissatified and unfulfilled at our local church.

So she has me applying for freelance posts in another (more scenic) area of the country.

I don't share her vision, but I recognise my own lethargy and inertia and that frequently she has been right in the past.

So today, as a fleece, I have a telephone interview.

Pray that the Lord will guide through it.

She definitely needs to go somewhere where she gets the respect she deserves.  But the costs and practicalities of moving are terrifying!


My 21 year old son dislocated his shoulder during a 'friendly' pillowfight with church friends.  They took him to hospital, but nobody bothered to phone his family until 12:30am - when all my trousers were going round in the washing machine.  Found an old torn pair in a forgotten drawer.

I found himwaiting for his X ray, and in a lot of pain.  It would have been bearable were it not for the waiting.  Eventually they sedated him and put it back in place, and ten after a check x ray, they let him go. 

He has to wear a sling for 3 weeks!

Monday, April 8

Winter in April

Stopped in some high (by UK standards) mountains, where there were several frozen streams cascading down the mountainside as a series of ice falls. Stunningly spectacular, and not what you expect in mid-April.

Similarly, drove down some lanes in the areas more affected by recent snow. The remains of the drifts at the roadside were still probably about 10 feet or more in places and certainly well above the roof of the car. Again, this is just not supposed to happen in the UK, let alone in April. There seemed to be loads of lambs around, but it must be hard for those farmers who have lost many to see neighbours with whole flocks.

Empty house

Went to my late Mum’s house. Originally booked as a trip to care for her while my sister had a holiday. Ended up just using the time to clear out her old medicine cupboard and carry two large bags to the pharmacy for disposal. Couldn’t help thinking that if the medicines were in her body rather than the cupboard, she might have lived longer.

It was very poignant, seeing all her stuff but not her. Identified some items that I would like to inherit, but came away with only a toy dog that she promised to my youngest and with a dishwashing brush. Well, I needed one, she had three which is clearly more than a dead woman needs and I didn’t think it would cause a major dispute in settling the will if I took one without consulting my brother and sister first.

Tuesday, April 2

Wheel of death?

On bank holiday Monday took some of the family on the big wheel in the local city.  Wonderful views, but a stark reminder that I suffer vertigo.

Easter Sunday - A tale of two services

6:15 at the local beauty spot. 22 people and one dog – might have been more if the clocks hadn’t changed that morning and if it was a bit warmer. Service run by another local Vicar, i.e. a very Anglican read-the-sheet affair which makes it very difficult for the Holy Spirit to break in and inspire you with any genuine worship.  But to be fair, the temperature was -5 degrees Celsius which is clearly not enough. We were given the wrong time and had already been waiting for 20 frozen minutes before it even started.  Also, to be fair, there were some good points in the service, reflecting on the resurrection as a time when we can also come out of the dark periods of our lives and when dead dreams can live again.
11:00. Packed church – wardens bringing out extra chairs. Very warm and lively minimally-liturgical service including the baptism of a teenage lad and about 9 (I lost count) ‘reaffirmations of baptismal vows by total immersion’, age range 40-84. It was good see old people making that kind of decision. I was reminded of how ‘they walked away, starting with the eldest’. The old are the ones who have the maturity to appraise their lives with appropriate sobriety, and they can lead the way in this kind of thing.

Funeral date set

The current date for the funeral is 12 April – my daughter’s 18th birthday!

Grief misplaced

This weekend some low-life decided that they did not need to hand in my lost Samsung Galaxy SII at the reception desk of the swimming baths, preferring to keep it for his/her own benefit.
So I’ve contacted my network and had the phone locked.
Now I discover the benefit I would have had if I had said ‘yes’ to the insurance. I have been quoted £350 for a new one. The second hand shops in the town can only drop that to £250. These costs are untenable with my current finances.
My only hope is that I may be able to negotiate with my son to inherit his iphone.
I am lost without my phone. I used it for
  • Alarm clock
  • Phone
  • Text
  • Email
  • Banking
  • Maps
  • SatNav
  • Camera
  • Alarms
  • Calendar
  • Bible
  • Notebook
  • Internet 
  • News
  • Weather
The thing that makes me guilty is that because I used my phone almost constantly whereas I only spoke to my Mum once a week when convenient, it has had a much more noticeable impact on my life and in one sense I grieve more for the phone than I do for her. Together with the fact that in practical terms my Mum is better off in heaven with her God and her husband than she was being bundled from Care to Hospital and back.

So while Mum is clearly the more important thing and I will feel that permanent loss over a long period of time, the phone is the more immediate thing but I only feel that loss until I get a replacement.

Good Friday

Joined the ‘walk of witness’ following a cross through the town centre.  Very good.