Photo credits

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

Sunday, August 31

Important post - The outcome of the case

We came home from my son's wonderful wedding (see previous post) to find the letter from the Archbishops council had arrived. I had known about it all day but had not opened it or told my wife; I wanted her to enjoy the wedding undistracted.

The letter was the most devastating news we could have. The council has decided that our vicar, who has utterly destroyed my wife's life with the effect that our family has also been blown apart, apparently has 'no case to answer'. They feel it is just 'a breakdown of the pastoral relationship'.

So my wife now feels much the same as those women who have been raped but see the perpetrator go un-prosecuted because the police do not believe her.

It really could not be worse. I think that even f someone had died it would feel better - grief yes but a knowledge that people die. This since of injustice and of being walked on and of having the powers of the church protect each other - as they used to in the paedophile priests cases - it is utterly devastating. I had not known how deeply one can feel hurt. And that is just me; my wife feels far worse than I do as it is her that is being rejected.

And it hurts to know that he will gloat over us, and over those of our children who still go to the church, and over my troubled teen daughter who takes his side, and over my other son who will announce his engagement n the church this morning. How deeply that will hurt!

The natural instinct is to think of all the things we can do to express our pain. I have visualised myself scratching obscenities into the paint of his car, which is his real god. I have imagined burning his house down. I have imagined the letters to the press, the letter to the Archbishop himself, the letter to the PCC ..... but all these things are limited human vengeance and ultimately counter productive.

We know from our recent string of miracles in connection with the house sale and the move to the new town that God is with us, and that he has been planning the move for us, and that he saw this outcome before we did, and even Calvinistically planned it for us. And so we still have faith that we must leave it in his hands. "'Vengeance is mine', says the Lord". And I think that his vengeance will be far more effective than any we could impose. Our God is not all nice and fluffy, he also has anger (just read the psalms!). And he also sees every thought that passes through the dark secret places of our hearts. So I would not really like to be in our Vicar's shoes when the Lord starts to implement his justice.

The Wedding

My son's wedding yesterday was really one of the most wonderful events I have attended in my life.

Obviously it was my sons wedding, so it was always going to be good. But they had planned it really well, with a strong and very attractive aesthetic theme running through everything which has taken them absolutely hours and hours to prepare. Part of his was the wedding breakfast, which rather than the standard roast dinner was en English tea party, with fancy porcelain tea cups, sandwiches on elegant stands, and array after array of Victoria sponges and other classic cakes made to perfection with that perfect balance of home-made appearance and professional baking.

There was a Ceilidh afterwards, and long conversations with family and friends reconnecting after years. And a generally wonderful dreamlike atmosphere throughout it all. I felt I was in and watching an Oscar-winning movie about family and the triumph of the human spirit.

Words fail me. It really was outstanding!!!

Thursday, August 28

Troublesome teen

I'm doing my best for my 17 year old daughter. She is currenlty on a 'work experience' placement at the laboratory at my client's site, so I am giving her lifts, sharing lunch breaks, and arranging meetings with other professionals in the complex to give her careers advice.

we have also arranged accomodation with some friends, because she does not want to come with us to the new town half way thropugh her a levels.

So we are really trying to make her feel loved and cared for.

It's not working.

Fundamentally she thinks we are wrong to be moving and that we are wrong to be taking our Vicar to the clergy discipline tribunal. She thinks her Mum shares a significant part of the blame, and that we should just do the Christian thing and get on with the man. She thinks she knows things that we don't. She thinks her mum is crazy and brings the persecution on herself. That is to say, she is really siding with the Vicar.

So my wife feels terribly betrayed and hated. And my daughter feels unloved, hated even. They both hate me because I try to make each see the others viewpoint.

Please pray for family healing.

Wedding rehearsal

It's my son's wedding rehearsal tonight. I'm sure it will go well. this marks part of the changing of the chapters in our lives.

Slipping and kicking

Owing to my wife's rheumatoid arthritis, she is prone to falling because she can't move quickly to regain balance. then she can't move quickly to protect against the impact. The the impact hurts more because of the lack of flexibility in her joints. And then, once she is wallowing on the ground, she can't get up again and needs someone to pick her up.

So we teased her when we had to pick her up off a speed cushion in the road that she had tripped on - "that cushion is not for taking a nap!"

But last night she slipped in the shower. She spent ages trying to at least get herself out of the shower onto the bathroom floor, but she could not even get herself over the edge of the shower tray.

So in the end I had to kick the bathroom door in, step into the shower with her, and hoik her up into a standing position.

This sounds sexy, but a complete loss of all your dignity is not sexy.

Tuesday, August 26

It's coming apart....!

Bummer ... I've just been put on a three day week.

Well, I can use the time. And its probably the Lord's way fo stopping me form prioritising money when I should be prioritising family.

And presumably, since we are currenlty in the mode of having got out of the boat and wlaking on water in faith, presumably this is just one of those big waves that we have to see in perspective as we hold [perhaps rather tightly] onto the hand of Jesus.

Its coming together ....

We are now well advanced with packing things up for the move.

We had been through various plans of storing large amounts in the basement, then moving it to some other storage location, and the to our new house, but this would have involved paying removal men three times as well as the storage costs.

Now, lets face it, very little of our furniture is of any value; most of it came form charity shops anyway.

So now, most of it has been demosolished adn put in a skip.

It's quite cathartic really.

One does wonder where all this stuff came from. It's hard work carrying it all out the front door, but I didn't really otice most of it being carried into the house in the first place!

Saturday, August 23

False widow?

Is this one of those notorious false widow spiders that's terrorising Britain? ( you may need to zoom in)

True to spider's innate ability to find the arachnophobe in any situation, this one ran across my hand.

Thursday, August 21

Nail analogies - here is the chart missing from my previous post

Nail analogies

so, many months ago I gave up biting my finger nails. I achieved this largely by measuring them individually every few days and drawing a chart to show their growth. Thus every time I bite a nail, it shows up as an ugly downturn in the line on the graph.

I also have a similar graph for the total of all my nails, which I am going to try to attach to this post, technology permitting. If succesful it will be here: ....

The thing I note about the graph is that it rockets upwards at an almost steady state until the nails start to overhang the end of the finger. (There are actually several milestones or markers: there is the point at which the nail literally pokes out beyond the finger, and can be seen from below. Then, closer in, there is the point at which the nail is supposed to be physically attached to the finger as opposed to just being in contact with it. At this point there is a kink in the skin. next in is the point at which my recovering nail starts to leave the nail bed and launch out into the void. Further back is the point at which my recovering nails are attached to the nail bed in the way that they hould be. and then closer in still, is the now barley visible point marking the wrost extent of my nail biting before I stopped.) Onec the nail starts to grow beyond each of these points it becomes progressively more vulnerable to general wear and tear in addition to the increased temptation to bite. I can ofset the urge to bite by thinking about how I don't want a dip in my graph, but there is little that can be done about the wear and tear. So now that the nails extend beyond the finger tip, I have developed an almost feminine obsession with nails and complain loudly to the whole house if I break one. Partly because I now understand tath this actually hurts, but mainly becasue I am saying goodbye to three weeks of growth.

So back to my graphs, and why my post title is about analogies.

I postulate that nails are analogous to cigarrette smoke and to a hydraulic jump (the transition between supercritical and subcritical flow conditions) in an open channel of water.

You see, the cigarette smoke rises as a smooth column until the friction of the air slows it down enough, and then it becomes much jmore billowy. And the water in the channel shoots along it until the friction overcomes it and it reverts to a deeper slower flow by going through a big wave. You also see a hydraulic jump in your kitchen sink every day - it's that wave forming a ring around the point where the water from the tap hits the stainless steel. In both the cigaratte smoke and the water, you get relatively smooth fast jet up to a certain point and then it becomes chaotic. Similarly my nails grew bice and smoothly up to the point where they overhung the finger tip, and then with random breakages on top of occasional bites the line on the graph becoes very volatile.

Strangely, there is also a link to my cheese consumption: more cheese correlates to faster fingernail growth. But that's another story.

Wednesday, August 20

Jumping spider

It was crawling over my screen at work. Despite my arachnophobia I tried to ignore it (it was only little), but eventually it became too much. As it became my focus, I naturally moved the mouse to it. As the arrow approached, the spider jumped away from it it. whihc just shows how freaky spiders are - they are far too intelligent. fascinating, but don't let them crawl on me!

Any way, if it is on a near-vertical screen, how does it jump to anothre place on the screen? Why does it not fall down when it launches itself off the screen? Are spiders exempt from the normal laws of physics?

Eventually I plucked up courage to move it. It was easy enough to coax into a little transparent rectangular plastic lid. I moved it to the carpet, noting firstly how brave I was to carry it without any kind of cover, and then how it was jumping around inside the lid and how much I wished it dd have a cover.

On the carpet, it made its way to the nearets cover - the bin. I forgot about it.

But then, just five minutes later - there it was again (unless there were two unusual jumping spiders on my screen at the same time!). This time I moved it to a plant pot 7 metres away, and it has not come back yet. Yet.

Monday, August 18

A Christian response to 'Historic Allegations'

Another celebrity is facing 'historic allegations' (Cliff Richard). The BBC has been criticied for has broadcasting a convoy of police cars at one of his homes, which in my view may prejudice any future trial.

These cases seem to fall into two categories: those who vehemently deny everything and are found guilty (Stuart Hall), and those who vehemntly deny everything and are found innocent (the guys off Coronation Street).

Clearly, if something did happen, then it is quite right that the victim should be believed.

But equally, there are cases particularly with celebrities where the complaints are fraudulent or delusional or exaggerated. "There is no smoke without fire" ... except that sometimes it's just a smoke machine.

Also, which one of us would like to have the last 30 or 40 years of life scrutinised by a hostile prejudiced lynch mob, so that the rashness and errors of our youth should still count against us? Clearly in cases where it has been part of an ongoing pattern of deception and continous behaviour then that is one thing, but there will be other cases where there was a stupid mistake - that still needs to be dealt with by the law for the sake of the victim - but which the person then regretted and did not repeat. The media puts both types in the same box of 'evil paedos' who should never be allowed to see the light of day again, but this is grossly unjust.

As Christians we should not swallow the media story. As the Wesley song goes: "The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon recives." And where Jesus has pardoned, can we withold our pardon?

Yes, of course we should still have protections, and be on our guard against the clever deceptions of the bad ones, but we should also fully accept those that truly repent.

So there's actually three categories:
1) - Genuine cases of 'evil paedos' who do everything they can to covertly continue their crimes
2) - The repentant sinners: "That was wrong - I won't do that again"
3) - The falsely accused innocent


A bit more relaxed about the way things are going now.

Spent the weekend packing boxes, emptying cupboards, repeatedly going to the tip, etc. how much stuff do we really need?

we could spend vast amounts of money on removal firms double handling and storing things, or we could donate nearly all of our furniture to charity. OK, its a cheapskate way of getting bulky items out of our house, using charity workers as removal men. But it does do good as well, and is also important symbolically, as we really want our new life to be a completely new life without baggage. (I don't include my heirlooms in this - I respect my heritage)

Two items for prayer:

1) Our 14-year old really does not want to come - mainly because he will be ripped out of his very strong friendship group. He wants us to let him stay with them, saying their Mums have offered to have him. We might contemplate this if he had learned the basic facts of life such as : daily shower, daily clean shirt, put your laundry in the basket, etc. He still needs mothering in these respects, and on the one hand we wouldn't want to impose those chores on some other poor woman and on the other hand my wife would feel further robbed if these duties were taken from her and given to another. Additionally, he is quite naturally apprehensive about being thrown into a completely new school in a completely new environment and cultural milieu at a key stage in his education. Pray that our son will have a change of heart and see past the pain of loss and anxiety about the unknown to the new opportunities that are before him.

2) Since sending a very draft form of contract to our buyer for the advance rental, they have gone quiet on us. We are worried they are beginning to get cold feet. Pray that they do not back out of either the rental period or the purchase.

And to conclude on a humorous note: using a chair and barstool as a staircase to reach a high cupboard, and to spend time packing a heavy crate with books while up there, of course by the time I came down I forgot about my 'stair' and stepped straight off the bar stool into the void with the heavy crate. Wooooaaaahhhhrrrgggg! Crash! I got away with a slightly bruised knee and a deeper conviction that my vertigo is an essential self-preservation device that should not be ignored.

Friday, August 15

Floundering - but finding the hand of Jesus

This is an update on my previous post
  • Sale of our current house: price agreed in writing, progressing slowly
  • Renting of our house while the sale goes through: date agreed, trying to sort a contract out
  • Purchase of new house: price agreed in writing, progressing slowly
  • Renting temporary accomodation: were on the verge of renting a bungalow with a minimum six month contract. This morning Mrs switched to renting some holiday flats long term - for holiday flats(i.e. 3 months) - this is a bit risky because if it turns out to be protracted we could end up paying a lot more. The main thing is that it is a smaller deposit and becuase it is furnished it will save £900 on removal fees, and maybe more on taxes and utilities, so it is very helpful in terms of cash flow now.
  • Church: liking the independent one in a cinema. Which is awkward since I have come to believe in all sorts of very non-evangelical things like apostolic succession, infant baptism, and gay marriage. Not sure 'My' church even exists! the anglican one in the town is a bit too catholic, praying for the dead which I still don't believe in (Lazarus and dives shows that the dead are either with Him and don't need prayer, or not with Him and its too late).
  • The car: I took it to the garage and said "I'm having trouble changing gears - I think its because I have let the gear box oil drain too low." He said "No, there's an oil leak in your clutch, plus your clutch is worn". I said OK, do it, he said "£528". I said "Ouch" and "give me the cheapest clutch available, I'm not looking for luxury and the car has already done 135000 miles, it won't last much longer". Three days later, having not been able to go to work and earn anything without the car, he gave it back, saying that "it needs a new gear box because you have let the gear box oil run low". AAARRRGGGHH! That's what i told him in the first palce! Now, I accept that it changes gear very slightly better, and that it did need a new clutch eventually, BUT it still feels basically the same as it did when I took it in. It struggles to go into first or reverse and won't go into fifth at all. So at a time when cash flow is critical, I have spent £528 on something I didn't need (yet) and did not get the thing I wanted. At least i feel slighty more confident that it is not going to let me down, and am just having to do 70 mph on the motorway in an uneconomical and un-environmental and noisy 4th gear.
  • Student Finance: My daughter complained she was getting less from the Student Loans Company than her brother. I rang them to complain. They said "Oh, yes, I can see we have made a mistake. Don't worry, we'll sort it out". So they reduced the brother's student finance to match hers. He is now livid, and neither of them have enough to live on at university. (Her £68 plus her overdaft allowance until Christmas, him £100 left in his overdraft until Christmas). He rang to ask why they have reduced it four times since May when he signed his accomdation contract based on a much huigher student loan amount. But the Student Finance Company employs air-headed people who know nothing more than stock answers in their call centre. So to avoid an all-out riot we have had to promise our kids increased support that we can't afford at this time.
  • Transporting kids too/from university towns: I think this is OK, but will have to do it in 4th gear!
  • Son's flat: still stuck in legal procedures. Everyone knows the flat is OK, but we still have to wait while letters go through snail-mail from our solitor to their solicitor to the local authority to their solicitor to our solicitor and back to us. AAARRRGGGGHHHH!
  • Work: I have been in the office for 13 hours this week, which is clearly not enough!
But overall, panicking less than when I last posted, and God is still in control.

Sunday, August 10

Getting out of the boat....

... is fine when you get out of the boat by choice. We feel that the oat has been picked up, turned upside down and shaken until we all fall out.

So now we flounder, in huge waves that we should be walking on.

We have a buyer for the house ... great!
who wants to rent it while the sale goes through .... great!

But that means sorting the rest of life out within a few weeks.


  • Moving to a new area
  • Schools .. at this time of year!!!!!
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Permanent accommodation
  • Choosing a church ... though that can wait
  • Car is breaking down
  • Son is getting married
  • Daughter wants assistance with student finance
  • Other son wants fetching with his stuff for the wedding
  • Daughter wants taking to college
  • Buying flat for son
  • Trying to put in some hours at the office to finance all this.....


Please pray.
I know God is control.  I know I am certainly not up to all this.

Monday, August 4

Continuing the search for the new life - housing

The current plan is that Mrs will move and rent a flat until we sell our current house.

So over this weekend we viewed a number of flats in the new town. It doesn't look promising. Three were two far away from the school and didn't allow children anyway. One was ideal and we immediately contacted the agent to pay the deposit, only to find that someone who viewed the day before had just beaten us to it. Another was up a steep hill, which even if they installed handrails would be too dangerous for her arthritic legs. Even more unthinkable in an icy winter.

But I've just been on the phone to Mrs while writing and - plans always change with her - there is a bungalow in the next village practically on top of that village's school and close to the station on the line to the main town, and close to the cinema church. So we shall investigate!

Continuing the search for the new life - church

still trying out churches in the place we plan to move to.

This weekend it was the big Anglican church in the centre of town.

In many ways it lived up to expectations (which wee low, based on the absence of anything outside communicating anyninidcation of spiritual life inside. The only poster was advertising a choir): the Sunday School had closed down for summer (why??), the singing was thin and inaudible, the liturgy was followed to the letter, etc. Probably not as dire as we feared, but certainly very little sign of people being in love with God - more of a middle class social gathering.

But, despite all of that, it was gooood, and I felt at home for the first time in ages. (The last two churches visited were charismatic independent churches, one meeting in a cinema with excellent contemporary worship and a good Sunday school, the other meeting in a rather grand hotel also with a good sunday school but very shouty)

It was good despite the fact that this church is really not up my street tehologically: I am evangelical, whereas this had strong catholic leanings. There was much talk of praying for the departed and offering a Eucharist for them. OK, it was the commenmoration of the start of the great war, hence tat emphasis, but it revealed what was there. The Rector, Fr N., wore his chasuble throughout. It was not a sung eucharist: only the collect was chanted. But many of the responses were led by the choir. That is to say that at the point where you were just about to launch passionately into declaring the response tere would be a pause, then the organ would start, and then the choir would sing the response to a tune which even the regular congregation were unable to join in. It might have been OK if the choir had been strong, but it was all rather feeble. I'm not saying I could ahve done it better, but I am saying that although I am all in favour of a bit of Anglican chant it has to support the worship not detract from it.

Towrds the end there was the war commemoration. We each had to place a stone on a cairn in the memorial chapel, and then light and hold a candle during the prayers. One had to be quite deft to hold the candle in such a way that it did not set light to the cardboard container. My daughter got scared and asked me to hold hers. So I was holding these two awkwaard, hot and dangerous things while my beard started to itch ..... so I was gald when it ended. But this part of the service was very good.

Afterwards we chatted to the Rector over coffee. we felt that the ord was in this conversation: a large part of our concerns reate to getting our daughter into a good school and the local church school is oversubscribed, but the rector gave us details to contact the headmaster. Not taht one should bypass the official procedures, but it just made us feel that God was leading the way. In the conversation it also came up taht I am a Reader, and he immediately suggested transferring my readership (which is of course not so straightforward as he made it sound) Also, that was before we admitted to being evangelicals, at which point he started recommending the local Pentecostal church. Not sure if he was trying to be helpful or get rid of us!

Anyway, the salient feature is that altough its not my kind of church theologically, I felt at home for the frist time in ages.