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Good evening

Yesterday we had our first evening service at church in some time. As I understand it, there used to be an evening service a long while back, but it stopped shortly before I moved here (five years at the end of this month – blimey, where does the time go?!). Well, now we have our own building, and have been seeing a bit of an increase in numbers over the last year or two, we’re going to have evening services again.

It seems that there may have been a bit of promotion for this at the various universities in town, seeing as how we had about thirty or forty students turn up for the first time. It being a large church, I’m used to not necessarily recognising everyone there – but even by my usual standards, I was left thinking, “where did all these folks appear from?!” – in a good way, like. But there were also plenty of regulars. It was all a bit exciting, and it’ll be interesting seeing how it develops over the coming weeks and months.

Yesterday was also interesting for me, as I had something of a baptism of fire in my new role on the technical team. I only agreed to do it on Thursday, so I hadn’t really had time to do any training. Thankfully, there were a few people on hand who knew what they were doing, and I picked it up quite easily. In a nutshell, my role involves working the laptop that puts all the songwords, notices and suchlike up on the screens. And, I have to say, it was a whole lot of fun. There’s a large element of seat-of-your-pants to it – particularly during worship, when you have new songs you’ve never heard before and older songs where the worship band may choose to go on to the next verse, back to the last verse, or somewhere entirely different, and you have to get the right words up on screen quick – but thankfully that was more exciting than nerve-wracking. In fact, I can’t wait to do it again next month.

So, all in all, I think these evening services are going to be A Good Thing. Hurrah!

Morning rant

This is a quick “need somewhere to let this frustration out” post:

I have woken up this morning to a bit of a sneezing and runny nose thing. This happens quite often, particularly when the weather’s been a bit changeable, as it has this week. Unfortunately, I have nothing handy to blow my nose on. There is a box of tissues in the lounge – but Chez is asleep on the sofa as she has a friend staying in her room. And I can’t go and get some loo roll because another of my housemates is in the shower. So I’ll just have to sit here and drown in snot for a while. Lovely.

More substantial (and hopefully more pleasant) post to follow later.

Ouch

First off, thanks to those of you who said you were praying, and anyone who didn’t say they were praying but did anyway. How did the Scary Thing go? Hmmm… well, not entirely the way I hoped it would, but I guess it could have been a whole lot worse. Without going into too many details, it left me somewhat disorientated, but I’ve now had some reassurance that things are OK and no lasting damage has been done, and I’ve been able to discuss and dissect the whole thing with my housemate Chez tonight, which has helped me no end. Yes, I know I’m still being vague, and I’m sorry about that, but sometimes the internet can be too public to share absolutely everything. So I’ll just say, it was horrible but necessary and we’ll wait and see what comes of it.

So let’s move on. As I type this, there’s a report on the news about the American presidential election. According to the most recent opinion polls, Obama is now 9 points ahead of McCain. This heartens me no end, as I’ve been backing Obama since the start. What I found interesting lately was the difference in thinking between Americans and the rest of the world; in a recent international poll some 80% of non-Americans apparently backed Obama over McCain, yet in America the polls have been pretty much neck and neck and, if anything, McCain has appeared to have a slight lead. It’ll be interesting to see what happens…

Ulp.

Remember the scary thing I’ve been talking in very vague terms about doing for the last couple of months? Well, Thursday will be the day I get started on it. And I’m a bit nervous already.

It will probably be fine – these things are never normally as bad as you think they are – but my comfort zone and I will be parting company, and (to state the bleedin’ obvious) that’s never comfortable. But it has to be done, and I’m going to have to trust God.

That’s the funny thing – lately I’ve been seeing and hearing lots of cases of God doing incredible things when people trust Him (I might tell you more about some of those when I have a moment). And although it could have a big effect, what I have to do is actually a very small thing, and easily do-able for God. Heck, it’s easily do-able for me, really, when I put my mind to it and stop fretting.

If you have any spare prayers, about 1.30pm UK time on Thursday will be the time to throw them out there. If you’re on the other side of the world, feel free to pray in your sleep. Thanks. 🙂

Work “not rubbish” shock!

As I said yesterday, I don’t want to constantly moan about work on my blog. So I’m rather pleased to say that two Very Good Things happened at work today.

Our office is primarily split into three teams, dealing with different areas of the city. We’ve all been particularly busy the last few weeks, but one team especially have been struggling due to a shortage of staff for various reasons. So last Friday I was asked to go and spend the day working with them, helping to answer their phones and reduce their backlog of paperwork etc. Now that’s not a problem in itself, except that all the time I’m working on their stuff, I’m not working on my stuff, and then I get behind on things. Well, after much discussion, it was decided today that I won’t be going over to help them all day tomorrow as initially planned; instead their backlog is being divided up between everyone else. This is a Very Good Thing because it means I can concentrate on my stuff (of which I have more than enough to be going on with, thank you) without worrying that I’m missing something important as I go.

As you’ve probably gathered, we all seem somewhat overworked. Which brings us to the second Very Good Thing. As the other two teams are generally considered to be more short-staffed than my team (which is not to say we couldn’t do with an extra pair of hands, just that we’re considered to not need the extra pair of hands as much as they do), it was decided by The Powers That Be that we would get a new full time member of staff for one of the teams and a new part time member of staff for the other. Well, today we discovered that The Powers That Be have actually decided that we’ll get three new staff instead of two – so we’re getting a new part time person while the two other teams get a full time each.

In a way it’s such a little thing, and yet it will make such a big difference. When we get bogged down with stuff, I often joke about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and then realising it’s actually a train coming towards me; well, this doesn’t necessarily show us to the end of the tunnel (it’s a very long tunnel that just seems to go on forever) but it gives us enough light to convince us we can keep going. I will sleep well tonight.

Sound as a pound (or 2)

I don’t want to turn my blog into a “moaning about work” corner (not all the time, anyway) so all I’ll say is: it’s been a much more tiring and stressful week than I was expecting, but I’m doing my best, and they can’t ask for more than that. Well, they can ask, but they won’t get it.

In other news, I was in town a few weeks ago and noticed a pound shop which I hadn’t seen before. Now, of course the idea of a pound shop was traditionally that everything in it would cost £1. Then somebody realised a 99p shop would be an even better idea. And then came the 98p shop. And I’m sure sooner or later someone will open a 97p shop, and then where will it end? (Some friends and I used to have a similar discussion regarding Gillette’s razor adverts; first came the four-blade razor, then the five-blade, then the six-blade… “Now shaves closer than ever, the new Gillette 239-blade razor!”)

Anyway, this pound shop wasn’t strictly a pound shop. The first clue was in its name: ‘Pound Or 2’. OK, I figured, so presumably everything they sell will be £1 or £2, or possibly some price inbetween. Then I noticed something in the window – a T-shirt emblazoned with a cardboard sign reading, “SALE – NOW ONLY £5”.

So now I’m somewhat perturbed. Not only can I not go into this shop and do my friend Mark’s favourite gag – repeatedly asking put-upon shop staff “excuse me, how much is this please?” – but my confidence in what a pound shop actually is has been seriously undermined. By that logic, isn’t every shop a pound shop?

Whinge

It’s been a lovely week off, and a very fun and relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end, and in 12 hours’ time I’ll already be back at work, probably having to sort out 101 things I thought were sorted but which either weren’t or have become unsorted again while I’ve been off. Oh joy.

Right, I’d best go for the obligatory crap-night’s-sleep-the-night-before-I-go-back-to-work. See you on the other side…

Stick a fork in me, I’m done

They say (whoever “they” are) that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. However, “they” are once again talking utter cobblers. When someone requires heart surgery, I’m pretty certain the surgeons just cut into the chest rather than starting at the stomach (I’ve seen it on Casualty, therefore it must be true).

I’m thinking about stomachs today (as you do) because mine is full, and yet at the same time is telling me that it wants some more food. How is this possible?

Let me explain, gentle reader. My cell group decided the other day that we’d quite like to get together and have a big fry-up one morning. We then realised that, thanks to everyone’s busy schedules, if we didn’t do it today then we wouldn’t do it til Christmas. And we’d be pretty hungry by then.

So this morning we gorged ourselves on sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, bread, tea, coffee, juice and probably something else that I’ve forgotten about. Now, we often refer to ourselves as “the cell that eats well” or, if you prefer, “the padded cell” due to the fact that we always seem to have loads of snacks in each week; but this morning, I think we excelled ourselves. But my word, it was good.

Now having had such a large meal first off (and we didn’t eat til about 10) I figured I probably wouldn’t want much, if anything, for lunch. Well, a little after 3, my stomach started saying otherwise*. So I’ve just eaten a little something – and now I’m properly full again, and bearing in mind I’m going out this evening, I’m not sure what dinner is going to involve. I’m having horrible visions of Monsieur Creosote…

Anyway, as I was saying – stomachs. Everyone knows cows have four stomachs (well, technically they only have one stomach, which is in four compartments – I just checked on Wikipedia, so it must be true), and I’ve long subscribed to the theory that humans have separate stomachs for savoury and sweet. How else do you explain that, five minutes after I’ve decided I’m full and can’t possibly face anything else, I’m suddenly thinking about dessert?

Right, enough of this… waffer-thin mint, anyone?

*please note, my stomach doesn’t actually speak; that would be weird.

Laaaaa-zy Wednesday afternoon-ah…

(with apologies to the Small Faces)

Sorry for the lack of bloggage lately, the busy period at work combined with more busy-ness outside work hasn’t left me with much time. However, this week I am enjoying a week off work. I was planning to do some stuff around the house today, but then I didn’t wake up until 10 (the busy-ness finally catching up with me) and somehow still haven’t managed to get started on things. Oh well, maybe tomorrow…

Anyway, I can’t remember now if I told you or not, but a few months ago I helped my mate Dave film his first music video (my main role was holding the reflector to try to provide more light, a challenge given that the sun went in pretty much the moment we started filming). Well, I looked at his MySpace page earlier and discovered that it’s finally been completed. It’s nothing fancy – just Dave and his guitar by a boating lake – but it’s a lovely song and I didn’t get bored of it, even as we hit playback for the 25th time. If you like it and you run a record label, please sign him and make him very very rich and successful, because he’s an amazing songwriter and a genuinely nice bloke:

Anyway, enough plugging for now. I should probably get on with something else.

Back to school

This week saw the start of the new school term in England and Wales, so let’s all reach for our hymn books and sing number 26:

Autumn days when the grass is jewelled,
And the silk inside a chestnut shell,
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled,
All these things I know so well…*

Now, of course, this is all cobblers (when did you last see planes gathering to refuel in mid-air?) but it popped into my head the other day as I realised the summer was finally over. Every year, once my birthday and the August bank holiday have passed, I figure that’s summer over and done with. And in the last few years, since I’ve been working in a job that revolves around the school terms, and where we’re banned from taking leave in the last week of August and the first two weeks of September because they’re our busiest times of the year, it’s been even more apparent to me when autumn arrives. Which is just as well, given that the weather for the last six weeks here has resembled winter pretty much every day.

Anyway, those of you with long memories may remember, just before my life story blogging, I was talking about getting my confidence back up to start cycling again, for the first time since I was about 13. Well, I managed a little bit… and I must confess that, since then, a combination of laziness, lack of time and the atrocious weather have prevented me from doing any more. However, in the next couple of weeks I plan to change that.

You might remember there was another thing as well… a certain thing I felt God was challenging me to do, which I was slightly scared about but felt needed to be done. Well, I haven’t done it yet, but I suspect that might happen in the next few weeks too. And I’m starting to feel much more confident about my ability to do it. Maybe one day I’ll stop being all mysterious and actually tell you what it is…

Oh, and then there’s the work stuff. I’m enjoying my job much more than usual at the minute, and coping a lot better with the busy period than I have done in the past. But I’m still not sure what I’m doing long term. I don’t see myself just being an office monkey for another thirtysomething years (assuming there still is a retirement age by the time I get there) but there are so many other ideas that pop up about what I should look to do instead, and I don’t seem to ever get round to putting some thought and effort into investigating whether I should take these ideas further or just let them go.

So that’s where I’m at now, at the start of term. Maybe (if I remember) in about six weeks or so, when it’s half term, I’ll do myself a half term report card to see how I’m progressing with these things, and anything else that comes up. In the meantime, I’m off to look for silk inside chestnut shells. Laters.

*with thanks to whoever wrote it.