Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Joyeux noel

...from Montignac in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. What a place to spend Christmas. Superb weather. Extended restaurant lunch today lasting three and three quarter hours. Nice nosh though, tres francais. Boeuf bourgignon - I'll check spelling later (beef casserole).
The mountains are sublime, especially at sunset; rose-touched distant peaks one afternoon, purple cut-out silhouette against pastel pink sky another.
Yesterday, out for a sunrise walk, I had a slight mishap retracing my steps between the rural farming villages and for a few minutes thought I was quite lost. But then I noticed a familiar lie of land ahead and realised I'd just walked past our 'gite'. There's a parable in there somewhere.
Homemade dogwood tree up, Christmas lights fixed, baby niece Maia, 7 months, not falling asleep - teething?
And will we get to see Calendar Girls? Questions to be answered.
Have a blessed one.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The power of not defending yourself

I've been thinking I need to get a digital camera sometime soon so I can start adding some images to this blog; it's a bit dull with just text. Meanwhile I'll just have to try and come up with snappy titles...

We have a new vicar at Holy Trinity Idle, Robin Gamble, bit of a Bradford legend, and he took his first service today having been licensed on Monday. An engaging fellow, broad Yorkshire, sounds a little like Alan Bennett the playwright, funny because, though I don't know much about him personally, he's an unashamed evangelist and will probably help make the comfortable in the congregation uncomfortable, in contrast to AB's cosy cocoa and slippers image.

I just watched 'An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity)', recommended by Rob. Haunting music and images, expressing the awesome Christian truth that the Power and Presence underpinning the cosmos humbled himself - or 'Godself' as I've seen it expressed sometimes as a way of addressing the gender problem... It leads me to ponder one point I've briefly expressed before but want to expand on a little: a feature of Christ's manner and behaviour that has tremendous attractive and persuasive power, contrasting sharply with ordinary human methods and approaches. It's the willingness to forgo answering back, defending himself against accusers. Able to do this because he felt utterly and ultimately secure in the love of his Father God - freeing him from any sense of needing to defend himself. His sense of perspective allowed him to do this: the knowledge that though he might look weak and foolish for the time being, in the long run it was the path of wisdom. It strikes me as part of what Rob expressed in his image of living fully as a fish in water - freedom to be... This ethic is one of the things which enthralls and persuades me of God's reality. Without God you have to defend yourself and what you say - now.

I do read and absorb comments from readers who disagree. Don't think I'm putting my fingers in my ears. But we're coming from very different places and I have to keep writing about what interests me - hopefully some of it will interest you...

On a lighter note, in the event last night of not being able to tune an old telly I was taking over to a friend's to watch the finale of The X Factor (I'm not going to try and defend THAT now either!), we ended up watching 'Charlie's Angels'. Lucy Liu flicking her hair in slo mo as in a shampoo ad near the start was just one of the memorable tongue in cheek moments.

But this post is going from the sublime to the ridiculous...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas Stats

Sadly 'The Xmas Factor' idea - see 24 Nov post - had to be shelved; X Factor marketing not happy. So an alternative set of radio scripts for local Harrogate station Stray FM. Smith & Jones style, but using male and female voices. Revised 11/12 - as recorded.

1. Wrapping paper

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: Guess how much wrapping paper we use in this country at Christmas?

B: No idea.

A: Eighty three SQUARE KILOMETRES. Apparently that’s enough to cover Scunthorpe four and a half times.

B: Blimey, I wonder if someone’s tried it.

A: Dunno. So why do people buy so much of the stuff?

B: Well it makes things look nicer don’t it, covers up the bad bits. Like Noel Edmonds' face on the cover of that new book of his.

A: S’ppose. But do you ever think under all this wrapping paper, we’re losing the true meaning of Christmas?

B: You mean the plot of the Doctor Who special?

A: No.

B: Birth of Santa?

A: Birth of JESUS silly.

B: Oh. Is that what it’s all about then?

2. Turkey

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: Have you any idea how many turkeys this country eats at Christmas?

B: Not a clue. The missus gets through about five.

A: Well I’ll tell you. THIRTY MILLION.

B: Blimey, that’s enough to fill a small country. Gotta be a name for it.

A: Whatever - it’s a lot of birds.

B: Even more than your brother’s been out with.

A: Button it. Tell me though, what’s turkey got to do with the real meaning of Christmas?

B: You mean snow and Santa and that?

A: No, I mean the baby Jesus. There was shepherds, camels, maybe a donkey or two, but nothing about turkey - let alone Christmas pud.

B: Blimey, I hadn't thought of that. (pause) Mind you, I'm not sure Christmas has any meaning without Christmas pud.

3. Christmas cards

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: How many Christmas cards do you think get sent in this country each year?

B: No idea. I never get any.

A: Well I’ll tell you: One point seven BILLION.

B: That’s an awful lot of penguins on skis. Oh well, plenty to go round at least. That, or someone's got a ruddy big mantelpiece.

A: Add to that all the e-cards and you’re talking silly numbers.

B: Yeah. Though I never thought of one point seven billion as a SENSIBLE number.

A: What I want to know is, with all these cards flying about, does anyone remember what it’s supposed to be all about?

B: You mean mince pies?

A: No.

B: Kittens in santa hats?

A: No, I mean the baby Jesus. And, you know, shepherds, angels, wise men and all that.

B: Oh. Wouldn't they look a bit funny in Santa hats?

4. Christmas trees

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: D’you know how many Christmas trees we’ll put up this year?

B: Go on. Amaze me.


B: Blimey, that’s a heck of a lot of paper going to waste.

A: And guess how much rubbish all those trees’ll make. TWELVE THOUSAND tons.

B: That's even more than you've got hidden under the bed. Mind you, it's the needles on the carpet’s what bothers me. Dreadful mess.

A: Yeah. D’you wanna know why we put Christmas trees up though?

B: No idea.

A: Well cos it’s evergreen, it's a reminder of the coming spring. Also, says here, it’s a sign of everlasting life with God.

B: Oh right. I’ll tell you what I wish had everlasting life. My vacuum cleaner.

5. Santa

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: I’ve been reading some statistics about Santa getting round to see all those kids at Christmas.

B: Oh yeah?

A: Yeah. To give a medium sized lego set to every kid, he’d have to travel – wait for it – seventy five and a half million miles, going at six hundred and fifty miles a second, and pulling a sleigh of three hundred and fifty three thousand, four hundred and thirty tons. That’s four times as heavy as the Queen Elizabeth the Second.

B: She's put on some weight then.

A: The ship stupid.

B: Oh right. Anyway, sounds a liability. He must have ruddy good travel insurance.

A: Yeah.

B: But what’s this got to do with the real meaning of Christmas? You know, the baby Jesus and that.

A: Well, didn’t he come down to earth from heaven or something? That sounds like an awful long way.

B: Yeah. Mind you, I bet he didn’t have to bother about reindeer.

6. Cost

A: Here, listen to this.

B: What's that then?

A: D’you know how much the average household spends for Christmas Day? Nine hundred and twenty quid.

B: That’d buy you a few mince pies eh?

A: Yeah. Works out at one pound twenty eight p a minute.

B: That‘s almost as much as Jonathan Ross makes. When he’s employed.

A: Isn’t it a bit odd though that people spend so much money, when you think what Christmas is supposed to be all about?

B: What, you mean a new ipod?

A: No.

B: New boyfriend?

A: The baby Jesus stupid. God’s free gift to mankind.

B: Free gift to mankind? Blimey.

A: Amazing eh?

B: Yeah. (pause) I just hope it didn't take up too much wrapping paper.