Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Ear-ring Evangelism


Isn’t it frustrating! On Saturday I lost a zip ear-ring, and on Sunday I lost a pretty diamante one. The former had a ‘bullet’ on the back, the latter was a hook type. So it is not the style of the jewellery that is at fault, I obviously have a dodgy right ear. [Unlike Davy Crockett, who has left ear, right ear and wild front ear!]

 ear-ring bullet

I remembered a piece I wrote a while ago about ear-rings…

About twenty three years ago, another pastor’s wife told me that she had been criticised by a church member, because ‘spiritual women do not have pierced ears’. I was so cross that someone could make such a judgement that I went straight to Bromley ‘Army and Navy’ and had my ears seen to. I am not good with pain, so insisted Bob came and held my hand through the process!

Since then, I have amassed a weird and wonderful collection of ear-rings. When teaching very small children, I wear a pair that reflects the ‘Letter of the Week’ [I have cats, zigzags, ice-creams…] Whilst sorting them out – yes, I do keep them alphabetically in a box with separate sections – I realised that ear-rings actually can make a spiritual point.

er bullet


er hook


er butterfly


The fixing on the back usually comes in one of three types, known in the trade as ‘bullet’, ‘hook’ or ‘butterfly’ – and it struck me that evangelism can be like that. Some people can just go up to complete strangers and hit them hard with the Gospel. Zap! Just like a bullet [e.g. Evangelism Explosion, door-to-door Evangelism, street preachers].

Others invite people along to something special [a meal, a special event] and having been drawn in, people get ‘hooked’ [Alpha, seeker services, Billy Graham rallies etc].

But some Christians live such beautiful lives, that others are attracted to them and want to find out what it is that makes them special – rather like the butterfly attracts attention, and then these Christians have the opportunity to share Jesus.

I am not saying any of these three methods is more valid than the other – I just want to build the Kingdom of God in my generation. Once I have ‘retired’ maybe I should write a book on Ear-ring Evangelism - but don’t forget, you read it first on the blog!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Before There Were Blogs…

…people wrote diaries – and Liz has just alerted me to the fact that BBC4 is showing “Diary Of A Nobody” for 4 nights this week. I’ve just taken a break from school preparation to catch up with Episode 1 on i-player. It was brilliantly done! [click here]

charles pooter - nobody

Hugh Bonneville was a wonderful Charles Pooter.

If you do not know this story, CP is the archetypal 'little man' =- endearing, yet obsessed with his own importance, happily married to Caroline, his long-suffering wife.

First serialised in Punch in 1888/9, and then published in book form in 1892, the diary was written by two brothers, George and Weedon Grossmith. This is a repeat of the TV series first made in 2007.

little prince Today is also the birthday of the author Antoine de St-Exupery, author of The Little Prince [Google has modified its logo in celebration] A teaching colleague noticed this and went off to the school library to find a copy, to show it to the child she was working with. She returned somewhat miffed, having been told “Oh we don’t have that, it is not modern enough” [published 1943]

There ensued much muttering about it being a children’s classic, the biggest selling French-language book and one of the best selling books around. When I left school, people were busy debating the possibility of buying two copies – one in English and the other in French!

coldcomfort farm

There is so much utter garbage being printed at the minute, whilst many of the classics of previous years collect dust on the shelf. On Sunday night I read a bit of Cold Comfort Farm as part a sermon illustration – and afterwards discovered that many of the congregation didn’t know the book. But they loved the passage [Yes, Liz, it was Amos Starkadder’s sermon – I know you enjoy that passage!]

Bob didn’t come to church on Sunday night – he had already done two services, and the hay fever had left him exhausted. We’d already agreed I’d do the evening at KMFC. He did sound a little concerned though, when I said afterwards that the congregation seemed to  like the “No Butter In Hell” extract.

“Whatever were you reading that for?” he asked. “Preaching about Hell” I said cheerfully. [Not sure he will let me out into the pulpit again…]

wolf hall But in defence of modern writers, I have just finished Wolf Hall, and loved it. A ‘best seller’, I had to get through it at breakneck speed because the library only let it out on restricted loan. I shall have to get it out again and read it at a more leisurely pace. It was full of fabulous Tudor detail and extremely well written. It richly deserved all the awards! [there’s an excellent review here]

Monday, 28 June 2010

Irreverent Rant


I just watched “Rev” – the new BBC sitcom about a London Vicar. I doubt I shall watch the remaining 5 programmes of the series.

Admittedly he is an Anglican, and so is restricted by all sorts of Diocesan Rules, and Archdeacons and stuff – whereas the Rev in this house is a gloriously nonconformist Baptist. But even so, I am not sure it gave a very realistic picture of pastoral life.

Poor chap – his wife sat through the morning service reading The Observer!  Shouldn’t she have been sent off to find paper and felt pens for all those extra children to do some colouring or something? Or whisked them off to the Lady Chapel to tell them a Bible Story [I usually find “Fat King Eglon’s Guts” is a good one to hold the attention of the unchurched little tearaways]

The BBC website says “She is no-one’s idea of a conventional Vicar’s Wife” – what does that mean anyway? She strikes me as exactly the stereotypical “I have my own career, stuff your Parish responsibilities”  sort of clergy wife that Joanna Trollope and others have been writing about for years. So obviously she is many people’s idea of a C.V.W.

And everybody knows that trendy young vicars do not sing “All Creatures of our God and King” – they sing “Shine , Jesus, Shine”, “Lord of the Dance” and “Light Up the Fire” [and if you are really  unlucky, they throw in “One More Step Along The World I Go”]

And was all that bad language really necessary?

Bob didn’t enjoy it either, and is now speculating about which of his colleagues will blog about it first!

“BD to Z-Victor One!”

alan-plater Sorry to hear at the weekend of the death from cancer of the playwright Alan Plater.

He was a very gifted man, with a brilliant ear for dialogue. From the early days of Z Cars and Softly, Softly – through to more recent episodes of Midsomer Murders, Lewis and Dalziell and Pascoe, he wrote lots of police dramas for TV.

He co-founded the Humberside Theatre, in 1970 a small, 150-seat auditorium in Hull, where his stage work was usually first performed. His plays covered subjects as diverse as the General Strike, Mrs Pankhurst, football, jazz, deep-sea fishing, coal mining, and the ruling classes – but were addressed to the ordinary man in the street.

He skilfully adapted the works of other writers for TV [such asOlivia Manning’s Fortunes of War]as well as writing his own stuff.

beiderbecke My absolute favourite Plater is The Beiderbecke Affair – brilliantly filmed for TV with James Bolam and Barbara Flynn as two secondary school teachers. Set in the early 1980’s, I thought it was a really perceptive portrayal of a typical comprehensive school staffroom – but with a very quirky plot line, and wonderful jazz soundtrack.

I do hope they will show it again on TV [although I do have the boxed set of DVDs – maybe I will watch them again when there is nothing on any channel apart from sport!!]

Plater’s final TV drama, Joe Maddison's War, starring Kevin Whately and Robson Green and set on the eve of the second world war in the north-east, where Plater was born, is currently in post-production for ITV. I look forward to watching it.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Strawberries and Cream plus…

I had a packet mix in the cupboard which I bought in Lidl a while ago


I made it up, but baked it in two smaller, shallower tins [the box recommends a larger deep springform one] One half went into the freezer for another day, and the other I decorated with creme fraiche and sliced strawberries.



Saturday, 26 June 2010

Fait Accompli!

School Fete today – I had a table in the Main Hall selling craft bits, embroidering bibs, aprons and facecloths – and handing out Holiday Club flyers [Is that why you are in the ORANGE tee-shirt, Miss?]


ikea lerberg shelf

Last week in IKEA, I bought an inexpensive Lerberg shelf unit.

It is lightweight metal and fits into the back of my car [just – but I cannot carry any passengers at the same time]

It was really helpful for display purposes today.



However, after spending the day sitting behind my machine, smiling at the punters, I have reached a number of conclusions.

  1. I am never going to make my living as a craftswoman
  2. When people say “Ooh, aren’t these pencils rolls lovely? Look at this, Millie"!” they probably aren’t going to buy anything from me.
  3. People would rather spend £2 on tickets for the Bottle Stall, and maybe win a bottle of 50p Tesco Cola than £2.50 on a handcrafted Pencil Roll.
  4. Most sales come at the end of the event – half way through, I hadn’t sold enough items to cover the cost of the stall [£10] but in the last half hour, and for twenty minutes after the event had technically finished, I was sewing away like mad, as people who had come inside to hear the Raffle Prize Draw decided they wanted a bib or facecloth after all!!
  5. Despite all that, it was a brilliant day for conversations.


I gave away dozens of flyers for Holiday Bible Club [it is the next village to ours, so children can easily get to us if they want to attend] and the high point of my day was when a bloke in a leather jacket arrived on his motorbike, and bought me a cup of tea. [Is that your Bob, Miss?]

It was great to see former pupils, who came up and chatted [they change so quickly from primary school kids to streetwise adolescents] and also good to meet parents for the first time.

Two memorable comments

“I’ve just made the connection – you are Reverend Bob’s wife aren’t you?”


golden syrup

You do lots of stuff outside school, don’t you Miss? I remember once being in a tent and you told us the story of why there is a lion on the treacle tin”

which is amazing, because it was either two or three years ago, and the child concerned could have been no more than 7 at the time.

Home to a barbecue in the garden, and then I fell asleep watching the season finale of Dr Who. Woke up to realise I had lost an ear-ring. Feel very guilty as they were a present from Steph- a pair of cute pink zip-pulls, and I am really fond of them. Hoping that the missing item will turn up somewhere when I unpack my boxes.

Why is it that favourite ear-rings are the ones which get lost?

It is hot – and looks like getting hotter…

Bob is out preaching at 3pm tomorrow afternoon. I wonder how many he will have in his congregation…

Friday, 25 June 2010

Monsoon Season

Monsoon sent me an email about children’s clothes for summer weddings [not altogether sure how I qualified for that bit of Spam…]

Here are some of the things they have to offer




Yes, you read that right – it is £89 for that little outfit, for a baby in the 0-3 years age group. Exactly how many weddings is that child going to attend before she grows out of the ensemble? What kind of profligate madness is this? And if you spend the best part of £100 on her outfit at one year, what will it cost to kit her out at eleven or twenty one??

I suppose there is the possibility that you have to dress her up beautifully because she is attending her mother’s wedding, but even so…

I thank the Lord for my thrifty daughters – who still manage to look stunning without splashing out on ‘designer’ wear!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

On Being A Good Sport


I am no good at sport. Given the choice, I would teach almost any other lesson than PE. So my worst nightmare has happened- tomorrow is World Cup Day at school, and I am spending the entire day with various classes doing sporting things up on the field!

We have to dress in ‘sports kit’ – and I don’t have anything*. My good friend Zara [Special Olympics Gold Medallist] has kindly called round with some cricket gear. I just have shortened the trousers and tried on the outfit.

They talk about “the slimming power of black clothes” – well white obviously has the opposite effect!

I am hoping that some of the Jurenko Sporting Skill will rub off as I wear these clothes, and tomorrow won’t be as bad as I fear.

*I mentioned my dilemma to a pupil at my other school yesterday, and he said “Can’t you go in your biking leathers, Miss?” but we decided I might collapse from heat exhaustion after ten minutes in the sun.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tempus Fugit!

“I’ve bought you a present” said Bob yesterday, handing me this…


A new set of diary pages for my Filofax. Here we are at ‘Midsummer’ and we’re already thinking about next year! Apparently some people regard June 21st [the solstice] as Midsummer, and others say it is 24th [when the Romans marked the solstice] As long as there are no Midsummer Murders, I shan’t mind!

juggling owman I have used a Filofax since the early 1980’s. I know others have moved on to electronic gizmos, and Blackberries etc – but I am happiest with pen and paper. We both have the same set of pages [dates on left, notes on the right] and regularly do “Diary Checks” so we can keep up with each other’s manic schedules.

What is alarming is the number of dates I already have to transfer to the new pages – currently all noted on the last page of this year’s diary.

I am a great believer in diaries [the appointments kind] if I don’t write it down, I may forget the details! And with a Filofax, I have everything at my fingertips. It has no batteries to run flat, I can make a note without tapping sounds, and I can tuck other important things in it [a photo of Bob, and a special note the girls once sent me] which cheer me up when I feel far from home.


When the family were all at home, I also had those multi-column calendars to list everyone’s separate commitments. Now there are just two of us, the Filofax suffices.

How do you keep track of your schedule?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Dresses For Dancers

Another busy day – teaching in two different schools this morning [enlivened by a Fire Drill at the second!] then home for lunch and more sewing…


The dress on the left is still unfinished [I have four of these to make, for the girls who are Tallulah's backing dancers!] The one on the right is for a colleague whose daughter is going to a ‘Gangsters and Molls’ event. She wanted a Charleston type dress.

She’d already bought an asymmetric top from Tesco


And I just added the handkerchief hem


I sewed the black ‘hankies’ on a narrow tape, and then fixed that round the inside of the top. It will be easy to remove afterwards leaving the top in its original state.

I left the sewing this evening, in order to go and meet up with my good friend Lesley The Librarian [She of the quilting and damsons] We hadn’t seen each other since last autumn, and it was great to sit and chat together.

She presented me with two huge bags of random fabrics – no good for her patchwork, but lots of pieces that I can use for other things.

It has been so very hot today. Bob and I sat outside with cups of tea at 10.30pm to watch the bats and admire Venus shining above us. It was lovely and cool in the garden.

I have stayed away from the TV all day – not interested in The Tennis, The Football, or The Budget. And VAT is VAT!!

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Longest Day

Stonehenge 2010 solstice

Apparently 20,000 people gathered at Stonehenge to greet the sun this morning [around 4.52 am]as it is the Summer Solstice. The press reports say…

As the sun rose, a woman climbed a rock in the circle centre and blew a horn, welcoming in the longest day of the year north of the equator. Drums, tambourines, and cheers reverberated in the background.

"It means a lot to us ... being British and following our pagan roots," said Victoria Campbell, who watched on, wearing a pair of white angel's wings and had a mass of multicoloured flowers in her hair.

"It's amazing. The wonderful thing is all these people experiencing it and wondering what this was all for trying to work out in their own minds - what was it all?" said Andy Barrett.

"The truthful answer is we don't know exactly what it was for," said Amanda Chadburn, an archaeologist with English Heritage, which manages the site.

We are definitely not pagans in this house- and I thought Monday would be a day off – but was amazed around 5.30am to discover Bob already up and working on his PC! Most uncharacteristic behaviour. This may be the Longest Day, but I feel like i have just lived through the Longest Weekend!

While the rest of the world was involved in football, golf and other sports, I was involved in church stuff [don’t worry – I love that, and don’t care two hoots about sport!] as well as other things

Saturday morning was the Men’s Breakfast


There was bacon! and a good number of blokes in attendance, talking about blokey stuff [at least, I presume they were – I was in the kitchen, as I had volunteered to wash up]

DSCF0001 Then I came home and made an outfit for Bugsy Malone – waistcoat and trousers.

DSCF0004 DSCF0005

Then in the evening we had a Quiz Night which was enormous fun – thank you to all the organisers.

Then it was Sunday

The Morning Service from Radio 4 was incredibly moving – from Six Bells, Abertillery in Wales – 50 years after the awful colliery explosion when 45 miners died. I may blog about this later in the week – but you can hear ‘listen again’ through the BBC i-player [click here]

It was Father’s Day – and we had a number of visitors with us at the Morning Service.

After Church we called in at The Castle Hotel where my friend Sarah, owner of Cherry Tree Gifts was organising a Craft, Cakes and Fun event to raise money for Prostate Cancer.

cherry tree gifts

It was beautifully sunny in the Hotel grounds – I hope they had lots of visitors and raised lots of dosh for this important research.


prostate cancer

Sarah’s husband Guy was having his [very hairy] legs waxed as part of the fund raising. I am not too good with watching people in pain, so we went home for lunch!

The meat was cooked [this nearly didn’t happen – having auto-timer very carefully, I was about to leave the kitchen and rush to church when I noticed the roasting tin still sitting on the worktop!]

After lunch a hospital visit to a friend, then I sat preparing

Holiday Club Crafts in front of the TV [catching up on stuff recorded weeks ago]

The evening service was stimulating – all about the Millennium in Revelation – are you pre-, post- or a- millennial?? And my friend Elizabeth is back from India for a few weeks which is wonderful! You have to admire anyone who spends 30 hours travelling then still turns up for the evening service.


Home for a lovely supper of strawberries, freshly picked from a friend’s garden.

Then bliss – time for bed and sleep, ready to get rested to face another week…

Hope you had a lovely, sunny weekend too…

Sunday, 20 June 2010


mountain top

From the highest of heights

coral seabed

to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
autumn leaves 

From the colours of fall


to the fragrance of spring

Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go

Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow

Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light

Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same

You are amazing God
You are amazing God


[Chris Tomlin]

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Pray for Aung Sang Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

This courageous, peace-loving woman “celebrates” her 65th birthday today, locked in her dilapidated lakeside compound. She has spent 15 of the past 20 birthdays in confinement – the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate.

Our Foreign Office is encouraging people from around the world to post birthday greetings on Facebook, which British diplomats have pledged to pass on to Suu Kyi's representatives.

There is no doubting the power of radio”– those are the words of Amnesty International – who this week launched a major new financial appeal to supply thousands of radios to the Burmese people.

There is no doubting the power of prayer either …

Pray for her – and for the oppressed nation of Burma.