Tag Archives: General Nonsense

I’m Memeing of A White Christmas

Rosamundi has given me a “Gorgeous Award.” V. kind of her, must be one of those acts of charity she is required to do 😉

I have been requested to list six things relating to myself that are generally unknown, and mention six blogs or bloggers I consider gorgeous.

I’ve been blogging since October 2004. As Rosamundi put in her post, “There are supposed to be things you lot don’t know about me? OK…”

1. I sent an e-mail yesterday which could, if it led to anything, alter the course of my life.

2. I was never christened or dedicated as a baby

3. The first gig I ever went to without my parents was Toyah, when I was 10

4. I’ve had two awards given to me related to my teaching career. When I was on PGCE the people on my course gave me an award at our leaving meal which said I been the “outstanding student” of our cohort. This was a value added type of award based on the person who had come furthest. When I was in my last full time job I was one of about 23 people who got an award from the college for outstanding teaching and learning because in our internal inspection my lesson had been judged as meeting the criteria for outstanding. I was proud, but also a little embarrassed to achieve both. The first one meant most to me because my colleagues had had a say in it.

5. My dads Facebook status yesterday said something about him having arrived in Lapland for 7 weeks…..(and yes he will be spending most of that time wearing a red suit. His beard, though, is natural).

6. I remember seeing several white Easters, but I can’t remember seeing a properly white Christmas. My most vivid memory of one was when I was little standing at the top of my grandparents drive and seeing the daffodils popping out of the snow. (Ok, so it may not be a huge unknown fact….but I had to say it somewhere or I wouldn’t have been able to have the cheesy post title today.)

Six people who I think have gorgeous blogs or are gorgeous bloggers who haven’t already been nominated by Rosamundi or Auntie Doris are, in no particular order: Surfing – Surfing Through A Sea of Unknown, Head Into the Heavens, Journeying to the Cross, Knitting, Sex and God, Michael Volland and Marika at Theologies. Confession here, I don’t really expect the last two to enter into this – probably. However, I do think they are gorgeous Durham blogs and so wanted to sign post you to them if you haven’t already stumbled across them. Also I have been a bit cheeky with the Michael Volland one linking to somebody I don’t even know, (although I think I have sat in the same room as him atleast once),…..but hey ho we were asked to give gorgeous blog awards and I think all of these are – so I am prepared to bend etiquette a bit and just pray Andrew Jones, (Tall Skinny Kiwi) bloggers prayer a bit harder next time.

For those who haven’t come across Jones’ bloggers prayer before, here it is:
The Blogger’s Prayer 1.0
by Andrew Jones

Our Father
who lives above and beyond the dimension of the internet

Give us this day a life worth blogging,
The access to words and images that express our journey with passion and integrity,
And a secure connection to publish your daily mercies.

Your Kingdom come into new spaces today,
As we make known your mysteries,
Posting by posting,
Blog by blog.

Give this day,
The same ability to those less privileged,
Whose lives speak louder than ours,
Whose sacrifice is greater,
Whose stories will last longer.

Forgive us our sins,
For blog-rolling strangers and pretending they are friends,
For counting unique visitors but not noticing unique people,
For delighting in the thousands of hits but ignoring the one who returns,
For luring viewers but sending them away empty handed,
For updating daily but repenting weekly.

As we forgive those who trespass on our sites to appropriate our thoughts without reference,
Our images without approval,
Our ideas without linking back to us.

Lead us not into the temptation to sell out our congregation,
To see people as links and not as lives,
To make our blogs look better than our actual story.

But deliver us from the evil of pimping ourselves instead of pointing to you,
From turning our guests into consumers of someone else’s products,
From infatuation over the toys of technology,
From idolatry over techology
From fame before our time is right.

For Yours is the power to guide the destinies behind the web logs,
To bring hurt people into the sanctuaries of our sites,
To give us the stickiness to follow you, no matter who is watching or reading.

Yours is the glory that makes people second look our sites and our lives,

Yours is the wow-factor,
The heavy ambience,
The shining glory,
For ever and ever,


A Fluffy Guide to Family Friendly Protest Tourism- Part 4

The entries so far have highlighted how to make protest family friendly and how it can be a leisure activity and a family event. However, and here is the thing, protesting is about supporting a cause. Protesting and demo’s are about showing what we are against or in favour of. They are not excuses for a jolly.

In our world, particularly the fluffy Christian world, have we lost sight of this. Is the Wave going to be about saving the planet and eco concerns or is it just another excuse for an outing with our left leaning liberal friends?

Have our efforts over the years actually changed or achieved anything or have they made matters worse?

Then there is the matter of the dark side of protest. I have been on demos where you would be unlikely to find your “average Christian”. I have been quietly led away by a friend to have a hot chocolate when tempted to vent my anger on a policeman man handling others at a Reclaim the Streets demo when I said “take his number to report him” and he turned and said “I’ve taken them off”.

I have been forced, pregnant, to run through a graveyard to get to safety when police charged a demo to shut down a BNP bookshop. The trouble igniting the police charge I am certain started by right wing agitators.

I have seen the brew crew and police kick off at a demo against the Criminal Justice Act; greatful I had ignored the directions of a policeman and followed my instinct to escape back to the coach before the riot started.

I am not so innocent that I blame just the police or indeed the majority of police. The majority of police and protesters are peaceful people. However, in all groups you get a minority of people determined to cause trouble and who ignore the fear they subject others too. These are the reason many people choose not to protest or just to attend fluffy events which are more like post-modern Sunday school trips.

Me, in my old age and conscious of the need for my CRB tend to fall in the latter category now. Yet I will still protest as I still believe in the possibility of change and value this form of action as a sign of a healthy democracy.

A Winter’s Tale

So the cultured weekend continued last night, after a brief detour into “research land”. We headed off to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle to see The Winter’s Tale performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Ok, so Newcastle on what is apparently the busiest night the city has ever seen, (what one of the Street Pastor volunteers informed us in church this morning), is not quite Stratford, but it was still the RSC. For me splashing out on last night was a big deal!!!!

The play is one of Shakespeare’s longer ones, (running at just under 3 hours). It has all the ingredients which make a good Shakespeare play. A king who engages mouth before brain, a queen with spirit, a lost child, a comedy duo (shepherd and son), a comic baddie, and the voice of wisdom, aswell as a few other characters.

The plot is not as simple as say The Tempest, but it is not particularly complex……and it has an interesting twist. Greg Hicks played an excellent Leontes and Kelly Hunter a rather good Hermione. The star of the show though, partly through Shakespeare’s writing of the character was Noma Dumezweni who played Paulina. This was a distinguished cast though, as a brief flick through the programme showed, and they all played Shakespeare excellently.

The set was excellent, and showed the difference a ridiculously high ticket price can make. The most striking elements were the collapsing book cases and the trees which emerged from the rafters, one of them containing our first glimpse of Perdita, played by Samantha Young. This was no wobbly set, it was carefully crafted and excellently planned.

As I sat and watched I was struck by the talent involved and the way that there really is something special about watching Shakespeare performed well.

Afterwards I think I would have floated home if I hadn’t needed to negotiate the surreal obsticle course which was Newcastle last night. For people who have never encountered Newcastle at the weekend I better explain. It is a 24 hour party town, the sort that hen and stag dos routinely head for. It is therefore not unusual to see fancy dress or completely under-dressed people in whether most of us would describe as cold. Being Halloween the city was in full swing; fancy dress abounded.

The End of McDonaldization?

The green, enviromentalist types and fluffy Guardian reading anti-capitalists have been talking about the need to return to local products and reduce our carbon footprints for a while now. We all tend to nod our heads and say this is v. worthy, but carry on our lives as normal muttering about increased costs. It appears, though, that capitalism itself may be the route to achieving these goals. This BBC business article reports on how McDonalds is pulling out of Iceland because the franchise is no longer worth having. The owner of the franchise intends to keep running that style of outlet, but using local Icelandic products.

Discretion on line

Interesting article about the level of discretion we do/ should use on line by Hannah Betts in the Times.

She makes the point that through social networking sites and the like for many people now nothing is discreet. We hear about births, deaths, engagements, health problems and so forth on line now. TMI now means nothing to us.

So is this a problem? Answer I think so, sometimes. We have to use some common sense about what we post on line and realise we don’t know who is reading. However, we also need to make value judgements about why we post and the usefulness to the reader.

Regular readers will know that I have both pretty much outed myself on line and discussed my depression in my blog. With both of these issues I have made value judgements, thinking about if what I post might be of use to others. Facebook is different though….status updates don’t give detail or explanation. They give information which informs others. The question becomes what do we need others to know that much and who needs to know what?

The key is to think about the readership of what we post. I know lots of my dispersed network of friends who don’t necessarily read the blog sometimes catch status updates and sometimes I want to share things with them, particularly if I have prayer requests or happy news. Therefore perhaps I do sometimes fall into the TMI trap. We all have common sense and have to decide to use it, that’s the bottom line at the end of the day.


The streets are filling up around here again, the queues in the new Tesco are longer than just a week ago and last night I could hear a distant buzz of noise from the city centre as I made my way home from the station. Yesterday I was giving out cookies and flyers to post-grads; today and tomorrow I will take my turn in doing the same to undergrads…….welcome to Freshers week.

The Telegraph has this article related to the environment we send our freshers into and the pressure for them to conform to the stereotype of the alcohol fuelled student, who can burn the candle at both ends.

Whilst as Davidson makes clear in his article, and any fan of celebrity biographies will know, this is no new thing this is still worrying. I agree totally with the concerns Davidson is expressing in the article. Third Party is rapidly approaching uni age – we are going through the choosing a 6th form thing at the moment and I have to say I worry for her. However, I have to say I hope one of the most important principles I have taught her remains in her mind as she gets to the age where she begins to enter the night time economy….one person always needs to be sober enough to help get their friends home ok. I am a firm believer that in the same way as you have a designated driver if you are not having to drive, as students don’t tend to have to, you should have a designated person to help v. drunk people get home safetly. I say this as the person who has had the experience of having to be helped home on the odd occassion in the past, (I really can’t handle my drink).

Most importantly though, yet again, the article reminds us of our own responsiblilty as parents. Drinking in moderation has become an important issue for me over the last year or so. I know that examples have to be set and many of us, as parents, are not setting the right example. We think it is ok to occassionally get a bit tipsy, because it’s someones leaving do, a birthday, night in/out with the girls, Christmas or whatever. What example does this set our children? It says that as long as it is a “special occassion” it is ok to go out and get totally ratted. What is a “special occassion” then? Freshers week is a right of passage and the “special occassion” for students, but it sets a patten that some find it difficult to escape from.

Some will call me a hypocrite here, having at Greenbelt or on other “special occassions” witnessed my inability to handle my wine. However, as I say I am having to think again and try to amend my behaviour. Tea total is not necessarily the way to go, but learning about moderation whatever the occassion must be.

Language, Optimism and Grown Up Trust

Facinating interview in the Telegraph, by Bernadette McNulty with Cerys Matthews.

Reading the interview there were a couple of things that struck me:
1) Whilst we are told that people don’t get words like sin and stuff anymore she is quoted as saying, ‘“You have to take risks,” she says, “risking nothing is the saddest sin of all.” ‘
Think that there is alot of truth in that.

2)second quote that struck me was, ‘ “For the first time, people are trusting me to do things and I am proving I am perfectly capable of doing them,” she says. “I think you can give the impression when you have been in a rock band for 10 years that all you can do is make noise and drink until dawn. But I have a lot more interests than the clichés of rock and roll. That is what is different now. I’ve got my own production company. I’ve made this record myself: produced it, written it, recorded it. I felt it was time for some self-determination.”’
In order for people to achieve and be able to benefit from their risk taking trust is involved. The mix of self-determination and trust from others is important.

3) final quote that hit home was, ‘“I haven’t changed in 20 years but sometimes the rest of the world catches up with you,” she says.’
Wonder if this is what is happening with a number of us who the marketing men called Gen X. Suddenly we are hitting our late 30’s and early 40’s and finding out that somehow, rather wonderfully, the world has caught up with where we have been for much of the time.


Post-modern theory may contain alot of b*****s but it is necessary, the reason being that society has changed hugely over the last couple of decades. I start any Sociology course by mapping out the theories and putting them in their historical context, so on Monday evening I came out with my usual line of “when I was young, which wasn’t too long ago, there were only 3 tv channels and now think how many we have”.

During a lecture yesterday morning relating to the historical context the Emerging Church has come about in John Drane took a similar approach. He signposted us to this wonderful site on the Sociology of Aging which sums up how much life has changed in the lifetime our our parents and grandparent, (i.e. the last 60 – 80 years).
It has this anonymously sourced reflection:
Born Before 1945

We were born before television, penicillin, frozen foods, xerox, plastic, contact lenses, Frisbees and the PILL.

We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry-clothes — and before we walked on the moon.

In our time closets were for clothes, not for “coming out of.”

Bunnies were small rabbits and beetles were not little VWs. Designer Jeans were scheming girls and having a meaningful relationship was getting on with our friends.

We got married first and then lived together.

We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent and outer space was the back of the Riviera theater.

We were before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages.

We were before day care and group therapy.

In 1940, “making out” referred to how you did on your exam.

We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, word processors and guys wearing earrings.

A chip meant a piece of wood and the word software had not been invented.

In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, GRASS was mowed, COKE was a cold drink and POT was a cooking utensil.

ROCK MUSIC was a grandma’s lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the principal’s office.

We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes was discovered but we were surely before the sex change.

We made do with what we had.

And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby.

No wonder we are so confused and there is a generation gap.

(found on http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~deppen/born45.htm, by unknown author)

:Ding and stuff

The Guardian Weekend has gone all Bridget Jones today, with an issue focussing on “How to be Happy Right Now”. It’s Psychologies gone all weekend supplement basically. Have to say I love this type of pop psychology, and not only because I’m a sociologist who knows how much it can wind “real psychologists” up.

The first article is Oliver Burkeman slating the positive thinking philosophy in “How to Feel Up in a Downturn“. It’s an article which makes some good, common sensical points about books like “Think and Grow Rich” and The Secret. He points out that with people with low self esteem repeating certain mantras makes them feel worse not better. He also suggests it is uncritically accepting the ethos of these books is what has fuelled our consumer, debt ridden lifestyles. He argues that although it might be corny and embarassing gratitude journalling might be more useful. The very sensible conclusions which he reaches are: “Remember to be grateful. Spend your money on experiences, not objects. Volunteer. Nurture your relationships. Spend time in nature. Make sure you encounter new people and places. And never assume that you know what will make you happy.”

Later on in the magazine you find “7 steps to instant happiness“. The seven steps are: be positive, be brave, meditate, be kind to yourself, use your pessimism, find a calling and act happy.

Reading through this I had to smile. Thinking about Christianity and what it teaches so much of this is within it. Looking at the tradition of the church, together with the bible this is what it’s all about. It’s more evidence I think of how our fixation with things like who happens to be shagging who or what type of music makes the church rock gets in the way of us seeing the big picture. God has given us this advice on how to live and Jesus life showed us how to be put it into action….

A final thing I’d add is be ready to take a sideways look at life, embrassing the humour in the everyday. On this note I liked the description of Greenbelt that was in the Guide section of todays Guardian.
“Greenbelt (28-31 Aug, Cheletenham) combines music (Athlete, Royskopp and Cornershop) with the arts (Billy Childish) and lots of leftfield christianity (Messy Church)”. If Messy Church is what the Guardian considers leftfield christianity then goodness knows what they’d make of some of the worship line up at this years festival.
Seriously though it was good to see Greenbelt getting recognition as a festival in the Guide.