Monthly Archives: October 2004

How many Miffys does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: Four of us so far. Two for the fitting in the utility room. (reminder – buy a new rose after Mr M broke it), and two for the light in the bathroom. In so doing I’ve managed to rick something near my right shoulderblade. Now do I wait to see if it’ll clear up of its own accord, or do I try and get the osteopath to fit me in, given that I’m going away for part of next week? Don’t want to spoil that, either. Decisions, decisions. Meantime, little M has tided me over with the loan of his magic potion – aka Deep Heat. I’ve a distinct air of ‘Parfum de mothballs’ about me. In fact, Ms M did ask if the cat had done something in here a moment ago, but we reckon that’s due to me removing my sock in an absent-minded moment.

So yes, next week both old and young Miffs set out on their travels. Little Miff is bound for the St Etienne area on an exchange trip. It’s been great to see how enthusiastic he’s been about the idea. This is definitely not the child who on return from spending most of his early childhood living in France squirmed with embarrassment at being ‘shown up’ speaking a funny language in front of his new friends. Of course, a lot of this is because he’s already met the neighbour of his exchange partner a couple of times when he’s been over here visiting a mutual friend. And the boys have had a great old time together. Although whether hanging round the town, sleepovers and drunken BBQs are quite what the lycee had in mind, I couldn’t say. At the least I suppose X will have had ample opportunity to perfect his street English!

Passing from the sublime to the ridiculous; whilst son disports himself in sunny France, I’ll be passing my time in peace and quiet (silence actually, as far as I can see) here:http://www.franciscans.org.uk/h-compton.html. A new venture for me. I’m no stranger to churchy holidays, themed retreats and the like, but this is the first time I’ve encuntered an IGR. In true Miffyeske fashion, the decision was made on a whim after a totally unrelated googlesearch landed me on the Bath and Wells Diocesan website six months ago. On reflection, a good few of my new ventures have originated after totally unrelated googlesearches have landed me on…..; notably the decision to start my Christian Studies course ‘ahem’ months ago. And no, I won’t be taking any coursework with me. Oh, nor will I be taking any expectations, (another new venture in my ill-guided attempts at integrity!)

Hi Mum! How was church?

‘Do you want an honest answer?’

(quizzical look from 14 yr old son)Yes, I suppose so…

It was GHASTLY. We had ‘If I were a Butterfly,’ (with actions!!!)

‘Oh, right…’ (Son raises eyebrows and goes about his business. He’s not been near a church for several years, but knows exactly what I mean).

On reflection… oh let’s be honest, I’ve no need to reflect, I’ve no doubt the above traumatic experience was a judgement on yours truly for having ventured anywhere near a church in the first place. We had a teeth-gritting trek up to the frozen wastes of the Midlands yesterday. I then passed a pleasant hour or five stuck in a freezing cold house awaiting the arrival of an aerial repair man, as said aerial had crashed down onto next door’s roof during last week’s gales and was threatening to slip and crush passers by. Meanwhile Mr M visits Mum intending to fix up more bits and pieces in her new flat. He ends up spending three hours going through sundry uimportant paperwork with her and emerges in a foul mood. I’m in an equally foul temper having spent the day filling the wheelie bin with rubbish and reading Christian Herald, Don Aslett’s ‘Is there life after housework?’ and a battered copy of ‘Jenning’s Diary,’ ( a relic of the halycon days of Mr M’s boyhood.) And not even a cup of tea to keep me going. (We threw the kettle away, as Mrs M senior is convinced that the water supply is poisoned!)

I’ll draw a veil over the return journey. Suffice it to say it involved an 100 mph dash in torential rain, and a 100 decibel marital ‘disagreement,’ due to my outrageous assertion that such dashes play havoc with my nervous system. Add to that the superb customer service skills of a certain well-known chain of service station cafes…not…and you have all the ingredients for a quick phone call to Relate come Monday morning.

Disaster is averted, mercifully by a superb evening out at our local Christian bookshop’s fundraising dinner. Great food, and an even greater speaker. Mr M passed an agreeable time grilling a gentleman who works for the highways agency – thus displacing all that anger onto a harmless target. (The speaker suggested some interesting ways of letting one’s anger out; which included taking up judo and jumping up and down on polystyrene). Myself, I prefer hurling mugs, or even better posting bottles into those giant recycling bins. (‘I love the sound of breaking glass!’).

I’m drifting comfortably this morning; vaguely comtemplating a lie-in,and enjoying the best that local radio can offer, when we’re rudely interrupted by what sounds like a 100 decibel oversized dentist’s drill wailing outside in the street. A fuming Mr M flings open the bedroom window and demands to know what the miserable, antisocial worms are up to. (in tones loud enough to waken those neighbours who haven’t already been woken up by Mr DIY. (I listen to him with one ear, and with the other to our rector who’s being interviewed on air on the tricky subject of ‘apologising.’) The noise stops and Mr M crawls back under the duvet. Tactful enquiries elicit the info that offending noise came from the pub opposite; apparently someone tried to break one of their doors down during the wee small hours. Ooops! Now, whilst I certainly don’t equate the rector with the Almighty, if I were of a less liberal bent than I am atm (next month I might be something else entirely, mind you), I’d say, there was more than a sniff of a ‘Godincidence here.’

By now I’m wide awake and reckon I might as well go to church anyway. Which brings us back to where we started. 🙁

The Real Me

There’s nothing like a tottering pile of ironing and a tax return demanding one’s attention to make one’s thoughts turn to higher things. Like your public and private personas. The sublime and the ridiculous. After yesterday’s mini panic about the wibsite’s brilliant summary of the Windsor Report ( another brownie point please! ) I read about the great baseball cap debate here: http://www.oxford.anglican.org/youthblog/archives/000063.html
and it made me think. Why is it that so many Christians nowadays appear to have had their sense of humour surgically removed? Adrian Plass put it brilliantly in his ‘Sacred Diary’ series when he described an overtly religious neighbour’s reaction to a joke. It was a concept that simply didn’t form a part of her brain’s circuitry.

I’ve had the best of what I call my ‘Barbara Wodehouse – blowing up horses’ noses moments’ (don’t ask:)) with fellow Christians when I’ve been caught off- guard; not mostly during officially sanctioned ‘fellowship’ sessions (You WILL have fun or else!) Please, please, no one mention toilet ducks and labyrinths! And moving online, I reckon to have seen as much of love of God in numerous daft, off the wall, irreverent threads on Ship of Fools as ever I’ve experienced IRL as they say. Interesting.

Makes me wonder. What effect would it have on my ‘Christian walk’ (jargon alert, jargon alert) if my online persona were to break through into real life church settings? Come to think of it, what effect would it have on my poor, long suffering fellow Christians? Not altogether a bad thing, methinks, and it’d be rather more honest than I’m being at the moment. There was a brief, glorious moment at our last pcc meeting when I could feel it bubbling up and threatening to break through, thanks to a sotto voce remark from my neighbour re some ‘unfortunate’ but hilarious terminology in a report.

Or maybe not; at least, not at the pcc anyway. Let’s start small.

Hmmm…

I opened my mouth this morning

as one does sang an arpeggio, and to my utter flabberghastation (to coin a phrase) this rather lovely sound came out. Not at all the strangled squeak I was expecting, especially as we were practising getting resonance into our singing. As this apparently involves singing forward into the upper palate whilst simultaneously resting the tongue lightly behind the lower teeth (tricky for me as my lower teeth are crowded) I was anticipating either choking or sending a huge gobbet of spit flying into the face of our teacher. Instead. well…my voice…resonated. And not a hint of the wobbles about singing in front of the others. So, no matter if the neighbours can hear me through the open window. What care I if the cat streaks away upstairs and the dog retreats to his bed; there’ll be no stopping me now. Who knows, by Christmas I might even be able to cope with the twiddly bits in ‘Ding Dong Merrily’. (Hint – looking at the conducter’s dangly Christmas earrings helps you hit those high notes a treat):D

The blame for the second ‘flabberghastation’ of the day falls fairly and squarely on the shoulders of a certain person’s succinct and erudite summing up of a certain report. ; * I was most impressed – as was another person who mailed to thank me for passing it on to them. Only I hadn’t and spent all of ten minutes in a cold sweat wondering if I’d pressed the wrong button and inadvertently sent it out to how shall I put it… persons whose theological leanings might just possibly be of a less liberal bent than yours truly. Given the area I’m in, substitute ‘definitely’ for ‘possibly.’ Luckily, another e-mail revealed the missing link; I breathed again, and put the sweats down to pre menopausal hormonal activity.

* Do I get brownie points for pushing the wibsite? 😉

We are an auntie

Or will be late next Spring. I’m flabberghasted – though I somehow suspected it when my next brother down phoned while I was out last night, but left no message. Well! Not sure what to think. This’ll be the first baby since I had little Miff nearly 15 years ago. I’m thrilled for them both, but …. 🙂 Too much to take in just now.

It makes a change to have some good news, mind you. Especially after this weekend just gone. I’ll draw a veil over our to-ings and froings on Saturday sorting out Mr M’s Mum’s flat. Suffice it to say, we finally crawled back onto the motorway at gone 8 pm, feeling like a couple of wet rags. If patience is a virtue, I’m surely in line for canonisation – poor Mr M’s fuse lasts for all of three minutes when he and Mrs M snr are together. And yours truly is caught in the crossfire.

Hence on reflection, it wasn’t the best idea to take myself off to two services yesterday – seeing as I’d not been near the church for some weeks. Morning I could cope with; being on library duty, which I enjoy. Evening’s a different matter; I’ve only been an occasional visitor these last few months – and last night I was down to make the after service coffee. I used to be so keen, but now… don’t know what it is exactly, but the last few times I’ve been I’ve come out feeling worse than when I’ve gone in. I coped last night by spending much of the service dozing outside in the hallway. And for the life of me I simply can’t work up any enthusiasm for anything churchy at the moment. Ah well.

I forgot

You want a cliche? You can have ‘anticipated learning outcomes,’ with pleasure! The group of us spent a happy 10 minutes or so during singing class, making wild guesses, and telling even wilder half truths about our progress in order to satisfy the powers that be. Why, oh why, does everything have to be measured and assessed like this nowadays? I’m sure, that some bored education dept employee somewhere, is dying to hear that in Session Three Mrs Miffy tried, and failed dismally to distinguish between head and chest voice, and that she established the fact that ‘While Shepherds Watched..’ begins on middle C.

Sad

It’s a funny old world, if you’ll excuse the cliche. The way the church in general is forever wracking its collective brain to think of ever new and innovative ways to ‘reach,’ the poor, unsaved, (and generally young) out there. And yet we seem to so often overlook a vital part of its existing ‘clientele.’ Did my usual stint at the shop today. I don’t know who they thought they’d be attracting when they started up, but a good few of the ‘regulars’ are on the elderly side. And from the odd remark let slip, and even the odd conversation, there are not a few lonely people out there. We had two this morning, widowed ladies who needed to decide whether or not to stay living in town or upsticks and move ; nearer to other members of the family, but away from the places and people they’d known during their marriages. We got talking, and I discovered that not only did one , such a sweet lady, go to the same church as myself, but that she lives just round the corner from me. How on earth can you worship in the same place for six years, (likely at the same SERVICE), and yet not have met each other before?! The fact that she said she recognised me (from the rogues’ gallery, no doubt), makes me feel worse about it. And yet another person who’d relied on hubby to deal with all the financial and administrative practicalities. Shades of my mother in law. Why I should be so surprised, I don’t know. That age group – the youngest must have been at school during WW11, others helping with the war effort, surely those experiences would have stuck and given people some sense of autonomy?

Anyway, hardly the cutting edge of evangelism, but I’d rather put my money on this group before I go rushing off worrying about anyone elses’ current salvation status. Of course, some of this is probably guilt (misplaced or otherwise) about the situation MIL is in at the moment. Phoned up last night just as I was about to go out. So far, so good, as far as her new flat is concerned. There’s still much to be sorted out, and I’m sure we’ll find more to be done when we go up there at the weekend. She seemed quite positive, (for her), and I managed to steer the conversation away from too much talks of her various ills.

And talking of ills, last week’s fluey cold came back with a vengeance, hitting both myself and Ms Miffy. Thank goodness it held off for just long enough for Mr M and myself to enjoy a certain blogger’s birthday celebrations last weekend! If any other guests are reading this, my apologies for treading on your corns and bunions, or for wrenching shoulders out of sockets in my inept attempts to wring out dishcloths. It was a great evening. Plus we managed to get in our eight hours sleep and be up in time for a full English breakfast the next day!