Archive for May, 2009

A Gentle Heart

“Gentle heart never hurt a soul.
You live in trust and you learn to love.
In silent darkness I hold your hand.
I don’t get much but I get the way she rolls”.

From “A Gentle Heart” by Neil Halstead.

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This week we had the good fortune of making the trip across the M8 to see Neil Halstead play at the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow.  Whilst the bar upstairs was crammed full of punters watching Man United get beaten by Barca in the Champions League Final, there was a stark contrast downstairs.  I almost found myself centre stage left as I spilled through the doorway at the bottom of the stairs amidst support act Larch’s set.  The venue is so tiny.  It’s pretty rudimentary and it reminded me of a school disco as I looked around and saw folks lining the walls in the darkness desperately avoiding the space of the dance-floor.

Neil took the stage and played through a couple of tracks acoustically including the ever wonderful and heartbreaking “Martha’s Mantra (For The Pain)” before inviting Adam and Ben up to play the rest of the set.  They played a wide range of songs from “Sleeping On Roads” and “Oh! Mighty Engine” (an album I keep listening to with enormous regularity months after I ought to have grown at least a little tired of it).  He included a choice selection of Mojave 3 numbers including requests from the floor.  “In Love With A View”, “Yer Feet” and “Between The Bars” stick out in my mind.

An intimate gig it certainly was.  Do artists get discouraged when hardly anyone turns out to hear them pour out their souls and observations on life?  Just like Neil’s gig at King Tuts last September I will cherish this as a beautiful evening in the presence of an individual whose songs I have carried around as a soundtrack to parts of my life for 12 years or so. 

Ever affable, it was nice to manage to talk with him for a few moments upon leaving – just to say “thanks” and ask how the tour had been going and talk briefly of Cornwall.  Then and again, if you read this you’ll see that there is much common ground…

Thanks again, Neil – hope to see you again soon.

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Holiday

“Holiday.

Celebrate.”

From “Holiday” by Madonna.

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We’re counting how many sleeps till our second pilgrimage to Cornwall within the space of nine months.

The above photo bears some resemblance to what our family portrait might look like if we overindulge in clotted cream scones, Cornish pasties and Sharp’s Doom Bar.  Thank goodness for high metabolism and the knowledge that a wetsuit isn’t too flattering.  All things in moderation.

Here’s to sunny day-trips and surf being up.

Also looking forward to going to church here:-

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My Favourite Things

“These are a few of my favourite things…”

From The Sound of Music.

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We all have favourite things.  A favourite item of clothing, a favourite book, film, place.  A comfort blanket of sorts…

I discovered a new thing today and I really like it.  I was talking to my wife this evening about Finisterre in the context of an environmentally friendly, surf related, clothing company.  She smiled with a look of wanderlust in her eyes recalling memories of an excerpt of a book she had heard read on Radio 4 some time ago called “The Price Of Water in Finisterre.”  Then she went on to pass comment on the meaning of the word – the idea of “finis” meaning “end” and “terrae” related to earth.  So whilst used on ancient maps to depict “Land’s End”, it could also be interpreted as “the ends of the earth.”  I really like that…

The great commission is to take the truth of our beliefs to the ends of the earth.  To live out our convictions and demonstrate grace, mercy and humility.  To preach the gospel and, if necessary, to use words.

A few of my favourite things? 

Smell:  wood burning on a frosty day.

Word:  Kindle or tinder.

Book: Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland.

Song: “Freak Scene” by Dinosaur Jr.

Film: “Rushmore” or “The Big Blue”.

Place: a cozy room with good food, close friends, coffee brewing, red wine open and the wee small hours beckoning to talk honestly, to do life together and put the world to rights…

Transatlanticism

“I want you so much closer…”

From “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie.

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I recently looked at the structure of my daily routine: the amount of time I spend in front of a PC at work; the number of lunch hours spent scoffing sandwiches whilst checking emails; the amount of time in the car with the radio on; the number of evenings spent simply preparing for something else in the diary; the constant pressure of trying to beat the clock; places to be; people to see…Was it any wonder I constantly felt tired?  Was it any wonder that my mind was often elsewhere?  Was it any wonder that God often felt distant?

Of late I’ve tried to take 20 or 30 minutes over lunchtime to find an empty room in the office and to eat my sandwiches and fruit slowly, to read my bible and scribble in my notepad.  A small thing has made a huge difference.  I’ve tried wherever possible to walk or cycle instead of using my car for non-essential car journeys.  Life is so much better with the wind in my hair, my iPod in my ears and a range of smells in my nostrils (cherry blossom and bacon butties were notable moments today).

 Maybe a walk with God can be literal aswell as metaphorical…

Time Stand Still

“Summer’s going fast, nights growing colder.
Children growing up, old friends growing older.
Freeze this moment a little bit longer.
Make each sensation a little bit stronger.
Experience slips away.
Experience slips away…
The innocence slips away”.

From “Time Stand Still” by Rush.

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The stabilisers are off.  A new chapter begins.  Grazed knees beckon.

Ich Bin Ein Auslander

“If they come to ethnically cleanse me,

 Will you speak out?

Will you defend me?

Freedom of expression doesn’t make it alright .

Trampled underfoot by the rise of the right”

From “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” by Pop Will Eat Itself.

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Maybe I’m becoming middle aged and middle classed, but I was genuinely shocked when the flyer photographed above was lying in our porch when I came home tonight.

The European elections are on the 4th of June.  Surely there should be no room for fascist propaganda such as this.  I’m alarmed that someone has taken the time to shove such nonsense through our letterboxes and I want to rid our postcode and politics of such twisted logic.

I never really thought of our area of town as particularly diverse racially.  Yet any city is cosmopolitan by nature as people are attracted to fill the labour market. 

Can I imagine my neighbourhood without the spread of cultures it has?  I enjoy the banter I have with my neighbours in the Indian takeaway.  I always chat to the guy who runs our newsagent.  The girls who work in the coffee shops are often foreign and there is something nice about their accents.  The vacant church opposite us is about to become a Mosque. 

I might not share the same belief systems as many of my neighbours, but I would stand up for them rather than see the venom of racism infest the place I and so many others call home. 

Breathe Deep

“Breathe deep.

Breathe deep the breath of God”

From “Breathe Deep” by The Lost Dogs.

Sometimes we just need to pause.  To stop.  To catch our breath.

Sometimes we need fresh perspective.  Sometimes we need to see ourselves as we really are.  At other times we need to see that God wants to make something beautiful out of something broken.

When I read the gospels, I see that Jesus didn’t spend his time particularly with those who considered themselves righteous.  He didn’t seem to have all that much time for organised religion.  His heart seemed to be with the lost, the marginalised, the “sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes”. 

Do we really believe that God loves everybody?  Do we really believe His grace is sufficient?  Do we really recognise that we were pitiful, blind, wretched and poor without Him – or were we quite self sufficient?  Do we feel that we have messed up too many times to come back?

This one’s for all of us. 


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