Sunday, September 30, 2007



"Mike," said Kate at lunch, "before you go, I'd like to make use of your extreme length, please."

At this point, Moo lost it.

It transpired that she wanted to use my _height_ (I'm much taller than most of the rather height-challenged McLaughlin clan) to help pick some cooking apples.

But that's not how it came out. Missus.


Saturday, September 29, 2007



(backposting) Not only did we barbecue today, we barbecued last night as well. In the drizzle. Kate and Mac have a thing about this. Didn't bother me - I wrapped up warm - but it is a _little_ odd, don't you think?

Wales were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by Fiji. This is huge, and won't easy for Lee, my brother-in-law. After the match, which Jo had watched some of, we went outside to play some football (not having a rugby ball with us), and she kept picking up the ball and trying to spin pass it out. _Go_ girl.

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Friday, September 28, 2007


Work, work, work

Well, all I said about work yesterday is more so today. Lots of major stuff coming up, having to be dealt with. I rather like it, to be honest.

Now at Kate and Macs: expect alcohol soon...`

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Thursday, September 27, 2007


Burn them! Burn them!

(backposting) We lit the fire for the first time this season: it's suddenly gone cold. Turned on a couple of the night storage heaters, too. Brrr!

Work's _so_ busy all of a sudden: it's like people have finally worked out it's not holiday season any more, and have got their backsides in gear. Maybe that's connected to the change in temperature...

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(backposting) It just keeps getting better, doesn't it? We couldn't face staying up till 2220 (!), so only watched the one episode tonight, recording the other: no spoilers, please. My mate Mark Brown has joined Facebook, so welcome along if you're reading this.

I grabbed a few minutes when I would otherwise have been having a cup of tea yesterday morning, and joined Jo, Miri and Mel (who's also just joined Facebook) at toddler group. It's lovely to see Jo running around, and I'm completely unfazed (sp?) by being the only bloke there. Seems that I get some looks, but I don't care. I noticed yesterday (as I have in similar situations before) that I immediately get lots of attention from other children. This can sometimes be quite disturbing, depending on how they relate to you, but on this occasion it all seemed happy and healthy enough.

Started using the Vulgate for some of my readings for evensong since coming back from the latest ERMC weekend. I'd forgotten how lovely it is, and it appears that I've not got too rusty.

Jo's started recognising "J for Jojo" all over the place, "squiggly snake S's", and the letter "O". She knows that when two "o's" are next to each other as friends, they tend to make an "ooooo" sound, and she goes around finding examples and telling us all about it.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Visigoths ahoy!

"What," you may ask, "have Visigoths got to do with Christianity or Paganism?" Those are the topics of this month's synchroblog, and so you'd hope that I'd be writing about something vaguely relevant. And, as it happens, I am. I really don't know much about paganism (Sally's is likely to be a better blog to read on this - see below), certainly in the modern world, but the 21st century is not the first time that paganism has raised its head. I'm certainly not going to try to draw similarities between the beliefs of earlier pagans and modern-day pagans - but I think it's worth remembering that the rise of Christendom in Europe was not without problems in its history, and it wasn't just the Islamic Moorish empire that caused it problems.

In 410AD, the Visigoths sacked the city of Rome. They were a pagan people, and the Rome of the time was Christian, all other religions other than Christianity having been officially banned in 391AD, just 19 years before. It appears that the Visigoths, under Alaric I, showed remarkable clemency towards Christians, their buildings and posessions. There seem to have been a variety of different reasons or the Sack of Rome, and the issue of religion may not have been a major one.

Why is this relevant? Maybe it's not. I just thought that it was worth reminding ourselves that Christianity is not the only belief system with a history in Europe - even if the history of Christianity is more continuous, certainly in the mainstream. And Christianity has dealt with the challenges of paganism before. The way we deal with the challenges of other faiths is, hopefully, significantly more enlightened and more based on dialogue these days. We should try to remember that the Visigoths showed at least some clemency towards Christians, and that it seems to have been based on respect. I think that's an important work to bear in mind.

Respect seems a much better way to deal with challenges than aggression - and I want to be careful about the word "challenges". As a Christian, I believe that the faith I profess provides a unique revelation from God, and that Jesus Christ's life (incarnation), death and resurrection offer human beings a sure route to God. But I'm being led more and more to an understanding that God has given us many different ways to Him/Her. We have to listen and discuss. We can try to convince. But we have to listen. And that's not only to the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism and Islam), nor only the other major world faith (Hinduism, Buddhism and others) but also to other belief systems and faiths, including paganism.

You may wish to consult the wikipedia entries on Alaric I, Ancient Rome and Visigoths for more information.


Today is a "synchroblog" on the subject of "Christianity and Paganism". If you've liked what you read here, or, more particularly, if you didn't, and you'd like to read some other opinions, please visit one of the other participating blogs:

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Monday, September 24, 2007



I've never had one, thanks be to God, but Moo gets them from time to time, and today's one of those times. I've sent her to bed, and thankfully she was able to eat some toast before she headed upstairs.

Had a fascinating chat with a couple in their late 80s from Long Melford today about their lives. They've lived through some very interesting times in some interesting places, and I learnt more about them than I think they expected me to - they seemed worried that they'd just chatted to me a bit!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007


End of the weekend, and back home again

We had a little more on Work and Faith, and some good discussions about industrial action - when and where is it Christian? - and also on "when to where the collar". It was interesting and useful, and I'll be thinking more about it for when I'm ordained next year. The big question is when or if to wear a dog collar at work. Not in external meetings, certainly: when I'm at those, I'm representing the company, and it would just be inappropriate. But when travelling? Sometimes. Socially with colleagues sometimes? Maybe.

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(backposting) Not only were my parents-in-law at Anfield today watching the Derby match (a nil-all draw, but they were in the hospitality suite and were treated like royalty so had a great time) but we had more football (ranging from 2-a-side to an mean average of 3.5-a-side) at Ditchingham which was lots of fun.

The day was mainly spent doing work on verbatims. I'd presented one about SecondLife, and the other 5 in my group were very supportive and helpful. The other ones were fascinating, and it was an excellent day. It was really hard work listening, reflecting and feeding back, but very worthwhile indeed.

The music at the evening worship was excellent: Tavener, Moore and Holst.

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Off to ERMC

(backposting) Busy day doing bits and pieces, and then off to Ditchingham for another weekend. This time it's the first of two on Work and Faith. As I mentioned before, we had some very good reading beforehand, and the weekend started well with a good session. I was a good boy, and went to bed at midnight.


Thursday, September 20, 2007



I'm trying to get to speak to a Linden in SecondLife to discuss some stuff related to the work we want to do as Anglicans, but either timing is out, or there are technical problems, so it's been a little frustrating. It doesn't help that the main folks are on the West Coast (of the US), so we're 9 hours out.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Work and Christianity

I read an excellent article today for our next ERMC weekend. It was about how people relate their work and their church. Some want to separate their lives between work and church, some would like to find a way to make them closer. Some see work as only a means to be able to work for the church. Others would welcome a chance to use their work skills in a church context, but find those skills pushed away. I need to think really hard about this: it's really opened some doors for me. Once I've thought harder about it, I'll post some more.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Watching the footie

For those of you who don't know, I married into a Scouse family, and it was made clear well before we even became engaged that if I was serious about Catherine, then I'd be supporting Liverpool from then on. Given that my only (slight) allegiance was to the (oft-relegated, ever hopeful) Wolves, this wasn't a big ask, but these days I really enjoy following them. They're playing Oporto away from home tonight, and so I settled down with a beer. I'll have some wine in a moment, but it's best to start off with a beer, isn't it?

Moo had some problems with her Palm recently and it's not been syncing. She needs it to work for her job, and we were dreading having to buy a new one, but in the end, we got away with buying her a bluetooh dongle (her laptop's _supposed_ to have bluetooth on it, but it's Windoze XP, and therefore has never worked).

I'm coming to the end of my placement at Long Melford, and need to arrange an end supervision. I've really enjoyed the time, and look forward to going there in the future. Next challenge is that I've agreed to take over the service for the second Sunday of the month at Great Yeldham. I really want to do something really rather different, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with Keith (the incumbent and my supervisor) discussing my ideas.

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Monday, September 17, 2007



Had my first tutorial with Alan for ages today. Went well, and we got on well despite the break. He really makes me think and pulls out some great questions for me to think about.

Jo had another session at pre-school today. Tried tracing her name, and did OK: she was so proud.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007


Josephine 2

  1. Great in church
  2. Swimming 1: "I want to be Cinderella ... you can be Cinderella too"
  3. Swimming 2: swam without floats for the very first time ever!
  4. Went to sleep in under 5 minutes


Saturday, September 15, 2007



She's a right pickle. Sometimes good, sometimes _really_ not. Here are a list of some of the Jo-isms for today.

  1. Last night she took an hour to get to bed. It's going to be over that tonight.
  2. Because she was a pain last night, Moo told her that she wouldn't be able to watch Storymakers (one of her favourite TV programmes) tonight. We explained this before turning the TV on after supper tonight, and she seemed to understand. When it came time for it to go on, she calmly walked to the TV and turned it off. Not a hint that she was bothered.
  3. When I took her for a walk today, we came across two road signs. One was a village name sign with a speed restriction, and on the other side of the road, just a the speed restriction. She's just got the concept of "matching", and told me that the numbers on the two signs matched (30, in case you're wondering).
  4. She pointed out the lines on the road, and I asked her what they're for. "So that cars can follow them," she replied. When asked if someone had told her this, or she'd worked it out for herself, she said, "I worked it out for myself, I think"
  5. She was being a real pain about coming back from the beach (East Mersea) to the car. I walked on to put Miri and Buster in the car. She just sat down and refused to come on, so Moo sat down a little further. Jo couldn't see her clearly, and Moo suddenly heard Jo calmly talking to herself: "who's that person? Is it a man, no it's a lady, but I don't think it's Mummy. Mummy and Daddy have gone to the car on their own, and they've left me. I'm all on my own." Not a hint of concern!
  6. At supper tonight, she was refusing to eat her food. She'd finished her cup of drink, so I went to refill it with some water, but when I came back, she insisted on milk, as that's what had been in it previously. I told her that she could have milk if she had some more food, but if she didn't, then she could only have water. After some discussion, she came out with, "I think I want water in my cup."
Basically, she's too clever for us. Threats just get accepted, and she changes her preferences and priorities. On the other hand, she's only 2 and a half, and we can't really expect her to align her plans with ours. Well, we'll keep trying.


Friday, September 14, 2007


We're going to lose the rugby

At least I did the ironing today. And Miri can now stay in a sitting position unaided for quite a while now.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007


More sales training, then home

Another day of training: it was useful. A long trip back home round the M25, and it was slow, but at least moving. Tired tonight.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Sales training

Really not my favourite thing, by a long chalk, but it's been a useful day, to be honest. Discovering how best to work with the other guys in the team, some strengths, weaknesses, etc. We're going out for supper later on.

Moo had a terrible evening with the dog last night, but once he was finally down, things seem to have improved. Jo was very tired again, after her second pre-school session, and apparently her behaviour (which was never bad as such) is already improved in the context of the toddler group she attends on Wednesdays.

As far as I'm aware, Catherine didn't find any more dead bats in her office today.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Apologising to the Archbishop of Canterbury

I attended a meeting today with the Bishop of Guildford and his communications officer on SecondLife, and what we should/could be doing there, alongside the leader of the Anglicans in SecondLife group, Mark Brown. We had a fantastic discussion, which should bear lots of fruit, and I had a good chat afterwards with Mark, who'd never met IRL before.

Beforehand, I turned up early to work out where to go, and phoned Mark to give him directions. I was standing in a corridor, giving suggestions down the phone, when who should walk towards me but Rowan Williams. He was chatting to somebody else, and I felt a little rude being on the phone in his palace, so finished the call and said "sorry" as he went past. He raised his eyebrows in a forgiving kind of a way, so I think we made a connection.

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Monday, September 10, 2007


Away for a few days

In Sunningdale, of all places. The place I'm staying feels like a residential care home, but I'll hold off judgement until I've spent a little longer here.

Jo went to pre-school this morning. We were a little worried, of course, and Moo, Mel, Miri and I accompanied her up the hill. She immediately started playing with the toys, sand, plasticine, etc., and didn't even notice when we went. We were, of course, gutted. She's doing 2 sessions a week, and had such a lovely time there today that she's looking forward very much to the next one, tomorrow.

Miri's not been great today: seems that her digestive system is taking a while to get the hang of "solid" foods. Fair enough, and that's as much detail as you want.

I'm addicted to Facebook, which also works on my mobile. I'm trying to avoid the "how many friends have you got" line, but there are lots of little applications you can add. Fun, fun, fun.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007


Double preaching

I preached at both Shimpling (0900) and Long Melford (1030) today. Same sermon, though it went better second time. According to Ian - who officiated at both (I took up to the Eucharistic Prayer, excepting Absolution) - I was very "ummy" and "ahhy" at the beginning, first time round, and he came out of it intending to tell me that I really need to write down my sermons (which I've tried, and don't like), but second time round it was much better and more fluid. It seems that I need to work on the beginnings. I tend to run through sermons lots of times in my head, but I think I need to work on the very first few sentences better, as that's what seems to let me down. Useful feedback.

Poor Moo (who wasn't feeling great) had Jo and Miri for four and a half hours in the morning, in the end, and was very good about it. I took Jo for a good swim in the afternoon, and after the girls had bathed, took Miri and Buster for nearly an hour's walk. Pushed it hard, and my calfs (calves?) now hurt.

Joined Facebook last night, after Mark invited me. It was going to happen one day. You can find me there: "Mike Bursell".

Tomorrow is Jo's first day at pre-school. Oooh!

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Saturday, September 08, 2007


Buster back

Jo slept through till 0600, which isn't bad. Headed off to pick Buster up this morning, and he was very pleased to see us. The other thing we decided that we needed to do was to let Miriam try some real food. So, breast milk and mashed banana, but she needs a high chair. So, despite the astonishing money nightmare (two holidays, Catherine's job deciding that they'd overpaid her last month, and taking the balance off this months... - you get the idea), we went and bought a new one for Jo. Passed the old one to Miri, who didn't seem to care.

So, Miri had her first meal, and did very well. She's been after it for quite a while, as mentioned previously, and was more convincing with it that Jo was, for her first meal. Speaking of convincing:


Friday, September 07, 2007


Rugby time

After the debacle of last week's trip down to my parents, we decided to leave early, and got up at 0530. Left around 0605, and got home around 1415. That includes a number of stops, one of which was to get some food in at the supermarket, so it could have been worse. The girls needed feeding and loo breaks, so you can't really blame them.

Unluckily, Miri didn't quite manage the fantastic going down at 1930 that she has been recently, but 2100 isn't too bad. Over the past few days, she's become a real pain about trying to eat the food that you're eating if you're holding her, so we're going to start her on a few solids from tomorrow, probably.

Go Pumas!

And Argentina have just beaten France in the first match of the Rugby World Cup, in France. We love them (the Pumas, that is). What a great ending to a holiday.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


Last day of holiday

(backposting) Polzeath - went body boarding (despite Jo). Jo decided that the body board was for her, not me. I had to sneak it away. The surf was much better than yesterday, and I actually managed it a couple of times. Really got it together, and it was pretty good.

Had a work call in the afternoon - changed out of wetsuit, obviously. Changed Miri whilst on a conf. call: put the phone on mute, as I'm a professional...

Two things made me cry on the TV: Natasha Kaplinsky on the BBC's "Who do you think you are?" (family involvement in the Shoah - the Holocaust), and Rhys Jones' funeral (an 11 year old caught in the crossfire between two Liverpool gangs, it seems). I expect to be preaching on this at some point.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Meeting old friends

(backposting) It's been years since we saw James ("JP") and Alex, but we'd decided to ask him to be one of Miri's godparents (or at least a sponsor if he wasn't baptised - though it turns out that he has been). JP (again, it appears that we're the only people who call him that) and Alex live near Geneva, and we went on a very ill-fated skiing trip with them at least four years ago. JP was head of the student union when Jo was woman's officer at college, and we've always got on well. I spent a lot of time with JP, and Moo with Alex, and we got straight back in the groove, which was fantastic. They're both divers, and we're already thinking about arranging some sort of diving holiday (and no, Moo won't have to look after both of ours _and_ both of theirs while we're diving: we'll sort something out).

We met at Polzeath beach (well, obviously), and one of the best moments was when Gemma was following me and JP to the surf, and came out with the immortal "you're my two favourite daddies". Whoa...

So, we borrowed from body boards, and James taught me how. Not much surf, but fun nevertheless.

Popped up to Tubestation: impressive. A Methodist-Anglican initiative, cafe, skating area, Internet access, looks like a good place.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007



(backposting) My turn to cook this evening, so I barbecued. Got some local(ish) fish, some beef mince (for homemade burgers) and sausages. Some of the fish needed to go back onto the barbecue, but that was partly because by the end of the cooking period, all the light I had to see by was from the embers of the coals, but by the end, it was all fine, and people seemed to like it, which was good.

Oh, we went back to Polzeath: it's all good. Jo loves it, there are good places to camp out, and all the rest of it.

Noticed a cafe up the hill called "Tubestation", with a cross outside. Intend to check it out at some point.

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Monday, September 03, 2007


Eden again

Visited the Eden project again. At lunch we sat at the same table as two oldish gay guys who used to run a dirty puppet show in a nightclub in Tehran in 1969! And you wonder why they had a revolution...

Mum and Dad, with remarkably little encouragement, went down the zip wire, with the line "this is the kind of thing we love doing." Is it? Really? New to me.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Middle-aged exercise injury

(backposting) We thought we'd try somewhere else, so we went to Daymer beach. Fewer shops (one total) than Polzeath, and the tide was out. But that turned out to be a good thing, because we played beach cricket:
Me - 17 no, but playing against the new ball
Polly - 14, bowled Jim (?), caught me
Lee - 18, should have retired hurt (see below)
Jim - 21, and that was playing right-handed half the time (he usually bats left-handed)
Lee tried a sweep, pulled a muscle (dorsal something or other). The reverse sweep the next ball didn't help.

After we got back, Jo and I had a discussion. The nub of it was this:

Jo: Why did we go to the beach.
Me: To have a good time.
Jo: Why did we have good time?
Me: We went to do fun and exciting things. Is the beach exciting?
Jo: No.
Me: Really?
Jo: Do you know what's exciting? Maps.
Me: *silence*
So, I took a map to show her, and we talk through it, and it's true: she finds maps exciting. She's only 2 and a half: you've got to worry about that.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007


BAck to Polzeath - and family crisis

(backposting) Polzeath beach. It's where we finished the last holiday in Cornwall, and was the obvious place to start this one. Even Dad came. Dad's not big on beach holidays, and it turns out that it's my fault. We went on a beach holiday with my uncle (his brother) Bob when I was around 6, and the plan was for us to have a lovely time at the seaside, bonding. I was terrified of the surf, it appears, so we couldn't bond, the family fell apart, the economy collapsed (it was a little before the Winter of Discontent), nuclear proliferation increased, and global warming officially kicked off. (Which is why, Catherine points out, we decided to try again 31 years on).

We had a lovely time, all joking aside, and people (read "my parents") were quite impressed by Jo's playing in the surf (she's 2 and a half, and not terrified).

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