Sunday, January 31, 2010


Celebrating - with Jojo

(backposting) Jojo came with me to the team service at Gosfield. It was a bit of a toss-up, as I was celebrating, and that's not always gone well before, but we agreed some rules, and she was absolutely fabulous. It wasn't the most interesting service in the world for a not-quite-5-year-old. But she did some writing/drawing, and lots of cuddling of me during the lesson, gospel and sermon. I'd said she could join me in the sacristy for the consecration as long as she didn't interfere, but in the end she decided to stay in the nave and do some colouring. I was very, very proud of her.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010


Thoughtful thoughts

(backposting) A friend of mine, Helen, posted a very interesting blog entry, entitled Searching for meaning in worship. It's a really interesting read, and I've wanted to reply to it, but haven't had the space to think about it. Helen's coming from a very different place to me, in terms of tradition, and I've never really been happy with the "worship song" style of worship. There are some modern songs that I enjoy, but not in the sort of "song sandwich" that she describes.

I'm lucky in that I really enjoy liturgy, and I really enjoy music, particularly sacred classical (e.g. choral or organ music). I can become dispirited by bad music, but can use the liturgy, usually, to find the worship I need. And I love a good choral evensong or Sung Eucharist: I find that the music absolutely lifts me. And the theology tends to be pretty good: it's either Bible-based or in Latin (which is fine, though sometimes a little Catholic!). So I do OK. I feel for Helen: the worst I tend to get is dirgeful Anglican hymns, badly sung, but we have a good organist who plays at a decent pace, so that's rarely a problem.

What I really miss is the daily and weekly round of choral music that I'm used to. And there are times I find that very difficult.


Friday, January 29, 2010


Good news, but not yet

(backposting) Had a very good day today, workwise. Was in London, had a very good discussion with my boss, and got lots of other work done, too. Even back in time for the girls' bedtime, which was a bonus.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


All loony for Moo

(backposting) Her job is being rather loony. So, chocolate, coffee, alcohol as required.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A great film

It's been a while since I watched the marvellous Hot Fuzz. Moo's working late, and I get the chance to enjoy this genius yet again.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The job

Things are going very well at work, and I'm enjoying myself very much. Lots of interesting things, and good things career-wise, I think. Poor Moo's very busy, but I think things are going pretty well with her, too.


Monday, January 25, 2010


Back to work

(backposting) And not feeling too guilty about not doing a full 8 hours, given the amount of work I've done over the past few days and weeks. Got into London and had a good meeting with a customer, though.


Sunday, January 24, 2010


Piano and Avatar time

(backposting) I was in charge of the music for the final Communion service of the weekend, so chose the hymns and played the piano. It was lots of fun, and there were some stonking hymns. I think I must have spent too much time with those Methodists on ERMC, because I discovered that morning (having chosen them around a week earlier) that 3 of the 4 were by Charles Wesley. At least he was an Anglican.

The girls weren't going to be back home until the evening, so I decided that after a long hard week and weekend, I deserved a treat. Avatar 3D. Did the shopping first, thereby assuaging possible guilt, and then sat down to watch it, in a fairly full cinema. It's very impressive, and utterly believable, in terms of the visual effects. Not a stunning good plot or very complex character development, but a good film, I have to say, and I'm very glad I saw it in 3D.

Girls half woke up when they turned up in the car (well, Moo was very awake, particularly after her hour-long diversion given the closure of the A14), so I got to say "I love you", give them each a kiss and put them both to bed. Ah.

And great to catch up with Moo, too.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010


Communion, more sleep

(backposting) I got up in time for the 0800 Communion service - well deaconed by Sally - and breakfast. And then went back to bed - with permission from the organiser - and missed just the one session. One about power without authority: negotiated power, in fact, which is something I know all about. Some other good sessions. I also received a message from a colleague saying that our CTO, with whom I spent some time on Thursday, had given me a mention in his session in the quarterly meeting. Quite chuffed by this.

Should probably have gone to bed before 0130, but at least I didn't drink too much of the neat gin (there was no bitter lemon, and you _know_ I have a bad reaction to tonic...).

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Friday, January 22, 2010


And home - and away again. Oh, and a clown. Really

(backposting) Home's always the good bit, and I got there around 1400, mainly because the plane had been delayed by over an hour. I had a quick bath, got changed, and headed off to pick up Miri, who was with Victoria as Moo had a governors' meeting. Moo brought Jo back around 1530, and I had about two hours with all of them before they headed off to Moo's parents, and I headed off to the High Leighs Conference Centre for a CME weekend.

This really wasn't what I needed. I was really quite jet-lagged, and the fact that we had a session with a priest/clown in the evening did little to make me less grumpy. Remember that Grumpy was a dwarf: I was a full-size, 6ft 2in grump giant. Although I got the point about leaving work, and enjoying ourselves, where exactly were God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Nowhere very obvious, is the problem.

Great to see lots of friends, and particularly good that we had all 3 years of curates there. Less grumpy by the time I got to bed, and went to sleep nice and quickly.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


The congregation's expectations

Helen asked a very interesting question about my post on BCP services, and I thought I ought to respond. She wanted to know "How much do you feel bound by the expectations of the congregation when you preside?"

It is an interesting question, and I'm not quite sure to which part of my post she was referring. There were a number of areas of practice which were not my usual last Sunday, so I guess I'll cover them one by one. I think there are 2 important points to mention first, however. The first of these is that I'm still in training, and am therefore very aware of the fact that I need to be very careful about making decisions or trying to introduce change without discussion. The second is that I wasn't in churches which are part of my team, but in a different benefice, so was very much a guest.

But to cover the particular points that I think Helen (and Sally) might like covered:

  1. use of the Book of Common Prayer: I have no problem with the BCP, and, in fact, love using it. It's what was expected, and that was fine.
  2. facing East for the prayer of consecration: well, I don't think I really had much of a choice: I didn't fancy celebrating from the North, and I don't think there was even room at Foxearth. I'm not sure whether I should have been facing East for the rest of the time I was up in the sanctuary, but with no microphone it would have been hard, and it felt wrong anyway. It was hard enough.
  3. elevation of the host for the Fraction: here's the interesting one. As is my usual practice, I didn't elevate at the consecration, but I did, however, elevate at the Fraction (breaking of the bread). I had a memory of a discussion with my father about this being the one time that the congregation should specifically be able to see the host, and, on re-reading the rubrics this morning, I found out why. They say:
    When the Priest, standing before the Table, hath so ordered the Bread and Wine, that he may with the more readiness and decency break the Bread before the people, and take the Cup into his hands, he shall say the Prayer of Consecration, as followeth.
    So, it seems clear that the Bread should be broken "before the people", so that they can see it. I like this. If the rest of the act of consecration ends up being hidden from view, the sharing part of it is made visible. I'm not sure how it looked, and I've not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with my boss, but I'd be very interested in other people's views.

There's a larger question, also, of the extent to which we should follow the expectations of the congregation. There are a number of issues here, one of which is that it's their church - even if we're the incumbent - another that we have a duty to be true to doctrine - as we understand it - and true to ourselves and our faith. But we must also make sure that we're not mindlessly or unintentionally upsetting people, and should always be prepared to defend our practice.

I think there's more discussion to have here, and I look forward to having it.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Post 1750

Ooh, that's an awfully big number.

Spent much of today thinking. I did some billable work, too, but it was great to have an opportunity to do some unhindered thought, and I'm pretty pleased with what came out of it. I had a good meeting with some of the folks from Tech, which I think will yield fruit - some soon, some later. And I now have a couple of major things to present to two different people tomorrow. In fact, I'm also giving a presentation to all of Professional Services - and hopefully lots of Tech and Support, too - on security tomorrow. Rather looking forward to that, I have to say.

Today's been a gouty day. I had some on Monday through Wednesday, but not too bad. Last night I had some lovely rare steak, and the gout transferred to the other foot, with extreme vigour. Ow. So, I've drunk a lot of water today, and hobbled.

And this evening, I went to my first Stitch 'n' Bitch meeting. I was the only male knitter there (another guy turned up with someone, but wasn't a knitter, and left), and everyone was very welcoming. I have to say that if there are any single guys out there looking to meet women, then taking up knitting would be a great way to do so! It really wasn't bitchy at all: just lots of women (and me) talking about knitting and everything else besides (I managed to avoid hearing much of a conversation about genetic counselling which was going on near me). One of the women there was also using a drop spindle, and I took a video of her doing it, with commentary, to show Moo, as I gave her a drop spindle for Christmas, and I think it should help her get the most out of it.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010



Up at 0530, finished the Pynchon book (reminded me of the untamed half-dream/half-hallucinations I sometimes have when I'm running a fever), and finished off a bunch of work before getting into the office by 0800. Met Midge, who trained me in August, and spent the day meeting other colleagues and doing other work, too. Spoke to the girls around lunchtime, and later on, phoned Moo back, who managed to help me get email back up, which was a relief.

A good day: new contacts, renewed previous friendships.

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Monday, January 18, 2010


Off to Reston, Virginia

(backposting) Left home at 0700, having seen the girls, which is always good. Took 3 hours to get to Heathrow, as the M25 was pretty awful. Once there, I was through check-in and security in 10 minutes, which wasn't bad, however you look at it. Failed to get an upgrade, but did get a bulkhead seat, so life could have been worse.

We were delayed by quite a while, but the flight itself was all right. Watched Whiteout (fairly diverting, but fairly obvious), read Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49", and did lots of knitting.

Took a good old time to get through immigration in the States, and then to my hotel. Had a good Thai meal round the corner, and then to bed.

Problems with home email. Hopefully I can get it fixed (maybe with Moo's help) tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010



Today, I took two BCP services - my second and third ever - in two churches I'd never visited before (and which took some finding, as it happened): Belchamp Walter and Foxearth. Two more different churches you'd struggle to find. The first has possibly the best acoustics I've ever come across in a parish church, and the most beautiful wall paintings: the one of the nursing Virgin is stunning, and I'll try to post a photo of it soon. The second is a classic Victorian Tractarian church, with wall paintings in a classic neo-gothic style, a Father Willis organ, and six candles on the altar.

The main thing they had in common was that both had altars against the east wall, which meant that for the first time, I had to celebrate facing away from the congregation, which I found very odd. I need to spend some time thinking about this, and also talking to John, my boss, but I made the decision to say only the actual prayer of consecration facing east, and to face west (and the congregation) for the rest of it. I also elevated the host for the Fraction: something I also need to think about, but which felt right.

Afterwards, we headed out for a Chinese meal with the girls, and then to a doom-laden Sainsbury's trip which was so awful that it was actually funny. And then we got back and said the girls could play outside. And Miri fell in the paddling pool. Through the ice. Jo did a great job: told her to get out (possibly helped her, I don't know), told her to hop up and down to warm up (huh?), and then came to get one of us, and Miri was absolutely fine (stripped off and in a shower immediately), but a great end to a slightly hysterical day.

Moo's done great tidying and cleaning, and I've mainly been in charge of the girls, but a big thanks to Moo.


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Ballet and friends

(backposting) After ballet (and a bit of time for a clean-up), we had Richard and Ellie (his daughter) and Laura (the au pair) over for a fry-up lunch. Great fun, and we chatted and chatted for ages. Didn't get that much else doing, and we were stuffed till the evening. But good to see them, and the girls had a great play. The new upstairs lay-out, with the bunkbed in one room, and the playroom next door, is working really well.


Friday, January 15, 2010


Back in time

(backposting) To see the girls. Oh, and my new watch arrived, hurrah! Well, Moo went and picked it up from the post office. I went with an Accurist one, which I managed to get on points from my credit card, for free. Timezones is the main thing of interest: that and the fact that it tells the time, which means that I don't have to keep asking Moo, which is a major benefit to my having a watch, in her view.


Thursday, January 14, 2010


Long day

Left at 0620, got home at 2110, which counts as a long day. Didn't help that the train home was very slow indeed. Had a good day, though: one of those "you know, I'm really damn good at my job" days. Got to see Miri for 10 minutes this morning, but not Jo. And I forgot to phone her, which made me rather sad.

Our friend Victoria has painted the girls' playroom (was Miri's bedroom), which means that we can now start doing lovely things with it.



Only two days left

(background) Onsite, that is. In fact, today went very well. Was up early for a phone meeting which I took in London at 0800, so left at 0620. And back late, too. Discovered that my phone doesn't know the word "onsite", and suggests "morgue" instead. No comment.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Not the best of days

Started knitting on the train (I bought a first class weekly ticket, with Moo's blessing, and it's such a good decision!), and after a row, reached for the pattern, only to discover that I'd left it at home. A hard, hard day at work, got home early (it was snowing, and Moo warned me to head off in good time), put the girls to bed, then 2 calls for work and more work to do after that.

And tomorrow I need to leave at 0630. And I won't be getting back before 2000, I suspect. Not really optimal.

Buying a tray of Krispy Kremes for the meeting this morning went down pretty well with most of the participants. A stroke of genius, I like to think.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Starting too early

(backposting) I really, really didn't need to be at Liverpool Street station by 0804: I clearly left too early. A hard day with the customer, doing lots of work, and again managed to get home in time to see the girls. In the evening, though I wasn't really up for it, I had a meeting with John, my boss (church boss, that is). We went out for a curry, and I was really glad we'd got together, because we had a lovely, lovely chat, and the chance to talk lots of theology, as well as catch up. His wife died a few months ago, and he (under pressure from various people!) took some time off, so this was a great opportunity to get together again. I'm so, so lucky (or blessed, depending on how you look at it) to have such a wise, experienced and supportive training incumbent: I'm aware of others who are less lucky.

Monday, January 11, 2010


A new week, a new customer

(backposting) So, into London for a week of workshops. Nice and close to Liverpool Street, which is good. I do enjoy the beginning of projects, where there's so much to learn, a new people to meet and get to know. I left this morning before girls were up, and thought I might not see them all day, but luckily made it back just in time to see them into bed, which was a real blessing.

More yarn arrived today, and I started a new scarf. Had to restart it once, but now going OK.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Not swearing at the kids

That's always a good thing to spend the day doing. Well, we didn't just do that: I took the girls to church, we went out to lunch (great quote from Moo to the girls: "if you want chocolate, you need to eat some chicken. One chocolate for one piece of chicken."), came home, made cake, had Richard around for cake, ate cake, put the kids to bed. That's about it.


Saturday, January 09, 2010


Ballet and a party

(backposting) The weather can't seem to make up its mind at the moment - more snow, or not more snow. Well, we had some today, and enough was still around in the morning to make some of the drive to ballet interesting, but we got there, and I had a haircut during the event (such as it is). Afterwards, we headed off to Amber's party, and a bowling alley in Sudbury. Not for siblings, so I took Miri to the Giggle Factory indoor play place, which we had lots of fun at.


Friday, January 08, 2010



They've arrived. What an enormous relief. And the girls are so, so happy. And I'm so, so happy because I didn't have to waste hours of my life and a good part of my vocabulary on putting them together: the delivery guys did it for us. Moo put some stencils up on the wall, some fairy lights on the bed and a little book light on Jo's bed. And all is well in the world.

In other news, I may be going to the US this month after all. And I ordered a watch with my Amex points. The clasp on my current one broke for the 3rd time, and the last 2 times it happened, it took weeks to get it fixed, as it's a Citizen, and it seems that noone stocks the parts. And Moo was getting bored telling me the time. Really very bored. So, a new one.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010


An invitation

I have a friend who's a Jesuit and is due to be ordained priest in April. He invited me and Kate, my mother-in-law, to his ordination in Brussels, and when I said that I was hoping to come, he emailed me asking whether I'd like to read the Gospel at his ordination. Not only that, but in liturgical vestments, and in the service notes as an Anglican priest. This is an enormous honour, and I was so touched - in fact, the invitation had me in tears. I've accepted, of course. He was very apologetic that I wouldn't be able to lay hands on him at the actual ordination, but that's no surprise, and I quite understand.

I did manage to get into London today, and had a good chat with my boss. Good career stuff. Oh, and it looks like I might be going to the US this month after all.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Into London

(backposting) Or maybe not. Set off nice and early, things were looking OK until I got to Witham, and then it started snowing big-time. And settling. I nearly made it to the station car park when I realised that if it carried on like this, I might get into London, but I certainly wasn't going to get back home, even if I made it to Witham.

So, I worked from home. Got lots done, too, but didn't get the chance to talk to my boss about career development stuff, etc..


Tuesday, January 05, 2010


America, Minchin, and a hat

  1. I'm not going to America tomorrow. Or next week, come to that. I'll go to London tomorrow and next week instead (assuming the weather holds and the roads/trains are operating as expected (do roads operate?))
  2. Watching the Tim Minchin DVD So f**cking rock, which Moo bought me for Christmas. Bl**dy brilliant.
  3. I made a hat. I knitted, all by myself. And it looks and feels and acts like a hat. So it _must_ be a duck. Or something. I'll be posting pictures, oh yes.

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Monday, January 04, 2010


Equality and an ordained priesthood

(backposting) Helen asked the following (extremely good) question about yesterday's post:

The answer, I think, is that I believe that there's an assumption of equality with regard s to salvation. That doesn't mean that I don't believe there's anything special about an ordained priesthood. Or even that I don't believe that there's nothing ontologically different about an ordained priesthood. But that doesn't mean that I believe that there's anything ontologically special about the human beings (read "sinners") who are ordained as priests.

To explain somewhat, I'm very aware that priests are sinners, because we are all - as humans - sinners. But what it means to be ordained priest is to accept a charge from God - through the church - and to accept the responsibility and authority (mainly the former) that this brings. The ability to perform the duties of a priest is a charism (or set of charisms) no different in many ways from many other charisms. And it is, of course, God-given. The acceptance of the vocation to priesthood, both by the man or woman accepting it, and by the Church, is a huge responsibility. The ordination is the acceptance of this charge by the person ordained and by the Church, and the sacrament through which God endows it, is something special. But the person accepting it is, and remains, and human, a sinner, and equal with all those other humans around him and her.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010


Assumption of Equality

I preached at both the 0800 and the 1000 services today (and we did lots of incense at the 1000, which made a nice change). I talked about how the Epiphany is a sign that, from that one night when God took flesh, there was an Assumption of Equality. Everybody starts out equal: to be saved, you need only to be what those first exiled from the Garden of Eden were, which is a sinner. And to be human means to be a sinner.

There is an assumption of equality, as Paul explains in Galatians 3:28:

You don't need to be purified, to be Jewish, to be white, to be black - none of this matters. And this extends to those standing behind the altar: whether it's me, John, Clifford or Viv. It doesn't matter whether we're young, old, black, a woman, gay, straight: what matters is that we're human. And it's even more so for that rather bigger issue than ordination, salvation. If we ordain because we baptise, than how much more so will God save because he loves us.

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Friday, January 01, 2010


Nasty cold

It's strange how nasty colds can be. What seemed just like a bit of a sniffle and low-grade sore throat last night turned into a very unpleasant headache, case of indigestion, feeling of dehydration and general yeuch-ness this morning. Maybe if I'd had a little _more_ alcohol last night, it would have killed off the cold viruses coursing round my bloodstream.

Or maybe not.

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