Friday, 27 February 2015
Had John still been here we would, as usual, have had a long debate about whether we 'needed' to celebrate it by going our for a meal or something similar.
Not one of the world's great romantics, John would have quite happily forgotten all about it, along with every other anniversary had I not been a part of the occasion.
In the 38 (and a half) years we were married I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he spontaneously bought me flowers or gave me a card. Yet I made a big thing of every one as a way of balancing my past life.
From a family which - just about - managed to celebrate birthdays and made nothing whatever of other events I grew up neither expecting nor wanting lots of 'jollies'. This changed when I got into my early twenties when for some reason the dormant romantic in my soul began to emerge,
A series of boy-friends who did the meal and flowers thing made me realise my own approach which bordered on indifference, was not the normal one.
Even today when my lovely neighbours are nagging me to say what I would like to do on my birthday in a couple of weeks, I would much rather do nothing at all and let the inevitable happen with no input from me.
In my mid-twenties I began to take flowers to my mother and give them a card to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Later John and I would take them out for a drink or a meal if we were in the same area of their 'day'.
Both parents were at first slightly bemused, then gradually became more accepting of our 'strange' ways.
Despite thinking their anniversary worth celebrating somehow John never quite caught on to the idea that ours might be worth a raised glass too.
When I read about the wildly extravagant manner in which some, usually young, couples mark the fact that they have been married for 3, 4 or even 5 years, I can't help wondering where we went wrong.
When is an anniversary not an anniversary? When one half of the couple has 'bowed out' of the dance.Happy Anniversary John.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:35:00 pm
Monday, 23 February 2015
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Since it is half-term the choir was down to less than half its full complement, but the sound we made gave no indication of that.
We sang "View me Lord" with one or two slight changes to our previous renditions, long pauses between some of the phrases etc. Accurately and sensitively sung by our half choir.
Lead and conducted by our young organist (the musical director/choir coach was otherwise engaged) the sound was, in my opinion, probably the best we have ever produced.
The homily was well rounded (if a little long) and the 'ashing' itself very well executed.
This is the fifth time I have experienced this somewhat eccentric seeming ritual, and the first time I have ever had what was a real cross, rather than a dubious daub placed on my unsuspecting forehead.
One year, our previous much-loved incumbent, either intentionally or accidentally made what looked very much like a question mark on my face. (control yourselves please), and I couldn't wait to wash it off.
Lent for me is a time for quiet reflection, a reviewing of the past year and a resolve to make the next one better.
Yes, like half the population I do give up chocolate but that is only a very small part of this solemn time. A chance to consider dropping other self-indulgent habits and to take small, positive steps on the journey to Easter.
For us this year at St Mary's has been full of big changes and the last 8 weeks or so very challenging with no less than 6 deaths in our wider church family, including the shocking one of a young priest in a neighbouring church.
Moods have swung from sadness, through acceptance to finally, hope, and the community as a whole has drawn closer to each other.
Our new incumbent is striving to support and uphold those most in need and at the same time to establish a forward-looking church. Hard for him and quite hard for us too.
Altogether a different Lent.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:41:00 pm
Thursday, 12 February 2015
Monday, 2 February 2015
This is, or was when I worked for them, a regular occurrence - lease ran out, new rent too high - find another building.
Having a final look round to see that nothing had been left behind I spotted a sad, forlorn, dryish looking variegated Tradescantia sitting miserably on the window sill of an empty room.
Knowing that the building would be likely to remain unoccupied for a very long time, I took pity on it and took it home with me.
Now at that time I quite fancied my chances as a gardener, unlike these days, but had an Achilles heel. Namely, pot plants.
Many people who knew I loved gardens and gardening thought, wrongly, that I also loved pot plants.
Not only could nothing have been further from the truth but, if anyone was unwise enough to make me a present of one, they had effectively sealed its fate.
The unfortunate green thing would take one look at me and die. No matter how much care I took of it, its days were numbered.
This extremely boring green and cream leaved specimen was watered, placed on the kitchen window sill and left to get on with it.
Every few weeks my eye would alight on it and I would guiltily give it a huge drink, then forget it again.
About two years later I noticed it was looking a bit brown and crinkly so removed all the dead leaves
re-potted it in a larger pot, soaked it and fed it a few drops of Baby Bio which had somehow been left over from a previous attempt to save something.
To my surprise it flourished, the green was greener and the cream creamier and it was growing.
After that it got a 'haircut' about every 6 months or so and somewhere down the line was re-potted again.
A half-hour ago I realised that it was sitting green and relatively healthy on the window sill where it has lived for twenty-three years.
It is totally pot-bound almost compost-less and yet it still flourishes.
I have heard of plants which thrive on neglect, but this is just plain ridiculous. At this rate it will outlive me.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:40:00 pm
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Leaving St M's in a hurry yesterday, busy morning several hold-ups I was hurrying to get to Sainsbury's to do my large weekly shop.
Successfully negotiated cobbles of Pebble Lane turned into the paved square and tripped on an uneven one, fell very fast and very heavily on my knees then 'splatt' on my face.
Blood was pouring from nose and I was somewhat shaken to say the least. Two wonderful Chinese fellows ran out from their restaurant one phoning for an ambulance the other trying to pick me up.
When they saw the state of me one of them grabbed some napkins or kitchen roll or similar and held it to my face while the other knelt down on the pavement behind me and half pulled up so I was leaning back on him. Poor little fellow was half my size and he was shaking even more than me.
Ambulance arrived took over and took me to the local hospital. Arriving at about 12.45 pm. From there it was a longish wait for Triage who fast-forwarded me (about half an hour) to see a doctor who would assess the damage and recommend treatment.
He was a really nice chap and took great pains to get all the facts right before telling me he thought rather than deal with it there they would get the plastic surgeon to come and see me.
All this time blood was hardly being stemmed by the succession of pads they gave me.
Finally at 4.30 the Surgeon had a look and told me I had sliced my nose to the bone, cutting the main artery to the nose which was why they couldn't stop the bleeding and he was not sure whether the nose was broken.
The next half hour was about the least pleasant one of my life, injections in my mouth lower and upper lips, in the inner corners of my eyes my cheeks and then worst of all about 8 or more tiny ones in my poor nose,
He then cauterised the artery which slowed and finally stopped the bleeding and then proceeded to stitch my nose from top to bottom washed some of the blood off me, put plaster strips on the nose and said that was it.
I won't pretend I was brave, I wasn't, it hurt, all the time and my hours of holding things to my nose to stem the flood had left my arms weak and shaking.
After the usual questions about my life a lovely nurse persuaded me that now was the time to make use of the offers of help from my neighbours. Looked one up for me, phoned her, explained the problem and she came and collected me to take me home.
It was then 7.30pm and I had had nothing to eat or drink since my coffee at St M's at 10.30.
The Close grapevine had got to work and someone had put my heating on and two of them brought a batch of tins of soup. One made tea and the other heated the soup.
I had been told I was not to lie flat but sit propped upright with pillows at night and also not to lean forward or bend down in case the bleeding starts again. Nor am I allowed to blow my nose, th eone thing I am dying to do.
That's my latest tale of woe, but oh my goodness, is it peppered with wonderful kind caring people.
The angel may have been looking elsewhere, but luckily for me no-one else was.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:01:00 pm
Thursday, 15 January 2015
The wind is shaking the house and even through the double-glazing blinds and curtains it is howling like a wild animal in pain.
Earlier sitting at the front desk in St. Mary's (Meet and greet) they call it, but there is no-one to meet and greet when the weather is so cold wet and windy.
"We are lucky here in this area where we seldom see the extremes of weather" we tell ourselves, but, bent double to hide from wind and rain, standing waiting for the bus it somehow seems less true.
Why is it expected of us that we be stoic and unfazed by regular soakings, freezings and generally being 'roughed-up' by gales.
"A mild winter" they say. Doesn't feel mild to me I think.
"Soon be spring" they say. Really? Not in my Welsh calendar it won't.
Too little physical exertion during the day leads to sleepless nights, for me anyway. So a good book is a necessity, and sometimes, just now and then, I actually find one among the library's mountain of dross.
My current one is very good indeed , "The coward's tale" by Vanessa Gebbie is a rare treasure. The author, new to me, has a wonderful descriptive narrative style, similar only to Dylan Thomas.
It is the kind of book which, far from rushing to the end, makes you want to read only a little at a time so that it will last indefinitely.
Reading at night for hours makes my eyes sore anyway so have had to give up for a while.
Some people lie there for hours trying to force sleep to come. That doesn't work for me but night-time activities are restricted and for me TV is a no-go after midnight, so the computer has a stronger than usual attraction.
Have just peered out of the window and the back garden is a lake with a frosting of snow. It will soon turn to sleet again I'm sure but it is not an inviting sight at 2.30 am.
Today, or rather yesterday, I collected two pairs of glasses from my optician, One for reading very small print and the other for watching TV if it becomes a strain.
I have incipient cataracts in both eyes which have not moved for years but I am told, are now doing so. So at some stage both will have to be operated on. Not a pleasant thought, but I have got away with it for a good while so I suppose I should be grateful.
My spirits are beginning to turn morose so will stop before the gloom spreads.
Sleep happily on dear readers, I only envy you a little.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:41:00 am