Sunday, 30 August 2015
Today was the close annual BBQ.
Today it did what it has been doing seemingly for ever, it rained.
I took my taxi to church in drizzle this morning, came home in even lighter drizzle.
So far so good.
After a cup of tea and feet up for 20 minutes I looked out to see what stage the 'setter-uppers' had reached.
The long tent/marquee whatever it is called was in place in the road, tables set up along one of the inside 'walls' and some goodies were being brought out.
The massive barbeque was being set up at one end under its own giant umbrella.
Good, I thought, I'll just take the few odds and ends out of the oven, cover them in cling-film and add my wine to the collection.
A few of the stalwarts were setting out chairs etc and all looked good.
The sky was grey but it was dry, so the children set up their face-painting paraphernalia (a regular feature of this event) and the first 3 year old was rapidly acquiring a pale green face, courtesy of a five year old budding Picasso.
Someone brought out the gadget (don't know what it is called) which plays music as a background to our noisy chatter.
A dozen or so of us sat, glasses in hand, and started our tower of Babel catchup.
One hour later, having eaten some of the food and chat getting louder down came the first heavy drops, and two of the taller men started attaching the sides to the hitherto open tent. Just in time.
It rained and it rained and it rained. Two hours later it was still tanking down and the temperature was down several notches. It was now about 3.30pm.
That was when my inner wimp, cringing from the chill forced me to my frozen feet and with a "sorry, I am too cold to stay out, bye, see you next year" I fled.
Two hours later the noise from the tent was twice what it had been and I thought, shall I put something really warm on and go back out? Opening the door to test the temperature a blast of icy
gale-driven water made my mind up for me.
It is now nearly 10.30 and for the first time I can remember, the road is empty of people, lights, noise etc .
It would appear that I am not the only wimp in the close.
There is comfort in numbers :-)
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:24:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Monday it rained.
Today, Tuesday it poured. Torrents, oceans, millions of gallons.
Many of us in this South Eastern, middle bit of England have been praying (literally) for rain. The ground has been like concrete for months so little of the wet stuff have we seen.
I am as guilty of provoking the deluge as the rest. My so-called garden has been slowly drying and crisping week-by-week.
Did we have to have a lifetimes prayers for rain answered in three days?
As well as getting wet several times a day. Seeing the army of snails increasing by the dozen even as I watched. Hearing the doleful autumn song of the robin. (It's still summer!), the weeds are turning into trees.
This coming Sunday we have the annual Close BBQ. It must stop by then surely?
You could be forgiven for thinking I ought to be used to rain, after all, I am Welsh, but I have lived away from Wales for a very long time and since living here in Aylesbury have become used to a smaller share of the wet stuff.
This summer has been largely grey chilly interspersed with occasional sunny, and on two occasions very hot days. Not a good summer by any stretch of the imagination.
Wimbledon's second week was too hot but it has been largely downhill from there.
I had hoped August and September might make up for the deficit but the time is whizzing by and there is less hope of that daily.
Can't remember what it was doing on St Swithun's day but have my suspicions.
Next week I am taking a week off in order to try out my bus pass for once out of Aylesbury. I shall go to various towns nearby just so I know they are still there.
It has been some time since I ventured further than 3 or 4 miles and need to expand my horizons while i still have the courage.
One trip will be to Milton Keynes that great Mecca for shopaholics. (sorry can't spell it)
What will I buy?
A mac of course.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:51:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
After my morning with the 'SPACE' drop-in I attended the lunchtime Eucharist and headed down to the market square to buy flowers for John.
Of course I know he will not see them but it is the one day I can still physically buy something for him.
Sentimental tosh some people would say, but as I cleaned up his headstone so the blue granite sparkled and filled up the water container for the flowers, I had a few 'words'.
I sometimes glance at his photo in the sitting room and make some comment in response to a particular piece of TV, knowing that he would have said much the same, but my visit to the cemetery is different. It is a chance to have a different kind of communion.
No-one would have been more amazed than John by my decision to be baptised and confirmed. He used to call me his old Welsh heathen. (that was when he was feeling affectionate). The rest of the time he just accepted my lack of religious belief as a part and parcel of my upbringing.
The past 6 years have passed in a flash and I sometimes feel that the present 'me' is so far removed from the old one that I must have gone to sleep as one person and woken as another.
It is for this reason that I am amazed when other people remember the day's significance .
This morning my friend the parish administrator handed me a small bouquet of blue freesias (my favourite flower and John's favourite colour).
This afternoon, dead-heading my front garden flowers one of my dear friends in the close cane up and gave me a hug and said "I know this is a difficult time for you".
Small gestures of love, but huge on my radar and very welcome.
My church life gives me a lot of things I would never have experienced in the old life and sometimes it feels as though I have never lived any other way.
The much quoted "Time is a great healer" has some truth, but I think what the passage of time really does is to distance you from the deluge of feeling which accompanies bereavement and allows other influences to reach you so that you do not forget, but the sadness runs parallel with your new life until eventually it recedes.
Much of the time these days I don't think about John at all and when I do it is affectionately, much as one does of happy incidents in the past. Just now and then there is a sharp piercing reminder and the sense of loss is keen for a while.
Today was such a day.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 8:13:00 p.m.
Sunday, 12 July 2015
The recent very hot and humid weather has proved more than usually difficult for me, and apparently also for my regular caller.
He is turning his nose up at the food I normally buy him but is drinking quite a lot of the bird-bath water.
The fact that it is none too clean appears to bother him not at all.
Since I too am having problems with food in this temperature I can't blame him.
This afternoon having got back from church at mid-day I started vacuuming the house while keeping an eye on the clock, watching for Wimbledon. I was soon soaked and in need of a break so settled in the chair turned on the TV and settled down to the mens' final.
Half way through the match my next-door neighbours rang and asked if it was OK if they weeded my front garden. OK, I should just about think so. It was the paved area they tackled and it has been so thickly covered in weeds of every kind that I haven't seen the stones since about April,
They told me to go and put my feet up and watch the match and wouldn't take no for an answer.
They also planted the rose bought for me on my birthday in the pot which was part of the present and which is so heavy I have not been able to move it from the garage. It looks splendid.
As I have said so many times before my neighbours are wonderful. I felt like the Queen of Sheba with my feet up while my galley slaves worked in the heat. Guilty too, but pleased. Oh so pleased.
I think perhaps I could teach the cat something about relaxation.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 7:41:00 p.m.
Sunday, 21 June 2015
The five finalists were all very good, the winner absolutely outstanding, and to my great satisfaction is the one I chose.
Of the more than 20 years it has been running I have on all but one occasion always chosen the winner.
What that proves heaven only knows, but it tickles my vanity.
I watched Andy Murray win his match this afternoon on TV of course. I should have been visiting the "Secret Gardens" in the old town, but was too tired after this morning's service to cope with another trip into town.
This may or may not be related to the fact that I am not very well at present, so am taking things easy/
In this town 99% of the taxi drivers are Asian (usually Muslim) and since I use a lot of taxis many of them have become friendly over the past few years,
As it is now Ramadan many of them are suffering the usual early days of that very testing time and until they become accustomed to fasting all day are not feeling their very best. The chap who drove me to church this morning told me he is diabetic and is actually better (or at least his sugar levels are better) during this period than normal.
The one who drove me home says he drinks vast amounts of water in the early hours before daylight which last him well until about mid-day, but after this he becomes more and more thirsty until he can drink again.
One of them has a 10-year old son who volunteers to fast with the adults, has been told he need not do so until he is 15, but insists on doing so and is apparently well and happy.
I cannot tell you how much I admire such strength of will and determined faith, but also fear that taken to extreme, it may be the roots of fundamentalism.
Part of my taxi journeys are always taken up with discussion about the similarities of Muslim and Christian teaching and I always feel that there are more things we have in common than divide us.
Never a particularly gullible person nor much inclined to generalise I still find to my surprise that the vast majority of the muslims in this town are easier to talk to than many of my own countrymen.
At St Mary's we have a very large community of Zimbabwe Mother's Union, who along with their husbands and children add considerable zest and enthusiasm (and noise it has to be said), to our all-age service when they sing with drummers some of their versions of our better known hymns.
One of their number is a valued member of our choir.
I think perhaps the key to good international relations is to simply listen to what (foreigners) have to say.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:59:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Today I murdered my balloons.
What kind of comment /confession is that? My kind.
Those long-suffering readers who saw my item on the balloon family I acquired on my birthday back in March will perhaps remember that I intended to keep the helium filled 'children and mama' as long as I could.
They were still occupying a chair this morning in various states of deterioration when I suddenly thought "this is mad, they are taking up a whole chair, the room is a mess".
With that I took my letter opener and callously ended their existence.
Now I feel guilty!
That, odd though it may be is as nothing to the fact that I 'talk' to the birds when I've been out all day and they were fed only once (early morning), instead of two or even three times.
When I eventually - after a very long time, throw out a pair of worn-out shoes I say, "sorry, you really have to go". Then I miss them.
If the large pale ginger cat who is a regular at my restaurant, doesn't eat all his biscuits I say "sorry I shopped somewhere else and they don't sell the ones you like".
I could go on, but for the sake of your poor nerves will refrain.
There is probably a (not very nice) name for my sort of mind but, if you know it, please keep it to yourself.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:15:00 p.m.
Saturday, 6 June 2015
This morning I have a lot of housework to catch up on.
This afternoon there is a Golden Wedding service with full eucharist at St. M's, The couple at the centre being our retiring church warden choir member and his wife who is involved in dozens of other enterprises in our church family.
After the service there will be a buffet party, which in my case is to be followed by a party for the 18th birthday of one of my friends in the close.
So, lots of lovely time out of the very grubby house, followed by tomorrow's normal morning service .
This morning I am trying to rectify the neglect which is everywhere apparent. First by vacuuming the whole house, then dusting polishing etc.
My vacuum cleaner is frankly cheap and not nasty exactly but inadequate. It weighs so little that I can carry it upstairs on one finger.
Unfortunately this wonderful fact (the reason I bought it), is accompanied by several eccentricities which I am getting used to. For example, when it becomes too warm it dies, with a sound like a fading air raid siren. It is then necessary to wait for it to regain its strength before it will cooperate.
It lets me know when it is getting choked with dust by spitting out or regurgitating its contents, usually when I am almost finished.
This morning it did its usual fade-out so I thought, "a good time to have a coffee" and did just that.
Half way through my second cup there was a sound like a road drill and I went to the front window to see which of my neighbours was starting some building work. No one!
Puzzled I went upstairs to see if I could see better from there where the racket was coming from..
Lo and behold it was my vacuum cleaner which had switched itself on and was clearly waiting for me to resume.
Somewhat unnerved by this autonomous action I switched it off at the mains and said "Now let's see you start up".
Either I am losing the plot completely or it is as I have always suspected, household machines have independent life.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:00:00 p.m.