Thursday, 7 May 2015

Why Bother?



Several times in the past few weeks I have heard people say "I don't vote, it's a waste of time, nothing ever changes".

There are a number of ways to interpret that statement,  "I can't be bothered".  Fair enough but don't complain when it has become clear that nothing is going to improve in your particular areas of interest.

" I don't trust politicians".  Politicians are people and behave like people, some are trustworthy others are not but you can't go through life trusting nobody.

"They say they will do such and such, but once they're in power they forget all their promises"
There are many ways in which you can influence that.  Local complaints and campaigns to rally support.  If you don't speak out nothing will change that's for sure.

"I don't like so and so, he talks posh, he doesn't understand working people".  It is quite likely that his 'posh' speech has been slowly and carefully acquired over  a long period of time in order to be accepted by the rest of his party.

"She is a working class snob, she resents us and our money is not safe in her hands".  It may or may not be true, but if your monied and privileged background hasn't taught you how to look after your wealth, tough!

The one that really gets to me is "I'm not  interested in politics they're boring, nothing to do with me".

Really? So 'we' are one thing and in our own little cloud and 'politics' is in a little box, just over there, nothing to do with the stuff of ordinary life.

Well I've got news for you.  Life is politics.  Every single thing we do is influenced by politics and failing to use your vote to  at least attempt to change the things you don't like.or to improve the things which are already in place, whether your interest is in housing, education, health, community or any other aspect of daily existence is a shameful waste of opportunity.

In this country we have a reasonably democratic way of life, with many freedoms not available to people in many other countries.  It is our right certainly but also our sacred duty to use the vote our predecessors fought so hard for.

Not going to vote?   Shame on you.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Balance - perspective - joy - sorrow and survival

First thing this morning I saw the appeal on BBC TV by the DEC for the Nepal tragedy.

I phoned my donation through early so I could turn off the TV and think of something else.

All the way in to St. M's I found my mind turning to the dreadful pictures and stories that are unfolding in this latest and most dreadful of natural catastrophies.

This was my SPACE duty morning, always very busy, sometimes fun, more often challenging I was glad to be occupied and in a manner which had some merit.

Later someone told me they had had a pet cat put down yesterday, once more dropping the mood down to zero.

Returning home this afternoon my neighbour's son came round to let me know he has passed his driving test.  Full of high spirits he lifted the feel of the day back onto a happier level.

Watching the 6.00 pm news this evening more details were becoming known of the extent of the Nepal disaster  and knowing there was nothing I could do I once more turned the TV off.

At 8.oopm I settled to watch my long-time favourite Holby City.  A good storyline with some ups and some downs, my spirits rose to dizzying heights when the end of the programme saw the return of my hero - Heinrich Hanson.

My cup runneth over.

But.

What absolute nonsense.  How can a mere TV programme cancel out the misery of the events in the real world?

Well of course they can't, do not really do so, but what they do manage  is to restore the balance in a day filled with highs and lows.

When people use the very over worked expression "a roller-coaster ride", this is, I think, what they mean.

Without the redeeming factor of light-hearted trivia we would all sink into the depths of depression if we allowed bad news to take over our lives.

Finding the balance is tricky and is difficult to  sustain at times but is the key to survival. We are of  no use to other people if we are not able to retain our own stability.

Anyhow, to end this wandering reflection, may God bless and help and inspire us to try to help the poor victims in Nepal.

Oh, and God bless Heinrich Hanson. :-)

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Let it Rain

This in case anyone has lost sight of the fact, is April.

So, where are the April showers?

Yes I do know that as soon as it starts to rain I along with half the population will be begging it to stop, but oh it is so dry.

Yesterday at 6.15 am out in the garden putting my morning bird-table and ground bird seed 'breakfast' out.  I nearly stepped on a dead starling.

How it was killed I don't know but it was very flat and was a very young bird, obviously too young to have learnt caution.

Taking a spade from the garage I started to dig a hole for the burial.  The ground was like concrete and all I could do was hack out a rough space lift the unfortunate little corpse into it and cover it with the solid block of rock-hard soil.

At lunch-time on my return from St. M's I filled a watering can with water adding some Jeyes fluid and soaked the area to seal it  from predators and to help disinfect the area.

Looking at my rapidly browning daffodils and Hellebores I realised that if it doesn't rain soon all the new growth will  be straw and of course the rampant weeds will resist all attempts to pull them up.

Once, back in the mists of antiquity I loved gardening.  Now the combination of dry Springs, hard clay soil and my own ancient body make it an almost impossible chore.

It wouldn't be so bad if the drought was accompanied by warm sunshine, but though there is some warmth in sheltered places, the evil strong East and Northerly winds cancel out the benefits while drying the earth out even more.

Every time we get a weather forecast which promises rain, the clouds gather overhead then thumb their noses at us as they sail by on their way elsewhere.

This Friday they are again promising rain.  I'm not holding my breath.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Meet and Greet

Every Wednesday it is my great pleasure to sit at the 'welcome' desk near the entrance to St Mary's.  A somewhat chilly post on many days since both the outer and sometimes the inner doors are wide open.

Nevertheless my 'meet and greet' partner and I thoroughly enjoy our weekly exchange of views, personal chat and deeper discussions, interspersed with visitors of all kinds.

Some scuttle in, heads averted so as not to catch our eyes and manage only the barest nod in return to our "Good Morning"s

Others drift up to the desk and linger and chat about their own churches, or sometimes their family stories, while some, just a few ask deeply interested questions about the age of the church and which are the bits to look out for etc.

Occasionally we get musicians who have heard that our accoustics are particularly fine and want details of concerts etc.
We have visitors from Australia, America Germany, Nederlands and many other countries, as well as coachloads now and then from all over the UK.

There are days when no-one crosses the doorstep and days when there are endless trickles of couples, groups and single callers.

All are grist to our mill, and the chance to have a really good chat about our various 'treasures' is really welcome.

Best of all is when someone on leaving says."thank you so much for making our visit so interesting"

A couple were on their way to the door last Wednesday when I remembered that they were particularly interested in old wood and I had neglected to show them our (four) misericords in the choir stalls.

I apologised for delaying them but said I hoped seeing these hidden carvings would make up for it.
They were so effusive in their thanks that I still had a smile on my face half an later.

Volunteering can be dull and sometimes seem a thankless exercise, but it can be such a source of joy too.

Oh dear, I sound like Pollyanna.  I'd better go and lie down. :-)

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Belated photos

The two pictures above
are two of the four I took to illustrate my balloon story.  Have managed somehow to retrieve them fromthe clutches of my evil blog gremlins, but couldn't help the other 'prisoners'.

They are still just about surviving but the six smaller ones are about grapefruit size and Mummy has now wrinkled, descended to ground level and is looking at the floor.

All this just so I could discover how long they could remain with some helium still in them. (19 days so far).

If this sounds slightly off the wall I must plead Easter exhaustion.  Three mammoth days gone, and one remaining.

Musically it has been a wonderful experience but physically draining.  Some 11 hours so far.

Tomorrow we will round off the service with the Hallelujah Chorus.  By which time none of us will have any voice left.

There have been some rather odd changes to the 'normal' way of doing Easter, courtesy of our American rector, but he is getting used to us and we to him.

Much as I love Easter, I am glad it comes only once a year.

Spiritually rather traumatic, musically uplifting and exhausting in equal measure and mentally taxing it is a mixed blessing.

Happy Easter everybody.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

When is a balloon not a balloon? When it is family

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean it's not true.

On Monday night 'the girls' took me out to celebrate my big birthday.  When the eight of us arrived in two taxis at the restaurant they persuaded me to enter first.

Aware they were about to spring a surprise of some sort I entered slightly warily,  The corner table was set for  8 with a string of 6 helium balloons in the centre and one larger one with "Happy 80th Birthday " was tied to the back of 'my' chair.

Little glittering sparkling tinsely bits were strewn over the table top and there was a little box with  a small cuddly bear in front of my chair.

To cut a long story short it was a wonderful evening.  Lovely food, good wine, lots  of happy chat and quite a volume of noise.

Luckily being Monday, it was a quiet night for the restaurant and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

During the evening more little gifts manifested themselves and at exactly the time of my birth 80 years earlier a cake with a sparkling 80 on top was brought in with the waiter joining in singing the inevitable Happy Birthday .

Three hours later as we gathered up bits and pieces to  leave they insisted I was to take the balloons home.  Six smaller ones went in the 'other' taxi, and they had tied 'Mummy' balloon to my wrist so I wouldn't leave her behind.

They all came back to my house for a brief final tot of Tokaij (a bottle I had been keeping for years)  and I had a box of chocolates ready as a final mouthful.

They had stood the balloons  on their heavy base in one place and I set the big one just behind them.

After they had gone I tidied up washing glasses etc., gave a look round said 'goodnight' to the balloons and went to bed.

Next morning as I left for St Mary's they were all standing just as they had been so with a muttered 'bye', off I went.

Returning at lunchtime to my surprise 'Mummy' was standing in her place but the other six were all sitting on the floor in front of the TV.

I have no idea what they had been watching but I ignored them all and went to get lunch ready.

As usual I brought in my tray, sat in my chair, feet on footstool and switched on the TV just in time for the last bit of "Loose Women".

One of the six balloons raised its head about a foot (affected I suppose by the heat from the TV) and effectively blocked my view.

Tutting I found myself saying "you can't sit there I can't see through you", and I picked up all six of them and dumped them on the sofa out of the way.

Since then they haven't moved (at least, not while I was there), and (Mummy) is still where she was.

The only change is that the six are a little smaller.

Nobody warned  me that balloons have personalities.





PS  I have put some pictures of them onto my computer but couldn't manage to up;load them for this blog.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

On being (almost) 80

Not until tomorrow.

I took along a box of chocolates for the choir this morning with strict instructions (not until after the service) mainly aimed at the 'mice'.

The secret is well and truly out so  no point in denying the fact that I am now officially old.

The look of fascinated horror on the faces of some of the mice "how can anyone be so old and still in a choir?" is one I have become used to.

The usual "you are fantastic for your age" while taken with the usual ton of salt is also rather annoying.

My mother who reached the age of 103 was incensed by the heaps of congratulations she received whenever her great 'achievement' was mentioned.  Neither she nor I understand why ageing without total collapse of all faculties is a source of astonishment for so many people.

After all the only thing you have to do to receive all these accolades is to keep breathing.

That brief tirade over, I am having the birthday of a lifetime.

Presents from all kinds of people are appearing on my doorstep, through the letterbox, in the post etc.
This is something of which I have no previous experience and it is lovely, if slightly alarming.

Everything is remaining unopened until tomorrow - despite the fact that one item was presented to me a month early.  So tomorrow will be very busy.

The 'girls' are taking me out to dinner tomorrow night to my favourite restaurant and have been heaping gifts on me for days.

With a long lifetime of birthdays passing almost unnoticed in the main to this is quite a step.

That said, I still have and sometimes wear a silver ring given me by my best friend on my 21st and also a little sawdust stuffed cat given me by my then boy-friend.

I love and value both of these things but am nor accustomed to being drowned in gifts.

As I said, lovely, but a little alarming.

Roll on tomorrow.