Thursday, 25 October 2012

When is enough enough?

On yet another grey, damp sunless day (the fifth in a row), yet in quite an upbeat mood, I sat down to have my lunch, switched on the lunch-time news, and yet again wished I hadn't.

It is necessary to either read a newspaper, listen to the radio, go online or watch TV in order to have at least some idea of what is happening in the world around us.  This I accept.

What for me is becoming well-nigh intolerable is the sheer volume of 'bad' news items which fill the half-hour news slot every day.

Yesterday was the wretchedly sad story of the Doctor whose entire family were wiped out in a horrendous house fire.

Today started with the news that yet another part of the once great Ford manufacturing empire is to close, with the loss of yet more jobs.

Then there is the ever-increasing volume of horror stories around the vile can of worms which is the Jimmy Savil story.

The supposedly good news story which ended today's half hour was that of the award which is to be presented (posthumously) to  the dog who died - apparently of a broken heart - on the same day as his soldier hero owner.

If this is good news then Dear Lord please spare from the bad.

Sufficient unto the day....

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Saint Francis as seen by my friend the Iconographer

As promised, these are pictures of my Icon taken by the artist giving a much more detailed view of the depiction,  They were  taken in Freemantle where she painted it.  The base is Jarrah? wood a native Australian wood beautiful in its own right.
She claims they are not good pictures.  I disagree.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

An amazing morning

 This morning at the 10.00 am Eucharist I was called out of my place in the choir by the Rector, in order to receive a blessing on the Icon of St Francis, commissioned by me and painted/written by our wonderful in-house Iconographer.

It was a really happy moment, in what turned out to be a very good service.  The sermon was a good one, the choir sang very well (particularly the anthem by John Ireland), and yours truly was, to say the least ecstatic.

When I got the superb finished work home I thought I'd photograph it and show it, in all its glory, on my blog.

I had reckoned without my total lack of skill as a photographer, my ham-fistedness in trying to set up a decent background and my still absolute inability to understand the mechanics of lighting.

The odd thing was that each time I tried to find a new background or the correct amount of daylight something totally different happened.  The result was a really extraordinary collection of near-miss photos each one quite distinct from the last, none of them even beginning to do justice to the subject and one of them with all the appearance of a halo of light rather than gold.

Now I am not easily spooked, but, as each attempt became further and further from the original I got more and more nervous.

If you click on each of these you will see just how very different each one appears.

Needless to say the real thing is utterly beautiful, a joy to behold (I hardly dare say own) and more than meets my hopes and expectations.

My photographs forgive the expression, do so little justice to it that I hardly dared reproduce them here, but thought I needed to.
partly to try to show you what a wonderful version it is,but also to demonstrate that the camera can indeed prove to have a life of its own.

Since none of  the photographs really show all the details I must tell you that one of the things I had specifically asked for was that there should be a cat peeping out from under the robe of the saint.

In addition I wanted him to be looking out rather than to the side as he is depicted in most paintings.

This as you may see was brilliantly accomplished.

The lovely Constantina added her own little touches of humour, a squirrel, a penguin and the most mischievous looking wolf ever seen.

It is altogether a thing of beauty and for me at least, will be a joy forever.

In the unlikely event that I ever become a competent photographer I will take a good picture and re-post it so everyone can enjoy my treasure.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Booze Jewellery temptation and me

I have just 'escaped' upstairs to my lap-top from the insidious effects of watching my favourite jewellery programme and a large whisky and ginger.

Today started fairly normally, for me, with a mad dash round to the local surgery for my flu-jab.  Mad dash because my appointment was for 9.00 am and I woke from a long and heavy sleep at

I never, but never, sleep for more than 5 hours at best.  Last night I slept for 8 hours!  Woke, had the fastest shower in history, dressed, fed the birds and fled the house by 8.50. !

Jab accomplished I returned home, legs aching, had breakfast, then trecked round to the bus-stop, did a huge heavy shop and called a taxi.     and called a taxi,    Half an hour later legs now aching excruciatingly, I gave the taxi-driver (quite a nice old man) an ear-blasting on the subject of five minutes (promise) turning into 30 minutes (actual).   He apologised.. I apologised, it was after all not his fault, and he kindly carried all my very heavy shopping up to my front door.  I tipped him!

Shopping away, I had a green tea, in the hope it would improve both my health and my temper.

The cold miserable damp morning had now become a sunny day, so grabbing my trusty secateurs I headed for the jungle.

Half an hour later, back aching, legs aching and no visible difference in appearance of jungle I went back indoors and headed for the bed.  Kicked slipper (one missing) off, and lay down to read and rest.

Phone rang, foreign exchange centre obviously, long delay, and the inevitable "Mrs RayBarn ?"

I put the phone down went downstairs and switched on the box.  Nothing.  Really nothing, so default programme jewellrey programme.   After half an hour I could bear the temptation no longer, headed for my trusty whisky bottle, poured a generous (extremely), three quarters of a glass, topped it with the minimum shot of ginger and resumed my goggling.

They were doing a special programme of chameleon Tanzanite which assailed my senses like an advancing army.  In real danger of succumbing and actually buying something I downed the remainder (\half) of the whisky and headed up here to confess my weakness to  anyone bored enough to read it.

Tomorrow will be better (I hope)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Wearily reclaiming the wilderness

This is a miniature member of my phobic 'enemy' tribe.

He/she has been nesting? webbing? inhabiting a corner of (I must stress, the outside ) of my sitting room window for a couple of weeks.

Amazing but true, I have found myself each morning after the previous night's gales or deluges, checking to see that the 'creature' had survived, and breathing a sigh of relief to find it well and in situ.

Either I am going completely gaga, or I'm starting to get to grips with my life-long fear, horror, phobia of the eight-legged beasts.

Beyond it, you can see a worm's eye view of my once lovely (I thought), front garden. It together with the only fractionally larger back garden has suffered severe neglect during the three years since John's death.

At first I had no interest - in that or anything else - and later, two awful winters followed by a busier life led to a slowly developing wilderness.

A few weeks ago I suffered a sort of epiphany, when a good friend invited me to go with her to Highgrove for the day.  Suddenly my long dormant love of gardening surfaced and the resolve to rescue my poor 'briar patch' was born.

Since then, we have had torrential rain on most days, and on the few days when I've been around and have had time and energy to work outside some other more pressing duty has taken precedence and only a few
brief 'sorties into the interior' have been risked.

The last couple of days have seen a more determined effort emerging and at last, I'm beginning to see shrubs I had last seen a couple of years  ago beginning to appear from the undergrowth.

Like my father, I am a totally undisciplined gardener, and I have only to see something which really appeals to me and I never give up until I've acquired one, whether or not it  is deemed suitable for my soil or geographical location.

This is not as haphazard as it sounds, and has often produced something truly spectacular, if alien, and has been quite a talking-point in days gone by.

It is cold windy and rain is again threatening, but this morning I have cut back a huge shrub rose and weeded around it, dead-headed roses, buddleia, and a still blooming thalictrum,  The garden is still full of colour and I know if I can only stick to my resolve, will once again become my pride and joy with the advantage of having something in bloom every day of the year.

It is even possible that I may find the courage to venture into an area which I know to be inhabited by quite large spiders.

Courage is not, notably, one of my virtues (if there are any), but at this late stage I am still hoping to grow some.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Harvest Festival - Relevant?

 The two pictures above and the two below left are of St Mary's Harvest Festival display last Sunday.

All of these are beautiful and traditional, the first one being the most typical in most peoples' minds.

As a very small child my idea of harvest festival was of an abundance of fruit and vegetables artfully arranged to their very best advantage.  This signified that God had been good to the diligent farmers (we lived in Birmingham !), and that this was their reward for all their hard work.

 In wartime, which this was, such a display was too unusual for even the child with no imagination at all to take for granted, and it was somehow impressed on us that if we worked hard we too might enjoy such wonderful blessings.

In later childhood without the primary school basic Christian teaching and with no further evidence of  a power greater than my own I lost sight of this annual

Last Sunday, looking at the lovely flower displays all round the church, and the traditional fruit and vegetable display (first picture), it suddenly seemed a very stark contrast with the 'other' offerings we had made, picture on right.

I found myself thinking really hard about those in our own area who would vastly prefer to receive some of the 'dry' goods we had
collected than the visually pleasing
ones in the first pictures.

The collection was huge, the response to the appeal by the rector  had been immense and a very mixed van-load of goods been donated.

These  will go to a local charity who feed and clothe those in real need.

2012 and we are seeing scenes reminiscent of the 1930's, at an ever-increasing level.

From my first appreciation of the visual effects of the traditional Harvest Festival I have realised that this annual event has a greater relevance than ever.  More and more people are in need but also, more and more people are responding to that need.  A hopeful sign surely?

Please click on the poorish pictures for a better view.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Anyone got a matchstick?

Yet again elusive sleep evades my clutching senses.

You know the feeling.  Eyes heavy, weighed down with the need for sleep, yet as soon as your head touches the pillow your mind starts to race.

I wish it was possible to claim that my thoughts were full of rare pearls of wisdom, that inspiration suddenly strikes, that solutions to day-time problems are made crystal clear.

Instead, there is the usual reluctant realisation that here is yet another wide-eyed night, usually hot on the heels of a couple of others.

Reading works for a while, then the usual sense of frustration as the hours tick by becomes a need to get up and walk about.

Today (or rather yesterday), was cold and wet and by the time I had stood and got further soaked and chilled at the bus stop, October felt like January.

My guilty reward for suffering such treatment from the elements is to make a huge mug of hot chocolate as soon as I get in.  This is not something for the faint hearted, consisting of no less than 3 spoonfuls of Greene and Blacks with 2 piled teaspoons of muscovado sugar.

I never take sugar in anything else, but somehow this combination is so totally decadent that it fills even my need for comfort.

Sadly, as I get older my self-indulgences grow more numerous by the day (I dread to think what type of centenarian I'll make), and the ease with which I give in to them increases hourly.

But, I digress, the hot sweet drink was followed by an overwhelming need to sleep and never one to deny temptation its full effect I did just that.

Do you think perhaps a two-hour sleep in the afternoon could have had something to do with tonight's insomnia?  No, surely not?

In a few hours I'll be heading back to St. M's pale-faced, red-eyed and needing to be be on top form.  Still working on the formula for that one.

I have a nephew who works for a National newspaper and who does all kinds of weird shifts, as do many other people, I know.  They seem to be a different species from me and I am filled with admiration for the way they contrive to function with seriously disturbed sleep patterns.

About a year ago the choir at St M's were really busy with a lot of extra services and I found the sheer volume of work overpowering, so much so, that during one service I actually dropped off to sleep during the sermon (which was very long) and woke with a jump as the organist played the opening bars of the anthem.
Luckily only one person noticed and would have woken me if the organ hadn't.

Tiredness is a way of life for me but none the less irritating just because I'm used to it.

People say "well, you obviously don't need much sleep", and "it doesn't really matter, you're retired, it's not as if you had to get up early".

The temptation not to get up in the morning is not one I dare give in to.  Definitely the first step down the slippery slope.  But oh it would be nice to have a whole week of 'good'  nights.

I'll stop whining and go back to bed .  You never know, I ,might have a nice nightmare!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Hat Trick

This is in reply to Vic the Vicar's caption contest today.
I wasn't clever enough to put it in his comments box.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Has TV taken over from reality (on my screen anyway)?

 Yes I know, we've been here before, but...........
Oh how I wish I could overcome my addiction to Holby City and its splendid group of actors.

Not only are the storylines gripping and (almost) believable, but the acting is always first-class.  So much so that sometimes now even when it clashes with something really vital and newsworthy I find myself sneaking the odd few minutes peep, just to see what I'm missing.  

Tonight's story was almost too much for my poor heart.  I feared that we were about to lose the gorgeous enigmatic ten foot tall Henrik Hanson, but never fear, in his usual immaculately well-mannered, and terminally noble way, he heroically risked his life and then publicly humbled himself in full view of a TV crew, and was last seen sitting quietly at his desk, sutures waiting while he, with only the tiniest grimace heroically stitched himself back together.

Oh the nobility!

It's absolutely no use anyone telling me what a load of cobblers this all is.  I know it.  No use saying it is so far from real life it could be filmed on another planet, I know it.  No use saying these are only actors - admittedly doing an excellent job. I know that too.

Someone please, burst my bubble, tell me to wake up and smell the coffee.  But, not yet!