Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas!

Yaaaaay! One hour into Christmas and feeling lifted by the festive spirit. Just waiting up for santa as I type this and download the Ricky Gervais special seasonal podcast. Man I know how to celebrate the season.

Happy Christmas one and all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

H(acked-off) M(oney) V(ictim)!

HMV suck. I mean really suck. Yesterday I went to return my mum's Christmas present coz it wasn't right.

My mother is not an easy person to buy gifts for. Everyone else in my family is fairly easy. We've all found that an effective way of making sure that everyone else is well aware of what we like and dislike is to inflict our preferences onto others. Therefore, we will be made to watch whatever Dad wants to watch on TV while Lisa blasts John Williams music out of her bedroom to make us all aware that she's into her "classical" music as she laughs uncontrollably (and somewhat overwhelmingly) at her latest favourite comedy box set. Daniel will leave little room for doubt as to what he's into as his art work rapidly replaces the carpet and as he looks after his growing collection of strange DVDs that he has no interest in but were bought for him by his thoughtful older brother because I wanted to see them (to this day he has no idea why I bought him "The Royal Tenenbaums"). My mum, however, is a bit more selfless. Which makes it difficult when I'm wandering around HMV trying to find something she'd like. The thing is, she only really insists that we let her watch one thing on TV, and as HMV weren't selling the whole series 12 of the BBC 9 o'clock news, that didn't really help.

So I thought I'd give Lisa a ring (my sister is, conveniently, the same gender as my mother and so tends to be a little more tuned in to her wants and needs). She suggested the ER box set, series 7.


Thank you sis. Present bought.

A few days ago, however, I received an emergency voicemail on my phone from her to tell me that mum didn't have series 6 yet and if I were to present her with series 7 everything would get confused. So yesterday I went back to HMV with Matt to exchange my purchase. Now here is HMV ridiculousness #1: ER SERIES 6 COST £46!!!!! What is that?! How much are they expecting people to pay for one stinking series of one stinking drama programme type thingy!

I was not impressed. But it got worse. As me and Matt were looking through the box sets we noticed that there were getting more and more steep until we got to HMV ridiculousness #2: the box set for all the series of Kavanagh QC cost £199. Two hundred quid for a few measly episodes about some wiggy lawyer. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And the really stupid thing is that there were only 5 series and only about 5 episodes in each series. And the really REALLY stupid thing is that each series only cost £15 when bought seperately. Matt did the maths and worked out that HMV were charging £75 for the DVDs and £125 for the box.

So I decided to simply get a refund for the box set and get my mum something else instead. Which brings me to HMV ridiculousness #3: HMV DON'T DO REFUNDS!!! They charge the earth for DVDs and then don't give you your money back when you've got the wrong one. I had to "exchange" it for a Gift Card.

So that's why HMV suck. And that's why I'm starting a campaign to boycott HMV (as soon as I've spent my £34 gift card).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Poker Night

It is soooo late.

And I'm losing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Woo Hoo!

I passed my theory test. Although it may not seem that big a deal to many of you it's actually a massive relief. I was probably more worried about this one than my practical. Why? Because it's not uncommon for people to fail their practical. It happens all the time. There's no shame in it. But if I'd have failed my theory? Man would I have looked stupid.

So yes, I've passed and am well on task to meet my challenge to drive by the 27th of July. Just 7 months and 12 days to go.

I've got some way to go till I can legally get out on the roads but with my new qualification I am now officially authorized to sit in the passenger seat and tell other people how they should be driving.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm Not Sure What To Think

Since my last post concerning my likeness to Jonas Armstrong, it seems the children of Chelmsford have changed their mind. I have now had a couple of comparisons to "that guy from Narnia". After narrowing down the options and finding, to my relief, that they weren't referring to Mr Beaver, it turns out I bare a striking resemblance to Mr Tumnus the fawn.

Hmmm. Can't quite see it myself.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Looking Good in Green

Recently I've been going into schools and been getting a lot of comparisons to a certain forest dwelling outlaw. The first time it happened, I didn't really think too much of it but then it happened again and then again. Completely different classes. Completely different schools. And now even the teachers have joined in. According to the schools of Chelmsford, I am the spitting image of Robin Hood.

Maybe it's the beard.

At first I wasn't convinced. So I took a picture of myself striking a pose and actually I can kinda see what they mean. See what you think.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My First Crack at Ikea.

Last night I went with Matt L, Matt W and Christina to Ikea in Croydon to see Michelle (I want it noted that I had a lot of work to do last night and was only told that I would be spending 2 and a half hours journeying to and from Croydon after I was in the car).

It was my first time (in Ikea that is). I've heard stories and I've seen pictures but now my friends were taking me to enjoy it first hand.

It was great. The others took great delight in watching my face as I looked around the showrooms, drank lingonberry juice and tried my first Ikea meatballs. It really is as beautiful as they say. We bought draws and curtains for my bedroom and dreamed of owning Ikeaesque kitchens and lounges and offices (we even had a test-run office meeting).

All in all, despite having to wait till 12.30am to get in and finish off my PowerPoint presentation for this morning's lesson, it was great. I thank Sweden for great shopping and I thank God for great friends.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blessed are the Absent-Minded for they will Leave their Inheritance on the Bus

Alright, alright so last week I lost my laptop. Let's talk about that. I still don't quite feel ready to joke about it mind you. However, it would seem that other people are. So here goes. Here's what happened to my laptop:

I don't know.

I woke up one morning and it was gone. I know I had it with me the previous night. I remember having it on the train. I remember taking it off the train. I remember taking it into the taxi with me. I remember taking it out of the taxi. I remember walking home with it. I remember getting back to the house and putting it down. I remember picking it up and taking it upstairs with me. And I remember going to sleep, safe in the knowledge that it was by my side. And while I stand firm in my conviction that I did all those things, the evidence would seem to suggest otherwise:

Clue #1: The laptop is not in the house. This would suggest that the laptop is not in the house.

Clue #2: Nothing else is missing and nothing in the house is broken. So I think we can rule out burglary.

Clue #3: The house currently looks like a showroom. With Andy and V trying to sell the house, they have removed many mounds of mess within which a laptop may be hidden. After upturning many tidy things, creating my own mounds of mess and then tidying up again, I think I can rule out the possibility that I put my laptop somewhere "safe".

Clue #4: To my knowledge, I have no history of sleepwalking. Some would call it clutching it at straws. I prefer to think of it as ruling out remote possibilities. But no, I'm fairly confidant that I didn't slip out the house with it whilst asleep and unconsciously leave it with an alley cat (although it was a full moon that night).

All this would seem to lead to two possible conclusions:

Conclusion #1: I left it on the train, taxi or in the street. Not likely.

Conclusion #2: The barrier between us and other worlds is weakening and everyday household items are slipping through small temporary worm-holes. This seems to be the stronger of the two possibilities.

I'm aware that it seems I'm adopting a certain reluctance to accept that I just left it but I can't believe that I would have left it anywhere with such mental vacancy so as to not realise until the following day. Or at least that's how I would be feeling were it not for a couple of other incidents this week that would seen to confirm that I am, in fact, slowly losing the plot:

On Friday I had my first ever lesson in the morning (yes - finally) and before I got to the school I spent some time scouting the area for shops, co-ops or garages where I could purchase some water (didn't want to lead a lesson parched now did I?). Finally I found some and merrily made my way to the school. When I got there, I went to the loo, left the loo, was taken to the classroom and realised that I had left my water (in more ways than one), in the toilet. I had to deliver two lessons back-to-back with a dry throat.

The second incident occurred yesterday. I was leading the cell group at Chelmsford Corps and so woke up and, suddenly aware of my newly found absent-mindedness, made sure that I had everything I needed with me. I needed my cell group notes and my bible. So I woke up, took them out of my bag and took them downstairs with me. Bible and cell notes - check. I had a shower, got out and got dressed, making sure that wherever I went, so did my stuff. Bible and cell notes - check. I walked downstairs carrying my cell notes and bible. I walked to the door with my cell notes and bible. I put my cell notes and bible on the side ever so briefly to put my coat and shoes on, making sure never to break eye contact with the cell notes and bible whilst doing so. I then picked up the cell notes and bible, making sure they were both there and I had a firm grasp of them both, opened the door and left the house with the cell notes and bible in hand. It was only when I was half way to the hall (i.e. at the point of no return) that I realised that the cell notes and bible that I had been carrying round the house with me and making sure I had on me at all times, were in fact my cell notes and diary. Yup. My diary. Completely different book. It wasn't all bad though. While I was unable to discuss Paul's teachings on community with the group, I was able to tell them what Jesus was up to on the 25th Septemeber 2006.

So I guess it's more than possible that I did, in fact, leave my laptop on the train, in the taxi or in the street. I just hope I recover from this newly acquired quirk before I lose anything else.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Uninspired Blogger.

Recently I've been a bit slow on the ol' blogging front. I've got some good excuses. Wanna hear them? Ok:

1) My laptop was stolen. Some nasty, horrible, smelly little band of thieves (probably professionals) snuck into my room while I was asleep and took it from under my nose. Actually this probably isn't true but it sounds exciting and provokes more sympathy for yours truly than "I left my laptop in a taxi" which is probably what happened.

2) Work's getting busier. Recently I've only been able to blog from the office but that's been made trickier since I've been required to do some actual work. Tomorrow I have my very first lesson in a school (I'm talking about "What is a Christian" and "What a Christian Does" and "Belief in Action" and "The Good Work of the Salvation Army" and I have an hour) which is slightly scary but I'm glad to finally be getting going with it.

3) I lost my fingers in a game of scrabble that got slightly out of hand (no pun intended).

4) I was planning on writing a blog talking about why I haven't really been blogging with any regularity as of late but realised that I've done that before and again before that and then again before that and figured that people were probably tired of excuses and I should just leave it until I can think of something else to blog about ........




So that's why I haven't been blogging with any regularity as of late.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Applicants Required.

Looking for a new job? Want something fun and dangerous? Enjoy working with animals? You may be interested in this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kunskapsskolan - Don't ask me how you say that.

I've just had a teacher training session in which we were talking about the Swedish education system (specifically looking at Kunskapsskolan schools if you want to check it out). It's completely different to ours and sounds awesome. Basically, the kids get to pick the lessons they want to go to and construct their own timetable week by week. It's personalised learning to the extreme. It's incredible although I'm not sure that it would work over here.

The thing is, the guy telling us about it kept saying things like: "if we look at the Swedish model..." and "what the Swedish model shows us..."

I laughed.

I got strange looks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My First Crack at Atheism.

After advice both for and against, I decided to buy Richard Dawkins latest book - The God Delusion. For those who don't know, Dawkins is a Darwinian scientist with a big thing against religion and the idea of God (hence the chirpy little title).

I was kind of cautious in buying this book. The main reason being that a few years ago I tried reading Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate and it almost destroyed me. It tried to scientifically explain how the body and mind doesn't require a soul in order to operate. I'd never come across this sort of thinking before and I felt my security in God slipping away (I don't think I even got past the first couple of chapters). Although this was scary, it also strengthened my resolve to not be so naive to the arguments of atheism (to this day, I still think of Pinker's book as my Everest). Whether I like it or not I'm going to have to face atheism sooner or later and when I do I need to be prepared.

Another reason for wanting to read the book is this: one thing that irritates me about a lot of atheist philosophers is that they paint an inaccurate portrait of God which makes it really easy to brush him aside. I don't think atheists actually realise what it is they don't believe in. They have a distorted view of Christianity and what it actually means to be a Christian (just because idiots persecute homosexuals in the name of Christianity, it doesn't make it Christian). And so they pick up on half truths and conveniently brush aside anything about the Christian faith that doesn't support their atheism.

The thing that really bugs me though is that Christians do exactly the same thing. We exaggerate and twist truths to "prove" that God's with us. The teenager who nods his head and says "I see your point but..." suddenly knew, according to the Christian leader who's telling the story later on, exactly what Christianity was about and was shaken to his very core, abandoning his prior beliefs and jumping on the Christian love train. The man who stops to hear the Salvation Army playing in the streets because he likes brass band music is suddenly proof that the gospel is reaching everyone in our community. The dying church who just had a couple of teenagers come in off the streets and sit at the back is suddenly experiencing the biggest revival since the Toronto blessing.

I have nothing against hope or optimism but when we exaggerate like this and ignore truths such as "the teenager was being polite", "the man likes brass music", and "the teenagers at the back were bored out of their brains" it's little wonder that atheists fail to take us seriously.

At the end of the day, when we look at the world around us and at a lot of Christian people and the kind of things that are happening in the name of God, there is actually a pretty strong case for atheism. And as long as we brush over all of these points and arguments as blasphemy and fail to take the case for atheism seriously, we look like we're running away from the truth we claim to be championing.

So this is why I'm going to hear Mr Dawkins out, I'm going to take his arguments seriously and I'm going to wrestle with them. And then, hopefully, when it comes to proclaiming the word of Jesus, I can rest assured that I am speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blog Update

A few changes to my blog:

Ben Jackson and Mike McCredie are out. I like to think I've been patient up until now but it's simply been too long. Nothing from Mike since July 31st and nothing from Ben since July 6th (if he thinks for one moment that I'm going to count "I'll blog soon" and "here's a question I found from a book - discuss" as credible posts then he is sorely mistaken - lazy toerag).
Taking their places are:

Becky Wainthropp - My beautiful cousin who, like the rest of my family, I don't get to see nearly enough. She's getting married in the not too distant future and I've met the guy, like, once. Anyway, she has a good blog (despite the pinkness) and it's worth checking out. (P.S. Her name isn't really Wainthropp. I'm just trying it out to see if it sticks.)

Kirsty - Kirsty, much to her family's horror, was born without a surname. After months of painful surgery, the name Bolchett was attached but soon fell off after a bicycle accident. On legal forms, she puts her name down as Kirsty Kirsty. Kirsty is a good friend and former partner in crime (if only they would legalise drama lessons) although she has recently left me to continue her work with MI5 (she tortures terrorists for information). Kirsty's is a deep and thought provoking blog (kind of like this one - but the opposite).

I've posted another bit of writing in my ever slowly growing anthology. I wrote Amazing Grace for a Songster weekend last Saturday and got some positive feedback so I thought I'd post it here.

I think that's it for now.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My First Crack at Driving.

Well after setting myself the challenge to drive within a year I'm off to a flying start 3 months later after having had my first lesson yesterday morning.

It was fun.

I didn't actually start until we were 50 minutes into the 2 hour lesson. I was staying with Matt Leeder the night before and we got stuck in traffic on the way to the lesson so I was 25 minutes late. I then got to the guy who was to be my instructor and he drove me exactly (and I mean exactly) the way I came which meant getting stuck in exactly the same traffic as I'd already been stuck in and then finding out that we could have met there and had an extra 50 minutes of driving knowledge impartation. Grrr.

But it was a good lesson and I thought I did pretty darn well considering it was my first time ever (I didn't stall once). I'll have this license by the 27th July no problem.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My First Crack at Apologetics.

This Wednesday a number of us (that number being eight) went into William de Ferrers High School to take part in a sixth form conference type thingy to discuss suffering and the existence of God. On one side was atheistic philosophy professor Stephen Law, insisting that the Judeo Christian God could not exist alongside so much suffering. And batting for the other team (as it were) were us, an army of Christian youth workers, church pastors and scientists prepared to take on and defeat the moral indecencies and intellectual inconsistencies of this misguided professor. We had one problem, however. He was better than us.

Let me explain. The day wasn't in the form of a debate infront of a group of 16-18 year olds. Rather they split into two groups each (we had the year 13s in the morning and the year 12s in the afternoon) with one group staying with Professor Law (in the school's perfectly designed presentation room) while the other group came with us (with our army) into the school's brightly lit, projector incompatible, will become impossible to hear anything once it starts raining (which it did), anti-teaching friendly conservatory. So already we're at a disadvantage (but then we do have an army to level things out) but it turns out to be for the best. Without the means to deliver a decent presentation, we had to rely on group work and conversations. This was brilliant. Throughout the day I had some great thinkers come into my group and debate some of the issues on suffering. Most of them were quite outwardly atheistic (although some, in their atheism, sill disagreed with what the philosophy professor was saying which I thought was interesting) and it was great to be able to talk to them and challenge some of their views and encourage them to rethink certain things that they had taken for granted. It was fantastic and I loved it.

But the real treat came at lunch time and then again at the end of the day when our army of Christians were left in a room with the godless professor. Now it deserves noting at this point that he was actually a really nice guy and, for the most part, the debate continued quite amicably. But there were still eight Christians and one atheist. Imagine, if you will, eight children, each with their favourite playstation game in their hands. And in the otherwise empty room in which they gather is a single playstation - with one controller. Now imagine a similar scenario except the children are adults. And instead of a computer game, they're clutching their favourite indisputable argument for the existence of God. And instead of a playstation, there is an atheistic philosopher called Stephen Law. I think you get the picture.

I didn't get too long a go on him but for a while, during lunch time (before another one of the kids came along and took out my Crash Bandicoot Racing and put in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), I was arguing with a professor about the existence of God - and I loved it. Now I'm no apologeticist and, had he had the time, he would no doubt have chewed me up and spat me, ever so metaphorically, out. But for that brief period of time, we were arguing and it wasn't completely one-sided. He seemed to respect my points. He particularly liked one of my analogies. And at the end of it all, I realised that I had been arguing, philosophically, with a guy with a PhD in philosophy, and I wasn't completely laughed out of the room. I was making him think. I was making him argue back. I was, for a good 5-10 minutes, up there in his league.

Now maybe I could put this down to my natural intelligence or the fact that I simply had truth on my side. But I believe God was with me, not giving me the tools and the arguments to completely demolish this guy perhaps (although I have thought up so many great arguments since - typical) but I do believe he was with me, making sure I didn't do anything to make Him look stupid. On the whole, this guy was far better than any of us in terms of constructing an argument or making our arguments look invalid or making our existences look invalid. This guy had 15 years experience doing what he does. I, on the other hand, had had 15 days. He could have destroyed us in a debate. The fact that he didn't, is proof enough for me in the existence of God.

Friday, October 06, 2006

My First Crack at Evangelism.

Right. So it's been a couple of weeks now since I started working with SYM (Schools and Youth Ministries) and thus far I've yet to do any of 'S' and have only done a little bit of 'Y' and 'M'. I'm still finding my feet it would seem. Most of my time has been spent in the office (which, if I'm honest, kinda suits me coz the idea of taking lessons is still a bit scary) eating biscuits, planning lessons and, well, eating biscuits. It's going alright but I'm aware that I haven't really started proper yet. And the closer I get to doing the schools work, the more I realise that this is going to be a real challenge. One of the things that I've always known is going to be somewhat uncomfortable for me is the transition between discipleship ministry and evangelism. Pretty much all of my youth work experience (and indeed most of my church experience in general) has been with Christian people. I like Christian people. There's a less likely chance that they'll thump you when you say "Jesus". And so while I may be comfortable in speaking to Christian teenagers about God, I've never been the kind of guy who is breaking the front door down so he can get to the unsaved and unrepentant sinner and bless them with his wisdom. So this job, while being necessary in its scariness, is frightening the ever-loving pants off of me.

This afternoon, I had my first attempt at an evangelistic ministration. I went in with a guy from the Gideons to help him deliver some bibles to a school that's within my remit (i.e. a school in Chelmsford). We had the afternoon assembly in which he spoke a bit about the bible, I then gave my testimony, saying what the Gideon bible has meant to me and he then wrapped up and we gave the bibles to the kids as they left the hall. The thing is, what I'd planned to say kind of relied on my being funny and cool. I was going to talk about how I remembered what it was like having the Gideon people round our school and how I thought they were complete losers but it's alright coz since that time, I've discovered that reading the bible is a good thing and they'll listen to that and respect that and go away reading their bibles coz I'm funny and cool. But as I walked in front of them and opened my mouth, holding the little red bible in my left hand and got ready to save Chelmsford something occurred to me. As I stood there, speaking and watching them sniggering and rolling their eyes, it hit me. I'm the complete loser now. I'm that guy who goes round trying to be funny and cool so that I can relate to da kidz. And it dawned on me that regardless of who I actually am or what the truth is, in their eyes I was no more than a young, surprisingly attractive, religious weirdo who's not worth taking seriously. And no amount of clever jokes or witty anecdotes was going to convince them otherwise. And I have to come to terms with that. If I want to be a Christian leader, I'm going to have to be weird. And I'm going to have to let people think that I'm weird. And I'm going to have to walk around the town with a Tesco's bag in each hand (each filled with hair-nets and dog food) and shout at passing teenagers, demanding to know why they're not in school on a Saturday afternoon (just like St Paul would have done).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Collectee Species and How to Spot Them.

So here we go again. The highlight of any Salvationist’s calendar, the Red Shield Annual Appeal is here once more. I’ve decided this year, as an aid to new and old Collectors alike, I would put together a guide outlining the various types of people that the Collector is likely to come into contact with during the collecting period. Below is the result of 7 years worth of collecting experience. This list is by no means exhaustive and, in the name of collaborative research, I would appreciate any other species that you may have come into contact with over the years (this offer is open to Salvationist and Non-Salvationist alike – although there are many of you who have not had the Annual Appeal experience, we have all had various opportunities that have allowed us to observe the human being when faced with the dilemma of whether to give generously or not). Thank you.

The Joyful Giver
Fortunately one of the most common species of Collectee. Found in most environments, the Joyful Giver is pleasant and approachable, often expressing gratitude for the opportunity to give. A good source of refreshment and emotional nourishment for the Collector.
Favourite Saying: “Oh no – thank you

The Absentee
The Absentee is a difficult species to find, namely because they are simply not at home. Unlike most other species, the Absentee cannot be blamed for not giving. It is usually expected in this situation for the Collector to leave an envelope and a “We Missed You” leaflet in the hope that the Absentee will send some money by post upon their return.
Favourite Saying: “I do enjoy the south of France this time of year” (NB – all Absentees can be found in the South of France)

The “Absentee”
Not to be confused with the Absentee, the “Absentee” can usually be spotted by the open windows and blaring television as well as the 3 cars in the driveway. Other tell-tale signs are the ruffling of the net curtains at the front of the house and the hushed whispers of “shut up it’s the Salvation Army”. Often the most frustrating species of Collectee, the “Absentee” divides into two main sub-categories. The Stealth-“Absentee” can be tricky to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. Those oddly shaped bulges in the front room furniture are most likely to be “Absentees” in disguise (the more experienced Stealth-“Absentee” will have fashioned full bodysuits appropriately configured to match the design of the sofa. The less experienced, on the other hand, may choose to hide beneath the cushions). Also, listen out for the very faint sound of a less experienced Stealth-“Absentee” crawling on their stomach past the front door (the more experienced can do this in complete silence).

The other sub-category is the Blatant-“Absentee” who will usually work on the assumption that the Collector is some form of socially rejected idiot. The Blatant-“Absentee” will make no attempts to act as if no one is in but will simply insist that such is the case through the letter box.
Favourite Saying: “Go away, we’re not in”

The Deliberate Absentee
Almost identical to the Absentee, only the truly experienced Collector can determine the Deliberate Absentee from its non-deliberate cousin. The Deliberate Absentee has a keen eye for the Collector and will maintain to be away from the house by the time the Collector reaches the front door. The Collector should look for signs that the Absentee has left in a hurry. The biggest giveaways are doors left unlocked, the smell of gas from an oven that has not been turned off and skid marks in the driveway that are still smoking.
Favourite Saying: “Right kids, get your coats on. We’re off to see Grandma…Because I said so that’s why”

The Reluctant Giver
A distant cousin of the Joyful Giver, the Reluctant Giver has no desire to give but will feel guilty if s/he does not. Often feeling pressure from a spouse or offspring, the Reluctant Giver will hand over the money but will rarely do so without communicating (in various levels of subtlety) the inconvenience the Collector has caused. Aspires to be an Excuse Finder.
Favourite Saying: “What? Oh. Um. (Thinks. Sighs.) Hang on a minute”

The War Vet
Often among the favourite Collectee species, the War Vet will usually be the most pleased to encounter the Collector. This species will almost always be in their 70’s or 80’s and will have vivid memories of the work of the Salvation Army during the war. Not content without sharing a story or two, the War Vet often provides a major boost to the jaded Collector who can’t remember why they’re collecting in the first place.
Favourite Saying: “Of course in those days…”

The Excuse Finder
Slightly evolved from the Reluctant Giver, this particular species isn’t so worried about feeling guilty by not giving but more concerned about looking selfish by not giving without a good reason. Will often scan the porch area under the pretence of looking for some spare change but will be using that time to think of an adequate excuse. May sometimes morph into a Reluctant Giver depending on mood or company.
Favourite Saying: “Oh. Um. Well I don’t… er…we’re just about to have…um…I gave to a charity yesterday and erm…I’ve got children and they might er…I’m a bit strapped for um…I can’t quite get to the er…you know…sorry.”

The Copper Handler
An expert in slight of hand, the Copper Handler specialises in making a gift of 15p seem quite substantial by paying it in single pennies. This species thrives off envelope giving, preferring to unload his/her copper into an envelope in private and then return with a rather hefty package to present to the Collector. Collection boxes will occasionally throw the Copper Handler off guard but will hardly ever deter them completely. In the event of a collection box, this Collectee likes to hide their donation with their hand as it goes in. This clever trick gives the impression that many pounds worth of coins are being dropped into the box when it is, in fact, no more than the aforementioned 15p.
Favourite Saying: “Deidra, do we have any shrapnel for the Sally Army?” (NB – all Copper Handlers have a wife named Deidra)

The Instant Refuser
Never usually prepared to hear what the Collector has to say, the Instant Refuser works on instinct. S/he sees the collection box and reacts immediately, refusing to be duped by clever words. The Instant Refuser species may well be soon going into decline as there are far too few female members to keep this breed alive.
Favourite Saying: “No thanks mate, not today”

The House Sitter
A sub-species of the Excuse Finder, the House Sitter deserves a special mention for the spectacular quality of excuse that is employed upon the request for cash. The House Sitter, whilst performing the most impressive of apologetic looks will insist that they are unable to give anything as the homeowner is currently away. One can only assume, therefore, that there is a distinct language barrier between the Collector and the House Sitter. In the House Sitter’s language “Hello, I’m collecting on behalf on the Salvation Army” is loosely translated into “Hi, I’m going round door to door collecting council tax”. In such a scenario, it is usually best to apologise and then explain (slowly and using hand gestures where possible) that you’re not selling home insurance but are simply after loose change.

The Exclusive
Belonging to the Joyful Giver family, this sub-species only gives to the Salvation Army and wants you to know that they only give to the Salvation Army.
Favourite Saying: “I only give to the Salvation Army”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Schools, Jobs and Giant Dogs - Intrigued?

Ok so it's been a while. So just to keep you up to speed, this is what I've been up to the past month:

1) SWSCA. Had a great time at South Western School of Christian Arts helping Claire Brine out with the drama. Although it involved a heavy amount of pride swallowing, it was nice to be able to assist in the drama option as opposed to leading it. Claire and I do things very differently and I learnt a lot from her that week. It was also nice being able to relax and meet some new people. The kids at this school were amazing. I've never known such a close and yet completely inclusive group. The staff team were really cool as well and I had a lot of fun (incase you doubt me, here's a photo of me discovering that peppers can be used rather effectively as fake tongues - this is my impression of Gene Simmons in a sulk):

2) New Job. Woo hoo! New job. My final day at Wesley Owen is on Monday and I start my new job, working in schools with a schools youth ministry in Chelmsford on Monday week. At this point I should give a certain amount of credit to Matt White who found me the job, recommended me to the job and was even kind enough to go to my interview and answer all their questions for me (you think I'm joking). I'm looking forward to starting although I have just over a week before my first day and I still have absolutely no idea where I'm going to live. I could maybe be a little more organised than I am right now.

3) Town Show. Last weekend proved to be a really positive experience for Enfield Corps as we took part in the town show. We made a lot of good contacts and relationships were formed and we're hoping people will start coming through our doors as a result. I did, however, have to spend the weekend inside a giant dog outfit cuddling kids. Patch the Dog went down really well at the show and a lot of people wanted their photos taken (and not just little kids either. Had I known how excited teenage girls get at the sight of giant cuddly animals I'd have spent most of secondary school in costume). It's fair to say that Patch was probably the star of the show, which is fine when you're not actually in Patch the star of the show. I started off doing an hour-long parade through Enfield inside the creature (a trial not helped by my decision that it would be really funny to have a giant dog street-dancing to band marches) and by the end of it I genuinely looked like I'd just been swimming. My clothes were drenched. It was probably not my most attractive moment (although red faced, sweaty and breathless whilst crawling out of a man-sized dog does work for some). But my matyr-like sacrifice wasn't for nothing. It was a really good weekend and hopefully some seeds have been sown.

So there you go. That's been my month. I'll try and keep this better updated from now on although I'm not sure I'm going to have that much internet access once I move (and am living in the streets due to my incompetence in finding accomodation). But I'll try.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some Kind of Relevant Title...

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. I've just come back from South Western Summer School (or SWSCA - South Western School of Christian Arts - to its friends). I will post about it soon but for now, here's a funny Whose Line clip that I found on YouTube (YouTube by the way is a flippin' goldmine for Whose Line clips - check it out).

Friday, August 18, 2006

An Original Glyn-Joke.

Last week, at summer school, I was waking up one morning and was just in that place where you're half awake and half asleep when suddenly my brain thought of this brilliant joke. I've tried it out on a few people and received mixed reactions. Let me know what you think:

(By the way, you have to imagine that I'm saying it and that my delivery is hilarious)

The other day a man attacked me with an aromatic candle. I was absolutely incensed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

And Afterwards...

So Summer School 2006 has been and gone. Here are 10 of my highlights (in no particular order):

1) Drama. It's really easy at this point (when it's all done and dusted) to look at drama through rose tinted glasses. It went really well. The final showing on the Saturday was really well received and the guys who took part (about 32 in all - 10 more than we were expecting) said that they'd enjoyed the week. All in all, it was a resounding success. But the truth is, it was really hard work and proved to be quite emotionally draining. Kirsty and I spent most of the week on edge as we never knew how the next rehearsal was going to be received or how we were going to keep over 30 teenagers interested for a week. But we managed to pull it off and they all did really really well.

2) Watching the lecture room fall apart around us. It started out as quite a funny little moment when Liz Northwood and a group of teenage girls wound up sitting on the floor during the welcoming meeting due to half a row of chairs collapsing beneath them. But after a week of seeing chairs and desks and barriers falling to pieces every time a 12-year-old girl walked passed, we started to question the architectural integrity of the building. There were approximately 3 secure seats left for the final celebration on Saturday.

3) My Cell Group. Christina and I had an amazing cell this year and it was incredible hearing 14/15 year old teenagers being completely open about worship and listening to God. Really positive.

4) Hair Growth. I greatly enjoyed seeing how long I could get away with allowing my facial hair to grow and observing the developments that took place on my chin. For those of you who are wandering what it looked like, imagine a beard - nothing like that.

5) Prayers. I had the opportunity to lead the prayer session on the Thursday evening and after a long day of smelly nervous wind I got through it and seemed to get a positive response.

6) The Jack Plug. I think an ongoing highlight for me was watching the confused look on people's faces when Matt W showed them the big prop he'd made for the final celebration and asked them to guess what it was. This highlight was only beaten by the even more confused looks when he told them what it was and they still couldn't work it out. I'd show you a picture at this point but Blogger has decided once again to not let me. Just imagine a silver asparagus on a plinth and you're pretty close to Matt's jack plug.

7) Grippage. Another great year for Grippage. The sport that tests your body and your mind. Your strength and your agility. Your detemination and your table navigation. For those of you who don't know, Grippage involves making your way around a table without touching the ground. Only the strong of heart have achieved it.

8) Worship Support. Andy and V had a great team this year and it was awsome seeing all the work that had gone into the mulitmedia side of things. Some really funny films and one presentation in particular that was very powerful.

9) Mates. Really good staff team this year and it was a truly joyful experience to be able to have a laugh with some top-notch friends.

10) And Afterwards... At the final celebration, Matt stood up and spoke from Joel 2:28 which says:

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

Just something about the phrase "And afterward" caught my imagination. It's always bugged me that events like Summer School and Roots and Spring Harvest can so easily get left behind after we leave. People get caught up in the atmosphere and it's great but we don't get to take the lights or the band or the great speakers or the hordes of like-minded people home with us. So what are we left with?

I guess what I'm saying is, the success of an event such as Summer School shouldn't really be measured by what happened during but rather by what happens afterward. Are teenagers taking the message back to their Corps? Will this division have changed in the long run as a result of lessons learnt in the passed week? Will the Salvation Army have grown? Will the church? Are the youth in Essex now listening more attentively to God? These are questions we should be asking throughout the year till we get to the next Summer School.

So how was Summer School 2006? Ask me in 12 months.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Anday Night Reflection.

For those of you who were eagerly awaiting the weekly news on Andy last Sunday, I am sorry but, due to my being at Summer School, I was unable to get to a computer. The good news is I spent the week with Andy which means that there is plenty to tell. However, I think that for the benefit of this post I will need to turn away from the school as Andy's highlight of the week seems to have come from the one day he left the campus to be a part of his sister-in-law's wedding:

Now I could mention the fact that he lost his trousers so had to spend the day in his shirt, jacket, bow tie and blue jeans but I think I'm going to go straight for the When the Cleaner Saw Andy Naked story as it has more dramatic and narrative weight.

So, to cut a long story short, on the day of his sister-in-law's wedding, the cleaner saw Andy naked.

I would expand but unfortunately time has beaten me and I must go. I'm at another Summer school over the next two Sundays so I will be unable to put this story into context for a while but on the 3rd September, all will be revealed (it certainly was for the cleaner).

(Alternatively, you might find that Andy has commented his explanation below)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All My Best Work is the Result of Procrastination!

Summer school is just around the corner. I still have quite a bit of work to do in preparation and I only have two more days to do it in. So naturally I spent my time this evening wandering what I would look like if I were a centaur.

The answer? Like this:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday is Anday...

As mentioned in my previous post, one of my very good friends, Andy, is one of those annoying people who logs onto other peoples blogs and leaves comments (sometimes complimentary, sometimes insulting, often in an unsuccessful attempt to be funny) without having his own blog so that others may repay the gesture. He will happily read the personal and revealing anecdotes of others and give his two cents worth (hello Andy?! We're not even American) but will he provide his own anecdotes? Will he let the world know who he is? Will he leave himself in that same vulnerable position so that others may comment on his life? Noooooo!

Well no more. I'm doing it for him. From now on, Sunday is Anday. Every Sunday, I will be providing you all with regular updates, stories, pictures and rumours surrounding the life of Andrew Hill. Enjoy.

Week one: Here is Andy sleeping with a cat.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dirty Stinking Pedestrian!

As I arrived home at one o'clock in the morning after a near 3 hour journey from Colchester with £13 less in my bank account following the purchase of what must have been an extremely rare and sought after train ticket, a thought resurfaced in my mind that has nagged me for the better part of 6 years:

I need to learn to drive - NOW!

I am sick and tired of relying on public transport and the lifts of friends to get me about.

I'm fed up of spending half a day transporting myself 10 minutes down the road.

I've had enough of being the guy who puts everyone out because they have to pick him up or drop him off or spend months trying to get rid of the stains after he spilt his milkshake in the backseat.

But most of all: I'm 23. I can't drive. THAT'S NOT COOL!!

So I'm going to learn. My previous method of continually watching repeated episodes of Top Gear until the ability to drive became ingrained into my psyche has clearly failed. I will have to learn the same as everyone else.

My amazing and physically attractive friends Andy and Verity (for those who don't know, Andy is the guy who goes round commenting on everyone elses blog without bothering to start his own) have given me a great head start with a total of 6 driving lessons for my birthday. So I'm going to start there and then this time next year I'll be behind the wheel of some run down second-hand escort and loving it.

My friends, the challenge has been set: By 27th July 2007, Glyn will drive.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I Was Reading This Bit - I Swear!

On my way to work this morning, I stumbled across a copy of yesterday's Sun newspaper. Except it wasn't a complete copy, just the third page. And as I was looking down at it, something caught my eye (I know what you're thinking - Oh yeah? I bet a couple of things caught his eye. Ay? Ay? - well grow up). What caught my eye was a 50-year-old, fully uniformed, female salvationist holding a collection box. And as I figured this was probably the only time I would see a 50-year-old, fully uniformed, female salvationist holding a collection box on page 3 of the Sun, I quickly picked up the page and read through the article in an attempt to ascertain what in blue blazes she was doing there. It turns out that the Sun has got the hump because the Salvation Army will no longer sell copies of their newspaper in the Sally Army shops at British forces' bases in Germany. British soldiers are accusing the SA of being old fashioned and prudish. One Lance Corporal said: "This is an out-of-date decision by people who aren't in the real world". It seems that no one (including the Canon David Meara for crying out loud) can understand why the Salvation Army is now refusing to sell soft-porn.

What I don't understand, though, is why we were selling it in the first place. It seems to tie in with the morally corrupting attitude (an attitude which the Sun thrives off of) that if enough people like it, then it can't be that bad. After all, it's only a pair of breasts. In this day and age, what's the big deal? And I'm disappointed that the Salvation Army in Germany seems to have adopted this attitude as it's the opposite that is the very thing that the Salvation Army stand for. If people can't understand why the Army won't sell the Sun then people don't understand the Army. And if the Army is selling newspapers like the Sun and conforming to the world's opinions then the Army doesn't seem to understand the Army. We were established as a group of eccentrics who were willing to look ridiculous in order to stand against the moral indecencies of society. Now it seems we've become a much weaker and more harmless organisation who have indecisively changed their minds on something they used to think was ok and who are now just hoping to keep a low profile until it all blows over.

Am I over-reacting?

Oh, and for those of you wandering how I did it, here's a pictoral guide, illustrating how a Christian man can read the articles in page 3 of The Sun without succumbing to temptation:

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I will admit that since starting this blog, I've come to attribute a great deal of importance to the amount of comments I get in response to each post. To reveal my psychological connection between automatic doors and Jedi Masters and recieve a total of 9 comments is, in my opinion, a great success. I felt that I had managed to connect with people in a way I had never quite achieved before. People coming together and sharing stories and feelings that had previously remained suppressed. On the other hand, the complete lack of response to my probing questions on the subject of sex left me feeling downcast and melancholy. Maybe people weren't ready. Maybe people misunderstood. Maybe people simply didn't care.

And it hasn't stopped there:

I admit that I have been struck by jealousy at the 14 comments that have been left in response to Ben's latest post.

I have scoffed as I have noticed the big fat zeros underneath some of Matt's more recent messages.

I have danced a merry little jig in my heart when I have logged on to find a new comment has been left.

And when I have sneakily crept online during work hours to find that no one has commented in the 30 minutes since I last checked, I have died a little inside.

Yes I confess - I have probably placed far too much importance on the presence of comments.

Therefore, the recent con that I have fallen victim to, while teaching me a valuable lesson, has also caused a certain degree of pain as I have been built up only to be knocked right back down.

I logged on to my blog this evening to find (woe is me) that no one had commented on my latest post since I last checked. However, as I scrolled down I discovered (oh happy day) that a new comment had been left on the post prior to that. The comment was from a Mr Anonymous (not preferable but still, better than nowt) who said, rather generously, that he loved the idea behind my website and that he thought that it was very unique. Well that was nice. Within the whole blogging community, someone had stumbled across my humble site and thought it stood out enough to be labelled "unique". I wasn't sure exactly what he meant when he said that he loved the idea behind the website (what? The idea that I have a site in which I regularly update my friends as to what I'm up to? It's a blog.) but I figured he was probably refering to my unique and engaging prose style. All in all, if a bit confusing in places, a very nice and positive comment. And I felt a little bit better about myself for it.

But it didn't stop there.

Further down I noticed that another comment had been left in response to another post. "Well that's marvelous" I thought, "how wonderful". And I wasn't dissapointed. When I clicked on the comments, someone (another anonymous - they're probably just embarrassed at being so unrestrainably nice) said: "Hey what a great site keep up the work its excellent."

The next post: "I'm impressed with your site, very nice graphics!" I'm starting to get a little bit suspicious now. Who is this anonymous compliment merchant? Is it one person or is it many people? Should I be surprised that my complete lack of graphics has got itself a mention as being graphically advanced?

Next post: "I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys." Ok - What!?!! This one doesn't even make sense. It's as if it's been passed through the google translator. Something's going on here...

And that's when I noticed it. The tiny little blue link at the bottom of each anonymous comment that took me to (you guessed it) some cheap web-based product advertisement. The dirty stinking sychophants were only interested in one thing: themselves. They had toyed with my emotions for their own selfish gain.

I won't pretend it didn't hurt but at least I can say that I've learnt two very important lessons here. First, to enable the word verification option on my comments list (bloggers of the world I would advise you do the same - these cretins'll get ya otherwise). Secondly, I'm not going to allow my self esteem to be judged by comment quantity anymore. I am who I am and I am without comment. So there!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Do Flies Deserve Death?


I've just sprayed a couple of flies and as I watched them slowly choke to death while they painfully struggled to stay in the air before crashing to the ground where they used every last ounce of strength to wriggle their dying limbs in the desperate hope that they could find a way to cling onto their futile and fading lives, I couldn't help but feel a little bit like Hitler.

I know they're only insects but is it inhumane to torture flies in this way? Is it stupidity or moral conviction that causes me to feel guilty about slowly draining the life of a house fly?

In other news, I've just finished another conversation for my script for summer school. It ties in with the first affair dialogue. See what you think. Brutally honest opinions are, as always, welcome:

The Affair #2

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Cry for Help!

Alright alright alright, so I haven't blogged for the better part of two weeks. But there's a reason for this. My brain has stopped. I have lost all creativity and imagination. I have spent the past fortnight trying to think of something interesting or funny or profound or even legible to write about but nothing has surfaced.

I was going to blog about my birthday but all I could think to say was "Hey! It's my birthday." (I'm 23 by the way)

I was going to blog about some job prospects that have come my way but I don't actually know what they are. They sound awesome but that's pretty much all I know (sounds weird doesn't it but it's true).

I was going to blog about recent observations of the world but I couldn't think of what to write about.

My creativity has all but dried up. And that's worrying for a reason far greater than the good quality of this blog. It's worrying mostly because over the next couple of months, I'm leading the drama option at two summer schools... AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!

The London North-East school is concerning me most (I'm also doing South Western but that's later and I'm doing it with Claire Brine who we've agreed is going to be in charge so I'll let her worry about it for now - she's really good at coming up with ideas and getting me organised). It's less than three weeks away and Kirsty and I don't really know what's happening. This time two years ago, we had everything planned, were writing up activity packs and I was creating an MDF wheelbarrow with fake legs coming out of it (to date, the best prop used in a piece of theatre - ever). This time last year, we had a lot of work to do but still feeling confidant and I was spending most of my spare time creating giant papier mache body parts (also pretty cool props but not as good as the wheelbarrow).

This year however, we're starting to panic. I've had the idea of setting the scene in a restaurant where we overhear the conversations of various people as they try to fill their lives with stuff that ultimately won't satisfy them (money, sex, family, spiritual experimentation - you know, the usual). I've written a few of the conversations that I'm fairly happy with (the past two years, Kirsty and I have got the students to devise and write their own stuff but that usually involves us staying up till 3:30 in the morning finishing off scripts and stuff - we promised each other we wouldn't do it to ourselves this year) but I'm not sure where to take it once I'm done with that or how to make my point or even what point to make...

So here is my cry for help. I'm swallowing my pride and posting the conversations I've written so far. Please have a read through and let me know what you think. And then, if you have any ideas as to where I can take this, please let me know. I know this is about as far from professional as you can get but I'm desperate. Here are the conversations as they stand:

Tarot Cards

Family Guy

The Affair #1

I thank you in advance.

On a completely seperate note, my good friend John Mitchinson is trying to get sponsers for a hair cut. Those of you who know John (or have seen him from a distance in the past year or two) will know that this is something that should be encouraged whole-heartedly. But more than that, he's raising money for an excellent cause and if you can, please visit his blog and sponser. You can check it all out here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Public Apology!

The author and administrator of this blog would like to publically declare that Matthew Geraldine White has never divulged (nor has he ever attempted to divulge) any information regarding his sex life to the disarmingly attractive Glyn Goodfella Harries. The conversation outlined below was shared as a form of banter and was taken no further than the few words mentioned in yesterday's post. For further confirmation, please speak to Mr White's wife, Mrs Christina Turnip White who overheard the comments (but doth did get the wrong end of the stick as she thought that the conversation commenced with Mr Harries' innappropriate probing into the Whites' private lives and thus spent the rest of the evening calling the right honourable Mr Harries a pervert).

Mr Harries offers his humblest apologies for any confusion or misunderstanding that may have occurred off the back of his previous comments. He would also like to answer his own previously posed question by stating that no two people should talk about sex at any time whatsoever.

Stupid for Sure but I'd do it Again.

I did this a while ago but I wanted to wait till Mike McCredie was back from his honeymoon as I figured he would appreciate this:
12 bulldog clips on the face. And just in case you need any further convincing (some thought I stuck them on with blue tac), here's the aftermath (and me trying to look hard at the same time):

Now I know it's not exactly 65 clothespegs Mike but these were bulldog clips. Those bad boys hurt.

Yes it was painful but I'm proud of what I achieved.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Let Me Sexplain...(see what I did?)

I feel I need to clarify one or two points that may have drifted astray in my last blog. I originally took the complete lack of response to my last post as a sufficient answer to the question "should we talk about sex more?". However, after having to stop Matt White from regaling me with his favourite honeymoon moments last night, it dawned on me that I might have given the wrong impression.

So allow me to clarify: I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the personal sexcapades of my friends. If I ever have to write an article for Nuts (did I just say "sexcapades"?) then I'll get back to you but in the mean time, I really don't want to know. I was simply wandering if Christian people put too much of a taboo on sex. And I was commenting on the fact that married people and single people don't seem to talk about it that much. I've had single friends who seem perfectly comfortable talking about sex until they got married at which point they just shut up about it. Maybe it's because they think that now if they talk about sex, they'll have to reveal what they've been up to (hence Matt's assumption that he had to open the conversation last night with the words - and I quote - "on my wedding night..."). I don't think this is necessary (it's certainly not desired). I think intelligent, informed conversations on sex can take place without reverting to "what we did last night...". But then what do I know? Maybe we should just leave it alone. I'm open to suggestion. But please please please, Matt, no more anecdotes.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Warning: This Website Contains Content that May be Considered Christian (apparently)

Today at work Andy was asked by a customer to check for a bible study (or something) that they had seen on a website called Solomons Dance(.com). He came into the office and logged onto the website to find that it was a Christian based site dedicated to the fine art of love making. The home page says this:

The bible teaches in Psalm 149:5 that sex is a form of worship. By coming together in mutual love, as married partners, we worship God, and sing unto him. It is this act of making love that is Solomon’s Dance – a dance before the Lord in the love and compassion that God himself designed into this most intimate of times .

This, as it stood, seemed fine. Sex, obviously, is a wonderful, God given gift so there should be no reason why a group of God-honouring Christians shouldn't set up some kind of web based forum discussing it. What caught our attention, however, was a link titled Intimate Products. Andy had to print off the home page and take it upstairs to the waiting customer (to see if this was the website he meant) but put me in charge of finding out what exactly these Intimate Products consisted of. I dutifully obliged. With Pauline looking over my shoulder (hiding her interest cunningly behind a series of well placed tuts) I clicked on the link to find that Intimate Products divided into four main categories: Intimate Toys, Intimate Games, Intimate Clothing and Furniture. Now many of you may be asking why I deemed it appropriate to go any further? The answer: curiosity. I know it killed the cat and all but I'm on a Christian website so I figure "how bad can it be?".

It can be bad!

The number one bestselling Intimate Toy from Solomon's Dance(.com) was..... well it was rude. I'll spare you the details suffice to say it contained the words "delights", "jelly", and "riser".

Now I appreciate that as a single Christian guy, I could be accused of being a little naive when it comes to such matters (although I should point out that all the married employees of Wesley Owen were just as shocked as I was to see these things being billed as God-honouring aids) but sometimes the Christian stance on sex baffles me.

A couple of years ago I went to see a very close and recently married friend and his wife (also now a very good friend). They were talking about the joys of being married. I was looking round their home and looking at wedding photos and videos of the honeymoon etc etc. But as soon as me and my friend (let's call him Moses) left the house to pick up lunch he turned to me and said "mate - I love sex". Now as two single guys, I had no problem talking to him about all this stuff before he was married but now he was telling me about something very personal and private and it didn't seem quite right somehow. But recently I've been thinking. Should Christians talk about sex more? Moses wasn't bragging down the pub about some fit bird he'd picked up for a night. He had just discovered something very beautiful and wanted to share that with one of his closest friends. When I recently told one of my friends (female and married - we'll call her Cordelia) about this though she was horrified at the idea. She insisted that sex was something extremely personal and shouldn't be talked about outside the relationship. And I've just been wandering, would single Christians benefit if their married friends were a little more open about sex? I have some single friends (mostly female) who are terrified at the prospect of sex and other single friends (mostly male) who are...well...frustrated. Would talking about sex more openly help or make things worse?

In a sense I agree with Cordelia. But I'd also really like to know how I should react to a Christian website that sells E-glass Touch Me Massagers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Neeps, No Tatties, No Job

I've just logged onto the GTTR website (the website through which I've had to do my PGCE teacher training applications) and seen that my application for a place in the Edinburgh PGDE course was unsuccessful. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this (I literally only found out about 2 minutes ago) so maybe I'll try and break it down into some kind of public cyber therapy.

Reasons I'm Kinda Relieved:

1) It means I don't have to make a very big and very difficult decision.

2) It means I now won't suddenly find myself the length of Britain away from people I love.

3) It means I won't have to spend a year phoning John Mitchenson for Scottish-English translations (I know it's technically the same language and the accent isn't that strong but you'd be surprised how much I struggle)

Reasons I'm Kinda Peeved:

1) I took a week's holiday off, spent a total of 18 hours on a fairly uncomfortable coach and had to sleep in pee - for nothing.

2) It would have been great to do something I love and feel that I'm good at. I also would have enjoyed the challenge of setting up on my own somewhere completely far off. Scary but exciting at the same time.

3) I had to watch the England/Sweden game under the watchful gaze of Scotland.

Reasons I was Kinda Conceived:

1) Love.

2) A desire to start a family.

3) Sex.

Reasons it can Kinda be Believed:

1) I was very late in my application. They were saying throughout the interview that the applications (mine and the four girls who were also being interviewed) weren't really in at the desired time. They said that they only had 15 places, truck loads of people applied this year, it was done on a first come, first served basis and most people apply about October-December sort of time. I kind of got the impression that the whole day was just a formality and they'd already filled the spaces.

2) When they asked me what research I'd done into the Scottish education system I realised that I hadn't even thought about it (I think I might have vaguely known something about Scotland being different with its schooling but at the time of preparing for last Tuesday I had most certainly forgotten). I blagged something about choosing Edinburgh out of a desire to gain experience of different education systems but what I was essentially saying was: "uh?"

3) Some of the other applicants there were those kinda "I will convince you that I'm the person for the job by over exaggerating how very excited I am to be here" type girls* and I just couldn't do that.

All in all, I'm alright with it. It was good experience and I feel I did well (apart from the obvious "Scotland has its own education system!?!?" blip) and I reckon that under other circumstances (i.e. had I applied earlier and known the slightest thing about Scottish schooling) I could well have got in. GTTR will now move my application on but I'm fairly certain I've missed the boat on this one. That's alright though. I can find something else to do for a year.

*For example: Course Leader: Of course you know that teaching is an extrememly demanding profession.

Applicants: (nodding understandably)

Excitagirl: You're not putting me off. I'll do the work. I'll do the extra. I love it. Let me teach. I was born to teach. Teaching's in my blood.

Course Leader: If you don't mind me asking, what will you guys do if you don't get in this year?

Applicants: (collectively) Oh I'll probably find a job, maybe try to get some classroom experience and reapply next year (only earlier, obviously).

Excitagirl: Why I'll teach of course. I'll become a classroom assistant. I'll do it for nothing. I'll learn the National Curriculum off by heart. I was born to teach. Lemme teach, lemme teach, lemme teach.

Applicants: (having left the building after the interviews) So, do you reckon you'll get it?

Excitagirl: Oh I couldn't really be bothered either way.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I have found the most mind-boggling optical illusion I've ever seen. Usually it's the kind of thing when you look at a picture and then think that one line's longer than the other and then get told that they're the same size and you can (if you look closely enough) see that yes - line number one is, in fact, the same length as line number two. And the same rule applies to squares that look like circles, triangles that are not drawn (only implied) and so on and so forth. But then I came across this little beauty:
The question posed was this: Which is darker? Square A or square B? Now this is not a difficult question. With optical illusions you always answer the least obvious? If square A was red and square B was blue and the question reads "which is the blue square?" you would point to square A. After some careful study of the two you would come to realise that yes indeedio square A was actually the blue square and square B was in fact a shade of turquoise that was so striking that, when placed next to square A, made it look red by comparison. So when the question asks "which is darker" and square A is quite clearly the darker square then the answer can only be either square B is the darker square or both squares are exactly the same shade of grey. But in this case there is no way that square B is the same shade (or darker) than square A. No matter how hard you study it, square A is quite visibly the darker square. So what's the catch? That square A is actually red? That the darker square is actually square C which is situated under the giant green cylinder? That square A is in fact darker and optical illusions are just getting lazier.


I scroll down and find (surprise surprise), both these squares are the same shade. This was quite clearly not true. I have looked at this picture for quite some time and I can assure you that that alphabetically first square is in fact a darn sight darker than the alphabetically second. Some mistake has been made here surely?

So I did a little digging. I copied the picture onto paint, sampled the colour of one and then painted a line from square B down to square A. Here is the result:

Right! So it would seem that somehow the colours match. But I still wasn't comfortable. If you look closely, it seems that the bridge from A to B seems to lighten in shade as it makes its way to the lighter grey. Maybe there's some kind of programme that won't allow it to maintain the same level of greyness. Maybe it took the wizarding software of Microsoft Paint into account when it was being designed. Probably not. But the colours still looked different to me. So I cut them out of the picture altogether:

Ah now that's clever. It was the same colour the whole time but with the fine art of Visual Trickery I was made to think that square B was distinctly lighter than square A. However, now that I have disected it and learnt how it works and discovered that they are in fact the same colour, I will now be able to see as much in the original piece right?

Wha...? But it's... STOP MESSING WITH MY HEAD!!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

And they call ME a liar!

Ok - serious question:

How can we expect people to believe in absolute truth when everyone preaching absolute truth and insisiting they know the absolute truth disagrees on what absolute truth is?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wide Roads, Swedish Flags and Urine: 25 Hours in Edinburgh

This morning I got back from Edinburgh after a fairly uncomfortable overnight coach journey. I was there for an interview for a PGDE at Edinburgh University (a PGDE is a diploma as opposed to a PGCE which is a certificate in education. Other than that, what the actual difference is between the two is something I have yet to discover. Scotland is just further alphabetically advanced than the rest of Britain I guess).

I arrived at about 9:00 on Monday evening after an exciting and fun packed 10 and a half hours on a National Express coach (I finally finished Roy Hattersley's Blood and Fire. Nuff said.) and I think the first thing I really noticed about Edinburgh was how monumentally wide the roads were. They're huge! I had to hail a taxi just to cross one. I discovered that you can't trust traffic lights when you're crossing an Edinburgh road because they'll have completed a whole cycle by the time you get to the other side. Seriously - roads in Edinburgh? - big!

One thing that I felt quite self conscious about as I was hiking the wide and winding roads of Edinburgh is that I was English. Now this may sound stupid but hear me out. I've only been to Scotland once before and that was years ago with a large gathering of people. Since then, I've seen Braveheart. They hate us!! I was half expecting to be greeted by a band of burly looking men with blue and white face paint, kilts and large pointy sticks: "Ach the neugh" the leader would greet me "coom t' steal aah teachin' jobs 'ave ye". The rest was kind of a blur in my imagination but it certainly didn't end well for me. But once I got there to find more jeans than kilts, not very much face paint at all and a distinct lack of pointy sticks I managed to convince myself that this whole England/Scotland rivalry had been completely blown out of proportion and that actually, I'm sure they're all very friendly and welcoming of the English. I'd probably even be able to walk into a pub the next day and find that they're all cheering for England against Sweden and would take one look at me with my lovable English swagger and fish & chip stains down my front and they would hoist me onto their shoulders singing God Save the Queen and we'd all join hands as a symbol of unity and brotherhood. Well something like that anyway. Imagine my horror then when I get to the travel lodge where I was staying to find the whole place kitted out with Swedish paraphernalia. They had Swedish flags on the wall, yellow and blue balloons hanging from the ceiling, yellow and blue footballs dotted around the place, photo montages of Freddie Ljungberg. It was like I had stepped into the Swedish embassy for all things Swedish. Except it was so much worse. I wouldn't have minded so much being in Sweden for the match yesterday. Of course I'd be the odd one out but they would be cheering and supporting Sweden because of a love for their country. Scotland, on the other hand, was cheering and supporting Sweden because of a hatred for England. One of the bar staff was even wearing a full Swedish football kit. Who buys a whole football kit just because they have such strong feelings against that country's opposing team for 90 minutes? Did he also have full Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago football kits laying at the bottom of his wardrobe? Is he now rushing out to purchase the Ecuador strip for Sunday? Or does he, perhaps, already own the 31 football kits of every team in the world cup finals with the exception of England, just in the eventuality that any of them play the foul, hideous nation that he has the misfortune to be neighbour to? It just seems ridiculous that anyone should spend so much money and go to so much effort out of sheer spite. I should probably clarify, at this point, that most of the Scots that I came into contact with were very friendly and not in the least attempting to skewer my head onto a spike as an example for all Englishmen who dare to think about entering their land. Which was nice. In fact, there were a surprising amount of English people living and working there, feeling very at home indeed. But the rivalry between nations seems very strong there nevertheless.

But it was about to get worse. Much worse.

After having got into my room at the travel lodge and then gone to find something to eat and then returned I was pretty ready for bed. I put on the tv as I cleaned my teeth and undressed and did all the other stuff that you do to get ready for bed. BBC1 were showing what can only be described as the worst film ever made. It was called Woo and starred Jada Pinkett Smith and seriously - avoid it. After having cleaned my teeth and got undressed and watched the worst film ever made, I turned the lights out, pulled the duvet back and got into bed. The weird thing was, the sheets seemed damp. No, not damp - wet. Now I'm not the tidiest person in the world and will often leave damp towels and dressing gowns on my bed. As such, the sensation of damp sheets when going to bed isn't something I'm completely unfamiliar with. So it took me a while to realise that something wasn't quite right. But slowly but surely, three things began to occur to me:

1) I haven't had a shower or anything that would make the bed damp. And even if I had, the duvet hadn't been pulled back till now. If it were something I had brought in (was it raining outside? - no, don't think so) the duvet would have to be wet enough to make the sheets damp. The duvet seemed quite dry to me.

2) This wasn't general dampness that would be the result of a wet towel being flung on the bed or a wet pair of jeans (are you sure it wasn't raining outside? - yeah pretty sure) laying down. This was a very specific dampness situated around the area of my upper right leg. This was very definitely, a patch of dampness.

3) This wasn't damp. This was wet.

I pulled the duvet back and turned the lights on to see that my leg had been resting in what was quite clearly a distinct patch of wetness about the size of a large watermelon. Two questions were immediately raised. First of all: what was this? Second of all: was it mine? A quick revision of two of the above three revelations answered the second question for me. This wasn't a product of something I've done since I've been here. The only conclusion one can reach, therefore, was that this wet patch was caused by a previous inhabitant. Which brought me screamingly to my first question. What in blue blazes was this? Now I'm sure by now, as difficult as you're finding it to believe, you've pretty much worked it out. And at this point I had a fair idea. But I had to be sure. I had to know for sure. And there was only one way to check.

I was going to have to sniff it.

I sat there for a few minutes beside this patch of wetness, trying to bring myself to do what I knew had to be done. Eventually, I bent down, bringing my nose as close as I could to the offending wet patch and sniffed. At first, nothing. But then, the unmistakable aroma of...

OH MY GOOD GRAVY IT WAS!!! I had just been lying in somebody else's urine.

I sat there for ages, stunned, just staring at the incontinence of the previous guest of room 306. I was sitting in a bed with someone else's wee. I had just been lying in someone else's wee. I had just bent over and inhaled the urine of a complete stranger. I was disgusted. I was horrified. But right at that moment, two tremendous character flaws almost caused me to do one of the most ridiculous and disgusting acts that has ever entered, albeit ever so briefly, my brain. These two character flaws are as follows:

1) I am incredibly lazy. It was 2:00 in the morning and I was shattered.

2) I am terrified of confrontation. As such, I hardly ever complain and will pretty much roll over for anyone.

With these two flaws I was momentarily reluctant to do anything about it. And this was the solution that my brain, in its tired, lazy and confrontationally challenged state suggested:

Well it's late and I'm tired and do I really want to go through the hassle of complaining about this? I could always just try sleeping on this side of the bed.

My brain was going to let me sleep in the pee!!! Needless to say this tiny part of my brain was instantly beaten to a pulp by the rest of my mind (that responsible for common sense and not sleeping in someone else's urine). But for the briefest of moments, it just seemed like too much hassle to do anything else. Of course this was promptly followed by the strong desire to get downstairs and ask reception at what point they thought £65 a night wasn't quite enough to ensure dry and pee-free sheets. So I quickly got up, dried the damp hair on the back of my leg, got dressed and went down to reception.

Roughly 10-15 minutes later, a man knocked on the door with fresh sheets, a duvet cover and a couple of extra pillows. He came in and looked at the damning evidence before him. He looked at the patch. He looked at me. "It wasn't you was it?"

"No it wasn't flippin' me!!!"

"Alright alright. Well let's get these sheets changed then"

And at this point he drops the crisp, new, clean bedsheets onto the bed - RIGHT ON TOP OF THE PEE-PATCH!!! I couldn't believe my eyes. I mean what is the point?! Why bother? Maybe that tiny section of my brain was right after all. There really is no point in getting someone up to change the sheets. He'll only smother the new one in urine beforehand anyway. Realising his mistake (and perhaps seeing the shocked and bewildered gaze taking over my face), he quickly whipped the clean sheet away and put it on the side. He then proceeded to take the soiled sheet off the bed at which point we saw that it had soaked through to the mattress.

"Oh dear" he said "we'll have to flip that"

As he lifted the mattress up, however, he noticed that the underside was covered in pretty massive stains. So he put the mattress back pee-side up.

What on earth was he doing!?!! I don't care about your stinking stains mate - flip that bad boy.

My actual response was a tad more mellow - "actually, could we flip that? I think I'd rather take my chances with the old dried stains rather than the fresh wet ones"

In response, clearly not wanting to display the stains that had been discovered on the other side, he took a long, hard look at the wet patch on the mattress. After a while, he bent down and started prodding and stroking it. He looked at me hopefully - "well it's almost dry".

Oh well in that case, forget the sheets altogether. Let me just jump in right now and roll about if it's almost dry - that's absolutely fine.

Eventually I convinced him to flip the mattress and together we changed the sheets and duvet cover. I even managed to muster up the courage to demand a refund (who would have thought that sleeping in a bed of wee would be my breaking point?).

So all in all it worked out ok. I got a free room for the night and after plenty of scrubbing (shower gel, flannel, scouring brush, brillo pad, sandpaper, a plane...) I think I got most of the human waste out of my leg hair.

The next day went alright. I told Matt W about my ordeal who was convinced I'd confused the travel lodge with the crack den across the road. I assured him that "across the road" in Edinburgh accounts for about half a mile so it was less of an easy mistake to make.

I had my interview from 1:00 till 5:00 in the afternoon which seemed to go ok. They'll let me know in 7-10 days (I'll keep you all posted).

I managed to find a bar that was pretty much 50/50 in terms of England/Sweden supporters and it turned out to be a pretty awesome match. I was worried it was going to kick off at one point when some England fans started chanting "Stand up if you qualified" to the tune of Go West but other than that it was all pretty harmless.

And then my coach left at 10:00 in the evening to get back home at 8:00 this morning.

So all in all a pretty eventful 25 hours. On the whole (soiled bedding aside) it was a pretty positive experience but I'm glad to be back. I'm absolutely shattered and I can't wait to get into my own bed where the sheets are damp but pee-free.