Monday 1: To celebrate the new year, Sue and I go shopping. We are looking for some chairs for the dining room and new place mats for the table - several of the current chairs are literally falling apart, and the place mats are battle-scarred and deserving of an honourable retirement. But after much searching, we can find nothing suitable and come home empty handed.
I manage to finish State of Fear. I bought it for Sue a while back, as it looked interesting, and she suggested I read it too. Very glad I did. He has a clear agenda, which is okay as he admits as much. But I have not read anything in a long while that gets you thinking about the nature of scientific research and debate - at least, not in a piece of popular fiction, and that is quite an achievement.
I notice that the main hit counter has just passed the 100,000 mark in a little under 18 months - since 4 July 2005. Actually, the site has received more hits than that, as I haven't yet converted all the pages to register the new counter. But we're getting there.
Wednesday 3: In the car, driving in to work this morning, the 'Book of the Week' is quite fascinating. This week, it is not a book, but 'Books to Change Your Life' - readings from a different book each day. It's quite a collection...
Monday, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie; Tuesday, Zen and the Art of Mothercycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig; Wednesday, The Successful Self by Dorothy Rowe; Thursday, Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman; and Friday, How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson.
Saturday 6: A letter arrived from the NHS today. From the scan in November, they have decided I have osteoporosis. They will discuss treatment when I see them next week.
Yes, the osteoporosis is serious: I have significantly less bone density than normal, and 'normal' in this context includes 95% of men my age. This does not translate into a particularly high risk of fractures at present, but if the loss of bone continues even at the normal rate, then it will become very serious. So they need to act now.
I don't know if it has any significance, but we were told it is normally the pelvis that fractures; however, in my case, the loss of bone density in the pelvis is quite a bit less than the loss of bone density in the spine. It is not clear why this might be the case, or what difference it makes.
The osteoporosis is a symptom of my low testosterone level, so the basic treatment is to give me more. The current plan is to give me a monthly injection, and monitor how that is going with a new set of blood tests in 4 months. I may notice a 'difference' over the course of the month as the injection wears off. I think that means I should expect to be aggressive at the beginning of the month, and become more mellow as the effects wear off.
As well as the injections, the other stuff continues: sunshine and vitamin D for my skin, plenty of fruit and veg, lots of dairy produce for the calcium, and weight-bearing exercise. Sadly, the swimming is fine as general exercise, but it doesn't provide any of the weight-bearing exercise I need: I must do more walking, running, and weight-training in the gym.
Sunday 14: Philip starts work at the Orpheus today. He's now old enough, and they like Alan, so he was invited. The only down-side is that they asked if he could start at 1:30 pm today - Alan always said he couldn't start that early, as it makes Sunday lunch rather tricky. In the end, Sue and I dashed away from church quickly, and Philip ate early, then we took him, and the rest of us had lunch together as usual. Don't want to do this every week.
In the afternoon, Sue and I went back - partly to check how Philip was doing, and partly because Sue wanted to see The Last King of Scotland. Ian wanted to join us, but it's a 15. And he isn't, quite. Frustrating, as I'm sure he would have enjoyed it and also learned a lot about Uganda at that time. He is interested in politics, so the more real history he has, the better.
Back home, and Ian has brought home his Year 10 Report. How can he have a year 10 report yet? The teachers all like him, he is bright, makes a good contribution to the class, and so on. But most of them also say he is not working as hard as he could, and could achieve much more, and finish the work he starts. We are intrigued by the PE comment: "Ian has performed well during this term, with his oral contributions being particularly impressive." He claims to have no idea what this means...
I head back to work for a bit, then off to the Anabaptist Network meeting, which tonight is looking at the subject of War and Peace. There was a wider range of views expressed than I expected, but nothing particularly new.
Monday 22: Almost the first thing I see on getting in to the office this morning is a letter from James: he has decided that the time has come to move on, and will be leaving us mid-February. It's sad, but not entirely unexpected - he has already given us longer than he said he would when we employed him, and he has done about as much with the Coffee Shop Manager role as he is likely to. But we have been talking about employing a cook for the Coffee Shop, and this just complicates the issue.
Thursday 25: Sue's annual brain scan at Frenchay Hospital this morning, which goes as routinely as it should. We hope not to hear anything - last year they said they would only contact us if there is some significant change, and that would mean bad news.
I'm really struggling today. Couldn't sleep with toothache last night, despite dosing myself up with several painkillers.
Sue was planning to go into Trinity this afternoon, but instead she takes me back to the dentist. I'm not really fit to drive. There is an infection, I think in the tooth in which he replaced the filling on Tuesday. He injects some anaesthetic, and for the first time in 24 hours I'm not in pain, and all I want to do is go to sleep... I think he drills out what he did on Tuesday, and puts in a temporary something; have to make an appointment for a 30-minute session early next week. It will have to be 7 February, as that is the earliest they can do. I think he was talking about the 'root canal' but not entirely sure. It's a good thing Sue drove me, as by the time we finish, I'm barely able to walk in a straight line.
Friday 26: Letter from the hospital today, confirming the details of my hormone treatment for the Doctor to provide. It seems that the nice lady we saw at the hospital earlier this month was Dr Fiona Wu, SpR in Diabetes and Endocrinology.
For the record, my bone density scan "showed a T-score in L2-L4 region of the -3.2, i.e. in the osteoporosis range, whereas in the hip it is -2.1 i.e. osteopenic." The treatment is Sustanon 50 mg IM 4-weekly, to be increased in four months if I 'tolerate' the treatment.
Ian is off at cricket practice again tonight. He really looks the part, dressed up in his whites.
On the News Quiz (Radio 4), talking about the files concerning people who committed crimes in other countries, and which are sitting on Home Office desks, a wonderful quote: "I think we ought to support these people. After all, they are our criminals. I don't agree with crimes being committed, but once they have started, I think we have an obligation to support our criminals in their activities."
Thursday 1: 8 am I'm at our local dentist for an initial checkup. He confirms the need for root canal treatment in one tooth, but then suggests that I might be better off simply having the tooth out: it is next to a wisdom tooth that should move in and mostly fill the gap.
Lunchtime, it is the BCAN Seminar at Woodlands. An excellent time. I'm supposed to give Graham Donald a lift back to CCM afterwards, but my car has been towed away. It turns out I was parked illegally, despite a sign that seemed to say it was a two hour parking bay. Julian Marsh comes to my rescue and drives me over to collect the car, but I miss the meeting planned with Father Richard Mackay.
Sunday 4: I'm doing the words at Highgove this morning. At a technical level, it is the service from Hell. We struggle to get the display right, and then part way through the service, the computer decides to reboot. We have not saved the song playlist, as this was entered at the last moment before the service... Oh for the days of OHPs and acetates. But, to be fair, to the rest of the congregation, it was a good service, so the computer based panics didn't actually make much of a difference.
Thursday 8: I trudge through lots of snow first thing to get to the Dentist - the new one at the end of our road. I'm there at 9 am, just five minutes early, which is cutting it finer than I prefer. But with the snow, everything is running a bit late. And then the extraction doesn't go as smoothly as planned, taking around 45 minutes rather than the nominal 20 minutes we had planned. He drilled and cut the tooth into three parts, to extract each part of the root independently, and still struggled with one of them.
Back home, I go back to bed and sleep through to the afternoon. Don't manage any work, just some mindless tidying up emails later in the afternoon.
Friday 9: the doctor rings first thing - he has sorted out my correct treatment with the hospital, and the prescription is waiting for me. We drive in to collect it on the way to work, and make an appointment for next Tuesday morning for my first injection.
In the evening, Philip attends his school dinner-dance. He looks very smart in his jacket and tie, and even shaves for the occasion. However, the transport home falls through, and I have to drive out to pick him and some friends up from the pub at 11 pm. And then Sue needs to pack, so my planned early night isn't quite so early after all.
Saturday 10: Up at 6 to take Sue to the airport from where she is flying to Newcastle. She is spending a day in Durham on JITC business, then spending tomorrow with Val in Newcastle bfore flying back for work first thing Monday morning.
The volunteer training on addiction goes well this morning, followed by more training with the folk who run our Saturday evening session.
In the evening, Mother rings: my father is in hospital again. He was suffering from pain in the chest last night, so they took him in. They did a couple of blood tests and an X-Ray at around quarter past three this morning. They are 'not happy' with the results of the second blood test, and want him to see a Cardiologist on Monday, who will probably schedule an Angiogram.
On the plus side, it seems he is in a much better state than he was earlier, so there is nothing immediate to worry about. She will ring back when there is any news.
Thursday 15: FareShare breakfast meeting at Bordeaux Quay, then home. I had planned to spend most of the day working on the MTh, but Sue needed me to help with the Jesus in the City mailing, so we go down to the Easton Christian Family Centre and spend most of the day stuffing envelopes. But it was useful: had a good chat with Philip Nott. Back via Trinity, then spend a couple of hours on the MTh before we go out for a late Valentine's date (yesterday was a busy day...) of a pub meal followed by Notes on a Scandal at the Orpheus. It was all very predictable, but very well done.
Father has had a stent inserted into his heart: they had planned to do two, or maybe three, but the first one was so difficult he will have to come back another time.
Sue's dad had to go to the hospital today because his leg had swollen up. The GP was worried, measured his leg and said he might have a pulmonary thrombosis, so he had to go to Reading hospital for a test. He's on blood thinning drugs - hopefully they won't interact too much with all his other drugs. He's got to go back to the hospital soon.
Sunday 18: Coach up to London. Roger picks me up at Victoria, we have a quick lunch, then off to the Queen Elizabeth to see my father. He is in remarkably good spirit: last time he was in (Mum says it was 5½ years ago for a double bypass) he was crawling up the walls wanting to get out. Mum tells a story about meeting up with a nurse from that time when they went for a balloon ride the following year, and the nurse clearly remembered how he had misbehaved and gone walkabout on a regular basis.
We wander downstairs, have a cup of coffee in the canteen, then back to the ward - taking the lift as instructed. Say hello to a lady he has become friendly with, then back home for a quick tea before Roger drives me back to Victoria. Sue picks me up about 10:30, and I forget to phone home to say I've arrived safely until much later, and far too late to ring anyone.
Tuesday 20: Tony does a brilliant job of franking most of the Jesus in the City mailing, then Sue drives over and we get it in the post. Pancakes at home. Mother and I try ringing each other at the same time, which causes a few problems. Father had a go on a treadmill yesterday, and they didn't like the effects this had on him, so he is scheduled to go back up to St Thomas on Thursday for the second stent.
Thursday 22: Some good news in the post: a letter from the hospital arrives today, confirming that Sue's latest scan "demonstrates no evidence of recurrent or residual tumour". Next scan in a year, as planned.
Sue's father has a bone scan tomorrow, and another blood test. My father had the second stent put in today, and they are planning to send him home tomorrow, which seems quite incredible.
Tuesday 27: Ian achieved a Gold Award in the recent Maths Challenge, and is through to the next round. He didn't manage 'Best in School', but as the person who did is in the year above, he has an excuse. We're delighted.
I went to a concert tonight, at the Colston Hall. According to the ticket, "Music Beyond the Mainstream presents African Soul Rebels III: Femi Kuti, Akli D and Ba Cissoko". It was the last night of their UK tour.
What I thought I was going to was an Abolition 200 event, which it was. But instead of listening to some talks on the subject, I was shown up to the VIP Reception, and a glass of wine thrust into my (unresisting) hand. We mingled for a while, us VIPs, and then a couple of people gave a few brief words, and it was time to take our seats for the concert. As always, met some interesting new people and got to know a few others a bit better, so it was a worthwhile evening as well as an enjoyable one. My only regret was that, if I had known what to expect, I would have tried to get Ian a ticket as well. I think he would have loved it.
An update from Alan: they are rewarding his 'Outstanding Achievement' by tickets to things at the Arts Centre and a reception next week, where he might discover what he did to merit this reward. Sue asked if he has to dress up for it, and Alan replied that if he does, "they'll be in for a suprise" - we're not quite sure how worried we ought to be by this...
Wednesday 7: Sue went to Taunton today with Claire - my Office Manager - to an ICT event. Sounds like it was a mostly useful event for her and One25; have to wait till Friday to see what Claire made of it.
I was at a food standards training event in the morning, and had Simon Toomer in the office in the afternoon sorting out the Internet connection for the LITE computers. Andy had not told me he had a 'Sorted' event (a sort of simpler version of Alpha) scheduled for the same time, but we managed.
Thursday 8: More news from Alan. The reception has happened. "Do you know how you demonstrated your achievement yet?" "No. Some guy in the department nominated me." The 'guy' was a member of staff. So we're not much clearer.
Philip had some results today: 4 A's, and either an A, B or C in Psychology.
Sunday 11: Sue and I go to the Orpheus in the evening and watch Flags of Our Fathers. As Sue said, not an enjoyable film, but we are both really glad we have seen it. I think it deserves to become a classic for the way it handles such important and difficult subjects.
Thursday 15: When I get home, there is no hot water. It seems a valve has gone in our boiler, and no hot water is reaching the hot taps. Worse, if we keep running hot water, Steve says something might blow in the boiler. He reckons it could be fixed, but the boiler is old and has needed replacing for some time.
Friday 16: We have another Anabaptist Network tonight. Divide into three groups to read three papers on various topics, discuss them, and report back. It gets more people involved than a single group discussion.
Our group is looking at the Anabaptist response to ecological problems. In general, there are two basic responses: either progress is the solution to our current problems (if you run out of oil, develop another fuel...), or progress, as in economic growth, is the basic problem, and we have to cut back sooner or later to a sustainable lifestyle. I think this seems a bit of a no-brainer for most of us.
The interesting thing is that there seems to be no effective Anabaptist response. The closest we get is that as individuals we may choose to live in a community with a sustainable lifestyle. This can be a 'prophetic act'. Well, yes, of course it can be. At times, it can be powerful, and sometimes it may be a sufficient response. But I don't see how it can be an adequate response on its own.
On reflection, this seems to be the major weakness of Anabaptist theology and lifestyle: it all comes down to the individual living in a voluntary community. There is never any room for individual or corporate action to challenge the powers that be. If Wilberforce had been an Anabaptist, he would have been told to run his own estate in an ethical, Christian way: by not owning slaves, this would challenge the standards of the society he lived in. Personally, I prefer his strategy of standing for Parliament, and then arguing the case for abolishing the slave trade in as forceful and public a manner as possible - I think he got it right.
Of course, this viewpoint doesn't go down too well with some of the folk present. But I think the Anabaptist experience of being powerless and persecuted has become a part of the tradition: this is habit, not principle. Sometimes, like Daniel, you have to stand up and be counted, no matter what the cost. Or, like Nathan, you must not only live a godly life, but also be prepared to challenge the secular authority with a risky but effective "Thou art the man!"
Someone else makes the valid point that most of the Biblical material about the nature and organisation of a godly society is in the Old Testament. If we want to develop a Christian theology of society, then maybe a Christocentric hermeneutic is not sufficient! Lots to chew on...
Saturday 17: Up first thing, and off to Warwick, to bring Alan back. Two minor difficulties: first, he has not told me of the major roadworks on the ring road; and, second, when I arrive half an hour late due to the roadworks, he is not packed. He packs while I go on an abortive mission to try and find a cup of coffee, and then he does the washing up...
The reason for collecting Alan is so that he can 'look after' his brothers while Sue and I escape for a few days to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary. Steve would normally do this, but he is also away.
Alan and I get home about 4 pm, which is only an hour later than I had hoped we would be leaving. Then Sue and I finish our packing, set off, do some last minute deliveries, pop back home to pick up the bits we had forgotten, and set off again. Ian is quite miffed by this: "You don't trust me!" he cries. "If we didn't trust you, we wouldn't be going away," Sue replies.
We are staying in a bed and breakfast near the edge of Dartmoor. It's not a bad run, and we only miss one turning, when we are almost there. Our hosts are friendly, our room is decent, and there is an excellent new sauna, jacuzzi and 12½m swimming pool. We have a quick drink, then I use the sauna before we retire: it is small, but clean and works well. The showers are adjustable, strong enough, and they go sufficiently cold. What more can you ask for?
Sunday 18: Coffee and tea in bed, then a cooked breakfast in a room overlooking Haytor. Absolutely beautiful. We get dressed, then walk to the local Anglican Church with our host, who is helping to ring the bells before the service.
Monday 19: The Eden Project. What can I say? It's as amazing as the publicity suggests. I really struggle with the heat in the Tropical Biome, and have to spend some time in the cool room part way round. But we make it, and want to go back.
On the way back, we stop off in Plymouth and, after some searching, find a cinema. It is larger than, but very similar to, the Orpheus - the staff are friendly. Even better, they do a special film-and-meal deal with the Tapas bar next door, so we grab a bite to eat and then watch The Illusionist. We're late getting back to the B&B, but phone to warn them and they don't mind.
We struggle up Haytor. Still snow on the ground, and a biting wind that is so strong I can't get to the top of the rock even with my stick. We take a few photographs, but don't hang around.
Lunch at the Marble Museum. We still love the marble runs, especially the large one using billiard balls. Then on to an art gallery, and just wander for a while.
Tuesday 10: To Dr Silvey again for my injection first thing, then we all head off to Newbury for a family get together at Pip's place. Despite all the organisational trauma beforehand, it actually goes off very well. The food is good, and the boys climb a tree to worrying heights without falling out.
We stay in Newbury for the evening to see Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Then home, pack, and Andrew Street picks me up. We are off to the Highgrove Men's Weekend at Hill House. Four of us in the car, and twenty minutes into the journey, it turns out that none of us know how to get there... Fortunately, Andrew had packed the directions, so he pulls them out of the boot and we arrive safely.
Saturday 21: In the afternoon, we all go for a walk. I would rather find the local swimming pool and see if it has a sauna, but nobody with a car wants to swim, so we all walk. For some reason, the plan is to drive to a local bird sanctuary, find a footpath, walk back, then pick up the cars later.
It starts off fine: we find the sanctuary, and look at some birds from a hide in a tower. But the footpath isn't clearly marked, and seems to peter out. Did we take a wrong turn? We scrabble across a water-filled ditch in the hope that this will bring us on to the right path, but no joy. We are probably too far South, so try cutting North, but it keeps going wrong. After a while, we decide to head back to the cars, but even this is tricky and the party splits into two.
After we get back to Hill House, we discover that the footpath has been moved, so what we were trying to follow on the map just does not exist anymore. There's a sermon in that, somewhere.
On the plus side, I had several interesting conversations with people, so it wasn't a total washout. One chap, being honest, talking about folk like Jehovah's Witnesses, said, "What I really want to say is that I know they are wrong, and I have the truth." Really? The whole truth? And there is no possibility that you are mistaken in any detail whatsoever? All of which he conceded, but still wanted to say he 'has' the truth. So what does that mean?
Sunday 22: I'm still away on the weekend, so Sue takes Ian to school, from where he heads off on an Outward Bound week. It's part of a 'Gifted and Talented' scheme: he does well at school, and gets perks like this. It's a good system.
Tuesday 24: For the first time since we have been in Bristol, Sue and I miss Homegroup in order to go out for the evening. With the Stoke Lodge Ramblers, we go to the Tobacco Factory production of Much Ado About Nothing. An excellent evening, marred only by the lack of ice creams in the interval, and the heat in the performance space by the end of the evening. The couple who organised the trip also sorted out the transport and provided tea and cake at their home beforehand.
Tuesday 8: Another injection from Dr Silvey. They don't seem to be doing any good - if anything, the sweating is getting worse. I'm woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat probably nine nights out of ten, and have another bout in the daytime - sometimes more than one - about as often.
Friday 11: My supervision and annual review with Dave and Ann. I feel like I'm coming down with a cold so it's rather an effort, but seems to go well. Some helpful and interesting ideas to think about.
Saturday 12: Volunteer Training this morning. Very good time, but I'm really struggling by the end. Get home as quickly as possible, and don't do anything for the rest of the day, apart from shopping with Sue.
Sunday 13: Sue and Ian head off to Newbury - some of her family are getting together there. I'm not well enough to go, and Philip is working. I sleep through to about 4 pm, then get up, do some washing up, and cook the Sunday roast for Philip and Steve. Starting to feel human again by the time Sue and Ian get back.
Monday 14: We get a surprise letter from school: Mr Leaming wrote to say that all the kids he took away on the Outward Bound course the other week were so well behaved he would be happy to take them all away again. They were a credit to the school and to themselves. Well done, Ian.
Trustees Meeting in the evening. We alternate them, one daytime and one evening, as some people can't do daytime and some can't do evenings. But the evening trustees all couldn't make it for one reason or another, so it was a short meeting with only Graham and Ann present.
Tuesday 15: Breakfast meeting - FareShare again. Frustratingly, we still don't have a lease on a warehouse yet. Discuss various options, and it looks likely that one way or another we should get this detail tied up in the next week or two.
On to the hospital and back to Endocrinology with Sue. The lady we see (no name or rank given...) is very surprised at the low dose I'm getting in each injection, as was my Doctor. I'm on 50mg, and she would never start anyone on less than 100mg. I'm given a prescription for 50g to be injected tomorrow, then the next two injections are to be for 100mg; then she wants another blood test before the next injection, which will be 100mg if it seems to be working, and 250mg otherwise.
She is quite clear there is no need for another brain scan at present: my symptoms are getting worse because my treatment isn't working - which really doesn't make sense, but I failed to challenge it at the time. But she does make the point that a tumour on the Pituitary would normally cause more hormone to be produced, not less, and that any effect would be seen in the levels of all the hormones it produces: only if the tumour has effectively destroyed the gland would it lessen production in the way we have seen, and again, it would lessen all the hormones, not just one. Which begs the question of why they did the scan in the first place, given what they already knew of the various hormone levels.
We go to the hospital Pharmacy to get the prescription made up. They send us away then call us back and look at the prescription, decide that a normal chemist will not stock it, and will probably not want to order the small quantity I'm asking for, so they relent. We have a coffee, return, wait a bit more, and eventually go away with a small package.
Friday 18: I like Melvin Bragg. "In Our Time" this week was about Gravitational Waves, which seemed very brave. In his newsletter, Melvin says he is doing some work on Bede, then makes the following link:
"For Bede of course (sorry if this is too glib) the gravitational waves streamed down from heaven and his notion of cause was a deeply Christian, some would say superstitious, some would say deluded, view of the world. However, the imagination required to believe in the gravitons and in gravitational waves and in much else that is happening in cutting edge physics can sometimes make Christianity seem quite a valid interpretation."
Saturday 19: The boys aren't interested, so Sue and I go to the Orpheus to see Bridge to Terabithia. I was impressed by how faithful it was to the book - which means it was incredibly sad. Oddly, Sue claims she hasn't read the book.
Saturday 26: An email mesage from Rob Scott-Cook this morning. Pam has just been diagnosed with breast cancer: they expect her to have surgery in the next few weeks. "She has been radiant in her trust and peace in God. Your prayers are appreciated."
Sunday 27: This evening, Sue and I finally watch Regeneration, the film of Pat Barker's book. We recorded it on DVD ages ago, but have never had both the time and emotional resiliance to watch it until now. It is as deeply moving as we had anticipated and feared: every few minutes, I want to stop the film so we can respond to and talk about what we have just seen or heard. It couldn't match the book in scope or depth, but as a film adaption it is stunning.
I don't have time to record much in June. On top of everything else, there is Jesus in the City taking up an enormous amount of time. Sue is the main administrator, and I'm either running around after her, or trying to clarify the complex arrangements and make sure they all fit together in a semi-sensible way.
Saturday 2: Sue's birthday. We celebrate by a trip to Newbury to see a production of Godspell at St Nicholas Church - where Pip and her family worship. Inevitably, some of the singing is a bit weak, but the experience is quite wonderful. Perhaps it's just bringing back memories of our youth, but I think it's more than that.
She has been diagnosed with cancer of the colon, and will be going in for a scan tomorrow (Friday) to determine just how far it has spread. She is taking a short break next week, and is expecting to be operated on at some point in the following week.
She's going in for surgery on 16 July, which is 3 days after her birthday, and the consultant says she has a 95% chance of surviving the surgery. She's going to the Queen Elizabeth and is expected to be in for 1-2 weeks.