Tuesday 1: Alan and Hennel have arranged to meet another friend at the Ice Rink, but they forgot the lack of a 902 service on Bank Holidays, so Sue and I drive them down, then Sue drops me off for a swim and sauna and she hits the shops.
On the way home Ian phones to ask if he can stay with a friend tonight, so Sue swallows a cup of tea and takes him off. Philip is working, so I have an hour or so of peace and quiet. When she gets back, we watch Finding Neverland together.
Thursday 3: Philip gets a letter from Churchill College today: he has not been offered a place. I'm disappointed, but Philip seems to take it philosophically - he has an offer from Warwick, and may get others.
Philip is working and Sue has a haircut booked, so we drive Philip to the Orpheus, then Sue drives me to the office where I do a few hours, catching up on some urgent admin.
Sunday 6: Neither of us go to Highgrove this morning: Sue is not feeling well, generally aching, and I have promised to drive Chris Squire to Woodlands. Have not been there for a while, and it's good to see some familiar faces again, including Trudie who has been off sick all week but says she is well enough to come back tomorrow. I tell her not to push it if she is not sure.
I'm also having problems: difficulty moving my arms, especially the right one. It is suspiciously similar to the way my frozen shoulder started a few years ago. My arms, especially the right one, have been a bit stiff for about a week, but I thought I had just strained something.
Monday 7: I see Dr Silvey first thing this morning. He promises to write me a letter, confirming my health problems have interfered with my MTh studies, and prescribes me an NSAID - Non Steriodal Anti Inflamatory Drug - for my arm, which is even more painful this morning. Getting dressed is a major struggle. For future reference, it is Rhumalgan SR 75mg Modified Release Capsules: 28 of them, to be taken twice a day for 14 days.
After the light treatment this morning (3 joules, 5 minutes 43 seconds - the maximum dose they allow), I go straight into town and get the prescription made up. The arm begins to ease in the afternoon, so it looks like he got the diagnosis right. Wonderful.
The sad news is that Lukas, the Polish lad we have put a great deal of work (and money) into supporting, has relapsed. The Salvation Army had trusted him with a supply of antidepressants, and it seems like he took far too many. From his perspective, it is their fault for giving them all to him in the first place. But then, the whole point of rehab is that he is supposed to be learning to exercise some self-control. He was something like five weeks away from completing the programme, with the promise of somewhere to live and a job at the end of it, and now he is on the streets again.
Thursday 10: What a day. Yesterday, I discovered that Ailsa was not well and could not host the Homeless Forum meeting tonight. Sent off a quick email to the group, letting them know it would be at the CCM offices instead. This morning, a phone call from Ian Mountford alerts me to the fact that the email has not been delivered.
Steve, of course, tells me it is a problem with my ISP at work. I tell him other messages were sent. It's a question of priorities, he assures me. I send the message again, this time from home, and again nothing goes out. It appears that, following the last set of email changes, he did not set me up to receive the error messages from Majordomo. After going back and forth several times, he fixes this. I send the message again, but instead of an error message in return, the message goes out. We do not understand what has happened, but there is no time to worry about it. By now, it is midday, and far too late to be telling people about tonight, and I'm late for a meeting with Graham.
Rush through the meeting with Graham, preparing for the Trustees meeting on Monday, then in to St Pauls for ACTS at the Salvation Army. Then in to work for a bit, and off to the Toyota garage to pick up a replacement wheel trim: we noticed one was missing at the weekend, putting up a notice at the Caring at Christmas office about the changed venue en route. Toyota don't have the wheel trim, so I order it. Off to Aldi at Southmead to get a stepping machine Sue has spotted as a good bargain.
The Homeless Forum in the evening is small - several people can't make it, and several don't get the message (was my notice taken down by someone?) - but the meeting is worthwhile.
Sunday 13: On the phone tonight, my mother tells me that Edwin Sacre has died suddenly. Edwin was my Scout leader, and remained a Scout leader, I believe, until the day he died - or, as the movement puts it, was 'promoted to higher service'. Not the easiest of men to get on with at times, but he gave so much time and energy to make better the lives of children like myself, and hundreds of others. I owe a great deal to the Scouting movement, and Edwin was the man who made it possible for me.
Walk from the Hospital to Muller House for a BCAN Steering Group. It's pouring down with rain so I wait for a lift back at the end, and I'm not back at the office until nearly 3pm.
Mark Restall from Christ Church comes around 5:30 to so some preparation work for the decorating his Homegroup will be doing next weekend. He thought it would take an hour or two, but we are there all evening.
When I get home, Sue has discovered that Alan has a site on JustGiving, offering to shave his head in return for a donation to One25. "So apparently people want to shave my head, and I'm apparently also letting them do it..."
Saturday 19: Off to the Orpheus this evening with Philip. Ian has a sore throat and doesn't want to come out. Sue wants to see The Kite Runner, and I am with Philip to see Sweeny Todd. When we arrive, there is one of the longest queues we have seen at the Orpheus. When we get halfway up the stairs, the lady tells us that The Kite Runner is full. Sue is about to go home, but then hangs around to see if Philip and I get in, and as we are paying she hears that there is a space in her film after all.
We all enjoy our evening. A few days ago, Sue and I managed to record and watch Phantom of the Opera, and I am struck by how much I prefer Sondheim's songs. And Tim Burton's distinctive visual style was superbly appropriate. Towards the end, there is a short scene with the main characters having a picnic under a tree, and the whole image is just wonderful: the tree is somehow both totally natural and strangely artificial, and it hits you in the eye after the dark and the grime of the rest of the film. Brilliant.
Monday 21: This morning, Andy, Alan and Claire take the LITE Students off to Heatree on Dartmoor. It's the first visit there for several years, so we very much want it to be a success. Less than an hour later, the heavens open and it starts to pour with rain. I get drenched going to my last light treatment. I hope they will be all right...
Sue takes Ian to the Doctor after school. He has not been well the past few days, and the doctor diagnoses laryngitis. But his heart is fine, so that is one less thing for Ian to worry about.
Wednesday 23: Philip's Parents Evening. He might not be quite perfect, but it's a close run thing. He is working hard, getting good results, the teachers like him, and he contributes well in class. Really, the only point of being there is to thank the teachers for the work they put in. Mr Netto is wonderful: the only thing he doesn't understand is why Cambridge didn't accept him. Of all the candidates, Philip was the one he was sure would get in. Still, as he said, it is their loss: Philip will do well wherever he goes. Oh yes, Philip could contribute more to class discussions in Physics: he asks insightful questions, but could talk about them more with his fellow pupils. I think that is the only 'could do better' in the whole evening.
They have the same absurd questionnaire as last time. It is handed out by Simon Bale, who I introduce to Sue. We have fun filling it in while waiting to speak to the teachers.
Saturday 26: Working all day, as the Christ Church Homegroup are decorating. I let Mark in around 8:45, and then go off for the morning to a Neighbrouhood Planning Meeting in Brunswick Square. There is an excellent presentation at the end on traffic, pedestrians and risk.
Lunch at PieMinister with the Christ Church people, then sorting out paperwork for the rest of the afternoon. Simon Toomer arrives a bit later, and starts upgrading the software on the office machines. Three of them are rather slow with the new software, and need a hardware upgrade, so I order that online, following Simon's guidance.
Finally get away at 21:00, when Sue picks me up, and we go to John Stevens' 50th birthday party at Hope Chapel. A lot of thought and preparation has gone into this, but the music is far too loud almost all the time we are there, and after an hour I can't cope any more so we make our excuses.
Sunday 27: I'm at Woodlands twice today. Annet is speaking briefly in the morning service, and at a lunch afterwards. It is one of the best missionary talks I have ever attended. Sue drops me off before the service, and David gives me a lift home afterwards, so that all works out rather well.
In the evening, Phil Thomas is giving a talk on Postmodernism and the Bible. It was a useful start, but I get the impression that most of the material was thing he had read, rather than things he had understood, thought about, and had a considered position on. The first question is very straightforward, inviting him to agree that Postmodernism is wrong because we know as Christians that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and he just waffles in response for ages. With hindsight, it could have been a fun session to do as a dialogue.
Philip goes to a selection evening for the Scouts' Uganda trip this Summer. He should hear in the next day or two.
Monday 28: Phone call in the evening for Philip. He has not got a place on the Uganda trip. Don't know why, but suspect it has something to do with him not doing any preparation at all for the selection evening.
On Saturday, I had downloaded a large number of updates, and stupidly did not reboot afterwards. I left the machine on, as Simon was coming back the next day to keep working and might have needed to access stuff on my machine, so this was the first time it had logged in since the upgrades. Simon fixes it without difficulty, and I now know what to do should it happen again.
As he is there, Simon stays and rebuilds a couple of the machines with the new parts I ordered at the weekend. I miss Homegroup as a result, but as I don't have the car, by the time the computer is fixed I probably have missed most of it anyway.
Friday 1: We are both free at lunchtime, so Sue and I meet for lunch at our default location: Kuvaku, on Stokes Croft. Our Wedge cards arrived a day or two ago, so we get 10% discount. Sue wants to know if I want to go to Cardiff for the Impressionist exhibition, but I tell her we have missed it by three or four weeks. She wants to go to Cardiff anyway, as it has been a long time since she made it to Lakeland.
Saturday 2: The plan is that we head off for Cardiff as soon as I get in from the joint prayer meeting with St Edyth's at 10 am, but what with washing to sort out and one thing and another, it is noon before we leave home.
We use the Park and Ride, which drops us off outside the Hilton, just a couple of minutes walk from the mueaum and art gallery. They are between exhibitions, so only a few smallish galleries are open.
I ask a member of staff about one of the information cards beside a painting, which seems to suggest it was painted arouond a century before the person being painted was alive. "Mmm, " he said, "that doesn't look right. But it's the art people you want, and they don't work weekends." But he did offer to tell them.
Monday 4: Spend an hour or so in the coffee shop this morning doing the homelessness survey. Oddly, I had a phone call about a client from one of the churches that support us earlier in the morning, and I talk with the lady in question as part of the survey, so I can pass on a message to her and phone the church back to tell them the message has been passed on.
Injection with Dr Silvey at 6 pm. The first one is fine, but the second is very painful - presumably he hit a nerve - and I immediately start to feel faint and sick. I don't quite pass out, but it's a close thing. Lie down on the couch, and he gets someone else in. Presumably a nurse. They check my pulse and blood pressure, both okay. Then they decide to check my heart and bring in the ECG machine. They take a while setting it up, and then the tabs won't stick to my skin. But eventually they get a reading, and that too is fine. I'm a little unsteady still, but safe to drive.
Home around 7 pm, grab a quick sandwich, then out to the Global Issues Forum at Woodlands. Arrive just before 8 (early!) but they have already started. Maria and David from Highgrove are also there, so I think our church must be the best represented in Bristol.
From there, back to the office. Andy's machine would not log on all day, so Simon agreed to come out and have a look. We get the keyboard and mouse share up and running for the two servers, then look at Andy's machine. It logs in perfectly. Simon starts to upgrade the software, and runs into problems. Around 2 am, he starts to build a new machine for Andy, and by 5 am it is up and running. Final configuration takes us to around 7 am.
An hour in bed, then up and off to the Open Source 'Social Source' event being run by Voscur and Bristol Wireless. Manage to stay awake, then straght off for a sauna (no hot water!), and home to bed. Miss housegroup. I think Sue sends my apologies.
Friday 8: Sue in Cheltenham today, helping to train new doctors in how to work with people who have difficulty hearing. Actually, helping to assess how well they do at it. Sounds like it was a useful exercise.
One interesting minor detail: the speaker mentioned the need for sacred spaces. Afterwards, I asked him where in the New Testament he found a need for the Christian Church to maintain its own sacred spaces. He assumed that this was important to the church in Corinth, for some reason, then admitted it was a weak argument.
Afterwards, drop in to see the Genesis Project drop-in, in the church basement, and meet the lady who runs it. I hope to come back for a proper visit in the near future.
Then it gets a bit frustrating. The train back to Bristol is fine, but the train to Avonmouth is delayed. I get off at Redland and wait in the Health Club for Sue to come with my sauna bits, but she is delayed and it is past 6 before she arrives, so she then drives me back to work for the training in the evening.
Thursday 14: Dentist at 9 am: my teeth are fine, which is a relief after all the problems of last year. Then back home. I have taken the day off to spend with Sue, so we head off to visit the 'Love' exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. As always, it is a bit of a mixture: some stunning pieces mixed in with others that just don't work for us - the Tracey Emin is a prime example. I'm not a great fan of conceptual art at the best of times.
(I cant resist this. From the Saatchi Gallery web site, "My Bed, 1998", the description reads as follows: "Tracey Emin shows us her own bed, in all its embarrassing glory. Empty booze bottles, fag butts, stained sheets, worn panties: the bloody aftermath of a nervous breakdown. By presenting her bed as art, Tracey Emin shares her most personal space, revealing she's as insecure and imperfect as the rest of the world." Gosh. I really needed to see her bed to know that.)
A quick lunch at the museum, then off to Southmead Hospital for a Dermatology appointment. The skin is pretty good at present, so no plans to do anything different, and an open appointment if I need to come back within a year.
Back home, then off to the dump with a couple of dead monitors and a couple of nearly dead chairs, and Sue drops me off for a sauna while she drops in on Penny for a cup of tea and a chat. I get the train home.
The plan was for us to go out for a meal in the evening at Teohs, but Ian managed to take some meat out of the freezer this morning and then decided he did not need it at school after all, so we end up staying at home and cooking.
Friday 15: I have agreed to take part in a sleep-out at the end of this month, but we have only just got round to telling anyone about it. Alabare are organising it, and invited us to take part. People keep saying they hope it is not too cold, but I am more concerned about rain. If it's dry, I hope it will not be too difficult to put enough layers around us. But then, I don't suppose we are supposed to be too comfortable...
Sunday 17: I'm speaking at the Mustard Tree Christian Fellowship in Longwell Green this morning. It's good to be back, and there are some warm responses and friendly and familiar faces. And I get quite a few sponsors. On the way home, pick up Ian from his friend's house.
In the afternoon, Sue and I go with Philip to see In the Valley of Elah. Tommy Lee Jones is stunning. Two brief quotes from the reviewers: "There have been many films about the aftermath of war, but never have I seen such a brutally honest and shocking depiction of the de-humanization of soldiers back from war." "There are no speeches or lectures, but watching illusions and faith in old systems being peeled away is very powerful. And very, very sad."
I was very worried right at the end, when you go back to a scene with the American flag, and I had a sudden fear that they were going to do something to make us feel that, despite it all, everything is or will be all right really. What the film did instead was consistent, and the final shot simply took my breath away.
Tuesday 19: Most of the day is taken up with the interviews for our new Assistant Coffee Shop Manager. Lisa goes first, and she gives one of the best interviews I have ever seen. Every question we ask, she has thought about it and gives a clear and comprehensive response. The second candidate had not bothered to tell us she could not be on time until I rang her to confirm last night, and she had not bothered to find out about CCM and what we do. She had lots of experience of Christian ministry - more than any of us, probably - but no experience of Christian work, and no experience with homeless people, addiction, or any of the other major issues we face. And, sadly, not only no experience, but also no understanding of the issues. So it was an easy decision in the end.
Community Project executive in the evening. We need more money, and desperately need more people to get involved. But there are possible ways through, so it's not all bleak.
Wednesday 20: Out at 7 am this morning so I can drive to a Business Action on Homelessness meeting in Keynsham. It's supposed to finish at 9, but runs late so I'm late for our Team meeting back at the office. What fun we do have. But I did get to chat with one of the BITC national staff and talk about supported employment, so it was a useful time.
Sue has a letter from the hospital. Mr Porter from Neurosurgery wants to see her at Frenchay Hospital on Wednesday 16 April at 3:30 pm. We have been here before. As before, we have to assume that if they have found anything they don't like in the latest scan, they would probably have found an earlier appointment for her.
We are looking at poverty and suffering, which are subjects close to my heart. One of the American Anabaptists says that for him, poverty has a face: it is a lady who lives nearby, and he describes some of his encounters with her. I suggest that one reason why we are uncomfortable with the subject is that we know poverty has a billion faces. We are comfortable, they are suffering, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can help just a few people to a limited extent, and we have to believe that this is somehow enough, because it certainly doesn't feel like this is the case.
They ask about our Government's policy on poverty, and I reply that our Government has a number of policies, and they are not consistent or compatible with each other: an emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility sits alongside the growing nanny state; moves to drive people 'back' to work sit alongside a benefits culture in which growing numbers of households have nobody paying tax.
I deeply believe in the welfare state, but I also believe it needs to be limited so that people can begin to re-learn the connection between cause and effect, between their behaviour and what they experience. It was a stimulating evening.
Saturday 23: Sue and I go shopping at CostCo. I need a new briefcase, as my present one is falling apart, but they have nothing suitable. And we want some new glasses for me, but they will be on special offer in a couple of weeks so we postpone that. However, I do buy a decent shredder for the office as that is on special offer today, and a machine that will cope with more than 4 sheets of paper at a time will make life easier.
Philip is out at a quiz night. He enjoyed it and they came second is all we learn.
Sunday 24: Kelly from the coffee shop is baptised at Hanham Baptist at 2 pm this afternoon. On to the office, where I spend an hour or two preparing for the windows to be replaced tomorrow, then to Woodlands where Alan Mann us doing a sessioon on interpreting Revelation. For some reason, he is very keen on insisting that the whole book is a letter, but on the whole it is a very good and sane presentation.
Monday 25: Today some nice men come to replace the windows in our office, all the windows on the top floor. They work hard all day and get the two big ones at the front finished. Soon after 3 pm, Tony Richmond from Alabaré comes to take me to Clifton Cathedral, where we will be sleeping out on Friday. Alan and Trudie come to look over the facilities. We will have a room and some toilets available. They have to be locked overnight, but Tony will have the key in case of emergencies.
In the evening, a Duty Managers meeting at the office. A useful opportunity to talk with Alan and Lisa, who will be sleeping out with us on Friday night and officially starts working for us at midnight that night.
Tuesday 26: In the evening, I go over to see Kathy from the Community Project. She has problems with her computer, so I get her set up with a webmail account and sign her up to the Community Project Yahoo email group. It's all very successful until right at the end as I'm leaving, when her dog bites my leg. My trouser leg, actually, but that detail was accidental. It tore quite a hole. "He doesn't like men," she says. I could tell.
Wednesday 27: Up at the crack of dawn - well, before it, actually, to get a train to Temple Meads and then on to Birmingham. An event called Practical Impact organised by the Church Urban Fund. They are giving us some money, and suggested it was a good idea to go. so I go. Helen from One25 also went, and we travelled together from Bristol Parkway. Ed Standhaft was already there, having travelled up on the train an hour earlier. I hate to think what time he set out. And Arkle Bell was there, so we spent quite a while catching up and generally chatting. Arkle used to be one of my trustees before he moved up North.
It was a bit of a mixed bag. Ann Morisy ('urban theologian') never really got the chance to contribute. Fran Beckett, speaking on 'Impact Generation' was quite frankly disappointing, offering generalisations and platitudes I (and, I would guess, many of those present) have heard a dozen times, and which don't begin to touch the complexities of the issues we face.
We had a couple of people from the Office of the Third Sector being interviewed and answering questions, but for the most part they said nothing and often failed even to address the question, let alone answer it. They may have been civil servants, but they spoke as politicians, trotting out the pre-prepared statements regardless of what they were being asked.
But then Bishop Stephen Lowe ('Bishop of Urban Life and Faith') spoke on 'What Makes Us Different?' and he was brilliant. I made a brief contribution, the essence of which is in my article on Engaging the Voluntary Sector.
After lunch, the workshop on Communication and Marketing was a waste of time. It wasn't the poor chap's fault: he was a last minute stand-in, and had no time to prepare. But Stephen Thake, an academic speaking on 'Love in a Cold Climate' delivered an absolutely breathtaking analysis of the political and economic environment in which we operate. It was worth coming up to Birmingham for the day just to hear him.
Thursday 28: The BMFF and the Inter-Faith Group are jointly hosting a consultation on how the 'faith communities' can contribute to the Government's Social Cohesion agenda. "Face-to-Face and Side-to-Side: A consultation workshop involving faith groups in local communities through dialogue and collaborative action." That really says it all. "Faith groups in local communities" indeed. I'm not quite sure what the collaborative action was - perhaps it was getting us together into one place. Personally, I think that the questions posed are starting from the wrong place, but we manage to make some constructive suggestions.
Friday 29: Most of the day is spent working on the way CCM might implement Full Cost Recovery. The principle is simple, but the details are very non-trivial - especially when you don't start with a blank sheet. What fun.
Sue picks me up about 5 and we head home, taking some cardboard. Have some tea, put on a few more layers, and pick up a sleeping bag, then out to Clifton Cathedral for 9:30 for the Sleep Out in their car park.
We are given a roll and some soup in a plastic mug, then gather together for a short Bible reading and prayer. Then it is out with the cardboard, sleeping bag and plastic, and we set about fashioning our habitations for the night. By about quarter to midnight we are all bedded down: the adults in one sheltered corner, and most of the kids over the other side of the car park. The conversations continue...
Lisa and Kelly have the most luxurious temporary dwelling I have ever seen, constructed from cardboard with commercial plastic wrap around it to keep it structurally sound and watertight. We suspect they have hot running water in there, somewhere.
The chatter dies away, and we drift off into varying qualities of sleep. The wind is strong, and creates a dreadful noise whistling through the trees and bushes and rustling the plastic. Once or twice there is a light touch of rain, but no more than that.
Looking up into the sky, I notice something dark moving quickly. It looks like a swarm of insects - very like pictures I have seen of a swarm of locusts slowly shifting in shape as they move across the sky. Then I realise it is a break in the clouds: they must be very low in the sky to give that impression of speed.
The night passes. By 6:15, most of us are in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating buttered (probably margarined) toast prepared by Andy, who has come down to feed us. The youth group are gone by 7, and there is really not a lot of clearing up to do after them.
I am home by 8, Sue is gently snoring when I bring her tea, and I go down and have a proper breakfast of muesli. Completely forget about the prayer breakfast which is presumably happening at St Edyths.
I have an hour or so in bed, and Sue goes off to her dress rehersal. I do the weekly shop, then dash off for a quick sauna, and back in time to drive Sue and Esme to St Peter's, Henleaze, for the Chorus for Creation. It's a good evening, and I even manage to stay awake for most of it. It is a good mixture, from Rutter, Haydn and Elgar to Elton John and Michael Flanders. Sue's chorus was good, but the highlight of the evening was the Red Maids' School Chamber Choir singing The Rhythm of Life.
Then back in to work, for a meeting with the Pastor and Youth Leader from the Potters House: potentially a really important local contact Alan Goddard made a week or two back.
Thursday 6: BCAN at lunchtime - Hope08 networking. Well attended and enthusiastic. Then to CostCo to order my new glasses, and back into town - Downend Baptist Church - for a Refugee Awareness event: the Asylum Monologues, performed by Actors for Refugees. An account of the UK's asylum system, told in the words of the people who have experienced it. Deeply moving. Afterwards, there is a short break, then a short question and answer panel session, where I was representing the Church in Bristol. Nobody from the Church in Bristol who had a closer connection to refugee work could make it.
Sunday 9: Morning and evening at Salem Chapel, with a sauna in between, and then in to work. Simon should have brought our server back in the afternoon, but had slept instead. The promised 'just plug it in' turns into a 4 hour rebuild of the file system and reconfiguration. Get home around 1 am.
Thursday 13: I get enough work done on the MTh dissertation proposal to send it off to Peter Stevenson at Spurgeons. The draft title is "Street-level Theodicy: developing guidelines for a practical apologetic suitable when working with vulnerable people" - the idea is mine, but the title is based on a suggestion by Mark.
Sue and I also get to CostCo, and pick up my new glasses. They are much lighter than the old ones, and constantly feel like they are about to fall off. No doubt it will improve with time.
Friday 14: I take the car in to the new Toyota garage for a service and its first MOT (three years old!) and collect a courtesy car to get back to work. All is fine until I park it. It's a new Yaris, with an electronic key: you don't turn the key in the ignition, you press a botton to start and stop the engine. I stop the engine, get out, shut the door and press the button on the key to lock the doors. The doors lock and the lights flash. Fine. Then, a second later, they flash again and the door unlocks. I try again. Same thing happens. After a while, I ring the garage and ask for help. It turns out I need to walk away from the car and then press the button: if I am too close, it recognises I'm close and thinks I want to get into the car. How about that for progress?
In the evening, Sue takes Ian to cricket practice ('nets') as usual. But he goes back to a friend to sleep overnight, so we are free for the rest of the evening. After a short discussion on the phone, Sue brings Philip in to Bristol, I dash out of work, and we go to see There Will Be Blood at the Odeon. Sue claims it is confusing - lots of questions that are not answered. What struck me was the incredible confidence of the directing and editing. So much was not shown: we were trusted to make the connections and work out what was going to happen, so there was no need to show it. Not a fun film, but very impressive.
Saturday 15: This morning on the Today program, we have Bishop Tom Wright debating the resurrection with Professor Geza Vermes. Absolutely brilliant! As usual, Wright is spot on. Vermes has 'done some research' (nobody has ever looked at the subject of the resurrection before, right?) and concluded that when the NT authors spoke of the resurrection, it sounds like they were talking about an objective reality, but what they were really talking about was a subjective psychological state. Wright points out that the language of their day distinguished between the two - they had different terms for each, so if they spoke of an objective reality, that is what they intended to say. Vermes points out that the subject of their language is not what we experience in every day life: in the resurrection we have a 'spiritual body'. But he fails to recognise that something can be out of the ordinary and beyond our present experience but still objectively true. But it is two top level minds discussing a massively important and difficult topic. Full marks to the BBC.
Thursday 20: Our wedding anniversary, so we take the day off. Massages in the morning, then lunch at Valentino's, with several charity shops en route. We go home to check what is on at the local cinemas, and dash out to Cribbs to see Be Kind, Rewind, taking Philip as that is one he has wanted to see. He was not familiar with most of the films they re-create, but that didn't seem to spoil the film too much. It was a pleasant piece of entertainment.
The New Scientist today has an excellent comment piece on happiness, and a good number of other interesting bits. (1) No studies have been done to determine if the drug treatment provided in UK prisons has any effect. We currently spend around £80 million on this each year. (2) A fascinating piece on the new leglation that can compel schizophrenics to take their medication. (3) Evidence that love really is blind. (4) An astonishing piece on quantum mechanics, suggesting that the universe may not be random after all. And (5), a short quote from a London-based neurosurgeon on how he uses a battery-powered drill bought at a local hardware store to open up skulls when he performs brain surgery at a clinic in the Ukrane run by a man called Igor! You couldn't make it up.
Friday 21: Down to City Road Baptist Church for the Good Friday service, then on the Walk of Witness down to Grosvenor Green. I do a reading at the service on the green, which is one of the best open air services I've attended, despite the wind.
Forgot to bring my phone - charging - and so walk back to the CCM office to ring Sue, to discover that she is still at work at One25, just where we held the service...
Ian goes off to stay the night with a friend, but phones home some time after ten to say that the friend has had too much to drink, is being 'grounded' and he will be home in about half an hour.
Monday 24: Sue and I go on the church walk at Ashton Court, then we drive Andrew Street back to his new home, as he and Marion have invited us all back for a drink and nibbles. Very nice house: old and solid, with walls 3 foot thick in places.
Tuesday 25: This morning is my bi-annual appointment with the Endocrinologist. Sue drops me off and sees the doctor for her cough, which is not getting any better. I'm still waiting to go in when she gets back to Southmead.
It's another new face, but this time I am impressed. What he says makes sense. He is pleased by the reduction in sweating, but doesn't know if it has anything to do with the treatment. It might just be 'one of those things'. But my testosterone level is still too low, and he is concerned by the effect this will have on my (already low) bone density. Probably need to change from injections every 6 weeks to injections every 4 weeks. Oh joy.
After several changes of plan and venue, homegroup tonight is at Ed and Deb's, and we watch a film: Michael Clayton. Nicely done. The slight frustration was that they didn't get Atonement because they thought we had already seen it - I think they confused it with Regeneration. But never mind, it was a pleasant and relaxing evening. And we both made it, which is something of a rarity these days.
Wednesday 26: It's a long day. Out at 8, at work by 8:30, ready for a meeting at 9 about the café in the Compass Centre and how to make it work with volunteers. Then out of that and round to Elim for their coffee morning, then Dave Wiles rings to rearrange our lunctime appointment. We end up going to Kuvuka, which is always pleasant. Eventually, I get back to the office and try to do some real work.
I'm about to pack up and go home when the phone rings. The police want to talk with Alan. He is in a meeting, and will be working later. They have a suspect in custody who has learning difficulties, and the need someone to come in and act as an 'Appropriate Adult' for two or three hours. Social Services normally provide someone, but they cannot for some reason; they suggested the Salvation Army; the Salvation Army suggested Alan. I say I'll do it, and they send someone round to pick me up.
It's quite fascinating, in a watching-the-paint-dry kind of way. The interview takes almost exactly 45 minutes, a full cassette tape, and consists of a lengthy series of questions, and the suspect answers 'no comment' to each one. But they have to keep asking follow-up questions as though the earlier ones had been answered, so he has already been asked all the questions they expect to arise in court.
Thus, we get, all about the same detail (the 'this'...), "Can you tell me about [this]?" "No comment." "What can you tell me about [this]?" "No comment." "Were you present at [this]?" "No comment." "Did you do [this]?" "No comment." "Why did you do [this]?" "No comment." "Did anyone make you do [this]?" "No comment." and so on.
The ID parade these days is done by images on a TV screen. They record you looking forwards, to the left, to the right, then straight ahead again. Then your lawyer gets to choose from clips of other people who look similar, and they are all put together for the witnesses. On the walls where the recording is made, they have signs saying 'Left' and 'Right', which doesn't help my chap as he can't read, and he gets it wrong several times.
I'm eventually driven back to my car, which Sue parked this morning, and get home soon after ten. Sue is not impressed. The UK legal system now depends on me to keep it going?
Thursday 27: Sue takes Alan back to Warwick. They leave just before lunch. I have a phone call from the police: two witnesses have identified the suspect, they plan to re-interview him, and they want me to come back in for the interview. A car comes and picks me up, and I spend the rest of the day in Trinity Road.
The interview is shorter than yesterday: no comment to everything, and only a few new questions to ask. I then sit for quite a while someone decides whether they have a good enough case to prosecute. I finish reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. It really is excellent, and I regret not reading it before. The decision to prosecute is made with about an hour to spare, and then he is taken to the police cell, ready for a court hearing tomorrow. Then I'm taken home.
The police men are very grateful, and also intrigued by what I made of all this. They are concerned that I was frustrated and feeling at various times they had forgotten all about me. I assured them I didn't blame them for the system they had to use, but it did seem incredible how much wasted time and delay is built into the system. All the bits make sense, but the whole thing is just absurd. I really admire them: I don't think I could cope with all that waste on a constant basis.
The other surprise is the number of times they are required to repeat the standard caution: "You don't have to say anything..." Not only is it repeated at each stage in the process, but it is explained in detail at the start of each interview.
Back home, there is a birthday cake Ian has brought back from school. 'Someone' made it for him. Okay, that 'someone' was, not surprisingly, a girl. Just a girl. She makes cakes for everyone. He says.
I walk up to Graham's house for the CCM prayer meeting. Just Graham, Alan (Goddard) and Martin, but we have a good time. Sue texts to say she is back home safely, and Alan gives me a lift home.
Friday 28: This afternoon, Charlie Cleverly is a Woodlands for a CET event. He and his wife are wonderful: informative, insightful, relevant. From there, I walk to a company in Clifton, who are offering us a good quality printer, photocopier and fax machine. Sadly, it does not provide all the functionality we need, but it is good to make contact with the lady who made the offer.
And from there, I walk to the FareShare warehouse for a board meeting, where we decide to convert from a CIC to a Limited Company with charitable status. Not being a charity is just too limiting for the work we do.
Sue is driving Philip in to school for the Music Department Ball, so I walk over to the school and she picks me up there. It was a pleasant wait, being serenaded by a string quartet.
I was booked to preach at Hillfields Baptist on Sunday, but they had a mix-up with their newsletter, so after several phone calls I am now booked to go there on 4 May instead.
Wednesday 2: At the Team Meeting today, Trudie formally announces to the team that she is planning to retire at the end of October. Andy regards this as a disaster - Trudie "is" the Crisis Centre, as he sees it. Trudie sees it as an opportunity for the ministry to move forwards, maybe in a new direction. Probably both have an element of truth.
To the health club after work for half an hour in the gym and then a quick sauna, then back to work. Simon is coming in to get Andy's Linux machine up and running again, and to fix the Samba user group settings for the Windows machines. Both go to plan.
On the way home, on the Portway, our car clocks up 30,000 miles - just a few weeks after its third birthday.
Friday 4: Philip has a Physics 'Revision Masterclass' at the university. Don't know how much revision they do, but it sounds fun. They have some kind of link to the folk in Geneva, and find out about the LHC. Philip comes away with a prize for the best question of the day: he wants to know what happens if they fail to find the Higgs boson. I laugh when he tells me this and tell him, they panic. All the current theories depend on finding the Higgs boson - the arguments are about its size, which will (they hope!) confirm one set of theories as opposed to another. He says that they told him it will be a very interesting result, which is more or less saying the same thing in different words.
I lead the Anabaptist Network meeting tonight on the subject of the Church. Lots of interesting thoughts shared. Sue is working in the One25 office, taking phone calls, during this time: it is their 'Night Walk'.
I head back to the office and do some more work, and Sue rings about midnight to say she has been told they don't need either of us, so we can go home. We drive past the Ark and see a few folk, but it all looks fine so we don't stop.
Saturday 5: Prayer Breakfast at St Edyths, then we drive off to Swindon to meet my parents and Roger. We meet at a retail centre, which works pretty well. Apart from the meeting up bit: we arrive first, and Sue and I stand in the cold wind watching the cars drive up. But we miss them, as my father is driving, so they are in the wrong car. It's the first time he has driven on a long journey for... well, I don't know how long, but he is very pleased he could manage it.
So they park and we meet up and then go and get something to eat. Then we wander round the shops. Find a nice and not too expensive briefcase to replace the broken one I've been using for several months - broken for several months, using since Trudie gave it to me when I first started working for CCM. So that is my birthday present sorted from my parents.
Roger has several pictures and other Scouting bits he inherited from Edwin. We took away a few, along with lots of Easter Eggs.
Back to Bristol, I drop Sue and the boys off at home, and head back in to work for a CCM volunteer social. It goes very well, with a person bingo and a daft quiz from Andy to break the ice and get people talking.
Sunday 13: Preaching at St Luke's, Brislington. It goes well, and it is nice to meet Simon and others again. Then back to the Wild Goose, where we have a birthday party for Lyn. Masses of food, prepared by Kelly. We have an entertaining session of hangman - long time since I've played that.
Monday 14: Lunch at FairBridge, then a meeting about excluded children. On the table duing the meeting are bottles of Yorkshire Water. I am fascinated by the labels, which proclaim: "Only available in Yorkshire"! I can't work out what they mean. "It only comes out of the ground in Yorkshire" is true, but hardly seems worth mentioning. "You can only drink it in Yorkshire" is much more interesting, but belied by the fact that we are drinking it in Bristol.
Tuesday 15: Bristol Multi-Faith Forum in the evening, clashing again with the Community Project executive. Philip is at a pub, the Cross Keys in Fishponds, not too far from the Hindu Temple where we are meeting, but the logistics don't work out and I neither deliver nor collect him after all.
Thursday 17: Most of the day is spent in a Jesus in the City meeting to discuss the possibility of doing something to fit in with the event in Edinburgh in 2010, celebrating the centenary of the conference in 1910.
The New Scientist today (19 April 2008, page 15) has a article on the Higgs boson - the 'Higgs particle' as they call it. It's nice to discover that the author agrees with my off-the-cuff assessment (4 April) that they will panic if the paricle is not found. Or, as the article closes, "The scenario that physicists hardly dare contemplate is that the LHC [fails to find the particle in either of the two possible ranges]. Then there will be little to show for the billions of dollars of investment - and the physicists who promoted it will have a lot of explaning to do." But we would cetainly be living in interesting times.
Saturday 19: Sue and I go to Westbury Parish Church at 10:30 for an Organ Recital and coffee and cake in aid of the organ restoration. They are seeking to raise £100,000 in two years to restore their organ. I'm sure it must be worth it. But the recital is well worth attending.
Afterwards, we go through most of the charity shops in Westbury. Put that way, it doesn't sound too bad... And have lunch out. Back home around 3. Westbury is where they arrested a suspect terrorist on Thursday, and the neighbours can't go home yet because the police keep on carrying out 'controlled explosions'. But we don't hear any.
Sunday 20: When my mother rings this evening, she tells me that she and Dad have just booked another trip to the Antipodes. Fifty days, taking in both Australia and New Zealand. A stopover in Singapore on the way out, and in Bangkok on the way back. Leaving 5 January 2009, and returning 24 February. The only problem is that they are struggling to get travel insurance - neither of them has a good health record.
Monday 21: Most of the day is meetings: 8:30 at FareShare, 10:30 in Portland Square for a meeting about the promotion of homosexuality in some Primary Schools under the guise of countering bullying, then to Cliff and Val Jeal at 11:30 for lunch and a good chat in their new home. It's been too long since I sat down with them.
Then in to work, where I am being recorded by Nick Street - Andy's son - for a video about FareShare. The battery dies, but they think they have enough recorded. The hour session will probably be edited down to 30 seconds, anyway.
Philip has received the appointment for his Driving Theory Test: Thursday, 5 June at 4 pm.
Sunday 27: The morning is bright and sunny. Sue and I decide to visit Goldney Hall in Clifton: it is open to the public one day a year, and today is the day. Philip is working, and Ian is not interested.
Just as we are about to set out, the heavens open. Torrential rain, worse than anything I've seen so far this year. But we continue, get soaked, but it is worth the soaking.
The Goldneys were a Quaker family, linked with the start of the Industrial Revolution in Coalbrookdale, who made their money from financing a Privateer. It was sold to a member of the Fry family, then to a Wills, before being passed on to the university.
In the grounds is a tower built to house the very first private steam engine (or 'fire engine', as it was then called) in the world. Plus a grotto that took 27 years to complete, and must be a total nightmare to maintain. The views from the grounds would have been incredible before the trees grew up and Bristol was built.
You can see some photographs of our visit to Goldney Hall in our Facebook album.
My mother rings me at work to say that Dad is in hospital again. He had chest pains yesterday while golfing, came home, got no better. She rang for an ambulance, and they took him in. It sounds like they are not too worried, but she will know more later. She tried ringing home last night, but there is a problem with our telephone line. It did not occur to her to ring our mobiles.
In the evening, go to the Watershed where Nigel from Voscur is having his leaving 'do'. One of the redundances that had to follow from the reduced funding we recieved this year. It's always hard when you have to let people go, especially good people, but he and the others seem to be handling it really well.
In the evening, go to the opening of Not a Penny on the Day, Not a Second on the Day, a show featuring the work of numerous street artists in the old bike salesroom on Stokes Croft. I don't know the artists (no Banksy!) but recognise a number of the pieces. A few really stand out: one of a clown holding a pistol, and another of a ballot paper offering different forms of oppressive rule. And many more vivid and powerful images.
Sunday 4: Preaching at Hillfields this morning, in place of the slot that was postponed a month or two back. Ian and Ann are there, so I get to meet them at long last. It's great to see the church growing and enthusiastic, after it has struggled for so long.
I immedidately feel at home in the service, especially after the standard Anglican service at Harnhill on Friday. Then I realise that 'home' is more than a personal response - it is a prophetic word for the church, so I offer that, and it takes the sermon off in a direction I had not anticipated. But it all fits together very well, and I leave with a deep sense of God's blessing.
Back to the Greenway Centre, where the Henleaze congregation have just held their first Sunday morning service on the premises. We are invited to look round and have a picnic, but there is not much looking round. Anyway, it is good to celebrate with them, and the relationship between the church and the centre looks like it should be a fruitful one.
Monday 5: This morning, Andy Cribbin rings to let us know that John Sinden died in hospital on Friday. We knew about the cancer, and David Race had told us he was in hospital, but even so it is a bit of a shock. John was one of the solid, dependable people at Westborough that you could rely upon. I'm sure that many people are going to miss him.
After lunch, Sue and I go to the Redland May Fair, have an ice cream and bump into a few people. It rains on us a bit, but not too much. Then Sue goes to the Gym for a few hours, while I pop in to work and do a few urgent jobs that were outstanding from last week.
Tuesday 6: Philip has a Maths day at UWE. We were going to take him and a friend, but at the last minute the plans change, his friend's parents take him and Sue leaves work early to collect them instead.
Homegroup tonight: I lead a discussion on evangelism. A bit anxious about this, as I'm used to teaching, training and leading seminars on the subject. I throw out the idea of the three stages: identify, testify and multiply, describe them briefly, and open it up. This seems to work well.
Wednesday 7: We have a lady from the New Economics Foundation come to interview us about the problems our clients have in getting work. We are late starting because she can't get her tape machine to work. But it is a really useful session. If half the stuff we say gets in to the final report, it could be a major step forward.
Sue and I have lunch at Teohs, then off to Frenchay Hospital where she has a follow-up appointment from the scan in January. We have not known what to expect, as the arrangement was that they would only call her in if there was something to report, but January to May rather suggests a lack of urgency. As it turns out, she has been called in for a consultation that is not a consultation, to give her the news that there is no news to give her, other than the news that there is no news. She has not been worrying about it, but we are both frustrated by the fact that we have taken a hospital appointment that someone who actually needed it could have had.
In the evening, I go to Trinity Tabernacle, for a surprise birthdy party to celebrate Clive Richards' 60th birthday. I have never been to a surprise party before. How they kept it secret from Clive, I can't begin to imagine. We are to be there at 7:30, so that Andy can bring Clive a short while later. They actually join us almost exactly at 8 pm. It is a strange experience to be in a room with lots of people all trying to be completely silent, waiting for Andy and Clive to arrive.
Saturday 10: Volunteer training this morning: Faith and Social Action. It was a wonderful experience - the folk present really saw the connection between faith and the service we provide, and between faith and how we live in the wider world. It was one of the most exciting experiences of the year to date.
After lunch, pack my bag and head off to Woodcroft Christian Centre in South Wales, near Chepstow, for the second half of the Highgrove Men's Weekend Away - it clashed with the volunteer training. Arrive in time for tea, then we have the evening session in which several people reflect on the wonderful input given by the speakers at the two previous sessions. Then a pleasant evening in the local hostelry.
Sunday 11: The morning session is another time of reflection on the wonderful first two sessions. Short walk: the scenery is astonishing, with a view over the top of a cliff overlooking a bend in the river Wye. Sunday lunch... what can I say? Three choices of roast meat, with stuffing and all the trimmings. Adrian did us proud.
You can see some photographs of the walk in our Facebook album.
Monday 12: Dr Silvey at 9 am. He has the letter from the endocrinologist, but it does not say explicitly that I should have the injections increased from every six to every four weeks, and as BNF says the dose should be every ten to fourteen weeks, he is not happy going ahead without explicit approval. It sounds like they each want the other to take responsibility, in case it goes horribly wrong. Have the injections as usual, and arrange to meet again in four weeks.
Tuesday 13: the Bristol Multi Faith Forum this evening, an extra meeting, is solely concerned with the problem in the local schools caused by the inept attempt at introducing an anti-homophobic bullying policy. Lots of very difficult issues and questions to consider, with very strong views on each side, but I think we produce a statement that really does help to move the situation on, and out of the deadlock they seem to be stuck in. Philip Nott and Richard MacKay were both very impressive, thoughtful and constructive in their contributions.
Wednesday 14: Drug Awareness training in Weston-super-Mare in the morning. A useful reminder of various bits, and some thoughts to ponder, so a worthwhile time. Sadly, my friend Philip is not leading the session.
In the evening, the volunteer training on Faith and Social Action is another brilliant session - encouraging and exciting, refreshing and challenging.
Friday 23: Sue goes off with her mother to Warrington, for her cousin Gilian's wedding tomorrow. She drives me in to work, planning to do some work herself before picking her mother up from Temple Meads at 11:15. But then I forgot my phone, she forgot the camera battery charger, and then then drops her phone down the toilet, so it all gets rather complicated.
We get a message saying that her father is not feeling too well, so he had called for an ambulance and is being taken into hospital.
Monday 26: Philip and Ian go over to St Edyths Road in the morning and help Esme move house. It's all done by lunchtime. Sue visits her father in hopspital in Reading, then drives home. We have both booked this week as holiday, so neither have to go in to work tomorrow.
Tuesday 27: Sue takes Ian off to Swindon, to meet Pip and one of her boys at the shopping centre there, to do some important shopping. Ian comes back with along sleeved top which he will deign to wear, so the trip was a success.
Wednesday 28: Sue and I do some last minute tidying and packing, then head off for a couple of days in Dartmoor, staying again at Pitstone. We stop for lunch in Sainsbury's in Bridgewater, then get lost heading back to the motorway.
We arrive safely, unpack a bit, have a swim and a sauna, then walk to the 'local' - a mile away in Ilsington - for a very nice meal.
When we arrive at Canonteign, we remember having visited before - at least, having got as far as the car park. We have vague memories of another cloudy day, and being put off by the price of admission. Anyway, this time we decide to press on.
The falls are supposed to be the highest in the country. They are certainly impressive, but I can't imagien how you measure the height, as they tumble down a hillside from one splashing pool to another.
At the top, we get talking to a nice couple from Street and take their photo, then as we leave a family group tuens up with a grandfather and four grandchildren. One, a girl, is in flip-flops, and somehow loses one in the stream which flows over the edge. We are both in walking boots, and glad of them. Why would you allow a child to climb in anything so unsuitable?
The way down is much easier, but as soon as we start to return it begins to rain. We have lunch in the café and then walk round the lower parts of the grounds. They have a quirky mixture of standard information about the flora and fauna, poems about the wildlife (including one on the Snail by John Bunyan, which we did not know before) and odd signs (one tree said, "I'm lonely - hug me").
The sun comes out for a few minutes as we are getting back in the car, but soon disappears. We go to Widdecombe, because I want to show Sue the church there.
When we arrive, around 4:30, there's a Craft Fair just about to close, so we go in and get a present each for my mother and Pip. Then the church, with its roof bosses and the story of the thunderstorm which brought down the tower in the middle of a service.
We wander round Widdecombe, then eat in the Old Inn. We have a voucher giving us free drinks with a main meal. The food is quite excellent, the service is very prompt and the surroundings are tasteful. One to remember.
Back to Pitstone for another swim and sauna, which we finish in time to watch House with our host.
Friday 30: Another full English breakfast, then packing, a leisurely final swim and sauna, and we are off. First to the new Visitor Centre at Hay Tor - only open a week - and then we drive to the next car park and walk up the Tor from there. In the car park, we get another few moments of sunshine.
The plan is to have lunch at the excellent restaurant at the House of Marbles, but when we arrive they have a queue stretching out of the door, so we go round the Factory Shop first. Then food, and up to the massive 'Marble Run' covering one wall and using Pool balls. We can watch it for hours.
Up the motorway, and back to the Sainsbury's in Bridgewater, checking our suspicion about where we went wrong on the way down. Have a coffee and buy an Orchid for Esme as a gift for her new home. Then back home. have the boys missed us? Have they even noticed we were away? Actually, Philip had some friends round: they were going to have a barbecue, but the weather got in the way, so they brought the food to our house and Ian cooked it. The kitchen was remarkably tidy. We were impressed.
Saturday 31: Sue goes off with Esme on the Highgrove Womens Day. In the post is a letter from my doctor, with a copy of a letter from the Endocrinologist saying that he should comply with BNF and inject me every ten weeks. Not sure where that leaves me, or the need to increase my dose. Ian goes out to a cricket match, and I go out for a Community Cohesion event at the Friends Meeting House in the Gloucester Road.
I am doing a short talk about models of good practice for Community Cohesion, which goes down well. It probably helps that I speak about the subject, rather than using the time to go on about how wonderful my organisation is.
Sunday 1: After church, Sue and I have a quick sandwich, take Philip to work, then on to Cribbs, where we buy her birthday present: a SatNav system. The cheapest in the shop, but it should do the job. She borrowed one for the trip to Warrington, and fell in love. It is called 'Sally'.
Friday 6: MRI scan first thing. It has been rearranged at the last minute for the hospital on Lodge Causeway, as the MRI at Southmead has broken down and it was move or postpone for a long time. The pre-scan interview is conducted in the car park because they are only just setting up and haven't found anywhere better to have private conversations yet - it was a choice between standing in the car park and sitting in the waiting area. They were very apologetic.
The scanner is in a portacabin in the car park: one room for the monitoring equipment, and one room for the scanner. Afterwards, I see some pictures of my brain. They show me the pituitary gland: it is 'a beautiful shape'. Not many people can claim that. I am back in the car and about to drive away when I realise that they didn't give me back my belt. I go back and they find it - again, very apologeitc. Then drive in to work.
At lunchtime, I drive to Keynsham for lunch with Dave Wiles, then on to see a lady in Andrews estate agents, who wants to find out about the links between homelessness and bad parenting.
When I get home, Sue drives off to Newbury, to see her parents, and stays the night.
Walk over to Tesco, where Sue joins me, and we do the shopping. Nothing significant to report on her parents.
I have had a hormone problem for the last four years, which has steadily been getting worse. One of the symptoms is sweating, and for most of last year this was pretty bad: in the daytime, I was sweating enough to soak my shirt most days, and every night I was sweating so much I would have to get up two or three times a night, for an hour or more each time. The various medical treatments were having no effect. Several people said they believed that my situation would require continued, ongoing prayer, and many people were praying regularly, sometimes daily, for me. At the beginning of December, the sweating improved almost overnight, over the first weekend. On the Monday, I slept through the night for the first time that year. This improvement has been maintained. The Doctor said that "we probably should assume that the treatment is finally taking effect," while the Endocrinologist admitted that the improvement "probably has nothing to do with the treatment." They are still trying to work out how to treat me, and I would appreciate continued prayer for other aspects of the condition, but we praise God for dealing with the symptom that was causing the greatest immediate difficulty.
Pam's neighbour was sitting along the row from us, and was obviously moved by the service. At the end, Sue went off to get the coffees, and pushed me over to chat with him. I asked how he was, and we had quite a conversation.
He was really touched by the service and by the sermon. He knew Rob led a church, but thought Pam was 'just the vicar's wife.' He didn't realise she was a 'real preacher and everything'!
We talked briefly about the usual areas of science and how people explain away the resurrection. He was very open to finding out more, and I said Pam and Rob would be very happy to talk about the issues that concern him, as would I.
He said quite a bit about some personal concerns. I said that we are all damaged, imperfect people, but when we give our lives to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us to guide us and to change us one little step at a time, into the people God intended us to be. It's not a case of trying really hard to be a better person, but of allowing God to make us better people, and to co-operate with Him in this process. And, as he heard in my testimony, God does answer prayer and do things that we can't do.
Thursday 12: The CCM staff go out for our Not-The-Christmas-Meal this lunchtime. Sadly, Trudie is off sick and can't join us. Steve and Martin were both invoted, but Martin is working away from home, so only Steve joins us at the Tapas Bar on the Triangle. They are wonderfully entertaining people, and it is a shame we don't get to spend more time together socially.
Andy has saved some Christmas crackers for the meal, which works perfectly from a numeric point of view as there are six of us present. They are quality crackers with an African theme, and contain the expected paper hat and trinket but no joke. Instead, there is a small informative article about an African animal.
This is the text of my article. Remember, it is in a Christmas cracker, designed to be read at a festive Christmas meal, possibly by a fairly small child. "Leopard. Zulu: Ingwe. Leopards are shy solitary creatures - cunning and far more silent than lions. It alone, among the small cats, can survive and even thrive, close to human habitation [So be careful - you will probably never even hear it coming!] A leopard paralyses its prey with a bite through the back of the neck that damages the spinal cord. It then strangles the prey with its powerful jaws. Leopards can lift a carcass of their own weight into a tree [So they willhave no trouble with a small child, right?]. They lap blood readily as it satisfies their moisture requirement, and are not dependent on water but will drink it when available." Have a nice meal!
Friday 13: This morning, Alan and I go round the corner to view a possible new property on Stokes Croft, but it turns out to be much too small. But the Estate Agent has a few more possibilities coming up, and says he will let us know.
Sunday 14: After church, I go into the kitchen and find John Stevens sitting in a chair, in agony. He was putting something into the dishwasher and his back went. Eventually, he is able to stand, and we arrange a lift in a high vehicle while Sue drives his car home, and I drive ours to meet her there. He has a walking stick at home, given to him at his recent birthday. It turns out to have been a prophetic gift.
Monday 16: After work, I go round to visit John at home to see how the invalid is doing, and because I failed to meet him last Friday. He is hobbling around much better, and we talk about 'The Shock Doctrine' by Naomi Klein, which I recently finished.
Friday 20: After work, I go to hear Baroness Warsi, who is speaking at the BDA. I am very impressed by the lady. She has a clear and consistent message about community cohesion, which many people will not want to hear, but on all the important issues she talked about it seems she has got the most vital aspects right. I would love to have a copy of the talk she gave, and the answers she gave to those who disagreed with her afterwards.
It turns out to be an excellent day, with a good balance of social time, solid discussion and prayer. But, of course, there is more work to do as a result...
Monday 23: Sue is not feeling too good when we travel in to work in the morning, and mid-morning she phones and asks me to take her home at lunchtime - after she has completed the most important and urgent jobs, of course.
I take her home, then drive back down to ADH to spend an hour or so with Pam S-C. As always, it is an enjoyable and encouraging session: partly talking about a minor issue I promised to discuss with her several years ago, and partly talking about the possibility of doing some evangelism training at Highgrove next year.
Tuesday 24: Sue and I visit the endocrinologist. We see the man himself, Doctor Johnson. To our surprise, the last blood test shows my testosterone in the normal range, so he says the treatment is working, therefore the plan to have injections evey ten to twelve weeks is right.
It makes no sense. Firstly, the last test was taken about the same time after the previous injection as the previous few tests, so as far as the tests are concerned, I have not yet changed from every six weeks to every ten to twelve weeks. Secondly, giving me less testosterone is not going to increase the level in my blood. And thirdly, the last person we saw was very clear that the dose needed to be increased, not decreased. He responds to the last point: the doctor I saw was inexperienced. He refuses to reply to the other points, several times, choosing to try to blind me with irrelevent science instead: measuring free testosterone in my blood is expensive and they don't have the equipment, so they measure the bound testosterone instead. It is interesting background, but not relevant to my question. If they are going to ignore the results, there is not much point in doing the tests, and if the tests say anything reliable, what they say is the opposite of what he claims. If injections every six weeks is finally working after all this time, it makes no sense to change the treatment.
What he is not saying is that they have been contravening the published guidelines, and now someone has pointed that out, they can't continue. And he can't admit this, because he is afraid that if something goes wrong further down the line, I might sue them for malpractice. I won't but he can't be sure of that.
Instead of dealing with the testosterone problem, he decides to attack the symptom, and plans to give me something to increase the calcium in my bones. I have to take it on an empty stomach and then stay upright for an hour, or it will rot my guts. Not terribly keen on this treatment, but if it stops my bones falling to pieces...
We both leave feeling terribly frustrated. He clearly didn't want me to be asking any questions, and really didn't like me understanding what he said and asking relevant questions about it. It increasingly looks like they just don't understand what is going on in my body, and don't want to admit it. At least my own doctor is honest when he says he does not understand what is happening - I can cope with that.
Ian has a service at school, then goes off to Glastonbury. I have a Muller Partnerships morning, and Sue drives his gear in to him at school. After lunch, Sue and I go and watch Prince Caspian at the Orpheus. Very enjoyable. I loved the scene towards the end, when you get a massive army meeting by a riverside and the head of the army riding over the bridge on his horse, very menacing and military... and then a very small Lucy steps out of the shadows at the far side of the bridge, both powerless and invincible. Brilliant.
And Alan now has a first-class degree, or he would have if he had not converted to a four-year MEng. So just one year left to go for him at university.
Friday 27: the Anabaptist Network this evening is considering the final 'core conviction' - peace. And we have the Kreiders joining us for the evening, too. It is almost a perfect evening. We sit around afterwards and reminisce about the days in Guildford with Denzil Road and all that was happening around there. Memories...
Alan Goddard and I go to visit Inishfree on their open day. Alan drives. Very impressed by the place: a good balance of healthy working and personal development, in a friendly but structured environment. And caring staff.
Sue manages to spill coffee over her hand in the hospital, so goes to casualty and gets it bound up. The plan was for us to meet at Cribbs and go shopping, but this rather delays her, so I go home instead.
Sunday 29: I'm at Christ Church, Clifton, for two services today. Graham is being interviewed in one, and Alan in the other. Very impressed by both services. The worship is great: enthusiastic and accessible. But for some reason they mess around with some familiar song words. The prayers are simple, powerful and compassionate - clearly very well prepared, but also very relevant both to the service and to world events.
The preaching was also straightforward and relevant, and in the morning we were given two post-it notes to write down responses to the sermon, which were gathered up and then we had a question-and-answer session about the sermon and people's responses after the service. Absolutely brilliant.
Monday 30: FareShare first thing, 8:30 am. A grim time, especially if I want any breakfast before setting out, but it is the only time people can meet. Saw the first draft of the publicity video Andy's son is producing - most impressive.
In the afternoon, I am invited to a Ministry of Justice consultation on the governance of Britain. It is mostly civil cervants, but there is a very impressive professor from the university on my table.
It is a very strange event in various ways. But what is most unusual is that all the subversive ideas I come up with are supported by everyone on our table. Proportional representation? The only sane way to elect people. Individual voter registration? Of course! And so on. I'm just not used to people agreeing with me like this...
Of course, it did not end that way. Another table were talking about the proposed Bill of Rights, so I made the point that no Bill of Rights can articulate all my present rights, since I am currently free to do anything that is not explicitly prohibited by Parliament. The chap running the event, predictably, didn't like this. But in his response he implicitly accepted that it was the case.