Because we are not going home tonight, we can stay right to the end with a clear conscience. Good plan. The music goes on till late, and it is worth staying for.
Monday 2 July: We pack up and drive to Guildford, where we have arranged to have lunch with David Race. His father has just been presented with the Maundy Money in York Minster, and he has three short TV clips recorded which show him in line, receiving the money from the Queen.
David lends me a book he recently bought: Why Beliefs Matter. I promise to read it and let him know what I think.
We have two new staff starting at CCM this morning, our Office Manager is on holiday, and various bits of preparation seem to be outstanding, so the morning doesn't quite start as planned.
In the evening, Sue and I go to the private viewing of the Clifton Arts Club annual exhibition. One of Sue's friends has some work on display. We struggle to find her work, then Sue meets her and discovers she exhibits under her maiden name. It's a large exhibition, and quite noisy; Sue flags towards the end, but we are glad we went.
In the evening, we drive towards Coventry. We are staying in a hotel for the night, to be in the area for Philip's graduation tomorrow.
Monday 16 July: up at 7, breakfast at 7.30, finish packing and out of the hotel around 8.30 am. The satnav takes us in to Stoneleigh Park, which is where we need to be, according to the instructions, but clearly there is nobody around. Fortunately, a jogger - who keeps jogging as he gives us directions - tells us where to go. We need the other entrance, on the other side of the estate, and there is no internal road so we have to go round the outside.
We park, and catch the next Park and Ride bus to campus. A gentleman on the seat in front of us speculates that this is the point where we discover that our offspring dropped out of university several years ago, and has been spending the money on parties instead - we might arrive and discover nobody waiting for us, and the university denying all knowledge of them. It's an interesting idea.
The bus arrives, and we run through the pouring rain. Alan arranged better weather for his graduation. Despite the man's fears, we find Philip, Roger and parents pick up some tickets, and we grab a quick coffee before going in.
The ceremony is fine, and the choir very entertaining.
Afterwards, we go to a pub for a meal together, then Roger and parents go home and we pack Philip's things into the car. We drive home; Philip is going to cycle home tomorrow.
Tuesday 17 July: a long day. Voscur have an EGM in the morning, to do the formal bits about Voscur becoming a charity. Then a Voscur board meeting in the afternoon, and a Resources committee meeting afterwards. Get regular updates on Philip's progress through the day.
Philip finally reaches home just before 2 am. How is he? Tired.
Thursday 19 July: massages in the morning, followed by a BMFF Steering Group at lunchtime and a Eucharist at the Sisters of the Church in the evening. Manage to get a bit of work done in between the meetings.
Friday 20 July: in the evening, Sue and I go to see the latest Batman film. A bit of a disappointment: lots of action, but the plot really doesn't work. The twist deception makes no sense in the context of the film, and it ends with Batman retiring. And it does not help that we just can't hear much of the mumbled dialogue.
Suzannah and Ralph get married, which is a lovely event. We don't know Suzannah really, but David and Karen, her parents, are wonderful people. Sue and I help with serving refreshments, as part of their Housegroup.
After the wedding activity is over, we have a short break then on to St Marys Stoke Bishop for another Landfill Banquet.
Monday 23 July: back to see Dr Silvey first thing, following up on the meeting with the nurse. It's not right that I am constantly feeling sick at night, but I have a choice: live with it, or go for an investigation. An endoscopy will not be a nice experience, but it is probably the best way to decide if I have a hiatus hernia or something more serious.
Friday 27 July: induction at Ivy church in the afternoon. Good opportunity to touch base with a number of folk, but I get collared by a former client who wants to complain about various injustices, so the opportunity to mingle is limited.
Thursday 2 August: there is a local cream tea in aid of CCM put on by folk at St Marys, so Sue and I go along. Alan G is speaking, but there is no space in the room so we sit outside and miss what he has to say. It's a pleasant event, but I find lots of small talk very tiring.
Thursday 16 August: massages in the morning, then share a spagetthi bolognaise with Philip and Ian. During the meal, the Reviber arrives, but there is no time to unpack it before a meeting at Kensington Baptist.
In the evening, Sue and I go to see the Bourne Legacy: a decent action film as long as you don't think about the plot. Home again, and there is a message on the answering machine from my mother: her recent test have come back and she is fine.
The journey is fine, and it is great to see Chris again and be shown around the farm. They are clearly doing a wonderful work, and people's lives are being changed, but there seems to be an astonishing number of partly-finished projects. Chris is glad he moved there, and we really hope it works out well for him.
Sue rings me: we have been offered tickets for the 'Lion King' dress rehearsal at the Hipodrome tonight.
The plan was that I would grab a quick sauna when we get back to Bristol, but we are a bit too late returning and that needs to be put on hold.
We pick up Esme, drive to Trenchard Street and park. The show is brilliant. The set is not as impressive as the London stage, but there seem to be a few details added in to the performances since we saw it, which add to the enjoyment. And we see the cast being taught how to do the stage bow at the end.
Friday 31 August: in the evening, there is a barn Dance to raise money for Joanna Stapley and her training to work for MAF. Sue and I take Esme. It's a pleasant evening. The caller is not terribly good, but there is a brilliant pianist who entertains us in the break, and who does requests. Sue asks for Widor's Toccata, and we are delighted by the result.
Sue meets Pip, Barbara and her mother. I stay at home and try to tidy up, sort out and throw stuff away. Some success, but it is slow work.
Wednesday 5 September: a busy day, meeting people in the morning, ACTS at lunchtime, and the Voscur board meeting in the afternoon. Then back to work to finish off preparing the training notes for Saturday. This turns out to be a longer job than planned, and it is past midnight when I finally leave.
During the evening, I am aware that there is something not quite right about the left side of my forehead; I assume it is some form of spot, or maybe a slight rash. In any case, I'm too tired to worry about it by the time I get home.
Thursday 6 September: am supposed to be attending the BMFF conference on Dying today. But when I get up, something is clearly wrong - the left side of my forehead is very swollen. Phone the doctor and get an appointment for late morning.
The doctor can't work out what the problem is, so the default assumption is some kind of infection, and I get a prescription for penicillin. If it works, fine; if not, come back.
I would have had to leave the conference early in any case, as I have an appointment at 4 pm for an endoscopy - they are finally checking up on the reason for me feeling sick at night.
Sue drives me to the clinic at Westbury-on-trym, where I'm booked for the procedure. After half an hour waiting, I ask at the desk if they can tell me how long the delay is likely to be. I am informed that my appointment is for 4.15 - they just tell me to be there at 4 to make sure I am on time. And they are only running half an hour behind schedule, so they are basically on time. Try not to get too irritated.
At around 4.45, we go in. They take my blood pressure (132/81) and gather a few more details of my medical history. Then Sue is dismissed, and I go into another waiting room, and after a while into the treatment room.
They promise to anaesthetise my note and gastric tract, but this does not work too well. Pushing the tube down my nose varies between extremely uncomfortable to the very painful. I manage to swallow on demand, but once the tube is in place, they pump some oxygen into my stomach, and I'm then retching on an empty stomach - having had nothing to eat or drink since 10 am. All in all, not a pleasant experience. By the time the tube is out again, I am drenched in sweat. One of my most unpleasant experiences for a long time.
I am taken into another room to recover, and given a little water to sip - not too much, or I might throw up, which would not be nice. My nose is bleeding, not very much, but it continues to bleed through the rest of the evening.
The doctor comes through. He is very pleased with the procedure - the images were good, and he did not find anything unexpected. So I have a Hiatus Hernia. He gives me a letter with all the details - very impressive - and tells me to go and see my doctor in a few days to discuss my treatment. He answers a few questions: it looks like I will have a few more tablets to take each day.
Sue is waiting for me. It is just 6 pm, and I am very grateful to have her drive me home.
Friday 7 September: in the morning, I am feeling dreadful. Not sure how much it is the endoscopy, and how much my face. The swelling has got worse, and I can't really see anything out of my left eye. But I need to go in to work - some things just will not wait, and I'm not infectious or incapable of working.
Sunday 9 September: Sue and I skip church to have brunch with the boys late morning - it is the only time we can get all three of them together. We go to the Boston Tea Party in Whiteladies Road, just down from where Ian was living last year. It's lovely to see them, and see them together. Sadly, Ian has to dash off far too soon, to go to work.
Monday 10 September: Sue and I go to see Dr Silvey first thing, and he confirms most of what I remember from last Thursday. There's a tablet to empty my stomach faster, and another to reduce the acidity. But neither on repeat prescription yet - need to go back and confirm that they are working.
In the evening, Sue and I go to see Anna Karenina at the Odeon. To be honest, she enjoys it more than I do. The film is beautiful, clever and very arty; but for me it is just too self-conscious. As is the society in whch they live, as Sue points out. All the intricate movements are quite fascinating and impressive, the choreograpny and photography and general achievement is breathtaking, but it does not move me.
But to be fair, there are many moments in the film which remain, and it is worth seeing just for those moments: reading a letter while being dressed; changing between inside and outside coats; a servant bringing an ashtray at just the right moment; Anna saying that she will go to see the race, and her husband, admitting that he has lost and correcting her, all in a single word: "Races." All quite exquisite.
I attend the OAC lunch and AGM at St Mary's. Lovely to see so many old friends, and have time to catch up with them.
The traffic is dreadful after the bridge, and the sat nav takes us on one major detour, then we join the motorway for a bit, and exit again the near side of Cardiff. We then drive through Cardiff to reach the far side. Not entirely convinced it was faster.
Once we park, we go to find our room and discover that we have walked round all four sides of the building, and are just overlooking the car park and our vehicle.
After the meal, there is an opportunity to spend time together playing games. I eventually persuade one chap to have a game of Go with me. He says he enjoys the experience, and several other people are intrigued by the game, so a good promotional opportunity.
Ian is heading off to Spain for a holiday. With a friend. Just a friend.
In the evening, Sue and I go to see Hope Springs at the Orpheus. Both very funny and very realistic
Wednesday 26 September: the Voscur AGM. We have most of the mayoral candidates joining us, which produces some interesting discussions and thoughts. "We ought to be trusting you to do the job you want to do." "How much money is being spent on tendering?"
I really need to get hold of a copy of The Spirit Level and read it...
Promise to write to Jon Rogers and itemise for him the issues my organisation faces.
It's an interesting action film. The plot is entirely driven by the main character's love for the woman in his life, in each of the two realities.
We get confused at first, thinking we had been shown the main character being sent back in time on three occasions, but then I realise that the extended sequence is a flash-back, and the third time he returns is actually the first time as we see it in the film. Then it all makes sense - as much as it needs to.
Monday 1 October: long and confused board meeting this evening, with people jumping all round the agenda. But we get all the work done, and it looks like we will go ahead with the Spring of Hope Building project.
In the evening, we have the formal signing up to the 5K Partnership at ISR. I am representing at least three different organisations at this event.
The Grace Conference at Kensington starts this evening.
Saturday 6 October: attend the Grace Conference all day, which means I miss the Men's Breakfast at Highgrove. Can't do everything. Lots of interesting conversations with people, and lots of resources being made freely available. It is very impressive.
Tuesday 9 October: in the evening, there is a meal in Clifton, hosted by Roger Allen, with the theme of 'Politics and Social Action'. We are rather preaching to the choir, but it is an enjoyable and encouraging evening. Shame that parking in Clifton is so hard.
In the evening, Sue and I take Philip to the Orpheus to see 'Untouchable'. Not sure what to say. At times the humour is very non-pc, but in a good way. The ending is very predictable, but what else could they do? Overall, immensely enjoyable.
Saturday 20 October: it is Barbara's birthday celebration today - Sue's older sister. Sue and I drive to the Highwayman pub somewhere near Reading to join her family for lunch. Our Philip didn't want to join us, for some reason. I decide to do this rather than the Men's Conference at Woodlands.
The lunch goes well, and Sue's packaging of Barbara's birthday present is very much enjoyed.
After lunch, Peter has to return; but the rest of us go on to Basildon House for the afternoon. A beautiful Georgian building but with an odd hidden entrance staircase. The National Trust are clearly doing a lot of work on the grounds. They have deer, but we don't see any.
In the afternoon, Sue joins me for the ACTS One World Week service at Parkway. Eric Aido is there, and is introduced as the new, soon-to-be-inducted pastor at City Road.
Monday 22 October: the CCM AGM, including the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol presenting us with the Queen's Award. Various frustrations with the practical arrangements for the event, but it goes off well for most folk, and the public recognition of our work is very encouraging.
When she gets back, we both drive out to Stapleton, to view a house which will be auctioned next Wednesday. Jonnie and Karen from the Wild Goose and Clare from the board join us. It is an exciting prospect. The building is wonderful, and the location is perfect. It is exactly what I want to come on to the market in 3 or 4 years time, when we will be (I hope...) geared up to handle a project of this size.
In the afternoon, Sue and I take Philip to the Orpheus to see Skyfall. Ian is working, so we get to see him, and it gives Philip a chance to say goodbye to the people there before he disappears to London.
We enjoy the film. It doesn't have the spectacular scenes of airliners exploding or oil refineries blowing up, and we think it's a better film as a result. More human, and more engaging.
Sunday 28 October: Sue and I skip church this morning. We take Philip and Ian out to brunch at the Boston Tea Party near Ian's previous flat. Philip has booked a place in a hostel near his new job. He will be in a dormitory with a locker for his belongings, not that he has much: he is carrying a rucsac and a small empty bag. The hostel doesn't have a kitchen or catering facilities, but it does have Wifi. All the essentials for the modern traveller. Oddly, we spend a lot of time talking about taxes, tax codes and tax returns.
Ian seems to be working hard, both at the university studies and at the Orpheus. He takes his leave, and soon after we also depart. We get Philip to the station about 11.50, just in time for the 12.00 train to London. We stand and watch his train pull away from the station, and wave goodbye even though he can't see us.
This is harder than leaving him at university for the first time. Possibly because it is permanent. Possibly, in part, because he is doing something nobody in the family has, to our knowledge, ever done: moving to a job somewhere new, where he does not know anybody or have a set of contacts lined up. And he is moving to London, which seems even scarier. But he is confident and looking forward to it, so that's okay.
Sue leaves me at Temple Meads, where I catch a train to Redland and walk to the gym for a sauna. The plan was for me to catch another train home, but when I get out there is a message from Sue asking me to meet her in Broadmead.
We meet up over a coffee in Debenhams, then do the craft market in the middle of Broadmead. Several purchases for Christmas, so Sue is happy. Or as happy as she can be with her middle son on his way to a new life in London.
Monday 29 October: we pray for Philip in the lunchtime prayer meeting at Pip 'n' Jay; at the end of the meeting, there is a text message from Sue saying that Philip has found a house and moves in next Saturday.
Walk to the One25 AGM in the evening. Nice location just by Bristol bridge, but very corporate.
Friday 9 November: I have a difficult meeting with Tricia Davis from BFH. We had understood that they had pulled out of the joint venture, as they had failed to tell us the details that made it uneconomical as a project untill after all the work had been done. But, no, they were assuming that we still have a project even though the project we were talking about is dead. I get through the meeting, and we part on friendly terms.
Saturday 17 November: Sue and I drive to Winchester, where I am providing some training for some churches there. I am the third speaker. One is dreadful: academic, largely irrelevant, and a boring monotone. The other is wonderful - a real character, great stories, vibrant faith, deep love for Jesus. I'm probably somewhere in the middle - not as entertaining and exciting as the second, but more content, theology and principles to work by. Really enjoyable time.
In the evening, Jim Newton-Smith has his retirement party at Circomedia, starting at 7.30. We are less than an hour late, which is very impressive. Lots of familiar faces to chat with, and a buffet meal halfway through the evening. The music is rather loud and not really our thing, for the first part, but after a while we get a quieter and more melodic offering. All in all, very pleasant.
We make our excuses around 10.30, and drive off to a B&B near the airport. Very civilised.
Saturday 8 December: Sue and I go for lunch to the Cafe on the Square. It's a beautiful day, blue skies and warm. As we arrive, we see people sitting at a table outside the cafe. It's December, and they don't appear to be wrapped up.
Lunch is good as usual. We both have the jacket potato with cheese and bacon, followed up by a slice of tiffin. Afterwards, Sue goes off with Esme to stuff envelopes for the SLR, and I drive down for a quick sauna.
After the sauna, I go to Trinity Tabernacle for the meeting with Melvin Banks. It's very odd: he looks rather like I remember Arthur Askey, and his musician is the splitting image of the late Malcolm Wideccombe.
The first part of the meeting is rather less structured than I expected, but it is at least consistent in the sense that we alternate between expecting everyone present to be a Christian ("We all believe ...", "We all know the words of this song ...") and expecting everyone present to be seeking salvation, or at the very least wanting to rededicate our lives to the Lord.
Melvin continues this approach, which from a pragmatic point of view probably works very well. He is very much an evangelist from the old school. Clearly, many people have been saved and healed through his ministry; but he does not distinguish between someone repeating a prayer and actually encountering Jesus. I'm glad he has come to Bristol, but I'm also glad that CCM did not host the meeting after all.
Sunday 9 December: Sue and I go to the 9 am Advent service at Highgrove, which means we are on time for the 10.30 main service. Sue does the Global Partnerships slot, talking about and showing pictures of Dennis and Charmian. Nicely balanced update for those who are familiar with their ministry, and an introduction for those who don't know them.
Wednesday 26 December: a relaxed day. In the evening, we take the boys to the Brewery Theatre, near the Tobacco Factory, to see 'Magic Matters' - a mixture of magic show and science lecture. The performer is very good. We manage to work out how he did some of the tricks, but are totally stumped on most of them. Good, clean entertainment, including the only live performance of Tom Lehrer's song, 'The Elements' I have ever heard. "There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium, | And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium ..." Very impressive.
Thursday 27 December: packing, then up to London in the van. Alan drives the first part, then I take over. Very late lunch at Membury services. We had planned to go up the M3, but the traffic is queuing to get on and completely solid going into London, so we continue down to Guildford and up the A3. Sue takes over the the last part of the journey.
Arrive at my parents, and do the presents. A quick bite, then we take the boys to Philip's place and unload all his stuff. Sue and I had not appreciated that there is no lounge, only a shared kitchen. A bit cramped, but otherwise not bad.
We leave the boys to unpack and sort out, and drive on to the Travelodge near London Airport. There are no car parking spaces, but a guard tells us to park near some service machinery. Finally get into our room at a little past 1 am.
Mum has an appointment at the hospital to look at a spot on the side of her nose, so after breakfast Roger drives Sue and Mum to the hospital while I drive off for a sauna at Crook Log.
The hospital says the spot is nothing to worry about, but they will burn it off some time in the new year.
In the afternoon, we go to a garden centre and wander around the shop. This works fairly well, and between us we manage to keep an eye on Father so he doesn't get lost when he wanders off.
Saturday 29 December: off to the Science Museum. They have an exhibition about Alan Turing. Instead of us collecting them and travelling up together from Eltham the boys go directly there, and arrive just a few minutes after us.
First thing is lunch. Father struggles with this. It is probably too crowded and noisy for him. He takes his injection, but then gets the cap stuck inside something else and spends nearly half an hour getting more and more frustrated as he fails to get it out. He hardly eats anything, which is not good news after taking his insulin.
We get to Westborough - as planned - after the service had ended, and spend the best part of an hour catching up with various old friends. Pauline is there, as is Tom with his new wife. Sue has visited a couple of times in the past few years, but I have not managed it in at least five years, as that is now long the 'new' minister has been there.
After Westborough, round to David for lunch. We order pizza, then spend a lovely few hours catching up on news and just talking. And Alan manages to solve a wire puzzle which David had given up on, which was very satisfying.
Monday 31 December: a fairly early start. We pack up and leave the Travelodge, then drive over to Pip and the boys. Sue is taking the boys and Pip's family out to lunch at a Wetherspoons, and I drop them off fairly near the pub, then drive on to the racetrack to grab a sauna.
The journey is not straightforward. I get stuck behind a Tesco van, and squeeze through when the driver folds in his wing mirror. Then the road I want to drive down no longer exists - it is now a building site, so I need to take a detour.
Get to the Nuffield Fitness place in the end, and the sauna is excellent, if a little small. A friendly place: people clearly know each other and the plans they had for Christmas.
Drive the van to the pub, then Sue takes Pip's family home and collects her mother. We have lunch together, then take Alan and Philip to the railway station.
We take Sue's mother home, then go in and spend a few hours reading and doing small jobs while Sue sets up the new computer. It all goes pretty well.
It is pouring and dark when we leave, and I manage to step in firstly a small puddle and then a big one. The car park has potholes I should be aware of, Sue says.
The rain clears up as we drive home. We were going to drop Ian off on the way, but take a detour to pick up a couple of his friends first. Drop them off when we stop at the garage opposite his place to fill up the van with diesel.
Back home, and unpack. Had planned to go to St Nick's for their new year celebration, but it is rather late by the time we finish the immediate sorting, and we are both rather tired. Give up on the plan, do a bit more sorting, then see the new year in while watching the Mentalist episode we recorded last Friday.