Wednesday, 31 December 2003

Hello. I got just this one last full day at home. If you're going to blog this holiday could you do it this evening? Worth a shot... And if anyone gets back to Exeter early and is at a loose end, you're very welcome to swing by. As soon as I get some hoover bags the place should look almost respectable.

Haven't done so very much today. Went to a pub quiz yesterday with Emma (who's here btw), Adrian, Nicholas and one of Nicholas' friends from Orchestra, Sam. He's still doing his A-levels, but he must be clever and weird, 'cos he seems to be set to go to Durham or Oxford to do Chemistry. The quiz was rubbish, needless to say that's why we didn't win. It was "Family Fortunes", which is bad enough, but the for the first four questions it was multiple choice. This country. I didn't know the monkey puzzle sold Flowers until I espied it on the price list, but I was a penny shy of my goal. Fortunately the nice barchap let me have a pint anyway.

So this morning I did not much. I read some more Psalms. I find Psalms a bit difficult to read because a) it's a bit similar after a while and b) when you've read it all before it's even harder to keep track of where you are. I'm up to Part III: Return of the Psalms. I bought, off Amazon, a diglot edition of the Apostolic Fathers to mull over, and I finished reading 1 Clement, or, as the editor/translator calls it, "The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians". How'm'I supposed to make any sense of the early church when everyone disagrees about it so intelligently?

Watched a bit of the Simpsons. They've got to axe that show now. The new stuff's embarrassing. Malcolm was better. I taped some "missing believed wiped" episodes of various things the other day, and I watched a couple of them this morning. The Spike Milligan one was largely crap, and then I got see an old episode of something called Comedy Playhouse. I guess Comedy Playhouse was the kind of thing that they do on Radio 4 now, a showcase of one-offs for writers. It's a good idea, but I guess it's not tenable in this multi-media age. Then I made us some pasta. It wasn't bad, and I mean that literally.

Gonna watch a Muppets Christmas movie I haven't seen before and then in the evening go to Ruth's and do stuff.

Have a happy new year everybody.

Sunday, 28 December 2003

Pub this evening with Mark Dungay, Miles, Adrian and Nicholas. We just chatted - pub things. They played pool and fussball, which is the German and presumably Austrian for football, but it's what Americans apparently call table-football. Who knows why... Mark's just passed his driving test and got a new car. He reversed into a wall, causing superficial damage to the bumper.
Play Insanaquarium on this page - it's wicked awesome.

Saturday, 27 December 2003

James said that he thought Return of the King would probably be his favourite LotR film in years to come. Independently of each other, both Dad and I left with the impression that it was the least successful of the three. No accounting for taste - it's still very good. And what I felt it lacked was style rather than content, so it's just shallow 'ol me even to my own mind.

Spotted some bad CGI - damn you James.
How odd; I think Dad logged into Blogger but didn't post.

Well, I haven't posted for a while, but that's run of the mill. I'm a little more surprised that some of my friends' blogs haven't updated. I'd like to know what Rob, Dan, James, Lisa and Zosia have been up to - honest. Will and Rosie have been blogging.

Anyhow, little as my prestige is in blogland, I feel bound to do something to recover the situation and blog. Now the last thing was a German translation of Here Comes the Sun, because of a conversation I had with Norris on the morning when he went back home. Hi Norris - 'nuff respeck. So I guess I'll start with Christmas Eve.

Half day at work on Jesusmas Eve, but many people elected to take the day of, so it was only myself, Jackie, Ralph and Mike in today. I had some pay increments to write up for retained firemen, and some late leavers' notices, but they didn't result in any overpayments, so there was no rush on them - a quiet day, and I ran out of stuff today, hence the blog post at work. Usually, I'd ask my supervisors if they had any more work for me, but neither of them were in. One of my managers, Wendy, who is and old-school vegetarian and recycles Christmas cards, or at the very least, recycles my Christmas cards, came round shortly after twelve to announce knocking off time, and I wandered back over to my house. I'd left the car that my parents leant me at the chaplaincy, as is my wont. I could have left it closer to work and driven from there, but I didn't want to.

There followed, surprisingly, one of the easiest drives from Exeter to Surrey that I have ever had. The traffic was minimal where I was expecting a deluge. I was a little tired by the end notwithstanding. Not tired enough to stop me verbally harassing my nearest and dearest pretty much immediately upon arrival, friendly-like. The gang was there, including Nan, and we chatted for a bit. I forget quite what I did for much of the evening, but part of it involved getting ready for, and indeed going through, midnight mass, which I believe was called "midnight communion". Politics aside, midnight mass sounds shedloads better. I was too tired to appreciate it really. And after it I went to bed.

And I woke up and it was Christmas. Or rather I got up and it was Christmas, for which I felt slightly under-prepared. I got to church early to run through the hymns. Today I was the only musician (with an instrument) whereas Nicholas played the recorder, which sounded quite good actually. Not very many people at church today, but there was a small group of people at the back who I hadn't seen before.

Christmas day was spent very lazily by me at least. I've been pretty lazy all this holiday so far.

Shall I tell you what I got? A DVD player, A wall calendar with castles on, socks, chocolates, ?20, a metallic puzzle such as one may find in Burton, The Sovereignty of Good by Iris Murdoch, Sexie by Eddie Izzard, Weasels Ripped my Flesh by Frank Zappa, more chocolates, and I think that was it.

Shall I tell you what I gave? Some tea-lights and tea-light holders, The God of Small Things, Beetlejuice, an NRSV, cross-reference edition with apocrypha, some diabetic chocolates for Dad with amusing laxative disclaimer.

I don't think I gave as good as I got.
Mum maintained that I asked here for a "macho calendar". Does it seem likely to anyone that I uttered those words? I didn't think so either. I said no flowers - I can practically feel the masculine force of those words coursing through me now. Must.. burn... things...

Boxing day was a strange day, where I retreated into myself in order to work out how I could best approach other people. God is love, but I feel very deficient in the business of love-ditribution. It has to change, and I may even make some New Year's resolutions based on it. I read rather a lot today, and half-heartedly determined that I should commit some definite ideas for a closer walk with God to paper. At some point. Weather permitting. 'Hem.

Today was the day after boxing day. We had an expedition to Reading today. Well, four of us did, Mum, Mum's Mum, Me and Neil, who, confound it all, has disturbed the alliterative flow. I didn't find out about this trip until this morning, otherwise I would have gone to bed earlier. I figured I had ?70 quid to spend from Christmas one way or another, so I spent it. Here is what I got. I found Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua (I think that that means something like "Apology (in the classic sense) for my life") in Oxfam and snapped it up. I also got an umbrella to protect me from the rain
I like the rain; it rains on me,
God made the rain and God made me.
and a personal radio so I can listen to Chris Moyles new breakfast show on the way to work. I bought a toy for the whole house to enjoy as well though. Got a digital cordless phone so no-one has to sit on the stairs anymore - people can have more privacy for their phone calls and impede less physical progress - huzzah! If any of my fellow-tenants are reading this, you could think of it as my (terms and conditions apply) gift to you! I only hope there's a plug socket near the phone line.

To be honest I really don't know what the phone set up is exactly in our house. I'm rather keen to find out. Are there only two sockets, one for each phone-line? The manual says the best thing is to have the phone placed relatively high-up in the house. Would that work? Well anyway.

My phone's still crap, so I haven't responded either to Dan or Nina yet for their lovely Christmas messages. In any case, merry Cringletide all. I get to see Return of the King later today - wahey!

Tuesday, 23 December 2003

Kommt hier die Sonne, kommt hier die Sonne, und ich sage, es aller rechte kleine Liebling ist, wird es ein kleiner Liebling des langen kalten einsamen Winters gewesen, fühlt es Jahre, da es hier kommt hier die Sonne, kommt hier die Sonne gewesen wird und mich sagt an, es aller rechte kleine Liebling, das Lächeln ist, das zum kleinen Liebling der Gesichter zurückgeht, scheint es wie Jahre, da es hier kommt hier die Sonne, kommt hier die Sonne gewesen wird und ich sage, daß es ist alle rechte Sonne, Sonne, Sonne, es herkommt..., Sonne, Sonne, Sonne, kommt es... her, Sonne, Sonne, Sonne, kommt es... her, Sonne, Sonne, Sonne, kommt es... her, Sonne, Sonne, Sonne, kommt es... her, Kleiner Liebling, glaube ich, daß Eis langsam kleinen Liebling schmilzt, es scheine wie Jahre, da es kommt hier die Sonne frei gewesen wird, komme hier die Sonne, und ich sage, daß es es ist ganz recht ganz recht ist.

Saturday, 20 December 2003

Whew! Found what I think is a ganglion csyt (diagram) suddenly and felt compelled to check the web for any indication that I was going to die in the near future. I don't think that I am.

The timing of it was somewhat worrying, because I've been thinking long and hard today. Perhaps thinking is the wrong word. In any case, what's been on my mind, such as it is, is the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession. Now obviously I was thinking about this because <irony>my spiritual life is really funky right now and I felt real enthusiasm about a completely objective look into the seven (gotta' catch 'em all) sacraments recognised by the catholic church - just couldn't stop myself</irony>.

I'm not an incredibly forthcoming person, as those reading may have noticed. Neither was I in a church that assumed that I might vocalise my own failings before God. However, increasingly (and, I think, largely indepedently of my interest in catholicism) I find myself thinking that my sins aren't something that I should be keeping to myself. I certainly don't think it's practical, not for repentance. I do hope, by the way, that you don't get the idea that just because I think that I ought to be doing something, I've actually worked up the nerve to do it - that would be very misleading. Predictably enough, I've had enough of a think to establish that making "a good confession" would be bloody terrifying.

That's the other thing, of course. Though content to sit out on the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the Christian life" the CCC calls it, and occasionally peruse catholic teaching to try and work out if it's any good, somehow forgiveness seems peculiarly urgent. Funny that. The position I'm in becomes more and more bizarre it seems. Terrifying as it might be, the sacrament of reconciliation seems like the most appropriate thing I could be doing right now. On the other hand it would be an absurd thing to do without believing that Jn 20:22-23 ("[w]hose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained") gives a particular Christian that very particular duty.

Well, not only is this a very miserable entry, it's also very poorly-written, so this is where it ends.

Friday, 19 December 2003

Today hasn't happened yet, but I can tell you what I think is going to happen:

I think I shall have cheese on toast for breakfast, because I used the last of my milk on the Christmas pudding.

I shall go into work early, and consequentially miss the last ever Ri:se which I find regrettable. I always felt it had a charming incompetency to it.

At twelve, and this is the only reason I could consider trying to get to work for 0730, I will go to the front of County Hall there to get going to some country club in Topsham for payroll's Christmas bash. Actually, it might technically be an HR bash.
This hasn't been a wonderful last week on work placement at the clock shop. I've been working on this 16 Century clock for a while, it was something of a wreck and was taking a LOT of work and time.

On Wednesday when there was only me and David, the manager (not the most available\practical of my instructors from college), we were besieged by customers, the clock was due to be collected the next day to go to Australia I was needing a fair amount of help with stuff I hadn't been taught at college.
At the end of the day I was pretty shattered, but remembered to go to the college's Health Dept to ask the health dept to remind the finance people to send my train tickets down to the Health Dept. This was so I could actually collect them without a time-consuming trip back to college and thus more travel expenses I could claim for.

On Thursday, the clock was actually working, however the customer was going to collect the clock the next day instead, *sigh*. Just as well since the clock still needed some work doing, with more assistance from the David *double sigh*. I was still exhausted and had to finish early at 2:50. Back at college, I had tea at 5 and was a little surprised to see Mark at college, he mentioned that he wanted to go shopping, since I had some spare time, a car and couldn't collect my tickets yet, I drove him into town so he could shop and buy tickets for "Return of the King" for the two of us. I returned to college an attempted to pick up my tickets, and discovered that they hadn't been sent down, not wishing the miss the film and also to find a parking space I rushed back into town, found a space and waited for Mark outside the cinema. It was then that I realised that I hadn't brought my phone along, and so I waited for Mark to turn up, in case he had been able to buy a ticket before the "sold out" signs went up. At 7 I concluded that Mark must have been unable to purchase the tickets and went back to college.
At 11:30, a party must have finished because my neighbour brought the noisily inebriated revellers back to his room, I was too tired to get up, and despite the racket fell asleep.

Today went a little better, by hanging around at college for longer I was able to collect my tickets fro the finance people and arrived only half a hour late, thankfully I had been able to phone ahead to let them know about the ticket farce. I spent some time finishing off the clock, and was just packing it when the owner arrived. Then I fixed a badly bent click spring (doodad that keeps a clock from unwinding itself) with impressive speed. Hoovered the shop floor, since it was covered with packaging flakes, tidied away my tools to collect them in the New Year, when I go back to college to finish my training there. Cleaned the work bench and started back home. I decided to treat myself and upgraded my train ticket to 1st Class, expensive but having a seat, especially a comfortable seat made the cost worthwhile.

Thursday, 18 December 2003

Ah luv you Jenny... Well that's the only reason I can think why I'd be blogging now rather than watching, say Fargo or Sharpe's Company. As it is, I'm at home, trying to do a summary of the week and microwaving the Christmas pudding I got free (well...) with the mince pies I bought for the carol service. Yesterday I said to Dan that I wanted to eat it with custard, but now I can't be arsed. Which means it's only me and Norris eating it, as Dan left this morning.

Got a card this morning from Ella - thank you Ella. It had a balloon in it. Now all I need is a special pot for putting things in.

Today I got into work half an hour early to try and build up my flexi-time. This is because I've booked Friday afternoon off for a work meal/party thing in Topsham, but if I go four hours into debit, someone may decide to have words with me. Also, given that I was an hour longer than usual at lunch on Tuesday for the carol service, I thought I'd better catch up a bit anyway. There was a Thing at work today - theoretically a party in miniature, but it didn't really work too well. We stopped working for a bit, and even had our phones blocked, so that we could chat and have sherry and mince pies with clotted cream. What happened was that some managers and various people from upstairs crammed into the central aisle and chatted amongest themselves whilst we chatted amongst ourselves a bit. Ralph seemed to think I was liable to get drunk at work, so he warned me off, which I thought was a bit much. I was amazed at how many people don't like mince pies, and sherry come to that. I mean it's not my favourite drink in the world, but it's Christmassy and it was free. I really lagged towards the end of the day, to the point where (horror) I drank coffee. Lyn got it for me from the machine, which I later discovered was Nescafe (horror). I noticed in the police index a "JAM Burns" which is, I'm sure, a very painful burn.

Neil and I were going to see Return of the King, but I didn't have my phone on me - it's not working very well at all - so I went over to Loyes to see Neil about it, and then he dropped me in town. I quickly discovered that the showings were both sold out, but I couldn't contact Neil so, I had to send a text when I got back. I finally got a Christmas present for Mum and then trundled back.

I got back, said hello to Norris. Also found a couple of Christmas cards, one from Ruth and one from Paul. Paul's one maintained it wasn't a proper Christmas card, but contained £1.50 to buy one with. It portrays three moustachioed gentleman standing in a row with the caption "Lick me till I scream".

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Today Lyn's neck was not good enough for her to come in. This left me sort of isolated for the day, as I sit, in an open-plan office, facing the wall - neat huh? One of the managers, Glenn, sits next to me as well, but these managers are always coming and going.

I wasn't sure whether or not Christians together at County Hall (we need a catchier name) was meeting today, given that we had the whole carol service thing yesterday, and also a prayer meeting on Monday. I turned up in case, and there were only Janet and myself, but that meant we could just talk, which was very helpful actually, kicking around some ideas about the incarnation, how God shows his love, conversion experiences and the ideal of Christian unity.

RCIA was today, and it was on sacraments in general. RCIA is starting to irritate me a bit - you have to work to get a word in, which is, I'm sure, not exactly ideal. It does tend to consist of a series of monologues, though everyone means well. At one point someone asked what grace was, and sister Anna Maria ended up talking about the sacraments instead. That kind of thing tends to get my goat. It finished late too, and I had to rush home to do my laundry.

I got back to find Dan and his Dad in the front room, in genial spirits. We talked a bit about random things and then watched the first episode of Spaced.

Tuesday, 16 December 2003

Today Lyn was in a good deal of discomfort, having put her neck out whilst getting out of the car.

Today was carol service day. I'd borrowed Fr. Paul's guitar, so I took it onto to work, though it didn't really fit in my guitar case. Got some mince pies for it on the way, with a Christmas pudding thrown in free. The service went okay I think, though no-one I knew turned up. It took about an hour and a half in all. I had a little trouble playing "Hark the herald", but I don't think I did too badly.

I dropped to guitar back at the chaplaincy, where Fr. Paul showed me that James had palmed him off with a dodgy scart adaptor for his N64,l leaving him playing Goldeneye in low-res greyscale. He's a bad man that James.

Saturday, 13 December 2003

MSN Messenger downloads too slowly. I wish it hadn't been uninstalled.
Hello. Well, that's it, I'm blogging, as I'm here. I think you've probably acquired the notion that I'm not going to keep this as a daily blog - take that idea and run with it friends. Enough said I think.

This morning I went out with Nicholas to town to try and do some shopping. I forgot my debit card, and consequently owe Nicholas the better part of ?25, but at least I only have two presents to buy now, which is good.

Today was present swap day, a sort of 'new tradition' where the extended family gets together for a day in the run up to Christmas to eat food and exchange presents. It was good to see people. Here are some of the people I saw:

Nan (Garrett)
Clive = Jenny
  1. James & Vicky
  2. Tamsin = Martyn
Mum = Dad (Dobson)
  1. Neil
  2. Adrian & Emma
  3. Me
  4. Nicholas
Joanne = Carlos (Forni)
  1. Charlotte
  2. Abigail
I said it was good didn't I? Can't quite think what to say about it - nebulous sort of things, extended chats with congregated relations.

Mum cooked us a very lovely meal indeed, and the friends and relations provided pudding, very good. We sat around talking for ages. Tamsin and Martyn only live a little way from me in Exeter up a hill in Exwick, but I haven't run into them all term. I've barely seen Neil either - I'm a bad relation.

I was practicing the carols for Tuesday's carol service a bit today too, after most people had left, and various people were watching Monty Python's Holy Grail on "Nick"'s PS2. Songs of fellowship has many gratuitous chord changes in trad. tunes that only detract from the rhythm of the piece. I was dramatically editing, in pencil, the copy I'm playing from in Exeter, but this was Mum and Dad's one, so I just played what was written. I've got to introduce "O come, o come Immanuel" on Tuesday too, and I haven't really thought about it.

I don't know how James thinks I'm going to make a playlist for the house mix without using the internet to pin down which song is what.
Today was the family get together, fun but tiring. It is nice to have all our little boys here and quite a lot of extended family. I am tired, that will do for a first entry

Friday, 5 December 2003

I started my work placement this week, at the shop of one of my former horology tutors, David Cooper. He foolishly said to me over the phone that "I miss your sarcasm" when I asked if he would be able to give me a work placement. It's a little odd doing things the way his workshop manager does things. But at least David is playing to his Surrey-born strengths, over-charging customers, sorry selling clocks. The shop is just opposite the odium cinema, so I'm finally able to check the screen times of the cinema easily.

I finally got round to seeing The Matrix Revolutions, a little disappointing for the finale