Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mushy gosht

I like to think I'm a reasonable cook. I'm not inventive but I can follow recipes. So why do my finished dishes rarely end up looking like the photo in the book?

This is supposed to be Madhur Jaffrey's Paalag Gosht (Moghlai lamb with spinach) but I don't think my version would have appealed to the Moghul emperors.

You know, sometimes when you're following a recipe, do you ever think, 'that just doesn't sound right'? Being told to add spinach 50 minutes before the end of cooking time was one of those moments for me. But I did as bidden with the resultant mush. I'd almost gone off it before I started eating but it quickly grew on me. In fact I went back for seconds. And once Husband had got the 'what no rice?' out of his system he enjoyed it too. It's something the sons would like as well being largely meat. 

I'm not sure what happened to the crispy onions though ...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The garden in bloom

Arguing with Mohammed

It's not every day I get to argue with Mohammed. To my relief.

'I was wondering why you've charged us 15% VAT.'
'It's tax. If you're not eligible give me your details and I'll refund you.'
'No, we are VAT registered but I wondered why it's 15% not 20%.'
'It depends on the cost and the country.'
'Yes, I know but VAT in the UK is 20%.'
'It depends on the cost and the country.'
'Yes, I know that. But why have we been charged 15% instead of 20%.'
'Hold on ... I have checked with my supervisor and it depends on the cost and the country.'
'Yes but ...'
'I suggest you talk to your bank.'
'Okay, thank you for trying to help.'
'It has been my pleasure to help you. Is there anything else I can help you with today?'

I should have taken the refund and run.

But it does make me wonder. So many of these large supposedly-reputable internet companies are avoiding tax perhaps this is just another scheme. But surely if it were they would at least make it appear legal?

(By the way, in case you're wondering why I was querying under-payment of tax it was a work thing. And I was only aware because it was pointed out to me by our auditor.)

Then again it's not every day I get kissed by the handy-man who's come to repair the toilet door.

It was just one of those days in work.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What a carry on!

Felt it was time to do a jigsaw so I dug out one of my new i.e. secondhand, ones, this time featuring Carry On film posters and photos. What struck me most was how easy it was to distinguish Sid James' face from the smallest bit. It really is a distinctive face.
Arh, they don't make films like that any more. (Did I hear you say thank goodness?)

P.S. As I'm blogging I can hear Jake Bugg singing, presumably in Glastonbury, coming from the other room. Nice stuff.


GrandDaughter has entered the 'Why?' phase. She's also into animal welfare. When we were out walking she made me rescue loads of little flies that were trapped in spiders' webs between the railings on the bridge. I tried to explain that spiders were our friends but she insisted that I free the flies. It's not that she has anything against spiders you understand; she just doesn't want them eating flies.

However she is less bothered about the welfare of dogs judging by the disregard with which she pushes George and Holly aside when they dare to get in her way.

'Why is the ant doing that?'
'Perhaps he's going home.'
'To see his wife and children?'
'Where are they?'
'In that hole maybe.'
'Because ants live in holes.'
'Because that's where they like to live.'
Why is he going?'
'Because he was confused and that wasn't the hole he lives in.'
'Because he lives in another hole.'
'Look, Granddad's a long way ahead of us. Let's catch him up, shall we?'

It's sports day soon in pre-school and Granddaughter has to practise and somehow it's granny who ends up practising with her.

My God-ordained purpose in life

Bible study in Zac's on Tuesday was good. Almost like a normal bible study. With lots of contributions and discussions, not much going off at a tangent and no rowdy heckling. Steve had it easy.

I say no going off at a tangent but being Zac's it had to briefly dip into comparative suicide discussion and I chipped in with my story. No, not of suicide but of escape from death.

When my mum was in hospital my cousin's girlfriend drove my gran, my great-aunt and me to hospital to see her. Getting in the car to come home afterwards my gran sat in the front -  which naturally she took as her rightful place being eldest - and I got in behind the driver but then my gran said, 'Don't sit there. Let auntie Gay sit there. You sit behind me to balance the car.' (My gran and great-aunt were large ladies in case you're wondering about her logic.) I did as told - again naturally as she was bossy as well as eldest and large.

A car crash on the way home resulted in my great-aunt being killed. For a long time afterwards, as I told them in Zac's, I felt guilty, 'Because it should have been me.'

There was an instant chorus along the lines of, 'You don't go till it's your time,' and 'God saved you for a purpose.'

So I'm sitting there thinking, 'Well, that's obviously true but was it my wonderful leadership skills, my scriptural insight or spiritual depth that I was saved for?'
'Yes, God saved you to make cakes for Zac's.'

Ah yes, that's it. 

And speaking of cakes, as I was leaving Kinsley said, 'Thank you for the lovely lemon cake.'
'That's okay but it was rhubarb.'
'Rhubarb? Not lemon?'
'But it had lemon zest in it?'
'But you liquidised the rhubarb?'
'No, it was in chunks.'
He stared at me and then shook his head in amazement.

Yep, I make really good cakes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

a little love story

Michelle Magorian is such a brilliant author. Best-known for Goodnight, Mister Tom, she writes for young adults/children. 

Husband saw me browsing in the Teen section in the library and he said, 'Aren't they a bit too young for you?' Which I suppose in theory they are, but they're such a lovely change from chick lit and light-hearted murders (if a murder can be light-hearted). 

I read most last thing at night in bed and I can't cope with anything too challenging at that time and the young adult books fit my bill exactly. Well-written, great characters, wonderful stories, what more could I want?

I've recently enjoyed A Little Love Story and Just Henry both by Michelle Magorian as well as Changeling by Philippa Gregory.

I have a few adult books on my want-to-read list including The Supremes at Earl's All-You-can-Eat as recommended by Rose and Bastard Out of Carolina, recommended by one of the men in Zac's. What I need is a holiday - or at least some more sunny weather - so I can sit down and read for hours.

DIY brain surgery

Trying to second-guess agents/publishers is like attempting DIY brain surgery: you just get your head in a mess.

They've had my manuscript a long time so that must be a good sign.
No, it means the person who should be reading it is on holiday or the pile is so huge it'll be another 6 months.
But IF they've read it and they didn't like it then they'd reply soon.
But if they read it and liked it they'd reply soon.
Unless it has to be read by someone else first.
Perhaps it never reached them. Maybe I should email and check. 
But the last time I did that I received a rejection very soon afterwards - as if I'd jinxed it. So I won't query.
But if they haven't received it ...

Most likely answer I tell myself is that it's in a pile waiting to be read. And that means I still have hope. And then I tell myself not to get my hopes up because I'm sure to be disappointed. So I tell myself the rejection is in in the post.

But secretly - as if I'm fooling anybody - I hang on to hope.

And I'm about to begin sending off novel 3 too. Are all wannabe authors masochists?

Before Nev was famous

There's a television programme on BBC at the moment that seems to have captured the public's imagination. It's a documentary set in a call centre in Swansea. Creatively called The Call Centre it stars the CEO, Nev, who is a larger than life character with some unusual management practices including throwing things at people who yawn, sacking anyone who won't sin and setting up speed dating nights for his lovelorn workers. But he must be doing something right as his business is expanding and he's a multi-millionaire.

So it's time for me to bask in his reflected glory: I was humiliated by Nev before he was famous.

Many years ago, when desktop publishing was just coming into its own and before everyone had a computer, I ran my own very small typesetting business. I worked partly in conjunction with a printer who was also starting out. Nev at that time was part of Linden Church and he ran what seemed to be a thriving central heating business. I asked Nev if he might have any work for me and, when his usual printer let him down, he offered me the chance to produce a flyer for his company. He needed it urgently so I had to work fast.

Because of the urgency I took the finished copy to his house in the evening for his approval before I took it over to the printer who lived on the other edge of Swansea. Nev came to the door and showed me into the living-room where his wife and her parents were. Now her parents were very highly respected members of our church, I belonged to their house group and I thought a lot of them.

Nev took the flyer into his study to look at it leaving me in the living-room. When he came back he said it was okay and asked the price. I told him and he said, 'Oh, that's too much.' (Remember I was starting out, keen for business and already inevitably charging too little because of my natural reluctance to believe anyone would pay for anything I'd done anyway.)
I was so shocked I said, 'Okay, we'll reduce it.'
'No!' he said. 'You can't say that. You'll never be a business woman.'
'Oh! Okay, then I won't reduce it.'
'Then it's too much.'

Nev's wife, feeling sorry for me by now, told him to stop it and I left hurriedly not knowing what I was supposed to charge, not sure if he meant it was too much or whether he was just joking. I drove across Swansea to the printer, crying all the way, feeling a complete idiot, and hating myself - and him for embarrassing me in front of people I respected.

I'm older now but I still don't think I could cope with daily ritual humiliation in work. I guess those who work in the Call Centre are tougher; they all seem to love him. Or at least the ones they interview on camera do. And, yes, I suppose you could say that he was trying to teach me good business sense and if we'd been alone I may have accepted that more.

Incidentally, when I received his payment cheque it wasn't signed: I had to ask for another.

35 years but who's counting?

It was our 35th wedding anniversary yesterday. Husband and I exchange 'happy anniversary' greetings and that's it normally but I mentioned it on Facebook and had the most Likes and comments ever, lots of people saying  'have a good day.' So it made me think and I said to Husband, 'Perhaps we should go out for a meal tonight.'
'We can't: we've got circuit training!' he said, sounding appalled. 

Remind me again why I love him.

I'm surprised he hasn't come up with the 'we don't need a special day to celebrate as every day I spend with you is a celebration,' excuse. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A spiffing palace

The Palace Theatre in High Street, Swansea, opened as the Pavilion Theatre of Varieties in 1888. Stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Lilly Langtry and Marie Lloyd all appeared on its stage and Sir Anthony Hopkins made his first professional stage appearance here in 1960. Since then it's been a cinema, bingo club and nightclub.

And now this Grade II listed building is derelict. Can't you just imagine what could be done to bring it back to its former glory? All we need is a millionaire or two.

My trouble is I really want to inhabit the world of the Bunty and Judy comics I read as a girl where spiffing groups of girls - including the snobby but ultimately good-hearted one as well as the impoverished but hard-working one - banded together to rescue and bring new life to old theatres. (Or save dance schools, injured horses, falsely disgraced favourite teachers etc.) It turns out the snobby one has an uncle who always wanted to be an actor but instead was forced into the family business and is now a rich but unhappy man who is not only delighted to pour his money into their project to revive the theatre but also along the way meets and falls in love with the widowed mother of impoverished girl, and they all live happily ever after.

I sorted my t-shirt drawer this morning

What a thrilling life I lead.

All my t-shirts are now in neat piles:
strappy vests;
t-shirts I wear;
t-shirts I don't usually wear but may if I'm desperate;
t-shirts I haven't worn for at least 3 years but had better keep just in case, (Of what I have no idea.)

Lest you think from this that I never throw anything away let me tell you I also have a pile for the charity shop.

I know how to live.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A little bit of this and

Spinach, feta and pine nut tart.

And trying out a new sultana cake recipe.
The quilters were photocopying the recipe because one of their number had made it the previous week and  'it was so nice we all asked for the recipe.' So I asked her to make me a copy of it too. (I didn't get to sample the cake you notice.)

Anyway I made it for Zac's this week and I liked it and it seemed to go down well. It involved soaking the sultanas overnight in tea so they were big and fat and juicy. There was some left over so I brought it home. Husband cut a piece this afternoon (his second of the day) and said, 'It's much too soggy.'
'Don't eat it if you don't like it.'
'Of course I'm going to eat it; I'm just going to grumble as well.'

In Zac's I was appointed an honorary auntie for the night to Bully (his name not nature).  I think he's older than I am but he may just look it. He said, 'You know me, auntie Liz, you know I don't f****** swear.' 

* * * * * * * * * *
Husband dropped me off in town today for a homeless awareness day. As the sun was shining we went in Brian Beetle and when I'd been dropped off a man approached me and said, 'Where's that car from?'
'Lovely car. I could imagine driving in that.'
I waited hopefully for the personal compliment but it didn't follow ... 

* * * * * * * * * *
As it was still warm and sunny when I got home I retired to the garden with my book. When it was time to come in I spent 5 minutes searching for my bookmark.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Those were the days

Doing lunges this morning my right knee suddenly went oah-ar. I eased up on it and the pain passed but it's come back again this afternoon. I say pain; I mean the odd twinge. Nothing to worry about.

Interesting facts learned in slimming class today. 
1) We (women) eat 600 fewer calories per day than we did in the 1950s.
2) Yet our waists are 7" bigger.
3) The average dress size today is 16 compared to 7 years ago when it was 12.

I remember my granny doing the washing on Mondays. She'd put the copper on and then scrub all the clothes before putting them through the mangle and hanging them on the line. It would take best part of the day to do the laundry for the 5 of us (great-gran, gran, gramps, mum and me).

She bought all the food in the shops in the village and carried it home back up the hill, where she'd cook it all fresh. She often quoted her mother, when faced with a large grocery bill, as saying, 'I'd rather pay the grocer than the doctor.'

Then there was her large collection of brass that she'd regularly put aside a morning to polish. All that apart from the other daily chores like lighting the fire and keeping it going, bringing in the coal, cleaning out the fire etc etc. Little wonder she could eat more calories and still stay fit. Admittedly she wasn't skinny but well-built but she needed to be to turn that mangle. Ours was bigger this and I used to love to help although she'd soon take over as I'd fail to make much impression on the handle.
Bolsover Junior school photo

Our father ... um, what comes next?

In prison on Sunday, it being Father's Day, the chaplain was talking about the Lord's prayer. He mentioned one group where all the members set their alarm for midday to remind them to say it.

Lying in bed, after my usual short prayers, I thought I'd say it and think about what I was saying rather than just parrot it but, doing it like that, the trouble was I kept forgetting what the next line was and had to go back to the beginning and start again.

So I got in lots of 'thy will be done's but not many 'deliver us from evil's. 

When I pray I reassure myself that a short to-the-point prayer is all the Jesus recommends. I can forget all the flowery words and repetitions - unlike Husband, God won't forget if I don't say it five times - I can just go straight to the nitty gritty. In the Lord's prayer all our needs are covered in very few words; and for specifics I don't have to explain to God what the situation is and how I think he should deal with it. He is, after all, slightly smarter than I am.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good-looking car

As I parked outside the bookbinders this morning a man was approaching. He looked at Minni and said, 'That's a good-looking car.'
'We like her,' I said.
'Good-looking car driven by a good-looking woman. What more could you want?'
'That'll do me nicely, thank you!'

It put a smile on my face for a long time.

Should I have been feisty and objected on feminist grounds? Nah, I'm old school and I'll take all the compliments I can get. And it was only 10.30 am so I don't think he was drunk. Although he didn't have his glasses on.

I'll be bound

My bible is getting a bit tatty so I thought I'd find out how much it would cost to have it rebound. 
The answer is too much. £120 or £150 if I want lettering on it. As I can get a new one for less than £40 I can't really justify spending that much, it's just that it has sentimental value for me.

I became a Christian when we lived in Southampton and when we left the women I'd been meeting with gave me this bible and it's seen through me a lot.
I suppose I'll have to buy a new one and put this one into retirement, storing it safely on a shelf.

Things about church meetings that annoy me

Although these things don't just happen in church meetings.

1) Powerpoint presentations
The person who invented powerpoint is brilliant: it's a marvellous creation. Unfortunately, in my albeit limited experience, most people who use it do so badly. At its best, a powerpoint presentation can enhance a talk, bring it to life; at its worst it's an irritating distraction. 

It's not meant to provide an on-screen word-for-word echo of what the speaker is saying. And we don't need googled images of a typical Jew from old biblical times to create a picture in our minds. In fact, let's ban powerpoint from Sunday meetings. 

2) 'Excuse me, do you mind if I interrupt for a moment?'
Yes, I do mind. Except I never get the chance to say that as the interrupter has already dived in. 

When I want to speak to someone, if I see he is already engaged in conversation, I will hover around the fringe until he's finished. But if I'm talking to someone and another person wants to speak to that someone more often that not, she will butt it - politely of course - and take over. Thus indicating that what she has to say is far more important and by inference that I am of no importance. 

Actually the worst instance happened a few months ago. I was speaking to a visitor when a person, let's say high up in the church hierarchy, came across, interrupted and took over. Another equally high up person also came across to join this conversation, from which I was now excluded, leaving me to drift off quietly to brood and snarl under my breath. The visitor turned out to be the father of another highly-regarded regular, so the interest from the upper echelons was explained. Strangely enough I've never experienced such interest when a relative of mine is present ...

But the worm is turning. Last time I wanted to interrupt I did so. (But only to ask my question and then leave.) So yah boo sucks.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Being insulted

In Zac's during the 'love your enemies' discussion, Steve, who was leading, asked, 'Who's been insulted and not responded in kind?'

Lots of people put up their hands and Laura, who was sitting next to me, noticed that I didn't.
'Haven't you?' she asked.
'I can't remember ever being insulted.'

Laura burst out laughing and passed this on to Steve who said, 'She just doesn't realise it.'

Is that true? I mean, I know I'm insulted at Zac's all the time, but I don't take that seriously. They don't mean it ...

A week gone already

And I've not blogged. I'd like to say it's because I lead such an exciting life but in truth nothing exciting's happened.

Let's think. Monday work. On the plus side I didn't get locked out, find ants in my tea-pot or break anything. And I didn't die during one of the hardest circuits we've endured for a long time, not helped by the fact that there were only three of us so it was practically personal training. When I first started going along we'd do an exercise for maybe 40 seconds - actually I think it was 30 in the very beginning - followed by a breather of 15 seconds; now we do 1.5 minutes with no breather.

Tuesday, great start, discovering I'd lost 2.5 lb. I'd had a good week and am trying to get my weight - or more particularly my eating - under control again. Exercise, after weigh-in and the motivational chat, was almost as hard-going as the previous night, made worse by the heat and the speed and the fact that I was already aching.

Leading the study in Zac's so went home after slimming and made a Black Forest gateau (a birthday cake for Nigel) and finished preparing the study. (Yes, I do prepare, unbelievable as that may seem to people who attend.)

For once it was a quiet and small group, and the study went well. It was an easier topic - what sort of fruit are we producing?- than we've been dealing with recently (love your enemies and not being judgemental) and I wanted it to be very affirming, which I think it was - until ... there always has to be an until in Zac's.

One gentleman - no, man - decided it would be appropriate to give something that should have remained private a public airing. I couldn't make myself heard over the resulting rumpus to bring it to a halt until Kay yelled at everyone to shut up. He scuttled off at the end and, apparently, still seems to think that he did us a service. Afterwards it was a shame that discussion of the rumpus replaced what should have been more encouragement and affirmation leaving a slightly sour taste. Even the deliciousness of the cake didn't altogether wipe out the memory.

Wednesday and Thursday in Devon looking after grandchildren. Thursday morning GrandDaughter goes to pre-school so we take Grandson2 to singing at the library. Nowhere is the difference between boys and girls - at least in our family - more noticeable. GrandDaughter would sit, join in the action songs, look at books; GrandSon2 wanders around, stares at people, escapes while looking at me with a naughty smile on his face. 'Look what I'm doing! Are you going to chase me?'

Then it was swimming in the afternoon. I don't know how well the children slept that night but Husband and I were out for the count.

Work on Friday then today a start on all the cleaning I put off while the sun shone with just a short break to listen to the Lions rugby game. Oh and blog. 

See? Busy, fun, enjoyable, but not exciting. In fact the most exciting thing was when I thought George had eaten the chopped chillies I'd left out in the kitchen. Sadly - because it might have taught him a lesson - he left those and instead ate the mound of grated raw courgette I'd prepared for my crab and courgette linguine. I despair of my dog.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beauty in the rubbish

Flowers growing on what used to be the old council tip at Clyne.

Did you used to suck clover 'petals'? I'm not sure why exactly but I think it was supposed to be a source of 'honey'. I never tasted anything remotely sweet about it though.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Bridge over troubled waters

The trouble with the sun shining so relentlessly is that I feel obliged to lie out in it. As we don't get much sunshine it's seems only proper to take advantage of it when we do. It does mean that the house is in an even bigger mess than usual but, hey, it'll probably rain soon. Plenty of time for cleaning when it does.

So sitting in the sun I get through books quite quickly. I've finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It's well-written, I enjoyed it and it's a bit different. I think it gets 3.5 stars, no, maybe 4. It tells the story of a retired gentleman - in the truest sense of the word - who decides, on the spur of the moment, to walk from the south west of England to the north east. 

The author refers to real places en route and two of them I am very familiar with as Daughter lives near them. One is Bickleigh Mill, an old water-mill that has been converted into a shop and restaurant/cafe. The shop is one of those that sells all those lovely things you'd love but don't need and therefore can't justify spending (lots of) money on. Except fudge. They sell a really delicious locally-made fudge. I bought some once when I was driving, on my own, back from Devon to Swansea, thinking it would last me the journey: I wasn't even out of Devon before it was gone.

We've lunched in the restaurant a couple of times and it's been delicious but I was disappointed last week with my millionaire's shortbread, although as Husband said, shop-bought is always a disappointment. They never seem to be able to get the right thickness and crispiness of biscuit base. Lynn, a friend from church, makes the best I've ever tasted. She gave me the recipe but I don't think mine came out as well - although it's always better if someone else cooks for you simply because you didn't have to do it.

Just across the river from the mill is The Fisherman's Cot, which is also mentioned in the book. Again we've eaten some good meals there. (Do you notice a theme emerging here?) The author says that, apparently, the bridge outside the pub is the one that inspired Simon and Garfunkel's song, Bridge over Troubled Water. I have a vague inkling I've heard that story before but I probably heard it from the same source as the author so it's not necessarily reliable. Indeed, according to different sites the inspiration came from a gospel song, which sounds altogether more likely. But it's a pleasing story. The river wasn't very high nor raging too fast when I took this photo from outside the pub.

I've also started A Cottage by the Sea, an average easy-read girly book. Although the author is less specific about the location the heroine does say that they visit St. David's where, according to her, the cathedral stands proudly on top of a hill and they have to go up steep steps to get to it. Fine except the cathedral nestles in a dip and you go down steps to it. Presumably the author hasn't been there but if you're going to write about a real place you need to do your research thoroughly. It doesn't matter in this book, it has no relevance to the plot, but it is just wrong. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

I blame the sun

I was bemoaning my strange hands (bent fingers) and feet (extra toe) to Husband. 
'Don't worry,' he said. 'It's all part of your ... weirdness.'
'Weirdness? I thought you were going to say charm.'
Back-pedalling rapidly Husband said, 'Well, your weirdness is part of your charm.'

* * * * * * * * * *
I dreamt last night that my novel submission had been rejected. It is incredibly depressing when even my subconscious has no faith in my ability.

* * * * * * * * * *
We went to the library this afternoon. Husband had finished his book and I'd finished three. I wasn't going to get another out as I still have my Blind Date - which turned out to be Sophie's World - to read but I'd started it while sitting in the sun earlier and it's not the sort of book for reading in the sunshine so I went along, just in case something caught my eye. Which it did.

I say caught my eye but actually I asked the librarian if they had it: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It turned out they did have a copy in their queue-jumping section (you can only keep the book for a week), so I grabbed it and, as I was there, I took Cottage by the Sea, the new one from Carol Matthews, whom I follow on Twitter so she feels like a friend, as well.

Plus another book about prostitutes in France by Rumer Godden. I've just read Thursday's Children, a children's book, by her and really enjoyed it. It's about a boy who wants to be a ballet dancer. A bit Billy Elliott but better. First published in 1984 the book has been republished this year, along with many more of Rumer Godden's books, as a Virago Modern Classic. If I enjoy this one I may work my way through her others. Isn't it wonderful when you discover a new - to you - author? When I first read Barbara Pym I was back and for to the library until I'd read all they had, and then was disappointed to realise she was dead and there'd be no more.

Following our library excursion we drove to Verdi's for ice cream. Well, the sun was shining. Apple crumble and praline pecan. Mmmmmmm.

Taking the plunge

So they finally finished the pool. After many weeks it had been relined and edged and refilled. All it needed now was some sun ... and what do we get but the sudden onset of summer.

Bear in mind that the pool was filled over the course of the last few days straight from the cold water tap. (Husband turned down my request that he use the hot tap.) But, as it cost us best part of one year of my wages to have the job done, we're going to make sure we get good use out of it. 

Is this a good idea?
No, I don't think so!

Okay, maybe it's not so bad.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

One of those nights

It was going to be one of those nights.

Our unexpectedly seasonal weather was taking its toll on tempers and, within minutes of starting the bible study, the noise levels were rising. Two of our quirkier guests were shouting, one in praise of God, the other decrying Christians who were stopping him having contact with his fiancée who's in rehab. At least I think that's the gist of it: both were a little difficult to understand. Man B was also telling Man A to 'shut the f*** up, excuse my language.'

It was mildly ironic that the topic under discussion was about being judgemental. Sean came up with this brilliant idea for a series of studies on 'The hard things Jesus taught'. Last week Steve led the first on loving your enemies. In a room full of people abused physically, sexually or verbally, that went down a storm as you can imagine. 'If someone slaps me, I'm sorry, but I'm going to slap him back.' I suppose progress has been made in that an apology and prayer for forgiveness would follow in due course. On second thoughts, forget the apology.

I don't think I imagined just the hint of a smirk on Steve's face as Sean struggled to bring some order into what was rapidly becoming a free for all. 

But then, in one of those turn-arounds that only God can accomplish, the evening changed from a potentially ugly situation to one of beauty.

The talk had moved again onto forgiveness and how hard it can be to forgive those who hurt you or those you love when one of our other rough sleepers began talking. As he stuttered and stumbled through his story of anger, pain, revenge, death, guilt and the blackness of the past silence fell. By the time he'd reached the end all that could be heard was snuffling and the wiping away of tears.

No excuses, just a truth that lingers, achingly, desperately in a heart weeping, not daring to ask for forgiveness.

Just another night at Zac's. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Can you hear the grinding of my teeth?

Over on his blog Furtheron mentions that he's now a part-timer in his working life. I've congratulated him and welcomed him to my world - which is almost but not quite as good as that of Husband's.

Yesterday on what was the best day we've had so far this year I had to work. That was okay; I'm fine with that. But then I got home to find Husband lying in the sunshine. 'I've only just stopped working,' he said, which is what he always says. But even that was okay: he's worked hard all his life to keep me in the style to which I am accustomed and all would have been well if he hadn't then said, 'I had an ice cream from Verdi's today.'
I looked at him. 'You did what?'
'I had an ice cream from Verdi's.'
'Without me?!'
'I thought to myself, I'm retired; I can do what I like so I did. And I couldn't wait to tell you! I almost phoned you from Verdi's.'

And this is the man with whom I have promised to spend the rest of my life.