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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • Now I Are Six...

    This post is written in advance and scheduled to appear exactly six years from the date of the appointment at the breast clinic that started my cancer journey in 2010.

    This year, for a variety of reasons, I've made a conscious effort not to draw attention to the anniversary ahead of time, or even too much today. 

    Nevertheless, it remains, for me at least, an important milestone - an opportunity to reflect and rejoice; to give thanks for my own continuing life and health, and to remember the, all too many, friends I have made and lost in these years.

    I had contemplated posting some stuff that was fairly frank, but I know that among my readers are gentle folk who would find that distressing.  Suffice to say, I seem to be lucky/blessed enough thus far as to remain in the good part of the statistics.

    So this year, no social gatherings, no personal fundraisers for cancer charities, just a bit of utter doggerel, with apologies to AA Milne.

     

    When I was one
    Active treatment was done

    When I was two
    Up Ben Nevis I flew...
    Well, actually I staggered, but that doesn't rhyme.

    When I was three
    Reconstruction was finished - yippee!

    When I was four
    I'd been to New Zealand on tour...
    Well, actually to present a paper at a conference but doesn't sound so much fun!!

    When I was five
    I celebrated life!

    And now I am six
    I'm still in remission:
    NED seems a good status
    for ever and ever!

     

    In these six years I have heped to raise thousands of pounds for cancer charities, met some amazing and inspiring people, done things I'd never have imagined and learned just how precious life is.  Sometimes I need to remind myself of this... and sometimes I need to allow myself the indulgence of speaking of it.

  • Quarter of a century of www...

    Apparently the world wide web is 25 years old today.

    Back in 1991, when it was all very new, we had something at work called a "kilostream" link to the company for which we were an outsource.  We had some software called "teamlinks" that allowed us to send what would now call emails to each other... and we used to take turns to get onto a computer to use it!  Within a few months the "kilostream" had to be upgraded to a "megastream", still a kind of glorified dial-up modem, that was left on all the time, and we had our own "personal computers" set up to control precisely what we could, and could not, access!

    I remember setting up my first email account in 1999 - and which I used until last year when, after two takeovers, Dialstart finally vanished off the face of the earth.  The squeaks and whistles of the modem, the need to log out when not needing to be online, because it was an expensive business, and the wonder of internet where it was possible to discover all sorts of new things, quickly.

    From there to DSL and later ADSL broadband in my manse in Dibley - as computer power grew and faster downloads became possible.  Emails flying so swiftly that it was almost impossible to keep up.  Spam and junkmail and scams and viruses, the emergence of blogs and social media.

    Now, whilst at church I am still on ADSL, and it is more than adequate, I've been on fibre optic broadband at home for several years.  Although I never take advantage of all the data available, I can download video clips, music, stream television programmes and films.  I can read decent (and dodgy) Bible commentaries, check the spellings of words, book travel and holdays, pay bills, upload files to "clouds" and have video-calls with people on the far side of the  planet.

    Twenty five years since the first www links were made (modems had, of course, been around a lot longer, connecting people over smaller networks).  Whether or not that's progress, is open to debate, but for me, it has definitely been a boon - rather than summoning up the courage to speak to people I can just type a few words and up pops my answer!  For shy people and introverts, the www has opened the way to stress free connectivity!!

  • I'd forgotten that I'd forgotten..

    Yesterday afternoon I did something I last did in December 2004!  I went into church to get ready to lead the evening service knowing that I had at least an hour to myself before anyone else arrived.

    I'd forgotten that I used to do that.

    And I'd forgotten how precious that time could be...

    I realsied I'd forgotten that I'd forgotten

    Even in summer, when it's still light, the atmosphere shifts as day draws on, a stillness seeps into (or is it out of?) the corners, the air seems to change its quality, I am more aware of the thousands of prayers the last vestiages of which still hang in the air.  The smell of old (often damp) books, the creak of old pews or the squeak of chairs, the sound of a building at rest - or maybe, if it's not too heretical (and after all Jesus said stones could shout...) a building at prayer.

    To sit quietly and savour the stillness.  To slow down.  To create a space for others to do the same.  To pray for others.  To enjoy the mysterious presence of God's absence.  To be.

    I recalled sitting in churches in Dibley, in Bolton, in Manchester where I had done the same in times past.  I felt the interconnectedness that transcends geography and temporality.  I stilled my soul in the presence of God. 

    I remembered, and I was glad.

     

    (photo taken after the service)