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- Page 8

  • Anachronisms

    A rare free Sunday.  I was going to be diligent and do some writing but the sun was shining so I went out and had a break from everyone and everything.  In fact, one way and another I've managed to get most of the last three days off, so am a tad less stressy to be around!

    I took myself off to Shugborough, near Stafford, which, thanks to my National Trust membership cost me £3 for an 'access all areas' ticket.  It was a lovely place to spend time, with beautiful gardens and a virtually complete working estate with costumed guides.  There were lots of signs telling us these people thought they lived in the 1880's and did not know anything of the 21st century, so would we please not confuse them by referring to it - which was a nice touch.

    There were some delightful anachronisms - electronic till and scales in the sweet shop, photocopied recipes on sale in the kitchens and paper cups and plates in the tea room.

    It made me smile, as I found my mind connecting all this with what I'd read about the dangers of history reducing past generations to 21st century people in fancy dress - exactly what Shugborough is doing in a valiant attempt to make the past interesting for 21st century people.  So much for avoiding work!

    The nice man in the sweet shop told me he was looking forward to the law changing next month to allow him to use pounds and ounces again because he'll be able to get out the old scales (though presumably he'll keep his electroinc till!).

    I came home with a bag of traditionally milled organic bread flour - plus instructions to keep it in the freezer once opened - and a sense that even if we cannot recreate the past, and even if our best efforts are full of anachronisms, there really is something to be gained from an active engagement with the stories, artefacts and records we do have.


  • Summer Reading

    medium_curry_mile_cover.jpgI was attracted to this novel out of a sense of nostalgia for the not so long ago days when I used to walk through Rushlome's Curry Mile regularly.  I liked the cover with its montage of familiar signage and the references to places I knew - from Hulme Arch to Cheadle Hulme.

    Its critics describe it as an important novel in exploring the world of British-Asian young people as they establish their own identity.

    The plot line was not, in my view, the strongest I've ever met, but the resolution was satisfactory and, being in terms of some sort of reconciliation between cultures and generations, almost a 'coming of age' novel - if these ever move beyond equating 'coming of age' with 'sexual awakening' (this was a given at the start of the story!).

    Quite an easy read, and if you want a glimpse an Asian woman writing about Curry Culture worth the price at ~£7.95 in book shops (less from Amazon).


    medium_book_atonement.jpgFor something utterly different - and I understand about to made into a film, 'Atonement' is a prize winning novel that plays tricks with the reader.  I almost saw through it at one point when something didn't stack up, but what I took for shoddy research was actually all part of the cunning.  Unless you read to the end, it isn't a spectacular a story - but that is all part of it.

    I hope the film version does not reduce this story to something like the 'Titanic' of the late 1990's, which I found utterly predictable.  As with the Curry Mile, it is a pretty easy read, and despite its oh so theologacal title uses the word 'atonement' in a pretty general (non-theologically speaking!) way.  Again, sells at about £7.99

    Anyone want to suggest anything else?

  • Living Over the Shop

    One of the occupational hazards of being a minister can be living next to the church.  During the first year I lived here, people would call to be let in because they'd forgotten their keys or to 'borrow' anything from cornflour (I jest not) to my long-arm stapler because either there wasn't any or the church one was broken.  My hoover got used when the church one died, and I'm sure I supplied a fair few loo rolls and Jeye-cloths (other brands are available).

    After the building closed, I took on cutting the grass for the remainder of that season, and often had a wry smile to myself when someone commented that 'Jim (not his real name) has been down I see.'  I also have a cupboard under the stairs full of hymnbooks, green and red, an OHP, a dozen collection bowls and all manner of weird objects that we must keep but no one else will store.

    For the last two years I have acted as caretaker, letting in contractors to remove, disconnect or whatever, various services and items.

    Now I act as security guard!  Tonight I've turfed off a group of about 10 lads smoking in the alleyway between the manse and the church.  Fortunately this is Dibley, and the threat of the police was enough to make them go away mumbling 'sorry, me duck' as they went.  Obviously I got tough living in Manchester - either that or my Little Miss Bossy face is very, very, scary (certain people are banned from commenting on that!).

    I can laugh about it, and I was satisfied that I was safe enough, but it's hardly in the job description is it?

    Why didn't I phone the Police?  Well it hardly justified a 999 call and the non-urgent response time round here is about an hour.  What will I do next time?  I guess it depends what time it is, whether or not it's light and how drunk they sound.  Maybe I just need to go armed with a pile of scary tracts...?!

    In the meantime, I'll continue praying that the building gets sold soon.