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  • Inverted Snobbery?

    I think I am guilty of some sort of inverted snobbery just now.  Let me explain.  Last week I watched the junior semi-final of the Songs of Praise choir competition, and today will almost certainly watch the seniors.  Each choir offers an amazing, wonderfully polished performance... and so far as I can ascertain every last one is composed of privileged children.  The majority are private/independent schools - fee-paying schools - with access to resources your average state school simply does not have.  Even the few state school come from 'nice' places where support for music and singing is likely to be good.  They sing beautifully, they have a lovely outing and get to be on television.  I am pleased for them.


    But then I think of the school choir that joins with us for worship a couple of times a year.  A state primary in east Glasgow.  Not from a 'sink' estates, just ordinary decent kids from ordinary decent homes.  They wouldn't get a look in with such a competition if they even aspired to enter.

    Or I think of the choir of Dibley primary, who came and sang in our community carol service once, their families swelling the congregation significantly.  Far from perfect (as a few folk were quick to point out, sadly) but enthusiastic and gaining so much from participation.  They, too, were they brave enough to enter, would be knocked back early on.

    And it annoys me.  I get that only the best can make the final.  But it isn't a level playing field.  I don't know how it could be levelled, but I feel it needs to be.

    So, tonight I will be rooting for the Welsh school, Ysgol y Strade, as it is the only state school in the senior section.

    Apologies to those lovely readers who were privately educated, I don't hold it against you, just think it'd be so good if maybe the opportunities could be distributed more widely.

  • For Interest...

    Someone alerted me to this in the press today... twenty people (19 women, 1 man) who have had breast cancer raising money through a fashion show.  Unfortunately it's the day I'll be with a hundred other people climbing Ben Nevis for the same cause.  Slightly bad planning, but then I'm happier in my boots and a fleece than I would ever be in heels and high couture; I guess the converse is true.  Just would have been nice to go and watch it.

  • Seeing Afresh

    008.JPGToday I collected my new glasses from the optician - for some reason it took them three weeks to get them, and even at that they had to be hunted for when I arrived.  Ah well.

    For the first time, I have varifocals.  The reading prescripton is the smallest they can do as it was 'up to me' whether I continued to peer over the top of my specs to read tiny print, a trick I've developed over the last year, or gave in and admitted my eyes were changing.  Over the years I've been told that because I am so myopic I have lasted longer than average with good close vision... I am also told that the drugs I have had over the last year or so can all affect eyesight, so I am choosing to blame that rather than my age!

    Anyway, I am now learning to see out of these new glasses. The distance prescription is unchanged from last year so that's fine, but I am having to teach myself to look through, rather than over, the glasses to read tiny print on food labels... all very entertaining.

    So far so good...

  • Another Farewell

    News reached me today of another of my Dibley folk who has died.  Although she had reached a good age, it is still a sad day when someone passes through the door of eternity.

    This woman had not had an easy life.  She had worked hard to support her husband and to bring up a family.  She was a very proud grandmother, often showing me photos of this or that one's latest achievements.  She could be stern, but underneath she was a caring person who lacked confidence.

    During the first year I was there, we decided to make some new banners for the church.  In an attempt at something or other, we decided to meet at the same time as the knitting group, at the other end of the same large room, hoping that the knitters might join in the banner-making.  A few of them did, including this woman, who confided in me that she wasn't very good at knitting and was usually relegated to sewing up.

    The banners were based on the John 15 vine image, and each person chose a leaf to decorate as she saw fit.  Some were embroidered; some had sequins.  Some were elaborate; some were simple.  I cannot recall what the leaf or leaves this woman sewed looked like, but we incorporated them, with the others, into the banners that, to this day, are hung for worship.

    I like to think that maybe she gained just a little bit of self esteem when she saw her leaves.  I like to hope that she knew I cared.

    Hers was not an easy life, had she been born a generation later it might have been very different.  Loyal to the end, and loved by her family, now she enjoys the promises in which she put her hope.

    KC RIP

  • The Little Words

    Way back, when I first started to study theology, we used to complain every time the tutors used long theological terms, because we didn't know what they meant.  One wise tutor (who used one heck of a lot of long words) told us that soon they would be tripping off our tongues, and we would realise it was the little words that were problematic... words like 'sin' or 'god' each of which is shorthand for enormous theological concepts.  He was, of course, correct, I do now use big words without thinking about and devote a lot of time and energy to the little ones.

    The same, it seems, is true of reading the Bible, it's the little words, and even the punctuation marks, that demand time and attention.  I have over the years blogged various of these, asking for insights from people who really understand (sometimes succesfully, sometimes not).

    Once it was the comma in "the voice of one crying, in the desert prepare a way" or "the voice of one crying in the desert, prepare a way"

    Last week it was the use of 'gar' (because/for) as the last word of Mark's gospel

    This week it is the " 'oi de" (lit. 'the but') in the closing verses of Matthew.

    I hope I'm not so busy with the little things that I miss the big stuff, but I suspect that we gloss over the little details to our detriment.