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Archive for June, 2013

Alphabet BlocksYesterday the Vicar asked me to proofread a document for him. The usual lot of the wife of a dyslexic vicar. So I read through his Ministry Development Review (MDR) form. He has an MDR every two years –  talking through where he’s at with another member of clergy from the diocese and drawing up some goals for the next few years. It’s a useful process for reflection and planning. The form was mostly fine, but right at the beginning of the form it asked him to give:

Date of last ABC

To this question my husband had responded:

Don’t know what this is

Since I didn’t either and my google fu let me down, I shared the problem with Twitter. The Church of England is like any other large organisation – it loves its acronyms. And likes to change them on a regular basis to keep you on your toes. Suggestions from far and wide included the following:

  • Approved By Committee (if this was a long time ago it may indicate ructions in the PCC)
  • Attack By Churchwarden (recent date indicative of alarming breakdown in parish relationships)
  • Another Blooming Chore
  • Absolute Belief Crisis
  • ArchBishop’s Council
  • ArchBishop of Canterbury (and one clever clogs said that the answer to that was Lady Williams of Oystermouth)
  • Appalled By Congregation
  • Attended Baptist Church
  • Apple Boring Contest
  • Appeared Boyishly Charming (alas, this would be quite some time ago for the Vicar, unless you can be boyishly charming without hair)
  • Annual Bishop’s Consultation

Eventually a very helpful person linked me to a diocesan document that explained that ABC stands for The Archdeacons and Bishops Pastoral Conversations. Of course. Obvious. And these ABCs happen after 5 years in post. Which is why the Vicar didn’t have a scooby, as we’ve only been here for 4 years. We’ll know for next time. But I thought that some of the other suggestions were much more fun.

Are there any other options, I wonder?

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Lots of people have already blogged about their disappointment with the new Girl Guides promise eg Gillan, David, Alison. I didn’t manage last week, but I did express some of my feelings on Twitter. That resulted in an interview with Helen Legh on 3 Counties Radio that went out on Sunday morning. You can catch it on iPlayer until next Sunday – my slot was about 1hr 10minutes into the show. I very much enjoyed talking to Helen and think I managed to get across most of what I’ve been thinking. Which is:

  1. The Guides is a brilliant organisation. I will always be grateful to Guides for friendships made and the encouragement to lead and take responsibility.
  2. I understand that not everyone wants to make a promise to God.
  3. But being ‘true to myself’ is either meaningless – a sort of Disney nonsense, or a more insidious call to the worship of self (my daughter thought it meant ‘be selfish’).

What I forgot to mention was that the promise is going to be tricky for girls to say if they believe that to be true to themselves they cannot promise to be true to themselves, as they know that their selves are flawed and imperfect and not to be trusted. Which is essentially what a Christian believes.

And I also didn’t mention, because I didn’t know it at the time, is that my former Guide leader, (a member of my home church which I visited last Sunday), is considering sending back her trefoil (a sign of membership) because she is so cross about the new promise. She led our Guide company for many years and went on to other senior guiding responsibilites. Seems to me that the Guides may need to have a little think about where they are headed with this seemingly self-centred new declaration.

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Wimbledon starts today, with all its fervent discussion about Andy Murray, the weather and the price of strawberries. I had the pleasing experience a couple of weeks ago of going to a Wimbledon warm-up tennis tournament, the Aegon Classic, courtesy of the kind people at the Lawn Tennis Association. There was no Andy Murray (it was a women’s tournament) nor any sign of strawberries. But we did have weather, alas.

It was super easy to get to leafy Edgbaston where the tennis club is. As you drive from our parish the suburbs get gradually smarter until you get to Edgbaston, full of wide avenues lined with enormous Edwardian mansions, university halls of residence and independent schools. We were pleasingly able to park for free on one of the wide avenues by the club. A good start.

Once there we were able to take our seats with great views of the centre court without any queuing or stress. Then we enjoyed some great tennis – Daniela Hantuchova played Kristina Mladenovic. I spent some time transcribing Hantuchova’s grunts of effort. Her baseline noise is ‘Woo-ee’. And her service is accompanied by a ‘Uh-ee’. Transcribing them distracted me from the irritation of the noise. A little. Mladenovic won the first set and then, about half way into the second set, the rain arrived. As it was lunchtime we took shelter in one of the cafe tents. It was pretty squashed, but we found a spot to sit down amongst the damp tennis fans. It was Ladies Day, so a few spectators were decked out in impressive hats. We’d opted for smartish trousers and tunic combinations – a wise move I felt, as we sat on the floor to eat our sandwiches.

Sadly, it rained for the next couple of hours so we ended up returning home feeling rather undertennissed. But the tournament continued over the week and Hantuchova eventually triumphed. So thank you Lawn Tennis Association. I’d love tickets again next year. And now to get my Wimbledon head on…

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Our lovely friend Ruth is back in hospital. Her dad, who lectured the Vicar at Oak Hill and is not generally given to daredevil pursuits (although he did dress up as King Henry VIII for a holiday club once), is jumping out of an aeroplane (thankfully with a parachute) to raise funds for the Cystic Fybrosis Trust. Do support him and the CF Trust. And pray for Ruth and read her blog – she writes movingly and challengingly on living with CF and trusting God.

Parachute jump

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I took my new shoes to Nottingham yesterday. I’m pleased to report that the shoes performed pretty well at the IVP sales meeting. My feet were comfy enough and I didn’t need to change into my slippers immediately I got home.

It was great to see my editor and meet the IVP sales team and tell them a little about The Ministry of a Messy House. I got to meet most of the people in the office too and saw how the process goes through from editing and artwork through customer services and finance through to the boxes of books being packaged for sending out.

Anyway, just in case  you’ve not already seen the pics on Twitter, here are the shoes:

Purple shoes

They came from Brantano for a bargainaceous £13 and were accompanied by a swished dress from the Proc Trust Minister’s Wives conference and a £3 cardie from my favourite jumper stall on the market. Seemed like an appropriately authory outfit. All authors are impecunious, aren’t they?

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When I started a blog I didn’t have any big aim. I just had a few stories to tell and my mother kept on telling me that she thought I should share them with a wider audience. And I reckoned that there weren’t that many columnists out there telling the story of inner city life whilst actually living it. Nor that many Vicar’s wives telling the story of what happens when you live somewhere that is seen as a first and last port of call in the storms of life. So I just started telling my stories, way back in May 2008.

But since I began blogging, and people I wasn’t actually related to began to read it, I have had the opportunity to spout a few views over at Lou’s Women, an occasional column at the Express and Star, our local daily paper. And then last year, I was asked to propose a book idea to IVP after I talked a bit about my blog at a conference and suddenly I’m going to be an author. Tomorrow I have to go to an IVP sales conference in Nottingham to enthuse about my book. I had to get new shoes because I only have smart boots, trainers and scruffy sandals. So I’m already pleased about going.

A few months ago, because of the blog, Hannah, a curate’s wife, asked me if I’d review her handmade prints. I was a bit busy with the book when she asked, but you should check out her site all the same, cos the prints are lovely.

MP900341336And then, just a few weeks ago, I had an email which I initially thought might be a scam. But then I saw the official-looking email address. It was from a marketing person at the Lawn Tennis Association. And they very kindly offered me a couple of free tickets for the Aegon Classic which is on at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham all this week. We are going for Ladies’ Day, which is on Thursday and is raising money for Ladies’ Fighting Breast Cancer. I am taking Dreamer, our Familes and Community Worker, and we are going to have a girly day just a few miles away, but in a rather different world to our normal inner city parish life. We are looking forward to seeing some great ladies’ singles tennis and getting in the groove for watching Wimbledon on the telly in a few weeks.

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On my way through the tow-un yesterday I stopped to buy fruit and veg at one of our great selection of stalls on the open air market. As I discussed the varieties of potatoes with the cheery moustachioed stall holder he started asking me a few questions:

Where you from?MC900441718

Where you live?

Who you live with?

We chatted away, I told him about living with my husband, three kids, two lodgers, a cat, a rodent and a fish, how we didn’t live in a council house because my husband was a vicar and the house came with the job. Then he said:

You have a grrrreat body!

and gave me some free bananas. Since I’d just been at a gym class where I could barely keep up, I have to (rather shallowly) say that this rather made my day…

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