Category Archives: Family

Secrets and strangers…

It struck me the other day how complete strangers seem to know all about our hidden, deepest, darkest secrets.  It is quite scary how many people outside my immediate circle of family and friends know about my most intimate traits.  I realised this when, in between the usual churchy stuff one fills one’s day with, I did the following…

Went to my local pharmacy to collect the huge bag of drugs I seem to have to inhale into my body every day just to keep it upright and moving.  So now the lovely young lass behind the counter knows all about my body’s quirks and failings…I won’t bore you with those intimate details, but she knows…

Returned, under advisement, via 2nd Class Mail at my local Post Office, my QVC bought-whilst-merry (!) purchase, so now my charming Postie knows I like to waste my money on the ROYAL MAIL and shopping channels and how I spend my enforced single evenings whilst not at Vestry meetings or praying…

Went to Asdas and had an interesting chat with the checkout girl about the lack of my day off, what rubbish I was eating for my lonely- heat-it-up-in-the-microwave-meal-for-one tea, what brand of deodorant I use and my current craving for milkyways…she too was to work the weekend, although she would be paid well for it…

Went to Staples to photocopy the monthly Church newsletter and was asked all sort of intimate questions just to get a loyalty card…who knew that my maiden name would still have power and an airing 18 years on…

Answered my door to the Next Directory Lady who knows my latest fashion addiction to plimsols is not really under any kind of control…

Went to buy my lunch at Subway where the lovely student now knows how I like my meatball subs…extra cheese, hold the salad, why spoil a good thing?

Went to John Lewis to buy some wrinkle creme and had an interesting educational conversation about how my wrinkles were deepening (due to stress or lack of sleep or both) and how I could ‘change and adapt my lifestyle to improve my skin’s elasticity’ which sounded rather painful and tiresome.  The creme was way too expensive so I came away with tester to try (cheapskate, I know, but I am on a stipend!)… but we did also discuss why the churches were emptying whilst the shopping centres were filling up on Sundays…ah, yes the Gospel according to TK Maxx had yet another airing…

Went to the library to apologise, once again, for the returned books and their accompanying puppy teeth embossing.  Realised that yet another complete stranger now knows my hidden passion for stories about murders, sex, ghosts and religious conspiracies…(anything to take me away from the real world for an hour or two) and how, when borrowing them in a dog collar, this could look suspicious unless I claimed it was research…?

And that was my day, sharing my secrets with strangers whilst bringing God to the homebound, speaking about God to other God botherers and putting the world to rights by writing my sermon.  Strangers who now know more about me than I do about them.  

Surprisingly, I feel reassured by this in a weird way.  I don’t feels threatened or worried about the kind of power ‘knowing’ my inner secrets could potentially give people. They were, and will remain, strangers. For me it felt as if God was in all those people I met and that God was looking after me through them.  To them, I was probably a mere blink of black in their day.  But, hey, they now know far more about the human foibles of a priest that they ever probably needed or wanted to! 

Who now knows your hidden secrets?  Have a think over your day…



Wanted! Agents for the X Factor of Grace…

This month has been a busy one already.  From weddings to baptisms, it seems August is full of wonderful ministry opportunities and the chance for me to be dressed in glorious red. 

Every priest knows that we only get one chance to spread the word at these events.  Many of us use the mission opportunities that are opened up at funerals, weddings and baptisms to the full.  When else to you get a chance to remind peeps about God and JC?  These peeps are often only coming through our doors or into the Crem for one reason only – duty, to the one who died, is getting married or being baptised. 

Duty seems to be an old-fashioned word that has raised its head once again in our Nation’s psyche along with other ancient words such as trust, respect, responsibility and honour.  After the appalling behaviour of some members of our communities, it appears that people are suddenly asking what are the reasons behind this sudden appearance of anarchy in our normally sedate British existence.  But this is not sudden. 

The actions of a few represent the unspoken frustrations of the many.  I do not condone the violence, the criminality or the sheer mindlessness of these people.  I pray that they receive the penalties that are due the crimes they have committed.  But when we live in a secular world that awards self and self achievements over responsibility and altruism to others, what else can we expect?

I wonder where are all the church and faith leaders in this?  Why aren’t we hearing from them on our news reports and in our papers?  If this isn’t an opportunity for the faiths to claim back morality for our ‘broken and sick’ society, then I don’t know what we are preaching about week in week out. 

I work for a bloke who professes love in action.  This is tough love that requires committment and responsibility to all those around us.  We have been preaching in our emptying churches for hundreds of years about the effect that putting self above others can create.  We are witnessing this on our streets and in our local shops right now.  It has to stop.  It is time for us to take back control and provide guidence over what is right and what is wrong. And we are witnessing pockets of that through communities waking up, remembering what being a part of community means and getting out to heal their damaged streets together with brushes and bin.

So did I preach at my baptism on Sunday about right and wrong and how broken our society is?  No.  That is not the way to do it.  People do not want to be told what to think or feel or do anymore.  They have no reason to trust those in supposed authority above us or even give them air time.  So we have to start claiming back that integrity, we have to begin to earn our place to be trusted again. 

By the use of ‘we’ I mean the police, politicians, priests, press-people and bankers etc.  Those in our society who have perceived authority but are trusted the least.  What can we expect when their actions are revealed to a world that now revolves around 24 hours instant news.  There is no where to hide anymore. And rightly so.  From Looters to Parlimantary Profitiers, we have to come out from the shadows, apologise, pay the price and be humble by living the truth.  It is the hard way, but then JC never said it was going to be easy.

I talked on Sunday to my lovely family, who I hope to see in church again, one day, that we in the church are Agents of Grace, we are not Judges of it.  Too many of us judge before really looking at who and why we are judging.  I will never say no to anyone who wants baptism, marriage, holy communion etc.  I have no idea what impact my opening of God’s love to that person will take them in their lives and frankly, that is not something I should be concerning myself  with.  That is up to them and God.  It is none of my business.  I have my relationship with God and I am opening a door for them to begin theirs. 

So no preaching about sin, no damnation of those who have looted, raped, murdered and pillared in our society.  Each will account for his/her actions in this world to those who maintain law and order in our society, and each will also account to his/her Maker in the next.  This World is not broken, our attitude towards it is.  We have forgotten who matters and have placed ourselves upon the altar of worship.  It is time for those in the Church and other faiths to stand up and remind people that they are loved.  For it all is simply about love.  Love of others, love of self and love of God.

The world will go on, weddings, funerals and baptisms continue.  The daily life of worry and strife never ends.  But there is a better way to deal with all of this and we, epecially those of us in the church, have a duty to begin singing our song of love once again.

But only if it is on X Factor…


Ageing Tardis Tottie and teeth…

If this blessed rain wasn’t enough to make us all depressed, I am now officially 40 years and 6 months old.  The weather has been rubbish and the summer a complete wash out.  If I don’t get some sun soon, by January I will be counselling myself.

Thinking about birthdays today as it is my Sister’s 37th – Happy Birthday Charlotte – and it would have been my Mum’s 64th (!).  Now having made it half way to 41 years young,  I thought I would reflect on my four score years on this earth.  Someone, joyfully, recently reminded me that I was, in fact, actually now in my 5th Decade.  You will appreciate that they are banished from the Christmas email list, forever.

In an article in the Daily Mail the other day, (I know, I know, it is my dirty little secret like my voting Tory), I read about the 30 telltale signs that show you are getting really, really old. Again, depressingly, I seem to cover about 27 of them.  Here are just some of my favourites: 

Falling asleep in front of the telly (who doesn’t as it is so boring apart from Deadenders, Dr Who and Torchwood), developing a fondness for sherry (who can do any housework without a bottle or two?), forgetting names (compulsory in my job), choosing clothes and shoes for comfort not style (again, compulsory with my job), moving from Radio 1 to Radio 2 (…!), ears growing bigger and hair sprouting everywhere (thank God for the miracle of Waxing!).

The most depressing one on the list was joining the National Trust…which we recently did. These are all signs I am growing older and that I have to accept certain realities in my life like:

1.  I am never going to be Tardis Tottie (a Dr Who assistant).

2.  I am never going to sing lead in a West End musical.

3. I am never going to have a flat tummy, ever.

4. I am never going to be one of those women who go away for an impromptu romantic weekend with just my credit card in my back pocket.  I now need the kitchen and bathroom AND en suite sinks packed in my several overnight bags before I can even entertain the thought of leaving my home for any length of time.  I mean what if the Rapture happens whilst I am away?  I will sooo need my emergency set of small screwdrivers and novelty ice-cube trays then…

5. I am never going to be able to go out for a sherbet (or sherry) or two again or be able to laugh without my Tena Lady firmly applied…(that is a girl thing boys, although I am sure they do boy ones as well.)

Hmm this getting old lark really sucks. However, there ARE positive plus points:

1. I can now say with authority – I am 40 don’t you know!

2. I do not have to answer to anyone (apart from my Bishop) or explain or apologise about the colour of my hair, nails, lips or toes.

3.  I can buy booze legally in the supermarket, laugh out loud when the girl asks my age and can drink said booze without falling down within three minutes.

4.  I do not have to save anything ‘FOR BEST’.  At my age, why wait?  That includes best knickers, best bras, best handbags, best albs, best stoles etc

5. I can drive and be insured without the cost of it creating another national debt crisis.

6. I don’t have to explain to anyone why I like Wham.

7. I can sing and dance along to the music in the supermarket and not feel embarrassed, even if my daughter does disown me.

8. I am proud to have handbags that are older than my daughter and my marriage.

9. As I am getting older, I can blame the fact my body is constantly breaking down due to my age rather than the fact I am fat.

10.  Mostly, I can have fun and relax because I have seen it all at least once before and know that life will carry on, all will be well and there will always be another boy band to replace the last one that broke up.

So getting older isn’t all that bad, in fact 40 is now the new 30.  Roll on 50 I say. 

At least, I still have all my own teeth, for now…


Holidays, walking frames and God’s dogdy hearing aid…

So this is me back to it after two weeks of holiday.  But it was not really a holiday in the strictest sense and I firmly believe that the cosmos still owes me two weeks in the South of France.  I await in hope…

14 hours in a hot car with hot carsick child, hot and backpain stricken Hubbie, two panting hot carsick dogs and a cool box filled to the brim with enough boiled eggs and ham and cheese rolls to start our own Subway stall.  This was just the beginning of our two weeks of family ‘togetherness’ as we drove down to Kent to visit family and friends in order to check they were still breathing, and whether the wills have been written…

Well, we, and the struggling car, survived the journey and it was an interesting two weeks. ‘ Interesting’ is such an interesting word I always think.  It covers a multitude of meanings, but I tend to use it to describe something that I am usually not happy about or want to politely share my dislike of something.  So yes, our ‘holiday’  this year was interesting. 

Filled with visiting my sick grandmother in hospital, having the joy sucked out of us sitting in the dark, hot and stuffy mother-in-law’s hermetically sealed front room (she doesn’t believe in opening windows); wandering aimlessly round the massive Bluewater shopping centre with no money; eating lots of naughty things (mainly Krispy Kreme doughnuts which, quite frankly, are manna from heaven with chocolate sprinkles on top); drinking far too much to counteract the humidity and heat of the mid-Kent scorched landscape (in tiny glasses as my mother-in-law does not possess anything larger than a sherry glass); trying to prevent Mungo puppy from poohing and weeing all over my mother-in-law’s door mat or from jumping in her pond and scaring the fish (all unsuccessfully);  and generally catching up with family who probably rather wished we had not bothered.

In fact, the above list seems rather like the deadly sins all encapsulated within my one holiday of the year.  How depressing.  And depressed I was.  My hubbie and I NEVER argue.  I know this sounds impossible but we simply do not disagree verbally and loudly about much at all.  This has been the balanced state of our relationship for nearly 21 years.  But this trying ‘holiday’ bought out the worst in all of us and argue we did.  Bang goes our record.

There were, however, some highlights and gasps of life to sustain us.  Visiting the V&A museum and spending time with my friend at her bars – Dion’s – in London.  Going to see old friends from RAF Leuchars in Guilford and eating BBQ and drinking too much bubbly outside in the rain.  Celebrating an astonishing 18 years of married wedded bless with my Hubbie at Waggamamas and then sharing a roast beast  with the sister-in-law and their brood.  And, of course, not having to take my grandmother’s funeral…there were moments of joy and relief.

There were very few churchy moments.  Dog collar was not put on once.  The nearest I came to visiting a church was sitting next door to St Paul’s Cathedral, sipping Sangria, whilst the hubbie and daughter braved a few minutes of choral evensong. 

Prayer, however, was constant.  Mainly to get my Nan out of hospital before she learnt the personal geneologies of the poor sufferers in the entire ward.  But also in the form of prayer-arrows to God, trying to get Him to turn His hearing aid up, as I am sure He could not hear my pleas for the Eurolottery win and a helicopter to St Tropez…

And so we returned home.  A long, long journey back north praying the car would make it and, again, eating our body weight in ham rolls whilst listening to yet another Piers Anthony audiobook.  Combined with a quick stop on the way for lunch (not a ham roll) to check on my sister, her children and ailing father, who are all, I am glad to report, still breathing.

So now it is back to normality.  Whilst I have been away, one ex-member of the church died, one member has become a widow and one has left the church in a huff.  All normal and part of the course.  So normality, or whatever in my life passes as normal, resumes.  

My Nan is now home from hospital fighting off the carers with her brand spanking new shiny walking frame and will probably out live us all.  The great-grandchildren are queuing up to put go-faster stripes on it along with Disney Stickers (maybe that is my Aunty though) and taking turns on the stairlift.  She is, of course, charging them 2p a journey.  Pensions don’t go far these days it seems.

Off now to try to scale the ironing mountain, discover if I have a car back seat under the layers of dog fur, dust off the dog collar, crack open the prayer book and tackle the depressing pile of bills I have neatly stacked on my desk in alphabetical debt order.  The suntan lotion has been returned to the back of the medicine cupboard for another year, (as yet unopened), and the passports that were hopefully packed, ‘just in case’, will be returned to the safe. 

Where will we go next year?  Answers on a postcard please, as that is as near to the exotic as I seem to get these days…


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