Thursday, 28 June 2012

More ways to set fire to your hair

Mmm, weddings. Haircuts. Outfits. Had to make trip over to Grimsby to get the proper haircut, as no-one else seems to 'understand' my hair, it's very complicated stuff with a mind of its own, sometimes a sick mind. Like people have been known to get delusions about themselves being Napoleon or whatever, my hair thinks it is a brillo pad or a stick of candy floss, or part of the display in the Ropewalk in Barton of hemp fibres before they are all straightened out. (Not a brill pic of Hanfstengel- is far too tidy and flattering, is from here:  Hanfstengel/VivtangleYou need to go to the Ropewalk to see the real thing.)

Somewhere backalong [that's a really useful word I leaned when we lived in Zummerzet] in the blog I explain how to set fire to you hair in a church by examining something behind a candle, so you have to tilt your head sideways to look round it. Yesterday I was cooking a fishcake in a pan, when I dropped a weight down between the cooker and the cupboard. It didn't hit the floor so took ages to find, and there it was wedged. Having found it, you then need to move the pan to one side so that you can put your head right on the gas ring while you try to unwedge the weight with a knife. Do not turn off the gas ring while you do this. If you are very successful, you will also burn off your ear. I didn't manage either, so the hairdo remains just as it was when it left the shop, give or take a few nights' sleep on it.

Of course, I did say at the beginning 'Outfits' as well as 'Haircuts', and so I have been busy - I am still busy - making my outfit for the day after tomorrow. I might [probably will need to, actually] even put some final stitches in the thing for the evening while I'm eating my dinner at the first part of the reception. But the outfit as a whole, the one I will stride into church in, is finished all but a couple of loops to add to the skirt to hang it by, and to press the half-tablecloth I will wear round my neck as a scarf (I started making this in 1970 when I was a slip of a girl). But all together, t'owd man said it made me look 'like a displaced member of an Edwardian boating party'.

No rose in the garden is safe
The oven is full of flowers to be turned into a very special confetti. Perhaps this is a better use of an oven than what I've been advocating above.

Hair today, gone tomorrow?
The hair? Well, yes, it's OK I think. That's by Bobs in Grimsby. I know - I'm a bit of an airhead just now. Psalms will be resumed on Monday after the wedding.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tube of joy

The right place, the right time, is where we want to be! Today my friend and I sat having a coffee in Grimsby Minster (! Please don't forget St. James), when a pleasant clergyman came up and told us - warned us, we felt - that there would be a short service. (Religion can be scary to some nowadays, so we understood his tone.) So we hung on in there for the arrival of the Olympic prayer-baton, and even got to read out some of the hand-written messages that arrived in a transparent tube from the good people of Sheffield whence it had come; were they prayers, or hopes, or predictions? They were expressed in the form of assurances that Grimsby-Cleethorpes would become a place where God would move mightily. They correctly understood how places like this - like many others - are suffering in the current climate, and need to hang on to the idea that if we feel forgotten by the earthly powers-that-be, then God had not forgotten us, and would make of us a great nation. No, I exaggerate a little. But they wanted to encourage and support in these difficult days, which has to be good. Psalm 29 seemed to appeal to the encouragers: 'The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.'

And then we were asked if we'd like to add anything to the messages that would be sent on to Lincoln to be prayed over, so the verse in Psalm 85 came to our minds that we had been discussing since last Sunday when we had sung it, 'Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.'

This little gathering made a big impression on our day; ancient words, shaky handwriting, big hopes. Psalmic messages in a bottle. This is what the psalms are really for.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Humber water is hard
Dear Reader! I am still here, but you probably are not! Been so busy lately, submerged once could say, working on the psalms project, and a wedding coming up in a few days - son no.2 - and what with the garden growing, and grandchildren visited, and London explored..... so now with the wedding a few days away, I have applied myself to Housework. The tiles really were in one helluva state; this Humber water really is hard. I gather they grew some grass on something unusual and imported it to York Minster recently for a special event. Well, I usually get there first.

See: York Minster turf

Mr Fell, son of Henry of Horkstow.
I was gratified that after my recent rant about evensong, the Tablet's editorial mentioned the great contribution made by the Anglican choral tradition, and it spoke of 'the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty - a very Catholic idea.'

Lovely vicarage tiles, with Harpic
So I decided that we needed a beautiful bathroom, insofar as the parsonages committee provides us with the raw materials for this - our tiles are very naff and 1980s; but I never look at them, as I'm mostly in there with my eyes shut (a good idea anyway when you get older).

So it seemed to me that strong measures were needed, and so I doused them with Harpic in the hope of something thorough and fast, and the effect was very good. That is the tried and tested (once) household hint for today! (Don't worry about me - I made sure I didn't have a bath until after t'owd man had used it for a shower after the Harpic event.)

Abraham moment
Ps 89 dark cloud submerged

Dark cloud, surfacing
Now I have just under two weeks to get the house and garden sorted out fit for viewing, and an outfit to make for myself, and a talk to write and deliver tomorrow. I like to leave not much time, and then you can't overdo it can you? Recent psalms work has taken up most of my time, and I diverted from my usual style for these pieces by doing something not in the form of applique, where one can be cautious and test each piece first to see if it looks right. So I have done psalm 88 as a whole-mood piece, and being unsatisfied with it was about to cut it up and use it for applique, but like Abraham in Genesis 22, my hand was stayed by a revelation - the piece suddenly improved after I gave it an iron prior to cutting it up, and I decided to keep it as it was, and the new piece needed to go somewhere, preferably not the bin, and so it became Ps 89 which is almost as dark as Ps 88, but has a very royal edge. And so there were two pieces in the end, Ps 88 and Ps 89, and both involved a bit of submerging.

Psalm 88, St Albans' Psalter
Since I am really busy, and there has been the jubilee in amongst all of this, not to mention trying and testing the new bike, I will have to end with just a part of Ps 89. I can explain everything - but not here, not now!

Psalm 89, Viv

Sunday, 3 June 2012

By priest and people sungen

Enter here
The Anglican spirit is alive and well [I hope]. We have a flower festival on at St Mary's, Barton-on-Humber *; Shirley and her crack team of flower ladies have done us proud. We had a grand opening evening, with the great and good of the town turning up in numbers, and all there agreed that the church building is important enough to want to preserve. If this is to happen, we certainly need all the help we can get.

Niche ministry
Probably at one time this niche would have been occupied by a statue. Now it is the home of the flower arrangement that tells us that this is a well-tended if not a well-attended church. I suppose we must be similar to other places - the church diocese-wide/country-wide would not be down-sizing its provision of paid clergy if we were unique in this; the chill wind of the winding down of the church in the western world. I don't expect to see flowers in such quantity and arranged so expertly in this church again in my generation. Scones... evensong... I'm in wistful mood.

Flower Shirley
What is the future of the C of E? Diarmaid Mcculloch argued recently that the C of E has the potential to play a big part in being a unifying influence in a land challenged to make all its inhabitants feel at home. He writes:

"...this established church can be a home for those who go to it to express their doubts as well as their faith. It can be a shelter also for the kaleidoscope of culture, faith and no faith that now makes up our cheerfully diverse nation: an inoculation against the fanatics, both religious and anti-religious."
You can see the rest of this here: DM's letter to RW

Horkstow cake comp
*"Is that the church with the long-haired vicar?"
There are various things that Jesus told us to do, according to the gospels and Paul's letters, and I see no mention of evensong; but it seems to me that evensong is the crown bestowed on the world-wide church by England; after a healthful tea of scones, home-made jam and preferably clotted cream, it is also perhaps unknowingly the biggest evangelistic opportunity around. There have been numerous attempts to set the eucharist to jazz, to light music, to rock etc, and it's still a eucharist; but evensong resists all of these: Taize-fy or Wild Goosify it and it risks not being what it is, which is a very particular collection of hymns, psalms, readings and prayers and above all music of a certain kind. I hear that in Oxford and Cambridge, it is well-attended by students, and if our own sons are anything to go by, jazzy modern church music does nothing to attract the young; they see straight through it as a patronising attempt to get them in and want none of it. You don't have to divulge anything about yourself to anyone but God at evensong, and even that is optional; evensong invites, it does not cajole. You can drift off or soar with the music, you can study the psalms, the words of the hymns, the stones or bricks of the building you are in, you can contemplate your ending with Simeon, or rejoice with Mary in the hope of a world transformed.

Evensingers - we love our flatties
May it never be unsung.