Wednesday, 31 July 2013

SOTS Summer Meeting 2013

I promised SOTS members that there would be a blog post today, as long as nothing happened in the foothills of the Pennines to distract me; one has to allow for this possibility, as it seems that one such happening may have occurred in 1957, and here is a link to some information about it: The Wardle Incident of 1957 . However, this afternoon, so far so good, and I can only hope that anything exciting happens only this evening when I will be returning to my flat from Mother's at about 11 pm after watching the TV programme I have recommended about Thomas Heatherwick on BBC2 at 10pm. I have sat in one of his chairs in the V & A, and this is in itself an experience to be recommended: Heatherwick chair youtube . There is much more to Mr. Heatherwick than this, of course.

Oh dear, I will be accused of digressing, though I don't think I am, I am only expanding on a few things mentioned earlier.

We are fortunate in having James Patrick as hospitality secretary, and here he is in full flow directing operations. I'm sorry I chopped his hand off in this picture, but I will include the pic as it shows how he has
James, Eryl and David
readily, and rightly confidently, taken to his new role. Long before he was appointed, I privately thought he was just the man to take over from Elizabeth Harper - a hard act to follow - and I think my hunch has proved correct. I have a private idea about who would make a good president for 2017, our centenary year, but I will keep this very secret, though I am gaining confidence in my own ability to be quite a reasonable judge of these things. James is seen here with President Eryl Davies, and David Tollerton also of Bangor University, who gave a thought-provoking paper about the holocaust and OT theology. During this, I was reminded of something I heard recently from the lips of Trevor Dennis (who used to be a member of SOTS - a sad loss) that 'if we did not know that the OT had been written by Jews, we would say that it is anti-semitic', which seemed to me to sum up very concisely (and without my meaning to be at all flippant) some aspects of the issues involved. David's book on the subject is: David Tollerton, The Book of Job in Post-Holocaust Thought
John Barton

But this is supposed to be a collection of pictures, and already I have lapsed into becoming too talkative as usual, so without further ado I will try to provide only the minimum of blurb around the pictures.

Here is John Barton, alerting us to the existence of pithy ethical advice in the OT and what might be thought about its origin and more. John Goldingay paid us a rare and welcome visit, and we were glad of his thoughts on memory in the OT; always asking questions that
John Goldingay and Cloth Q
provoke discussion and a 'Hmmm' posture in his listeners, though behind him 'Cloth Q' (who allowed me to use his name for this blog) is standing up and looks as if he might be about to set off on his windsurfing board, but I am sure he is listening very intently, and saying things in his heart.

Summing up papers is not my strong point, and we await the abstracts in the next Bulletin with interest, and are pleased that SOTS members' papers are usually presenting a small part of an issue which the giver explores in much depth and detail in their published or yet-to-be-published work, and of course there were many more than I can mention here.

"Always carry a camera, always"
You may know that I gave a paper myself, or a cloth, 'But is it in the text Viv?...' about my way of using textile work to think through OT things. It never really did become a paper, although I did try before breakfast on the day to sit up in bed and write down a few of the thoughts I had had while preparing it in case I was attacked by 'Scared Rabbit Phenomenon' while delivering it, which is a bit of a risk in the case of an intentionally unscripted paper; but I was interrupted by the bleeping of the fire alarm in my room, and clearly I am not at my best before breakfast because I can now see the idiocy of the thoughts that went through my mind at that point. I had tried to tune into Radio 4 on my Walkman (this sounds such an old-fashioned device now, and I only bought it the other week mainly because of a buyer's recommendation on Amazon that it had proved a success with an elderly gardener neighbour), but seemed only to get Welsh language stations, and wondered whether twiddling the dials had created some lethal spark. Then I got out of bed and tried to stop the thing bleeping by wafting it with a wad of paper much as though I had burnt some toast at home, which of course failed to stop the noise. After a little while, I remembered that the idea of these things was to tell us that we were to exit the building asap, and so I did, but I forgot to take my camera with me (probably a good thing), thus going against the advice I gave in my
Brian Mastin and Chris Thomson
presentation (and followed at the time) which you can see on the screen in the pic of smiling members here. (Scared Rabbit Phenomenon did not seem affect me, probably because the fire alarm event put me in just the right mood for delivering a paper. Highly recommended; see James Patrick if you think it would help you in future.)

The outing was a great success, as it seems that an interest in the Bible often goes with an interest in steam trains; it's certainly almost de rigeur for Anglican clergymen to have such an interest, and it seems to extend further than this as the evidence from SOTS shows, and one or two of my pics show members fingers pointing at I-know-not-what parts of the machinery involved. So here are a couple of pics which seem to sum up some of the delights for us.

So I end with a pic of myself and my teddy bear 'Bear Aloft', who owes his name to the kindness of friends, especially SOTS friends, who have helped me get through some difficult times lately, for which many thanks, and I can assure you that I am on the up and soon to move into a little house where I am planning a garden (in tandem with a proposed textile effort) influenced by the Song of Songs. If you have any advice or thoughts to offer me about this, then please do send it to me at as usual. The idea came from the fact that the book is high in mentions of species of plants, and so I felt that its author was possibly a gardener (but certainly did not have a Sony Walkman) or knowledgeable about plants, as well as a writer.

I shall now flee to an evening at the nearby Littleborough Townswomen's Guild, and hope that this blog entry does not contain too many errors about anyone else's work. It was certainly a superb Meeting, and we look forward to many more, God willing as I say.
Bear Aloft with memsec Viv

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Looking after the castle

To my reader, if I have one... sorry I have been away for so long. Life has been a bit eventful, and I don't yet have internet access where I live, and this rather precludes sitting down writing in the usual manner from my couch or bed. I can get it on the stairs up to my flat, but in rainy weather that is not a good place to be sitting with a laptop.

So there isn't much new on this blog yet, but when I arrive in my new house, then hopefully I'll get back to writing, even write regularly on particular days! (But life isn't like that is it? So it will very likely be as sporadic as ever.)

My reader knows I like taking photographs when I am out and about, and perhaps this one above is the one I most love from recent days. It's of the good people of SOTS at the Summer Meeting in Bangor. It's about all I can manage to do just now, as getting to SOTS at all, with a 'paper' written (it never was 'written', but was carefully planned as a succession of images of and about my textile exegesis work; OK, 'written' like an icon is said to be then) was quite a challenge given that I have had more bedrooms in a single spring than I ever have done before except in 2010 while doing the camino to Santiago de Compostela, which can never be the same again, oh the horror of that recent terrible happening on the eve of St. James' day.
Mine's the one next to the fence

Just now I'm exhausted, yes really, in every way, and am trying to get through each day and achieve something; but my aims are modest, so it is 'get all the washing-up done', 'open the window and get rid of that musty smell', that kind of thing.

I have not forgotten my blog, or its reader, and I hope that there will be readers in the future, but really even that doesn't matter as I just write for the pleasure of it. "More anon" then!

I'm at my sister's just now for the internet access, and need to be trekking home soon. Tonight I will go to bed dreaming of what colour I'm going to paint the pebbledash exterior of my garage. That such a prospect brings me so much pleasure is perhaps the best thing about being me now. But a colour is more than a colour: it can evoke the British seaside, the Russian steppe, or the Spanish wharrever can't it, a chance to dream? (Only two of these are things you might want to do in this situation, I think, but wait - I give myself new ideas all the time, don't rule anything out!

No really, it is a gorgeous little house, (the back is actually a friendly place where all the gardens meet), and the current owners are going to live in a castle, as he is a handyman of high order and that's what he'll be doing there, looking after a castle. So I'm looking forward to looking after mine.
Home sweet home (soon I hope). I would like a proper wooden front door though.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Hidden Perspectives launch.

'Hidden Perspectives'.... in words from the Sheffield Dept of Biblical studies (because I can't begin to describe it myself):

"Posted on by | 1 Comment
…is a new project at Sheffield and the brainchild of Katie Edwards. It is so modern, it has a Facebook page. And there is a blog too which is run by Emily Foster-Brown. It is a ‘very pink’ blog. Here is the ‘About’ blurb:
Hidden Perspectives is a large-scale pioneering public engagement project that aims to open up interpretations of biblical narratives to underrepresented groups. The project is a jointly organised by Dr Katie Edwards at The University of Sheffield and LaDIYfest Sheffield.
Hidden Perspectives encourages inclusive discussion on dominant interpretations of biblical texts and narratives found in scholarship and mainstream culture. Working with groups and individuals from range of faith and non-faith backgrounds, this ambitious project aims to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity and diversity in which biblical texts can be interpreted.
In 2013 the project will focus on sexuality, gender and the Bible and intersecting issues relating to identity, diversity and representation."
Sheff bib studies blog

As it says above, it is so modern! Because of the involvement of SOTS members, it means I can say with confidence that 'SOTS' does not stand for 'Sounds Of The Sixties'.

So here are a few pics, some are my own, and some (the ones with me in) from the Hidden Perspectives blog, taken by the official photographer who attended the launch on April 11th. That was a thoroughly wonderful occasion which cheered me up enormously. Katie Edwards is clearly much loved by the many students who know her in Sheffield; she is a great ambassador for all things biblical, with public relations skills second to none. Chris Meredith is a talented young member whose PhD thesis on the Song of Songs will be published soon; those who heard his recent paper will know what an engaging speaker he is. There is to be a festival launch on 1st June, for which see:

The lovely Katie

Chris 'Song of Songs' Meredith with Memsec.

Chris again, slightly hidden too.

Sheffield Department of Biblical Studies.

Cheerful Memsec with empty glass (but it was re-filled).

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The things she took with her (1)

Oooh dearrr, I haven't been here in ages, so I might be my only reader unless I alert a few kind friends to my re-start. Things have changed, as friends know, and I'm in a new place on the SW Pennines.
New friends

The sheep here looked up and started to follow me in hopeful lines when I appeared with my stick, so I beat a hasty retreat as I didn't want their eager little faces to turn to diasppointment. In the distance is Watergrove Reservoir, and the hill is Brown Wardle which I mean to walk this week.

 I have quite a bit of time available for thinking now, and I've been mulling over the carload of things I brought with me. Just one carload had to be selected to last a few weeks and make it possible to work, so I went round each room identifying the things that I thought would serve some purpose in a new and reduced-size 'lair', which I call 'the Perch'. My hand reached for and packed two sewing machines and several books on Hebrew grammar and vocabulary, so this gave me  a good idea of what my 'body, mind, spirit' combination (thankyou, Waterstones etc!) was wanting to get on with. (As Qoheleth knows, the hand is a pretty good guide to the thing that really interests you if you find it hard to choose with your brain: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might..." Eccles. 9:10). Then there were a few little things that crept in because they were objects with a story attached to them, important stories. Take the collapsed-looking little object here; this looks like a shadow of its former self, as though it has had the stuffing knocked out of it, and of course it has (and it was stuffed with sheeps' wool collected from barbed-wire fences). It was once a pincushion, and not just any old pincushion, but one made out of the fabric that I used to make my
'going away dress' in 1976, when brides 'went away' and didn't collapse in a heap after far too long a day with two noisy parties behind them.

With hindsight, it might have seemed better not to make a pincushion out of the fabric, but then I don't believe in magic so I'm not seriously worried about that. The human mind, though, seems to find that it makes meaning to fit the material facts, and so having had to take the thing to pieces and remove the stuffing and all the needles that had disappeared into its insides, I have now turned my thoughts to what I can make out of it, since I never throw such things away. I made a new pincushion, a super-duper thing weighted down with a lead fishing weight so it doesn't knock off chair arms, and so this old one needs to be made into something else.

One saying that had stuck in my mind was that a marriage can be described as a container for a family, and mine certainly has been this; I'm sure marriages can be other things too, but this is a good start. So I thought that I must find some use for this little scrap of cloth, something that sums up the kind of hopeful thoughts that don't come easily at a time like this, and the words 'little house' come to mind, and of course I am now myself in a little house. So thought I might pad the sides of it, but leave it hollow for putting things in that need to be kept safe, and maybe not specify just now what I think will be put in it. I feel sure that it will contain something though, in the fulness of time, not meaning of course that time now is merely empty.

I've been greatly comforted in my "severe depression" as the doc* calls it (and thankyou, fluoxetine! "Prozac") by my own rendering of Psalm 88 (the gloomiest one) in the form of an 18th C-style tie-on pocket. It isn't at all evident from the pic here that the pocket has a soft velvet grey lining into which to slip the hand; it seemed to me when I made it that people in this state needed comfort, as they needed to linger in their gloom a little while until properly ready to leave it, and now I have found it to be true from experience. So perhaps the pincushion will become something new when the time is right. We people who sew things about the Bible and life know that it isn't a one-way process, but rather the slow process of sewing actually feeds in new thoughts to the interpretative enterprise. Thus, I am hoping that when I find the right thing to do with the deflated little ex-pincushion, that it will start me off on some new thoughts that will help us all in this rather sad state that obtains now.

*See  the good doc's own writing .