Monthly Archives: November 2012

Do Nothing Christmas is Coming


Product: Do Nothing... Christmas Is Coming Image

Today is Stir Up Sunday.  Traditionally the day when Christmas puddings and cakes are baked, wishes made as wooden spoons stir the thick mixtures and the annual hunt for the silver sixpence leads to the other interpretation of Stir Up – the first of the frustration induced Christmas rows.  As we frantically try to prepare for the “perfect” Christmas and at the same time incorporate financial limitations, the arrival of disparate members of the family and change the sheets on the spare bed the hairs on our camel’s backs get heavier and heavier.

As you may have seen from an earlier post I am taking part in #ShareAdvent.  A comment on that post suggested it was a twee middle class list, which perhaps it is.  But perhaps I am twee and middle class, I have never pretended to be something I am not, for a start it’s too much effort and I have never been good at pretence (another good reason for not taking up my first career option of spy).

However, I also have another Advent tradition which I have been doing for two years now (I know because the bookmark is the reciept for the book itself purchased at Durham Cathedral on 24th November 2010).  I read Do Nothing Christmas is Coming – An Advent Calendar with a Difference by Stephen Cottrell.  Stephen is Bishop of Chelmsford and has written a number of excellent books, but this little pocket is my annual favourite.

Each day is a short reading with suggestions for reflection, how to slow down, and to genuinely prepare for Christmas rather than just for a holiday.  I set aside time each morning to write morning pages, read New Daylight and Simple Abundance, to pray, to just be quiet.  In December I add this little book,  why don’t you join me?  I’d love to hear how you get on, what you think, whether it helped.


In which I dash

Just a quickie today as I have a whole free weekend – which means rather than sit here I have a list as long as an orangatang’s arm that I fully intend to prune to the length of a gnat’s eyelash.  But as it is cold and frosty outside this is the perfect day to head over to Lover of Creating Flavour’s Blog and check out her Winter Warmer Blog Carnival.  Oh and did I mention that one of my recipes is there too!


Advent Sunday is only 10 days away.  This year rather than (or as well as if you prefer) eating chocolates and opening windows, why not do something proactive each day as we approach Christmas.  Nothing is difficult, all of them are fun.  If you can’t manage to do the right thing on the right day so what,  fiddle them around if you have to but just DO IT!
Share the word, copy the picture below onto your own blog then head over to and sign up.  You can follow all of our adventures on Twitter at #Shareadvent

Now off you go !

looking behind the fridge for the hope I seem to have lost

There were always going to be tears this morning but I had thought the tears would be because one side had lost, and losing always hurts.  I had not expected the tears to be of loss, anger and even a certain amount of betrayal.  Betrayal by a system that allows an overwhelming majority to believe one thing but a minority to win on essentially a six vote technicality.

Today we face the possibility of another five years wait until women can break through the stained glass ceiling and be raised to the Episcopate.   Did you know that a shark can have a gestation period of up to 42 months, they will not deliver their young until they are sure the baby is fully developed.  Women gained the right to become priests on 2nd February 1992 and at the same time it was agreed that they would have the right to become bishops at some point in the future.  Yesterday, 214 months later it was deemed by a small minority that the baby was not fully developed.

That is one hell of a gestation period.  If we can’t develop the baby in 214 months there seems little hope for us.  The tears this morning, at least some of mine are of anger and frustration.  It is not a question of when for those who voted no.  It is a question of never.  There is no situation in which they will accept women as Bishops and we are deluding ourselves if we think there is.  There is little point in going through the whole process again in five years time for there is nothing that will change the minds of those who are against the view that a woman’s calling is equal and valid to that of a man.  Just listening to the live feed yesterday I became weary as each side said the same thing.  What was the point?  Every single person went into that room knowing how they would vote, it wasn’t a debate it was a public speaking competition, albeit one made marginally more interesting by the ever reduced time allocated to each speaker, a sort of cross between Just a Minute and Name that Tune.

I have listened to several people from the No campaign and I am surprised by their failure to appreciate what they have done.  Susie Leaf talked about moving together united.  United?  This is the greatest split in my memory of the church.  Do she and the many others I heard talking about “working together for the future of our church” really appreciate the damage they have done.  It would seem not, their naivety frightens me.  For if their view is so narrow and their insight so poor they are not the kind of people I want leading me in faith.

The No campaign have lived with women priests for 20 years, true they have not liked it and have allowed themselves to become isolated from their diocese, served by flying bishops and creating island communities within the greater whole of the Church of England.  But they cannot deny the existence of women priests,  and as priests they have been called by God.  Did he merely whisper to women whilst bellowing to the men?  Is their calling less valid, less real?  If not, then surely God called them to minister fully and for some that may mean becoming Bishops.  I would like to know how many No campaigners can look a women priest in the face today and say that she is called by God to serve, for yesterday you made it quite clear that she was not.

“He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Indeed He did.’s the end of the world as we know it …

and I feel fine….. with apologies to REM.
I have always been a huge fan of disaster films.  I sat in the stalls at the Gaumont Notting Hill Gate (the gallery having been closed for safety reasons, this was long before the age of the Notting Hill Yummy Mummy) devouring Towering Inferno, the Poseiden Adventure (which I pronounced the Poisedown Adventure, which was more apt in the circumstances but just revealed my poor knowledge of Ancient Greek), Airport, Solyent Green, The Andromeda Strain.  Then on television there was Survivors, The Stand, The Day After, Threads, The Quiet Earth, The Last Train.  I loved them all and still do.  Today apocalyptic films are more on Hi Tech than High Drama, though Contagion deserves an honourable mention.

As soon as I graduated from Alison Uttley and the Pullien-Thompson sisters I moved on to On the Beach, The Death of Grass,  Alas Babylon, The Martian Chronicles, Canticle for Leibowitz, Earth Abides.  I was actually quite a cheery and optomistic child despite my favoured reading matter!

Recently I have returned to apocalyptic media.  It all started several years ago when my father passed on to me a book I had given him for Christmas the year before.  One Second After by William Forstchen, the story of how a small community survives after an electromagnetic pulse destroys  most of the western world.  I was fascinated, not least because it didn’t pull any punches and showed how a very ordinary man had to change in order to keep his community alive.  Decisions become based on very different criteria.

Whilst on holiday my kindle died on my so I was forced to read from the eclectic collection of books left in our apartment complex.  I am a voracious reader and got through over 20 books whilst away so my reading was forced to be very catholic.  One book that grabbed me sufficiently that I went on to read the sequel was The Flood by Stephen Baxter.  Curiosity piqued I  re-read Alas Babylon (which Forstchen acknowledges as in influence for his own book) and then Lucifer’s Hammer.  You can look all the books up on Wikipedia so I’m not going to go into them here.  What interests me is am I ready if something were to happen here?
Before you laugh, remember Hurricane Sandy or the New Orleans flood.  I remember watching Claire canning fruit and vegetables during the summer in North Dakota and the preparations for tornadoes.  I spent a summer in Antigua in the company of Hurricane David.  For many people being prepared is common sense and almost criminal not to be.  But here in the UK we don’t usually get the wild extremes of weather that means that preparedness is in the forefront of our minds.

Should it be?  Are we pathetically ill-prepared for a disaster that could leave us without food, water, power, drugs?  Is it scaremongering or is it commonsense?

Happiness Experiment, Rudeness, White Van Man and the Ladies Loos

I have recently been the victim of phone harassment.  It’s a nasty and slightly scary experience.  But what I really cannot get my head around is the intentional rudeness.  I appreciate that anyone who is warped enough to get a kick out of ringing up strangers is unlikely to have the kind of moral code that suggests that calling people names and swearing at them when they don’t fall for your scam is not the done thing.  But it got me thinking about rudeness per se.  It is not confined to the pondlife calling from boiler room scams in Europe, we see it everywhere.  From the van driver who called me a “fat twat” (at least he knew how to rhyme though I suspect that was unintentional) when he opened his door in front of me car causing a rather impressive emergency stop on my part to the scions of industry who publically dismiss their paying customers: Michael O’Leary and Gerald Ratner spring to mind. (I have a rather amusing story about GR,  his rather impressive mother & the ladies loos at the Grosvenor Park Lane but probably ought to keep it to myself.)

Why go out of your way to be rude?  What does is garner you?  We all lose our tempers, we all get frustrated and say something we later regret, or possibly not if it is a particularly good put down.  But as a general rule most of us have worked out that if we are pleasant to other people, they are pleasant back.  We like people to be nice to us.   We can tell when the person on the other end of the phone is smiling, it really does come through their voice.  I have done more than my share as the public face of an organisation and no, the customer is not always right, but the customer always deserves respect, particularly if I want it in return.  A denial with a smile leaves a taste a lot less bitter than a surly refusal.

But worse than that, the more unpleasantly we behave the more unpleasant we become.  I  am not suggesting that every grumpy sales assistant is descended from Dorian Gray with a picture in the attic and an ever hardening heart but try an experiment.  It is quite revealing.  Spend one day, make it tomorrow, don’t procrastinate or you won’t do it, and be nice, all day.  Make a conscious effort not to say no to anything unless you really have to, smile every time to answer the phone, be pleasant and engage in conversation with people in the queue (yes EVEN if you live in London!); put your change in the charity box; help the mother carry her pram up the stairs.  Then when you put your feet up at the end of the day ask yourself how your day went.  I promise you it went better than the day before

In which I fall off

I wobbled, but not for long.  It was easier to fall off.  No I didn’t buy a Congo but the wobble was sufficient for the bump to be considerable.  I bought a plum Osterley Filofax from the fabulous City Organiser .  The only fly in the ointment was down to Royal Mail who failed completely to deliver by 1pm the following day as per their Special Delivery guarantee thus sending me off to Paris without my new baby.  However, she was waiting upon my return and it was love at first sight.  I am a binder girl at heart.  and as soon as I had the familiar layout in front of me I knew I was back where I belonged.

Diary pages have been updated and I’m part way through the phone number list.  Then I shall play around with what goes where.

For what was also waiting for me was this.

Midori Traveller’s Notebook.  Sadly this isn’t scratch and sniff but it it were you too would be swooning over the buttersoft leather.
Current plan is:

  • Uncalendar in Domino A4 Folder – Working daybook.  Everything is written here, to do lists, phone messages etc.  I keep them for reference and they are invaluable.
  • Osterley – Command control
  • Chameleon – Writing (plot ideas, submissions, competitions etc.)
  • Textagenda – journalling
  • Midori – notebook that lives in my bag.  The on the go journalling variety
  • Erin – Family calendar (though having had a Dodo pad on the wall for the past 20 odd years I’m a bit wary about this but I can’t give her up)
  • Keels Simple Diary – for fun and interesting prompts

Which leaves an old French notebook providence unknown as my commonplace book

And a birthday present purchased from the lovely Moira at Sorella as my gratitude journal.  The chewy corner was a present from one of the canines 🙂

That really should be enough shouldn’t it?  There is some irony in that this also arrived from Amazon today.