I met an amazing woman

It was my privilege to attend the morning meeting of the Vineyard group at Radstock Methodist church of yore. This morning there was no service as such. Instead the event was centred around children. There were games, constructions and a bouncy castle. Us adults milled round chatting to each other.

I was fortunate enough to meet a lady called Alisha. She had been born in UK but worked in Milan, Australia and America where she is currently with a non profit organisation which assists with the poorest of the poor. She is back here in the UK renewing her visa. Normally work visas are issued every two years. I lived in NY NY for some time in the late 90’s so I reminisced.

Alisha said that the homeless problem was severe. Under the new Mayor Eric Adams, police have the power to take any homeless person off the street if they consider them to be mentally challenged. That could mean just about anyone. She also said that prices had gone through the roof. A cocktail was $16 or $15 on a good day.  So, a drink and a couple of snacks could set you back $30. Also people were of enormous size physically. She attributed this to ignorance. She eats no meat so in certain areas there is nothing offered. There are few if any fresh vegetables.

Alisha lived for a time in Melbourne which is now a cool and sophisticated city challenging Sydney as the cultural capital of Oz.

However what impressed me most was her practical application of faith. God has definitely opened up ways for her and ‘made her paths straight’ as it says. Her apartment on lower East side ‘had her name on it’

I shared some impressions of her which some would construe as a compliment. I found talking to her a transparent and ‘clean’ process. I find this with people who have worked through their personal stuff. She says that when she is on her own the reads the Bible a lot.  I also found that she came across as someone who ‘walks their talk’. There was a joy and a glow about her that indicated that God was present. No question – if you trust God a lot, God will guide and help you.  If you do not trust, then God cannot whisper in your ear so although you might get guidance it would not necessarily be from the right source.

I also commented about what I had observed about single people.  Sometimes it is not our destiny to be with someone. I suppose you could say being married to the community is a good alternative. I have advised single people ‘ get married to yourself, the rest will follow’. I added that I had met married couples who might as well be in prison.

I left the meeting enriched and encouraged. I need such meetings like a piece of coal in a fire needs another piece of coal. It keeps the fire burning and two or more together is more effective than one on its own. I know that that is the way we are made. ‘ No man is an island’ as John Dunne said or ‘We are members one of another’. St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 12:5




A great day in Bristol – and the downside of Downside Abbey

We now have a direct service to Bristol which does not go around the houses but directly from the end of my street to Bristol Bus Station taking a mere 51 minutes.  We took the 11.14 to that city and seated ourselves upstairs at the front for the best view. Nothing much has changed since my teen-years. Definitely the best seats in the bus if you dont mind less leg-room.

There is something about the Christmas Spirit that was not only lingering on but was thriving. People are more happy to talk with each other, exchange humorous banter, and generally going on their way showing good will.  The sky was blue and although it was cold then lack of wind made this less than an ordeal.

We went to my favorite buffet restaurant, Cosmo, where at this time of day you can have an all you can eat for £14.99. The giant is ZaZa but they were charging £19.99 per head which we felt was a bit much for lunch time.

As usual I made it my habit to talk outrageously to as many people as possible. I notice that although I wonder how I get away with it people seem to take it in good spirit.  I reckon people are starved of people to speak to and to be listened to.

In the evening a trip to Downside Abbey for a nine lessons and carols type of event. The acoustics are terrible so I could hardly hear what was being said and that in spite of knowing the texts of the bible excerpts that are used on this occasion. An added irritant was the introduction of an uumps uumpa brass band which ruined the sacred nature of the traditional hymns. I stood right at the back as I could not bear to be seated and imprisoned at the front.

What was even worse – a women who insists on bringing her baby along. The baby  cries when it wishes and this is hugely disturbing and very selfish behavior. I find the Abbey without atmosphere. Francoise my wife does not wish to go there again except for an exceptional programme.

Sunday morning – to an 8am communion at St. Johns, my local church to which I have recently taken a liking to.  All Saints in Paulton is good on the social side and I regularly attend the Tuesday morning coffee mornings but I do not like the very informal nature of the services, with children running around. I mix and match which seems to work.

At 10 am off to the so called ‘Super Sunday at the previously abandoned Methodist Church in Radstock.  This is an informal group of Christians – The Vineyard’  both adults and children where we can catch up on the gossip and share meaningful experiences.

At 3pm THE FOOTBALL FINAL started. One of the best football finals I have ever seen. Full time  2-2. Extra time 2-2. Then the penalties began. It was about 5.50 pm and the All Saints carol service was about to begin. I’m afraid the devil got me. A cozy room, fascinating play, raining and blowing outside. If the penalties had been just ten minutes earlier I would have jumped in the car but – rotten timing for the service.

Of all distractions…

A jolly time in Bristol

Françoise and I were invited to Bristol to meet two of our relatives, Ken and Pat, who live slightly to the north of Bristol, and have done so for the past 40 years in the same house.

The bus journey from our locality was a little bit different to say the least. The bus was 10 minutes late – normally it’s on time to the minute – this was due to an oversize vehicle being shepherded along in front, thus limiting the speed. A combination of roadworks and traffic congestion meant we arrived 2 minutes after the connecting bus was leaving from Bristol bus station to take us to our final destination. Since I hate being late I decided to spend £10 on getting a taxi and we eventually arrived 3 minutes after midday, the appointed time. Such is my reputation for punctuality that I was greeted with “what time do you think this is then?” This was taken in good humour.

We chatted about local things, including the fact that mothers from a local school who scarcely know how to drive their 4×4’s use the cul-de-sac where they live as a free parking zone during drop-off and pickup of their children.

Our host’s house has been burgled three times – admittedly during a 40 year period – but three times too many so far as they were concerned. On one occasion, the very methodical burglar unscrewed the window and put the screws in a neat row before calmly walking through the empty frame and stealing things and that when the couple were upstairs. You could describe that as cheeky. It was the one time when they forgot to put the burglar alarm on.

It is a good bonus when a sense of humour is shared. Conversation is much easier and you can tease each other and make jokes at each other’s expense without any offense.  It was in this manner that we spent a couple of happy hours chatting away.

We left after lunch to have a meeting with three people from the stop 5G group in Bristol. They are doing a recording for the local community radio station. They were trying to assemble enough information and features to interest and intrigue the listeners. When I arrived, they had more than enough to keep them going, but there is no harm in having a large  pool of information from which one can draw. I said there’s a limit to the amount of planning you can do and you have to decide what are the most important features.

I think you can over-plan something. The interview is not supposed to be the Gettysburg address. It should be a starter to a conversation, the stimulus for people to think about important matters, a challenge to those who are complacent without, of course, telling them it is a challenge.   I promised to write a summary and send it by 7 PM this evening which I have done and hopefully it will benefit the quality of the interview.

I love visiting the untidy crazy areas of Bristol and the last part of this journal is a picture gallery, which hopefully is self explanatory.

Oh, and this is a lovely art installation I saw on TV this evening which was featuring Venice.