Today my husband and I are celebrating being together for 33 years. We have been married for nearly 28 of them, but today marks the start of us being together as a couple.
Let me unpack that a little…
We knew each other at music centre as young teenagers for a while before we started “going out” with each other (which at the ages of 14 and 16 respectively meant going to each other’s band rehearsals and waiting for each other at gigs mainly), so the 33 years today is the anniversary of our first kiss. And in true bandsman style it was on the coach at a band contest – yes, corny, I know!
Well, we don’t actually celebrate anniversaries really, just nod to each other as we pass each other in the kitchen and say something like, “well, we made it.”
Today’s “celebrating” went a little bit further than usual though. Now, don’t be getting all worked up or anything. We spent the afternoon cleaning the church hall and polishing the main floor.
Take a look at this.
This was taken half way through the mammoth job of laying on the polish. The floor had already been swept, buffed, and swept again before this stage. I cleaned the toilets while Kevin did the second sweeping – talk about celebrating in style!
This is the finished product:
It looks a bit patchy because it was still in the process of drying, but I can’t wait to see what it looks like in the morning after church.
It’s a special View from the PamCam today as it is Whit Friday and the Pamster has been busy watching the bands in and around Saddleworth all day and night.
You may know already that brass bands are very dear to my heart and I have been associated with (and in love with, let’s be honest) bands since the age of 7 when Mr Northwood thrust a cornet into my hands and said “play me a G on that and you can play in the band”. I usually love Whit Friday, with the thrill of jumping off a coach to march down the street and play under a street-lamp/in the middle of a field* (delete as appropriate) before jumping on the coach again to drive over to the next village on a jump-wait-march-contest-run-jump cycle in the glorious countryside of Saddleworth.
But now, as my banding days are drawing to a close, my attention has recently been drawn to the “other” bit of Whit Friday, and that’s the morning walk by the local churches who then gather for a joint service (again in the middle of a field) before setting off back home again. Each church is accompanied by a brass band and I have enjoyed that part of the day just as much as I have always enjoyed the evening part, which is the band contests and the chance to catch up with old mates.
So, I went to Uppermill with my friend this morning to go and watch the church parade, cheer on the bands taking part, and join in with the service. The weather was changeable (as you will see from my photos) and we only got soaked to the skin the once. It was a thrill for me to see some of my banding friends on parade and to give them a clap as they marched past me, and I loved seeing two overseas bands who had come to Saddleworth to experience as much of Whit Friday as they could. They were the Reykjavíkur band from Iceland and the Weston Silver Band from Toronto and it was great to see them joining in and leading two of our local churches in their traditional walk of witness.
This evening, I went with my husband to go and watch the bands in Delph. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere and they do the best fish and chips in the area so it’s a win win! We saw some serious bands, some not so serious bands, some comedy bands, some youth bands, some bands who had travelled from all over the country and some bands who by the end of the night were a bit worse for wear. My son was playing with Wingates band and was thrilled* that I took his photo before we left the house this afternoon.
Having happily finished my first C2C project a few days ago I’m excited to start working on another. This is going to be a celtic knot using just three colours, and is one I designed myself. I’ll post my progress as I go.
Here’s something I’ve not done for a while (too long, in fact) some proper home practice. Arban out, propped up against the bread board and spice rack, and a full hour of mixed intervals and tonguing exercises.
Well, my usual practice involves just long notes, hymn tunes and the tricky bits in pieces we’re working on in band but I want to work a bit on my technique and my range to get back to the standard I used to play at before I became ill. I haven’t done and serious serious practice for too long and I felt today was the day to start my rebuilding.
The Arban Cornet Method is a source book that generations of brass musicians have used when working on various bits of technique, and is an invaluable book to have in your toolkit both as a beginner and a professional. This is the second copy I have owned in my lifetime. The first fell apart from use and endless pencil marks that have been rubbed out and drawn in again and again. That’s what practice is really, going over the same things again and again slowly erasing the mistakes as you progress.
I earned myself a chapped lip and a blister for my troubles, but I could already tell there was an improvement at band tonight. My stamina is not bad generally, but I finished band feeling I could do another two hours. My range is going to take more work to sort out, and hopefully my tone will improve too.
It’s surprising how things like finger patterns and muscle memory are never far from the surface, but it’s things like stamina that need the extra attention.
Background/plot: Fi returns home from a work trip away for a few days to find another family moving into her house. What follows then is the unravelling of how things got to that point and what happens after it. It’s hard to give any more detail than that because it will give the plot away, sorry!
How is the plot constructed? The story is told primary from three narrative viewpoints. The first is a video transcript of an interview with Fi, one of the main characters, the second is in the form of a Word document written by Bram, Fi’s husband. Both of these tell the story in retrospect, and the third is an omniscient narrator who tells us what is happening to Fi and Bram in the present.
When and whereis it set? Most of the action is in London, but there are some parts which are briefly set in mainland Europe in the present day.
My thoughts on the book: I can’t remember what first attracted me to this book when I saw it on Amazon. I think it was something to do with the cover picture that intrigued me, and then the blurb sort of hooked me in. However, that fascination and intrigue only took me so far and it took me a long while to settle into the style of the book and the way it swapped and changed between the three narrative viewpoints that I mentioned above. I was bored at first, and I couldn’t see the sense in the narrative switching between them, and I was ready to give up multiple times in the first bit. However, there was a particular point (around 15% of the way through) where the plot began to heat up and there was a particular encounter between Bram and “Mike” and it suddenly became a must finish book after all.
I am one of those readers who is so immersed in a book that
if it’s good enough (and this one is) the characters stay with me in between
reading sessions. But I’m also one of those readers who having been so immersed
in a book that it literally lives in and around me all the time I’m reading it,
that as it comes to the finishing line (handy percentage counter on a Kindle
helps ratchet up the tension) that I begin to dread the ending at around 90%.
Dread it? Yes, but not for the reason you may think. You may think that I dread
it ending because the characters will no longer occupy my mind (that’s part of
it, but if the writing is good enough and the characters are believable and
strong enough then they will live on for days, weeks, months yet), but the
biggest reason is that up to that point the book has been so good, dread starts
to set in about whether the ending will match up to the rest. I needn’t have
worried. As the ending starts to play out, I was literally breathless reading
it and I was second guessing every decision the characters made, and found
myself rooting for a particular character that for the first two thirds of the
book I was prepared to loathe and be happy to see sail over a cliff.
But isn’t that the beauty and the power of a good book? That
the character that you set out hating becomes one that you root for, or the one
who you are sympathetic with suddenly does something that makes you fall out
with them? That you are literally holding your breath because you know
something a particular character doesn’t, and you want to reach into your book
and shout at them to STOP!!!!
As the story unfolds, the reader is taken on a fantastic journey
of human relationships and we explore the different ways that people treat each
other, both for good and ill. What struck me most of all was that Bram’s
situation is one that could easily happen to any of us, and how easy it is for
our lives to unravel if we pull on a particular thread too much.
Any other thoughts? This would make a fantastic TV series.
Would I recommend it to my friends? Yes, without doubt. It is one of those books that slips between genres, and although it has won an award as a crime thriller, it would also suit people who are interested in contemporary literature and the human condition generally.
I went to Stay and Play today for the first time since Christmas (I have been on placement and then had some training weekends away, so only just getting back into my usual Monday morning routine). I have to say that I have really missed it in the last few months, and I was glad to get back to seeing all my littlies and their mums and carers.
I was fascinated to see how much some of them had grown in my time away, and I was particularly struck by the way a lot of them got involved with the craft session. Rita – our crafty leader – is brilliant at getting together the materials for the children to work with on a Monday morning and this weeks’ is no exception. She put together all the pieces to make a clown’s face, and most of the children made something that ended up looking like this:
Fab isn’t it?!
However, there was one child who obviously didn’t want to make a standard face, and she put her pieces together in a different way. I watched her do it, and I was amazed. She is 3 years old and her first step was to put the eyes in place – not straight on looking out at you full in the face, but slightly off to the side and as if the clown is 3/4 turned away. How did she know to do this?! Then she put the rest of the features on and finished up with his hair. She said it was “fizzy”, and this is what she made:
I’m blown away by the artistic creativity this little girl has shown here. She didn’t want the stars on his hat, they were “face paint”. And the two hats? Well, they are a bow in his hair because “clowns can have bows if they want”.
Wow. What an imagination, and what a different take on the world. I am humbled and forever in her awe.
Well, I finally did it. The project I started last week on the new – well new to me – crochet technique of corner to corner, or C2C, is done.
I quite like the effect, but next time I will do the outline a little differently, and when I add the extra border I will not be so strict with me stitch for stitch measuring because it has come out all frilly and not at all flat.
I gave the following reflection today at Cafe Church (St Paul’s Blackley’s midweek fellowship and lunch). It is around the Bible passage John 21: 1 – 17 and the guided meditation in the middle is taken from “Cross Purposes”.
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN
Beaches are strange places.
They are the crossover place where land meets sea. They are the start of one thing and the end of another, depending on how you arrive on them. From the land, the beach can represent the end of something solid, firm, sure; the start of uncertainty, excitement, adventure. From the sea, the beach can be the firm safety after a time of danger, worry and fear.
Beaches themselves can be a two-in-one place, where creatures that are marine animals one minute, suddenly become content to live on the land when the tide goes out. Jellyfish, happy to wait for the tide lying on the sand; crabs and razors burrow down into the sand to wait for the sea to cover them again.
The talk at the minute is all about beaches, with the 75th commemoration of the D-Day landings in Normandy. I don’t know if there is anyone here old enough to remember them first hand, but I suspect there are a couple who know the stories that family members or friends have shared from that time. The struggle for freedom, the confusion, the noise, the fear; that crossing place which was the start of the end of the Second World War.
I want to take you now to another beach, the beach in our reading where Jesus is waiting for his disciples in the early morning light as they come in from their night fishing.
Imagine yourself in the boat as one of the disciples.
Listen to the water, the small waves slapping against the wooden hull of the boat. Hear the boat creak with every movement. The shuffle of feet as your companions stretch and change position.
Can you feel the boat rock as they move? There’s little comfort in a small fishing boat. The thwarts you sit on are hard, unyielding. There’s limited space for seven men with their nets and baskets, the sails and oars, and all the other equipment they need. After a night’s fishing you are cold, sore and tired, your back aching, your knees stiff. You are hungry too. You sit quietly. Conversation was exhausted hours ago. There’s just an occasional gruff direction from Peter, in charge of the family boat. Sounds are muted in the early morning mist. You can see little, your world one wash of blurry grey.
It isn’t a very positive morning. Up all night, the fishing poor, and underlying it all a lack of purpose. Life had been so full with Jesus. Now you’re off balance, still reeling with all the events packed into the last few days. What will you do? The future isn’t clear. Will you go back to fishing full time and take up the threads of ordinary life; or wait and see? Crossing places.
Then slowly, imperceptibly at first, the mist begins to thin out. The shore looks insubstantial. And then on the shore you see a vague blur, the outline of a figure. A voice calls, asks about the fishing, then tells you to throw the net once more. Suddenly you’re engulfed in a great burst of activity, fish splashing water everywhere. You pull on the net, it moves, stops, moves again then stops, too heavy to lift.
A little while later you are sitting on the sand. You pull your cloak around your back, still cold from the water, but the fire slowly begins to warm you. You put your hands out to it, and rub the warmth back into them. Can you smell the smoke, the warming bread, the fish grilling?
Then Jesus offers you a piece of bread. Taste it…
The difference being on a beach makes.
As we think to the events 75 years ago on the Normandy beaches, we give thanks to the thousands of men who gave their lives in liberating the world from the tyranny of Nazi occupation and rule.
And now think back even further, to the one man who gave his life liberating the whole world from sin and death. Jesus. Our redeemer, our liberator. The one who was with those men in the dark, fearful hours and days on the Normandy beaches and who was with the disciples in the calm, grey, misty morning on Lake Galilee.
Where do you meet Jesus? Where are those crossing places for you? The places which are neither one thing or another, or could be both or neither? Where the sand shifts beneath your feet, where certainty becomes uncertainty, or where you don’t know where you are heading?
Those are the places where you meet Jesus. And he is already there ahead of you, waiting to feed you, restore you, and to send you out in his name.