Monthly Archives: August 2006

Greenbelt’s Over

I am now consigning Greenbelt ’06 to the past. I will not be planning for Greenbelt ’07 until about April next year.

Today I have been mainly working from home. I have to go to the chemist at some point to get my meds. If I don’t then I’ll go into a diabetic coma at some point in the future. Yet month end work has slowed everything down. I haven’t even managed the washimg up yet – FW will be annoyed.

I’ve been asked to write some reviews for a website on the books I like to read. It seems that they go my details from my Amazon reviews. At first I was flattered. Then I read further and visited the site. There’s no pay. So what do I get out of it? Nothing, unless I like looking at my words and opinions in print. I get that from this and my occasional Amazon reviews.

So I’ve decided to pass on the opportunity. However I’m going to indulge myself in something else instead. I’ve decided to build a website dedicated to my forthcoming venture into the world of model railway construction. A sort of idiot’s guide to causing unecessary stress and tension in the home. FW can have her garden. Give me wood, a saw and rolls of electrical wire anyday.

In addition we’re welcoming 3 new additions to the family.

Greenbelt 3

Sunday saw us arriving again for our final visit. I really wanted to see Randy Stonehill, see below, hear a talk on Green Energy and look round the stuff I’d missed the day before.

Randy went as described. I managed to make the talk on green energy and then things went wrong. Why? Well my mobile rang. Not an unusual occurence you say. That first phone call led to 7 others over the next hour and a half. As such I missed half the energy talk and the Wibmeet.

My Irish customer had an urgent engine to transport fdor a customer in Cyprus. There was a chartered aircraft enroute to Stansted to collect it but they had no way of transporting it from the hanger to the plane. How do you find a truck and driver on bank holiday Sunday?

On top of this no one knew when the plane would arrive. The Cypriots hadn’t signed the lease docs and were still sending the plane. I finally got hold of a driver after an hour. He was then sat around at home waiting for the word to go. Finally at 7:30 we got the word to standdown until first thing Monday morning.

So, contrary to the accepted belief of my wife, I was not absent due to my reknowned unsociability but due to work. I hate inflicting my work life on the social time of others.

For those I missed, many apologies. Mr & Mrs Fishsoup I look forward to next year. Ditto Jack the Lass (though I heard the news…) Thanks for those who passed on kind words via the Mrs.

Greenbelt 2

Following the events of Friday we decided to set off Saturday morning. We’d spent Friday afternoon and evening catching up on TV, watching a western and a Jackie Chan movie.

Greenbelt is a time to listen to speakers you don’t normally hear; singers you rarely see and friends you may or may not see often.

Greenbelt ’06 saw the return of Randy Stonehill. Who he? I hear you ask. Well he is one of the original God Rockers. Larry Norman is credited with inventing God Rock. He saw part of his mission as encouraging others to follow. One of these was/is Randy.

I last saw him at Greenbelt ’83. He hadn’t returned since and last year was my first year since. I was looking forward to this immensely. He not only writes songs of praise but also songs of humour. He was singing about the dangers of smoking, fast food and the environment before many people were even aware of the problems.

Saturday saw a him perform Uncle Stonehill’s Hat. A sort series of kids songs, that also appeal to grown-ups (in my case almost but not grown-up). Songs that included seafarers and others.

Sunday saw him perform a more straight forward mix of old and new material. The only problem was that they were running late and he had his set cut short. Hopefully he will return.


Well I did get somewhat excited over Greenbelt. After a somewhat disasterous start that is.

Friday arrived. I did my work stuff before we could leave. Had my hair cut to festival length and wife went out and did some stuff too. Lunchtime arrives and I finish packing. We start getting the tent and my sleeping bag together. Then…..

Can’t find the camping cooker. Look in the two main storage Cupboards of Doom but no sign of it. Then I look in the end cupboard and there it is sat on the top of my stereo. Hurrah!!!!

Then FW asks if the tentpoles and pegs are with the tent. "Ah!!", thinks I. "Silly question, Of course they are. That’s where I always keep then." I’ve momentarily forgotten that I’m now married and things might have changed.

We unwrap the tent and flysheet. No poles and, indeed, no pegs!

Rips out cupboard. No sign. Looks through other cupboard, no sign. Looks in 3rd cupboard and, you guessed it…. No Sign!!!!

FW gets frustrated. I get frustrated. FW gets annoyed. I try very, very hard not too.

FW asks what we do. I say buy another tent. She says no.

Slowly things calm down. We decide that we’ll try another form of Greenbelt camping. We’ll stay at home and commute instead.

Hurray!!!!! All the pleasure of Greeenbelt but without having to camp.

For those unsure let me assure you that I do love camping. I just don’t like festival camping. Large noisey groups, portable toilets, unwashed bodies. ARRGGHHH!!

I like camping in open fields with few others around. Just me, a tent, some cows or, preferably sheep, a hole as a loo and some friends.

OH! and the wife.

More to follow….

Buddhist in a church hall

Ok, I’ll join in the fun. Greenbelt Wooo!!, and indeed, Hooo!!! Maybe I’ll get more excited when I get there. I am looking ion forward to it but with the move imminent I’d rather be preparing for that. Mind you I’m not overly excited about that yet either. Mmmmm I wonder why?

In other news:

That great bastion of Captilist oppression, Wal-Mart, has not only be made to recognise unions in China but has had a Communist Party branch office opened in one of its stores there. Who’d have thought that you’d get a Communist Party branch in a supermarket reknowned for its distaste of worker’s rights?

Mao must be spinning in his grave!

Another emblem of Capitalist folly Apple has been forced to pay Creative, the manufacturers of the far superior Zen range, $100m in compensation for stealing their patents. In addition Creative are allowed to manufacture Ipod compatible accessories too.

The Ipod is definite proof that clever marketing can beat a superior product. The Creative range is easier to use, has a longer battery life, is cheaper and can play more formats. Yet Apple have managed to dominate the market inspite of this.

And finally…..

A call for help

A Buddhist monk in Oldrum is asking if anyone could assist by providing a meeting place for him to hold meditation classes. The Reverend Chushin Passmore returned from a monastery in Northern California 5 years ago. He has previously led classes around the city but had to stop following illness. Now he needs to find somewhere to restart his classes.

In an odd part it says that he used to hold classes in a church hall near where we now live. Buddhists in a church hall? Whatever next? Human sacrifices on the altar?

Driving Like A Maniac – Legally

I received some good news this morning.

I received an e-mail from Mazda UK telling me that I had passed the initial selection to take part in a Special Ops Driving Training day in 2 weeks time. I had been hoping for this. Now I get to see if I can still handle a car
on the track and in skids etc.

Then I got to thunking (intentional error)……

This driving experience will be a way of testing my skill behind a wheel but also to learn skills. Hopefully this will make me even safer behind the wheel than I am now. I know that FW sometimes gets a little nervous when the car goes over 40 and I throw it into some tight corners.

Driving is something that you should strive to continually improve. I’ve always believed that its 50% self confidence 40% concentration and 10% luck. The idea is that you improve your confidence and concentration while lowering the need for luck.

Likewise, as Christians, we need to strive to improve our spiritual knowledge and skills. It is important that we learn more and trust more. That way we grow in our spiritual life. As you do this you begin to lower that little area that is self doubt. You will grow in your walk with God and slowly those doubts you get will begin to receed. They may never disappear but they will shrink.

Some people tell me that I seem to have a laidback attitude to my life. I don’t seem to worry about things I can’t control. I appear to have an inbuilt assurance that everything will work out for the best. Why? Am I somehow less concerned than other people?

No. Over 41 years I’ve learnt that worrying about things you can’t control does you no good whatsoever. In this time I’ve made many mistakes – lots of small ones and a few big ones as well. Slowly I’ve discovered what I can and can’t solve personally. I’ve learnt that those things I have no control over can be passed onto God and left to Him. Either He’ll sort it directly or show me what I need to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I have a answer for everyone. Its a very slow process that took 20 years of thought and trials to get right. I can’t even describe how it happens. Now its like a natural function in my life.

FW often tells me that she envys my calmness in certain situations in life. She’d like to know how I do it. Yet, unfortunately I can’t physically describe it. Its a process that happens of its own accord.

Its like driving. I was taught how to do it by an instructor and my father. I can tell you how its done but I can’t actually complete the process for you. It is something that people need to do on their own, yes with help certainly but at the end of the day they need to find their own way to handle the process.

Tractor Girl

No matter what my wife says, she doesn’t really approve of me doing things on my own. This especially applies to sport related activities. If she had her way sport would be banned and I’d be forced to look at "things" all the time. These range from places I never wish to see, events I have no interest in or people that agree with her point of view.

I mean my idea of appreciating nature is the way the turf’s laid at a rugby, football or cricket venue. Even a golf course is appreciating nature really, if it is somewhat artificial. Yet she doesn’t see it this way. Nor do a lot of other people she knows.

Why did God create this world of ours, if not for us to appreciate its beauty and functionality and to find ways in which we can physically enjoy it? Even hill walking is a sport.

I believe that people who hate sport are a product of the Fall. Sport is a way of using the gifts that God provided us with, until your knees start to go and you put on too much weight. Watching professional sport is a way of appreciating the skills that God gave us to perform. Such feats as nutmegging defenders; volleying a ball from 25 yards; hitting that perfect drive; scoring a penalty from the 50 yard line in rugby; Gareth Edwards and Phil Bennett in motion.

What could be more beautiful?

Then again there is an element out there that would ban sport just because they’re no good at it. I call them…… THE GEEKS!! They shall not inherit this world, my friend.

Great News

We’ve been told that we have got our mortgage on the new house. Now its full steam ahead to get all the searches and things done so that we can move by the 2nd week of September.

We also need to start packing as well. Ah well, that’ll have to be put off for Greenbelt.

They Tampered With My Balls

Great to turn onto Sky Sports yesterday afternoon to find out how the cricket was going, only to find that nothing was happening. The Pakistan team had been accused of tampering with the ball and had walked off in a huff.

Great way for England to win a series though.

Preparations for Greenbelt nearly came to a shuddering end on Sunday afternoon. I discovered that Sky are televising the Liverpool/West Ham match on Saturday. Did I really want to forgo this to go to Greenbelt? A compromise was reached when I realised that I could record it and watch it when I got back. Well worth spending £8 on…. I love Sky+!!!!!!

In case you are wondering……. Yes I would rather watch the footie…

Listen To The Music (And The Lyrics)

This started as an e-mail response to a friend but I decided that it should be shared a little more than that.

My friend is a self-confessed lover of music,. In fact it is a great part of his life. He’s written articles about it and had several books published as well. He is a person who helped to widen my musical taste at a very formative age. It is his fault that I have a great love of Prog Rock!

In a recent e-mail he wrote that he doesn’t listen to lyrics. Here’s my open response:

To me music is about the whole of what you are listening to. Instrumental music allows you to let your mind run free to follow the musical landscape and paint its own pictures to go with the music. Beethoven’s 6th Pastoral Symphony is a great example, as is Smetan’s Valtava. Both paint pictures with their music of fields and a rolling river. The sound brings the images to life. They don’t need words to illustrate what they are tonally showing.

Likewise folk songs often provide lyrical and musical images that pass on the story in a more accessible way. You cannot listen to the songs of Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie unless you listen to both music and words. Where would Matty Groves be purely as poetry? No where near as effective.

I can understand people listening to the music of a song and appreciating the beauty and complexity that it contains. Yet in so doing you can’t divorce the music from the lyric. To appreciate the complexity of the different time signatures contained in Songs From The Wood by Jethro Tull but not listening to the lyrics robs it of its intended experience and worth.

The music of Yes is both technically great and lyrically mystifying. Yet when you have the music without the, sometimes senseless, lyrics they lose their power to touch. The artist intended the two to go together.

In many ways it would be like looking at a work of art and only appreciating the brushwork. Focusing souly on the technical at the expense of the complete work the artist is portraying, does not show the complete design. Is Van Gogh’s work beautiful just because of his style of painting in swirls? Or is Van Gogh’s work more impressive when you stand back and see what the brushwork achieved?

Most music is written to provoke an emotional response of some description, wether love, anger, fear, worship or confusion. Music has the ability to touch the soul in a way that most other things can’t. It can take you to great heights or to great depths. It can rouse you for war or instill peace and calm.

As I write this I’m playing the Pink Floyd Pulse DVD. Occasionally I glance over my laptop screen and see the visual effects that go along with some of the music. The music is powerful on its own. Can you listen to Shine On You Crazy Diamond and not feel the emotion and depression from the opening? Yet the lyrics are what contributes the most to the song. You cannot divorce one from the other.

Yet Floyd’s music was also meant to be seen with pictures or images. Their music came about as a way of fusing images to music. The music takes on another eement when you see the lighting and pictures that go with it. Who could appreciate the impact of Another Brick in the Wall without the marching hammers in the video?

By not listening to the lyrics that go with songs you devalue the song’s worth and the artistic work of the composer(s). Yes the music maybe technically superb but the artist(s) meant it to be appreciated with the lyrics that go with it.

If you don’t believe me then I’ll lend you a copy of Rick Wakeman Plays Yes or the Classic Rock orchestral albums. The music alone has impact but is missing something. The lack of lyrics removes some of the emotional impact. You listen to something you know to be incomplete.

Conversely you have to acknowledge that some songs have lyrics that do nothing for a song. They could have been written by those infinite number of monkeys who are striving to type the collected works of Shakespeare.

Good music is written to provide an emotional input to the system. Good music can make your heart and mind come to life. It can bring you to the heights and a closeness to God. Yet it can also take you to the depths of despair. What it doesn’t do is leave you untouched.