Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016


So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun. Nonsense. Trump, Brexit, Bowie, Cohen, Emerson, Lake and Iceland. Also it's Advent not Christmas. Get a grip.

2016 can pretty much do one as far as us understanding the rest of the world is concerned. It was the year democracy reached its limits and some people began to wonder if the Land of the Prince Bishops wasn't such a bad idea after all. That said, clergy, in a recent survey, came out as only marginally more trustworthy than hairdressers and well below nurses, doctors and teachers. Shop assistants were nowhere though. Tee hee.

Jon and Carys stayed a year, abandoned plans to move to New Zealand, and opted for the slightly more densely populated, but majorly better named, Fishponds. We enjoyed each other's company. There were no fights or raised voices and several moments of hilarity. We miss the extra chefs.

Liz's sister's son Jacob and his wife Molly had a little girl - Mabel. She is cute and we look forward to meeting her as great aunt and uncle.

We have been in Nailsea ten years now. Ministry benefits from long-termism so no plans to move on. Coming from small families we both feel our church is our extended family and our close friends more like brothers and sisters than any other category you might stick people into. We do however have some categories we keep private.

Liz stayed longer than she expected doing Christmas cover at Lakeland, Bath adding Lent cover, Easter cover, summer cover and autumn cover to her portfolio. It has a lovely cover. She is indeed still there. She has rather more responsibility than part-time minimum-wage shop staff normally get landed with and ran the place on a Saturday before Christmas. Fact is that even this is fun compared with most of her nineteen and a half previous years.

She became sixty. Hard to believe except she has six decades of put-downs to reach for when husbands need recalibrating, which is often. We booked a mansion in Staffordshire from that National Trust and had a sort of houseparty week for friends. It was nice.
We felt it would be quite easy to get used to it (pictured) and said goodbye reluctantly. Thanks to all those old friends who came over and joined in. Wish the photographer had got us bang in the doorway but you just can't get the staff these days. Next year is our ruby wedding anniversary. What?

We did Malta and Gozo as usual. First day of our hols we sat in a hotel room in Valetta watching the pouring rain (a new experience) and CNN describing what we now call Brexit (an experience). It was horrid, not helped by overhearing many Brits in the hotel who had clearly made it happen. We need to wake up to the Zeitgeist - as none of them would ever say. How do you like your exits in the morning; hard or soft?

By comparison watching England go out of the Euros to Iceland felt like an appropriate punishment for a nation that had taken careful aim at its own foot and still hit its kneecap.

Gigs enjoyed together included Ben Ottewell, Beverly Knight (finest thing ever to come out of Wolverhampton?) and the Duryless Blockheads who were just about the best working band we have even seen. Forty years together and still making Reasons to be Cheerful Part III look fun to play. Norman Watt-Roy and Chas Jankel especially - we hail you. Steve also enjoyed Wolf People - a sort of Seth Lakeman meets Wishbone Ash if you need a handle. Best, and wettest, of the year was Massive Attack's 25th anniversary gig on Clifton Downs. Guys pictured; photographer unwilling to share how she looked that day.

We went to Countryfile Live. Much more the sort of thing older people do. Also, we enjoyed it.

WB at Wapping Wharf is a collaboration between the London fish restaurant chain Hook and our friends at Wild Beer. The end result is an absolute delight of loveliness. Eating in one party of four, and realising we all liked everything on the menu, we asked the team to 'bring us some food'. They did so. Steve also enjoyed a calamari taco with squid ink mayo on another visit. His dining companion had to sit and watch someone looking like an extra in an undead movie.

Mark Steel, David O'Doherty and Mitch Benn were good comedy value. The Tobacco Factory's 5x15 (five surprise guests talk for fifteen minutes on random specialities) was a clever idea. We learned about Tourette's Syndrome, legalising hallucinogenics and the origins of the Glastonbury Festival. Michael Eavis broke the rules. Surprise, surprise.

The year was not without its sadnesses. We lost some dear friends, saw some long-term relationships break down and had a fair few bits of pastoral stuff to deal with that were nastier than usual. You will understand that our Christmas letter has never felt it necessary to dwell on such things and the day it does the author will be taken off to a quiet corner and had a word with. That sentence suggests the moment is nearer than we thought.

We learned not to buy new music but to rely on Spotify nor to buy new clothes but to rely on having spent previous years buying too many.

Our vicarage was quinquennialled and came out well. The moving of a drain under the conservatory has been timetabled for 'when you are on holiday'. Enticing odours and rodents a distinct possibility.

Trendlewood Church is to become independent on January 1st. As an unconventional and unusual church plant the Diocese came up with a name only the C of E could find - we are now a Conventional District. We could not be a parish because we do not have a building. Not moving from maintenance to mission as fast as we planned are we? We did outdoor baptisms in March (couple of hardy lads), provided spiritual content to a naming service in April and here are pictured at the fifth anniversary of a fantastic charity started by two of our former church members. This latter 'Hope for Life' provides educational opportunities for the poorest of families in Katanga, Uganda <>.

May your outdoor solar lights cope with this far north, your vegetarian alternative have excellent binding qualities and your choice of gifts for the dementia-ridden strike a chord.

St and Liz