Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Susan might have laughed

I got my usual weekly delivery from TESCO today. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had not charged me for a batch of grapefruit, listing them as out of stock, although they had in fact delivered them. On second thoughts, I tried to give them back to the driver but he wasn't having any of it. TESCO was, he assured me a multi-million pound company which would not miss a few grapefruit.

I recalled that the last time I had an over-delivery of grapefruit, about 25 fruits, I got through half of them before I was conscience stricken into a sour case of inaction; the remaining fruit condemned to a no-mans land area under sink until they went off.

I know myself too well these days and I try not to do things that would give my conscience cause to have a go at me. So I hit upon a strategy of emailing the company to let them know about the error in the delivery, telling them that the fruit had in fact arrived: ten grapefruit, five red and five yellow, only one of which appeared on the bill. I continued that I was planning to eat the fruit but that I was happy to pay for them and encouraged them to charge me.

TESCO's got back to me pretty promptly:

Re: Extra grapefruit delivery

Thank you for your email. I'm very sorry that we have delivered you items
that were not part of your order. I can advise that I am happy to let you
keep these items without charging you for them. Once again, please accept
my apologies for the inconvenience caused. Thank you for letting us know
about this.

Kind Regards etc.
Susan was on a similar food plan to me. We take our food around in Tupperware boxes not being able to guarantee that the destination will be able to serve what we require to stay healthy.

There were lots of foods she needed to steer clear of but I am pretty sure she was OK with grapefruit. We lost her this week and I just thought, if she knew about the grapefruit, she would have laughed: double-portions of good healthy food arriving free of charge courtesy of a multi-national. Keep it coming.

Honest like a rock

The winds of grief slow
To a broken whisper
It tastes like the truth
Honest like a rock
And thoroughly true
God’s love pursues us all

This rock cannot be broken
Flint on the falsehood
Let’s get to the truth
A dark curtain blazing with light
Love bears all
The responsibility of grief

With love from Andrew (Tupperware Crew Member)

Monday, 14 April 2008

Manchester United Vs Arsenal 2-1 13th April 2008

Well, I am feeling gutted and don't suppose that's too surprising really. The team I support, Arsenal has just played football at another level have shown that their footballing intelligence is operating a higher level than any other team in the country.

We are, though, about finish the season again without winning anything and whilst that does matter, it is not true that nobody remembers you unless you win. The dutch team of the seventies will always be remembered for playing total football although they lost 2-1 to Germany in the UEFA European Football Championship of 1978.

That's a bit of a consolation but our weaknesses too are evident: the lack two or three experienced players; the need for a galvanising captain; Wenger's unwillingness to buy established, mature names in the football world.

Whatever his shortcomings, however, the fact of his ability and craft as a manager is beyond doubt. How sad, then, to hear the treatment given to him by some Manchester United fans in the stands. Football songs can be intelligent, funny, topical and incisive. They can also be slanderous, negative, nasty and mean. Their songs about Wenger are unrepeatable and horrific. Another favourite was a song about Eduardo's injury suggesting that he will walk like Heather Mills as a result of his injury.

I guess I am asking myself: well, what did you expect? And the answer, I suppose, is that I don't see why fans cannot afford a degree of respect for one another and that the domain of humour should not include abusive personal slander and laughing at the tragic misfortune of others.

The thing about the Eduardo injury is that it really hurt Arsenal fans, myself included. It wasn't just the seriousness of the injury in terms of his career, how gruesome it appeared and obvious pain and discomfort it must have caused him though. Seeing the fragility of a talent just coming to terms with the premiership cut down by misfortune, our hopes for this year seemed to die that day. Maybe our hopes were too fragile.

It is enough to make you have a few days off football and just focus on something less emotive, like geo-politics. Only joking. I am going to lay down my burdens, down by the riverside.

I ain't gonna study war no more....

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Elvis revisited

Like millions of others each year, I visited Graceland and whilst not exactly going in as an Elvis fan I certainly left as one. It's not that I actually listen to a lot of the music but that if anyone has to be King of rock'n'roll then it is him. Seeing the passion and belief of elvis reflected throughout the accounts of his close friends and family was quite an eye-opener - his daughter imploring him before the concert to include 'How Great Thou Art' in the set list - Lisa again describing that you could feel his energy precede him as he commenced down the central stiarcase at Graceland, his hair and outfits prepared to perfection in anticaption of greeting his guests.

As much as some of the accounts of Elvis suggested a character a little larger than life, my conviction was that he was a believer; certainly a believer in his ability, art, voice, and music; surely a believer in his family; with a deep personal belief in God and commitment to gospel music.

I don't know much about Elvis' personal experience of his faith but I know what he sounds like when he sings the gospel and, guess what? He sounds like he believes it. According to all the abounts of his life and work in Memphis and Nashvile he simply didn't do things that he didn't believe in. I may not like everything he recorded or even half of it, but he scrutinized each and every new song he was offered before decidinng to recording.

That he was troubled and addicted to prescription drugs doesn't lead me to question his belief in God. I can hear him reaching up in the high notes and you know he wasn't singing about himself. If he anything, the stars who cut their teeth on gospel music before getting hooked up with their own stardom may even make the best job of singing it: I see Elvis searching himself in his performance for the simple knowledge of God beyond a time and place where the world and the flesh have any say of his thoughts and behavior. King of rock n roll is one thing- king of the universe that's something else.

Don't take my word for it- youtube me Elvis right now!!!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Sisters and my brothers, stay on the boat

What is going to happen next in my life? How quickly will my hair fall out? Are the people who are my friends today going to move to Switzerland never to be seen again? Will anyone in London say 'yes' to a social engagement being diarised (I know you love that word) less than two weeks in advance?

These are some of the questions my mind wanders to in idle moment, leading off with the most important about the hair. I know there are other concerns but not being a homeowner I am not that bothered by the drop in house prices. I don't fancy a global economic recession much though.

It is exciting to think that even my mistakes can be turned into something worthwhile in the hands of an infinitely wise and compassionate Creator. I learned this making a few real mingers and that He has been able to work out pretty well. It's not that I am planning any more exactly but today I feel a confidence that once the mess is in his hands, it can work out all right.

If I break my leg today, he might make me into a shoes salesmen tomorrow. If I lose my hat in the wind today, something else might blow into my life tomorrow. My soul, yes, pours out of those holes (M Kozelek - Red House Painters) but something good is gonna grow out of them tomorrow.

The people urging me to stay on the boat (Sensational Nightingales - Stay On The Boat CD) are making a powerful biblical story into a good gospel song but is that all? No, they are singing out of their experience that if you hang in there it will work itself out. Believing that in the middle of the chaos is a matter of faith but not blind faith. You wouldn't sing the song if it hadn't proved true for you and wouldn't try to communicate it if it wasn't something you thought others could rely on.

Is it so hard to believe that things will be OK in the end if I trust in God? After all, I didn't create myself, all I created was the mess. If I can get out of the way long enough the Choreogrpaher can get moving and starting putting it all back together. This believe is, in a sense, a call to live since both fear of making a mistake and a superstitious view of God's will are both counteracted by the sentiment of the principle. As a man said: Romans 8.28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Just came back from the USA where I felt right at home. A country in which 'the state' seemed largely in the background, in stark contrast to the constant interventions that take place over here in the UK. There had just been a storm in Atlanta which was being cleared up. I don't exactly know who was doing it but it didn't appear to involve a huge intervention by the state and an invasion of traffic cones. They were doing just fine too.

Over here the state seems to be absolutely everywhere. I am not much of a political thinker, but there has to be a way to provide decent social security without all the mind-boggling red tape and nonsense. I just know that I'd love to have the freedom felt by many Americans with cars and a bit of money while having some of the social security enjoyed in Europe. Quite useful if you are well; very useful if you are sick. Put your hand up if you are sick of control.

The UK gov. seems to want it both ways: free-markets which they control. E.g. In post-compulsory education, anyone can bid for contracts but if you actually get one, the only way your gonna keep it is by conforming absolutely to their aims, objectives and targets. Not all that free, really. It was quite funny hearing one or two gentlemen from the South describing the centre-left governments in Europe as communist as, to be honest, they must seem so to some republicans.

I know that America is called 'the land of the free.' I am also aware of the crimes that have been recently committed in the name of spreading democracy. The irony is, there is a lot of freedom over there - it's just that it is not easily exported. I loved the fact that the Americans I met were not buried under X layers of irony and self-evasion. Many just seemed to call it as they saw it. Why not? Why can't I say have a nice day and mean it. The cynicism in this country (especially in my head) just really gets in the way of living.

I think it is worse in London as well. We are all sort crammed into this little space with everyone competing for a little bit of space on the pavement (I really want to say sidewalk). People are rushed, stressed and aggressive. We get overloaded with work and weighed down by time-fascism. And what's the point? A better man than me said: 'the only thing counts is faith expressing itself in love.' (Gal 5.6) If you can come up with anything better that let me know.