Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Visit to Haughton Green

This is Haughton Green Methodist Church. It is two hundred years old this month and today we went to a service that was part of a series to celebrate that venerable age. Unfortunately it is showing real signs of age, and this winter, which was one of the hardest winters I can remember, has played its part in damaging the fabric of the church. If I understood what I was told, the congregation will soon have to leave this old building and move their church across the road into what is currently the Church Hall. That will be a huge wrench for a lot of them, and many of the congregation are getting older. 

We were there because one of our friends, John, was taking the service and preaching there today. John is Australian and lives in Adelaide, normally, but he, and his wife Janette, are over here on a twelve week holiday. Back in 1998, when Pat and I were still both teaching we both ended up having surgery within a week of each other. So we were both off work for an extended period of time. While we were off work, the School had to find people to do our jobs. Pat's replacement was Janette who was living in England while her husband, John, was over here as a Missionary. I always loved the idea of this Australian minister coming back to the Mother Country to bring the word of God to the savage Brits.

John is a minister in the Uniting Church of Australia. I believe that the Uniting Church was formed in the 1970's by the amalgamation of the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist Churches in Australia. So when he came to Britain, he took a post as a Minister in the Methodist Church. Pat and I are Anglicans, Members of the Church of England. So we actually attend a Parish Church in Mottram. But the two churches are really quite close, the Methodist Church broke away from the Church of England in the 1800's. So I don't think that we will get kicked out of our Church for heretical actions.

The Church at Haughton Green was having a Flower Festival this weekend. I think that they have them every four years or so, though I must admit that I'm far from certain. There were lots of very substantial flower arrangements there today and I admire the work that has gone into creating them. I'll put a photograph of one of the arrangements at the bottom of this post, which is coming up rapidly because I'm running out of things to say. well, no, I've got lots to say but not enough energy for tonight. I think that part of it is my taking anti-histamine to stave off the hay fever that I often suffer at this time of year. I take pills that are advertised as being non-drowsy, but every year, when I take them, I feel really tired compared to most times.

So anyway, we parted from John and Janette and we probably won't see them again for another two years, but it's always nice to know that on the day that we meet up with them again, it will be as if we had never been apart. They are really good people. I just wish that I was anything like as good.

Ah well, another day, another taler. See you again quite soon, if we are spared. Sleep well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

28 days later

The phrase, "Hoist by his own petard" springs to my mind. I have always thought that phrase had something to do with a small naval flag. I must admit that I never really saw why being hung up by your own flag was such a bad thing, but I've always thought that "hoist by your own petard" meant that you had got caught out doing something you were ashamed of.

Like going on about how good you had been putting a post on the blog every day. And look at this. I think that it is actually more than 28 days later, but that was the name of a film, it seems appropriate, though I think it was a film about "zombies" taking over the earth, so it is not at all appropriate really. Oh, to damnation with it!

Anyway, getting back to being "hoist by my own petard", I discover that it means something else entirely. It appears that a petard was "an explosive charge or grenade that was used to blow a hole in a door or wall or even a fortification". Being a French word, Danielle will be sitting there saying "I knew that, it is a french word". I also discovered that it is related to the French word peter which means "to break wind". So finally, after many, many years I understand something that a young Frenchman called Jean-Francois who was staying at my parent's house when I was about 13, apologised for saying, when my Dad thought he had simply been calling out his name. (My Dad was called Peter.) Aha!

So anyway, to be hoist with your own petard means to be the victim of your own attempt to hurt someone else, and I was not trying to do that, so it was an inappropriate thing to say. Neh mind, eh!

I've discovered two other things that I want to share with you all, (all two or three of you readers). The first is about today. I was messing about with Wikipedia. I read an article the other day that told how to use Wikipedia to create PDF books which can be read off-line. About a week ago I happened to be surfing through some of the hundreds of TV channels that you can receive on SKY, when I came across a TV station that was rebroadcasting "Babylon 5" from the beginning. Babylon 5 was one of my favourite series when it first came out and I watched it from beginning to end, quite religiously. By chance I came upon this channel just as it was showing the first episode of Series 2 when Sheridan first arrives on Babylon 5. It really took me back. I am quite a fan of Bruce Boxleitner and I rather think that he is a much under rated actor, but that is just my opinion. So I was looking up details of the characters and I found quite a lot of information on Wikipedia, which, as you will know, treats the characters in some TV and novel series as if they were real people. Daft but fun. Then I found this thing about making books in PDF format using Wikipedia. So I was just having a play when my eye fell on the "THIS DAY IN HISTORY" tab. I am a history freak, only right and proper when you have been a History Teacher for so many years.

So what caused my attention to be caught, I hear you bellow in exasperation. On this day, 350 years ago, Old Rowley came home from his holiday in Holland. That makes sense doesn't it. Old Rowley is the familiar nickname that was used to speak of our most illustrious King Charles, the second of happy memory to bear that name. Charles Stuart, King Charles I was executed by order of the Commonwealth Government in January of 1649. For Eleven years and a few weeks England was a Republic. No King or Queen. No President either, the idea being far too new. Instead we had the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell (who happens to be a bit of a hero of mine, but more of that another day.) Cromwell died in 1658 and there was a bit of a mess for the next two years while various people tried to sort things out. Then in 1660 General George Monk marched his Regiment of the New Model Army towards London. The rest of the New Model Army just sort of faded away, leaving Monk's Regiment, a Guards Regiment, raised in the village of Coldstream on the Scottish border, as the first Regiment to be formed in the Modern British Army. Once he signed the Declaration of Breda, the dead King Charles I's son, Charles, became King and England was restored to a Monarchy. And this happened on 29th May, 1660. There you jolly well go.

Here is a picture of Charley:

One of my favourite Kings of England. I have always believed that he had a good sense of fun, and he was very fond of Oranges!

The other thing that I have discovered today, and this is a lot smaller and more significant in many ways, is that the translation engine in Microsoft Bing appears to be a damned site better than the translation engine in Google that I have always used up to now. I was looking at Danielle's Blog, and noting that she has obviously given up on me because everything is in French, and I was getting to really enjoy her Paris Travelogues which were usually in English. Anyway, I started using Google Chrome the other week as my main Browser, just to give it a good trial. And I have been using Bing as my main Search Engine. I'm reading Danielle's Blog when I see a little message at the top of the screen. It says "This Page is in French. Would you like to translate it into English Yes / No". So I clicked on YES. Well you would, wouldn't you. And it really didn't seem to bad. It did seem better than the last time that I used Google Translate when the result appeared to be in Serbo Croat. So I'm quite happy really.

So not at all a bad day. I've written in my blog for the first time in a month. I had a really nice walk with my dog, Jasper. (We went out at 6.10 am and got home at 8.15, he had two good runs off his lead and we walked around the woods above Gamesley.) Had a lovely meal accompanied by a delightful glass of Rioja. (Now you know why I have written such a load of old drivel tonight.) Watched Doctor Who. and I have avoided the Eurovision Cheating Contest by dint of writing my Blog.

It has been a good day. See you all soon. Keep the faith!