Friday, 20 August 2010

Barcelona

Barcelona
On reflection this trip has not really been about the city. Like a good Woody Allen film the city is another character in the story but the city should never be more than the story. For me the story on this trip has been about the privilege of relationship. It seems my companion would have been happy to have gone to Rhyl but he unlike me has never been to Ryhl. I have not tortured him too much with trips to art galleries and we have only been to one church and we did not go inside. He was happy too I was not. The trip has been seasoned by conversation and questions. The week has been punctuated by food and ice cream and in that light you can see why Jesus spent so much time eating with people. The wonderful wide avenues here have reminded me how cramped a space we live in at home. Some of the roads are that wide crossing them could be a sponsored event. I am also baffled how we got on before rucksacks how did Moses get round the desert without a rucksack and a plastic bottle of water. Being here shows me how difficult it must be to live in a city where 50% of people walk round it with a tourist map in one hand and their euro’s in the other. Iam not sure my companion will wan not come back again but I will return with my wife i am sure my companion will not want to go to Rhyl after this.

culture difference

Culture difference
Me and my companion represent the great divide. We are both reading a book a different book. Mine is one of those paper things with a cover and margins you put you notes into, it has an ISBN number to put into the Librarything.com (a web site for train spotters for books). He has a rectangular shiny thing which he plugs into the wall and he tells there is a book in it. I am not sure i believe him.

Compline

Compline The only spiritual weapon i have in my armoury for a 14 year old is Compline. I told my companion we would do it each evening as a way of putting the day to bed and moving on with the night. I don’t really have any trendy Christianity. Compline is just the stuff that the church and its monastic orders have been doing for centuries. On the first night he was borderline surprised shocked that i was to carry through my promise. Each evening i say these words of hope, promise and life, and he, well you will have to ask him

ice cubes

Ice cubes
I have this week tried to share with my companion who is my godson some of my wisdom which we all know means telling others about the mistakes we have made and by God’s grace survived. We have talked of many different subjects, books, music, sport, hopes and other stuff we are contracted not to share. I have also been the student to his wisdom. This week i have been reminded of the wonder of putting two large ice cubes in your mouth. It is not as easy as it sounds. You first have drink all the pop which means filling the body with gas. The challenge in its early stages is more difficult before the ice cubes have shrunk. Keeping them in your mouth means not chipping any teeth which could be expensive if not inconvenient. Then you have to get them back in the glass without dribbling down your shirt or dropping them noisily onto the plate so everyone on the next table looks round. The game seems to come to an end when the ice cubes become small enough to swallow or you’re offered fresh pop and ice cubes and the game starts all over again. I have to say this wisdom seems to outweigh mine on offer.

Breakfast

Breakfast
One of the great rewards of a trip like this for me is breakfast. Normally i would have musilie and banana with earl grey tea in the kitchen (sounds like cluedo) but here it is coffee, strong, and a croissant at a cafe on the side of the road. This is outside a cafe under some sort of palm tree. I sit for an hour or more moving from prayer to reading to watching people. And at times these three become one. People watching is one of life’s free great activities. Beautiful people ugly people old people young people. Who do they live with? What are their regrets? What are their ambitions? Who do they love? Young couples containing all their future fleeing the apartments. She clings to him on the back of the fashionable scooter both dressed casually in jeans and trendy t shirts. There are elderly men and woman not joined together, like these two are. The elderly have partners probably still in bed or cleaning out the kitchen while he walks the dog and picks up shit. It will come to this couple on the scooter some day when their jeans are traded for shorts embarrassingly too long and cheap shirts tucked into there too long shorts hanging not too far from their sandals and long dark socks. These two scooter people will trade at a date unknown and un marked, their trendy scooter for a shopping trolley with wheels. And they will gaze at the young things on their trendy scooters and remember. What a privilege it is too people watch. The Chinese man has come with my French coffee and croissant here in Barcelona so i wonder will i take to having breakfast on the Chester road outside the transport cafe when i return?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

List

List
We (me and my companion) have an ongoing league table of good things. It consists of; bread (very good bread), ice cream (posh sort), kebab (uh), Jacuzzi (on the roof), Neu camp stadium (not as good as Villa Park), hotel, wide avenues, tennis on the TV (from USA in Spanish!) being with a 14 year old reminds me how in life ice cream needs to get to the top of the list more often. Long live good good ice cream.

Language

Language
After spending many holidays in France i realise i have become more comfortable with the French language by comfortable i mean i can order breakfast, wine and read the road signs. But here in Spain it feels very different so i have taken to pointing. When that does not work i point loudly when that does not produce the desired item i just accept what is offered. Pointing loudly has reminded me of all those drama lessons we had inflicted upon in the comprehensive education system of the 70S. We had to pretend to be a tree but for a 13 year old who was having trouble pretending to be a boy a small Oak tree was way outside of my theatrical abilities. So what gets me thru the day is pointing to a failed GSCE level, and speaking in English with a very strange French ascent that no one in France would recognise. For us English pointing in Spanish could be another Olympic sport for us to excel in.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bikes

Bikes
One of the challenges of travelling with a 14 year old is balancing a lifestyle of energy and negativity. We decided to hire bicycles today. The combination of Metro travel not being the place you would like to be (not being lost) and the bicycle shop constantly moving resulted in the situation of when we arrived at the bike shop it was empty of the two wheeled machines. This of course to a 14 year old meant that all bike shops were empty. We persevered in opposition to the negativity and found a bike shop full of the very things we were looking for. The other balance to 14 year old negativity is 50 year old gloating. I am hoping I have lost at least three stone riding round Barcelona am sure on my return to blighty those dammed scales will lie to me one again. (note to self get more complimentary scales not free ones) there must be an opening for scales that will say “you go get yourself a full breakfast your fading away.” My companion initially impressed with the hotel is now thinking there must be bigger and better hotels “hey Nigel what is a five star like, this room is a bit small”?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Spanish Donna

Donna
We had our fist continental meal, Spanish Donner kebab which is just like the English variety. Which has lead me to begin to peal away the false layer of perfection my travelling companion seems to have of me. I am more than aware the effect s a Donna can have on my exhaust system, which leads me to a story. I told my companion as a warning the time Erin and I were in bed we had done our bit of reading turned off the lights and travelled towards sleep. One of us said to the other “can you smell that?” feeling sleep was more important than the smell we ignored until the smell became a bit worrying. one of us said “did you turn the gas off? “ Well you have to get up to that don’t you. I went and made some investigations in the kitchen came back with the all clear. Except the smell of gas was still in the bedroom Erin came to the conclusion I was the source of the smell. I think we will leave the window open tonight after Compline just in case.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Drum

I had the privilege of being taken too for my birthday by my son to see/hear Evelyn Glennie the percussionist. Both my son and I at times attack the stretched skins. The event was at Lichfield cathedral the space I was ordained deacon. As an introduction to one of the pieces of music she told us how passionate she was of her snare drum, the one thing she would have on a desert island. Then she played. Striking the skin with the finely balanced sticks the sound came. I cannot hum the tune, la la the melody and it was not Evensong but it deeply moved my spirit. Somewhere between the erect hairs on the back of my neck, that inner tingle deep I my bowels and the silence in Moring Prayer. I am reminded my God is a shade more colourful, a tad more expressive, a little bit larger to fit in the box I keep him in at times.

Care in the community it is there

Care in the community it is there
2 recent incidents that have sharply reminded me that as sceptical as I can be there is care in the community. I was taking coffee in one my coffee shops were I go to think and read. It is small and old fashioned place with only about 4 small tables. On this occasion there was across from me an elderly lady I mean proper elderly, bent over, shopping trolley with wheels, a slight vagueness about her existence and possibly a slight whiff of urine. We both had the same off the menu soup and a roll, she did not finish her roll I had another, crusty brown and seeds. She was obviously a more frequent visitor than I as the assistant know her name, she did not know mine name. the luxury of company and a cooked meal drew to a close and it was time to pay. The assistant asked did she want the usual? There was the usual possessive response and into a clean crisp white paper bag was placed a single crusty role. No husband. In an entirely reckless manner the lone elderly lady handed her purse to the assistant. In a caring manner the assistant received the purse deducted the cost of the dinner the role but not the care. The elderly lady left with her trolley carrying the lone crispy cob, her correct change, cared for.
I hope there is some there for me when I need it

Romeo and Jesus

Romeo and Jesus

I had the privilege of attending church recently. The service was very informal and long. During the service the was shown a clip of the film Romeo and Juliet.

After I had returned home I was struck by what had stuck with me from the service.
During the service there were many words used probably far too many. But at one point in there service I felt the hair stand on the back of my kneck. It was the words for Shakespeare the had given me a a sense of excitement.
Feet on the pavement
Driving down the road the other day out of the corner of my eye I see a small child. She was about 2 or 3 years old. She had taken a firm position on the pavement. She squatted down low, nappy almost touching the slabs her chin firmly pressed against her chest her arms held up in the air. It was a protest. I could not hear the dialogue but her position told me enough to make some judgments. Two steps in front of the child is an adult, female. I presume her to be the mother of the protest. The child is asking for something, saying no to something unwilling to cooperate. The mother resists the demands, negotiates with the protestor, summons all her short years of wisdom as mother for this encounter. There will be many to come. Before me I feel is a deeply spiritual event. How often am I the child even with all my years? Feet firmly anchored to the pavement unwilling to move until my demands are listened too or meet? I can’t get down that low without much pain and struggle. But I am challenged to ask myself how much of my life do I spend in useless protest, demanding and negotiation?