As the great man's guest must produce his good stories or songs at the evening banquet, as the platform orator exhibits his telling facts at mid-day, so the journalist lies under the stern obligation of extemporizing his lucid views, leading ideas, and nutshell truths for the breakfast table.
Cardinal J. H. Newman, Preface to The Idea of a University, 1852

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Northampton away, 28th April

Won 1 - 0

Went with V, and also MR, who lives close to the stadium. Is not a football person, but was interested to see a match since he lives so close.

When we got the tickets I expected it be a real hum-dinger, reckoning that it would be crucial both for us and the cobblers, as it was of course it was not such a big deal for us, but for the cobblers a draw would have been enough to secure survival. We were in control the first half, I thought, playing with confidence. But second half they came at us with some desperation, forcing defensive - sometimes also desperate - play from us. But we held out.

Not sure it will have convinced MR to become a regular. Cobblers fans invaded the pitch at the end, though I can't think why! Dons all just left of course, and so I was a little bemused to hear the tannoy ask the Dons fans to leave the ground... what did he think we were doing?

Forgot how long it would take to get out of the car park (we'd driven, since it is so close), so it was daft that I'd turned down an invitation to have a cup of tea with MR - we just spent half an hour in the car instead.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Walsall home, 25th April

Lost 1 - 0, and since Peteborough won, we can no longer get automatic promotion!

It felt like 'going out with a whimper', though of course we are still in the play-offs - guaranteed a place in the play-offs. The trouble is, the last two, away, league games are now of limited significance, all they can do is determine who we'll play in the play-off semis.

Most memorable feature of the match was the antics of two pigeons. One, a white Dove of a pigeon, was on the pitch from the start. He/she was joined by another, more pigeon-like (ie plumage of a rock-dove) pigeon, towards the end of the first half. The two of them seemed oblivious to the game going on around them, or the 12,049 spectators. They calmly grazed on the pitch for the whole match.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Scunthorpe away 18th April

Won 1 - 0

We took a detour to have fish and chips on Cleethorpes sea front. Short walk on the beach, watched turnstones, wasted some money on the slot machines...

Walk from Scunthorpe station to the stadium was unexpectedly pleasant.

Good attacking play from both sides.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Memories of a Morris Traveller

A post by John Naughton has prompted others to reminisce about their Moggies.

I, too, had a Morris Traveller. Or, rather, my better half did. Her grandfather had worked for Morris Commercial in Birmingham, and got a Traveller when he retired. We had it until about ten years ago, when we were told it needed about £7000 of repairs to keep it going long term. Reluctantly we decided that was not a priority in our lives and sold it. It went - slightly indirectly - to a firm that hired out wedding cars, and the owner told us (somewhat apologetically) that they were going to paint it white for the wedding business. (It was previously Rose Taupe, AKA dull grey.) The firm was local, so we've been keeping an eye out for it ever since, but without success to date. Please let me know if you see a Morris registration no. FUY 663C.

Nicci French talked about the stir a traveller caused in Sweden, and we had a similar experience in Brittany. One of the times that it broke down on a holiday over there (... yes, that was one of the reasons we got rid of it in the end... boring modern cars do tend to be a little more reliable) it was repaired by a local garage and clearly provided some excitement for the mechanics. They said that it was rare to find old cars in France because they don't enforce the annual MOT in the same way as in the UK, with the result that cars were not maintained as well and don't last as long.

By contrast, when it broke down on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides the island's mechanic took it in his stride. Cars of that vintage were nothing special out there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bristol Rovers home, Easter Monday 13th April

Won 2 - 1

I missed the build up to the first goal because I was reading the words on the flags the Rovers fans had brought with them (like "we all hate city"). I suddenly realised that everyone was getting excited and looked back just in time to see Gerba score. Apparently he'd just robbed a defender and done it all himself. Actually this is not an uncommon experience for me. I usually need my sons to tell me what has happened in the run-up when there's been a goal or some other event.

Reading the flags had set me remembering what I think was the first competitive top-flight football match I went to see, back in 1977 or sometime around then. It was in Bristol and involved Everton. From memory I'd thought it was against Rovers, but Rovers weren't in the top division, so it must have been City. Prior to that, the only professional match I'd seen was a friendly between Liverpool and Hertha BSC (as they were described in those days) in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. My main memory of that match was the pickled-gerkin sellers who extracted the gerkins from a bucket using wooden tongs.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter at the Cornerstone, reflections on Mary Magdalene

David Tatem's Easter sermon at The Cornerstone, was on the theme of 'The God of Surprises', and included a comment that the resurrection narratives contained a 'time bomb' that has only being going off in the last few decades: that the first apostle was a woman, Mary Magdalene.

Meanwhile, in the foyer of the Church is David Moore's latest sculpture, on the theme of Mary Magdalene and how she has been mis-represented by the Church over the centuries. He (David Moore) introduced his sculpture and carried the same theme into the prayers.

'A' commented on the fact that the two Davids (especially Moore) were so outspoken about the treatment of women by the Church, wondering if it was potentially confrontational with the Roman Catholics (and maybe inappropriate for an Ecumenical Church). Of course the Catholics hardly have a monopoly on the oppression of women within the Church... Anyway, it seems to me that David Moore has never flinched from saying things that some people might find uncomfortable, without ever being needlessly confrontational. But then I don't recall disagreeing with anything he has said from the pulpit, so I'm not really in a position to judge whether anyone else would be offended.

For myself, the role of women in the Church is not an issue that I feel the need to grapple with. I don't see the issue: there is no justification for discrimination. That might seen dismissive, but we can't all take on all issues equally. This does not feel like my battle.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southend away: Good Friday 11 April 09

Won 2 - 0

V & I went by train. A got a lift with friend B.

Bah! The car drivers got there way before us. We'd set off early to have a chance to see the mile-long pier before the match. Just as well, as it meant we got there just in time for kick off. There'd been a fatality on the line at Wolverton, so in the end there was a replacement bus service to Watford, where we could only get the 'London Overground' to Euston (18 stops!). Then to add further difficulties engineering works on the underground meant we ended up walking - running part of the way - from Bank to Fenchurch Street (didn't know that station existed outside Monopoly), arriving just in time to catch the 11.40 to Southend. Would have got a taxi at Southend if there'd been any outside the station, but there weren't so walked the mile to the ground. I was determined to go down to the beach, so we delayed our return journey a little (it was 1 pm kick off so the natch was over by 3) to have an ice cream, skim some stones on the sea and gamble some 2p pieces in the amusement arcade. V would probably want me to confess to my faults that meant we missed an earlier train home from Euston... vis, forgetting where I'd put the tickets then when we'd gone through the barrier getting on the train on platform 11, when he'd already told me we wanted the one on platform 10. So we saw the one on platform 10 leave without us..

Great day out, though. Two excellent goals from Mark Wright. Well made goals too: not the scramble over the line types. Wright gets a lot of stick from some of our fans. Don't really know why, but 'what do I know' (actually I really don't know much when it comes to football....) Couple of brilliant saves from Gueret, and Southend helpfully missed some easy chances. They should have won, but we'll take the 3 points. (Especially since Peterborough could only draw with bottom-club Cheltenham and Millwall lost to Yeovil!. Maybe automatic promotion isn't out of the question after all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Madelaine Bunting on the New Atheists

Real debates about faith are drowned by the New Atheists' foghorn voices. Guardian 7 April 2009.
They [philosopher John Gray and historian of religion Karen Armstrong] see the New Atheists mirroring a particular strain of fundamentalist Christianity with no knowledge of the vast variety of other forms of religious faith. In common with their Christian opponents, they share "the inner glow of complete certainty" [...]

Armstrong and Gray converge again on where they pinpoint the key mistake. Belief came to be understood in western Christianity as a proposition at which you arrive intellectually, but Armstrong argues that this has been a profound misunderstanding that, in recent decades, has also infected other faiths. What "belief" used to mean, and still does in some traditions, is the idea of "love", "commitment", "loyalty": saying you believe in Jesus or God or Allah is a statement of commitment. Faith is not supposed to be about signing up to a set of propositions but practising a set of principles. Faith is something you do, and you learn by practice not by studying a manual, argues Armstrong.[...]

The author Mark Vernon [...] argues that the most interesting conversations about faith are among those just outside religious traditions and those just inside - along the borders of belief, if you like.

I've long felt that those on both extremes can't abide those of us on the boundaries. Our lack of dogmatism is seen as not legitimate.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday and G20 New World Order

Mary Cotes sermon at the Cornerstone on Palm Sunday made an interesting link between the adulation of the crowds as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and the claims of a 'New World Order' emerging from the G20 summit.

My interpretation of her starting point was a parallel:

G20 "New world order",

What it ought to be:
A new world with justice for the poorer nations
What crowds want it to be:
Recovery of a comfortable lifestyle in the rich countries

Jesus riding into Jerusalem
What Jesus means:
A new world based on justice and love
What crowds want it to be:
The end of the Roman occupation and Israel back on top

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Brighton Home 4 April

Won 2 - 0

Brighton are looking at relegation, so this should have been easy. We were much better than them, but after going 2 up by half time we again didn't really take control of the game, and it took a couple of top-class saves from Willy to keep us on top.

Mark Wright played for the first time for months. I don't know why he's not been used, I think he's good and indeed he got the assist for the first goal.

There was a special offer of £5 tickets - some promotion with the local paper - and we got more than 15,000*, so it was good to win in front of lots of new people. They did an attempt on the world record for the most people hugging each other at one, before kick off. V, A and I did a 3-way hug. Quite glad I had family there to hug, I'm not really in to hugging strange men.

*Compare 15,000 for a league 1 football match with 35,000 at the London Rally.