Sunday, August 29, 2004

Not in My Name

I read about my alter-ego today. He has a book out called England for the English, and he is a member of the UK Independence Party. Some times I don't always agree with the things that are done in my name. Maybe this is how God feels...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I'm easily influenced

I've just read 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. It is the trendy book of the year. Other trendy books of the year that I have read include 'The Life of Pi', 'Angela's Ashes', and 'The Shipping News'. 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' is a stunning book. It is written through the eyes of a fifteen year boy with Asperger's Syndrome. It is remarkably funny as well as moving. I am easily moved. It is the sort of book that once you have read it, it effects your thought patterns, and the way you write. I read the book over a period of two days, and now I am thinking, reading and writing like a fifteen year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome. Either this means that the book is that good or I am easily influenced. I hope it's the former.

Little Countries

Belgium is a little country with great beer and very pretty towns. I go to Belgium semi-regularly to teach people how to model rivers. They are far from ideal catwalk wearables. Damn, that was a weak line. When I am in Belgium I pretty much do the same thing each time. I wander round the city, I eat a waffle and then I find a square to sit in and then I drink beer while watching Belgium go by.

Belgium has a reputation for being boring. This is not true, although Brussels leaves a bit to be desired. It does have the appropriately named Grande Plaza (not very big, but stunning to sit in and drink beer in), and the rather descriptive 'mannikin pis'. It's a statue of a little boy and the little boy is going for a piss. Brussels is effectively the capital of Europe, as this is where all the civil servants come to play. I think that Belgium got all the civil servants because Germany, France and the UK didn't want them to go to Germany, France or the UK. And Belgium has a history of neutrality, which hasn't stopped the Germans, French or British in the past.

Little People

I am about to go on holiday with a little person called Grace. She is less than six months old and her owners (sorry, parents) are also going.

Today I bought nappies. I don't have any children (mandatory disclaimer from virile man follows), at least as far as I know. Trust me, I would. Buying nappies felt a little weird, if also grown up.

It is one of those things that happen as you get older that you start to encounter small children on an everyday basis. I enjoy hanging out with children, they tend to want to do quite basic things, and are amused by things like me hiding behind the sofa. It is also fun to manipulate other people in your image, and it's much harder to do that with adults.

Apparently being good with children is attractive to women. I am not convinced this is true as I am good with children.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Holding things tightly

Naomi writes briefly of treasure. I think it is a good thing to hold the intangibles tightly. Maybe that's why it's a good idea to back up your hard drive. Best to hold tight to something that you can't replace than to something that you can. Friends, memories, tastes, moments. Personally I like to live off the past. It helps me appreciate what I have now. I hope that's not a contridiction!

Pieces of Eight

Another very important part of my community was in action today. Wallingford Cricket Club has just completed it's eighth win this season. Last year we managed just five from eighteen. We have three games left. We aren't going to win the division, but we may get as high as fourth. Last year we were third to last, of eighteen.

It was a feel good game. Unless you were from Oxford, in which case you were righteously smote. Beating Oxford feels a bit like beating your bigger brother. As much as I love the city, when it comes to cricket, my loyalty is a very fickle beast. Especially as they weren't the nicest bunch of people. I didn't bowl myself this week (I recognise that last week may have been a fluke) but did contribute 25 with my bat. Someone else used my bat to whack 38. I need three more runs to make 250 for the season.

At the risk of sounding too positive, I really like the guys I play cricket with. I get to tell them what to do, and they do it. A good way to be liked by me... But that aside they play their cricket with a sense of enjoyment. And that is something to be treasured.

It's a funny thing, but I feel so damn happy with the world at the minute. At the minute. It's a British expression I have picked up. British expressions aside, there must be something in the water, the air, or the beer, because I don't do this normally. Some of the time I just feel like groovin'. I am sure that a certain amount is due to making at least some of my peace with God, but I can't explain the rest.

Creative Writing

I'm trying to swear less.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Community and Poetry

I love my Oxford community. And I do place an ownership on that. Damnit, it's my community; it's my place, they're my people, and it's my time. I can not think of any other place that I would rather be. I'm not saying it's a perfect place, but what it is, is a place that moves me. It makes me passionate, and it fires me. One of my new found heroes is a man called Taylor Mali. He is a poet from the US, who is famous amongst my friends in Oxford for a poem called 'The Impotence of Proofreading', with possibly the best last line in poetry ('and three: When it comes to proofreading, the red penis your friend.'). One of his poems is called Silver Lined Heart. It begins 'I’m for reckless abandonment and the spontaneous celebration of nothing at all' and ends with 'tell me what inspires you, what fulfils you and fires you, put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you're for', and in the middle lambasts the reader for moaning about shit that doesn't do, well, shit. Well, I'll tell you what I'm for. I'm for Oxford, and I'm for revelling in all she has to offer. Someone once asked me to extol the virtues of Oxford to her. My list was long, but what it comes down most is the people. Again, please, if you don't live in Oxford, there is no disrespect to anyone here, but there is something about these people. They move me. Maybe it's just a here and now thing, maybe not. I'm still trying to work it out. My friend Anita is doing a talk about community at hOME on Wednesday. I would like to be there, but work has sent me to Belgium on Monday.

My friend Naomi has linked me on her blog page. When I work out how to do it properly myself I will return the favour. Until then, you can read her thoughts here. You could spend your time in much less worthy pursuits.

And my community is expanding by one tonight. Friends of mine are giving birth as I write this.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Random Flirting

Sometimes when you go out to a friends place there are interesting strangers. And sometimes it is fun to flirt with them. I have just come back from my friend Justice's house and done just that.

New Wine Old Wine Wickets and Runs

Grommelage. Means mutterings in French. A favourite word of mine.

Just got back from something called new wine. There was a certain 'what the hell am I going to this for? I haven't been to a church conference for years and I'm going to be stuck in a field with a bunch of christians'. And the only reason I thought I was going was because some of my friends were going. Sometimes it is good to be wrong. My friends and I belong to and run something called hOME. hOME is a bunch of folk who are very interested in the emerging church and doing something that is a little more relevant to the club and pub scene in Oxford. As it turns out, the conference was excellent. Managed to mostly stay away from the things that frustrate me in the church. Things like feeling guilty for not leading a life that one is expected to. Instead I found lots of brain and spirit food. The sort of brain food that leaves you cream crackered. Stuff that I wish I had been told a long time ago. It got to the stage that I needed to stop listening to stuff because my brain was full and I needed to process the stuff that was already in there. One of the most useful things I heard was that it's more effective to soak in a little bit of the Bible rather than try to read it religously and end up with the inevitable guilt when you fail. Maybe it's me trying to justify myself for the fact that last week I opened mine for the first time in two years but I figure that anything that inspires me to open it again can't be bad.

Next week I am doing old wine. I am off to Chianti with my friends Rhys and Monica and Katie and Grace.

Yesterday I had my best all round cricket performance of my life. Nine overs, one maiden, three wickets for 23 runs, a run out and 60 runs with the bat. Sadly, it wasn't enough as Brackley Cricket Club bowled Wallingford Cricket Cub out for 116 and beat us by 29 runs. Still, I feel that if it were not for the Grace of God I would not have managed to get a team out, and I have had worse days in the field. Now I must go and help coach youngsters in the sport of kings.