6 months on…

It’s 6 months to the day since I moved to Bristol (Or “Brizzle” as the locals know it). All 6 dedicated readers I have will remember my resolutions post just before I moved:

Have I blogged more? No.

Have I joined a sports team? No, and to be honest I’m probably not going to have the capacity to. But I bought a new hybrid bike and I cycle to work and often go on rides around the city and beyond. That counts, right?

Have I read more books? No.

So that’s gone well. Quite what I wanted to achieve by those, I don’t really know. Nevertheless, things are good, mind. Goes to show that resolutions don’t really have any bearing on happiness doesn’t it? (Rhetorical question number 5, noted. No, I’m not going to stop)

Safe to say God’s faithfulness has shone through this whole time though.

  • Before I even moved I spent hours each day for months looking for somewhere to live, with no success. With just weeks to go before I wanted to move, I did a 360 mile round trip on public transport for one flat viewing – which is now where I live. And I’ve just signed to stay here for another year.
  • My first graduate job was always going to be challenging at times, and it is. But I’m grateful to work within an excellent team which has a really nice working culture. Over the course of a few months about 15 others also started fresh out of university like myself, so I was really pleased not to be the only one. Us newbies are a good bunch.
  • I had to join a new church also. My irregular work schedule has made it slightly more tricky to settle in, but I feel I’m there now. I’ve acquainted myself into a small group I really like and started helping with the 3-5 year olds on a Sunday morning. It’s an amazing opportunity to unconditionally love them and teach them basic Bible truths.

So Bristol is pretty gert lush so far.

 

 

 

Resolutions

As I count down the days to moving from my home town to the South West for my first graduate job, a new start in a new place, offers me the chance to make some resolutions (Who says they’re just for New Year!?). Just a short post today, with 3 resolutions, starting from when I move.

1. Blog more frequently
It’s safe to say this blog hasn’t even made the back-burner recently, but I’d love to start writing more regularly once again, on all sorts of topics, from sport to what God is doing in and around me.

2. Join a sports team/club
As a child I played cricket regularly, but it slowly wore out as school work took over. It would be great to join a little amateur cricket team, for the social aspect, and the fact I just love cricket.

In my heyday, I was a Boycott-style opening batsman(!) and a reasonable line & length medium pacer. When I’ve played the odd game here and there since, I’ve transformed into a lower-middle order batsman and an orthodox off-spinner.

If this doesn’t work out (Practically, or more likely, because I’m not good enough!) then I’d look into joining a swimming club. Unfortunately, I probably won’t have time for both!

3. Read more books
Again as a child and teenager I used to love to read, but slowly this went from books like the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, to AS Biology by AQA.

I’m currently reading The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, but I also have a small stack of fiction books. All of which I’ve read before, but I could do with reading again to re-discover the bookworm in me, before moving on to new stuff. (On that note, if you have any suggestions of any good Christian books or action books, please comment!)

So that’s that. 3 resolutions. I’ll report back on how I’m getting on soon, hopefully.

Feeling Sorry for the Government…

I’m not normally one to delve into political issues – I know very little, however today I make an exception.

I do support a particular party, and tend to keep a distant eye on what’s going on in Parliament, but I often don’t have that many opinions or feelings towards politics… Perhaps because I don’t understand very much!?

But at the moment (and recently) I do feel/have been feeling a little sorry for the Government. They’ve got SO many important things happening in the UK and around the world recently, which are demanding the utmost of their attention (In no particular order of importance, here are just some of those things off the top of my head)…

1. The Syria conflict, with media pressure about involvement/non-involvement
2. Privatisation of the NHS
3. Ebola outbreak
4. (Recently) Scotland’s Independence
5. NHS employee’s pay
6. Minimum wage in the UK

Such demands. A tough job at the best of times, but I must say, I sympathise with the duress they must currently be under given everything that’s going on at the moment. As a nation, we are quick to complain when things aren’t just the way we like them. Maybe a little sympathy wouldn’t go amiss either. Cameron et al are only human too, after all…

Top Gear’s Clutch Really Has Worn Out

Disclaimer: Some links within this blog post may contain rude, inappropriate or offensive language. I do not condone or endorse this behaviour in any shape or form, and the links are purely to give original or other sources of information. If you feel you may find the content of these links offensive, please be wary when clicking them. Thank you.

BBC’s Top Gear originally begun in 1977, but 2002 brought new things for the popular motoring show. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe were the presenters, with the latter being replaced in 2003 by James May to bring us the trio we still have today (Four not forgetting The Stig of course).

In 2003 the (original) black-suited Stig was around, as was the first reasonably priced car – the Suzuki Liana – but with James May reviewing cars such as the beloved Fiat Panda and Hammond checking out the Nissan Micra – vehicles that everyday people can afford and would drive, the show at least had a hint of a normal motoring programme.

Over the years, this has very much evolved. The presenters injected increasing amounts of humour and the challenges ‘given to them by the producers’ became more ludicrous and more tenuously linked to motoring. Inevitably with elements of TV humour, inappropriate and offensive references became commonplace and now many things that are said or shown during filming are increasingly borderline – and many would say they have passed over that line.

You may recall in April 2014, footage circled online of Jeremy Clarkson using the ‘n-word’ during filming for Top Gear, to which he at first denied, and then apologised for. The balding broadcaster has also been involved in a plethora of other controversial comments and rants, both on and off Top Gear. And somehow in July 2013 it was revealed he was the BBC’s highest paid presenter.

Co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May seem to have a far less blemished record than Clarkson (Although to do worse, would be quite something) but the former was criticised in May 2012 over the use of a controversial term in a magazine column and Mexican ambassador complained to the BBC about him for insulting comments about a Mexican sports car – relating them back to the people of Mexico and their culture.

Just yesterday, the show is at the centre of yet another controversy with protests cutting short filming in South America over a number plate which appears to make reference to the 1982 Falklands War.

What we’re seeing here is a large picture building up. The presenters on and off Top Gear, individually and collectively, have completely blown all the moral boundaries yet somehow are able to carry on creating and filming – probably due to the enormous £149m revenue that Top Gear makes the Beeb.

What Top Gear is, is not a motoring show. It’s 3 middle aged men partaking in a comical farce, where the only way people can be made to laugh is by being insulting/inappropriate – and that’s not comedy at all. Top Gear’s clutch has worn out; it’s time the BBC scrapped the presenters, and scrapped the show.

Newday: 3 Things You Might Not Have Seen

Newday 2014 has been and gone! I don’t know about you, but it flew by for me! In my 2 serving roles this year, there were a few things that struck me, which hadn’t before as a delegate. So I’ve decided to share them with you below:

1) It doesn’t just happen in the Big Top
Frequently at Newday, the Big Top evening meetings are considered the main event – that’s your chance to meet with God should you want to. And fair enough really, as the event is aimed at 11-18 year olds who all meet in the Big Top. However, there is a kids’ work and believe me, God moves there too!

In the kids’ work we saw amazing things. Children prophesied things that no 6 year old could think up; things that could only be from a God that loves to speak to all of His people. Queues of children were waiting to share at the front what they had heard; so much so, we had to move on as parents were due to arrive.

We also witnessed many children further their commitment to Christ in the form of a prayer led from the front, and some prayed that same prayer for the first time, and so became a Christian there and then. Out of my group of 9, 5 prayed that prayer, 1 of whom for the very first time.

There were tears in the eyes of us leaders as we watched this all happen. It was incredible.

2) 930 servers involved in the running of Newday
When you serve yourself, you realise just how many people are involved to run this event. As a delegate, you don’t get to appreciate this fully. Many servers, you do see; those who run the cafes & bookshop, the stewards, the ministry team, the 12-14s and those strange creatures in the orange Hi-Viz jackets from NewdayAssist (Someone tell me what they do!?).

But many teams you don’t interact with; fire officers, health & safety, the medics, the set-up teams, site maintenance, the servers’ caterers, the management team, the cleaning team and the supplies & resources team.

As a steward, and in the kids work, I got interact with most of the teams the delegates don’t see. And that is when you get full appreciation of just how much work these people put in. Many take annual leave from their full-time so they can come and serve.

3) The true scale on which God moves at Newday
Stewarding in the Big Top, I spent all my time on a door. I couldn’t lose myself in praise, as I had to be alert, but during the worship I had the chance to look out over the whole Big Top – all 7000 people – and see all that God was doing: healing, people meeting with the Holy Spirit and so on.

When you’re a delegate and surrounded by your youth group that understandably becomes your ‘micro-climate’ – what is happening the other side of the tent, you have no idea about. But being on the outskirts enabled me to see the full magnitude of what God was doing in that tent each night. Outside of the meetings I had the chance to mix with a range of people from other churches – all who had stories of how they and their youth had been impacted.

The mindset with which you attend Newday, as a server is different than as a delegate. You don’t go in with the primary intention of receiving; meaning you have a valuable chance to admire and be in awe of God, as others receive from Him. Seeing this can be as valuable as receiving from him yourself.

If you are currently of Newday age (11-18) then please keep going. If you are old enough, and in a position to serve at this great event, then I would encourage you to do so.

For another blog on Newday, see Andrew Wilson’s excellent post on ThinkTheology here.

The Evolution of Fielding

Fielding has changed massively in cricket over the years, due to a wide variety of reasons. But here’s the main one. T20 cricket.

The introduction of T20 cricket, and the subsequent creativity of batsmen such as Tillakaratne Dilshan with his infamous ‘Dilscoop’ shot, and the aggression which has emerged from that into all forms of the game, by those like Virender Sehwag (Who has an impressive test match career strike rate of 82.23) has forced the bowling sides to think about how they can stem the flow of runs from the other end.

Dilshan executing his famous ‘Dilscoop’ shot.

Bowlers have long been proficient at all variations of slower balls, cutters and yorkers and death bowlers such as Lasith ‘Slinger’ Malinga and Dale Steyn are dangerous game changers, but there’s been nothing new to see for a while.

So, the bowlers aren’t doing anything new. The batsmen are getting more aggressive and more creative. There’s only one area where there’s room for improvement. In the field.

Sure the tactics have changed, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. The most notable difference for me, is actually the desire, teamwork and creativity that fielders now show. The desire Andrew Strauss showed to take this famous slip catch off Adam Gilchrist is a primary example of this. In the picture it seems as if he is virtually flying! An incredible catch.

Former England captain Andrew Strauss in mid air catching Adam Gilchrist from the bowling of Andrew Flintoff, at Trent Bridge in 2005.

Also consider, how 20 years ago a well timed ball goes flying past someone in the covers, and they wouldn’t hunt it down to see if they could save the boundary. Now, in all forms of the game, we see fielders hunt in twos. One chases it down, while another from a nearby position follows in anticipation of their team-mate diving, and sliding the ball back to them, all before making contact with the boundary rope.

Now here comes the creativity. The Natwest T20 Blast has seen the emergence of two incredible catches, both from Yorkshire duo Aaron Finch and Adam Lyth. The first of the two, is this one in the War of the Roses. Lancashire were flying on 68-1 off 6.5 overs, and then this happens.

And, then when you thought it couldn’t get much better, they produce an even more impressive carbon copy against Leicestershire later on in the tournament.

The phrase “catches win matches” has always been true. But with T20 matches often coming down to the last ball, teams are recognising just how much of significant difference fielding and creative catching can make in counteracting aggressive batting, and the knowledge and skills for this, is transferring into all forms of the game. The prospect of seeing catches like Finch & Lyth’s common place in cricket is exciting. Whatever next!?

To My Parents…

Today is apparently 3 years since I started up this blog. So on my 3 year anniversary I figured it was an appropriate time to post this little tribute to two very wonderful people…

To the Mum that gave up work so she could be at home with me full-time.

To the Dad that constantly went in early and stayed late at the office give us all a better life. (And he still does).

To the Mum that took me to feed the ducks in the park and go on the swings most weeks.

To the Dad who would help me make model cars and aeroplanes while listening to Spurs on Radio 5 Live on a rainy afternoon. (Some of my fondest memories with him).

To the Mum who spent hours making me a Thunderbirds’ Tracey Island out of paper mache for Christmas, as we couldn’t afford one from the shops.

To the Dad who would take me down the park to play cricket with me in the summer after a hard day’s work.

To the Mum who prayed with me when I felt I had no friends.

To the Dad who helped me prepare for my interview for the Saturday job I had.

To the Mum who drove me to my University open days, and asked questions and made notes.

To the Dad who advises me on workplace issues(!).

To the Mum who loves me no matter what.

To the Dad who loves me no matter what.

You are both my friends and my inspiration. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me. Love you lots xx