Thursday, 12 April 2007

Of easter weekends and my friend Zac

Recently I have noticed several things about myself, not many of them are hugely interesting to the average person but over the weekend I did come up with a marvellous spoonerism. They tend to happen when I am totally distracted, overly-excited, or ridiculously tired. The weekend involved the latter as Zac and I stayed up from Saturday morning, through Saturday night at an all night easter-prayer vigil thing; did church Sunday morning (where everyone seemed far too enthusiastic I thought - it was quite beyond me how everyone didn't just want to go for a nice lie down and a bit of peace and quiet); Sunday lunch with some friends and then back to Oxford for sleep around 6 o clock.

Since we appeared to be on a roll with doing stupid and not well-thought out things no eyelids were batted at the fact that the car was so full that oxygen (nevermind space) was a premium. I imagine it's what living in a Japanese box must be like. Nevertheless armed with a guitar (patronised for my choice of brand by a clearly insane Scotsman) and more toast than you could shake a stick at - we tried, but couldn't find a stick - the evening began.....

My devotion upon the topic of 'worship' seemed to be going well. The audience were enthralled by my story of how all of the chewing gum had fallen out of the packet in my bag, thus rendering me with breath like that of the average vulture; and from there I was on a roll with a tenuous link from The Police to St Paul then contrasting the creator of the universe with the average date (make sure you take chewing gum). Fortunately my ineptitude was excused and one singing lesson later (during which it turned out that my cold had sneakily turned my voice from that of an angel to the sonic equivalent of a meat tenderiser to the face) only my lack of playing ability stood between me and international rock acclaim.
Fortunately Christians are always nice and so everyone said how much they enjoyed it all.

So it was that approximately 11 hours later as we did the last clearing up and marvelled at the lack of stench left behind from 19 teenagers crammed overnight into too small a space (miracles do happen) that I came across this weekend's spoonerism. Observing the water bottle left upon the table Zac said: is that yours?
I reply: no, I thought it was yours. Shall I bin it?
Zac: no I'll take it, it could be useful. [For those interested in such things, it did indeed come in handy on the drive later - another story to be sure]
Me: True. The only problem that you don't really want to share spit with a load of teenagers.
Zac: *strange look precedes laughter*
Me: *review last sentence and realise that I had in fact pronounced that on a youth prayer night you really wouldn't want to spare shit with a load of teenagers* I think that what I meant was...

Not the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my life, but a charming story of the accidental misuse of the english language I thought. It now joins my previous assertion whilst in Australia that it would not necessaily be pleasant to 'share a swag' as one of my favourite miscommunications.

By Wednesday I had recovered - just in time to find three quite attractive girls knocking on my door and offering me a kitten who has been subsequently named 'Sir Reginald the Great'. Odd but not necessarily unpleasant.

Peace out.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Just another day at the office.....

I was going to begin this post by saying that my transition back into the UK has (although lacking in communication) been relatively smooth and pleasant. But the other day someone told me that I seem to attract and magnify crisis and that perhaps I should think about whether I set myself up to fail. Of course that's completely nonsense as a short survey of any area of my life will reveal.

Take the last two weeks for example:

Discover on Monday that I have royally pissed someone off who now is undertaking a process of attempting to remove my extremities and feed them to ill tempered badgers. Check.
Travel across Oxfordshire to attend totally frustrating staff meeting Tuesday morning, PIT session and then return to Oxford in time to head off for the ever promising youth event retreat. Check.
Arrive at retreat centre after getting lost due to directions being accurate only for someone travelling from the opposite compass direction and discover that despite being called 'The Abbey', said retreat centre is in fact a multi-faith organic vegan community with no hot water. Forget to turn on storage heater in my room and wake up to find penguins enjoying the temperature, decline a gracious offer of joining silent meditation (holding hands whilst sat in a circle), burst into someone else's meeting because 'I wanted to know what was behind this door', discover that something in the vegan food has set off my allergy and therefore have massively painful stomach cramps. Check.
Attend 3 dysfunctional meetings and receive no consolation from the post meeting trip to the pub due to student restrictions upon the consumption of alcohol (who wrote that stupid rule anyway?!). Check.
Miss meeting with church leader due to sickness, achieve approximately nothing for the rest of the week except to lose my phone, mp3 player, laptop, home internet connection and possibly sanity.
Take Saturday off to recover. By which I mean - attend youth cafe training day and try to lecture on team leadership whilst feeling sick. Check.
Lose watch.
Reclaim most of said items, suffer an entirely unproductive and very very weird Monday at the office (during which the temperature drops to approximately absolute zero). Go home and curl into a ball. Check.
Finally give in to my body and take Tuesday morning and Wednesday off. Actually do more in my day off than I probably have in the past week - very strange.
Thursday: Open my morning mail to find that my bank have very kindly closed my account for me (I don't recall asking them to do that but it's always possible....) Talk to a very kind lady who says that I owe them the remainder of the balance of my student loan (oh dear); but fortunately unlike most financial people she has not had her heart removed with a spoon and replaced with a chrome alternative so she's not really worried (hurray). Net result: no bank account, possibly black listed? Need to find a regular job to earn money/a multimillionaire to sponsor Fusion/lots of not quite multimillionaires to support my sponging lifestyle. Decide that a job is probably my most pro-active option (though door knocking is always a fall-back). Check.
Take weekend off, go home, obtain guitar that I have wanted for the last 4 & 1/2 years and was my christmas present from my family (had to be shipped from Puerto Rica - best not to ask). Much joy ensues.
Recover watch.

And so this week begins.

Now call me crazy but that all sounds quite normal to me. At least this week has been pretty good so far.

As we often used to say back in the grantham pub: gotta love the cp'n!

Monday, 5 February 2007

Beginnings are hard. Maybe because they seem to involve ends in one way or another and I often want to leave a part of me in what was before, perhaps because new things are a bit scary.
But in either case I find myself at a new beginning and in a way am not really sure of what I am like anymore. It could almost be anything. I think that this is part of the mystery of forgiveness.

Like the title suggests I have left that most curious village in Tasmania to return to England: the land of snow-drops, angel cake and the queen. And a place that I think I like a lot more having been away for a while.

Many people who I speak to are a little confused by what I have been doing, what I am doing, why I'm doing it, and whether or not I've been living in something like a nazi-camp run by a strange set of cultish Christians. As for this last point of interest I can assure you that any explanation I give will not adequately explain what the Po was like.
It is true that we were all fitted with GPS tracking chips that activate once you cross out of the village boundaries; it is true that no students were allowed to drink any alcohol; and it is not true that the Po is built on the site of an ancient tribe who worshipped a giant squirrel. (As ever 1 of the above 3 statements is false)

The last 12 months have probably been the most intense of my life, and to conceed a point may well turn out to be one of the more significant as well. To say that they were easy or simple would be a total lie, to say that they were completely awful would also be a lie. If nothing else perhaps the experience has begun to show me something of the cost of looking after other people, particularly some of the people who really need it. And judging by the standards of the stories that other workers occasionally shared I had a pretty tame and easy ride.

The best way to understand what I have been doing is to sit down for a long time (a very long time because my brain is a fairly confusing place) and listen. But the basic way is that I've been youthworking and studying in what felt like an almost 24/7 capacity - which is quite challenging to one's integrity. Now that I'm back in England I'm technically an overseas student in Australia on placement in England. By title I suppose I'm a student or youthworker; Practically I think I might be a missionary - I don't know who validates such a claim so I hold it tentatively but with an amount of pride and joy. I'm looking forwards to living by faith and waiting to see what each day brings in Fusion's work here.

For the first time in a while I think that I'm approaching things wondering if they could be fun and what the possibilities are. Tomorrow I'm sure that I'll have some moments when I will wonder what on earth I am doing and why I'm here, but at least that seems pretty par for the course. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in some things.

And on the whole: it's nice to be back.