Archive for August, 2010

Home from Abroad is that lovely poem by Laurie Lee that I learnt by heart for O Level Eng Lit. And here I am, skin not so much ‘well oiled by wines of the Levant’ as lightly tanned by Brittany sun… and rain.

I didn’t advertise my absence, though the more eagle eyed of you may have noticed a reduction in tweeting. I was a little concerned about alerting people on the internet to an empty(ish) Vicarage. As it happens, the internet was not what people were looking at.

Ha! He didn't get in.

It seems that some dodgy characters were observing a car with a roof box disappearing from our drive. And hadn’t noticed that our Ministry Trainee/lodger Happy was late back the day we left and out early the next. He had church folk over to dinner that evening and as they were leaving, there was a loud banging noise at our family room window.

Happy went into the room and was able to see at close hand a man with a hammer and chisel attempting to get in through the sash windows. When he saw Happy he seemed rather surprised. He had an accomplice with him in the garden and they both bolted off immediately.

They wouldn’t have had much luck getting in, as the windows are securely locked, so they’d have had to dismantle the structure of the window to fit through. But obviously it was pretty alarming for Happy. Thankfully, church family have been brilliant – our thoughtful Lay Reader parked her car in the drive for the remainder of our absence, and lots of folk have been phoning and calling in.

Although Happy got a good look at the chap at the window, he didn’t recognise him from our locality, and the police said the information would just remain on file.

Happy has also had Gone on the doorstep singing loudly at 6am, although he left and hasn’t returned. Not as bad as when we were on hols last year and Polly was confronted by a very nasty mess left by Gone on the doorstep, two days in a row. Our poor lodgers seem to really have a rough time when we go away.

We are grateful to God that the burglars didn’t get in, and that Happy was okay. We are also praying for our neighbourhood as crime levels seem to be increasing – this week a lady in our congregation was burgled by men who came to the door pretending to be from the council. We are hearing more and more about this type of crime. We are praying that people would be made new and stop stealing. Do pray with us.

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A short tale from a recent Sunday at the Vicarage:

The Vicar was in the kitchen, talking to a weeping parishioner who was in some emotional turmoil. We were waiting for our pal Nerd to come and join us for lunch. I guess it was about 1.30pm.

I had a text from my local friend Peacock, who told me that two men were coming over to my house. Hmm. Not sure why she texted me that, I thought. Then the doorbell rang.

Need a lift? Call the Vicar!

There was an obviously drunk chap at the door. He’s been round before, asking for food or train fares. Swaying a little, he asked me if the Vicar was available. ‘No, he’s in a meeting,’ I replied. ‘Can he give us a lift to Birmingham?’ he said.

‘Errrr. Well, we’re about to have lunch, so I don’t think so.’ And off he toddled. The things people expect vicars to do…

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Another Goodness Gracious Me clip to cheer your August holidays.

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This lady’s summary of the gospel made me smile the other day – and only 1 minute 43 seconds! I wonder if there’s a British equivalent?

She’s called Tamara Lowe, from Christ Fellowship, a church in Palm Beach.

[HT Debbie Andrew via Facebook]

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One of our favourite tv programmes used to be Goodness Gracious Me. This clip is one I only came across fairly recently –  a very appropriate Vicarage theme.

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Last week we got back from the Edgehill Pathfinder venture. We’d stayed in  a boarding school in Devon with our kids, a brilliant bunch of leaders and 65 11-14 year olds. We had loads of fun (3 wonderful beach trips, fantastic crafts, excellent games and some lively humour, which included the consumption of delights such as oven-baked tarantula). We made lots of friends (even us mummies who were caring for kids whilst the dads led activities). And we heard the gospel told afresh. The Queen, the Joker and the Engineer were old enough to attend the sessions alongside the Pathfinders for the first time this year and they (aswell as their teenage friends) were gripped by the lively and faithful teaching.

The head honcho, Tim Ambrose posted this thanksgiving prayer letter on his blog last week:

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Sorry not to have posted these results before. Somehow it’s harder to find time to do things in the holidays… Anyway, here they are:

Technique Votes Percentage
Colouring/quizzes 23 21%
Books 21 19%
Other (see below) 15 14%
Extensive pre-service briefing on loving ones neighbour by not distracting them 13 12%
Breadsticks or other healthy snack 12 11%
Threats 8 7%
Cuddly toys 8 7%
Sweeties or similar 7 6%
My kids always sit nicely, I don’t know what you’re talking about 1 1%

Other Answers (all 1 vote each)


  • taking time to answer all questions about what’s going on and being said
  • Get them to play in the music group!
  • OH actually tries to get him to follow the lesson and sing the hymns!
  • cuddles, sitting on knee and talking about what is going on
  • Participation in the worship
  • Quietly talking them through what’s happening.


  • Teaching and training parents in how to develop their kids’ attention level


  • Gags
  • taser


  • wandering round with them so they can focus on something ‘more interesting’;
  • Not always possible but don’t take them until they want to
  • “What’s Daddy doing now?”
  • Have child-focused services and a creative vicar
  • Just letting them be
  • i dont have kids!

So the recommended techniques seem to be a combination of activities (including participating in the service), food and working on expectations (both children’s, parents’ and congregation’s – the latter was mentioned more in the comments).

It’s a tricky area for us all I suspect and I guess we need to encourage one another to persevere. We want those kids to be real church family members now as they will be the core church family of the future, God willing.

This subject is ripe for future polls, so watch out for more once the summer hols are over and my thinking head is less distracted by screaming kids beating each other up. We like to set a good model of Christian family life here in the Vicarage.

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Oh dear. A loud ring on the doorbell at quarter to eight this morning. The Vicar went down to greet the postman. And alongside him, on the Vicarage doorstep, was Gone. Just like he was this time last year.

If you’ve started reading since last summer, you’ll not know that Gone is homeless man, an alcoholic, who spent six weeks or so living on our doorstep last summer. His presence was rather all-consuming at the time, so we’re a little wary of his reappearance.

He’s been in prison for ten months and is out on licence. So he only lasted a couple more months on the street after we firmly told him we were only going to help him to help himself by going to Betel. We didn’t have the strength to supply any more cheese on toast. And the Queen needed her sleep (he had a propensity to sing loudly and drunkenly under her window at 5am).

Since he left, though, Betel have opened a shop in our town, so the Vicar has gone down there with him now to see if Gone can overcome his anxieties enough to get himself onto Betel’s excellent programme. Watch this space for more news… (and if you want to read the rest of Gone’s story, there’s a box  on the right hand side of the blog, with all my previous posts from last summer).

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One of the things I’ve loved about taking the Engineer to school this year is that in the Reception class you get to walk in with your child, help them locate their coathook and get their lunchbox in the trolley. And then you get to hang out with them and their friends for a bit. I used to wait whilst the Engineer wrote his name in marker pen on the big piece of paper on the easel, and then nose around a little to see if there was anything new on the wall…

In April I went away with some girlfriends (to listen to some edifying talks on the Trinity, natch) and happened to buy a FatFace necklace (can’t think how that occurred). I love my new necklace (and the Trinity, of course). And it is also loved by three of the Engineer’s classmates. Every time I wore it into school (quite frequently – it goes with many outfits) they would gather around me. Then they would grab onto the necklace, fascinated by the surprisingly heavy beads. Then they would hang onto me  and my necklace until I managed to disentangle myself. I called them the Bling Bling Girls.

Their teacher says this is why she never wears necklaces to school.

Blingy, eh?

In other news I was very proud of myself when I successfully mended the necklace this evening after a thread snapped and one of the steel beads fell off.

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More than a year ago I blogged a video of the Queen and the Joker reciting one of their favourite playground rhymes. This has attracted a few comments both on the blog and on YouTube, so I thought I’d share another favourite Wolverhampton rhyme here.

Here they are reciting Ribena, Sassatina (full lyrics below the video). I’m not sure what it is with soft drinks. And what is Sassatina, anyway? And apologies for the Queen’s stripes/flowers combo. She has her own fashion sense…

Ribena (clap, clap,clap), sassatina (clap, clap,clap).

Big boy (clap, clap,clap), crazy girl (clap, clap,clap).

Ribena, sassatina.

Big boy, crazy girl.

Statue, baby.

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