Posts Tagged ‘Wolverhampton’

I was just noodling about to see how the local churches I mentioned a while ago had got on with finding new vicars. And the news is as follows:

  • St Matthew’s Walsall are still on the hunt – if you’re quick you could still apply to be vicar of the main Anglican church in Walsall. The deadline is 28th May so you’d better get a move on!
  • It rather looks like St Matthew’s in Tipton also failed to appoint – they are suggesting that you contact their patrons for further details.
  • And Holy Trinity Heath Town’s website doesn’t say and neither does their Facebook page, so it’s not clear whether they have a new vicar or not, but [edit to reflect comment below] they *have* appointed and the new vicar is being licensed at the end of June.

If you are looking for an incumbency, or know someone who is, do consider the Black Country. We’d love to see more good gospel work in our neighbouring tow-uns. Pray for us in this neck of the woods – that visionary ministers would make the move to come and lead our churches.

The Black Country flag – bet you didn’t know we had one, eh?

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If you saw my pretty pictures taken from Dudley Zoo, you’ll remember that the Black Country is a beautiful place. And so are its people. And that’s why you should apply for a job here. Especially if you are ordained, because three evangelical Anglican churches (fairly) local to us are looking for new leaders:

St Matthew’s Walsall is the civic church for Walsall. Lots of opportunities and challenges in a multicultural town of over 67,000 people. Job vacancy details on their website.

And Holy Trinity Heathtown is in a deprived part of Wolverhampton but has a lively congregation wanting to reach out. Advert, parish profile and summary from the Lichfield Diocesan site.

St Matthew’s Tipton is the closest to us. and affiliated with New Wine. Advert and profile, again from the diocesan site. Tipton is another typical post industrial Black Country tow-un, with high levels of deprivation and a great need for the gospel.

So don’t delay! Apply today! I don’t *think* they’ll be using Dave Walker’s application process.

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Our kids are happy in our church school here in the parish. The teachers are kind and dedicated and are working hard to make it better and better. The school is in a disadvantaged area and it can be hard to ensure that all the children learn to their full potential. But the staff are tackling difficulties one by one and making a real difference. One of the obstacles that our current school faces is a building built for a smaller school (2/3 of its current size) and built at a time when open plan classrooms were all the rage.

Our building isn’t bad – it’s clean and well maintained. We’ve recently had a refurbishment of the Foundation Stage area which is fantastic. We have a wonderful school allotment and many other great outdoor facilities. I am thankful for many blessings there.

But the thing is, our old school just got a new building. And today I saw this wonderful video of it. If you manage not to blink, you can see a clay tile made by the Queen just before we left (at around 7 minutes in). This is the building that I am praying for our current church school. We are thinking long term here…

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Our family visited West Bromwich’s very expensive new art gallery this weekend. We had been at the baptism of Polly’s baby at the local catholic church and had time before the chicken roasting in the Vicarage oven was going to be cooked, so we dropped into the big black fish tank with Babapapa windows.

Is it a huge waste of money or an investment for the future?

A huge waste of money or an investment for the future?

We have been in before (for expensive coffee and a view of the glitzy loos), but the art gallery part has only just opened, so this was our first opportunity to gauge whether the £67 million that was spent has been really worthwhile.

Of course, the word on the street is that it is a complete waste of money for a town which has no cinema, no bowling alley and no swimming pool. But let’s give it a chance, eh? We loved the art gallery in Wolverhampton, where you could look at beautiful pictures, dress up as a Georgian, feel textured sculptures and eat wonderful salad selections. I would sometimes just pop in with the kids for half an hour to visit their favourite exhibits.

So how was the Public going to shape up? Would the kids enjoy it? And would the grown ups?

First off, I have to say that the curators are a bit overkeen. I like to look at the art and spend time in my own head in a gallery. And the kids like to do their own thing. So having three or four curators launch themselves at us telling us what to do was a little off-putting.  Maybe they were a bit bored – there seems to be rather too many of them.  It’s great to have them there to ask things of, but when they just started suggesting what we do, I felt rather patronised. Like we were ignorant and wouldn’t know what to do and might not be able to read any instructions or labels. It made me a bit grumpy, to tell the truth. If I want people to leap on me and ask me if I need any help, I’ll go to a posh frock shop.

Secondly, there’s not a lot there. And I don’t want to sound ignorant or anything, but I don’t think that much of it was what I’d call art. There were four sculptures and some good photos of the Black Country from the 1960s. But the rest consisted of the following:

  • What the kids called ‘dance mats’ and were basically slightly weird and not very good computer games.
  • Some fun video projectors which enabled you to see yourself sitting on a bench with people sitting on a different bench.
  • Some touch screen digital photo frames with photos of art projects that have happened at the Public over the summer.
  • A couple of short movies (one on the Public and one on Malcolm X).
  • A chance to make an animation of yourself.
  • Some gadgets which you could swirl your hands in to make coloured bubbles appear on some round projector screens.

I’d much rather look at a couple of good paintings and let the kids dress up in funky ’60s clothing, like in Wolverhampton’s pop art gallery.

Now from their latest magazine, I can see that there is more to the place than the exhibition, and we enjoyed hearing wafts of live jazz as we ambled down the long wooden ramp that most of the gallery seems to comprise of. And I liked the look of their Saturday art club and might even bring the kids along one week.

But as for the exhibition, the children enjoyed jumping about on the ‘dance mats’ and swirling their hands to make bubbles. And they liked the free self portrait photo. But the Vicar and I were pretty bored. And I can’t see the gallery exciting my kids about art, especially not compared to what they could experience in Wolverhampton. I wonder what they could have done with a cheap refurbished factory and money spent on real art instead? Or money spent on artists in every primary school in Sandwell.

So in my view, the Public seems rather like the Millenium Dome. A visionary building with less than visionary contents. The Public has so far failed to impress this section of West Brom’s public.

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My kids have a strange but great selection of playground rhymes so I thought I’d share a few with you. They’ve learnt some new ones since we moved, but this is a Wolverhampton one.

So here are the Queen and the Joker reciting ‘Coca cola’ (lyrics below):

Coca cola, coca cola.
Alley alley pussy cat, alley alley pussy cat.
Coca cola, coca cola.
Alley alley pussy cat, alley alley pussy cat.

The boys got the muscles, the teacher can’t count
The girls got the sexy legs, you better watch out.
The boys go X X, the girls go ‘Whooo’

PS Please excuse me going ‘Go’ at the beginning – it’s the only way I could make sure they hadn’t launched their rhyme before I started recording.

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The success of my complaint to Asda about their lads’ mags display was written up in our local paper this week. The article was pretty fair, although I’d hardly call a five minute queue at customer services and a five line complaint a ‘battle’, as they headlined it.

As the Express and Star have an online version people have the opportunity to comment. The commentators seem to fall into two camps – the ‘good on yer’ set and the ‘you’re a prude, haven’t you got anything better to do with your time, you leech on society you’ group.

So far, all the ‘vicar’s wife=prude’ comments have been from men. Interesting, but sadly not that surprising.

Meanwhile, my friend Mrs Starcook has complained about the same thing in the Wolverhampton Asda. They, however, phoned her and said they couldn’t do anything about the position of the magazines because ‘head office decide where everything is placed’. Sounds like buck-passing to me. The Asda I went into didn’t have the same problem.

Maybe they just need a few more people to complain. Any takers?

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Happy Wolves

Apparently, we live in the second happiest city in Britain. If you read the article, though, we are reported as being happy about having our football team.

Some Singaporean friends were visiting recently and asked us what Wolverhampton was famous for, and we could only really think of the footie. And motor cars in the 1920s.

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My parents are having some decorating done. My mum found the guy to do the work, who came with excellent references from some friends of hers. He comes in at her convenience and has done a room at a time. He calls if he’s going to be late or isn’t going to be there. She is in control and he wants to please her so that she gives him more work and recommends him to her friends.

In Wolverhampton there is a scheme going on called ‘Decent Homes’ and the council are refurbishing their houses. It’s great – folk are getting new central heating, new kitchens and bathrooms, new doors and rewiring. It’s making the houses loads better and the council tenants don’t have to pay.

However, the council obviously have to do this as economically as possible, so there are big teams of workers tackling multiple houses at the same time. This means that the plasterers, electricians and plumbers are kept busy all the time.

So if you are having the work done to your house, you have no control. The workmen come and go at their convenience, not yours. If they need to do something two doors down they go there instead. They don’t phone you to let you know if they’re not coming after all. You’ve not hired them and so can’t fire them if they are a bit unreliable.

And because you’ve not appointed the workmen yourself, you’re less likely to trust them in the house on their own. You may even want to be in the house all the time that they’re there. And since they’re not just decorating a single room but doing a lot of major work, this means that you could spend about six weeks in the house whilst the work gets done.

This is a snapshot of how people in the inner city can lack power over their own lives. It’s also one of the things that can make running a bible study for mums who are Wolverhampton council tenants a little unpredictable.

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I was at a school reunion a couple of years ago. The typical conversation went like this:

‘Yaas, we’ve just moved to Bayswater, how about you?’

‘We’re living in a small village in Worcestershire. Where do you live VW?’

‘We’re in Wolverhampton’

Eyebrows head upwards, jaws drop and I feel I have to justify myself.

Out of that environment I am so happy to be here: in a place where people are real and I’m not goaded into competitive parenting by all the afterschool activities and academic achievements of my children’s peers.

I can work out what I really want for my family. One of the fantastic things about being in the inner city is that there’s no pressure from alpha mums. I feel I can concentrate on what’s important without feeling guilty about not signing my kids up to all the classes going.

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