Thursday, October 29, 2009

A walk in the woods at twilight

I should have realised that walking in the woods in the dark was enough of a challenge without the added element of the river. Isn't it strange how a path so familiar in daylight takes on an alien form at dusk?

So there I am peering into the darkness when I see a human shape running towards to me. A male shape heading in my direction at speed. Fearing for my very life, with the instantaneous reflexes of a trained killer, I leapt into fighting stance - legs akimbo, fists in front of face.

As the jogger muttered, 'good evening,' I tried to make it look as if I were scratching my nose and ear. I think I got away with it.

George and the waves

video

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a regular Tuesday at Zac's

Sean is currently on his way to Australia. Even as I type he's probably somewhere over Africa or wherever the plane goes. He's off for three weeks, meeting up with God Squad bikers and speaking in a variety of churches and events, and he's left the running of Tuesday night Tribal Gatherings at Zac's Place to a group of regulars.

Well, Sean, if you're reading this, after last night I can say you have nothing to worry about. It was a perfectly normal Tuesday night, quiet, nothing happening, all fine and dandy.

Apart from the extremes of an inebriated turbanned Elvis impersonator and a homeless lad who'd been banned from contacting his girlfriend and baby son, with a bit of psalm-writing in between, it was just a normal night.

Those who were happy to read their psalms aloud at the end shared honestly the pain, confusion, thankfulness and humour that make up a typical Tuesday session at Zac's.

So have a great time, Sean, give all our love to Ros and Glenn, and don't worry: the fireman said you won't be able to tell that anything ever happened in a few weeks' time ...
xx

Twas on a Wednesday afternoon the gasman came to call

'Cor blimey, George,' I said, 'we don't half meet some miserable old gits when we're walking.'
'Tell me about it,' he replied.
'I mean I can understand them not wanting a close encounter with you ...'
'Excuse me?'
'But I'm well-brought-up. I don't stick my nose in their crotches or shake mud all over them.'
(George has started sulking now.)
'And they're walking by the sea? How is it possible not to be happy when you're walking in the fresh air by the sea?'

George refused to answer as he was still sulking.

Actually I do him a disservice: Harvey was the one for sticking his nose in unwelcome places. That's one trait George doesn't have. Unlike his 'I wanna break free' habit.

The gasman came today. As soon as he'd gone George started moaning to go out. I knew why: he was hoping the gasman would have left the gate open. Which he had.

I opened the door for George and we both stepped out. George looked at me and I looked at George. I began to sprint down the path; he cut across the grass and was down the steps and out of the gate before me. 'You scheming ratbag!' I yelled.

He wouldn't come back until I promised him a treat. Stupid he's not.

Broadcasting to the world - or Swansea at least

You know when you get what seems like a good idea and, full of enthusiasm, you act on it, and some time later you get a result? Well, that's happened to me. Again.

I contacted the local radio station to see if they could do something with the psalm the prisoners wrote a few weeks ago. This Sunday I'm going to the station, at 7.30 am, to talk about and read it.

Two thoughts spring to mind:
on Saturday I'm cooking chilli for 50 for a friend's 40th birthday party so I could be a little tired come Sunday morning;
the last time I appeared on the media (live national breakfast television, I'll have you know) I sounded like an idiot as I spoke very slowly to make sure I ... didn't ... get ... my ... words ... muddled.

But:
I can sleep for the rest of the day if needs be;
I can be assured that nobody listens to local radio at 7.30 on a Sunday morning.

So that's fine then.

From blog to bog

I remember when a shop at Sainsburys only cost £100 at Christmas ...
Some groceries I am fussy about and choose the brand I know and like; other things I'm happy to buy because they're on special offer. Purple toilet block was on special offer.
It is really shockingly purple, much more so than it appears in the photo.
And now I am posting photos of the toilet bowl on my blog ... I need to get a life. No, wait, I don't have time.

A lost cause

I made Jude's biscuits to take in to Zac's last night - yes, I know they don't look like biscuits but that's because I haven't made them for a long time and I couldn't remember what size tin I had measurements for and I also didn't know how big a cup was. I know how big an American cup is but I don't think this was that sort of cup.

So we had Jude's cakes last night.

They're named after the person who gave me the recipe and should not be confused with St Jude's biscuits (if such a thing exists). My cooking is sometimes dodgy but it's rare that it's a totally lost cause. (In case you don't know, Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.)

My uncle and aunt called their house St Jude's. They had a son who was, what was called in those days, spastic. Auntie Audrey was a devout Roman Catholic and they made several pilgrimages to Lourdes with Huw. It always seemed sad that they should name their house thus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More about 'the peculiar little bump'

I refuse to call it 'bunion'. I am not that old.

Anyway, what I was going to say is that I've never worn narrow or pointy shoes. I have an extra toe on the foot with 'the peculiar little bump' so my foot is already misshapen and has never fitted into anything narrower than a broad fitting. I suspect it is the extra toe that is the problem though as 'the peculiar little bump' is almost directly opposite it.

In one of John Wyndham's books (The Chrysalids, I think), people like me, with abnormalities, are sent to live in the outlands, so I suppose I should be grateful.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Old age doesn't come alone

I have a strange little lump on the side of my foot. I showed it to husband who said it looks like a bunion.

'A bunion?'

How old is that?

Monochrome Maniacs


To take part in Monochrome Maniacs go here.

More psalms

Last week in Zac's we wrote a psalm - or rather we wrote two. The longer of the two is to be found at my bits that are too long blog, and here is the other.

Zac’s Place psalm
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. (Luke 19:5-6)
God, will you join us at Zac’s for a cup of tea?
We are grateful for this atmosphere of tolerance and patience.
Life here at least is harmonious.
We find contentment inspired by those around us.
Thank you, God; we’re doing fine.

xx

No names yet

Less than four weeks to go until Baby's due date and the important question of names has not yet been resolved. Am I going to be called grandma or granny? Or even Ga-Ga, which strikes me as singularly appropriate but hopefully not prophetic.

I'm grandma to Holly Dog so will it be more or less confusing if I'm grandma to Baby too? Ditto granny.

Time is running out; these decisions have to be made.

Perhaps we'll just wait and see what I get called. I don't mind at all - as long as it's not interfering old bag.

Where does the time go?

It's been such a busy week I've not had time for serious blogging but I have tried to catch up on visiting.

Yesterday we went to the wedding of the daughter of friends'. The bride looked stunning and it was a lovely day. Thank you, Carol and Andrew, for inviting us to join you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Tied


This barge is tied to the horse who is slowly pulling it along the Llangollen canal.
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Have you heard the one about ...

"With Christmas now firmly on the horizon it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your home ready for the holiday season."

So starts the email from Lakeland. It offers me all sorts of cleaning products that I need if I am to be properly prepared for Christmas.

Ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The monsoon season has started


Sue and Ric gave me this beautiful cyclamen as a thank you for Ric's cake last week - which is a bit of bonus actually as I would have made a cake for Zac's anyway: it was only the decorating that made it extra! Thank you, Sue and Ric!

It's a man thing

The car we hired in Corsica had automatic windscreen wipers; the van we hired the other week had them too. I suppose all new cars do.

What I want to know is: are there male and female settings?

When Husband is driving and I'm in the passenger seat, and it starts to rain, I can become almost hysterical before Husband will switch on the wipers. Apparently I'm not alone in this: it's a woman thing. Men have better visio-spatial aptitude, Husband says. I think it's just that men want to look cool. 'Hey, I'm superhuman; I can see through raindrops.'

* * * * * * * * *

We will need a new car soon. Our black car is gradually falling to bits so Husband has been browsing through the Autotrader website. In fact, he does that most Sunday mornings but now he can say he's doing something useful rather than dreaming of the classic Bentley or land rover he'd like to buy.

My mind has gone blank: I can't remember where I was going with this post ... oh, yes, I know.

Last Sunday he was looking at a Ford something or other diesel. He said, 'It's the same as the one we hired when we went to France last year; do you remember?'

I have trouble remembering where I've parked the car in Sainsburys car park; most times it's only chance that I come home in the right car. So, no, I don't remember the car we hired in France eighteen months ago. As if.

Grumpy old bat


It was wet round the cliffs today but we like it like that: no Sunday walkers. In fact the only people we saw were boys doing their Duke of Edinburgh award. How do you like that? What I do for fun, they get an award for doing! Well, I suppose they do a bit extra as well.
But flipping heck, as I was leaving the car park I read the parking sign and discovered that Swansea Council has decided to charge for parking all year round now. It's a good job I didn't look before or I'd have felt obliged to pay. And there were only about four cars there. And the only people who use the car park most of the winter, especially in the rain, are dog-walkers. It's dogownerism, that's what it is.
I think I'm turning into a grumpy old woman ...

And while I'm about it ...

Anne pointed out - and several people agreed - that not all PO counter assistants are grumpy. I apologise for my generalisation and I'm sure you were lovely, Anne, when you ran a post office. To be fair, the ladies who've recently taken over one of the little post offices near us are great too.

But I stick to my belief that doctors' receptionists get special training to put people off visiting the doctor.

And while I'm in a grumbly mood I'll tell you about the letter I received yesterday from Eon, the electricity company. They said they're working with Age Concern to keep old people warm in winter and would I like to change to them. They even offered me a choice of free gift if I did so.

Choose from: motorised zimmer frame; stair-lift; walk-in bath.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old miseries

I've just been to the doctor's to collect a repeat prescription for Husband. I notice they have a new receptionist.

She might be new but they obviously used the same criterion for selecting her: she's a miserable so'n'so.

Why are doctors' receptionists so cheerless? They rank alongside PO counter staff in the 'I don't really want to be here but I need the money' group.

Ric's baptism

P.S.The film is about 9 minutes long.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keep those doggies moving, Rawhide!

We paid a flying visit to Daughter and Son-in-law in Devon yesterday. Husband spent the day in the loft helping to lay insulation and boards, and Daughter and I went in search of a launderette to wash some clothes to keep them going until the new machine arrives at the end of the week. And I bought an expensive cardi, which wasn't planned but very nice and soft.

Spoke in church with Rich this morning about spiritual eyes, and this afternoon, later on, I'm off to enjoy a sea baptism. Photos to follow!
I will try and catch up with blog visiting soon. I'm aware that I am being very slack about it and I'm sorry.
Dishes now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Isn't he gorgeous?


Today

Pobbles this morning followed by prison this afternoon. I'm about to start working with the men for the Christmas carol service again.

Tomorrow evening it's circuits, Friday it's Welsh comedian, Rhod Gilbert, at the theatre, Saturday evening it's slide guitarist, Bryn Haworth, at Zac's Place, Sunday morning I'm speaking in church (yes, they're letting me loose again!), Sunday afternoon it's Ric's baptism.

And then another week begins ...

No wonder I'm permanently tired.

It's a mystery

There was an area of sand near the tideline on Pobbles beach this morning with lots of these small lumps. They turned out to be air bubbles: when I pressed them I could move the air around underneath like pressing a blister. And when I punctured one, it deflated.

I've never seen anything like these sand bubbles before - and I'm an oceanographer! (That is to say, I have a piece of paper saying I have a degree in oceanography; if it weren't for that I wouldn't believe it myself. I find it hard to imagine I ever knew enough to achieve that qualification.)

Husband doesn't believe me - about the sand lumps being full of air, not about me having a degree although that is even more unlikely - but it's perfectly true.

Any ideas?

Cake, candle and ethnic cleansing

One of Zac's regulars, a former violent criminal, brought me a present yesterday.It's an old (1972) Welsh recipe book, and it was so sweet of him. I'm thrilled.

It was another good night in Zac's, with a good crowd of people in. We've finished the study on the life and times of David and last night was an opportunity for feedback, for people to say what they've learned or found useful.

It was a really good discussion with everyone agreeing that the story is one of encouragement: if David could make all the mistakes he did and retain the love of God (although David was punished and did suffer for some of his ways), then there is hope for us all. It was pointed out that even though the events occurred 3,000 years ago, it could just as easily be a 21st century story.

A couple of particularly difficult points were covered:
if we know we can be forgiven does that give us freedom to do anything we want?
if David's story were happening today would we have looked on him so favourably? (He was a bit of an ethnic cleanser after all.)

But I think my favourite bit of the David story was a section with which I was unfamiliar previously. At one point on a battle campaign, some of David's army were too weary to continue so they were left behind while the others went on to fight, win and return with victor's plunder. David insisted, to the displeasure of the troops who hadn't stayed behind, that the booty was to be shared equally between all.

Jesus tells a parable about a land-owner who hires workers at various points in the day and then pays them all the same amount. This is the grace of God: getting what we don't deserve.

And the big question is: did Ric deserve his birthday cake?! Oh, yes, I think so. So we dimmed the lights, sang happy birthday, and he blew out the candle. And the really excellent news is that, on Sunday, we'll be celebrating his rebirth as he's being baptised - in the sea! Brrrr, rather him than me, but I'll be there to watch, all wrapped up, snug and warm as toasty.
xx

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ric's birthday cake


Nature watch

There were two foxes sunbathing on the grass at the back of work yesterday morning!

I think they were mother and youngster as one lay in the sun and snoozed and the other scratched, lay down, got up, lay down again, chewed on a stick, looked around, chewed on his stick again, as if to say, 'Oh, mum, come one, this is boring. Come on, I want to do something exciting. Muuum, muuum, come on.'

At last mum got up laboriously and walked slowly through the trees. Youngster was so busy looking the other direction he didn't notice at first but then leapt up and ran after her. 'Wait for me, mum!'


Then a little while after that, I spotted a green woodpecker wandering along the grass, pecking away.


But I don't want you to think that I spend all my time in work staring out of the window ...


And while I'm on the subject of wildlife we'd better have a George story.


One evening last week, he sat out the front on the grass for a while before coming in and lying on the rug. After he'd been there a few minutes, he glanced round and started twitching. then he leapt to his feet and began shaking his leg furiously while simultaneously running round in circles, in true hysterical girly fashion.


He had a slug on his leg.


Husband pointed out that George was only mimicking my behaviour when I find an unwanted guest on my person; I pointed out that George is very intelligent and of a highly sensitive nature.

Baby Countdown

Days to D-Day (due date) = 37.

Mission accomplished

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are successfully installed in their new - first - house. It's a lovely little mid-19th century cottage in a pleasant location with lots of green fields nearby. At the end of their road is a shop that deals in and restores violins, violas, cellos and bows; two streets away is a garage selling Maseratis and Ferraris - and they leave them out on the forecourt! Swansea it isn't.

And speaking of cars, we saw a car with the number-plate LIE XX. Now, would you trust a man - it must be a man - who chose that number-plate?

I asked Husband what sort of car it was and, even as I was asking, I noticed the DB9 writing on the boot. 'If it's a DB, it must be an Aston Martin,' I thought. Husband concurred. I must be watching way too much Top Gear. (Although it's hard not to as it's on every hour of every day.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Looking forward

I'm so glad I'm not in work tomorrow.

There's a problem with the electricity in Linden and that means no heating and we have the quilters in. The quilters like to be warm; the quilters are scary ladies.

I repeat: I am so glad I'm not in work tomorrow.

And the reason I'm not in work? We're off to Surrey. Via Devon.

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are moving into their first house and we're hiring a van and taking up a sofa from here and a bed and washing machine from Daughter's in Devon. And, if necessary, we'll help transport boxes of clothes and stuff from their flat in Putney.

Then on Saturday Elder Son and D-i-l are off to a wedding leaving mum and dad to do anything helpful they can think of. Cleaning springs to mind but I'm pushing that notion out of my mind, especially as their new house is near Windsor Great Park and Runnymede.

A fun weekend ahead of us.

Not quite brave enough

Part of my job each week is to produce a short movie picking out highlights from the notices - things happening this week, help needed etc - but because that can get a bit boring, i like to add a 'And finally ...' bit at the end.

I have used LOLcats but others didn't seem to find them as funny as I did, and I've used cartoons too. One of the series I've especially used is nicked from the Ship of fools where they feature Gadgets for God, but the most popular images have been church signs.

Now I've already got into trouble for some of the images I've used so I daren't use this one: And definitely not this one:


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two special women

There are two young women, both daughters of God Squad bikers, who come along to Zac's Place on a Tuesday night: Sam, in her twenties, has been coming for a while, and Lisa, just 19, has recently started attending. (In fact her first time was into the chaos that was last week's Zac's.)

They are incredibly mature and compassionate young women. I watch them dealing with the drunks and druggies and I am awed by their understanding and capability. They sit and listen to ramblings and they know how to respond.

I want to befriend the rough sleepers but I don't know what to say. I am too aware of the gap and afraid of saying 'the wrong thing'. Of being either too sympathetic and not straight enough, or being too blunt. When I'm in any social situation and I feel awkward I tend to make light of it, make a joke, and that isn't always the best thing to do.

I admire these young women so much.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nice legs, shame about the score

My latest attempt at being a sports writer is up on the Sportingo website.
http://www.sportingo.com/rugby-union/a12341_plight-ospreys-rugby-flyers-who-just-cant-take-off

It's my thoughts on the under-achievement of the Ospreys rugby team. And their nice bums.

P.S. Not really but I thought more people might go and read it if I said that.

George and I hide in the woods

As we were on our way back from our walk today, just coming up from the river, George spotted a dog and went belting off. I couldn't see where he went but I could hear a little dog yapping and a lady shouting ferociously. I couldn't tell if she was shouting at her dog, George or me as the irresponsible owner. When George came back I put him on his lead and decided that she sounded like the sort of person who would shout at me too so we hid in the bushes until she'd gone. Do you like the way I've deliberately drawn my boots out of line with my head and facing the other direction? Don't you wish you could draw like me?

A present from Ibiza

This is what Younger Son brought me this back from Ibiza. Getting ready ...And this is for Zac's tonight. Apple and sultana cake but made with raisins instead of sultanas as I didn't have any. So, I suppose, it's apple and raisin cake. It's my invention anyway so I can call it whatever I want. I think I'll call it ... Zebedee.

George's favourite place to sleep

Or one of them anyway.

Beads, baths and bits

Back in spring of 2006 we had a new bathroom fitted including a bath with a separate shower attachment. Probably about one year later a problem developed: instead of it being either the shower or the taps that ran, they both ran together at reduced force. 'We ought to call the plumber back to sort this out,' we said.

So this summer, after we'd put up with this for about eighteen months - well, it wasn't a big problem - we called the plumber.

He came and took it all apart and said the seals had gone on the tap fitting and that we should take it back to the shop. We did so and they sent it off to the makers, Jacuzzi. While we were on holiday a latter arrived from Jacuzzi saying the parts were out of stock but should be in the week commencing 5th October i.e. this week.

Last Saturday we had another letter saying there was a problem and the parts were not yet in but that we would be treated as 'high priority' when they did arrive.

Now that's all well and good except at the end of this week our plumber is going travelling for six months. And we're without a bath.

That's what happens when:
a) you're apathetic;
b) you have a bead-wearing, Beetle-loving, surfer for a plumber.

P.S. He's given us the details for the plumber who's taking over for him.

Really Serious Diet week 1 report

Pah!

My weight could have been anything within a 10lb range depending on where the scales was, where I stood on the scales, and how I stood. If I bent forward (to read it as I couldn't see from head height) the weight shot up. Sadly it never really shot down. I am assuming that I am the same as last week.

Pah!

Husband said I should buy new scales. But if I do that I will have nothing to blame.

Big sigh.

But I am being positive: I am labelling this post 'weight loss'.

Monday, October 05, 2009

My marriage cast into doubt

I had to go to the Registry Office this afternoon to get a copy of our marriage certificate as Husband had misplaced the original and needed it for some pension stuff. It took so long that I had time to read all the magazines before my name was called. The lady apologised but said there'd been a bit missing from the original entry and they'd had to check it out.
'But I am really married?' I asked.
'Oh, yes, you can't get out it that easily.'

Ah well, probably just as well. I wouldn't be able to get anyone else to put up with me.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Monochrome Maniacs


To take part in Monochrome Maniacs, go here.

xx

Baby talk


A trip to Borders yesterday for presents for a new baby, a new big brother and a birthday boy. And as I was there I thought I'd better get this lovely book ready for our Baby too. This Baby will have more books before birth than some children have in a lifetime.

When I worked in the bookshop a mother and child sometimes called in after school. The mother would occasionally buy herself a book but if her son ever said he wanted one she would say, 'Not today. Let's go to the newsagent and I'll buy you some sweets instead.' I never saw her buy him a book.

Then today was the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) nearly new sale. It started at 10.30 but people were queuing from hours earlier, and it was immense! A large school hall entirely filled with children's and baby clothes, equipment and toys. They have them twice yearly but I'd never been before and it was rather overpowering. The first thing I saw as I went in were a selection of Moses baskets - so I bought one.

It wasn't until I'd paid and was leaving that I thought, 'I don't really need a Moses basket ...' It was just one of those 'Quick, buy it before someone else does' moments. And it was a bargain.

I wasn't able to get any of the things Daughter had asked me to look out for but I did get these dwtty little slippers for just 50p! And they even rattle!





Head banging and tingling

My nose was tingling yesterday morning: this either means I'm about to perform magic or I have a cold sore threatening. In this case I suspected it was a cold sore so I wandered off to the bathroom muttering, 'I need to put cling-film on my nose.'

Cling-film?

I meant zovirax (the wonder anti-cold-sore cream); where did clingfilm come from?!


* * * * * * * * *

Did the dishes this afternoon accompanied by much head-banging: I found a Best of Queen cd for 50p in an autumn fayre yesterday.


Also in the fayre, I came across Mr Magnolia by Quentin Blake. My children loved that book and, as I wasn't sure if it's still in the attic, I had to buy it ready for Baby. (Along with one or two other little gems for both Baby and me.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Words


My story, Bunkered, published in Mama's Baby (Papa's Maybe), an anthology of new Welsh short fiction. (Parthian Books 1999)

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Psalm 151, The Prisoners' Psalm

I am not happy.
I am full of regrets.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel
In this place full of darkness.
This is a lonely and tedious place to be
And I am anxious.
We are annoyed at ourselves, we feel guilt and remorse.
God, where have you been all my life?
We miss our loved ones, family life.
We miss the freedom to enjoy ourselves with our families.
The world has moved on
And we’re forgotten in here.

We want to be rehabilitated.
We want to break the chains of institutionalisation
But we are scared –
Of the outside, of confrontation, of being looked down on.
It can be comfy in here
And at least we are equals in here.

But we hope for a better future,
Of being released and of being better people.
The hope of a new life, making the most of the time we have.
We want to replace the negatives with positives
With the help of God.

Please forgive me for my sins
And look after my loved ones.
God, please look after me.

That was then, and this is now.

What an incredible evening!

On Wednesday evenings in prison they have chaplain's hour. Last night Ellie and I went along with regulars, John and John, to take part.

We started off by looking at some psalms written by David and then I said, 'Right, now we're going to write a psalm.'

There were some mutterings but Ellie took her place at the flipchart ready to write down what was said and we began. First I asked the men - there were about 10 of them - how they were feeling.

There was a moment of silence and then one said, 'well, not happy of course.' And then gradually one by one they started saying what it was like being in prison. A page of flipchart was soon filled and another started. Then I asked about their dreams and hopes, what they'd want to ask God for. Another two pages were filled rapidly.

Time was getting on now so while the men sang a few more songs, Ellie and I took all the things that had been said and put them in some sort of order to create a psalm that is amazing in its honesty and openness. Ellie read it out and even the most doubtful were saying, 'hey, that's good.'

We're going to get it copied and give them all copies, as well as making it available for a wider audience of prisoners and others (who may be imprisoned in cells of their own or other's making).

It was a truly incredible evening. I am still on cloud nine and a half: it was just so amazing.

It could have been a disaster. If nobody had said anything (fortunately we had a few mouthy ones in with us!) or if they'd not put their hearts into it, we'd have looked pretty silly but they were as open as we could possibly have hoped. Even the quiet ones chipped in as we got going. I think there were probably only two out of the ten who didn't say anything but just listened and that was fine too.

John, who goes in every week, said he'd never heard the men so open and forthcoming; John, the pianist, was quite overwhelmed and, he said, honoured to have sat in for it; the chaplain was his usual non-committal self!

I know some Christians who judge a meeting's success by the numbers of souls saved for the Lord, sister. Needless to say, I'm not one of those. (And if Zac's Place was about getting a quota of souls saved every month it would have closed long ago.)

God saves souls. If we can demonstrate a little of his love to those who have experienced very little of any sort of love, by listening, hearing and valuing, then, I think, it's job done.

P.S. When the question was asked, 'What would you say to God if you were face to face with him now?' one of the men said, 'Where have you been all my life?' It was said in a sort of jokey, tough-man, I-don't-really-mean-this-I'm-just-saying-it-for-show way but it was said. I could imagine God standing up, lifting up his robes a little and doing a jig while whooping, 'I've been here, waiting for you to ask that!' (I seem to have turned God into an Irishman. Still if God has to have an accent then the Irish accent is a good one to have.)
'Ask and it shall be given to you - or your question will be answered.' Matthew 7:7
God, please make yourself known to him in such a way that he can't ignore you.

Just an average night at Zac's

Arriving at Zac's on Tuesday evening I spotted Jerry, our regular alcoholic, sitting on a wall a little way down the street. I assumed he'd come in and join us when things got going but he didn't come in until it was packing-up time when he said, 'I didn't come in tonight; it was too mad in here.'

As it's usually Jerry who's partly responsible for any madness that was quite a statement and illustrates better than my words can the chaos of the evening.

He said, 'I heard the ambulance and I came over when it arrived as I thought it was my mate, Terry, had been beaten up but it wasn't. Then I saw the copper coming in. He didn't see me as I was in shadows. But, hey, I tell you, you should have seen him when the bikers arrived. All these bikes came down the road towards him and he ran off down the street. Yeah, he did, he ran. I was expecting him to come back with reinforcements but he just cleared off.'

Which is a rough summary of the evening's events. The bikers he mentioned were a group of hunky men from a visiting bike club, the beaten-up man was taken to Casualty and the policeman (a newbie to the area) called in to check that everything was okay. We also had more than usual rough sleepers who stayed in for the evening, and instead of continuing the study on David, Sean told the story of Zaccheus and explained how Zac's Place got its name - a perfect story and message for the evening: that Jesus cared about those that no-one else could be bothered with.

One of the rough sleepers, a girl in her teens, was so doped she could barely sit up. It doesn't bear thinking where these youngsters get the money to buy the heroin or, worse, what stories could be traced back through each needle mark and bruise.