Tuesday, November 27, 2007

number40 christmas exhibition

It’s time that time of the year again – when the dining room at home gets filled with boxes and clutter out of the basement and the basement gets magically transformed into a gallery! The exhibition is this coming weekend and includes work by Tamsie Beith, Lucie Sheridan, daughters Ruth+Hannah and me (Moira and Ruth’s husband Stu have decided to opt out this time) – illustration, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography and baby clothes! Everything’s almost ready!
Photo: invitation flyer (apologies, I know you won’t be able to read it!) featuring Tamsie’s “Camely Road” painting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Why the picture of Martin Jol?
Well, as indicated in a previous blog (March 2007), I’m not a huge follower of the England football team (too many disappointments etc). Last night’s inept, depressing defeat against Croatia will surely see the end of McClaren as the England manager. In the same March blog, I voiced my fears that Martin O’Neil (the current Villa manager) would ultimately become the next England manager (why? who on earth would want the job?). Unfortunately, I can now foresee O’Neil being appointed by the New Year and, in turn, Martin Jol becoming the Villa manager.
You read it here first!
PS: in other words, that awful mistake by the Villa goalkeeper last night will probably result in Villa losing its manager!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It’s official:
Norton Hill is an “OUTSTANDING” school.
The OFSTED Inspectors (and note that “outstanding” is the very highest level they can award), awarded Grade 1 for every one of the 38 areas of the school’s work. Clearly, this is entirely due to my own enormous contribution to the school since 2005 (with perhaps the help of one or two others en route?).
I've just read the Report and, amazingly, it doesn’t contain a single specific reference to any of the work I’m involved in; the inspectors didn’t even come to talk to me (I tidied my office especially); and I’m not even mentioned by name!
It’s an absolute travesty!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

st ives

I’ve just been reading Gareth’s blog about her booking the family’s holidays in St Ives for next summer (and was immediately transported there!). Sadly, and somewhat pathetically, I’ve been doing the very same thing this week – but for October 2009!! This date comes (more or less) midway between Moira's+my 60th birthdays and we were keen to book a week for the whole family in probably our very favourite place in the world – Upper Saltings, St Ives. I checked on their website and found people had already booked stuff for 2009 (blimey!), so decided to act and contacted the owner direct.
So it’s all sorted and we’ve started to dream already (the phrase “wishing your life away” comes to mind….)!
photo: this is a picture taken on the last family holiday there in 2004.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The staff at school have been challenged to play a football match against the sixth form today to help raise funds for Children in Need. I spent a couple of hours on Monday toying with the idea of making a glorious comeback to the beautiful game (I would only need a few minutes off the bench to turn a game, score another impressive hat-trick etc….). I ended up reluctantly deciding that it would be somewhat foolish for a man fast approaching his 60th year to do such a thing.
However, I can now announce that I WILL be participating afterall!
I was approached by a couple of sixth-formers yesterday asking if I would referee the game – “Sir, we need someone in authority and we thought of you”. I eventually agreed (clearly, these were wise and astute sixth-formers who recognised my dynamic influence on the school and it would be wrong to let them down!).
Moments later however my pride was in tatters when they admitted I was their SECOND choice - they’d initially tried to get the Headteacher to act as ref, but he was busy!!
footnote: being such a natural, talented footballer, my biggest fear that, when the ball comes over, I won’t be able to resist putting it into the back of the net – pure INSTINCT will surely take over?

Monday, November 12, 2007

birthday weekend

As I indicated in my Friday blog, Moira+I were very much looking forward to spending the weekend celebrating Ian’s 50th birthday with great friends in Oxford. It proved to be an absolutely brilliant couple of days! Arrived at Gail+Ian’s first thing Saturday morning in time for us all to walk to Quod in the High Street for a superb breakfast; some of us then walked across Christchurch Meadow before meeting up at the King’s Arms pub in Broad Street for several glasses of ale (or whatever!); on to the Old Parsonage Hotel for an amazing high tea; and then chilling out at Gail+Ian’s with the odd glass and huge helpings of goulash. Sunday saw us meet up on Port Meadow with even more friends for mayBe’s community eucharist (see yesterday’s blog) followed by yet more wonderful food and great coffee at Manos cafĂ©/deli in Jericho.
Lots of laughter, great food+drink, hugs and happiness.
Life is good! Happy birthday Ian!
Photos: Quod breakfast; Lisa+Esther; Rachel+Ian+Gail+James+Esther; Ian+Gail+James; Lisa+Cara
PS: …. and the Villa beat Blues!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


We gathered on Port Meadow, Oxford this morning for mayBe’s community eucharist “in the open” on Remembrance Sunday. We threw handfuls of red and white rose petals into the air and we remembered those who had died in war and the peacemakers in our own two minute’s silence.
A powerful time together.
Sid and I learnt that our grandfathers were both at Ypres and the Somme during the First World War – both survived and both refused to speak about their experiences afterwards (my grandfather was in the Royal Horse Artillery and, according to family legend, joined up whilst under age).
The following words from poet Mary Oliver (“Staying Alive”) were used during our time together on Port Meadow:
I don’t mean it’s easy or assured, there are the stubborn stumps of shame, grief that remains unsolvable after all the years, a bag of stones that goes with one wherever one goes and however the hour may call for dancing and for light feet.
But there is, also, the summoning world, the admirable energies of the world, better than anger, better than bitterness, and because more interesting, more alleviating
Photo: red+white petals on Port Meadow

Friday, November 09, 2007

happy birthday ian!

This weekend sees the last of the “great-mates-50th-birthdays-in-2007” celebrations in Oxford. As well as being younger than me, Ian is an inspirational man who has wonderfully good looks; intelligence; sporting prowess; compassion; great communication skills; generosity; humility; humour; doesn’t look anything like 50 years old and, crucially, is just a lovely bloke and a great mate!! Sickening isn’t it? Really looking forward to the weekend.
We love him to bits!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

karine polwart again

Went to a lovely Karine Polwart concert at St George’s in Bristol last night with Gareth, Alan and Moira. Excellent venue with marvellous acoustics; completely different “feel” last night compared with her concert at Thekla last November. You just get the feeling that she's a really nice person - as well as being an exceptional singer/songwriter. Found it amusing that she’d bought one of her guitars from Bristol on e-Bay!
Sounded very good to me!

PS: on a completely separate matter, I spotted the first brightly lit up house with Christmas decorations on the way home from work yesterday (same as the house I pointed out this time last year!). Rather depressing really.

Monday, November 05, 2007

growing hope

I really love the Iona Community’s “Growing Hope” book of daily readings. Two recent readings relating to our individual/communal spiritual journeys struck a chord with me:

“And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”. (Old Testament Book of Micah 6:8)
Journey Blessing:
“May our journey ahead be blessed with God’s laughter, silences, risks, challenges, healings, questions, promises, protests, answers, tears, solidarity, often uncomfortable peace and compassion-filled surprises – perhaps all in one day”.
(Peter Millar)

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Good friend Andy is on a bit of a roll.
Recent events have included him running into the back of a police vehicle on his way into school (and subsequently being passed by pupils and staff colleagues alike - which instantly publicised his plight!). This was followed a few days later when he set off the fire alarm at school – which resulted in the entire school being made to stand outside in pouring rain (Andy is a Science teacher and he was apparently trying to video a simulated demonstration of nuclear fision, or something like that, by setting light to 200 matches – which just happened to be positioned under a smoke detector!).
Well, yesterday Andy kindly gave me a lift into school (we frequently exchange lifts) but en route mentioned that he thought the brakes on his "new" car (ie. the replacement for the one involved in the police accident!) felt "strange". We'd arranged to meet up at 4pm for the homeward journey.... but no Andy. No sign of him in the Science office, his lab or in the staff room. I checked in the staff car park... no car!! I rang him on his mobile: "Ah Steve, yes, a couple of things - firstly, I've just realised that I'd forgotten to give you a lift and, secondly, I'd just got down the hill from school when my brakes failed - so I've just called the AA. But don't worry, Dave+Tamsie have stopped to offer assistance so they can give you a lift home".
Clearly, it was an act of God (punishment for forgetting me!).
PS: from now on, the school is considering giving Andy his own slot in the daily staff briefing – far more interesting than the usual notices.

Friday, November 02, 2007

once again

I realise I’m in danger of becoming somewhat evangelical about the film “Once” (see my blog of 26 October), but thought you might like to watch this video clip using one of the songs from the film as an encouragement to see the film! My friend John Simmons (“come on Oldham”!) says he went to see it after reading my recommendation, loved it, insisted on taking some of his family to see it two days later and has bought the CD (you’ve been warned)!!
PS: this is a link for the cinema listings in your area.