Monthly Archives: January 2010


There is a long running Radio 4 comedy ‘After Henry’. Henry has died…. and the rest follows.

There is an extraordinary emptiness just now. My work on Bute is ended. He is away searching for a publisher, and in the current climate, dear knows if his posthumous search will succeed.

His going was not to much noticed at first. I had Christmas, and all the work and excitement of that. Then the ‘Reader’ to compile for the course for which I am responsible. And then the house in turmoil to do something to.

So now it is a little like the days after the funeral. An extraordinary blankness. I am trying to take a little rest, so that I can start on the work of restoring this house feeling energetic and confident. Or something. But what I actually feel is a great sense of loss. I think, the loss of hope over it all as much as anything. Work in progress might after all – well, might do or be anything. Like Saturday at coffee time. Work finished, unless it has a publisher or some other joyful end, is rather like the end of a long, hard, unsuccessful week day.


Guilt, remorse and picking up the pieces.

It was not a good day, and it leaves me asking what is the best way to face guilt, remorse and picking up the pieces.

At Uni we were firmly taught not to teach people to feel guilty. ‘Don’t make the whole sick!’ they said.

Which is fine until you arrive at a situation where you have messed it up big time and need to tackle the situation. It seems to me that remorse is an appropriate response to some situations. Remorse, being sorry for mistakes, is part of a desire to put things right.

Yet nobody wants anybody to be disabled by regrets. Sage advice would be, I suppose, to deal with particular issues and move on. This works when issues are the kind of simple thing which can be dealt with. Never to park on a double yellow line again kind of thing. Hard, hard when it is in fact criticism of how the whole person confronts reality.

I do love St Mary’s …

… and many of the reasons do not relate to the bedrock of liturgy and music and preaching for which it is so deservedly known. Or rather, the other things are (perhaps to be expected?) spin-offs.

I love feeling free to wear my hats – I am pretty sure that here most people will just take my assorted head gear in their strides, and not read too much into it. The varying degrees of formality, conventionality and eccentricity demonstrated will just be written off as Rosemary wearing another hat.

Equally, when they make their way here from Glastonbury (discovering the actual shop had sold my boots, I went on line to track them down, and the fact they were found in Glastonbury I cannot but feel that tells you too much about them), the new pink boots will be rejoiced over.

And conversations. Good conversations are haveable at St Mary’s. I had an excellent one today – though it did lead me to remark that there is too much of Shrek’s Donkey in me. The trick is not to get me to talk but to shut up. Anent this conversation, I am posting links to two books I think somebody finding their way into discussion of the root ideas and values of the Bible. My problem was finding something readable, and moderately well balanced and positive. I fear what I suggest does not really answer the questions raised. Does anybody know of a really good and readable account of Deutero-Isaiah? I could do it for Jeremiah….

The problem also is that one book will never cover systematic theology, Biblical theology, and commentary on the Old and New Testaments.

So here goes – for those interested in what has been or is going to be read in church, a wide variety of articles often ‘preaching’ but also helpful academic notes, will be found on-line at the unpromisingly named Text This Week. Yes it is aimed at worship leaders, and probably all of them know about it, but general enquirers will find it interesting.

The most interesting book on NT authorship and composition (in my opinion) of recent years is Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eye Witnesses. No I don’t believe every word he writes, but yes, I do feel that, at the very least, his comments on the methodology and weaknesses of some modern scholarship will need to be taken seriously.

Much older, and quieter and thought provoking is the work of Kenneth Bailey. His ‘Poet and Peasant’ and his ‘Through Middle Eastern Eyes‘ are books which open minds.

I know we have done this before on other blogs – but suggestions even if repeated are welcome.

Feminist issue?

Neither my dearest friends nor my worst enemies have ever suggested I was much of a feminist. But I do wonder if these shoes, these beautiful Doc Marten boots, represent a feminist issue.

I was buying nice-but-sensible boots, when I saw them, in the sale, and my heart left my chest in one bound. I wanted them, but, oh but, I was too old for them. Now here comes the feminism. Do men ever get too old for clothes, for shoes? I think not. Any man who wishes can wear whatever gender-appropriate and decent clothing he wishes. I don’t think ties or boots, or tops ever become too young. But it is otherwise for women. I have the legs for these boots, but not the face for them.

If only I could have convinced myself 110% it really was a feminist issue, perhaps I could have bought them. I failed. I comfort myself with the very nice boots I did buy.


About a foot of snow went in twenty four hours went suddenly, felled as though by Aslan, by rain and warm wind. The dogs and I went for a walk – a real walk with big strides. We found these, at first unexplained by eye, though read at once by nose.

It took more examples to tell me what they were – mole tracks. The moles had tunnelled along with the earth below and the snow above. Occasionally, they had tunnelled with a very little earth above.

There are yards and yards of these tunnels. And the great thing is that because no silage is made, the moles are safe. God bless the moles (bet the worms don’t think so.)

Life giving

Water is running again. The cold drought is ending. Yes the snow was beautiful and yes, I enjoyed aspects of it. The purity, the challenges.

But it was sterile. Hard to keep water alive even in buckets in the stable. No grass. No pickings for the birds. the poor hares stripped the bark off one of my apple trees, killing it, unless I can manage a graft. No sound os water. And now it is back, off every roof, in every ditch, down every path. Beautiful life giving healing water.


My son, who should have seen the film with me, and could not because he spent his birthday with a feverish cold, pointed out to me that the story telling had many deficiencies, and the script was in places dire. He is, as they say up here, not wrong. Despite this I enjoyed it. What struck me as remarkable, though, was the huge numbers queuing to see a film in which most of the human race was portrayed at venial, brutish and lacking insight. One message of the film was that by and large we have messed it up and it is about time we took it on board that we have much to learn. ‘Learn of the green world what can be thy place’ to (slightly) misapply Pound.

I was astonished and heartened to see so many sit and listen to such a ringing condemnation. How many took it on board? If it was one in ten, I think that is grounds for hope.


At places on my holding the snow has drifted deeply, as you can see from that old poser Mace, standing up to his woolly knees in it. He does not have to, and usually he prefers the field at the front, where it is much less deep. The cold does not seem to trouble him or the others – the way all the grass has got covered up does. They are reduced to eating the rushes, which they can knock clean of snow. It keeps them going between feeds. They are not shod, and so the snow does not build up under their hooves. They also have a stable, and can use it any time they want. During the sunlight hours, and we have had wonderful sun during the brief days, it is much warmer outside.

It is ups and downs. I have enjoyed the morning walk to the car, parked at my neighbours, half a mile away, but it makes the days longer. I carry my mobile all the time, just in case I slip and need help. It is stunningly beautiful. I have been freed up from some of the things I would otherwise have felt compelled to do, and could not get to the last customer today – their very long drive is not passable to normal cars. I have got to know some new neighbours, which is very positive, and they can help me get more feed to here if I need to – so my only real worry has evaporated. I long for skis. I give thanks daily that I got the barn roofs sorted when I did. They would most surely collapsed otherwise, causing huge damage. I have seen field markings far more clearly than I could have otherwise. Those below are pretty modern.

I can’t work up the distress over the snow that others do – though I worry about legs, not mine, marauding foxes (nice for them to be well fed, but not my chicken, please). But the sun, and the novelty and perhaps even a little sledging tomorrow, that would be cool. Well below zero cool.


Ne’er day walk, me pushing the youngest grandchild. Smile says it all.