Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Christmas Story: Good News of Great Joy

I offer two little films from New Zealand which re-tell the Christmas narrative. I feel they capture the spirit of Christmas beautifully, with genuine charm and gentle faith.........   

Good News of Great Joy (2011) 


The prequel to our film, The Christmas Story as told by the kids of St Paul's Church Auckland. Anyone is welcome to show this film publicly, but not change it in any way, nor make money out of it. Except for Joe. You can buy his music here:

The Christmas Story (2010)

 The Christmas Story' (2010), as told by the children of St Paul's Church, Auckland, New Zealand. Anyone is welcome to show this film publicly, but not change it in any way, nor make money out of it. Except for Joe.  Good News of Great Joy

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Another oil pastel of a girl partying, inspired by a series of large painting I saw in a London Restaurant.  The originals were done by Paul Lemmon as part of an Exhibition: 'a Slice of Lemmon' put on by the Art Movement.  Other picture featured  in previous blogs

Given the near freezing temperatures it made me think how COLD it is on a Saturday night in Winter Woking when you are just dressed up to party. We were on another 'street angels' shift from 10pm on Saturday night til 4 am on Sunday morning.  

'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' was the name of a novel by Alan Sillitoe (1958), which was made into a film with Albert Finney (1960). Over half a century ago. It portrays life in the raw, in the urbanised sprawl of the industrialised Britain. The drudgery of factory work as a machinist during the week and spending wages at the weekends ,"drinking and having a good time".  Nothing is new under the sun   and the same pattern continues for many ...... The traumas of the week are played out at the weekends

Mind you we cannot see beyond a small glimpse of what people are going through. As Street Angels, we meet people 'by chance' on the streets and get involved with a  few for a short period of time.  I was patrolling with one of the newly commissioned angels – ‘the reinforcements’ which meant we could now cover Saturdays as well as Friday nights.

It always starts out quiet with people intent on going out and ‘having a good time.’ So that’s the time we walk and talk and get to know each other and greet one and all.  Galaxy Cabs have constructed a new control centre – and we met the Pakistani owner and ended up talking about his father who died early in the year aged 102!  He had served in the British army and been evacuated from Dunkirk.

Michelle from Maybury was very drunk and had been kicked out of RSVP and couldn’t get into Chameleon. She was sitting on a wall on her own  and could hardly sit straight. We stayed with her and tried to get her to contact her friends.  She was COLD in her minimalist dress. We walked her to MacDonalds and sat with her for a while. She wouldn’t have a coffee but ordered a burger. And we couldn’t stay there all night. Outside again we tried a space blanket, but she just looked like an oven-ready chicken.  It was only when a policewoman suggested she go home that she agreed, so we found a taxi and that we thought was that.

It was only later we discovered she had been sick all over the back seat and the taxi had returned to base. She had stumbled out and according to the taxi-driver was escorted home much later, by the police. As I said you only ever hear part of the story…. 

Otherwise the usual picking up bottles,  and giving out our trademark 'lollipops and flip flops' (not so many tonight). We also got called out to the other side of Woking Railway station in response to a radio call about a distressed girl,  but whatever the situation was  had finished when we arrived.  Back on the Chertsey Road, a couple were having an argument opposite Subway but they made it abundantly clear they didn’t need any ‘interfering do-gooders’. We just ensured CCTV kept an eye on it, cos the girl had banged her head against a shop window lots of times  

After 3am the Chameleon punters spilled out onto Chertsey Road and a fight broke out on the street    It looked like 10 against 2. But it was really difficult to work out what was happening   I thought they were messing about.  But one lost a number of teeth, the other had cuts a round his ears. The odds were certainly stacked against the two guys.  The angels, called a police officer and talked to the guys afterwards as the police took verbal statements and generally calmed things down. One thing I learned from the incident is how very difficult it is, as a witness to a fight, to work out what is going on. I’ve no idea how people stand up in court and tell ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.  I’m sure CCTV camera’s help. But so much is open to interpretation.

At the end of the shift, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, as we were making our way back to base, we met Mark, a bouncer at one of the clubs, who had been in the army ('The Vikings') and was wounded in Helmand. He knew my fellow angel well from the army camp in Pirbright. I was impressed at his cheerfulness, given all he had been through. Funny how some people seem to come through trouble and rise above it, discovering the newness of Sunday morning, whilst others seem to fall victim and get stuck in the perpetual round of Saturday nights.........

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dual Belonging ?

The picture is a oil pastel painting I did based on a picture I saw in Bangkok, Thailand of a common religious image – a Buddha figure sitting under a Banyan tree in the traditional Lotus position. It made me think whether Christ would be portrayed in that culture in such a way - Jesus the Enlightened One.   

I have been attending a consultation at  Pilgrim House  in Korea on Global Network of  Centers of World Mission (GNCWM 2011)   

A colleague of mine presented a paper. He is currently working on a doctorate on the concept of dual belonging -  the idea of following Jesus from within another religious system. 
This has been well established among the Peoples of the Book  -  Messianic Believers who are Jewish and follow the Messiah,  and Muslim followers of Jesus – Muslim Background Believers (MBBs ) and the idea of Insider Movements.  

But my colleague is from Malaysia and from a Buddhist background.  His brother is a Buddhist ‘priest’. It is part of who he is.  And religion and culture are difficult to seperate, socially politically, legally.  How does he as a Christ follower continue contact with his family and their culture?

Taking it further - Is it possible to be a Disciple from within another religious system?  He writes:  
The last frontier for Christian mission in the 21st century is the meeting between religions, and the most important task for Christian mission, I would like to propose is not the challenge of contextualisation but the challenge of in-religionisation.  Evangelicals must, “ask not only for ‘inculturation’ but ‘inreligionization’, i.e. not only Chinese Buddhism or Indian Christianity, but also Hindu Christianity”[1] (David Bosch, Transforming Mission)
Beyond the debates of insider movements, “inreligionisation” will be attempts by Christians coming from Asian religious traditions to "believe that it is possible and even necessary not only to accept in theory certain doctrines or practices of other religions and to incorporate them, perhaps in modified form, into Christianity, but also to adopt and live in their personal lives the beliefs, moral rules, rituals, and monastic practices of religious traditions other than Christianity [1]  

How can a person remain true to their own culture and discover afresh the Global Christ -  Jesus ‘the man for all men’  without necessarily converting to Western forms of Christianity. 

It’s a fascinating concept and has raised eyebrows in some parts of the world. How is it possible to belong to two religious systems at the same time?  Some would differentiate between faith and religion, and suggest that  a true faith relationship with Jesus is possible within a religious system other than Christianity. They would say it is possible to believe and be a disciple and follower of Jesus without having to convert to the whole package.  And retain some of the key cultural-religious identity. 
It is I know contentious.  

A strong missional principle is contextualisation - the gospel needs to be interpreted from within the lens of another culture, but the line between contextualisation and syncretism is a thin one and depends on what position you are arguing from. 

There is a sense where most of us carry more than one label:
No one today is purely one thing. Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting-points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind. Imperialism consolidated the mixture of cultures and identities on a global scale. But its worst and most paradoxical gift was to allow people to believe that they were only, mainly, exclusively, white, or Black, or Western, or Oriental. . . . No one can deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habitations, national languages, and cultural geographies, but there seems no reason except fear and prejudice to keep insisting on their separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was about. Survival in fact is about the connections between things; in Eliot’s phrase, reality cannot be deprived of the ‘other echoes [that] inhabit the garden .[3] (Edward Said, in Culture and Imperialism)
 This suggests that it is not simply an 'either-or' issue, and that it may be possible to carry more than one label at once; 'both-and' 

As a Hindu, Ram Gidoomal discovered Christ,  as the "Sanatana Satguru" - the eternal and true guru.  Now as a Christ follower, he describes what Jesus achieved in Hindu terms:  “Jesus is the bodhisattva who fulfilled his dharma to pay for my karma to negate samsara and achieve nirvana!” 

[1] David Bosch, Transforming Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991:477-478.
[2] Peter Phan, Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004, 61
[3] Edward Said, in Culture and Imperialism (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1994), p. 336

Friday, 11 November 2011

Prayer for the Fallen

I came across this beautiful piece of music

Nick Ashman - A Prayer For The Fallen

As well as dedicating the music to his grandfather, he writes:
I've put together this video to commemorate Remembrance Day as a lasting memorial for all the other brave men and women that gave up their normal lives to fight for freedom in both the first and second world wars. We live in their shadow, but somehow that shadow bring light not darkness!
The piece uses the poem 'For The Fallen' by Laurence Binyon, read by Tom O'Bedlam who you can also find on youtube and big thanks go to him for letting me use his voice! 

For me too it captures the spirit of remembrance  - respectful silence for sacrifices made. For me it brought to mind my own family history searches, particularly the visit to Flanders to see the trenches of WW1, where 2 of my Great Uncles fell.  I commend this to you over this Remembrace weekend with the 2 minutes of silance at 11o'clock  on 11/11/11 and the services around memorials across the country this Remebrance Sunday 

You can read more of Nick Ashman's reflections on his Blog post Those who gave us Freedom


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Lighten our Darkness....

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all Perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The 'Collect for Aid against Perils' from the Book of Common Prayer seems a good prayer for Street Angels. We started with it on Friday night.  The language maybe a bit ancient, but the sentiment is real. In fact it seemed strangely appropriate as we went out and encountered  Vampires and Witches, the Living Dead, Zombies, frightened teenagers dripping blood, Cruella Deville, and men with capes and sinister 'Scream' masks. It was of course the Halloween  Party at Schism Rock Club  at the Quake Nightclub.   We were told that 650 people were inside.  As I said the language of the BCP seems to fit the Gothic nature of the night.
What was particularly entertaining was seeing the 'smoking cage' outside the night club on the pavement,  opposite the car park full of such characters  It looked like they had all been captured in some sort of a police round up.    

You can watch a video of the Foam Party at Schism (featured on the Schism Rock Club website) to get an idea of the electric atmosphere, Or click the YouTube link below

If you go to their Twitter page there is a link to a Facebook photo album with 169 pictures from Friday night's Halloween Party. 

In fact there were no problems from the Rocky Horror Show itself.  Everyone seemed happy enough inside and made their way home afterwards  At least we didn't see any trouble. I don't know if the police had to deal with anything.

Otherwise it was  a fairly 'normal night'  Outside Lights were on duty under the Station Canopy from 10-12 giving out tea and coffee and an opportunity to chat.  There were just 5 angels on duty, so we went around in 2 groups.  There were drunks vomiting near NatWest.  One a soldier looked after by two mates and a younger man who was eventually picked up by his parents (I can just imagine breakfast conversation the next day!) The other team stayed with them until it all settled down.   We spend time with 'Bruce Forsyth' as we called him, wobbling his way home after  a night out at O'Neils where there had been a live band. He could hardly walk straight  but we had  a good long chat (at times quite philosophical) with an nice, if somewhat lonely 75 year old.   He was very local, so no problem getting himself home. 

And there was noise and verbal abuse. a lady trowing punches at people.  Everything is watched carefully on CCTV and communicated by Radios. I don't think punters always realise that.   We spend a lot of time keeping an eye on a young woman in a tight black skirt and orange high heels  who was having a raging argument with an abusive boyfriend. It started in BED Bar and seemed to encompass most of Chertsey Road and the parallel street where the buses and taxis are.  Standing by and keeping watch isn't always appreciated  ("Who the %*@* do you think you are!  %*@* off! ") but there is little more that you can do. We stayed around until they went their separate ways in Taxis.

I am full of admiration for the Taxi Drivers who exhibit so much patience and politeness in the face of some very mixed behaviour to say the least.  Sure, they get paid for it, but they also put up with an aweful lot. 

Do Street Angels actually have any effect by their presence on the streets at night?  That was a question we asked ourselves.  I have absolutely no idea of the actual effect, but we do have some significant conversations and sometime we even seem to be in the right place at the right time.  
And there again you get to see the urban foxes on the streets of Woking in the darkness of the night. And I don't mean the ones in fancy dress costumes...  We spotted a pair by Christchurch when we were going out at 10pm.  And as we were leaving, by the Y-Pod at 4am.   

Other Blogs about Street Angels: 

February 2011 Good Samaritan 
March 2011 Friday night in Woking  
April 2011 Out with the Angels 
June 2011 Angels in the Town Square 
July 2011 Putting Angels into Ev-angel-ical 
August 2011 Worn to be wild 

Friday, 21 October 2011

New World: Old World

 I have just been reading an excellent piece in 'Down the Avenue' on a talk by Prof Anne-Marie Slaughter (from Princeton) : A New Networked World Means Rethinking Professions


Figure: "The Whole Internet," a popular visualization of the diffusion and interconnectedness of the global Internet. Image ©1999 Peacock Maps, <>.

It's all about Foreign Policy but it equally applies to the Mission World  .....

We're at the beginning of a new world, she asserts

"Where we're going is bottom up: build local and go global"

Advice that she gives:
1. Don't just stand there, do something.
2. Connect, but not too much. Do not connect all the time. Be focused about their networked communications and don't overdo it.
3. Small is beautiful. She refers to Clay Shirky's work. If you want to get the energy of collaboration, you want small communities to be more effective.
4. Portals and plug-ins everywhere. Government has always thought in silos. Open government is about breaking down those silos. 
5. Self-organization is better? The power of what we see in the Middle East is self-organization. Government needs to facilitate not do.

The whole idea of what foreign policy is going to change profoundly. She says, "If we're going to do this, we're going to have to change the way we think about our professions."
In a New World, we have to think about existing professions differently and gives the following 'spot-on' answers.

  • Editor (old world) to Finder, Mapper (new world)
  • Publisher (old world) to Aggregator (new world)
  • Reporter (old world) to Verifier, Curator (new world) 
  • Public Relations (old world) to Convener (new world - person who brings together lots of actors)
  • Diplomat (old world) to Connector (new world)
  • Leader (old world) to Catalyst (new world)
In these new roles, she concludes, we can build a networked world, one that is open, working from the bottom up. And, as a result of this, foreign policy will dramatically change. Enter, the new actors on the global open platform political stage.

The implications  for Mission are equally old world: new world.  In our new decentred, interconnected world, we need new paradigms.  Network Mission requires new ways of organising.......

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bert Jansch - Legendary Folk Guitarist

Bert Jansch died this morning, at the age of 67, following a two-year battle with cancer ( a friend Graham notified me by email and sent me the links below). He was a great guitarist and below are some of his all time greats. You probably have your own favourites ....

and a fabulous YouTube clip of Angie

I particulalry loved his album 'Avocet' 

There is his obituary in the Guardian

and an old clip of him performing 'Black Waterside' 


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

carmina gadelic

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.

Ancient celtic oral traditions - carmina gadelic

Read more at Celtic blessings
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Sunday, 2 October 2011

How different Christian denominations see each other

How different denominations view each other. A fantastic infographic. Posted by ThomastheDoubter 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Modern Worship by 'Holy Parodies'

A 'sobering' parody of modern worship by 'Holy Parodies' and 'the don't worship this way band'. It's available as a free download.

If you've got 46 minutes and are up to it you can even watch the sermon by Dr David Uth (I didn't bother)

If you like this sort of thing you might also like  another 'parody of modern church services ' Contemporvant'

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Special FX church

The image is a bit of a doodle that became a version of Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity crossed with a hint of Eric von Daniken ‘Chariots of the Gods: I remember asking 'was God an Astronaut’ as a youth)

The mysterious visit of the 3 men/angels in Genesis 18, who somehow represent the Trinity in Orthodox thinking, lends itself to a bit of speculation, full of mystery.
My picture came about as a result of drawing the halos which somehow looked like space helmets, and it sort of took off from there...... !
I can vividly remember watching the Apollo moon landings, so maybe in our age its appropriate to portray the church in these cosmic terms...


CMS was hosting a visit by 4 Korean clergy, who wanted to look at Mission Shaped Church. We attended the Fresh Expressions and Pioneering conference run by centre for Pioneer Learning It was too good an opportunity to miss.
Over 50 participants gathered from mainly from Europe - Scandinavia, Germany, France,
Scotland. US and Canada: Australia and New Zealand. Plus the 4 Koreans.
The centre is run by Dave Male with input from Andrew Roberts on the Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM) course, Adrian Chatfield on mission-shaped spirituality. Bishop Graham Cray on the mission shaped movement; and Mike Moynaugh on mission-shaped theology. Everything was mission shaped. Even the sandwiches were mission shaped (they were nice triangles!)


Fresh Expressions is often abbreviated as FX. For me that is Special Effects (I remember the movie of that name and FX2 the deadly art of illusion. Maybe that is what the Church is seeking to do - add some special effects making it more trendy, more audio-visual, more sexy, more appealing in the 21st century. enabling church to take somehow off.
Special effects can be gimmicky, all about lights and tricks and illusions. there can be expectations on pioneers to be similarly gimmicky.
Yet I was struck by how 'ordinary' many FX churches are : Messy church; Cafe church; Network church; rural church; Cell-church run by people who are trying to be essentially Mission-Shaped.
We visited Thirst a Friday morning Cafe Church meeting in a school and Cambourne, an ecumenical (Anglican Baptist Methodist URC) Church which started in a garage and a Doctors surgery and now has an expandable A-frame church building in the middle of a new Estate. And there was nothing gimmicky about them. They were ordinary people trying to make the church relevant to their context.


Like the star ship enterprise, there is a sense of pioneering being about 'going boldly where no man has gone before' A lot is experimental and exploratory, tentative and partial informal and flexible.
Pioneers are people who don't quite fit in with the centre, and like to push out into unexplored territory, they are happy on the edge.


Graham Cray reminded us its not rocket science. a Fresh Expression is defined simply as 'a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church'
The Archbishop of Canterbury coined the phrase Mixed Economy to describe the range of church, traditional and modern , fresh expressions Not either or but BOTH/ AND. "celebrating and building on what is mission -shaped in traditional forms of church and finding new, flexible appropriate ways to proclaim the Gospel afresh to those who do not relate to traditional ways" Permission has been given to allow Church to take off.


Back to the Trinity and Rublev's ICON. Mike Moynaugh reminded us that the Missio Dei originated in the Tri-unity of God, drawing us into Communion. Mission is the eternal decision of God the Trinity 'communion in mission;
which the church takes and becomes 'community in mission' The church is misisonary and 'becomes missionary by attending to each and every context in which it finds itself' - 'The word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood'
There is a sense that in Church, (FX or not), we are creating something 'other worldly', because in church we encounter the Divine....  sort of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Yeshu Satsang Toronto

an excellent example of multi-cultural worship from Yeshu Satsung Toronto, recommended by one of the participants at the recent Fresh Expressions and Pioneering conference.   Similar to Pal Singh's Sanctuary in Birmingham. It also reminds me of the music of Aradhna  

Monday, 12 September 2011

What is a fresh expression ?

What is a Fresh Expression of Church?  a nice video trip to the Middle Ages to find out (from the Fresh Expressions website)

A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Greenbelt 2011: Dreams of Home

Dreams of Home was the theme of this year's GB and in the tent at night after the long walk to the site when it was pouring down and COLD then I must admit, I dreamed of HOME and a hot shower and a warm bed. But most of the time at Greenbelt I felt I was home.

The painting is the view from the flap of our tent on the final morning as we were ourselves packing up and Homeward Bound. So it captures for me something of the 2 homes. The temporary tented home that GB manages to create each year at Cheltenham Race Course and the anticipation of my own home, my place of being as part of family which maybe (hopefully) reflects a dream of a more eternal home...

Greenbelt represent a space which generates freedom to explore faith and belief, in the context of music, Art, creativity, Justice, variety, spontaneity, humour, food and drink, challenge, concern, It attracts all ages, all types, children, youth, families, elderly, monks and punks, laity and clergy, speakers and listeners, promoters and punters.

The CMS presence was much smaller than the usual CMS marquee , reflecting hard times. But we were there in G-Source and we had some great conversations with GB punters. We were featuring the Pioneer training, but we were able to also talk to lots of CMS members and supporters as well as ex-Misson personnel. Chuli Scarf, ex CMS Area Coordinator was there to lead Salsa dancing. She is off soon with CMS-Asia to teach cricket to girls in Nepal.

I also spent some time on the Musalaha stall. GB is currently focused on the Wall dividing Israelis and Palestinians and Musalaha represents a small action - taking people of conflicting backgrounds into the desert on camels to leave their baggage behind and to encounter each other. They have been a CMS partner for a number of years.
There are lots of other groups in G-Source: YWAM, Tearfund, Medair, Applecart's 12 Baskets, Mildmay; Retreat Centre, and lots more ....

For me the highlights this year included good wholesome food Nuts (with especially good deals for crew) Mushroom, Dhal, Veggie Berger, Falafel which could be consumed whilst listening to live music in the Performance Cafe; Foreign Slippers, the Ronaldos (a skittle Band) singing Ghost Riders in the Sky ; folk singing from Peter and the Wulf (Pete Ward was the ABC's youth Advisor and used to be a CMS Trustee). Their music 'Foolish Folk' is available for download from bandcamp

Soul space is a GB tradition for quiet creative meditation. There is lots more on offer Taize singalong in the Big Top: Ian Adams was doing a meditation/reading on his book Cave Refectory Road in Abide, next to a Christian Meditation Yurt 'Breathing Space'. And then there is the Worship Cooperative - I dropped in on an excellent session on Curating Worship but I unfortunately missed Pal Singh's Sanctuary (Asian Worship) although I did encounter his Sitar player tuning up on the stairs.
The GB communion is the only event that everyone is more or less expected to attend - vast crowd packed in front of the Main Stage. The collection at the communion service always goes to support Trust Greenbelt. For me there is no doubt that eating and drinking together as an act of worship does create a sense of community, a feeling of home coming.
I didn't get to any main talks this year. I just heard snippets of Rob Bell telling a story about a Jawbone of an Ass on MainStage and Paula Gooder wondering 'Do Angels have wings?' in Jerusalem. Talking of Angels, there was a big push this year for more supporters - Greenbelt Angels account for 15% of Greenbelts income. Do think about becoming an angel....
The Methodist Art Collection was stunning. it was my Greenbelt 11 high: 'Jesus in the Everyday'. Each year there is an art stream 'Art for All' and I have increasingly found a home there - which has maybe helped to ignite an inner passion for drawing/painting. They had 6 areas to visit with a free poster at the end (they ran out of posters but I did it anyway) Angels of the North; a Huge steel and enamel Bowl by Mel Howse (Christian Aid Cathedral Exhibition); an participative 'where the wild things are' mask making which caught people's imagination; a light show Lumina Domestica by Willie Williams; and the Scriptorium , where individuals hand scribed Matthew's Gospel from The Message, as well as the Bible Society's People's Bible project.

a pint of 'Jonah (and the Ale)' in the Jesus Arms, catching up with people I know well, Peter and Grace, Nigel, Katie, Colin - various friends. They used to serve Deliverance, Redemption and the best name in my opinion 'Absolution' There were lots of other ideas for names: He-brews. Ale-Mary, Holy GrAle. Ale-luyah. Unfortunately I missed Beer and Hymns.

I downloaded the #GB11 APP before Greenbelt, but it still didn't get me to things on time. There is far too much to do and to see. Everyone's Greenbelt is different, but then again everyone's home is different, reflecting something of who they are. Greenbelt gives you the space to be yourself .... safe in the 'Arms of Jesus'

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Worn to be wild'

Another painting inspired by some very large pieces I saw in a Restaurant in London. 'Worn to be Wild', is a mini A6 version in oil pastels - part of a series (2 other pics were featured in a previous blog). The originals I was copying, were painted by Paul Lemmon as part of an Exhibition: 'a Slice of Lemmon' put on by the Art Movement.

Again it represents being out with the Street Angels on a Friday night in Woking, when people are out for a good time ...

It was a quiet night. I can almost hear the bouncer at BED BAR touching wood and exclaiming 'never say the Q word' !

But it was Quiet - although I suppose it's all relative. The Police did arrest someone who was drunk outside the BAR for punching a policeman.

We were patrolling the street looking out for anyone vulnerable, particularly under-aged. Making sure people have a good night out, without getting into trouble.

Not a lot was happening, The place was packed the night before because it was A-level results night and Thursday is cheap booze for students with a prolonged happy hour. We are currently recruiting more angels so we can cover Saturdays as well as Fridays, and maybe even some of the 'specials'

Our pair was actually a four, since we had a new angel with us having a look-see. Four is an intimidating number, more like a flight or squadron of angels than the usual two-by two. So a lot of the time we keep a little distance, even walking on opposite sides of the road, so as not to crowd people out.

I followed a suspicious looking pair who were on the look out for coals for their shisha (but that turned out to be my son and friend, getting supplies for the party I had left back home!)

We did the usual and picked up lots of bottles, and spoke to a variety of people - punters and bouncers, taxi drivers, fast food sellers. We got into good conversations with a number of people - some who were initially aggressive. Some were curious. Others just liked the idea of Angels on the streets and wanted to chat.

One woman wanted to become a Street Angel herself. She was a community based carer, with children of her own who was having well-earned time off and a night out with a friend . But she loved the idea of giving out lollipops to one and all and flip flops to ladies struggling with high heels at the end of the evening.

The line between the punters and the angels is a thin one. Angels also like to party.

I suppose it comes down to what is written on the clothing. Designer dresses and labels, 'Diesel:Worn to be wild' on the one hand or a dark rain jacket with florescent yellow 'Woking Street Angels' emblazoned on it

In the Angels' case maybe we should have a label which reads: 'Worn to be Mild'

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Cycle2Kenya ....... because we can

The cycle2kenya Blog why are we doing this captures some of the spirit of adventure behind this crazy venture.

Dan Martin, a fellow adventurer planning a simply ludicrous Global Triathlon, gave an answer to the ‘Why?’ question in a recent interview that chimes with our own reasons. He said:

"There’s a certain element of ‘if you have to ask, then you’ll never understand’ but I rationalise it down to two things. One, because I want to and two; because I can.”

As I was thinking back over the past 70 odd days from the farewell in Woking Town Square on Friday 3rd June (and follow up farewell in Brugges over the weekend) to the finish in Nairobi on Sun 14th August , and then meeting them at Terminal 3 Heathrow Airport......

...... Sir Francis Drake's prayer came to mind about true Glory "not the beginning but the continuing of the same" I remembered it having inspired me in my youth

O Lord, when thou givest to thy servants to endeavour in any great matter,

grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same

until it be thoroughly finished that yieldeth the true glory;

through Him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

cycle2kenya - it is finished

Congratulations to cycle2Kenya on completing their epic cycle ride from Woking UK to Nairobi Kenya. The sketch was done at the time of them leaving UK (and Brugges) at the time we waved goodbye in early June. Now they have arrived back at Heathrow Airport, and have officially finished.
They had a press conference in the Kibera slum Nairobi, organised by VISA one of their sponsors. It sounded a great events with Kids from Turning Point Mamas from the Farm, Press from The Nairobi Star and Nation, plus members of the Kenya Cycling Team

It has also been an example of the power of social media. A good number of people have been following the Blog, particularly the map, plus feeds from Twitter (599 followers) and Facebook group (246 followers) and community (193). And by the way, its not too late to support them with a donation to Turning Point Trust via JustGiving (currently at 67% of target)

They were featured in the local Woking paper, The Diocese of Guildford The Wey, and Kenyan National press The Nation and Star. Maybe some more in the future

Finally, as they have officially finished, let me finish off a few bicycle quotes

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~Ernest Hemingway

Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein