The Collect for Today

Now, I'm still not at all sure what 'collect' actually means when it is used as a noun, but it's something we read aloud together in church.  Ours this morning was superb.  Here's a bit:

Almighty & everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give than either we desire or deserve.

Spot on.

a lot of men kicking a bit of leather round a field

Tomorrow, I will have the privilege of buzzing off to Jannerland to go and watch Plymouth Argyle play Sheffield Wednesday – my Dad's hometown club versus mine.  Apart from the sheer aesthetic beauty of saying the two teams' names out loud, this is a significant event because I will be adding a new ground to my list.

There are 92 football league grounds in England, and in my lifetime I hope to visit them all (it's called doing the 92).  I will, no doubt, be aided in this venture by my decision to marry someone for whom football is not so much an interest as it is a love language.  Here are the ones I've got to so far:

Premier League
      - Tottenham Hotspur: White Hart Lane (1991)
      - Manchester United: Old Trafford (1993)

      - Sheffield Wednesday: Hillsborough (1993)
      - Watford: Vicarage Road (1990-99)
      - Crystal Palace: Selhurst Park (1991-94)

League 1
      – Exeter City: St James Park (1992, 2008)
      – Millwall: New Den (1994)

League 2
      – Barnet: Underhill (1992)
      – Shrewsbury Town: Gay Meadow (1993)

[plus I've also been to Hibernian, Luton, St Albans, Taunton, and Wembley, but they don't count]

Yes, I'm aware that I am still less than 10% through, but hopefully next season Luton will be back in the League, plus I'll have been married for nearly a year, which is bound to help.  If I do ever get to the 92nd, you're all invited …

Being Lebanese

One of the best things about getting married is that it affords the opportunity to become someone you never were.  I am a British, English, Cornish Yorkshireman, so (as of Oct 25) Maria will have the privilege of sharing in those marvellous things.  Lucky girl.

She, on the other hand, is Lebanese (Melchite-Phoenician-Arab) American (inc. Scots, Irish, and probably some Germanic/Scandinavian stuff), so I can be too!  What a magnificent, not to say attractive, combination we will make 🙂

And in celebration of being just about to become partly Lebanese-American, here are a few of Earth's more famous Lebanese-Americans, in whose great company I shall soon no longer feel ashamed:


‘Cricket is a Play Set in Five Acts’

Earlier today, England won the Ashes and I missed it.  I left for a barbecue at 4pm, still utterly terrified that it was all going to go wrong, only to return to find everything wrapped up.  But that's alright, we won.

Having missed the key moments, I'm now busy sucking all the goodness out of the occasion: videos, interviews, articles – everything I can get my hands on.  It's all good.  But best – and I really shouldn't be surprised – is all from Test Match Special.

Go here for their marvellous commentary on the 10 Australian wickets, and here for something even better: Harry Potter & Draco Malfoy chatting to Jonathan Agnew, expressing their complete geeky delight at the wonder that is Test Cricket.

The subject line above is Daniel Radcliffe's own quote, and I couldn't hope for it to be said any better.  Seriously, those two are so good, so eloquent, they even manage to express why it's utterly magnificent to have a sport that cannot merely be explained, but must be experienced.  Marvellous!  Wonderful!  Like so many of the good things in life.  Have a good listen, please.

And when you've finished, just for dessert, here's a Kinks song wherein a vicar explains why cricket is a metaphor for spiritual warfare.  Amen!

God Save Our Team

So, I've written a song for England, for the World Cup next summer.  Here it is.

Download Come_on_England

Obviously, it's a rotten recording and all that, but hopefully you get the idea.

With any luck, one day you may get the chance to hear it properly, as it sounds in my head (with all the trumpets, wah-wah solos, and laddish group-vocals which that entails), but if not, I hope you like it anyway.  And if you work at the FA, get in touch!

Final Week

This is my last working week for the foreseeable future.

Today I am TESOL teaching; Wednesday, Thursday & Friday will follow suit; but after that I have no idea when I will next be employed.

September is my holiday month this year (ie. gardening, writing, recording, wandering on the heaths), then I leave for the States, get married, honeymoon (Belize!), come back, and …  well, I'll let you know the plan when I know it.

This week is predictable; thereafter, not.

the Red Blood of Blackberries

Things I met on my walks today:

Humming bee-hives, blackberries (v nice), hay-fields & hay-barns, 'Norweigan Fjord Ponies', gorse buds (audibly cracking in the heat), stinging nettles (to hit with my stick), a horse & foal, a long-lost cart lane, a slightly suspicious farmer, rowan trees (bent over to form pretty woodland arches), butterflies (Tortoiseshell, Peacock & Cabbage White, if I'm not mistaken), & several little springs making the paths muddy.

Summer has come to Devon, and it suits it very nicely.


Our house is a mess.  The whole first floor has virtually ceased to exist.  Like this.

First floor 

At 11 o'clock last night, I started hearing taps on the kitchen ceiling, like someone hammering little pins into the plaster.  Oh no!  The rain is getting in.  I acted fast, climbing the scaffold in the dark, locating the leak (by letting it hit me) and saving the day with the aid of a bucket.

If not for me, the kitchen ceiling would be sagging and ready to go by now.  Gos I'm amazing sometimes.

And here's another example of my amazingity.  From 1991, when I was nine or ten – my first full season of being into football, and already I have solved the problem of accidental handball …

001Although unfortunately the scanner cut off my boots' springy studs, 'to help you jump higher'.  They'll be all the rage soon …