there, they drive on the WRONG side of the road

I'm in a country where, at roundabouts, you give way to the left.  Fools!

World Map of Driving Orientations

Dark Red: drive on the wrong side
Light Red: infidels, who left the true path
Purple: infidels, who once were confused, but now are lost
Dark Blue: the chosen people
Light blue: adopted into the chosen people

Now maybe I'm just a soppy old post-colonialist, but I do feel a special affection for 'our team' (especially since Samoa took the brave decision a few months back to join the Blue Army).  It's only Napoleon's fault that anyone outside France drives on the wrong side at all – silly man.

And on the subject of Napoleon, he also famously came acropper trying to hold that European-Asian border, and, as any Risk player knows, that's just asking for trouble: it's Australasia that wins you world dominance – put all your armies on Papua New Guinea …

Education, Education, Failure

I feel so sorry for teachers, especially in England.  If you care about these things, have a read of this article about the most comprehensive report there has ever been into the school system that our government presides over (in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, the devolved authorities are responsible).  Here's a quote:

The report notes the questionable evidence on which some key … policies have been based; the disenfranchising of local
voice; the rise of unelected and unaccountable groups taking key
decisions behind closed doors; the 'empty rituals' of consultations;
the authoritarian mindset, and the use of myth and derision to
underwrite exaggerated accounts of progress and discredit alternative

Sadly, sounds like a perfect description, in microcosm, of the wider problem.

Being Groomed for Husbandhood

Right.  So I'm in the American State of Unitedness now (and very happy to have my summer hence extended), and in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS the time will finally arrive when Maria & I will go from 'getting married' to 'being married'.

And today is Maria's birthday – this wonderful, beautiful, soulful and graceful girl is now 24.  Which means that we have known one another for a quarter of her life (slightly more, in fact).  And I can't help feeling that, partly as a result of this length of time, we are going into marriage in a vastly better state of preparedness than the huge majority of people in all of history.

Now, I always knew we were different – spending more than two years of a relationship in different continents is not the norm, nor would I expect it to be – but in addition to being the way we are, we have also spent ages doing the kind of ground work that is going to pay off in decades' time.  Stuff we've intentionally worked through includes:

 - what going out with someone is actually for (with Trent & Bronwyn);
 - how to move towards marriage withough being utterly dumb (through Patrick Dodson, who has now put his stuff down in a book, thank God);
 - compatibility of our experiences & preferences (FOCCUS questionnaire with Rupert)
 - 7 weeks marriage prep (with Iain & Theresa using Nicky & Sila Lee's HTB course);
 - money management coaching (with Derek & Ann from CAP Money);
 - sex and 'intimate stuff' (with the fabulous Doug Rosenau, via his book).

This is just the stuff we've done together – both of us have done bundles of our own private investigating (especially Maria – she's good at asking blunt questions).  And after all that we still feel unprepared for all that is ahead.  So what on earth must it be like for most couples?  The vast majority of spouses do no formal marriage prep whatsoever – I know that the CofE find it a huge effort to make couples attend even a single day session.

I find this all terrifying.  Not that all marriages are doomed unless they become like us, of course, but I do feel that we are saving ourselves VAST amounts of mess and heartache by working hard now (although when I say 'work', I'm not meaning that we don't enjoy it).  I know it sounds patronising, but we do feel quite sorry for the zillions of people who get married without access to the stuff that has been normal for us.

We're really really grateful for how we've got to where we are.

The Last Days

I am back in beautiful, green, quiet Devon after a quite wonderful weekend in the Chester of Man (investing in my undoubtable future in the pop charts and seeing some cracking people).  It's lovely to be here, but it won't last long.

On Wednesday morning I am leaving for the States, for the concluding two weeks of my life as a bachelor.  When I get back I will have a wife.  And if I'm not terrified yet, it's because I don't quite understand what that means 😉

It's nearly here.  Pray for me.