a contest I have no chance of winning

Maria & I are presently having our existence complimented by the presence of her brother, Nick Shahid (international tramp extraordinaire).  And seeing as we all had a free day today, a competition was in the offing.


Each player gets £10 and, starting at Newquay Car Boot Sale, must turn it into as much money as possible as quickly as possible.  Whoever gets most wins.

[At this point, you may wish to reflect on the fact that Maria & Nick are Lebanese, and therefore genetically incapable of not turning every circumstance into a business opportunity.  My chances of victory are slim.]


Me: 1989 Gameboy with SuperMarioLand
Price: £3 [bartered down from £5]

Nick: Lions rugby shirt (2009 Tour), brand new
Price: £7 [down from £10]

Maria: 3 volume edition of Lord of the Rings, paperback, new and wrapped
Price: £4 [down from £10]

So, who do you think will win?  I know who my money is not on …

My Happy Place

This has not been a happy summer.  Not wishing to be sued for libel, I will go no further than saying we've lost £1500+ by being screwed around by dishonest and incompetent lettings agents (and we only moved in the first place to save money).

Moving house – and all our stuff – three times (inc. two weeks house-sitting), in the midst of a generally busy time has been hard.  So why am I feeling alright?  Dear Reader, as an antidote to all stress and suffering, I give you cricket.


Cricket is not a sport, per se, more of an excuse to do very little when the weather's alright, with breaks for meals.  I've mentioned it before, but need to do so again, because some things need to be dwelt upon to get the fullest goodness out.

When we were being bullied by agents, being given references that were outright lies, and then being asked to fork out for the privilege, at least I knew that when all else fails I can always depend on Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott.  I could go to my happy place and be safe there.

On Saturday, opening the batting under murky skies against top-of-the-table Chacewater, I carried my bat with 67 not out.  I've never got 30 before, let alone a half-century, so my free moments ever since have been spent re-visualising it – especially my six over midwicket, having come down the pitch to a seamer.

And we won, in fine style, which capped it all off very nicely.

Yesterday morning, under general anaethetic, I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted – heaven knows what they had to do; two of them were completely submerged – and now I have to wash out my mouth with salt water and live on mushed up food, smoothies and rice pudding for a few days.  I can't work and it could be very boring, so why not watch through the highlights of England decimating India?

I grew up with the worst England team of all time, so now I'm determined to make the most of what we now have.  Cricket is proving a very happy happy place this year,

The Divine Jeeves

We all love Jeeves.

Obviously, no one is legally permitted to fail to admire someone publicly approved of by Stephen Fry, but this is more than that: we love him.  Jeeves is the superhero without an ego; the unfailing saviour of the situation; the grown-up we all long to have hovering thoughtfully in the background, so that we can continue being children-in-adult-form, a la Bertie.


"You'd better consult Jeeves," I said.
"A hot and by not means unripe idea! Where is he?"
"Gone back to the kitchen, I suppose."
"I'll smite the good old bell, shall I? Yes? No?"
Jeeves poured silently in.
"Oh I say, Jeeves," began Cyril, "I just wanted to have a syllable or two with you. It's this way…"

It should have been obvious to me long ago, but I'm afraid I've only just realised:
Jeeves is Jesus.

Think about it!  He is the king of servants – the Servant King; he is the selfless righter of wrongs; he is the all-knowing encyclopaedia; he arrives when needed, saves the day, then shimmers off to do something we don't need to know about behind the scenes.  'Jeeves,' as Bertie often remarked, 'You stand alone!'

But let me correct myself.  When I say Jeeves is Jesus, I'm not saying that he is actually the Real Jesus or even a allegorical reflection of Him.  No.  Jeeves is the fake Jesus – the one the Christians believe in.

This is the Jesus who will find me a parking space but not step in to provide food for starving refugees; the Jesus who will grace my job application with a supernatural anointing but doesn't care too much what I do with the salary.  This is the Jesus whose world revolves around me: answering my pleas, sorting out my problems, then bringing me a whisky-and-soda.

Christians have been very attached to this Jesus for such a long while because that's what we wish He was like – the fairy godmother, the genie in the lamp, Father Christmas – and it's often the process of discovering that He's not really like that which makes us lose our faith.  Rather than the long, often-lonely pilgrimage to wherever-it-is that the Real Jesus has got to, we prefer to stick to our domesticated God, who will fetch and carry and recommend the correct tweed sports jacket for the occasion.

How many of my prayers are really requests for a butler to come along and do it for me?  How much of my worship is in response to the times when He has?  How much of my life is lived as if God Almighty is my employee, rather than I his?

Jeeves has been my Jesus for too long.

*insert snide pentecostal joke here*

Speaking in tongues: great stuff.  Great because it makes nearly all of us (including those who have the gift) feel pretty weird or uncomfortable.

Non-Christians try not to think about it unless they need something to ridicule, and Christians try not to think about it because it's a bit out of our comfort zone and we'd really rather prefer God to be more sensible.

So whatever you think, have a little look at this video (particularly from 2:40 onwards).  A (Jewish) neurologist, investigating the relationship between glossolalia and activity in the frontal lobe of our brains.  Interesting stuff.