Duncan Edwards

One of my favourite football stories:

In the winter of 1957, the Manchester United first team, the Busby Babes, were having a normal training session, led by Matt Busby and his assistant, Jimmy Murphy.  United were top of the table, reigning league champions and doing well in Europe; Busby's only real concern was that his talented young team might become complacent and take their brilliance and success for granted.

He decided to keep the players behind for an extra hour's practice, wherein each player would be told a weakness in his game and spend time turning their flaws into strengths.

Busby went down the line of players, kindly but firmly identifying weaknesses.  When he reached Duncan Edwards, Busby shrugged his shoulders and smiled.  "Go and get changed, Duncan," he said.  "See you tomorrow."

Love it.


A Theology of Dusty Springfield

This post has two purposes:
i. To make a slightly vulnerable autobiographical confession.
ii. To make more people listen to this song.  It may be the best in all history.


Question:  How would you feel if your best friend abruptly stopped talking to you?  And even when you asked them what was up, they still basically blanked you – acknowledging your existence, but not doing a whole lot more?  How would that feel?  Maybe you know already; I do.

My life used to be so so different, for one primary reason: God & I were on good terms.  I would talk to Him, and He would talk back.  I'm not really one for recalling whole conversations, but I distinctly remember being out walking (this was in New Zealand) and God telling me a joke.  We both laughed.

And then it stopped.  It stopped because He stopped; not just stopped talking, but stopped being – as if He withdrew all the tangibles of our relationship, all the 'presentness'.

It was very much a turning-point chapter in my life anyway.  Mid-2006: I had just left NZ, was in America, and Maria & I were in the midst of deciding to relocate our lives to be in the same place together.  So to suddenly go through that (and everything that came after) without my friend/guide/confidant was both weird and hard.  And that's how it's been ever since.

Point 1:  I totally respect God's right to be different to how I want Him to be, and even to change from one 'persona' to another.  As I've said before, He's my King, not my butler.
Point 2:  It hurts, very very much.

Dusty Springfield

[Have you listened to the song yet?  The following will make little sense unless you do …]

Dusty in Memphis is one of those albums I have intentionally waited before buying – other examples are Astral Weeks, Blonde On Blonde, and Dark Side of the Moon.  Not sure if other people do this, but I do; it's kind of like leaving some of the best bits of the meal to the end rather than gorging yourself straight away.  Anyway, I finally got around to buying it about 6 weeks ago.

I had never heard 'Just One Smile' before, and it instantly stood out for me – a brilliant, brilliant song.  And then, about a fortnight ago, I was listening to it again and realised that I was welling up.  Why?

I don't ask for much; a look, a smile, a touch…

Just one smile – the pain's forgiven

I had tears in my eyes because these words say what I want to say to God.  It's not that I want everything to be exactly as it was (although that'd be nice) but that sometimes, all I long for is a nod or a smile from God to remind me that He still likes me, and that it'll be alright in the end.  I could endure virtually anything then.

Agnostics: Wimpy or Wise?

On Monday, God provided.

I had phoned up about seeing Ed Byne at lunchtime and was told that there were no pairs of seats available, but that I could pop in before the show and check for returns.  I did, and Maria & I got pretty much the best seats in the house.  Amen.  And happy birthday darling 🙂

Ed Byrne is one of the multitude of cradle-Catholics on the comedy circuit (Billy Connelly, Johnny Vegas, Peter Kay, Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Dara O'Briain, and many, many more) and isn't backward in coming forward on The God Issue.

But on Monday, the only real point he made on the matter was this [paraphrase]:

'I don't mind if you're a Christian or whatever; the ones I can't stand are the AGNOSTICS.  I mean, come on: if you've got to the age of forty and still aren't sure if you believe in God or not, sort it out!  Sit down and have a think!  Come to a fricking CONCLUSION!'

ie. Agnostics are fence-sitting, bet-hedging wimps.

Are they?

Or is the only true wisdom found in knowing that you know nothing?


26 things I love about Maria

 My favourite view
1. The Eyes – they were the first thing that grabbed me, and still do.
2. Brain – from theology of glory to football stats.
3. The Goofy Dancing – not that she can't dance properly, but the goofy stuff kills me.
4. Massage Skills – she knows what my neck and shoulders need!
5. Perfectionism – aka 'inability to put up with crap'.

Buster & Baby
6. Love of Animals – from calves to bunnies to crustacea in rock pools, but especially Buster.
7. The Family #1 – Gary, Stephanie, Paul & Nick.
8. Being Silly Together – dancing in the car, dancing in the kitchen, dancing at a ceilidh …
9. Americanity – giving me a chance to experience, know, and love the US.
10. Entrepreneurialism – she don't want no job working for the Man …

Screen shot 2011-09-24 at 09.03.05
11. Tastes and Preferences – see above [Berba + Glee + Single Ladies + Twilight = ?]
12. Musicalness – playing and singing together, in our lounge especially.
13. Grace – have you seen Maria dance/lead an exercise class/do some stretches?
14. Beer – for her, it's strong ale, porter, or nothing.  What a find!
15. Football – verging on idolatry?  Ha.

16. Being Lebanese – best flag in the world? possibly. Most loving people? I should think so.
17. Making up for my weaknesses – the list is long and the gratefulness immense.
18. The Hair – is BEAUTIFUL.  Short, long, straight, curly: all of them.
19. Voice – I got to know Maria via phone/Skype; I fell for her voice completely …
20. Making Stuff – pottery, silversmithing, knitting, woodwork and many more to follow.

21. The Family #2 – all around the flipping world, from Sitty to Mary Kassis via Najib and Tony.
22. Sun Worship – well, someone had to introduce me to vitamin D, didn't they?
23. Style – Maria makes clothes look good.
24. Cooking – SILKZ.
25. Quality Time – how do we spend so much time together and not get bored or annoyed?
26. Dimitar Berbatov – it's kind of an extra-marital affair we are both involved in 🙂