Monday, May 10, 2010

Washing up

A couple of weeks ago (where does the time go?) I blogged about being a waiter and washer-upper at weekend functions. This past weekend repeated the experience in a minor key: a birthday party at my brother's, where I found myself sporadically washing up cutlery while chatting to an EU lobbyist and a doctoral student working on Plotinus (a much less labour-intensive form of service); followed on Sunday by a couple of hours of tending bar with the archery guild during a community event.

My better half also spent International Mothers' Day tending bar, at her school fĂȘte. Luckily, the girls were at youth group and our youngest was at a birthday party, leaving only the oldest "home alone" (putatively studying Latin relative pronouns).

In the mean time, the joys of washing up by hand have become a daily delight. Our dishwasher, over ten years old, has given up the ghost (or more accurately, the element). We're waiting, with no sense of optimism, to hear whether a replacement part is available. By coincidence (so many coincidences lately have been happy, assuming they are coincidences at all), this was a topic of conversation just over a week ago, when I was visiting a little English monastery - almost more of a hermitage, in effect - in Douai, France. The monks there had considered seeking to obtain a dishwasher, but had decided against it, not only because of the expense, but also because "washing up is something we can do together" (while loading a dishwasher is really something you can only do in turns).

So now if you'll excuse me, I have some washing up to do.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Premonstratensian weekend

Not that I've been away on retreat, or anything - in fact I've spent most of the weekend as a sort of amateur waiter. But on Saturday I had the privilege of being present at the profession of six members of a newly formed Norbertine Third Order at the Abbey of Park (founded 1129; suppressed 1789; refounded 1790; suppressed 1797; refounded 1836). The ceremony was surprisingly short, and surprisingly moving. Afterwards I found myself carrying round trays of sandwiches at a reception in what I take to have been the abbot's rather palatial parlour.

Then on Sunday, a Norbertine of the Abbey of Tongerlo (founded 1128; suppressed 1796; refounded 1840) came to a village near here to pronounce a blessing over the archery guild's new popinjay mast (which looks vaguely like some sort of high-tech broadcast equipment). Then there was a barbecue and a three-hour shooting competition, where I found myself pouring drinks, clearing tables and washing up. Why do festivals always seem to become opportunities for washing-up?
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Flat Earth News

Very quickly (before the link widget here expires) - What I Learned This Week By Opening One Book.

The book is Nick Davies' "Flat Earth News", and I learned just why it is that (as anybody with eyes can see) we have a media culture where "ignorance is accepted as knowledge and falsehood is accepted as truth" (p. 154).

The answer is essentially (though unwittingly) G. K. Chesterton's: "a man writing at speed will write what he already knows" (which is why newspapers never contained anything new even a century ago). But the conditions of journalistic employment that drive the problem have got a lot worse over the last 20 years: instead of going out, drinking in pubs with contacts, journalists are now shackled to a computer, recycling wire stories or stories from other papers, with the occasional bit of google-supported rewriting, and no encouragement or incentive to check facts or interpretations with people who know anything about the background, leading to (p. 152):

the arbitrary and the irrational replacing real judgements; the casual recycling of unreliable claims; and the structural bias towards the political and moral beliefs of the most powerful groups in society.

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Back to blogging

When our first child was due, in 1997, the date of his expected birth (though not of his actual birth) was the Second Sunday of Easter. Even though it's not his birthday, it's a day that has gained added personal significance from this fact. The day is also known as Quasimodo Sunday from the first words of the introit, "quasi modo" ("after the fashion of" or "like"):

Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia: rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupiscite, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Like newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Or, as the King James translates it: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word.

When I mentioned the due date to my old tutor he exclaimed with delight, "Why, then you can call him Quasimodo!" It's not a suggestion we entertained seriously, but now that I've told our son about it he seems disappointed at the missed opportunity.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The end of the blog

I'll be leaving things in place as a repository of links, not just for myself but particularly for people searching for the phrases "By God Sir, I've lost my leg", "opening scene of Gladiator" and "Baby Jesus at the breast". But I have no intention of adding new posts (and will be systematically paring back a lot of what is here). Wishing any readers a fruitful advent, a merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year!
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Rising like a phoenix

Might not be the fate of this blog (although one can hope), but is certainly the fate of the rest of us, as the first patristic document, Clement of Rome's Letter to the Christians of Corinth, explains.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Silver, gold and stonework

Through different friends on Facebook I've been made aware of recent discoveries of Viking silver and Anglo-Saxon gold. Beautiful stuff.

Less in the news, but of interest here, is that Outlandish Knight has provided a link to his photographs of early Norman churches, fonts, and corbels.
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