Wednesday 22 November 2017
I think my Winter Flowers brew was probably ready to bottle on Friday, when the gravity reading had already reached its sticking point of 1.006, but I had a busy weekend and didn’t manage to find a suitable portion of time. Rather than leave it until the coming weekend and risk some infection creeping in, I took the afternoon off work yesterday and did the business, producing 12 bottles (6l total) of beer.
Based on the taste of the fairly generous but not quite enough to make it worth capping off, I think it won’t be too long before this one is ready to start enjoying and so I’d better make a start on (a) labels and (b) figuring out what the next batch will be.
Tuesday 21 November 2017
Advertising agencies have had a good year when it comes to displaying their religious illiteracy. I commented earlier this year on how Tesco thought some alcohol could make Good Friday better and now Greggs have released a Christmas advert which replaces the baby Jesus in a Nativity scene with a decidedly unkosher sausage roll. Yesterday I spotted that the wags of the Ship of Fools Facebook page had realised that ‘Lord Jesus’ backwards makes a close approximation of that food item (‘suseJd roL’) but I don’t think the ad agency intended to purvey a form of visual backmasking to inject their offering with underlying veneration.
That said, I suspect sausage rolls are going to feature in more Christmas sermons than is normally the case. Mocking Christ is a dangerous thing not because of the threat of vengeful thunderbolts but because it could put you right where he wants to, within the reach of his embrace. People are alarming about how disrespectful it is to depict ‘the King of the Jews’ as a pork product, forgetting that this epithet was applied by the Romans to his crucifixion cross as an insult. Of the two thieves crucified alongside him, one joined in the mocking but the other looked to Jesus for a drop of mercy and was washed clean.
Monday 20 November 2017
Is it Christmas yet? Cycling home tonight, I couldn’t help but notice that the illumination fans down the end of my road have got their Christmas lights up and running. That feels a bit early but it is certainly time to be making some preparations.
One of the things I have been doing is preparing some music, including a set for jUKEbox, the ukulele group I play with at work. We do a regular slot at the Christmas Fair hosted in one of the University buildings and that appointment is starting to loom. I’ve been pondering how to put the set together and had arrived at the conceptalicious idea of taking The Twelve Days of Christmas and making it even longer by interpolating a bunch of other seasonal songs. When I sat down and worked it up last night, I was delighted to realise that most of our Christmas songs happen to be in either C or G major, so I could bunch them by key, do a little sorting to create a suitable flow of moods and styles and have something ready for today’s rehearsal.
We gave it a run through today and it worked reasonably well but it was about twice as long as I had been aiming for. Tonight I sat down and recorded the whole lot and I’ve then put some time into nips and tucks getting much closer to the 15 minutes I was aiming for. A bit more work to fine tune the music for the group (mainly chord and lyric sheets) and I can release version 2. And then, a bit more practice and we’ll have a decent set to busk through a couple of times at the fair.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
[Yes, we’re doing the Slade one…]
Sunday 19 November 2017
Normally, the third Sunday evening of each month sees me heading down to the regular jazz jam at the Red Lion in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. Tonight though I went in a different direction to sample the “Folk Eucharist” event at Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry. This was a communion service with a recognisable (although customised) pattern of liturgy, richly decorated with selections of folk music and poetry that fall outside the regular Christian repertoire. Writers like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen don’t get to muscle in on many services.
I enjoyed and appreciated the creative choices of words and music, the invitation to participate through singing and movement through different locations in the church building and just the difference from what I have become accustomed to. Most of all though, I loved the way that the service drew on a broad selection of the local Christian community. As a visitor, I was in the majority and I recognised faces from a range of different contexts.
Theologically, I’m sure I could find plenty to disagree about with many of the fellow communicants, even more so than down at my regular home of St Clement’s. However, choosing to make time to come and share in a celebration of the Lord’s table takes the focus off differences and emphasises that we are people who feel drawn to commune together. Lots of churches, innumerable pet theories but one Lord, one faith and one bread.
Saturday 18 November 2017
The colours on that cherry tree across the road are still vivid but today they are set off against a dull grey sky and the leaves are bedraggled after hours of heavy drizzle. No, I haven’t gone out to take another photograph!
Friday 17 November 2017
Much of the autumn display is now past but this cherry, in one of the gardens near where I live, is at its glorious, flaming peak. With a clear sky behind it today, I jumped on the chance to get out and take a photo to add to my 52photos collection.
I used my 18-55mm kit lens and have done a bit of post production work to remove some dust dots which were very visible on the blue and to make subtle tweaks to the colours.
Thursday 16 November 2017
Box Set Binging – watching long runs of TV serials back to back – has become a widely recognised phenomenon although, strangely it seems to have only increased in popularity as physical box sets of videos or DVDs have begun to be replaced by online streaming solutions. With membership of something like Amazon Prime or Netflix there are any number of choices for wallpapering your imagination. That can represent a substantial investment of time – often days for the most square-eyed.
I can’t be too condescending; I’m a welter weight compared to some but I have spent a fair amount of time myself on various series. However, my critical faculties haven’t been turned off entirely and I reflect that most series suffer the fatal flaw of dragging things out too long. For example, this summer, I discovered Haven. It was a multi-series TV program from fairly recently (2010-2015) set in a town where oddball things keep happening. The series hinged around a main character who… well, not wanting to offer spoilers but the protagonist had an interesting lack of solid background. I actually made it through to the start of series five over the course of a few months; not a true binge but a fairly big investment of time.
The trouble was that, after innumerable twists to try and maintain interest, its attraction broke. I think I gave up caring about the fate of the characters and it reminded me of numerous other experiences. Lost lost me by the end of the first series and even programmes that had longer attraction, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or CSI, threw me off eventually. There is something comforting about getting to know a place – even fictional – but, as in real life, things change and you can’t keep living in the same spot.
I’m glad I feel like this, really. It means I don’t waste too long on any one series. I love some of those which have been cut short (Firefly!) or better yet, worked as long form drama with a deliberate and limited story arc (Life on Mars – 16 golden episodes). I don’t think I’ll start watching anything new tonight…