Sainsbury’s Rewards

Sainsbury’s Rewards.

I arrive in the car park, unsure as to where I should park… myself.
Where I’ll best fit.
Squeezing out of the car and instantly, I’m baffled.
Too much to absorb, I admit.

Soon enough, I’m settled in.
Attuned to the bright lights, the colour… the echoing din.
The noisy people.
Like bees, but less busy… with less purpose.

I marvel at the fruit and veg – a deluge of innocuous shapes.
Such aroma… I’m tempted.
I spot a mate. We have a bit of a laugh –
Some of the misshaped sweet potatoes remind us of mutual friends.

Coconut organic yoghurts stare back at me, unimpressed.
But it’s OK – instructions are included: a list, to aid me pass this test.
To help select essentials for the week ahead
(And puddings. And snacks. And wine. And…)

Barely into the tinned goods aisle and I’m hit by enthusiasm
(And a bit later, by a rogue trolley.)
If I want it, I reach out, it’s there. If it’s not, I merely have to enquire
(Or mumble a brief prayer)
I’m guided straight to it. Instant gratification.
Survey the shelves: what you see is what you get.

Later on, in a frozen realm, Confusion reappears.
I swear he’s messing with the PA,
Inserting mis-information – an assault on both ears.
Is this trip a mistake?
What seemed so effortless a few aisles ago
I now declare to be onerous… I ache.

The till’s in sight, though there’s a queue.
But standing just the other side – a guy.
I swear that he can see right through… me.

He beckons, without a single word.
But trolley’s now so laden down, with all the ‘stuff’.
And here’s what’s worse: I’ve have no purse.

He’s smiling now, and mouths: “I’ve paid… just come”.
Reluctant hands release their grip from all they’ve picked.
But somehow know that what’s ahead will far transcend the list they penned.

I’m running now – I ache no more.
He takes my hand. We leave the store.
Content that he, is my reward.

——————————————-

For a few more attempts at poetry, including some pie-winning efforts (!) visit here.

Greenbelt 2012

Last year I blogged that we attempted ‘Greenbelt lite’ as we went for a mere two days.
But this year we just went for one.
Yes – one.
So even lighter than lite.
I wonder what the technical term for that is…?
Up at 6am, arrived at 9am… left around half past midnight, home at 2am.
Fifteen and a half hours of pure Greenbelt!

Highlights, of this, my twelfth Greenbelt?
Well, kind of you to enquire.
Let’s see…

The Rising – I’d never been before, but have a friend (the lovely Lori) who goes every year, so thought it was high time I accompanied her. Was a big fan of Martyn Joseph back in the early 90s, and he didn’t disappoint, even now. His ‘mates’ on stage included a reasonably angry/political lesbian (Grace Petrie) a disillusioned (yet highly talented) American (Willy Porter) and the woman from the band Paper Aeroplanes. I know nothing about music (or less than nothing, if such a thing were possible) but favoured the latter, hear her here. Also enjoyed Willy’s clever ‘How to Rob a Bank’.

Food – This is of paramount importance to me, in life in general, but also quite specifically at Greenbelt. In this one day, I managed to stuff in: fried potato and sausage stuff (my absolute fave) from French stall ‘The Grande Bouffe’ (The Big Nosh), a freshly-cooked doughnut, a smoothie, a Shmoo banana milkshake, steak n stilton pie with mash and gravy (Higgidy pies, as no Pieminister there this year), a posh hot chocolate from the Tank (while waiting for phone to charge there) a flapjack from Pru’s cafe (woman in front of me had the last of their famous brownies, but I wasn’t outraged… not one bit) and finally a mug of ‘chai’ from the Tiny Tea Tent, which was divine. So divine, in fact, that I’ve just purchased the Twinings version, and am sipping at it now. It’s not QUITE Tiny Tea Tent-esque, but hey.

The God Particlethis was a play, and a most superb one at that, written by James Cary, who writes for the TV show Miranda (as well as for the only slightly lesser-known magazine – Third Way). Such a fantastic fusion of faith and science, all presented with much hilarity. I particularly liked the extended reference to ‘The Prisoners’ Dilemma’, which I’ve been studying very recently, as part of some general philosophy stuff I’ve been ‘consolidating’ during the Summer holidays, in preparation for forthcoming teaching practice.

Wandering around – Considering the 15 and a half hour restriction, I managed to clock up a satisfactory amount of this activity. The VAST amount of rainfall meant I was glad of my wellies, and that yes… I threw superior looks to those in flip-flops, who clearly weren’t cut out for festival life. G-source suited my wandering tendencies, although I fear there were less freebies than usual this year. Invariably, I ended up at G-books (bookshop); I shop (well, browse) books like other woman shop for shoes and clothes. I’m well-aware of my unhealthy obsession with books, which I suppose is something, but it doesn’t prevent me from attempting to find a cure. Why would I? Books are ace! About 15-20 caught my eye and yelled “Annie – buy me, buy me now!” (Dr Dolittle heard animals talk… I hear books shout). Finally left with just two, a Dietrich Bonhoeffer (bargain at £3, down from £12) and the brilliant Dave Walker’s new book of cartoons, one quick glance at which produces instant LOL-ing, even in those far too old to be throwing around the acronym (me).

Last Orders – New presenters, but just as good as ever. Managed not to fall asleep (which I have done there in the past, due to extreme tiredness combined with the late hour, and not to boredom)! Loved Mike Wozniak’s stand-up re ‘conception’ – hilarious! Rev Gerald Ambulance always deserves a mention – he shared some profound thoughts re church student youth workers… and I chuckled. There was a bit on ethical wedding dresses, which really ought to be ‘my thing’ (due to the ‘ethical’ bit, and not because I obsess about wedding dresses) but really wasn’t. There was also some ‘magic’ that was clever, but somehow not as entertaining as I felt it ought to be. Ruth Gledhill (Religion correspondent for The Times) got a bit of a grilling (from presenters and audience alike) which was awkward and unpleasant, I felt. It ended with ‘Folk On’, who, in the past, have annoyed me rather… but clearly my day had gone swimmingly well (perhaps due to torrential rain) as even they seemed ‘fun’ and a jolly way to end the day, bless ’em.

Had they not clashed with The God Particle, I had very much wanted to see/hear
Rev Richard Coles (ex- Communard: Don’t. Leave me this wa-a-a-ay!)
Frank Skinner
and Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch (Church history bloke).
Never mind.

Finally (yes, almost about to pull the plug) it was great to spend time my own fantastic family, with good friends (from our church) and to catch up with some ‘Greenbelt’ friends.

Only took a very few pics, but if you’re interested (or just very bored) you can view them here.

I do wonder if the fact that I wasn’t ‘doing stuff’ (as part of the programme) contributed to a more ‘chilled’ time at Greenbelt. I wasn’t stressing about where I had to be when, and whether I ought to brush my hair one last time, etc.
For more about my ‘stuff’ during previous years, see here, and scroll down.

‘Dear Bob’ giveaway on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dear Bob by Annie Porthouse

Dear Bob

by Annie Porthouse

Giveaway ends September 10, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

For anyone else with kids who go to camp…

Wrote this this evening, thinking of our kids at camp, that we collect tomorrow morning.
It’s very rough, but was just a good way commit my feelings to paper (blog) and also served as a cunning distraction from an essay I’m supposed to be writing!
I make no apology for the fact that it rhymes; it may be un-fashionable, but then so are most of my clothes… yet life goes on.

They packed their bags

They packed their bags (who knows with what).
We drove them there – the cord was cut.
We drove away – the tears did fall:
It’s hard to leave your kids – so tall!
They may have reached their teenage years
But that does not negate my fears
That while they are away from me
Their stay at camp might sometimes be…
Hard.

It’s good for them to be away
From us, and home, for seven days.
It’s good for them to make new friends.
All this, please note, I comprehend.
I want them to explore and grow
And get some sun, and fun, although
I want them to be safe and sound,
Seeing as I’m not around…
To help.

I want them to find some bits rough,
To build them up – to make them tough.
But not so hard that they can’t cope.
This is my plea – this is my hope.
I pray they get to know God more
And learn what they are living for;
To aid them when life gets too hard.
I pray that they won’t disregard…
This.

Their sheets are washed, their rooms are clean.
The house is calm, bereft of teens.
We can’t complain that they’re afar
We’ve had a blast – the week’s been ours!
We’ve watched what we want on TV.
No Minecraft, COD or MP3.
But twelve hours more and they’ll be back
Their mud-stained clothes we’ll all unpack…
Together.


(Image from http://photoeverywhere.co.uk)

Facebook ads – do they matter?

A recent article (well, technically a ‘blog post’, but ‘article’ sounds posher) I wrote for Generous, on Facebook advertising, can be found hiding here.

And today, quite by chance I came across this on YouTube.
It’s a rather amusing parody of the famous John Lewis advert that includes the song: Always a Woman (that makes strong, sane women sob buckets, including me).

I rarely see TV ads, as I don’t watch much actual telly at all (but countless films, so I’m no saint, nor am I Amish). And if I do watch something, I’ve usually pre-recorded it, and then fast forward through the ad break.

Thus, I’ve not purchased a single item from the shops since the late 80’s.

OK, I have. But face it… you were impressed, just for those few seconds…

Post-Greenbelt waffle


My attempt to sum up this year’s Greenbelt, using that often overlooked, yet hugely loveable number – 4.

Gutted that I missed:
1] Adrian Plass (I’m such a fan, but wasn’t at GB on the day he spoke).
2] Jude Simpson (but at least I managed to bump into her for super brief catch-up).
3] Dave Walker‘s calendar (it had sold out by the time I got around to attempting to purchase).
4] Tea towels (Greenbelt branded ones. Again, they’d run out. Must try harder next year. Not sure I’m actually ‘gutted’ about this, more ‘slightly annoyed’).

Dead chuffed to have heard:
1] Ruth Downie (interesting talk on crime fiction).
2] Simon Morden (part 2 of his thoughts on Christian publishing, etc).
3] Andrew Philip (poetry reading that I actually understood, and enjoyed). Pic of his session, with me in attendance, here!
4] Rev Gerald Ambulance (his profound take on the current state of the Church, and some insightful comments regarding the role of women in marriage).

So glad I consumed:
1] Pie Minister pie – Heidi (goat’s cheese/sweet potato) with mash and groovy. (Read my ‘award-winning’ pie poem here.)
2] Bowl of fried potato/wine sauce and sausage, from Le Grand Bouffe.
3] Hot choc, that I managed to persuade them to add brandy to, seeing as they clearly had some as they sold coffee with brandy.
4] Pizza from the posh pizza place, as this time I went wild and paid extra for ‘all’ the toppings.

Got stuck right in:
1] Attended a ‘Student Focus’ session, (SCM). Did a creative book plug for Dear Bob, involving volunteers, weird props, jogging, masks, Pringles… you get the idea!
2] As per the past few years, did the Generous session, this year on ‘local activism’. Plugged Living Generously .
3] Donated some Dear Bobs to The Hub, for eventual distribution to teenagers at GB. (See Ben’s plan here).
4] Wrote out some Bible verses in monk-like fashion (assuming ye olde monks used i-pads with i-pens). It’s going to be presented to the Queen, no less – see my verses here.

Thrilled to natter over a cuppa with:
1] Darren Hill (after 8 years of knowing him only via phone/email/Facebook, finally met up – hurrah! He was instrumental in inflicting ‘Dear Bob’ on the general public.)
2] Jo Swinney (after knowing her… a couple of months via Facebook, finally met up)!
3] Penny Culliford (it wouldn’t be Greenbelt without at least one chatting marathon with this lady, some years we’ve managed several).
4] No cuppa, but SO pleased to grab a quick hello with fellow Subway-ers (Christian Writers’ Group): Tim R, Tim S, Jules, Paul B, Veronica Z… and those already mentioned above.

Swapped several pennies for:
1] The Insatiable Moon (Mike Riddell).
2] Paradise Now (Jari Moate).
3] A greetings card with some Christian artwork on it (with intention of framing it at some point – perhaps in the year 2017, when I’ve got a spare minute).
4] A FRANK sports water bottle, that I could then re-fill during the festival, for free!

We (family and I) were also a-weeping and a-wailing that for the first time in six (ish) years we didn’t get to camp/hang out with our buds Lori and Richard Passmore (and kids). Boo and double-boo.

Overall though, it was simply superb to wander around the site and soak up the oh-so-familiar (yet ever ‘fresh’) GB atmos with my gorgeous family, including my fab sis – a real live Cheltenham local.

A few pics can be viewed here.

So how was GB11 for you?!

Greenbelt (lite)

I’ve opted for ‘Greenbelt Lite’ this year. Not because I’m opposed to the full-fat version… in fact I’ve been, with the family (from Thurs—>Tues) for the past eight years! But this year I’m there for the Sunday and Monday only.

On Sunday evening (8pm, Galilee) I’ll be at a ‘Student Focus‘ session: University Survival Skills, plugging Dear Bob, naturally, but also hopefully participating in the promised chocolate brownies. If you’re a student, get your-fabulous-self on down there… 6 copies of Dear Bob are being GIVEN away as prizes!

Then on Monday, I’ll be involved with the Generous talk: ‘Get Down Your Local’, about local activism (The Kitchen, 2pm) where, just to be consistent, I’ll be plugging another book (one I co-authored): – Live Generously.

You are probably unaware that Greenbelt have changed their policy this year, and on the ‘talks’ page of their website (listing all this year’s GB speakers) the MOST important speakers are at the very bottom of the page, rather than at the top. The fact that Rob Bell is at the top is clearly some sort of admin error.

I aim to see: RS Downie, Simon Morden, Andrew Philip (all on this page) Jo Swinney and Rev Gerald Ambulance. This also appeals to me. Gutted I’ll miss: Adrian Plass/Milton Jones. Am I sad that I’ll miss the workshop ‘Parenting Teenagers’? Not sure. If you’re there, please take notes (include a few pictures – I get bored easily). But mostly I’ll just be wandering around the site, with various friends/family, soaking up the fabulous GB atmos, wondering if I can afford a trendy fairly-traded organic t-shirt with a bible verse printed on it… then deciding that I probably can’t, and ending up in the queue for pies.

‘Cross Rhythms’ interview

The UK Christian radio station Cross Rhythms recently invited me aboard for an interview. (I spoke at their festival back in 2003, and was interviewed by them, on air, in that same year also.)

The topic was the ‘Dear Bob’ novels, that were first published 8 years ago. Thus, it was a bit like someone enquiring as to my opinions regarding nappy changing, even though my kids are now 11 and 13! But in a good way. I’m always chuffed to bits to have those books reviewed or to be asked about them, in any context; it keeps ‘Jude Singleton’ alive, and reminds me of the fun I had penning her (fictional) story.

When it was aired, they cut out one of the questions:
Who was Jude based on?
Part of my answer was that, to some extent, Dear Bob was autobiographical. But then I paused and wondered if I’d pronouned it properly… did I say ‘autobiographal’, omitting the ‘ic’ syllable towards the end? But self-correction didn’t appear to be an option, so I pressed on regardless. Naturally, this has haunted me since, prompting me embark on a frantic Google search, to check if I could get away with it, had I made that omission (which revealed: fat chance).

Had it been in the final cut and had I actually said it incorrectly, I was planning on establishing a movement, on behalf of writers everywhere, to shorten all multisyllabic words related to the profession. After all, all writers concede that time is a valuable resource – why waste it saying long words when you can use shorter ones? Who has the time to say ‘autobiographical’ (SEVEN syllables)… not me, clearly! I even considered taking the cause to a higher level to see what could be done. Kate Middleton is probably hunting for worthy campaigns to back, bless ‘er…

But nay, the question and answer were given the chop anyway, so whether or not I committed such a blunder will remain forever a ‘radio-archive’ style mystery (a little-explored literary genre).

See here for other radio stations I’ve been interviewed on. (At bottom of the page.)

Click here to email Kate directly, regarding the surplus syllables you’d like to see brutally extracted from words, to give us all more time to enjoy life.
(just kidding!)

Here is the interview itself… a time-efficient 4 mins long… and if you check your email or Facebook messages whilst listening, you’ll not in any way feel as though it’s 240 seconds down the drain…

Christmas Shopping

Yes, it’s here… again.
Shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – it’s not as if we’re unused to the festive period. It seems to engulf a sixth of each year, at least!

And yes, I have again written about the Chrimbo shopping fiasco, published on the ‘Generous’ website, here.

Having compared it with what I’ve written in other, similar articles I’ve penned in previous years (published in various places) I note that I’m becoming a bit more honest, a tad more realistic, and even, dare I say it… slightly less Scrooge-like! But what motivates me remains in tact: to raise awareness of those who live in poverty, who would love to have Christmas Shopping trips to grumble about.

Back from Greenbelt..!

Duvet and mattress, porcelain loo –
Are absent from Greenbelt and its campers, who
Make do without, all weekend long.
They shiver by night, and by day: pong.

My tenth year attending was worth my while –
Jude Simpson’s wit made my face smile.
Milton Jones – the one-liner King.
Dave Walker’s scribbling kept me giggling.

Roger McGough – a poetry machine;
He once helped to write: Yellow Submarine!
That beat-boxing Shlomo, the epitome of cool.
Rev Gerald A. boldly broke every rule.

Remember from Blue Peter, Simon Thomas?
His main stage compering was fab, I promise.
Went with my hubbie to a ‘talk’ in Bethlehem:
“Affluenza’s what we’ve got!” declared Oliver James.

Zic Zazou – very… French – noisy too.
Beer and Hymns (overheard from nearby queue).
Free tea from Speakers’ Lounge – totally fantastic.
First visit to Blue Nun – four quid for wine in a cup of plastic!

Fried potato, wine gravy… sausage perched on top.
I tend to scoff this every year – I like it quite a lot.
But now it’s all over – Greenbelt ‘adieu’.
Back to duvet and mattress, porcelain loo.

 

Last year my GB poem won me a box of pies through the post!
As you can see, this year I’m expecting signed photos/t-shirts/CDs/books/all-inclusive holidays, etc, from all the ‘stars’ that are named.
I’ve briefed the postman that his job will become that bit more demanding over the next couple of weeks. It’s just a matter of waiting now.

Some info/pics re my previous talks at GB here.

My GB 2010 pics here.

An ‘official’ GB pic of me here (typical – the photographer came to our talk, took lots of pics, and this is the one they choose… of me freaking out as Peter had just decided that it would be a clever idea to kiss me for a photo, which made me go bright red, naturally)!