Saturday, 30 July 2011

Death is black

My main computer is now in the process of being "rebuilt" after having re-set it to the original factory settings. These contain a lot of dross that is unwanted, time-limited demo programs which were never used, and old versions of those I need, and which have all had to be updated and re-registered. There were also over 130 important Microsoft updates to download and install.

Which should mean that all is getting back to normal.

Except ....

I think the graphics card is now falling over. Every so often the monitor goes black and I can't see a thing. The computer is whirring away as it should but there is just no visual output. I've tried another monitor and this has the same result. I've taken the graphics card out and blown off the dust, but it's still happening, with no warning, and with no pattern. Last night it worked fine for 5 hours until shut-down. This morning on boot-up it died immediately I logged on. Re-booting and it's working at the moment .....

Ho hum.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Major meltdown

A major crash on my main study computer has meant that I have had to restore it to the Factory Settings. Fortunately most of my files are stored on a separate drive and have remained intact. However some minor stuff has been lost, and I shall now have to re-install numerous programs and shortcuts. You can guess what I shall be doing most of tomorrow!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dirty mac time

I came across this picture on the net which stirred memories. As I grew up in the eastern end of Brighton "The Continentale" cinema changed from showing "normal" films to those frequented by gentlemen in long raincoats, usually for the matinee showing. I went and saw the brilliant film "If" there soon after it first came out in 1968, but even by then this was a rare mainstream film to be screened in this establishment.

It was only a small cinema, and I seem to recall that the balcony was just 6 or 7 rows of seats deep. It was certainly intimate - in more ways than one. I often wish I had managed to get hold of the poster that advertised "The sexual adventures of Noddy" about this same time. (That's one title that hasn't made it onto the Internet Movie Database!)

If you stood in the side street and sheltered in the corrugated iron back porch, you could clearly hear the soundtrack of whatever film was showing, though with some of them there was precious little dialogue. It was a convenient place to stand and eat fishcake and chips from "Tony's" just down the road.

Happy days.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Thank you, Fraser

According to an article in today's "Guardian" which has been widely blogged, the Church of England is doomed since in 20 years time the ageing congregations will have died off and there'll be two little old ladies, a decrepit priest and an altar boy left.

What a load of tosh. When I was growing up in a poorly-attended Brighton church in the late 1950's and early 60's the cry was exactly the same. There were perhaps 10 of us youngsters in the choir and maybe another 2 in the congregation. Normal Sunday attendance was about 15 people in a church seating 1,500.

All these years later that church is well-supported with a mix of ages, and apart from one person, none of those former young choristers attend that particular place of worship. So the congregation of the future cannot be said to be dependent on the young congregation of today. In fact over my 27 years of ministry in the Church of England I've seen more people return to the church after a pastoral contact than I have due to involvement as a child.

Adults return following the baptism of their children, marriage, or death of a loved one. They come seeking connection with the holy, the numinous, the cloud of unknowing. They might arrive with some childhood knowledge of what we do, but it's not the reason they return.

So in 20 years I expect the make-up of our churches to be fairly similar to what they are now, for the Holy Spirit will continue to work in the lives of people as they reach a point of need. And that point is when they need the church, not when the church needs them.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The shin bone's connected to the ....

This last week I spent a couple of days down in London in order to visit this current exhibition at the British Museum.

It was well worth seeing, and if there are still indulgences to be obtained from viewing relics of the saints, then I must have gained a few more years off purgatory.

The reliquaries were mostly magnificent, and the exhibition was well laid out, taking you on a time-line from early Roman memorials through to the Reformation and beyond. There were numerous rock-crystal containers and gems each holding from one to several relics, some of which it was reasonable to suppose that they were the genuine article, such as skull fragments from Thomas Becket, as history records that such mementos were taken by the monks before his burial. Others though needed faith strong enough to move mountains, such as a hair from the Virgin Mary (her head, one is led to believe) or a shred of Christ's umbilical cord. And there were enough fragments of the True Cross to construct a small matchbox, as well as several thorns from the crown of thorns.

The same day was highly educational, for not only did I see this exhibition but I also called in at the Sir John Soane Museum in Lincoln Inn Fields.

This Regency collector was a hoarder of all things architectural, and the three adjoining houses in the square flow into each other in a warren of rooms filled with cornices and carvings.

In his Picture Room the wall panels are hinged so that more paintings can be displayed behind, and hidden from sight are two series of Hogarth oils, "An Election" and the better-known "Rake's Progress".

On the end wall are three paintings by Canaletto who must be one of my favourite artists, and it was a treat to be able to get up so close to the main picture of St. Mark's Square in Venice and see exactly how he created his figures with just small blobs of colours.

It's a truly unique place, but Soane must have been hell to live with. Perhaps it's no surprise that neither of his sons grew up to be supportive of his mania.

I also made another trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum to look at their new gallery of religious architecture and altar pieces. There are some magnificent examples here, and I was able to freely use my camera.

Then as I waited for my train at Liverpool Street Station I was reminded that there was an important event taking place in just a few short hours ...