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Swine Flu? Get a Grip! April 28, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Current Affairs.
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Getting in a flap over swine flu

Getting in a flap over swine flu

Swine flu. It was in all the newspaper headlines I saw yesterday: Daily Mail, Guardian, Metro, The Sun, The Times; and I guess given the World Health Organisation’s warnings only a fool would be completely complacent.

Even so, it reminds me of Edwina Currie’s salmonella in eggs (remember that?), bird flu, mad cow disease and SARS: panic in the papers but no one I know was hit by any of them; but I do know people who’ve been hit by cars; and I do know people who have been killed by cancer.

At the moment, you and I, gentle reader, are more likely to die crossing the road than by catching swine flu; but the moment someone suggests reducing speed limits in order to reduce fatalities from road traffic accidents, motorist groups are up in arms. What is with these people? Are they worried that if they slow down enough to save somebody else’s life, they won’t get to the doctor’s in time to catch their next sneeze?

Slow down, people: get a grip; and if that’s you who just sneezed: bless you — it’s probably hayfever.

200 Tweeps and a Boob Job? April 26, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Frivolity.
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Today's facebook ad

Today's facebook ad

Strange but true: facebook ads are offering me £500 towards a boob job. Sorry folks, but it’s gonna take more than a boob job to get me looking like that. Is my inner woman trying to tell me something?

200 tweeps!

200 tweeps!

And I’m delighted to welcome Dilip Sinha @all_top_books as my 200th follower on twitter. You can follow me too if you want: @notbovvered.


It’s a strange life online…

He herd my cry… April 26, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection.
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Just came across a wonderful typo on a post about waiting:

Wait…and Other Four-Letter Words

David wrote: “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and herd my cry.” Psalm 40:1. I researched the verse a bit because the word “waited” popped out at me. Of course, any derivative of the word has been popping out at me for some time: wait, waiting, waited. In this particular verse, waited patiently means (in the modern vernacular), “I waited, and waited, and waited…”

I’ve always loved U2’s rendition of Psalm 40, but the thought of God herding our cries kinda lends a whole new meaning to the concept of prayer: does s/he herd our prayers like a shepherd at the sheepdog trials, arranging them in amazing formations?

Or more like a farmer, herding the cows in to be milked, knowing that his or her own livelihood depends on getting it right?

Or is it the final track, herding them off to the knacker’s yard? Hmmm. Let’s not go there — being milked is ominous enough…

Head on over to the original post at Write His Message; after the four-letter word that popped out at me, it’s well worth a read.

Give it to them, Doc, just give it to them! April 25, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Frivolity.
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Marvellous email received just now:

From: drmichael_george@gmx.de
Date: 25 April 2009 13:02:19 BST
Reply-To: drmichael_george@yahoo.com.hk


My name is Dr. Michael George of {CBN}. I am informing you of an attempt by some men to collect your payment of $5M on your behalf. I had to ask them why they came to see me in person and they said that they came to collect your funds which rightfully belongs to you as shown in your file with us, on your behalf and by your authorization.

However, I am writing you this email to find out from you if you actually sent them. Note that they actually tendered some vital paperworks which proved that you actually sent them to collect these funds. Below is the list of paperwork which they presented.

*Letter of administration *Order to release *High court injunction

I want to hear from you before I order the release of the funds to these men who claim to be your representatives because they will be back to my office next week. I decided to carry out this decision based on my work experience and this is a risk I cannot take because I have not heard anything from you.

Kindly direct your response to my email address for quicker deliberation on the release of your funds to you.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Michael George.

As I said, doc, just give it to them. But hey — I’m feeling generous. Keep 10% for yourself, OK? But be quick about it: I’m about to delete your message.

London Underground: You Know It Makes Sense April 24, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Frivolity, London Life.
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Victoria Line Turn Right

If you see something suspicious, press the green button

Help Point Out of Service

Green Park Station, April 23rd, 2009

Important Notice for People Who Don’t Read Notices April 22, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Bookshop Ramblings.
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Welcome! This is a notice is for people who don’t read notices. Which means you, gentle reader, are in the wrong place.

But since you’re here, perhaps you can help me.

For my day job — when I’ve got nothing better to do, you understand — I run a college bookshop. We have a couple of notices on the door about our opening times.

One is slightly complicated: it spells out our normal opening times, which have remained exactly the same for the last eight years:

Normal Opening Times
10.30am – 4.30pm
Termtime: Monday to Friday
Vacations: Tuesday to Saturday

But every time a college vacation comes around, customers wander in and ask if the shop will be open during the vacation.

The other is very simple: it says OPEN on one side and CLOSED on the other. Most of the time we remember to flip it around, but we like to make it easy for people: when the shop’s open, we have the lights on and the door open; when it’s closed, we have the door closed and most of the lights off.

But when the door is open and the lights are on, people wander in and say, “Are you open?” … and when the door is closed and the lights are off, people try the door and seem confused when it doesn’t open…

There was a time when I wondered why people who can’t read would want to visit a bookshop anyway; but we sell chocolate as well now, so non-readers have a good reason for visiting too.

But all in all, I’m left wondering: would it be better to take down the notices, since so many people don’t read them? Or is it best to leave them there so that when people don’t read them I can point to them? Is that really what notices are for — like speed limit signs on the roads, not there for people to read but to be pointed at afterwards when they’ve ignored them?

If you know, please do tell.

Thank you for reading.

Happy Birthday, Paul! April 17, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Family, Frivolity.
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It’s my brother’s birthday today: bet you can’t guess how old he is!!

Have a great day, Paul — and many happy returns!

Happy 50th Birthday, Paul!

Many happy returns!

Here is love will tear us apart April 12, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Lent & Easter, Music, Theological Reflection.
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Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

— William Rees

When the routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And the resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again

Why is the bedroom so cold
Turned away on your side? 
Is my timing that flawed,
Our respect run so dry? 
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives
Love, love will tear us apart again

Do you cry out in your sleep
All my failings expose? 
Get a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold,
Is it something so good
Just can’t function no more? 
When love, love will tear us apart again…

— Joy Division

When Time Stood Still: Simon’s Story April 10, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Lent & Easter, Short Story.
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It was a day I’ll never forget.

I was coming in from the country for the festival with my two lads, Rufus and Alexandra. As we approached the city I could see that there was some sort of commotion around the gates, but there always is around Jerusalem – nothing new about that.

As we got closer I saw what it was – the Romans had got someone again, another rebel I guessed, and they were dragging him out to be crucified. Only the Romans could have dreamt up such a vile way to kill someone. I told the boys to hang back and moved in a bit closer – then I saw who it was!

They’d got Jesus – Jesus, the miracle worker, the teacher who’d been through our village just last week, who’d healed the boys’ mother from a fever. That’s why she wasn’t with us – she was fine, but I’d told her to stay home anyway. She didn’t like it but eventually she agreed, and I’m well relieved about that now.

I couldn’t believe it: Jesus! I could hardly recognise him – they’d shoved a twisted crown made of thorns on his head and there was blood running down his face, and where there wasn’t blood his face was bruised. Somehow – and I know this sounds crazy – but I remember being relieved that they hadn’t broken his nose. But they were going to do worse than that.

I looked back to see that the boys were okay then shoved my way to the front. This couldn’t be happening. Jesus! What had he done? He was struggling under the weight of the cross – the Romans made their victims carry their own crosses – then he lost his footing and collapsed. It was some sort of miracle, I guess, that the weight of the cross didn’t kill him then. The soldiers started to kick him.

I shouted – and then suddenly I was too close: one of the soldiers grabbed me and laughed viciously. “OK, you carry it then!” he shouted. I looked at Jesus – and suddenly the whole world froze. Time stood still. I hated the Romans: we all hated them. They were filth, evil, no better than swine. But Jesus, he looked at me – and everything was upsidedown. He felt sorry for me. He pitied the Romans. But more than that, he loved us. All of us.

He loved us. I don’t think I can say that loud enough so I’m going to shout: he loved us!

I was scared for the boys, of course I was – then I saw Jesus look across to them and I knew they were going to be okay. It made no sense – here was a man about to be killed telling me everything was going to be okay.

Then the soldier shoved me forward and everything started moving again. I put my shoulder under the cross and helped Jesus to his feet. He didn’t smile. No one would under those under those circumstances. But for just a moment, in the midst of all that cruelty and darkness, a light seemed to shine. And no darkness was ever going to put it out.

Previously published at stmatthews-yiewsley.org.uk/whentimestoodstill.htm

White Lies: Bad Friday April 10, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Poetry.
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White lies the snow
but red runs the flow
of the blood
in the hills
of my mind.

What can I know,
where can I go,
to escape
from the mills
in my mind?

Is there a place
where the wind
doesn’t blow?
Is there a land
where the sun
doesn’t show?
Where is hope
to be found
in these days?

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