It starts off with me recalling this great guy in school, he had an Asian name that sounded like an English name, didn’t put us off him though, we all liked him. Wore gel in his hair, laughed a lot, liked cricket and always arrived to school early (just what I remember). Also recall him being great at making drawing pins behave like spinning tops.
But, sad story – he goes down in my estimation when I remember this – he made fun of the guy who always got made fun of (that guy), let’s call him Pedro, and Pedro was innocently sucking his pen, when Gel-boy calls him out in front of the entire Spanish class, claiming that he looks like he’s committing a sex-act with his Biro, of course poor Pedro gets harpooned verbally and probably physically with fists as a result of said interpretation.
Gel-boy also enjoyed being part of an evil game we played which involved spinning coins. You play around a table (usually during class time when you should be working) and the first boy spins a coin – fifty pee usually- and the next boy has to keep it spinning by flicking it. You lose if you stop the coin from spinning, your punishment is to press your fist down onto the table, baring your knuckles, and then someone from the peer-group slams the coin (at high speed) into your clenched hand. It was this element of risk that made the game so addictive. We would often bleed, all over the table, all over the coin. We even made one boy cry, but he carried on playing. Thing is, I started to return home with scabs on my knuckles and my parents got worried, Dad banned me from playing it, despite the fact he told me he played a card game called ‘raps’ in school. I ignored his pleas for a while, and we started playing with the (what felt like) recently introduced two pound coin — quadruple the pain. Scabs got bigger, Dad’s commands got more serious, the phase ended. Although, when I look closely at my knuckles, I can still see the scars.
I was about to leave the house yesterday when I thought I heard the shower turn on, horror movie stuff. But it wasn’t Ghostface in my bathroom, it was the pipe below our boiler, spraying water everywhere, we had a leak. My wish is to react like Don Draper in situations like these (see video below) but no one had told me where the water tap was, so the water just kept on spraying. I had to call wise people, and someone agreed to come over, but before they arrived I found the tap! It was under the kitchen worktop, if you’re interested. So I sort of fixed the problem, or at least stopped the problem, it still isn’t fixed. So I’m not totally useless, but fairly useless.
One of the leaks was kindly fixed by our church handyman, but there were two leaks! The second is due to be fixed today, by a plumber.
Something striking about Samson was that despite his absolute idiocy there were moments in his life when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he was enabled to achieve truly magnificent acts. The same strikes me about the beginning of Saul’s kingship, he is able to prophesy and lead the people strongly against the Philistines, but as his career advances, pride gets the better of him and the Spirit leaves him. This puts him in stark contrast to King David whose God is his Shepherd, and the Spirit’s presence with him does not seem to be sporadic, rather he walks with the Lord, he keeps in step with the Spirit, ‘the Lord was with him’. My craving and desire as a believer in this same God, is that I would not be filled with wine, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, my salvation is secure, but how can I hope to achieve anything of value in my Christian life without the Spirit of God filling me continually? At one point in my Christian life I came to the conclusion that I was always filled with the Spirit but sometimes I forgot he was there, but I believe I was corrected in this thinking. It does seem biblical to suggest that as Moody said, ‘I leak’. So, it is a discipline, just like exercising… ‘physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’
So, as it says in my snappy WordPress biography, I am a cartoon-lovin’ man. This was most evident about a year and a half ago when I became convinced that a career at Pixar was for me. Their output consumed me and, I confess, I spent a good few hundred hours watching director’s commentaries, analysing the story structures, and trying to think up my own animated screenplay ideas. But this obsession was specific to Pixar, I do like other animators, but mostly it’s just Pixar. And I am aware that this distinction is pretty irrelevant to most, this was evident at the moment when I asked Wrexham friend (at the tentative early stages of our friendship) what his favourite Pixar film was, and he naïvely replied “errm, I dunno, Shrek?” at which point I fainted.
My wifey made me watch the Madagascar films. I’d avoided them stealthily over the years, even managing to tacticly sneak out of the room when they appeared on television over the festive period. But I relented, because there is a joy in watching Wifey laugh at Sacha Baron-Cohen’s semi-racist leemur, so I succumbed to the banal mediocrity. And, last night, as one of the lions voiced by Alec Baldwin, (who is in actuality just a cheap version of Lion King’s Scar) was chased away by a karate-chopping old lady, I had a moment of clarity…
The difference between Pixar and Dreamworks animations are in their attitudes to story. The famous Pixar mantra is something along the lines of ‘respect the story’ and this seems to be exactly what Dreamworks don’t do, they, in their lazy way ‘disrespect the story’. Compare the Baldwin/Octogenarian/Ninja moment to say, Lotso’s demise in Toy Story 3, each detail in the story has been elaborately considered, and is more emotionally potent as a result. At the end of Toy Story 3, (spoiler warning) Lotso is cable tied to the front of a dustbin lorry, where he is forced to spend an eternity as one of those toys who gets cable-tied to the front of dustbin lorries. Not only is it an observant nod to the stuffed animals we have all seen cable-tied to the front of dustbin-lorries (why do people do that?) but it comes at the end of a long and arduous battle (goodies against baddy) where he makes approximately seven and a half come-backs, and gets lots of chances to repent from his immorality. Alec Baldwin’s lion was chased away by a ninja Grandma, and we shrugged. But Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear was cable tied to a dustbin-lorry and we thrusted our fists into the air at the perfect justice of it all. Well I did anyway.
Started on 1 Samuel in my Bible in a Year. One wonderful thing about getting older as a Christian is that you get to re-read the stories you were taught in Sunday school and at the dinner table, but you notice details and contexts that were never there when you were seven. For example, today I found out that Samuel’s sons went off the rails and that that was one of the reasons Israel wanted a King, because there was no one to take over from his rule. I remembered that God had disagreed with the need for a king, but not the details.
So many instances like that in the Bible, God advises against it and people do it anyway. The key is to look for those moments in our own lives, it seems so obvious when you read other people falling into those traps, but I do it all the time, and I need to be more vigilant, am I doing something that God has clearly commanded against? That should be the Christian’s prayer, daily, that’s where wisdom comes in, that’s where a Bible in a Year comes in handy, if not essential.
This morning I woke up and had vanilla ice cream. We don’t often have ice cream in our fridge, but two Sundays ago we had guests and Sibyl made apple crumble and you can’t have apple crumble without vanilla ice cream so we bought some and now I’m eating it.