Tuesday, 28 December 2010

so how was yours?

click to go to the BBC's Nativity homepageAs we shivered through the latest of the Met Office's mild winters, I watched BBC's The Nativity, which was very well made. So well-made, in fact, that it was easy to miss the fact that, during the Annunciation scene in episode 2, Mary (Tatiana Maslany) had no chance to say to Gabriel (John Lynch) her famous fiat of Luke 1:38 - ecce ancilla Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum: "behold the Lord's handmaid, let it be done to me according to your word" or, more prosaically, "yes". It doesn't take much thought to see that the lack of this opportunity presents the Incarnation as little more than a rape.

But that's just my opinion, and some more of my opinion about the Corporation is that it's retreating from its previous head-on assaults on Christianity like Jerry Springer the Opera and In the Spirit of Dhiagilev, a ballet featuring a homicidal, nun-raping Pope pulled from last year's Christmastime schedule, in favour of more insidious misinformation about Judaeo-Christian faith traditions.

Christmas day was good, especially since I'm at an age when you want people to give you socks and deodorant, as it saves you having to buy them! I also got a voucher for WH Smith, which is getting spent on a year's subscription to Reader's Digest. In the evening we watched Toy Story 3, which made me cry - again - before the conservation-porn of Avatar.

It was after Christmas Day that I saw a Nativity display in the window of St Philip's and St Stephen's Church on Cambridge's Mill Road with a notice that put everything in context for me:

click to go to St Philip's and St Stephen's homepage

click to go to St Philip's and St Stephen's website

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Wherever you are, and wherever you want to be, merry Christmas from Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire.

Monday, 20 December 2010

feed the birds

We might be a stony lot at Chez Gargouilles, but when Mrs Ed was feeding the hens today her heart melted when she saw a blackbird looking plaintively at the feeding fowl...

hungry blackbird

...so she put out some food and water for the bird, which was later joined by a robin - I think this snow-silhouette is the robin, but I'm not sure. Can you help?

is it a blackbird or a robin

Keep feeding the birds! Read what the RSPB has to say about it.

On the ninth day of Christmas the Police gave to me...

...advice on how to avoid getting your drink spiked.

click to go to Cambridgeshire Constabulary homepage

This came into click to find out more about E-copsmy inbox though E-cops, through which people in Cambridgeshire can keep up-to-date with the latest policing issues in their area through email.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is running an innovative seasonal crime-prevention drive called 12 crimes of Christmas. Number nine is about how to avoid getting your drink spiked. If you're going out partying this Christmastime, as a former drug-and-alcohol worker I can't recommend their advice enough.

Party-goers are being reminded to keep an eye on their drinks over the festive period.

With Christmas parties and celebration nights in full swing, officers are warning revellers to keep their wits about them. While out in bars and clubs, drinkers are being urged to be on their guard against having drinks spiked.

Christmas is a great time to go out and celebrate with friends and colleagues in pubs and clubs across the county. But it is important to be on your guard and not fall victim to drink spiking.

The most commonly used substance with which to spike a drink is alcohol. Some people will look to take advantage of someone by pouring something into their drink. By following some simple crime prevention advice you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

  • Never leave your drink unattended while you are on the dance floor or in the toilet. Ask your friends or family to look after it for you.click to go to the Twelve Crimes of Christmas at Cambridgeshire Constabulary

  • Never accept a drink from someone you don’t know or trust unless you’re with them when they buy it.

  • Where possible, keep your thumb or hand over the top of your bottle or glass. To reduce the risks of drink spiking, drink from a bottle as it is harder to drop a drug or other alcohol into a bottle.

  • If you start to feel unwell and suffer symptoms such as disorientation, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea or vomiting, tell a trusted friend or relative and seek immediate help.

It is also important to look after your friends, if someone appears to be unusually intoxicated they should not be left alone.

Find out more about E-cops!

Read more:

Department of Transport - Drink Driving: The Facts

Police urge revellers to stay safe (Cambridge First)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Carols by Candlelight

click to go to Canon Keiller's Ridley Hall pageA congregation of hardy souls braved the recent snowfall to attend St Vigor's - Fulbourn's parish church, dating back to Saxon (pre-1066) times - for its annual Service of Carols by Candlelight, led by Canon Jane Keiller (right), Chaplain and tutor at Cambridge University's Ridley College and Steve Mashford, our Licensed Lay Minister.

I hope you enjoy this summary of the service with a few pics and videos of carols (so please be patient if the page takes a wee while loading) - why not sing along?

The Advent Candle was lit as St Vigor's excellent choir started proceedings with the 16th century carol Gaudete - here's Steeleye Span's classic rendition of it on their 2004 world tour:

Advent wreath

The first carol, after Canon Keiller's welcome and opening prayer, was Once in Royal David's City, which is signed here by the Revd Dr Hannah Lewis of DeafClergy.co.uk:

stone bench at the back of the nave

The choir performed Warlock's arrangement of the medieoval hymn Adam lay yBounden, which is performed here by the choir of St Peter's Catholic Church in South Carolina:

candles by a window

The first lesson was The Promise to Abraham from Genesis 22:15-18, led by Steve Mashford:
The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

more candles by a window

Lesson 2 was The people that walked in darkness from Isaiah 9:2,6,7:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

The Choir stepped in again with John Joubert's arrangement of There is no Rose, here performed earlier this year by Vokalensemble Lux Aeterna:

This was followed by the carol Of the Father's Heart begotten, performed by the boys and girls of Years 11 and 12 of St Mary's Academy and College, Kansas, directed by Dr Andrew Childs:

Lesson number three was The Peace that Christ will Bring is foreshown from Isaiah 11: 1-9, and was read by Church Warden Julia Herrick:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

The next carol was It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, sung here by Joni James, in a recording I'm unable to find a date for:

Lesson number 4 was The Annunciation from Luke 1:26-35, 38:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The choir sung Pettman's arrangement of the Basque Christmas Carol The Angel Gabriel, here sung by All Angels on BBC TV's Songs of Praise.

This was followed by the world-famous carol O Little Town of Bethlehem, performed in this clip by the Sunflower Harmony Chorus:

The fifth lesson was The birth of Jesus from Luke 2:1, 3-7:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
The next carol was Withers' Rocking Carol, performed by St Vigor's Choir and sung here by Cambridge's world-famous King's College Choir:

Then followed Hark the Herald Angels Sing, performed in this video by Charlotte Church, while she was still a choirgirl:

Up next was The Shepherds, from Luke 2:8-20:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The choir performed Rutter's arrangement of the Cornish Sans Day Carol, here performed at Alabama's Canterbury Episcopal Chapel:

The congregation joined in for While Shepherds Watched: here's Libera's interpretation on it on Aled Jones's Christmas show:

Lesson 7 was The Wise Men from Matthew 2:1-12:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The next anthem to be performed by the choir was Peter Cornelius' The Three Kings (Die K├Ânige), sung in its original German here by Robert Rice:

Next carol up was As With Gladness, performed here by Loughborough University Choir:

rood screen in the background

After a collection for church funds, the eighth and last lesson was The mystery of Christ's incarnation, read by Canon Keiller and from John 1:1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

St Vigor's Font, in front of the tower

After an Address and prayers by Jane, the final carol was the perennial O Come All Ye Faithful. I can't find one with the traditional descant, but here's a suitably epic rendition of the traditional "big finish" to carol services at a Celtic Woman concert in Dublin:

Have a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Fulbourn!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Linton Neighbourhood Panel

click for South Cambridgeshire District Council homepage
click for Cambridgeshire Constabulary homepage
click for Cambridgeshire County Council homepage
The Linton Neighbourhood [policing] Panel on Tuesday 14 December is being held at The Fulbourn Centre in Fulbourn. Please note that this meeting will start later than usual, at 7.45pm.

The agenda is as follows:

7.45pm-7.50pmWelcome and IntroductionsJohn Fuller, Police Community Engagement Manager
7.50pm-8pmNotes of previous meetingJohn Fuller
8pm-8.10pmYouth Provision in South CambridgeshireKerrie Tonks - Lociality Youth Worker Co-ordinator
8.10pm-8.20pmUpdate on actions taken to address previous priorities - community feedbackSergeant Sandra Davidson
8.20pm-8.50pmCurrent issuesInspector Chris Savage
8.50pm-8.55pmAgreeing priorities for actionJohn Fuller
8.55pm-9pmDates of future panels & closing remarks.
22/03/2011 Linton Heights School
John Fuller

John Fuller
Community Engagement Manager
Southern Division
Parkside Police Station, Cambridge

Notes: The Linton Neighbourhood Policing Panel, as well as Fulbourn and Linton, represents the parishes of West Wickham, Bartlow, Balsham, Teversham, Six Mile Bottom, Fen Ditton, Carlton, Weston Colville, West Wratting, Horseheath, Castle Camps and Shudy Camps.

Click here for information and directions regarding the Fulbourn Centre.

Read more:
Go to the Linton Neighbourhood Policing Team pages at the Cambridge Constabulary website.


Friday, 10 December 2010

Cambridge Creates Christmas

CCC shopfront: a welcoming winter sight
As the great and fearful day approaches, it's increasingly likely that you'll find yourself running about looking for a last-minute present that you forgot - or, if you're anything like me, starting your Christmas shopping.

In Cambridge, a group of locally-based charities have gotten together to open an outlet in Fitzroy Street, near the Grafton Centre. They stock Fairtrade goods sourced from sustainable sources aqnd, in the case of, eg FLACK, goods made by the communities whom the charity serves. (Flack is the successor to the Willow Walker, which was a magazine produced for and by homeless people in Cambridge.)

So why not pop into Cambridge Creates Christmas on Fitzroy Street for something unexpected, possibly so unexpected that it's exactly right? Here are the charities that are represented:

go to Cambridge Link-Up's websiteCambridge Link-Up is a business run by presently and formerly homeless and vulnerably-housed people who believe that a hand-up is better than a handout. They believe that homeless people are a massively untapped resource of skills, creativity, knowledge and experience able to contribute positively to their community. (Their unique tealight-holders have been selling like hotcakes - check them out while you can!)

go to Cards from Africa's websiteCards from Africa is part of the vanguard of a new generation of African businesses, and is based in Rwanda - they have a well-stocked rack in Cambridge Creates Christmas, and their story is well worth checking out.

go to FLACK's websiteYou've just read a mention of FLACK; some of the critically-lauded artwork coming out of this remarkable publishing venture and social enterprise is available in the 2011 FLACK Calendar, available at Cambridge Creates Christmas and from select retailers.

go to Jimmy's websiteJimmy's Night Shelter is based in Zion Baptist Church on the city's East Road; it's named in memory of Jim Dilley, and its logo is a representation of the motorway bridge that served so often as the roof over his head. It's a popular place to volunteer - their 2011 calendar is available at the shop.

click to go to Samamba's homepageDenise from Samamba was the organising force behind Cambridge Creates Christmas. She is part of a family business based in Cambridge and Thailand which produces hand-made jewellery, clothes and accessories. Samamba's brightly-coloured creations help make the shopfront look so inviting on a cold winter's evening, as you can see from the pic at the top of the page, and add fun to the proceedings.

Wintercomfort offers basic amenities, education and recreation to people who are homeless or at risk of losing their housing. They produce high-quality, hand-woven willow coffins which you can ask about at Cambridge Creates Christmas.

So - whether you're buying for somebody who believes that charity begins at home, or who likes to look a little further afield (or any point between) - if you're looking for something special that weighs lightly on your conscience, pop along to Cambridge Creates Christmas!

And if you haven't had a look at any of the webistes yet but would like to, click on any of the logos on the pic from Jimmy's homepage below. Happy travels!

click to go to Cards for Africa
click to go to Samamba
click to go to Cambridge Link-Up
click to go to Jimmy's Night Shelter
click to go to Flack
click to go to Wintercomfort for the Homeless

New Day Centre in Fulbourn

The closure of Home Close Day Centre in Fulbourn has resulted in the formation of a new charity: Fulbourn Day Centre.

click to go to Fulbourn Day CentreThis new charity has been set up by local carers and residents of Fulbourn. The new day centre opened in the Community Room at Chaplins Close (right) on Monday 1 November 2010 but a Coffee Morning was held there on 18 October. The Coffee Morning was staffed by Crossroads Care Cambridge City and supported by local volunteers. Around 40 over 65's from Fulbourn and its' surrounding villages attended this popular Coffee Morning. The idea was people who might like to use the new service get to see the new venue and get a flavour of the service being offered.

One resident, a gent aged 81, one of 18 people from the closing Day Centre who attended said "It was amazing to see so many people here. We didn't think we'd find anywhere where we could meet and keep together as a group".

Another, a lady aged 78 said "This is my first visit to Chaplin's Close and I'm really delighted it's so bright and cosy".

Back in June a campaign was started in Fulbourn to save the Day Centre from closing and a petition was signed by over 35% of the householders in the village. The Parish Council took up the cause in July and with the help of South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council has managed to find an alternative venue and obtain the services of the charity Crossroads Care to provide essential professional support.

click to go to Fulbourn Day CentreFulbourn Day Centre is initially operating on Mondays and Tuesdays from Chaplin's Close (left) and there are already plans to extend the service to other days of the week from other venues in the village.

To find out more or to become a Friend of Fulbourn Day Centre or to be a volunteer
(in particular volunteers needed with transport, fundraising, activities) please mailto:john.rickett@ntlworld.com.

click to find out more about Crossroads Care CambridgeIf you know of someone who may benefit from the use of this service, please get in contact with Crossroads Care Cambridge City.
John Rickett [below]
Save Our Day Centre Campaigner
(Trustee of Fulbourn Day Centre

John Rickett
Read more: Click to go to the Fulbourn Day Centre website

Thursday, 9 December 2010

two and two makes...

click to go to Steve Wright in the AfternoonI've just heard this titbit on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2, where the veteran DJ was interviewing Craig Charles, former Red Dwarf star and now in Coronation Street, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week.

So how long have you been in Corrie - it's about five years now, isn't it?

No, it's almost seven years, I started in May 2006...

And who says numeracy's dead?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

thank you

Having had such a daft accident that I could kick myself - mistaking the top of our stairs for the entrance to the bedroom - I'd like to send out some heartfelt thanks to those who treated me.

scoopFirst of all, to the paramedics and technician of the East of England Ambulance Service, who managed to carry my less-than-insubstantial form down a narrow stairway on a scoop - a cross between a back-board and a stretcher - and did so with good humour throughout. That would have been enough, but they were very reassuring to me and my wife during the ambulance trip. I think I impressed them by not being sick.

When we got to Addenbrooke's ED (Accident and Emergency in old money), the hospital lived up to its reputation for high standards even in a department that can become busier than imaginable in seconds. The nurse who cut off my hair above the cuts (in my concussion I'd prevented the Missus from calling 999 for far too long and clots and hair were basically fused) kept talking to and distracting me and also kept my wife in the loop, despite having to maintain a difficult position at the back of the head-restrainer. After I'd been stitched, a Nursing Assistant took advantage of a quiet spell to clip the rest of my barnet down so I didn't look like a monk with hair-pulling issues. It was a really nice touch that I much appreciated.

I don't wish to leave out the doctor, who I'm sure was very professional, although it's hard to appreciate this when you're having a needle pushed through your scalp. What I'm trying to say is that what impressed me so much were the little kindnesses that can't be counted, ticked off or measured in any other way. I'd like to thank all the ambulance and hospital staff who looked after me.

And to promise my wife that I'll use the landing-light for nocturnal trips to the toilet from now on...


Saturday, 4 December 2010

warmth in the chill: Fulbourn gets ready for Christmas

Although conditions in Fulbourn and Cambridge in general aren't quite Arctic (touch wood), it was still cold enough for gloves and shivers when local electrician Julian Mair, second from the left, and his co-workers donated their time to put Christmas lights on the Copper Beech tree by the village sign.

Julian Mair and friends

The sign, erected for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, found itself adorned as well!

a merry Christmas village sign!

The cold was vanquished by warm cheer when butcher Michael Beaumont opened his shop for a free tasting session, as I think the smiles show.

smiles at the butcher's - click to find out more

Here's Michael - past president of both the Cambridge and District Master Butchers' Association and the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders - with some of his Christmas produce. Do you remember when most butchers' shops looked like this?

Michael Beaumont with turkey - click to find out more

St Vigor's is looking particularly festive, but once you're inside it you realise why former Rector Rhiannon Jones ordered blankets!

St Vigor's - click for website

In the churchyard, sometimes referred to as "God's Acre", a deciduous tree is defiantly holding onto its autumn leaves as if trying to compete with the evergreens, including the yew that stands guard over many English yards.

God's Acre in the snow

However, at the end of the day, it gave a warm glow that melted evening's chill to see that the lights erected by Julian and friends were working just fine!

Fulbourn Christmas lights