Saturday, 9 August 2008

Blog Break...

You may have noticed my absence from the blogosphere during the past week. Then again, I could be kidding myself!

I went to the Faith Summer Session, a five-day residential conference organised by the Faith Movement. For quite a few years now, the summer event has been held at Woldingham School, Surrey.

Unfortunately, as Fr. Tim has already noted, Woldingham School is the communications equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle... there are one or two payphones which work with phonecards (no coin-operated phones, as far as I could make out), and that's it. No mobile signals. We say this each year, and each year you find new people who can't quite believe that it is possible to be completely out of range of a phone mast... and you see them wandering around with phones held out as they search for a magic "spot" from which they can phone or text another human being. No Wi-fi. No broadband. I believe that there is a computer made available to the conference organisers (and anyone canny enough to know whom to bribe!) but the connection is worse than useless, and the school's security system blocks sites such as Blogger and Facebook.

It's almost a comfort to realise that the private education system in this country suffers from the same lack of IT support as the state sector...

"But how is it that Fr. Tim managed to blog during the week?" I hear you cry! Hmmphhhh. A very sore point. He sneaked off to the local service station on the M25 and blogged from there. I didn't have my car, so this wasn't an option for me. I didn't have a laptop either, so the car wouldn't have been much use anyway. I did try to check my favourite blogs on my phone when I went to the local pub for lunch, but the signal was still pretty dicey, and then my phone battery ran flat. I had forgotten to pack my charger (I was distracted by my hair crisis!)

The flat battery was more of a problem than you might suppose - it meant that I couldn't get lots of photos as a record of the conference. I did get a few at the beginning. This was the biggest Conference to date, and the chapel was full, which is a sight for sore eyes: all these young people have given up a week of their holiday time to come and discover more about their faith.

There were over 35 priests there for most of the week, nearly all of them young, sprightly and enthusiastic. There were also loads of seminarians present: remember this when next you are told that there is a vocations "crisis" in the Church which means we need to plan for fewer priests. There are plenty of young men who are willing to answer God's call, but if we "plan" for fewer priests, then we forget to make that call heard in the parishes, and so we will get what we plan for!

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Tim for the photos of priests and seminarians. I had absented myself from this particular photo-fest, partly because my camera had died, and partly to ensure that I wouldn't be cajoled into appearing in any photos...

There were over 230 participants, and the atmosphere was pretty fantastic. Each day there were talks, time for questions, discussion groups, and the Liturgy of the Church - Mass, Morning Prayer and Compline each day, the opportunity to attend Exposition and Benediction each afternoon, and a Reconciliation Service on one evening; there was also plenty of free time each afternoon, as well as a ceilidh on one night and an "Entertainments Evening" on another. I can't wait for the Winter Conference!

Monday, 4 August 2008

A Busy Morning...

I had to get up disgracefully early this morning. Not early by school-day standards, but I'm supposed to be on holiday... However, the promise of a Mass in the Extraordinary Form (there you go, Joe, don't say I never read your blog!) was too much of a treat to resist!

Fr. Tim's car had a flat battery (he suffered an "honorary" blonde moment, but I shall be magnanimous and wait for him to admit it on his own blog!) so I helped him to get it started again (ie. I opened my car bonnet and then watched while he did the thingy with the jump leads...) Feeling positively inspired, I drove down to Kwik-Fit to get my air conditioning re-gassed.

I was quoted £45 for re-gassing, and an extra £20 for "de-bugging" to remove all nasty, whiffy bacteria. However, I spotted a poster on the front desk which proclaimed a special offer - "£25 for re-gassing (when you spend £50 or more) or £40 re-gassing and de-bugging (no minimum spend applies.)"

Feeling very blonde, I called the mechanic over. I asked why the price was different from my quote. "Ah, yes Madam... but you see, that's a special offer if you spend £50 or more."

I still didn't quite get it, but there was a potential saving of £25, so I pointed out that, if I had the de-bugging as well there was, according to the poster, no minimum spend.

The mechanic checked the poster. He was forced to admit that this was indeed the case.

I decided to make absolutely sure, and so, in my best "I'm a ditsy blonde who doesn't quite understand that 1+1=2" manner, I asked again, "So, it's £45 to have the air conditioning re-gassed, but £40 to have it re-gassed and de-bugged?"

I think the mechanic was feeling blonde at that point... "Yes, Madam, it would seem so..." he admitted.

"Great!" I exclaimed, "I guess I'll take that option!"

I don't really use air conditioning in the car, but any passengers I have seem to need it.

I then happened to drive past my hairdresser. I noticed it was empty. I looked at my watch. It was still early. I shot in and explained my predicament. She looked at my hair. Trying to be diplomatic, she said that she could see it was "very dark" and not at all suitable... later, once the colour had been stripped out and my usual shade of blonde restored, she admitted that, when ash blonde goes wrong, it goes very wrong...

I shall now go off to Woldingham to recover from the emotional turmoil. Blogging resumes Friday, unless I can find a computer!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Hair Today...

I've tried to put up with the dark ash blonde colour. I've tried to offer it up too. But it's really ghastly.

Fr. Tim has tried to be kind. I suspect he saw my cri de coeur on the blog and decided that it was more than his life was worth to comment. But if the colour was really ok, I'm sure he'd have said so. Instead, when I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the result of my last fiasco, he gave the priestly equivalent of a politician's "no comment!" - namely, a shrug of the shoulders and "I really wouldn't know about that sort of thing..."

I do not have time to go to the hairdresser. Tomorrow afternoon, I am off to the Faith Summer Session at Woldingham. For a week. And then I'm helping on the Faith Summer Break at Woldingham. For a week.

I'm not sure I can stand a whole two weeks of being dark ash blonde.

I have some pre-lightener, which should strip off the ash blonde colour. I can then apply a light blonde colour instead. That's the theory...

The reason I haven't done it already is a simple one: I've had some very bad experiences with hair dye. This makes me a little cautious. Kasia has described her hair disasters, but I think I can trump that...

My worst experience was about 7 years ago. I saw a new hair dye preparation which was advertised as an on-off product... it was permanent, but you could remove it with a special chemical when you'd had enough of it.

I suddenly developed the urge to go aubergine.

How the hell do I know why I wanted to go aubergine?

I went aubergine on Saturday evening. By Sunday morning I hated it. I used the chemical "off" switch. It didn't remove all of the aubergine... I was left with a few pinkish tones...

By Sunday afternoon, I had unearthed a packet of my usual ash blonde colour. I decided to apply this in the hopes that it would cover the slight pink tinge.

It didn't.

Instead, my hair went a rather horrible shade of brown. It looked, to me, like a bad case of diarrhoea. I phoned up a good friend, and poured out my woes. Like all good friends, she tried to reassure me. "Don't panic," she soothed, as I was describing how death was preferable to having to go in to teach while my hair was in such a mess (girls can be awfully bitchy!) By this time it was Sunday evening.

"I'm sure that your hair can't really be that bad... it just looks that way to you, the same way that you think a spot stands out a mile when no-one else can see it..."

I protested that my hair really was a mess. So she suggested that I come round for her to give her honest opinion. "If the worst comes to the worst," she said, "there's an all-night chemist near me, and we can figure out what to do."

I drove round to Angela's house and rang the bell. As she opened the door, her smile of greeting faded.

"I'll get my coat."

So, at 10pm, we went to the chemist to see what hair dye options were available. A pre-lightener and a blonde shade were selected. We then went back to Angela's house. I applied the pre-lightener.

To my horror, the hair went a vivid orange colour. Definitely carrotty. Angela declared that she liked it, but as she also had bright orange paint on her walls, I decided that she was biased.

The blonde shade was then applied. The end result was a mousey-blonde. Mousey-blonde with pink, brown and orange patches. I didn't like it, but it was better than either the aubergine-red, the shitty brown or the carrotty-orange.

By the end of the week, I went to a hairdresser and begged him to put it right. It took six months before the last patches of pink tone finally disappeared.

Hmmmmm. Maybe I need to think this through again...

We've got Mass tomorrow at 7am. I'll see how I feel after that...
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