Saturday 26 May 2007

Tagged Again

Ok, Jackie has tagged me for the Eight Facts and Habits meme. I was about to protest that I'd done it already, but looking back, I see that I've actually completed the Six Weird Things meme and the Five Random Facts meme, but not the Eight Facts and Habits meme... and just suggesting that you put the two posts together doesn't seem very sporting!

1. I am a book-a-holic. Libraries are a disaster area for me because I hate giving the books back.

2. I adore chocolate... though, since my experiences with the Chocolate Tasting Club, I have become rather picky about what chocolate I eat. This may prove to be my salvation in the waistline department, as the chocolate I now consider to be the best is rather on the pricey side.

3. I am terrible about getting up in the morning. I'm a real night-owl... unfortunately my SD doesn't believe in such things, and I've been told to go to bed earlier...

4. I love computers. I am (unfortunately) old enough to remember the old punch-card computers, and learned how to write simple programs in BBC BASIC. I then "progressed" to the Sinclair Spectrum and became a dab hand at playing "The Hobbit" (one of the earliest examples of computer games) Computers were so unusual back then that, by dint of hogging the school library computer to write quizzes and play games, I was awarded the Library Prize at the end of the Fifth Year (Year 11 in today's money.) I do find it hard to understand why other adults of the same age as myself can be such technophobes. We've had the machines readily available for 25 years...

5. I adore cats.

6. My favourite cartoon is Garfield. A fat cat who hates mornings, and loves coffee, lasagne and pizza. 'Nuff said. The Far Side comes a pretty close second.

7. I really love driving. The major car-crash I had 18 months ago didn't put me off: the three weeks it took me to get a new car were the longest of my life!

8. I love real coffee. I used to have my own percolator in my classroom. Strangely enough, I don't tend to drink as much coffee at home.

Now for the hard bit... upon whom shall I inflict this meme? Ok, the eight lucky people are: Newhousenewjob, Carolina Canonball, Fr. Justin, Fr. Benedict, Mark, Fr. Paul, Jeffrey and Stephen...

Rules: 8 things about you or your habits and then tag 8 people by visiting their blogs...

A Snippet Of Trivia...

Fr. Ray has put up a fascinating little snippet of information:

Amethyst, (a-methusko in Greek), means 'not to be intoxicated'. Therefore a bishop wearing the traditional amethyst ring are stating they are successors of the Apostles.

He also points out that a Partial Indulgence can be obtained by kissing a bishop's ring. What I want to know is, why do the bishops seem to get so embarassed when a member of the laity tries to do just that?

Birmingham, Bloggers And The Oratory

Fr Tim abandoned Blackfen for a day when he was invited to preach at the Birmingham Oratory for the Feast of St Philip Neri... (it's ok, we were left in the capable (and deliciously Trad) hands of Fr. Briggs from Chislehurst.) He also managed to fit in a Bloggers' Convention: Matt Doyle (Lacrimarum Valle) and Fr Seán Coyle (Misyon) joined Fr Tim (among others) at Jackie Parkes' house for a blogging tutorial! Looks like the Catholic Mom of 10 had her hands full!

Fr Tim went armed with his camera, and so I was sure there would be some stunning photos... those Oratorians really do know how to do liturgical !! Sure enough, he has a few posts up: Brummie Bloggers, St. Philip's Chapel, Birmingham Oratory High Altar, Round the Oratory Church and Oratory Hospitality...

By a strange coincidence, I see that Newhousenewjob has posted about her trip to the Birmingham Oratory for the Feast of the Ascension.

Books To Take

As I said before, I like to read over lunch, so I have to decide which books to take with me to Lourdes. The choice is actually harder than it first appears: in addition to bringing something entertaining, size is an issue! Too big a book, no matter how fascinating, and it's not going to make it out of the suitcase: too much hassle carting it around town, especially if one plans to stop at a few little shops after lunch. Too small, and it won't last the week. There is also the consideration that mood plays a part in what you feel like reading...

So, it's worth bringing a variety. But the luggage allowance isn't exactly generous...

Unusually for me, I have a variety of new books to choose from. Normally I buy a couple and then leave well alone until I've finished reading them... and then during SD I ask for suggestions of what to read next. A delay in the delivery of my last bunch, combined with a recent book-buying frenzy, means that I have a whole pile to choose from. Oh, decisions, decisions...

I'm very tempted to take "The Spiritual Life" by Tanquerey. It looks fabulous, but it is very heavy (physically, I mean...) I opened it at random just now, to see if it would be more of a reference work than a "read" (because of the way it is divided into numbered paragraphs) and I was hooked. I was even distracted from blogging!

The next book on the pile which is crying out to be packed is Faber's "Spiritual Conferences" - this has the advantage of being about the right "handbag" size, being about an inch thick.

Then there is a book which is rather relevant to my chosen state in life: "The Mystery of Love for the Single" by Fr. Dominic Unger. I can't remember who recommended that one to me, but it arrived the other day...

...and what about the Holy Father's latest: "Jesus of Nazareth" ! I have a feeling that this one will be coming along too...

Hmmn. I think I might need a bigger handbag...

Final Preparations

Oh wow. Nearly there: and on Monday I shall be here...

It's at this point that the nerves kick in: what could possibly go wrong? So various checklists are running through my head... but not only for myself: as I'm organising the bookings, I sort of feel responsible for the 27 other pilgrims in the group. Last year we didn't experience any problems until the return journey, when, at Stanstead Airport, an over-eager cleric from another group grabbed what he assumed to be his suitcase... it turned out to be the suitcase of a lady in our group. It could have been a lot worse (it could have been the outward journey, which would have caused all sorts of problems) but she was understandably upset.

I like to think that I learn from my mistakes, and occasionally from the mistakes of others, so this year I have prepared little luggage tags... with a great image of Our Lady on them so we have a unique "identifier"!

We're flying to Toulouse instead of Pau this year (I didn't fancy the group taking its chances with RyanAir if anything went wrong... like the increased security checks which paralysed the airports last Summer, so we're flying British Airways) and so the coach journey will be a little longer. I have to remember to pack the DVD in my hand luggage. We're going to be watching Jean Delannoy's "Bernadette" starring Sydney Penny. That should provide a little light entertainment, and give some background before we arrive in Lourdes. On the return journey we will have the second part: "The Passion of Bernadette" to watch. That covers the period St. Bernadette spent in the convent at Nevers.

I'm a little uncertain of the weather prospects: at the moment it looks as though it's going to be ghastly. CNN predicts thunderstorms on Monday and rain on Tuesday, and at a maximum of 12°C I'm going to be cold. Cold and wet. I'll just have to drink plenty of local wine... for medicinal purposes! And pack lots of jumpers.

I also need to decide which books I'm taking with me. I have to choose carefully, as the baggage allowance isn't exactly generous. We're half-board at the hotel, which means that at lunchtime I can mosey off to my favourite restaurant (they do a roast duck to die for!) and read a book. It sounds terribly anti-social, but it is really good to get away for an hour or so.

I doubt that I'll have time to blog while I'm in Lourdes itself. I don't see myself heading straight for the nearest internet café, but you never know! However, I'm almost certain that the Hermeneutic of Continuity will be keeping everyone updated with the latest events.

Friday 25 May 2007

New Order of Chivalry

The Roving Medievalist has founded a new Order of Chivalry. The Militant and Just Bloody Rotten Order of the Torch exists in order to declare war on

"That disgusting relic of the fraudulent, defunct and stinking 'spirit of Vatican II'...."

otherwise known as the "felt banner." I have to admit to a deep loathing for those banners, and also for the limp rags passing themselves off as matching vestments.

There are two degrees of membership: Knights Commander and Knights Companion. Knights Commander qualify by posting a picture on their blog (or emailing one to Jeffrey if they are non-bloggers):

"The picture should show you holding one of the misbegotten monstrosities in one hand and a fire-producing device in the other."

Actual incineration is not compulsory. Knights Companion just need to voice support for the Order. I'm restricted to applying for the latter degree of membership, as my PP appears to have removed any evidence of felt banners... if there ever were any in Blackfen, that is.

The motto of the Order is "The Seventies Are Over, Burn The Bloody Things!"

Pop over and indicate your interest HERE.

UPDATE: As I was one of the first ten to sign up, The Grand Master has made me an honorary Knight Commander. Heheheh...

Thursday 24 May 2007

Too Tired To Blog...

I need sleep. I'll be back tomorrow...

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Quick Prayer Request

If you have a spare minute, I'd really appreciate a prayer or two Thursday and Friday: job hunting! While you're at it, I notice that Fr. Ray's father is unwell, and Fr. Zuhlsdorf has asked for prayers for a private intention...

(The picture, by the way, is of St. Gemma Galgani. She's been mentioned a few times on Fr. Tim's blog, and I'm reading her biography, so when a Google Image Search on the saints in prayer threw this picture out, I figured that a nod was as good as a wink... )

...And I've just spotted that Esther has asked for prayers for her grandmother, Juanita, and the Catholic Warrior, PBXVI asked for prayers for his grandmother as well...

More On Moggies

Another cat post... well, I'm waiting for my nails to dry, and it's in a good cause...

Stephen over at CSSML is still looking for a home for Harry and Boots. I'm getting twitchy, and they're not my cats, so heaven knows what Stephen is going through...

In a combox for one of his posts he wrote:

Hi Mac! No takers yet for moggies & I'm beginning to get a bit twitchy. I'm advertising all this week in the Cambridge Evening News and 10 local weeklies which at has at least prompted one call. The ad refers people to my other (single entry) blog site

Prayers by one and all, please!!

PS Did I mention the reason I can't take the cats to Alton Abbey? It's not that they're mean, just that the Abbot recently took in a Devon Rex refugee. She was in a household of racist mogs who ganged up on her and the Abbot gave her sanctuary. On arrival at the Abbey she promptly disappeared - up the Abbot's chimney. I leave what was involved in the rescue bid to readers' imaginations. Given the colour of their habits, it's just a mercy Alton is not a Cistercian House. While I love my two chaps dearly, they're no saints and I have little doubt they too would gang up pretty effectively on any Devon Rex under the same roof.

At the very least, say a prayer that a good home can be found.

Latest On The Consultation...

Ummm. I think my last email to the HFEA must have struck a nerve. I received a reply today to the first one:
Thanks for your interest in attending the event on the 26th June from
6pm-8pm. The event will be held in central London and we will send you
further details, the venue and a map nearer the time.

Best wishes

And then to the second:
Dear Miss McLernon

Apologies for not responding sooner. It has taken us a while to get on
to this event as we have been doing a number of different events for
this project up to now.

I hope you received my email. We will send you further details, the
venue and a map in due course.

Best wishes

Funny how both replies arrived after I left a message on the answerphone... Oh, and the "number of different events" appears to include telling the Government to go ahead with the hybrids... but they're still "consulting," of course.

It Catches Up With All Of Us...

There I was, tickling Sylvester under the chin, when I noticed it...

...he's going grey! Bunches of his whiskers have turned white, and his muzzle is getting flecked with grey in a salt-and-pepper effect. I forget how old he is in cat years... he was about three when I got him, and he's thirteen now... really brought a lump to my throat!

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Fatherly Advice

I saw this joke over at Vive Jesus! and couldn't resist snaffling it. However, to prevent a whole load of snippy comments about how this could never happen due to the Seal of the Confessional, blah, blah, blah... I took the liberty of doctoring the original a little...

A bunch of seminarians get to practice hearing confessions using each other as pretend penitents, with a priest sitting in on the sessions. The first seminarian hears several "mock" confessions, then the priest asks him to step out of the confessional for a few suggestions.

The priest tells the seminarian, "First, cross your arms over your chest and rub your chin with one hand." The seminarian tries this. The priest then said, "Right, got it... now try saying things like, 'I see, yes, go on', and 'I understand, how did you feel about that?'"

The seminarian repeats the phrases, trying them out. The priest then says, "Now, don't you think that's a little better than slapping your knee and saying, 'No way! What happened next?'"

Monday 21 May 2007


Blogging has been sparse this weekend, for which I apologise. I have had other fish to fry, namely my mobile phone. My initial delight with my not-so-new, all-singing-all-dancing phone has been put to the test this weekend, and I'm just about ready to chuck it out of the window...

First of all, my computer refused to recognise the phone when I attempted to synchronise the two. I put this down to the vagaries of ActiveSync, Windows and Microsoft Outlook having a hissy-fit because I preferred to use Calendarscope, HandySync and Mozilla Thunderbird. I finally managed to sort the problem out by Saturday night (or so I thought) and life carried on, though synchronising was still slightly "sticky."

And then, on Sunday, my phone packed up completely. I phoned O2, only to get through to a particularly gormless individual. He blamed a build-up of static, and suggested that I wipe the SIM card with my finger. When I said I'd already tried taking out the SIM card, he suggested that, umm, maybe I should try another phone... and then he said that he'd just spotted that there was a problem with the network, and they had an engineer on it right now, and if the phone didn't work after 24 hours, to call back... seemed plausible enough. And then a friend phoned my home phone for a chat. From her O2 phone... and I noticed that my Calendar on my mobile was inaccessible... as was my list of contacts...

I rang O2 again... only Customer Services was now closed. It was at this point that I started to get twitchy. I began to realise exactly how much I had come to rely on the mobile as a way of recording everything important... I mean, it's such a handy little thing... I even use it instead of a notebook...

And so I explored the phone a little... and discovered the "re-set to factory settings" option. After dithering for all of five minutes (during which my lack of mobile phone connectivity caused serious withdrawal symptoms) I pressed the buttons. The good news was that the phone now worked...

...the bad news was that all the bits I had put on my phone previously had all disappeared... Like the contacts list. That was easy to put right - I had managed to save my contacts on my home PC. The calendar should have been easy to put right too. Unfortunately, Outlook tried to get too helpful (in an attempt to woo me away from Calendarscope, no doubt) and had copied my calendar when I wasn't looking. So when I synchronised with Calendarscope, every single appointment and all the feast days were duplicated... twice... on my PC as well as on the phone.

I then had to spend the rest of the evening going through my diary and deleting all the duplicate items. I managed to disable the calendar on Outlook, and finally, it's all sorted... well, at least until the next time my mobile decides to throw a hissy fit...

The Secret's Out...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Noble Lady Mulier Fortis the Magnificent of Little Blogging
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Mantilla-twitch to Fr Justin.
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