The Reduced Sofa Company

You’ll all be relieved to know that the number of sofas in this house has been reduced to one, thanks to those lovely guys from SOFA.  I highly recommend these people if you have furniture to donate: much cheerier than the British Heart Foundation and far less sniffy than LOROS who won’t even take something if it has a bit of dust on it, these guys set to with a will, undeterred by ink spots and merely concerned with how sturdy the structure was.  Now that’s my kind of recycling.

In the process though, I have found a couple of useful bits of info, to whit Leicestershire and Rutland re-use network (though the website is temporarily offline) which actually carry out repairs and upcycling, and (though they merely give suggestions rather than taking stuff).  It was also suggested I might try the Red Cross who help refugees to set up home (legally, lest any Daily Mail readers should start frothing at the mouth) and any of these would have been my next port of call.  Failing all of them I’d have freecycled the bits as foam cushions and pieces of wood.  I was determined to save it from the tip.

Give that woman a gold star!

I mean it.  I want my gold star.

Now, a propos of all this recycling and retoastering (did I tell you about the toaster?  Possibly not; I’ll get to that in a minute) I’ve started another blog in conjunction with Loughborough Quakers.  It’s all about our efforts to live more sustainably and you can find it here.

Kirk out

The Fast Show?

It may well have escaped your notice that the season of Lent is almost upon us.  Lent is a period of fasting, as is Advent; and whereas people used to fast before the feast, now we forget the fast and fast-forward to the feast.*  And how: Easter eggs are already in Sainsbury’s and Easter is not until April 21st.  It’s not even Lent for another three weeks.

*see what I did there?

Not that most Christians actually fast during Lent.  It’s more common to give something up – chocolate, say, or booze.  The last church I went to had a more imaginative approach to this, suggesting that one might give up TV (we did that and ended up getting rid of it for good) or swearing or being critical (I’ve tried that and it’s really hard.  God, I’m so bad at it.  I’m a terrible person…)  This seems more conducive to spiritual growth than a token avoidance of chocolate, though if one is addicted to chocolate it would be beneficial.

What’s interesting is that while these fasting times of Advent and Lent are largely ignored in a frenzy of chocolate and present-wrapping, the emphasis has shifted.  We still have periods of abstinence, only now the emphasis is on physical health rather than spiritual growth.  And the periods have time-shifted: instead of Advent we have Stoptober for giving up the fags and Go Sober for October for giving up jokes (just kidding: I could never do that.)  Then there’s Dry January alongside all the other post-Christmas health kicks – so instead of December we have October and instead of March, January.  Everything has moved back a couple of months.


But as for actual fasting as in abstaining from food and drink, I think the only folk to do that are the Muslims.  The difficulty of the Ramadan fast varies according to the country and time of year as it takes place from sunrise to sunset and is compounded in hot countries by the need to abstain from drink.  You are nil by mouth: some more zealous Muslims, so I’ve read, even refrain from swallowing saliva.  As for me, I find fasting extraordinarily difficult.  It’s not only the gnawing hunger that gets me, it’s a deep-seated fear which I can’t quite put my finger on: a fear of fainting, perhaps, or more probably a fear of death.  Anyway, since I’ve failed to lose much of the weight I put on at Christmas and am now borderline overweight, I am going to try OH’s watermelon fast.  This consists of eating watermelon.  Fast.  (Just kidding; if you’re trying to lose weight you should eat as slowly as possible.)

Oh, and the sofa should be being picked up today.  I’ll keep you posted on that as well…

Meanwhile just for a laugh, here’s a clip from the actual Fast Show:



Kirk out

Bee-owulf Movie

Strange noises are coming from the laptop next to me: I look over and see that OH is watching a trailer for Bee Movie dubbed into Old English. 

‘What really annoys me,’ says OH when the video is finished, ‘is that they keep saying eu instead of eu.’

‘What instead of what?’  I always get sucked into these conversations and I always regret it.

‘Eu!  Instead of eu!’

‘How dare they?’  I mean honestly, when people don’t even pronounce diphthongs in Old English correctly, what is the world coming to?  Is nothing sacred?  Do Old English vowels mean squat these days?

What with OH remembering Old English, my laptop now has dementia.  It was great to get a free model and after installing a hard drive we booted from a pen-drive (incidentally I wonder what folk from centuries past would have made of those terms?  A hard drive would be a long carriage-ride over rough terrain, and a pen-drive would be something like a whist drive, only for writers.  I ask these questions because I am watching the BBC’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ yet again, and it has set me thinking: how do you explain one age to another?  We have the benefit of history in understanding the past, not to mention its literature and art, but how could we ever explain our age to Jane Austen, should she arrive one day in a Tardis-carriage?  Impossible.)

Anyway, why does my laptop have dementia?  Simple.  We have not yet formatted the hard drive because I don’t know how and because the instructions, as ever, are written in language harder to understand than Beowulf.  It says this:

Please use your arrow keys to select the unpartitioned drive.  Press the appropriate key to create a new partition.  You will be asked to set the size of the partitions.  Use the default amount unless you wish to create more than one.  Select the newly-created partition on which you would like to install the Operating System and press the appropriate key to continue with formatting.

Now to anyone who understands computers this may be clearer than daylight; but whilst I get that you have to select and click and what-have-you, I am hampered by not understanding the terms.  What is a partition and why do I want one?  What does it do?  Why do I need more than one?  Why does Linux need more than Windows?  I know I could just follow the instructions but without this knowledge I feel I’m stabbing at things in the dark and hoping they’ll work.  Why don’t they explain this stuff?

Answer: because they assume you know.  They assume that, since you’ve managed to buy the correct hard-drive for your computer, you will understand the technical terms associated with it.  But that’s a bit like assuming that because you’ve bought a car you know how the engine works.  I think there’s a big gap here and it’s because – according to what I’ve read – Silicon Valley is peopled by young men who don’t have a clue what it’s like not to be young and techno-savvy.  And don’t even get me started on older people and computers…

So, due to the unformatted state of said hard-drive, I am booting every day from a pen-drive.  And the pen drive forgets everything when it shuts down: all passwords, all add-ons, all downloads and attachments – gone.


I suppose I’m just going to have to ask OH to do the formatting thing.

Kirk out

The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name

I was reading an article in the Guardian today about how hard it is to be a Muslim in public life.  You get asked all kinds of questions like, ‘Do you think the state of Israel should exist?  Do you sympathise with terrorists?  What do you think of underage marriage?’  You become the poster-girl or boy for every horrendous act perpetrated in the name of Islam – and in the end you discover, as Nesrine Malik says, that the only way to win the game is not to play.

I can totally sympathise – if not empathise – with this, because it ain’t that easy to come out as a Christian these days either, at least not in Europe.  I would never suggest that Christians get abuse on the level of Muslims – for a start, we’re not easily visible unless we go out looking like these guys (the ones with crucifixes, not the ones with breasts).  Unless we open our mouths and start quoting the Bible, nobody can tell what we are.  But if you want to suck all the atmosphere out of a social occasion and have people edging away from you fast, just try mentioning the G-word.

These days I don’t even say I’m a you-know-what: if anyone asks I tell them I’m a Quaker.  This is partly because it’s more in tune with where I am, and partly because you avoid being blamed by association for everything from colonialism to the inquisition.  Being a Quaker is much more user-friendly because either people don’t know what that means and are interested, or they do know what it means and start talking about chocolate and world peace (usually in that order.)  Being a Quaker is – well, Friendly – and unless your interlocutor is wedded to nuclear weapons or radically opposed to chocolate in all its forms, you’re onto a winner.

Then again, it’s better to stick to the outward actions rather than touching on the inner revelation.  Mention ‘the spirit’ or ‘worship’ or ‘the light’ and people will edge away faster than the tide at Camber Sands (and believe me, that’s fast.)  Why is it so hard to talk about this stuff?  Why are people so hostile to anyone, no matter how tolerant or open-minded, who expresses a faith?  I’m not Billy Graham, for f***’s sake; nor do I think evangelism is a good thing.  Quite the reverse.

Sometimes I can’t help thinking that the evangelists are all atheists now.  Doesn’t Richard Dawkins want to make converts?  Aren’t some of the new atheists more intolerant than the believers?

Discuss.  (Politely, please – rude comments will be deleted.)

Kirk out