Small & Beautiful

It’s been a very strange weekend, strange but really great. 

The funniest thing that happened to me happened on Sunday morning in Church and, I apologise now, involved the loo (what is it with me and loos?). I was helping out in the 9-13 group in Planet Kids this week and felt prior to the service I’d better escape to the loo while I had the chance, not knowing the care-takers had left the tannoy on this weekend just for a treat. Without being too graphic let me tell you it’s a little disconcerting to be sitting on the loo whilst being serenaded by Heather Small blasting out of the tannoy asking ‘What have I done today to make me feel proud?’! Still it did put me in a good mood which is always helpful when facing teenagers.

On Saturday some friends and I drove down to Brentwood to attend one of the occasional extended worship events Closer. It was absolutely pouring with rain and the roads were flooded and all we knew was that the Church was down a little country lane somewhere between Brentwood and Ongar. Still armed with my new, super wizzy, pretty sure it could fly the Enterprise phone which has GPS we set off We’d left loads of time because the Sadlers Farm roundabout was going to be closed all weekend so the A127 was going to be completely chock-a-block wasn’t it? Well, as it turned out, no. The GPS was brilliant and directed us expertly down dark, almost flooded country roads until we found the wonderfully clear and brand new Brentwood Vineyard road sign. We arrived so early that we half expected the guys preparing the building to just be getting out of the shower but it was wet and cold so we went in anyway. They were wonderful, very, very welcoming. There was tea, coffee and doughnuts waiting and we were soon chatting away to friends from all over Essex and Kent before the real fun started. Jon Lavery and the band were fantastic and led us in a brilliant extended worship session before Libby from Chelmsford Vineyard spoke and then Dave led the formal part of the evening as Brentwood Vineyard was formally accepted into the Vineyard Movement and Ameila and Lucas were commissioned as their Senior Pastors. It was wonderful though I’ve never seen so many posh dresses and suits at a Vineyard service in my life! The ministry time was completely mind blowing and quite literally life changing for several folk and we then enjoyed a buffet complete with a wonderful home made Commissioning celebration cake before heading home.

On Sunday those teenagers I was talking about earlier were wonderfully creative as we talked about Genesis and the creation, the girls made planets out of paper, tin-foil, fabric, pipe-cleaners and just about anything else they could find while the boys made amazing paper planes the size of jumbo jets by sticking more and more sheets of paper together – ah that reminds me, must order more sellotape. Our discussions included such light-hearted topics as global warming, evolution and science and how the two are not in conflict at all, the wonders of geology, sin, the fact Jesus died for them and ‘who is this God bloke anyway?’, that’s why I love Humaniods, never a dull moment.

www.rayleighvineyard.org.uk

Facebook-The Marmite of the Technological Age.

Love it or hate it I think Facebook is here to stay (now watch those shares crash) but, as a writer, I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the site, much like the way I feel about Marmite.

I hate Marmite, it is disgusting tar looking stuff and actually a waste product from beer making which you can tell from the taste. That is apart from when I’ve got a cold, then it is like Heaven’s own ambrosia. It can actually get through to my taste buds and give me something to taste other than catarrh or Lemsip (yummy, I know, sorry). Spread thinly on buttered toast it is the first thing I reach for, after the tissues.

Facebook is a lot like that, it is a massive, time-eating, blood-pressure raising, completely pointless site where I can find out what my friend’s neighbour’s cat had for dinner or play pointless games mimicking the life I could be leading if I could just step away from the computer. It is the thing I have to guard against if I want to get any writing done and I hate it. Until, that is, I need to check in with my wonderful adopted sister who is studying in Dundee, or to find out what time a party starts or if anyone can have my dogs while I go away, then it is a marvel of the modern age and I wonder how I ever managed without it. I can’t even really blame it for my inability to concentrate on my writing anymore as recently it has actually become a real help.

One of my friend’s children joined Facebook and became my ‘friend’. She is a very forthright child, which is one of the many reasons we love her. She is very keen that I finish my current work in progress, mainly because one of the characters is based on her, so now, whenever we are on Facebook at the same time, she messages me. ‘How many words have you written today?’  It’s become a little tyranny, it makes me write because, if I haven’t made it close to 1,000 words by the time she asks, she demands, not unreasonably, ‘Why are you playing on Facebook then?’

I’m so confused.

Do I hate Facebook because of all the time it wastes or love it because it keeps me in touch with friends who encourage me to write?

Perhaps I should try Pinterest instead.

I’m Ready For My Picture Now, Mr. Photograher.

Twice now, in the past month, I have enjoyed the more public side of being an author. Once at the book signing and then again this week at the Essex Book Festival launch during which I enjoyed talking to visitors about the process of writing, encouraging them to join writing communities and persuading them to take part in our 100 word story competition. I was almost interviewed on Essex Radio (again!), chatted to a local publisher and the leaders of several writing groups as well as suceeding in enticing a local independent book shop proprietor to stock the book I have written with my friend. All in all a wonderful day, but I found myself again contrasting my public side with the private side and revelling in the real joy of an author’s fame, its fleeting nature. At public events I love chatting to people, encouraging them to write, having someone tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my work, even, dare I say, posing for photos, but at least part of the joy of this is the knowledge that, once the event is over and I leave the venue, the people who are now so keen to chat to me would never pick me out in Sainsbury’s. I really enjoy being able to go from known to unknown in the space of a few metres and, last week, I wrote a little poem about it, which I’ve included below. I hope you like it and that you will forgive the cryptic West Wing reference, it was just too hard to resist.

The Book Signing

Sitting here, staring out

Watching people mill about.

I see them as they scurry by

Trying not to catch my eye.

I fiddle with my pad and pen

Trying not to look, and then,

“Excuse me, will you sign my book?”

 

The tension broken, battle commences

With pen-swords and table fences.

To Gill, Marie, Steve and Fred,

Each one a marvel in my head.

Their money spent, curiosity smitten,

They want to read what I have written.

They want to see inside my head,

To visit places filled with dread.

So I smile and sign my name

A hundred times, each one the same.

Next time I look up from this flock

And steal a glance at the clock

Three hours have passed, it’s time to flee

To go right back to being me,

To pass those people on the street

Who queue in hopes that they might meet

This author with her brand new book

Who now deserves no second look.

I smile, I have enjoyed this game

Of fleeting, ephemeral, temporary, fame.

Oh look, I said three things that mean the same.