This is another one of those posts that are more for honour’s sake than anything else. Otherwise April 2012 would be an unrecorded blank. Two deaths, one funeral and sundry other factors have made it a quite ridiculously busy month – though not so much that I couldn’t get 15,000 words of the WIP wrote.

So for something to do, here’s one of those quizzes that were all the rage a few years ago. You hardly see them nowadays because probably everyone’s gone over to Facebook. Without further ado, pinched from far too many places on the internet to attribute the source:


1. What is your salad dressing of choice?
Fresh air

2. What is your favourite sit-down restaurant?

3. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
Cold roast chicken

4. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Ham, pepperoni, mushrooms

5. What do you like to put on your toast?


1. How many televisions are in your house?

2. What colour cell phone do you have?
Black, and we call them mobiles over here.

3. How many computers are in your house?
Two desktops, one very old laptop

4. Have any idea how many Megahertz your computer has?
Not a clue


1. Are you right-handed or left-handed?

2. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
My adenoids. They adenoid me.

3. What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A suitcase

4. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?


1. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
As little warning as possible, thanks. Though plenty of warning to fellow road users or anyone else who might be around at the time would be nice.

2. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I would however like to be able to communicate the correct spelling of my surname by some form of telepathy whenever I say it out loud.

3. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
Depends how badly I needed $1000 (right now the answer is not very).


1. How many pairs of flip flops do you own?

2. Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
More like they had a run-in with me – the time about 10 years ago when a drunk guy got into my car at some traffic lights late at night, plastered enough to be extremely polite but unable to remember where he lived and under the impression I was a taxi. Took him to Abingdon nick, which was deserted and locked; a phone at the door put me through to Wantage, where the work experience temp (I presume, from the quality of her advice) advised me just to turn him out again so he could get into someone else’s car, or possibly cause a fatal accident. Not impressed.

3. Last person you talked to?
The senior technical sales executive

4. Last person you hugged?


1. Season?
Depends on the country.

2. Holiday?
USA, September 2002

3. Day of the week?

4. Month?
They all have their plusses.


1. Missing someone?

2. Mood?
Tranquilly post prandial

3. What are you listening to?
Nothing much

4. Watching?
My monitor, would you believe?


1. First place you went this morning?

2. What’s the last movie you saw?
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

3. Do you smile often?


1. Do you always answer your phone?
At work, yes. At home, rarely if I don’t recognise the number, never if the number starts 016something because it will be someone trying to persuade me I was mis-sold PPI. And if I answer anyway and it’s one of those calls where I’ve been autodialled and I have to wait five seconds before someone with a foreign accent notices and hesitantly asks to speak to Mr Jipis, I wait for that slight indrawn breath prior to their speaking and hang up.

2. Its four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
I’ll let you know when I wake up at a sensible hour and read it.

3. If you could change your eye colour what would it be?
If it ain’t broke …

4. What flavour do you add to your drink at Sonic?
What/where is Sonic?

5. Do you own a digital camera?

6. Have you ever had a pet fish?
Yes – I think I got through a few goldfish when I was younger

7. Favourite Christmas song(s):
Sans Day Carol

8. What’s on your wish list for your birthday?
Peace on Earth and gender parity for convention panels.

9. Can you do push ups?
Not well

10. Can you do a chin up?
Never tried, not starting.

11. Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
Oh, excited

12. Do you have any saved texts?
I saved the one Bonusbarn sent the morning after our wedding … until the phone died.

13. Ever been in a car wreck?
Crash, yes. Wreck, no.

14. Do you have an accent?

15. What is the last song to make you cry?
In the name of the Father

16. Plans tonight?
PCC, then sleep. Ideally this will be consecutive but I can’t promise.

17. Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday?

19. Have you ever been given roses?

20. Current worry?
Will the WIP be a success?

21. Current hate right now?
The usual. Spammers. Mediocrity. Fundamentalists. Etc.

22. Met someone who changed your life?

23. How will you bring in the New Year?
I expect by waking up and remembering it’s the New year.

24. What song represents you?
QE2 by Mike Oldfield.

25. Name three people who might complete this?
No way.

26. Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
As long as I could blend in and get back again

27. Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?

28. Does anyone love you?

29. Ever had someone sing to you?

30. When did you last cry?
That is far too raw a question.

31. Do you like to cuddle?

32. Have you held hands with anyone today?
Not yet

33. Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
Age is relative.

34. Do you like pulpy orange juice?

35. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In my dreams, the author of enough successful series that I can go full-time …

Putting my back into it

Anyone remember the case of British Chiropractic Association vs Simon Singh? The former were suing the latter because they alleged his critique of the claims they made for chiropractic had crossed the line into defamation. Personally I was for Simon Singh, on the grounds that (a) the plaintiffs were big enough to take it and (b) science is not determined by running to the courts boo-hooing because the nasty man said something rude. If you’re rich enough to hire enough lawyers to sue the other guy into the ground, that’s probably a good sign that you don’t actually need to.

Let me be clear that I also dismiss some of chiropractic’s more outlandish claims,and I’m not alone. But in so far as the clear and obvious benefit of having your internal support structure correctly positioned so that all the wear and tear on your body is distributed evenly goes, I’ve no doubt about it at all, and I speak from experience.

This weekend was a significant anniversary for me. On 17 March 2002 I took the train down to London to visit the London Book Fair at Olympia. I only remember the exact date because it was a friend’s birthday. I took the Tube from Paddington to Earls Court and then Earls Court to Olympia. We came to a halt, the doors opened, I stood up.

I felt something snap painlessly at the base of my spine – it was as if someone had twanged my belt for a laugh. And then – oh dear Lord, then the pain struck.

I’d had bad backs before, on and off, always set off by small things, usually picking something up. They would last no more than a day, maybe two, and I could get through them. This was worse than any of those, but precisely because I’d got through them before, I did the worst thing possible – I went on with my intended business at the book fair. That wouldn’t have been so bad if I could have just got into a decent stride for a decent time to stretch those twanging muscles. At the London Book fair, one does not stride. And so it got worse and worse and worse.

By the end of the day, when I was back at Paddington and asking the assistant in the health shop there if she had anything that could possibly help – any kind of ointment to rub on – I was almost in tears. I came even closer to tears when she admitted that no, she didn’t. On the train back home I found that if I screwed my coat up into a ball, wedged it into the small of my back and leaned against, it, it gave me a modicum of support that made life a little more bearable. Somehow I got home and lay as flat as I could for the next few days. Costing myself money, because at the time I was freelancing and being paid by the hour.

Finally I went to a chiropractor. He prodded, poked, massaged and jumped up and down on me to make things go creak and crack. He xrayed me and I could barely believe what I saw. My whole pelvis was visibly out of alignment, and had been for years. Thank you so bloody much, ten years of playing compulsory rugby every winter term. Thank you so much, second row. Thank you so much, everyone who didn’t believe me when I told them about my aches and pains!

I’ve been going back at regular intervals ever since and life is so much better. There have been recurrences of back ache, though never quite so bad as the Big One and usually when I really should have known better – picking something up at an awkward angle and twisting at the same time, or (most embarrassingly) within thirty seconds of starting a game of squash with my stepson-to-be. At 10a.m. one Saturday morning, thus writing off the entire weekend at Center Parcs. Other aches and pains, though, seem to have been banished forever. One that I frequently got throughout my teens was a grinding feeling in one hip or another, like something was slicing into the joint whenever I walked. Maybe something was. That’s gone, and I’ve never again got backache simply by standing around, which also had always been a problem.

No, chiropractic won’t cure my hayfever, grant me the power of telekinesis or enable me to time travel, and anyone who finds those harsh facts offensive is welcome to sue. Fortunately my chiropractor is one of the sane ones who makes no such claims, and when faced with something beyond his expertise – e.g. the strained muscle in my arm that just won’t get better – he has no hesitation in telling me to talk to a GP. But I owe him 10 considerably less painful years than I might otherwise have had and I look forward to plenty more.

The Economist meets evangelicals

The Economist has published an article titled Hot and bothered: The rise of evangelicalism is shaking up the established church. It’s evenly reported and balanced yet still begs the question: “um, why now?”, because not a single thing in it is new or in any way newsworthy.

But still, as it’s here …
For all the impression it gives that the reporter might have picked up an old Alpha leaflet and decided to write the story as though it’s breaking news, it is absolutely not a scare-mongering “look out, the Christian Right are coming!” article. Nor is it the kind of Radio 4 report you get, warning that our dearly beloved traditional CofE that no one actually believes in but everyone values as part of our national heritage will wither away and die in the face of these horrible people who actually believe what they preach and want to make it accessible and relevant to everyone else. You know, the kind of thinking that goes “We may gain souls but we’ll lose the Book of Common Prayer, and that’s not a trade-off worth making”.
No, it’s not like that at all. I say, well done The Economist for actually presenting a balanced article on this topic. Albeit one that’s a few years behind the times.
What I have issues with are some of the facts reported in it, which sadly I have no reason to doubt.
1. “Of the 515 people accepted as candidates for ordination in 2010, fully 108 were under 30, up from 74 the previous year.” No doubt true, but I’m agin it. I don’t want children being ordained. I want a clergy who have been soured and stained by real life and can bring some real-world thinking to their job. Not that clergy under the age of 30 can’t do this, of course, and of course they can always get soured and stained on the job, as it were. But. Still.
2. “Many of the rising generation of keen young clerics already make it clear they wish to work in large evangelical churches, ripe for American-style mission, rather than in slums or charming villages where social views are relaxed and doctrinal purity is not prized.” Oh, now here is where I just give a big T.S. to the whinging brats. You go where you’re needed, mate, and it may be you’re needed just as much in Dibley or St Mary Mead as in St Shiny’s Church Plant, Newtown. In fact, probably more so. Get used to it.
Okay, rant over, get on with your lives.