Sunday, October 30, 2005

Computers, Churches and Choirs.

So another Sunday comes around and another new Church today. St. John’s Ranmoor was my target and my home for an hour this morning. OK, so I should have been revising for Law 2 on Monday but I think a little down-time is my prerogative!! I am also expecting my best mate (with girlfriend!) for lunch in a bit so this is a quick moment to tap a few more lines.

Whilst in Church I was marvelling at technology and its ability to make the world seem both huge and daunting as well as small and familiar.

But I fear this is a blog to be continued this evening. My Lunch guests have arrived.

Happy Sunday wherever you are,

Friday, October 28, 2005

Spirits on the Up

I write to you in a smelly, unshaven and slightly tired state. Some might put my general grumpiness down to what is popularly called a 'hangover'; I would not be so bold.

Journalists are meant to be exciting, interesting people who live on the edge. This is, at least, how it comes accross on the TV. The reality is lugging equipment up and down hills, getting wet and feeling shattered most of the time. I can see whgy so many journalist like (need?) a good drink at the end of the day! Despite this, the buzz is still incredable and I was sitting at this computer looking at news wires as they came in and getting very excited over how I would cover a story. Journalism for all its labour and poor pay is a wonderful industry to be starting in. So, in the spirit of investigation and with the aim of finding more stories, I always go for a drink post-sing.

Following a couple at The West End pub I found myself in a taxi ... on the way to the conductor's and his wife's house with six other singers. At three thirty this morning I found myself on the lounge floor, on a matress with two other guys. What happened in between is a tad of a blur. Alcohol of various varieties was involved and discussions of everything from music to sex (though the two are closer linked than you would first think!) . A very pleasurable evening. Just a tad surreal. As usual, a mine of stories and I may have found myself a new Church.

That said, these moments are made to make us. At times, letting your hair down is all part of growing-up. It was just good to feel at last part of a group. Over the last few days my life has seemed to come together spiritually, emotionally and journalistically.

One happy bunny signing off,

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

False Expectations and Unforeseen Surprises

I am typing to you from Sheffield today following a weekend where the delights of the M1 were fully investigated. It has, however, been a very pleasurable and thought provoking few days, allowing me even in this brief time to think and digest. Life is a strange thing, when you think about it and throws up all sorts of surprises in ways that you would not predict.

My instant image of Bury St Edmunds is of a town in a rather flat part of the world with nothing much to particularly make it memorable. However, following two editions of 'Songs of Praise' set at the Cathedral, I have been following this town's story for some time so when Bro decided to work there, I was looking forward to seeing the place.

The town is an interesting mix of both the modern and the old but the differences are not often quite as clear as you would first think. The Nave of the church dates back to the 16th century and looks wonderful but the tower dates back to July this year and is yet in total keeping. What initially seems ancient turns out to be anything but. The appearance is almost a lie. I expected Bury to be flat and dull and it was far more interesting than that.

At the same time I had a wonderful time with the family and seeing what Bro was up to in his life. If I am honest, I was not very keen on his church but it was good to see where he worshipped. It was indeed good to see where he worked even if they are celebrating Christmas … in October!! As for Bro’s local … mustn’t grumble as the beer was quite good!!

The time away gave me time to realise that I am a Christian and although I do not subscribe to Bro’s Church’s theology, I do have to live my life according to at least some principles. I need to be honest and open with myself, those around me and my God. God does not accept my second best or a desire to bend the rules. So neither must I, whatever my instincts tell me.

So, as I walked into University today (and made law on time!!) I was listening to music. A work by Nigel Hess I know well having played and listened to it regularly. However, today it sounded Fresh and new. The Clarinet’s counter-melody took on a new life. I felt happy with for the first time in a while.

Play on, I say, play on.

Love, as always,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hello from Bury!!

Well, hello dear Blog readers. I am just typing this from my Brother’s flat in Bury St. Edwards. The wonders of the Internet means that you cannot even escape me when I am miles away. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to know despite the rain and the alcohol, I made it into university for 9am following my 3.30am return! It was a beautiful sunrise …

I’m about to pop off to the Cathedral with its new tower for evensong which should be interesting. One of the Millenium projects that may well be here in another thousand years. Hope for a new generation, it is called.

Following my Blog earlier this week, the news of bird ‘flu in the UK is worrying and I’m sure the Daily Mail will induce panic but one case in quarantine is a long way from an epidemic.

But I leave you with a joke from a friend of mine:

Q: Who was the most successful businessman of all times?
A: Noah … because his company went into flotation whilst all the others went into liquidation.

Apologies and Love,

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Sun Rises on a New Day

I have just got in from a night and as I walked down the road back to the flat I realised that the sky was already becoming light from the sun which was starting to rise. However, there is so much going around in my head that I cannot sleep before I put pen to paper or at least finger to keyboard.

Today has been a long day and started at 0830 this morning with a day of filming continuing until gone 5 (with the shortest of lunch breaks), followed by a quick nap with the Conservative Party election results before a quick sing at Sing Soc and a L-O-N-G drink with Tim including a bop at the Indie night at the union.

However, just as the sun rises on a new day, it acts as a very good metaphore for all that has happened today. I have neither the time (my bed calls) nor the inclination to say all that I mean by this but will jot down a few brief phrases about how I feel.

The filming today very much acted as a start of what I really want to do in life. The journalism and the necessity to deal with any problems that arise was stimulating and exciting. The lugging of equipment, though, was physically shattering. It was truly like a new start. Some three weeks after starting this course, I was out filming a story that my group and I had found, researched and prepared. The development in this cause is so fast.

Then the Conservative Party finally seemed to acknowledge the need for a fresh beginning though what format his will take still remains unclear.

Sing Soc was its normal pleasure and we laughed a great deal. During the post-sing drink Tim invited me to meet up. Thus followed some drunken fun with failed flirting but a gradual realisation of what I want from relationships. Alcohol may not help the head but at times ‘in vino verita’ is most true. I have resolved to take control of my life. Thus, I must get to bed so that I can work on my report in a few hours time.

So as the dawn commences here in Sheffield, I can only hope that other dawns are about to start.

Sunshine and smiles, CJG x

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sex and other diseases …

Well that got your attention, didn’t it! I used that good old ‘The Sun’ technique of using sex to sell. Though, actually ‘The Times’ seems to do it a great deal, as well. This has been a rather busy week and my life seems to have been dominated by the subject as well as many of the other ills that face our society: sex, ‘flu, media obsession and a lack of time to see beauty.

This week’s lectures in Law for Journalists has focussed on Sexual Crimes and I have to look at these laws in some detail. It is, at times, frightening the types of crime that exist and how they affect people in the world around us. I have read news articles that would make your spine shiver. I read the case of Rosemary West’s step-daughter who was repeatedly raped by her uncle. There are several stories of fathers and their offspring which really shocked me. And others I cannot repeat.

The problem with sex is that it’s at the most fundamental level of our being. Sex somehow taps into our more animalistic parts of our bodies. Mankind’s physical desires make us emotionally hurt each other. Sex affects us all on a day-by-day basis and is at times overwhelming. Infidelity, uncertainty and search for love drives us all. I have often wondered why mankind needs to live in pairs. The great whales and lions manage to live in isolation bar mating but humans have to live with someone.

I have also been thinking about what classes as ‘sex’? The lectures talk of a law forbidding ‘assault by penetration’ and the Bible clearly forbids most sexual acts. What about kissing, I wondered? I came to the conclusion that each one of us has to find a comfortable place in our selves: our own, individual moralistic code. In the past, many took the Christian view but today there is no single common rulebook. However, for me, reading the Bible and prayer guides me through moments of uncertainty in my thoughts. Thank God (literally) for that.

Yet, in a world of moralistic confusion, we still hold our leaders to account (he writes trying to move seamlessly into a section on news). All this fuss over David Cameron refusing to say if he has taken drugs is fascinating. The truth is that he was probably too drunk at the time to quite remember. Whoever is the next leader of the Conservatives will be held in high esteem. The British Public are, en masse, wonderful hypocrites. Do as we say (via the press) and not as we do.

At the same time, the press and the public do like a good panic. I had a slight falling out (in the politest, academic terms) about our decision to cover the bird ‘flu story. My argument was that I was bored with it, to which the tutor said that there was a journalistic responsibility not to over-state matters. No cases in the UK, only 60 human deaths world wide and the virus is not quite as dangerous as it first seems. Although it can pass from bird to man, it has not yet adapted so it can move from man to man. Only when that happens should we panic. The Chief Medical Officer’s Prediction of 50, 000 deaths may be accurate but his words should be taken in context. He predicted that many deaths from a ‘flu out break in general (not necessarily avian ‘flu). I also think the government is trying to cause a slight panic here; allowing the highest medical officer in the UK to say that has caused hysteria. As a friend of mine put it – what are they trying to hide at the moment? Though, this is speculation and we have no reason to suspect anything other than over-keen journalists.

So, in the end, what we are looking at is a media-dominated world. The flood damage in the USA, the aid problems in Pakistan and even a minor earthquake in Japan (a friend was stuck in a lift for it!!) barely make our news. A global panic is being set-up which will be followed by a global apathy.

As I write this, I’m listening to ‘Global Variations’ by Nigel Hess. A work which goes around the world musically and the tunes merge seamlessly together the sounds of China, India, the Amazon, Ireland, France, USA and the UK with no problems. Despite any other issues, our world can still be unified by music. I was listening to this as I walked back from a music practice last week and as the tunes unified at the conclusion of the work, I came to the top of the hill and looked out over the outer districts of Sheffield.

Below me was outer-Walkley and Hillsborough. Close to me were the council houses of Walkley, joined to the terraced houses which snaked down into Hillsborough. The golden street lights glistened like stars and the white lights of the football stadium shone out. Behind, the old, golden peaks of the mill towers could be made out and the ancient, green peaks of the Pennines could be sensed (if not actually seen) framing the whole scene. This was like Britain in a nutshell. Its housing and social issues, its entertainment and industry, its historical legacy and natural beauty. All in one view. Despite man’s attempts to destroy itself through diseases of various kinds (sex, ‘flu and media obsession being but a few), this was fantastic and reminded me of all the wonderful things around that I have not seen.

I hope that you, too, can see this view wherever you are,

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ten Days Late But Here's An Entry

I bet you hoped I'd gone away. Well I'm afraid life has just been a bit too hectic. Would love to have the time to tell you all about my failed interviews, attempts at editing, my music, my love life (that’ll be short), lectures on Sex law reporting for journalists and life in general. However, the small task of a law exam tomorrow is a tad of a problem. Revision calls, as does my bad.

So this message is just to say that my MSN and blogspot blogs are now both updated and together as are all my photos.

Some pretentious twaddle will follow soon.

Take care, CJGx

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Waving Madly to Keep Afloat

Another entry on the Conservative Party leadership election, I hear you cry? No, despite the words of the five leading candidates over the last couple of days having suggested ways for the party not to sink in the sea of election loses, I am not referring to this.

As I have said more than once on this blog on more than one occassion, I have often felt like I am sinking, out of control on this course with a lack of experience compared to some of those around me. Well, I am slowly overcoming those feelings even if I feel nervous every time I have to go and interview someone. No, I sometimes feel like the preverbial duck who is constantly treading water but is desperately trying looking calm but the drips of sweat coming off her beak rather gives things away...

Theref0re, turned up at last night's Concert Band feeling better than I have done in a while; gradually though I felt a bit down with the quality of the music that we were acheiving. At the end of the first half, Tim encouraged me to have a go which I did. I went quite well, particularly as I had not conducted for a couple of years. The thing is that the group are of an OK quality and need to be encouraged to actually produce decent music. I just need to be confident and I hope that I can help them out without taking over or treading on someone's toes. But it looks like I may become a conductor of the University of Sheffield Concert Band. wonders will never cease.

So, me. waving arms and desperately trying not to sink. At least I do not have as much to keep up as the Conservative Party!

Happy floating,

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Do I Really Exist?

I have come over all existentialist today after a twenty-four hours where life has become somewhat confused and the hard work has truely set in.

This weekend I ended up feeling a bit down with the sense that everyone had friends/partners bar me. Why is my life so dull, I asked myself self-pittyingly? Then I spoke to Kathryn and Zoe after which I felt much happier. Life may not be exactly how you planned it but in the end it's not half bad. I dreamt that by the end of my undergraduate degree I would be on the fast-track to be the BBC's Man in Paris and ready to settle down with 'the one.' So that may not have happened but I am starting to have a brilliant time here in Sheffield and am slowly building up friends and news contacts.

That said, I am still struggling with the power companies to find out if I actually can pay for the fuel that I am using. Having convinced npower that the flat exists and that I would like both fuel sources with them (I get a £50 reduction), I got a 'phone call telling me that they would have to transfer the gas to them from another company. OK, I say. It would be a politeness they went on to tell the current supplier. So, off this little bunny goes and telephones transco who have no idea who supplied me before. It'll take 10 days to find out.

So, following the confusion over the telephone, the post code and now the gas supplier, it does leave you wondering how this country survives. People and addresses seem to quite literally disappear. There was an estimate that there were hundreds of immigrants who could not be traced in this country and this does not altogether surprise me. It seems quite possible that you do not need much to be able to get power and a life for free.

In a similar sense, I had a very interesting evening yesterday. I went to a rather dreadful Christian Union meeting - the sort which tries to make you feel guilty ALL the time. I have many sins but, I hope, I have some good points too. He seemed to be implying from 1 John that our only defining feature is our sin. Which I found depressing and theologically unsound.

Thus, when Tim texted me suggested a chat after his rubbish day, I willingly agreed. we talked to an Indian lady following a quick curry about British Identity. She seemed to be arguing that there is a risk that Britain could lose her identity if the government did not insist on some sort of restrictions so as to protect our identity. Her argument was that people genuinely have to make an effort to integrate when arriving in the UK. It was a very pleasant evening to say the least.

Therefore, in the last twenty-four hours my existance as a resident of Walkley House, my existence as a 'good' person and my national identity have all been challenged. In the end, I suppose, none of this matters; it is just a bit destabilising but that is the very nature of the world we live in.

I remain, in some form or other,