Explosive milk

In an effort to be environmentally friendly we are trying to buy our milk in bags (from Sainsbury’s). You buy a groovy little jug that the bags sit in and then pierce them with a cleverly designed spout. The idea is that it saves the world from disappearing under a mountain of plastic milk bottles. We tend to buy a few bags at a time (they are only 1 litre) and freeze some of them so that we have them in reserve.

Anyhoo… one of the bags was being de-frozen, and was standing in another jug. It was a good think that Sally, my wife, had the sense to stand it in a jug as it had sprung a leak. When she was out I came along and saw what had happened. Man thoughts: “That milk bag will be no use in its groovy little jug.” These man thoughts were logical. The milk bag still had large lumps of frozen milk in it while it floated in a gently growing pool of milk at the bottom of the jug. I decided that the sensible thing to do was free the frozen milk and allow it to join the escaped milk at the bottom of the jug.

I picked up a pair of scissors and lifted the bag with frozen milk out of the jug. I forgot that it would be slippery because of the unfrozen milk on the outside and as the bag reached the top of the jug it slipped out of my grasp. Back into the jug (fortunately).

Unfortunately it hit the pool of milk at the bottom of the jug with considerable force and the milk made a violent bid for ultimate freedom. Milk went in all directions. It was like someone had placed an explosive charge at the bottom of the jug. I stood there, dripping in milk, for that second in which I took in what had happened. Then I wiped every surface in the kitchen (and inside the cooker – how???) while reciting a mantra: “bother, bother, bother, bother, bother…” (honestly, that was the mantra).

The thought briefly crossed my mind that I would laugh at this in the future, but I dismissed it as I did not think it very funny at that moment. Well you don’t when milk is dripping off you and running down the fronts of the kitchen cabinets onto the floor. But now I am finding it amusing (even if you aren’t). It seems that things do look different in hindsight than they do at the time. 

The same is true of much darker experiences than a milk explosion. When we are in the midst of them we can’t always see beyond the experience. It fills our view. Afterwards we can look at them differently and see them from a better perspective. In my experience I can see that God has been with me through them, even if I didn’t know he was there at the time. He has been there through the kindness of others, he has been there through their prayers and he has been there going through it with me. 

Perhaps today he got covered in milk too.

Love is… like a Bugatti Veyron!

Do you remember the ‘Love is…’ cartoons? They used to be in the paper and would have some sweet statement that related to the way a man and woman love each other. The example here has the caption: ‘Love is… not asking how much her new dress cost.’ You get the idea. (If you want to see lots of these, visit www.loveisfan.com). I suspect that the original idea for these cartoons came from the Bible – from the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13 that describes love in different ways.

I have the joy of preaching on 1 Corinthians 13 on Sunday morning. That’s the chapter that is often read at weddings and funerals because it is such great poetic literature. I can understand why it is used in that way, but it’s a real shame if that’s all it’s ever used for. Kind of like having a Bugatti Veyron and keeping it in the garage to look at without ever driving it. (For the unitiated, that’s a Bugatti Veyron next to this paragraph – 16 cylinder engine, 1001 BHP, 253.5 mph, you get the idea – for lots of info for petrol-heads visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugatti_Veyron).

I’m in the middle of preparing the sermon now (“So what are you doing blogging rather than writing the sermon?” I hear you shout) and am being blown away by the depth and impact of the passage. It’s a high octane ride all right. It revs loud and clear at you from the first words to the last and takes your breath away.

You shouted at me a moment ago, asking why I am blogifying not sermonising. I am about to put pedal to the metal, but before I do I needed to stop and regain my composure because it’s so exhilirating. The only problem I can foresee is that there is so much in the passage that we may need a very long sermon. Those from my church who read this before Sunday morning have been warned. 

Vrooom, vrooom!

The inner monologue

I was in a meeting earlier this week, talking about websites, and I mentioned this blog. My colleague Lynsey (who tells me she only has fruit tea once or twice a month [update for ‘waiting room-inations’ post]) said that she could not write a blog because she does not have an inner monologue running.

I did not realise that I had one. I have always thought of inner monologues being like JD on the awesome Scrubs* and I didn’t think I narrate my life to myself. However, as I reflected more on Lynsey’s statement (she’s always worth listening to) I wondered to myself whether it was true and had a moment of self-awareness. In wondering whether it was true, was I running an inner monologue? And in typing that question into the blog am I becoming like Carrie from the not as awesome Sex in the City?

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with this. It was just a surprise to realise that it was true and to understand that this probably is what enables me to blogify. It’s actually quite liberating to realise. All that this blog is doing is releasing that inner monologue into the wild to roam free and express itself like Free Willy making his jump for freedom. Jump little thoughts, jump!

examples of JD inner monologues

“I think the easiest way to lose something is to want it too badly… Of course, it doesn’t help if your friend is a diabolical genius.” (When Elliot has foiled his attempt to get together with Molly).

“As Turk and I recuperated from our big chair swap, I wondered what other couples were doing tonight… Did I just refer to Turk and I as a couple?”

Danni: “Sorry. Sometimes I have an inner monologue running through my head.”
JD’s inner monologue: “Inner monologue? Weirdo!”

squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.

Are you fed up with the squeaking yet?

There’s a lady who lives down our street who walks her dog early in the mornings. Not a problem – it’s probably good for her and for her dog. She goes out in her car with her dog every morning (early means before 6am) to take the dog to where the dog gets its dose of walkies. Not necessarily a problem, although I reckon there are nice walkies areas around us within walkies distance.

What is frustrating is that her car brakes squeak. Badly. Very badly. Each morning she eases her car gently down her drive onto the road. Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak… You get the idea. It’s not a nice way to be woken up. It sounds like there’s a mouse with a megaphone outside our window. I find the dawn chorus of tweeting bad enough.

We have spoken about this to some of our neighbours and they hear it too. The funny thing is none of us have had the nerve to go and speak with her about it. Instead we (if they are anything like me) wake up to squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak… and lie there feeling annoyed and irritated. Why don’t I say anything to her?

The coward in me thinks that it is not the best way to introduce myself: “Hello, I’m Nick, please will you sort out your car brakes because they are driving [pun unintended] me mad in the mornings.” How would you react to that? Of course I don’t have to introduce myself like that, but that is how I imagine it when I am awoken by squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak…

She’s almost certainly a lovely lady who has a nice dog and loves it enough to take it to its favourite place every day early in the morning. I keep resolving to go and find out. Maybe blogging about it will motivate me. Perhaps I could take her a gift. WD40 anyone?


The first Fairtrade label was launched in 1988. In the earliest days Fairtrade used to be about buying coffee and tea that was not necessarily to your personal taste preference because of the wider good that it provided for the growers of coffee beans and tea plants. Thankfully that is no longer the case. Now the tea and coffee are delicious and there’s a wide range of teas and coffees from which to choose. I even have a Starbucks coffee on my desk as I type – and they have gone Fairtrade. Add to that Cadbury’s with Dairy Milk and Nestle with KitKat and the mid-morning break has never had such a clean conscience.

It’s not just tea, coffee and the occasional snack. Our church is a Fairtrade church – the lovely tea and coffee people drink after the service is Fairtrade. There are now Fairtrade TOWNS! All manner of fruit and veg are now Fairtrade along with plenty of other food products. I have Fairtrade trousers and jumpers. You can even get Fairtrade pants! There are Fairtrade footballs now too, wouldn’t it be great to see them used at the World Cup – some lobbying needed.

We are in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight. If you want to know more about Fairtrade visit www.fairtrade.org.uk and see what changes you can make that will make a real difference to the people at the wrong end of the supply chain. To quote the blurb from the Fairtrade Foundation:

“Two billion people – a third of humanity – still survives on less than $2 a day. While unfair trade rules keep them in poverty, they face the global challenges of food shortages and climate change too. Conventional trade doesn’t have them in mind. It can’t guarantee them a decent price. And it won’t provide them with a good honest living either. All of us can change this. Together. We can all make a difference. Every time we go shopping. Just one little swap at a time.”

It’s sobering stuff, yet also delightful because the growth of Fairtrade from small beginnings is phenomenal. It shows that while on our own each of us is a tiny ant on the global marketplace, together all of us can make a real difference to the way the world trades and (more importantly) to the lives of people on whom we depend for much of the food and drink that we consume and clothes we wear.

So go on. Think of at least one product you can swap from conventional to Fairtrade and do it.

why ‘nukelear fishing’?

[Interactive bit: imagine the screen scrolling slowly upwards, or use your wheel mouse to create the effect, while singing the theme to ‘Star Wars’]





…I worked as a litigation lawyer. (Yes, I know… boo, hiss and all that). I have within me what I call my Robin Hood Complex. That is not a compulsion to wear tights and hang around in forests, but is a deep-seated desire to see justice for those who need it. So I did a law degree and worked as a litigation lawyer as a way of trying to do that. Not by chasing ambulances or by defending master criminals, but by offering advice and representation to people who needed help.

In the early days of working in that office I muddled my way through dictating letters (I had no idea what to do or how to punctuate verbally for the typists), answering phone calls and processing legal forms. I was supported by different secretaries who were assigned to other lawyers in the office and helped me out in their ‘spare time’. Eventually, however, the time came when I needed my own secretary. I was delighted when the Office Junior, Leanne, offered to do the job. She shared an office with two of the other young secretaries at the firm and it was through her that I acquired a nickname that I rather liked.

Leanne was from the Black Country originally and on one occasion was talking about me to the other secretaries, mentioning me by name: ‘Nick Lear’. Except that with her accent it sounded different to people from South Devon, and they thought she had said, ‘Nuclear’. When they told me I thought it was hilarious, but also secretly was delighted that I had now discovered a great name for use in other contexts:

Video Game High Score Tables. How cool would it look to see

1. Nukelear 15674390 points
2. Joe Bloggs 9086875 points

The fact that I was highly unlikely ever to hit the top of a high score table did not dampen my enthusiasm. A little self-delusion goes a long way.

Email address. I thought it was unlikely that many other people would have ‘nukelear@my isp.com’ so it would be a bit different and a bit of fun.

Screen name in multi-player computer games. The tough-sounding persona behind ‘Nukelear’ would adequately mask my inadequacies, at least until the first action had started.

But, I hear you ask, why ‘Nukelear Fishing’? Well it was initially intended as a pun, based on ‘nuclear fission’ but after a while I decided that it was also representing my attempts to share the good news about Jesus, which he described to someone else as being like ‘fishing for people’.

So now you know.

waiting room-inations

I have a meeting soon. I have finished what I was doing earlier today (writing a sermon) and have got the coffee going for the participants in the meeting (except for my colleague Lynsey who drinks fruit tea. I must boil the kettle soon). I find myself with about 20 minutes before the meeting starts in which to ruminate, cogitate and exfoliate (couldn’t think of a suitable third ‘-ate’ word).

So what to do? If  I start reading a book I will undoubtedly be at a good / important bit when people arrive and will have to put it down, possibly losing my place or at least having to re-read that bit in order to pick up where I left off.

I could vacuum the floors, but I did that earlier (see how I subtly dropped in a bit of housework credit).

20 minutes is not long enough to watch a TV programme I missed while at the conference earlier this week.

I could play with practice some more of my new magic tricks, but when people arrive I will have to put them away hastily otherwise they may see some aspect of the trick they are not supposed to.

I have thought about surfing the web for some illustrations for my sermon, or for some pictures to brighten up the PowerPoint that will accompany it (so people have something nice to look at as they fall asleep). But having just completed the sermon I need to have a break from it before I come back to it afresh.

There’s always Facebook. But I am trying to be more disciplined with myself about how often I go on FB. In my self-designed weaning off procedure, not going on now is good for me (so I can go on for longer later).

It’s also possible that someone will arrive ten minutes early (it happened last time) so I had better not go to the loo now. (Should have thought of that sooner. Rats.)

So what to do? I know. I can always spend the time blogging… [short time elapses as I answer the doorbell. HONESTLY, it rang just as I typed the word ‘blogging’ but it was my daughter not bothering to use her own key.]

The only problem is I can’t think of a witty way to end the blog [cue doorbell].