Melancholy and chicken kebabs

Melancholy. What a word. I was discussing its beauty with Judith, a lurker on this blog, this morning. So beautifully… poised, it whispers sweetly of the warm darkness you find deep within a slough of despond. I have recently discovered some new melancholy music (it’s new to me, folks, ok?) in Quasi and Ray LaMontagne. The latter’s album ‘Till the sun turns black’, as if that wasn’t mournful genius enough by itself, includes songs with lines such as:

“I never learned to count my blessings
I choose instead to dwell in my disasters”

Gorgeous. Then there’s Quasi.

“Life is full life is grey:
At its best it’s just OK.
But I’m happy to report
Life is also short.”

Came across Quasi on Cully’s iPod. Cully is a maverick musician/artist who works as an arts staff worker for UCCF. Cully’s iPod is an unplumbed depth of exotic-sounding bands like the Violent Femmes. Exotic, and unheard of, to a boy with a sheltered Church of Ireland upbringing. Anyway, Cully does a good line in quirky songs himself, and played a great set at a gig a few Wednesdays ago. The gig was held in order to raise funds for UCCF’s CU Leaders Training weekend (CULT, as we like to call it) which took place last weekend. I was doing sound at both the fundraising gig and the weekend itself, which is how I came to be in charge of Cully’s iPod. So now you know.

After that gig, I dropped sound kit off at various locations, including my church (where I set the alarm off at about 11.45pm – apologies to any local residents who may be reading), and then stopped off for a chicken kebab, having gone to the gig straight from work and therefore being reasonably peckish at this point. On exiting the kebab emporium at about 12.15am, I weighed up my options. The thing about kebabs is, they leave a bit of a pong (on your clothes, breath, and in the room where you’ve eaten them), often only really noticeable the morning after. So I did the sensible thing and headed down to my mum’s. Mum, of course, was awake. With me in the kitchen and her tucked up in bed, she insisted on holding an inter-room conversation.

– “Did you have a good night?”
– “What?”

– “Did you have a good night?”
– “Yes.”

– “Are you having your supper?”
– “What?”

– “Are you having your supper?”
– “Yes.”

– “Would you not rather eat in the living room?”

Now that is a superfluous and irrelevant question to be asking at 12.25am. No. I feel bad enough for stinking out your kitchen never mind your living room.

– “No, I’m fine here, thanks.”

One Saturday, not long after this, I popped into my mum’s for lunch. No mention was made of the foul-smelling kitchen. Parents can be so forgiving at times. Just as well, really.

Over lunch we discussed funeral plans, cremations and choice of songs for same. Dad fixed his gaze on somewhere unspecifically distant.

– “I would like ‘Crown Him with many Crowns’, and ‘the Irish one’.

– “Whiskey in the Jar?” I volunteered tentatively, but I think he meant ‘Be thou my vision’.

In other sad news, Wiseman has got a girlfriend. What’s more, another friend, Jamie, has just got engaged. I began to wonder if I’m the only sensible/stubborn one left.

Then I remembered DC, and smiled. A cursory glance at him and I feel reassured that I won’t be alone on the singles shelf for some time yet.

Forum, singleness and graffiti, pt II

Ok, Part Two follows. Alyn Jones isn’t the kind of man you keep waiting. Alyn and his wife AJ have just announced they’re having a baby… Alyn bet you’re wishing there was a “Buy it Now” button à la ebay… only another 8 months to go mate, hang in there. Just for you and anyone else who found the second paragraph of my last post befuddling, the post ‘Ovalgate’ might help explain it.

Singleness. I’ve just recently finished reading a book on it – The Single Issue – which is excellent. In it the author explores what it means to be Christian and single, and develops what he calls a ‘practical theology of singleness’. This is much more interesting than it sounds 🙂 He encourages a view of singleness as equal to marriage, in that both have their advantages and disadvantages. He highlights the opportunities available to single people to travel freely and serve God without having to worry about their spouse or family, douses dreams of perfect romantic relationships with a large bucket of water, and revels in the freedom which having no children brings. He also observes that the church is generally more predisposed towards families, and in particular the ‘nuclear family’ which he considers misguided. He talks through the opportunities that a church singles group can bring, while acknowledging the pitfalls and problems associated with them. He himself heads up the singles group at his church.

I was so encouraged by reading the book that I considered writing to him to thank him. So I googled his name, Al Hsu, and up came his blog… complete with a soft focus photo of him, his wife and two children… the Nuclear Family no less… 🙂

What a betrayal. How could he?! Realistically, although this is mildly amusing, it doesn’t dilute the effect of his book at all. (I should probably point out that he was single when he wrote the book!) At no point does he denigrate marriage, he simply encourages a more positive view of singleness than us singles are liable to take left to our own devices. Well, I speak for myself. The book left me enormously encouraged and able to view my own singleness in a much more positive light than I have for years now. I’m sure you’re all delighted for me.

Someone who isn’t particularly delighted with me, for some reason, is the person who’s been leaving messages on my car windows. This began some time ago, when I arrived at my car one morning to find “I LUV U” on the passenger window, written with some unidentifiable substance. Not long after I’d washed that off, it was replaced with a four letter word that you wouldn’t describe as a term of endearment. I washed that off immediately, and just yesterday discovered my car with almost all the windows scribbled on. Bit less legible this time, but I think I made out a five letter term of non-endearment. Please don’t think too hard about these words… Anyway, suffice to say it’s growing a little tiresome. I don’t know whether it’s someone who actually knows me or just has taken a strong dislike to my car. In which case I’m grateful that they’re restricting themselves to plastering the remains of their kebab (or whatever it is) on my windows and not etching the words into the paintwork!

Time for bed. Alyn, let me know if there are any paragraphs here you don’t understand 😉