Visit to the Whitworth Art Gallery

(Mon 27-Apr-2015)

I recently had a day to spend in Manchester with my children, so took them to Whitworth Art Gallery. Lauren and I had gone and taken Story once before, while Atticus was in nursery, and she’d been much more interested than I had expected, so I thought we’d go again.

Atticus was looking out of a window when Story called over to him, “Look at this!” – and showed him this:

Dove II, 1997, by Gary Hume

Atticus liked this.

They then saw “Genesis”, by Jacob Epstein, and both talked about “the lady has a baby in her tummy”:

There was an exhibition of work by Cornelia Parker. Atticus like two pieces which were made from Flattened instruments and flattened metal tableware suspended from the ceiling. The children showed no interest in in it, but I enjoyed a piece that was a cast of cracks in a pavement in Jerusalem.

Cornelia Parker’s most famous piece, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991) was on display in its own room. On our previous visit, Story found it scary, and wanted to leave the room straight away. On this visit, Story still said it was “scary”, but was more willing to stop and look. Atticus was fascinated by it, and spent a long time looking at what he could see, and talking to the gallery staff in the room.

“Decoy” (a glass drum) caught Story’s attention last time, and Atticus was interested in it too.

We spent a while looking at watercolours, and Atticus seemed to like any with a river, and one of Lichfield Cathedral.

Atticus also liked Beast XXI, by Lynne Chadwick:

By this point, they were both starting to lose interest.

Mary Kelly, Multi-Story house (2007). I liked this, but didn’t get a good look because the children were getting restless. It has short pieces of writing about feminism on the panels to read and consider.

From here we went outside, where there was an activity for children to make their own pieces of art:

Story hard at work.

Atticus showing off some of his art.




Discipleship is...

(Sun 1-Feb-2015)

Lloyd Cook Potter’s House
Sermon recording

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6 v1-6 ESV

Our call as a church is to make disciples, not churchgoers, converts etc, so: what is a disciple?

  • Follower
  • Believer
  • Supporter
  • Student
  • Often about the hidden things; the test of a person’s faith is what they do in solitude, when no-one is watching

When you pray, when you fast, when you give.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 7 v21 ESV

Salvation is not by what we do, but following Christ does involve doing.

The call to discipleship has to be accepted as the norm for every Christian. And that has to begin with the understanding that we need to learn how to follow Jesus. It does not happen automatically. After all, unless we are convinced that discipleship is the core vocation of the church, it will stay as something that the keen ones, or the committed ones, get involved in. It will be seen as A level Christianity for the ones who are really serious about faith, when most of us feel that we have settled for the GCSE level.
Imagine Church, Neil Hudson.

Discipleship is for all Christians, not an optional extra.

What are the marks of a disciple?

  • Will worship God
  • Obey God.
  • Loves people, forgives people
  • Sacrifices, gives.

Which of these things seems most difficult to you? That may be what God is challenging you on.

Are you a disciple?

Do I worship and obey God? Read the Bible and pray regularly? Give willingly? Yet it is not all about us, it should be about God, a love response, not out of guilt or condemnation.




Overhead at the school gate.

(Fri 9-Jan-2015)

“…and they’re suspecting that she’s got the e. Boli virus”

Parent at a primary school in Stoke-on-Trent.




Five hidden details in Stoke-on-Trent

(Tue 29-Jul-2014)

This post is inspired by the Gizmondo post – 10 Hidden Details in Your City and What They Mean, which was rather America-centric. Here is a more British version – all photos taken by me, in Stoke-on-Trent.

  1. Boot Scraper
    Boot scrapers were mentioned in the Gizmondo post, but they look a little different here to the one they pictured – lots of terraced houses have these built into the wall by the front door, though many are now broken.
  2. Duckfoot
    This is a site for moveable street furniture, mainly deployable CCTV cameras. Part comes up (with a special key) and provides a place for the pole to sit and access to power for the cable that runs up the inside of the pole.
  3. Induction loop
    Induction loop
    These black lines in the road cover induction loops, which detect traffic. They are used to control the timing of traffic lights, whether or not the filter lights come on at some junctions, and to count cars on car parks, for the signs displaying how many spaces are left.
  4. Spinning cone on pedestrian crossing
    Spinning cone on a pedestrian crossing
    The cone sticking out of the bottom of the control box for a pedestrian crossing spins when the light is green for pedestrians. This is to help visually impaired people when the crossing doesn’t beep (if there’s two or more close by, they usually won’t, because it won’t be clear which one is safe), or with a hearing impairment as well.
  5. Renamed Street
    renamed street
    This is particular to Stoke-on-Trent. Streets being re-named probably has happened in other places, but not, as far as I know, on the scale that it has in Stoke-on-Trent. In the early 1950s there was a wide-scale re-naming of streets, because of the way the city grew up out of six towns (and several villages), so there were a lot of duplicates — including 14 different roads called “High Street”. There’s a full list on The example above is Standard Street, Fenton, formerly Wellington Street.




Four things that give Health & Safety a bad name (and how to fix them)

(Mon 26-May-2014)
Sign reading 'caution this sign has sharp edges'
  1. The phrase “Health & Safety”
    Don’t say “for health & safety reasons”, say “because of the risk of…”. Is it a heath risk or a safety risk? What is the danger?
  2. “Health & Safety” being blamed for things that aren’t health or safety related at all.
    Again, don’t say “for health & safety reasons”, give the real reason. If you can’t say what the risk is, why are you calling it a health and safety problem? Many of the cases given in the HSE‘s Mythbuster’s Challenge fall into this category
  3. Being over-cautious
    Most Daily Mail stories fall into this category, as do many of the early cases from the HSE‘s Mythbuster’s Challenge
  4. The Daily Mail.
    Don’t read it. If you read by accident, don’t believe it. If it really happened, remember it probably didn’t happen the way they said it did.




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