Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seizing the day

OK - it wasn't quite 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth' when I said I didn't take any pictures at Linsay & Kerron's wedding. In fact I took a few pictures before the event, of the marquee/gazebo in the garden, the empty hall and the florist preparing the church etc. as well as a few pictures in the house as we were all getting ready - such as this one of Lynn putting on Linsay's make-up. But I knew that when the time came for me to get into the wedding car with my daughter any kind of camera was just going to be in the way.
In any case, I also knew that I would not be able to compete with the official photographer for the day, Owen Roseblade.
[Great name that, isn't it? Only if you didn't say it very clearly someone might think you were saying "Havin' a Nosebleed!"]

Well, I'm happy to say that Owen has lived up to his reputation.
As a photo journal of the day it really does capture the joy of the occasion.

Monday, June 23, 2008

O Happy Day!

In reply to those who have asked why so little blogging lately, my excuse has been all the planning and preparation for my daughter's wedding on Saturday (though to be honest my contribution was marginal in comparison to what my wife did.) Apologies also that the above picture was not taken by me but by one of the guests "Chu." I was already wearing two hats as Father of the Bride and as Minister; I didn't want to complicate things further by trying to be amateur photographer as well.
I do have a few pictures taken before the wedding (i.e. when the sun was shining...) but once proceedings got under way I am afraid I was too busy to even think about taking photographs.
It was an absolutely brilliant day from start to finish. Beforehand I had wondered how it might feel walking down the aisle with Linsay then having to conduct the worship. Would I be completely overcome with emotion?
I have to admit that halfway down the aisle there was a brief flutter... but from then on it was just a totally joyful day, helped no doubt by the fact that Linsay and Kerron themselves seemed to be having such a good time.
My task was made easier by the fact that Linsay and Kerron had invited a friend, Andy Flannagan, to lead the praise at the beginning and end of the service and their former employer Andy Reed MP, to read the Bible readings. There was another Andy (Cunningham) in charge of the sound desk - so we almost had as many "Andes" as South America!
The ceremony was followed by champagne in a slightly chilly Manse garden, then a barbecue (cooked outside but eaten indoors) and finally a ceilidh in the church hall, led by "Rule of Three."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Come and worship...

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I rate the activity of shopping slightly below dental treatment in the scale of pleasurable pastimes. In fact, normally, I will do everything in my power to avoid shops altogether.
However, earlier this week, I spent a few days helping my eldest daughter to move house from one part of the great city of Manchester to another part of that same city. I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few days with her before her imminent wedding. I also (believe it or not) enjoyed building up all the flat-pack furniture- a bedside cabinet, a wardrobe and three bookcases. [By the time I got to bookcase number three I was an expert!]
However, it was also necessary to visit some shops during the course of my few days of being a one-man house-removal firm. And one of those expeditions into (for me) virtually foreign territory took us to The Trafford Centre, pictured above.
(I didn't have my camera with me so I have had to borrow a photograph from the Flickr site of Nicola Whitaker )
If you have not seen the Trafford Centre for yourself, you do not know what you are missing. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what I didn't miss!!
Believe me, this is one of the wonders of the modern world.... in a perverse sort of way.
Actually my first thought when we arrived was that somehow I had taken a detour and had accidentally ended up in Disneyworld. Well, for a start there are about 10,000 car-parking spaces. And everything looks like it has been manufactured out of resin. Then I wondered if I might be having an Alice-in-Wonderland moment.

Perhaps some people will find the Trafford Centre, and similar places (if there are any) to be places of inspiration and delight. To me it all seemed tackier than hot bitumen and as tasteful as tofu. (And, again, anyone who knows me will know what I think of tofu!)

Don't get me wrong- the place was utterly spotless and well-maintained, and clearly cost plenty of money to create, but to me it was the most over-the-top extravaganza I have seen in a long time.
In fact, I think that the Trafford Centre is to architecture what the Eurovision Song Contest is to music- i.e. there is some sort of relationship there but I don't quite know what it is.
I wonder what the reaction of some of my Kenyan friends might be to such a place?
But it set me thinking.
What is actually going on here?
Perhaps the explanation is simple: shopping has become a religion.
If the local superstore is the parish church of this new religion, giant retail parks like The Trafford Centre are the cathedrals and temples to the new gods. Like the great medieval cathedrals of Europe, these are places of pilgrimage for the consumer age, a homage to the gods of retail therapy and consumer credit.
The green domes of the Trafford Centre do look a bit like film-set copies of renaissance cathedrals. However, the main entrance is more of a Greek or Roman temple. (It's hard to tell which as all sorts of styles seem mixed up with each other.)
They are certainly places of sacrifice!
I know...
I ended up getting my credit card out too!
_The food hall... or maybe the deck of a luxury liner...