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Winter 2012

A free community magazine published by St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury

Holy hosts Enjoy looking for hidden angels in Didsbury’s shops this Advent Plus: • Getting ahead • Michael Caine will go far • More tha just a helping hand • Confessions • Where to now? • A golden summer and more...


Choice Home Tutoring is a professional and personal service which aims to safely find you the best possible tutor. Based in Didsbury, we match the needs of the learner to the most appropriate tutor, someone who can motivate, encourage and drive your child towards achieving their goals. We can help if you’re looking to: n improve knowledge & understanding n prepare for exams n develop confidence n receive ongoing advice For further information please call 0161 434 7045 or 07527 377 502 Email: info@choicehometutoring.co.uk Visit us: www.choicehometutoring.co.uk

Jo Murphy, Director.

Future Workshops GCSE English Revision Workshop • Preparation for AQA GCSE English – ideal for anyone sitting the January 2013 exam • Led by qualified and experienced teachers Monday 17 December 5pm to 7pm

Entrance Exam Workshops • For children in years 4 & 5 • Maths, English, verbal & nonverbal reasoning Wednesday 2, Thursday 3 and Friday 4 January 9am to 12noon Monday 18 to Friday 22 February 9am to 12noon Workshops held at 6 Barlow Moor Road, next to Emmanuel church.


together Winter 2012

Together is a magazine where community, business and church meet. You can suggest articles for our next issue by visiting us online at stjamesandemmanuel.org/together In this issue: 2 4 6 8 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 18 20

Getting ahead More than just a helping hand A golden summer Michael Caine will go far Didsbury Angel Trail The Christmas story Angel Trail form Christmas services Give and it will be given to you Carols with Corrie Where to now? Confessions Beattitude

Executive Editor: Nick Bundock. Editor: John Conibear.

Articles are written by people who live or work in the parish of St James and Emmanuel. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors and are not necessarily the views of the editorial team or the church.

Winter edition, issue 69, published November 2012. Š Parish of St James & Emmanuel, Didsbury. St James and Emmanuel, Parish OďŹƒce, Parish Centre, 6 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6TR. Registered Charity 1131669.

Cover image of angel by Lizzie Finlay.

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Getting ahead Julia Robertson confronts a seasonal condition that can change well-balanced human beings into nervous wrecks. t all starts around October for me. Those early unmistakable signs that simply won't go away. For a short while you can indulge in a little denial, busying yourself with other things. Yet, wherever you go you are reminded of the inevitable. You realise that soon, too soon, you will be wearing different clothes, your thoughts will turn more and more to food and to planning ahead. You will start spending compulsively and, towards the end, eating compulsively. Relatives will have to be contacted. Friends will invite you round for, yes, more food. You will have to decorate, bake, cook, wrap, unwrap, taste, toast and eventually collapse, making sure you avoid being in any of the photos. I write of the condition which dare not speak its name: Pre-Christmas Tension.

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There are, of course, those of us who revel in it. They call it ‘getting ahead’, as if Christmas will only come about by our jumping a series of hurdles before we arrive at 2

our destination, having conferred on ourselves the somewhat dubious qualification of having ‘done Christmas’. “I did it last year” we triumphantly chime, “so this year we'll be going to my sister’s” and we award ourselves the biennial sabbatical.

You will start spending compulsively and, towards the end, eating compulsively. Something seems to have gone wrong somewhere. Yes, we all want to avoid the Martha-like route adopted by my grandmother, which involved being first in the crush of the January Sales to secure next year’s Christmas cards at half-price. Her ‘PCT’ hence lasted a whopping fifty-one weeks. Modern culture advocates the wise men route. Plenty of forward planning, a long steady journey, arrival in best

bib-and-tucker with presents that are not just pertinent but priceless. Enviable perhaps, but think on. Did the wise men really get the best deal on arrival? Some scholars argue that the Christ Child could have been as much as two years old by the time the majestic knock sounded at the door. If my experience of a boy toddler is anything to go by, Jesus would have had the gifts opened and emptied out before the formal introductions, and you could imagine the mess. He would have been out having a wonderful time clambering over the resting camels before his flustered parents located a dustpan and brush. More stress. In fact, we have the wise men to thank for the postChristmas angst of TwelfthNight-and-trees-down-by-mid night malarkey. No, I think I'm with the shepherds on this one. The wise men may have been well organised, but apart from the fabulously energetic Christ Child, there really can't


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have been that many surprises. The shepherds, however, had not done their homework, and were caught completely off guard. What a treat. They got to hear the angels and look up and actually see them – all of them – singing over and over and over again what it was all about. It was sung to them with one of the most beautiful sounds ever heard on this planet. And the light. It was the sort of light you felt you wouldn’t survive it was so all-encompassing. When they closed their eyes and opened them again they were astonished they could still see. They were even more surprised that suddenly they seemed to be able to see even better than before. In fact, all of their senses appeared to have woken up. The cold somehow made everything clearer and the

song seemed to come from somewhere so far away, yet it poured into them like liquid truth. And the truth was so real and so wonderful that it didn't really matter whether anyone believed them or not.

still dark. They got there at the time of quietness and holding before all the craziness started. And they got to go home before anyone else had woken up or anyone else even knew.

And they got to go there straight away. They were first at the hospital, so to speak. They got there while it was

They got there because somehow, without knowing it, they found themselves in the right place at the right time. Stuck in the back of beyond doing a dead-end job. On one of those nights when you fight to stay awake, but even if you get the chance to sleep for a while you can't because it's just too cold. And that was how He came to them. Just as He'd planned. And He'd been planning it for quite some time.

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More than just a helping hand A thriving local charity providing friendship and support, Didsbury Good Neighbours is always looking for volunteers. idsbury Good Neighbours Ltd (DGN) is a volunteer-led scheme formed in October 2009. It serves the needs of those in the local community who are isolated or excluded from day- to-day community life due to loneliness, ill health or mobility issues.

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The scheme has charity status and is funded mainly by Manchester City Council. DGN knows how important it is to establish meaningful relationships and provide reliable volunteers. That is why it is focussed on providing social and creative

activity and befriending services. Ultimately, the objective is to reduce the isolation and loneliness of elderly people in the area who find day-to-day living difficult.  Didsbury Good Neighbours is managed by a committee of


Volunteers are an integral part of the continued success and sustainability of the scheme. local people drawn from business, industry, ward councillors and residents. It is proactive in recognising how best to help residents who are at risk. DGN recruits, trains and supports volunteers to deliver a unique befriending service and to assist and support local people to maintain their independence in their own homes for as long as is possible. It also needs volunteers to help with coffee mornings and transport and the future development of the project. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Marie or Judith: didsburygoodneighbours @live.com judithdidsburygoodneighbours @yahoo.com Follow DGN on Twitter @DidburyGN or visit didsburygoodneighbours.com Didsbury Good Neighbours Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm  Didsbury Sure Start Children’s Centre Didsbury Park Judith: 07891 928571 Marie: 07749 504298

Some DGN Activities Coffee Mornings If you would like to attend or you know someone who would benefit from joining us, please share this information with them. Didsbury Good Neighbours has funding from United Utilities and Simplyhealth to run the coffee mornings. There is hot buttered toast, tea, coffee, newspapers and magazines, plus a lovely atmosphere and opportunity to chat and find out more about what Didsbury Good Neighbours could offer you. Cost £1 per session Computer Classes The computer classes have been a great success and attracted far more interest than we thought possible. There is now a dedicated space at Didsbury Library with the use of 10 internet accessed computers for drop-in sessions. Facilitated by a volunteer from the RSVP, there is plenty of room for new students. If you are interested in the basics, want to brush up on your skills, want to drop in and shop on line or look at comparison websites, learn to Skype or send emails come along on a Wednesday mornings at Didsbury Library at 10am 11.30am and join in. Art Classes Classes are run on Wednesdays from Didsbury Library, 1pm-2.30pm. Aimed mainly at DGN’s target group but open to anyone who wants to ‘have a go’. Facilitated by two talented local artists, why not come along and release the inner creative in you. Cost £3.50 per session Exercise Classes DGN offers weekly exercise classes aimed mainly at our target group but open to anyone who wants to have a go. Delivered by a qualified instructor. Cost: £1.50 per session. There is a small charge to our clients for all transport to and from DGN activity.


A golden summer Paul and Sue Good share their memories of being Games Makers at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. t all started in 2002 with the Manchester Commonwealth Games, when we decided that if an Olympic bid was won by this country, we would volunteer to be a part of the ‘Games’. In 2007, London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and we were among the 250,000 applicants to become ‘Games Makers’.

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Tough interviews were held in 2011 and 70,000 volunteers were accepted, including ourselves as volunteer drivers. Early in 2012, initial training

sessions were held, followed by the collection of ‘Games Maker’ uniforms and specific driver training sessions where we were introduced to the brand new BMW cars and some of the routes we would be using. During the Olympic Games, we were based at Park Lane Depot, which meant our cars were housed in the car park under Hyde Park. This meant a half mile walk from our team base, but we were all ‘Games Makers’ together and didn’t mind the walk, even at 7am! Our role as T2 drivers

meant we were driving members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who were based in the hotels on or close to Park Lane. Paul was assigned to the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and drove delegates to and from meetings and to the Olympic Park in Stratford. Sue had a number of different client groups, such as The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Medical group and the Media group. She also drove delegates to and from meetings, to the Olympic Park and transported a brand new Olympic torch to The British Library. We soon got to know the Olympic Routes, Games Lanes and the location of handy toilets – which proved to be really useful. To enter any of the Olympic Venues meant going through strict security procedures each time both for cars and personnel inside, undertaken by the armed services. Once clients were ‘dropped off’ at the Olympic Park, we were able to park our cars and walk into the park and wait for


them. This allowed us the privilege of meeting the many visitors, enjoying their day at the Olympics and watching the action on the big screens. We had tickets for an early day of action and this allowed us to see live sport and to enjoy the beauty of the park, its wildflower meadows and waterways. Paul’s highlights were driving clients to Weymouth for the sailing and

Paul was driver for Eva Loeffler, daughter of Sir Ludwig Guttman, the doctor who founded the Paralympics. spending the day with the Brownlee brothers after their success in the Triathlon. Whilst he was doing this Sue was waiting to drive Sir Steve Redgrave; however all she got was the car, as he didn’t want to travel anywhere on the designated day.

Olympic action soon gave way to The Paralympics and the need to discover new venues not used for The Olympics. For the Paralympics we were based with our cars at the ExCel Arena, an exhibition complex in East London and Paralympic venue. Despite the distance we had to travel to be at ExCel for 06:00, the superb infra-structure of the Tube and the DLR got us there in time to see the sunrise over the Thames each morning. Paul was designated driver for Eva Loeffler, daughter of Sir Ludwig Guttman, the doctor who founded the Paralympic Games. Eva was ‘Mayor’ of the Athletes’ village and Paul had access to the village on a daily basis, meeting many of the athletes from competing countries. He drove Eva to venues and events, which included painting a post-box gold and presenting gold medals at the Equestrian events, where he saw Sophie Christianson win gold for Team GB.

Sue meanwhile was the designated driver for the head of the International Wheelchair Fencing Association, who, along with his team, were collected daily from the Paralympic Village and driven to the ExCel Arena, for the wheelchair fencing. She saw many paralympic sports including Seated Volleyball, Wheelchair Fencing, Table Tennis and Boccia. The big highlight was meeting and talking to David Cameron on the Tube. The skill and brilliance of the Paralympians was the abiding highlight of the Games, together with the wonderful people we met and with whom we shared our experiences. The Parade of Athletes concluded our adventure and as the last truck passed the Games experience was over and the golden summer seemed to become autumn, but golden memories will live with us for ever. 7


Michael Caine will go far atrick Russell always says he wants to move back to our campus, but I’m pretty sure he won’t. When my office partner Kirstie gets a new job, he rings across from the other campus with a proposition. ‘But I’m already sharing my office,’ I say. ‘With Michael Caine.’ Not so much as a chuckle, so I say not the Michael Caine, and tell him Mike’s a new appointment in Education. ‘If I’d known they were moving him in, though,’ I say, ‘I’d definitely have asked IT to swap Kirstie’s laser printer for my inkjet.’ I laugh, but Patrick still doesn’t.

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Robert Graham has made a new friend.

Robert is a novelist and a lecturer in Creative Writing at MMU.

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Sophie Picton, our resident PostSituationist, pops her head round my door. `Coming to the recruitment meeting?’ ‘I’d like to.’ I roll my chair back from my screen. ‘But they need me at this employability thing.’ ‘Tragic.’ She looks at the outside of my door and points to the new name card where Kirstie’s used to be. ‘Michael Caine?’ ‘Mike? Education couldn’t find an office for him in their block, so…’ I indicate the desk opposite, where an old briefcase of mine sits. I’ve taken to leaving a Word document open on the PC next to it. ‘Actually, you’ve just missed him. He’s teaching.’ Ten days later, Patrick makes a rare appearance at my door. He

asks me how I am, whatever and blah blah blah. He nods at the bare desk opposite. ‘I still haven’t run into this Michael Caine.’ ‘Mike? Giving a paper in Birmingham today, something to do with counselling.’ ‘Really? A guy with that background would be ideal for our Student Staff Committee. Think he might be interested?’ ‘I’ll get him to drop you an email, Patrick.’ I call in a favour with an IT geek – michael.caine@weatherfield.ac.uk joins the email groups of two departments, three programmes and four committees. Mike tends not to be able to make meetings, but the word on both campuses is that his e-contributions are much valued.

He tends not to be able to make meetings. Somebody from Technical Services calls round to do the annual equipment check. Nice older guy, quite chatty. ‘Listen,’ I say. ‘Do you think you could swap these printers? You see, Mike isn’t keen on the laser and I don’t mind having the inkjet.’ At my annual review, Patrick observes in passing that Michael Caine is a good man and will go far. ‘I think he will,’ I say, but I’m pretty sure he won’t.


Didsbury Angel Trail This Advent, you’ll find angels hiding in several shops in Didsbury. Collect the names of the angels and enter the prize draw to win a hamper full of lovely Christmas goodies – all donated by local businesses. Simply pop your completed entry in the special box in Didsbury Library and you’ll also receive a free Christmas booklet. The draw for the hamper will be held on 22nd December outside the library at 2pm, followed by the Nativity story performed by local people for local people. Until then, why not read the Christmas story on the next page and colour in the picture below. We’ve even left a space for you to add your own angel.


The Christmas story O

n 25th December, we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, who was called Christ.

Angels were involved in this world-changing event right from the word go. It all started with an angel visiting Mary and her fiancé Joseph. He told them that God had a grand plan to send his son into the world. But not in a spectacular way, accompanied by armies of angels – he would come as a baby and Mary was to be his mum. Joseph and Mary were stunned by this, especially since God had sent an angel to tell them about it.

A few months later, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to be counted as part of the government census. Though it wasn’t what they planned, that was where the baby Jesus was born. Not far from the city, shepherds were getting on with the business of looking after their sheep. It was freezing cold and they were bored and fed up. Suddenly, from nowhere, an angel appeared in the sky! He told them that he had come to bring good news about a baby born that day. Then, he was joined by loads of angels – all singing praises to God. Wow! Fancy seeing all those angels in real life! We have lots of angels hiding in our shops here in Didsbury, all waiting to be found. Jesus was someone very special and the angels came to make sure people knew that. We can remember just how special he was as we hunt for the Didsbury Angels. 10


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The Angel Trail Find all the angels in Didsbury and write down their names and the shop you found them in. Angel name

Angel name

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Angel name

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Angel name

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We hope you’ve enjoyed hunting for angels throughout Didsbury during Advent. Have you found the names of all the angels? Have you written down their names and the shops you found them in? If the answers are ‘Yes!’, then here’s what you do now: 1. Write down your details below as clearly as possible. 2. Cut along the dotted line. 3. Keep the half with the picture and the Christmas story. 4. Take this entry form to Didsbury Library and pop it in the special Angel Box. Don’t forget to pick up your free Christmas Story booklet. Name .............................................................................................. Telephone ....................................................................................... Address ........................................................................................... ......................................................................... Postcode ............... Email ............................................................................................... The grand draw for the hamper will be held on 22nd December outside Didsbury Library at 2pm. It will be followed by a performance of the Nativity Story by local people for local people. If you have any questions, telephone the Parish Office on 0161 446 4150.

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Thank you


Christmas All year round 21st December

Services every Sunday, plus activities Outdoor Nativity every day of the week in our 2pm at Didsbury Library purpose-built Parish Centre A retelling of the Christmas story in dramatic form. and nearby No6... 22nd December

Nine Lessons and Carols 6.30pm at St James A traditional candlelit festival of music and readings.

...toddler groups, drama groups, youth club, children’s groups, Christmas Eve, children’s parties, wedding 24th December receptions, dance classes, Christingle fitness classes, business 3pm and 4.30pm at Emmanuel meetings, parenting courses, A magical candlelit carol service concerts, community specially for children meetings, film clubs...

Midnight Mass

If you want to join in or book your 11pm at St James own event, then contact Christine on 0161 446 4150 or at A thoughtful, candlelit service office@stjamesandemmanuel.org with traditional carols For the full picture, visit:

Christmas Day, stjamesandemmanuel.org 25th December

Holy Communion 9am St James

Parish Office, Parish Centre, Emmanuel, 6 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury M20 6TR

An uplifting and traditional Christmas morning Communion service

Family Communion 10.30am at Emmanuel A family friendly celebration of Christ’s birth with traditional carols and Holy Communion Registered Charity 1131669


Give and it will be given to you Colin Hardicre is challenged to question his generosity. y mum used to say “It’s better to give than receive.” Maybe she knew that this saying stems from the Bible. Many Bible texts have found their way into modern useage because they carry more than a ring of truth, although they can get slightly distorted. In this case, the actual text says that it is more blessed to give than receive. Slightly different, meaning that the act of giving brings more blessing on us than even being treated generously by somebody. Blessing? From whom? God, if the Bible is to be believed. That means that God blesses us whenever we give generously. If that’s true, what a promise! There’s a huge amount of joyful giving and receiving at Christmas time. But there’s another kind of giving, where we won’t be getting anything in return. For many, giving like this is a way of life, going on all year round, by rich and poor alike. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the

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wealthiest men on the planet, have vowed to give away their fortunes in their lifetimes. At the other end of the scale, many people in faith communities, not just Christian, and often on very modest incomes, give to their churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. Often, they tithe. This means that, instead of only giving if they have anything left at the end of the day, they give away the first 10% of what’s coming in. In other words, they live off 90% of their income and give away the rest. This practice goes back into the mists of time, as a way of real thanksgiving for all the blessings that have been received. Christians are still called to gladly give to their churches and to those in need. You would think that it’s best to get your house in order and clear any debts before starting to give money away. Yet, two people have challenged me to think otherwise. The first was Joyce Meyer.

Whilst leading a Christian conference and talking about tithing, a woman from the audience interrupted her and protested. “I’ll think about tithing when I’ve got out of debt!” Joyce paused and then replied, “Until you start tithing, you’ll never get out of debt!” That made me think. The second was John Kirkby, who founded CAP, the Christian debt management charity. When he helps somebody struggling with debt, he encourages them to consider starting to give, however little, as they begin to get on their feet. Let’s be clear – Joyce and John are definitely not suggesting that somebody in serious debt should start giving a lot of money away, pushing themselves deeper into debt. Yet, both are clearly convinced that something happens when people start to give. They are both Bible believers, so what’s in the Bible that makes them so sure? There are many verses about generous giving, of


which these are just a few: “Good will come to those who are generous.” “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” This is all very well, but is it true? Does God bless us when we give generously? By way of answer, there’s an intriguing true story of a pastor by the name of Rick Warren. He founded a small church about 30 years ago. Back then, he and his wife were tithing 10% of their income but felt called to increase it year by year. By 2012, they were giving away over 90% of their income. Along the way, their church grew to be one of the largest in the world. Rick wrote a book called The Purpose Driven Life, of which tens of millions of copies were sold, generating huge revenues, nearly all of which he gave away to help people in need. It’s possible that all this would have still happened if he had never given anything away, ever. Yet it does confirm what the Bible says. And it does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

Carols with Corrie In late November, Russell Watson, Aled Jones, Jonathan and Charlotte and a host of Coronation Street stars joined the people and clergy of St James & Emmanuel for a festival of readings and carols in the ancient and hallowed walls of St James church.

Shobna Gulati

Sally Dynevor

William Roache

Russell sang O Holy Night with the Didsbury CE Primary School choir, while Jonathan and Charlotte performed their song, The Prayer. The entire service was infused with the Christmas Story, narrated by the stars of the nation’s favourite street.

Everyone can enjoy the service by tuning in to ITV on the evening of Christmas Eve. 15


Where to now? Ali Oxborrow invites you to join her as she explores the challenges of life in a new and dynamic course. ife: the journey that we only get one shot at: a wonderful, yet wounding gift of loss, joy and sorrow. Ever wondered how much of your life you have already travelled? Ever wondered what lies at the end? I’ve made many journeys in my life: developmental ones like the adventure that took me from home to university and independent living; mundane ones like my drive to work and my dashes to Aldi; and my summer holidays which, if I’m lucky, are journeys of delight. But there have been others too – unwanted, unwelcome ones: like my journey into chronic illness; the isolating, private, hidden grief of childlessness and my journey into the crushing disappointment of the failure of deeply held desires. Just as joy and gift touch all of our lives, so life seems to require each of us to take these unwanted sojourns into sorrow. I wonder where life has taken you?

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Perhaps the sorrow of long-term unemployment; broken love; depression; or grief for loved ones lost. These unwanted journeys shape us in profound ways and often leave us asking big questions about the meaning of life. These questions invite us on another journey – to explore the spiritual side to life: is there a spiritual side to me? If God exists what is he like when the world he has made is so full of joy and pain? What lies beyond death and does Christian faith have anything to say into real life? If you have ever asked questions like these then you may be interested in ‘Journeys’ – a DVD voyage of discovery which asks these very questions. It doesn’t offer neat and tidy answers, but rather it offers a chance to hear the stories of ordinary people who have taken some truly amazing journeys: the atheist surfer who journeyed into death, came back to life and now preaches about the love of God; the father who found the strength to forgive the murderer of his six year old daughter and the

Christian nurse who had countless angry questions for God as she worked in Rwanda after the genocide. Each of these people has discovered things about God and themselves which have transformed their lives. Along with others, they share their stories in the hope that they might help us to explore our own questions in what could

Unwanted journeys shape us in profound ways and often leave us asking big questions. be for us a life transforming experience. A number of us will be embarking on this voyage of discovery in January. If you are interested in travelling with us, please get in touch with me, as we would love to have you join us. Ali is team curate at St James & Emmanuel. For more information about the course, call 0161 446 4150 or email office@stjamesandemmanuel.org


One 90 minute session a week for 5 consecutive weeks, beginning week commencing 14th January 2013 • Monday evenings 8:00pm to 9:30pm or • Tuesday evenings 8:00pm to 9:30pm or • Thursday daytime 11:00am to 12:30pm To reserve your place or for more information, contact Ali Oxborrow on 0161 446 4150 or email office@stjamesandemmanuel.org 17


Confessions Anne Britt comes to terms with a serious case of ‘skip envy’. e are on our way to see the puppies next door. I have unashamedly lured my eldest daughter home from her hectic London life with the promise of seeing, and being able to hold, seven wriggling adorable bundles of fur. I feel a bit like a creepy man in a raincoat – but she’s too old to be lured by sweets nowadays, so puppies it is. They are adorable, and the inevitable question comes. “Can we have one mum? I could come and visit?” “No, we already have Muffin – it wouldn’t be fair on her. She’s old and couldn’t cope with a boisterous puppy”. “But Muffin’s boring – she smells and can hardly walk. Oh go on mum, pleeease let’s have one?” Of course, all of this is true. I have recently taken to spraying Muffin behind the ears with a little Dolce & Gabbana eau de toilette just before my gardening class arrive at the house. This is my futile attempt to disguise her vile odour (a combination of fish breath and eye watering fart), but I fear it is having

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little effect. I suspected that this was the case when my Christmas presents from the student lodgers were a scented room candle, and a pack of ‘English Garden’ reed diffusers to, and I quote, “give your home that fresh summer garden fragrance.”

Suddenly, I’m overcome by how much I love her, even though she is old and smelly. As we walk home, downcast and puppyless, I notice that every other house in our road seems to have a skip outside. “It’s a sign of prosperity”, Hannah informs me. “Wherever you see skips it means that people have money to spare and that the road is on the up.” I am often amazed by what she knows and say so. “Speaking of money,” she says (which we weren’t), “could you pay my phone bill this month because I don’t have any?” “But neither do I darling”

I retort weakly, looking at our peeling paintwork and crumbling roof. The truth is that I am now consumed by ‘skip envy’. I too want to have lots of disposable income and a house with a new roof, gleaming paintwork, a new kitchen inside and, most of all, a skip outside to prove it. I share these morose thoughts with my youngest daughter, Ellie, who is cooking in the kitchen. We have only been gone for twenty minutes, but the previously tidy kitchen now looks as if a bomb has hit it. “I like our house just the way it is mum,” Ellie says brightly. I notice that she has used the leg of lamb bought for tonight’s special dinner to concoct one of her ‘experimental’ dishes – usually inedible. “All my friends say they like our house,” she continues. I brighten visibly. “They say it’s great ‘cos it’s so messy you can really relax in it. And the floors are always a bit muddy, so they never feel they have to take their shoes off or mind if they spill something.” I slump. I decide to get some fresh


air – yes, Muffin has just trumpeted again. “Come on old girl – let’s go for a stroll” I bellow at the snoring bundle on the sofa. (Did I mention that she’s deaf too?). Down she struggles and excitedly waddles to the door wagging her tail. She licks my hand

gratefully as I put on her lead. I am suddenly overcome by how much I love her, even though she is old and smelly, how much I love our home, shabby as it is, and how fortunate I am to have so much in this world where so many have so little. I say a

little prayer of thanks to God for it all under my breath, and lead Muffin slowly down the road. Sometimes, the best things that God gives us are right there under our noses all the time – we just need reminding.

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Beattitude Nick Bundock is Rector of St James and Emmanuel

Be Belonging Believing Becoming

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es, I know it’s commercial propaganda on a grand scale, but there is something about the annual John Lewis Christmas advert that tugs at the heartstrings. Last year’s was particularly good; the little boy eagerly counting down the days until Christmas and just when you wondered what amazing toy he was about to receive, your expectations were turned on their head. The little lad jumps on his parents’ bed and thrusts a gift into their hands as the caption appears: ‘For gifts you can't wait to give’. That, frankly, was marketing genius, and combined with nice music was enough to make millions of people burst into tears, or so I hear.

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The BBC and other media outlets have long known that the best headlines are the ones that surprise. ‘Dog bites man’ is interesting, but hardly surprising. ‘Man bites dog’, on the other hand, is funny and surprising all at the same time. So, from advertising agencies through to headline grabbing hacks, it must come as a bit of a shock that the idea of twisting expectations in order to make a good story is nothing new – the Bible is full of such stories. Take

the Christmas story as an example. Just when the whole Jewish world was expecting a Messianic king to overthrow the Roman oppressors, what turns up? Not a warrior, that’s for sure. A baby, that's what, and one lying in a manger and born to a single mum! In fact, read any account of

‘For gifts you can’t wait to give’. That, frankly, was marketing genius! Jesus’ life and what comes up over and over again is a twisting of expectation that results in laughter, surprise and delight. If he hadn’t been so busy being saviour he could have made a fantastic ad man for John Lewis. So when you’re unwrapping the presents this Christmas, just remember that Jesus is the gift God ‘couldn’t wait to give’.


Nicola Owen and her team have been offering quality dental care at The Dental Health Centre for over 20 years in Didsbury village. • New patients welcome. • Cosmetic and routine dental treatment. • Emergencies usually seen same day, even when patients are not registered at the practice. • Special care for nervous patients. • Please contact reception to book your appointment.

Also introducing our NEW Dental Phobia Centre HTo finally overcome your dental fear HSpecial care offered Nicola Owen and her team have successfully managed phobic patients for many years

1b School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6RD t: 0161 445 5459, e: contact@didsburydentalhealth.com w: www.didsburydentalhealth.com


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