Friday, 30 September 2011

Team Player

My beloved Manchester City had a Champions League game on Tuesday night against Bayern Munich. Now I know this won't have registered as very important to many of my friends, but if you know me at all or have been following my blog you may understand some of what I'm going to blog about. We lost the game 2-0 which in itself was a little disappointing as we've waited so long to reach this competition and hopefully get through the first stage and into the knockout stage (bear with me non football fans!!). However the most disappointing thing on the night, was the apparent lack of interest displayed by Carlos Tevez. Tevez was a key player for City last season, and helped us win the FA Cup and finish fourth in the League, our best season in the history of the Premiership. However this season we have added to our squad and he has not featured quite so often in the starting 11. On Tuesday he started the match on the bench as a substitute, and then when the manager, Roberto Mancini asked him to take to the pitch he seemingly refused.

Even if you're not a football fan, I'm sure you'll understand the frustration and outrage of the manager and the fans, as they saw him remain seated on the bench when his team needed him on the pitch.

I've always thought of myself as a team player, and this open display of dissent and disregard for his team and manager, from a player I have admired in the past for his work ethic both on the pitch and in training, really through me off guard. Now I know in the scheme of things football or sport is not the be all and end all of life, however having been involved in team sports for much of my life I believe it has taught me a number of life lessons. Lessons about working with different people, about right attitudes and working for the good of the team.

As I've blogged previously I have the privilege of playing in a band, 'The Sound Professors'. As well as giving me a sense of connectedness, playing in the band helps me to practice my sense of being a team player. Only when you are a team player can a band be successful. Only when you listen to one another properly, and are sympathetic to the harmonies, riffs and rhythms being played around you, can you add your own embelishments, improvisations and sounds that fit. Only then can the band play as one and sound fantastic.

I know that when I play in the band I have a sphere of influence and a sphere of concern. I influence how the band sound, and I'm concerned about the overall sound we create.

I believe in life we all have a sphere of influence and a sphere of concern. We all have peers, colleagues, friends, family who we affect by what we say and do. Carlos Tevez, as do many professional footballers, has a significant sphere of influence of his own, over many people. Over young aspiring footballers, as well as long standing faithful fans who may have never played the beautiful game!! Manchester City have suspended Tevez for two weeks and further talks on his future at the club are taking place. I don't know how this will all pan out, but I hope that Tevez will be more aware of his sphere of influence and change his attitudes, so that his sphere of concern becomes wider, and he appreciates the consequences of his actions on his followers.

As a christian I think this sphere of influcence is key to the way we behave and the things we say. The bible has much to say on this subject and in my daily readings today, I read the following from 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 vs 23-24:

"I have the right to do anything," you say - but not everything is beneficial.
 "I have the right to do anything" - but not everything is constructive.
 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

So as christians we have the freedom to behave in any way we like, but we need to consider how beneficial and constructive that behaviour is for the good of those we influence, for the good of the team we're part of, the church, and for the good of reaching people who don't consider themselves christians.

So who are you influencing and are you concerned?

Friday, 16 September 2011

'The Legend'

Some five years ago my brothers and their wives and Wayne and I, organized a surprise party for my Mum and Auntie. Mum was going to be 80 and Auntie 70. It was a great evening and we managed to gather many friends and family they hadn't seen for many years. It was a special night and one I will remember with great delight. I had the opportunity of honouring both these great ladies in my life with a short speech. It isn't often you get those kinds of chances while people are still with you, and it was a wonderful experience to be part of, it gave me a kind of warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Today I'd like to share some more thoughts on my wonderful Auntie who is introduced as Auntie and is considered an Auntie to my friends and is fondly dubbed 'the Legend' with a few close friends!! Her 'real name' is Iris but forgive me for continuing to use Auntie when describing her!!

I have blogged a little about her previously but I wanted to take time today to dedicate this entry to her. 

If you've read my Holiday Highlights blog you will know Auntie joined us in Cornwall for the second week of our holiday. As I've already said it was a very special time and one I will remember for many years to come, we shared many laughs and happy memories. She amazed me as she made her way down the 100 steps to the Padstow Lifeboat station knowing she would have to climb back up them!!

Unfortunately we couldn't use the lift on the left hand side as that was for casualties rescued by the lifeboat!!

On our return home from holiday we had a few housey projects to do, mainly in preparation for our new kitchen which is happening much sooner than originally planned!! So there was lots of sorting and tidying to be done. Now any of you who know Auntie will know that she's a determined woman, and someone who loves nothing more than sorting out and finding a place for everything. As I'm sure I've mentioned in previous blog entries I live with two very messy people, and as hard as I try to have a place for everything and keep everything in its place it's a somewhat uphill battle.

So on our return Auntie and I took the opportunity of Gemma being at pony camp for three days and 'out of the way' to make a start on the mess that was our house!! We worked our way through each room initially creating more know what it's like!! But ultimately ending up with a considerably tidier and cleaner house. Now if I'd been left to do this on my own I assure you I would have given up after the second day maybe but with my wonderful 'duracel powered' Auntie we got to the end and managed to achieve almost everything on the list before I took her back up north.

It is this determined, driven character that has been a true inspiration to me throughout my life. She has always been there for me. Supporting me (and the rest of my family and many friends), and encouraging me. It was only through Auntie that I owned my first bike. We went to the shop together she paid and I paid her back in installments. I was 18 when she funded the £350 it cost for my very first trumpet (in fact the one I still play to this day!). Again I paid her back in installments. She also helped Wayne and I out financially when we were going stir crazy in our one bedroomed flat after 5 years enabling us to move up the property ladder. Again an interest free loan and one that helped us out emotionally as well as financially!! 

She is a straight talker, honest, helpful, thoughtful, kind, fun and hard working. She is a true friend and since mum died has become the matriarch of our family and a central part of all we do.

I know she would say she feels lucky to have us all, and that we all want to spend time with her, but it's down to her that we feel this way. At birthdays and Christmas time the doors in her flat are adorned with warm greeting card messages which are a true testament to the kind, compassionate and thoughtful person she is. She never forgets a birthday and only yesterday we received a hand made thank you card from her for taking her on holiday. I should have been thanking her for all the hard work she'd done in helping me!!

Now I know she will be highly embarrassed about this blog entry as she doesn't like to be fussed over, but you know what Auntie, you deserve it. She doesn't have a computer but I print the blog off for her and send them to her via snail mail so I know she will be reading it!!

Thank you Auntie for all you are and all you've done. I know that losing Mum, your sister and companion, hasn't been easy, but I hope you know we all love you very much and think you are amazing. Thank you for being there for me even when I've not been great company, thank you for standing by me and loving me anyway. Just carry on being you, because we love you just the way you are, you are a true Legend.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Holiday Highlights

Well the Summer seems to have almost left us, although I have to say I'm enjoying the beautiful skies and dramatic cloud formations. That was one of my highlights over the summer, looking at the changing colours and wonderfully mysterious shapes the clouds made. It was probably my best summer for three years. Not because I got an amazing tan, or spent hours basking in warm sunshine on a beach, but mainly I think because I spent quality time with my family.

I had chance to catch up with family in Manchester early on in the school holidays and then Wayne Gemma and myself headed off to Cornwall for two weeks. Gemma spent the first week on a pony holiday (her idea of heaven I think!!) and Wayne and I spent some quality peaceful time together exploring the area in and around Tintagel where we were based. Then towards the end of the week we collected Auntie from Exeter then picked up Gemma and spent the second week altogether. It was fantastic.

It took me back to my childhood when we'd go out for days and enjoy exploring our own country. We even did a train trip. When I was little I loved trains so much I can remember Mum and Auntie taking me into Manchester and getting a train to somewhere (don't know where!!) then we just crossed over the platform and got the train back just so I could go on a train!!! Well we did the same in Cornwall, Bodmin to be precise, only this time it was a steam train, very Harry Potter like!!!

I think probably the only down side was that we had to pack everything because we didn't know what the weather was going to do. But all in all we were lucky and missed getting absolutely drowned!!

I discovered Cornwall. I fell in love with it, with it's crazy roads, wonderful coastline and crashing waves. Beautiful sunsets and pretty villages. We sampled Rick Stein's fish and chips and Wayne and I also experienced his wonderful cuisine at his Fish Restaurant in Padstow. Proper Cornish ice cream and fudge was also a highlight, the stunning view from the apartment/cottage we stayed in made even the coldest dampest day a pleasure. Gemma chose a visit to the Tamar Otter sanctuary one day, which was brilliant. She fed the deer and we all enjoyed just pottering through the woods and hearing all about the Otters and birds of prey they looked after. On our way back from there we stopped off at Jamaica Inn up on the moor. I'm now reading the Daphne du Maurier book and really loving it recognizing the places mentioned in the book.

But the main highlight I think was the trip to the Eden Project. It was amazing, beautiful, spectacular....I'm running out of adjectives now. But the main thing that struck me was the community that exists there. All the staff were friendly and obviously enjoyed working there. They not only worked well together but they were helpful and inviting to us visitors too. They wanted to share their passion for the environment and encouraged me to look at my surroundings in a different light. It was a truly amazing experience and somewhere I would go back to tomorrow if I could.

It's 10 years since the Eden project opened and because of that they held a circus there in the evening which we stayed to watch. It was called the Labyrinth and in the style of Circe de Soleil. Again this was amazing, top quality performances from all those involved which took you on a journey through the Eden project finishing with a finale in the stage area in the centre. We were actually below the trapeze artists and had to keep moving as other acts did their thing in different areas of the arena. The band were fantastic and performed from up in the rafters. A truly excellent experience and one I won't forget in a hurry.

I'm sure I'll remember this Summer for many years to come. Here are a small sample of the photos I took to help me remember!!