Greenbelt Bingo – explained

Yesterday, I mentioned my preoccupation with something called ‘Greenbelt Bingo’. It wasn’t bingo in the traditional sense of the word – it wasn’t about scoring a full house, more a list of things to do/find/observe, with point scores for each. It was the brainwave of my friend Caroline, a veteran Greenbelter, and much of its content was derived from a Facebook status posted a couple of days before the festival:

Greenbelt Bingo statusNote the 37 compressed comments – they were genius. 

[EDIT] Having posted this, Caroline’s sister Alison pointed out that it was a joint idea they’d had sometime ago – she just wasn’t part of the process of producing it as she’s currently working for Medair in the Middle East. Which is a pretty legitimate excuse really!

I then promptly forgot about this activity until I reached mainstage on the first night of the festival and saw Caroline – who promptly handed me a piece of paper, complete with list and rules:

Greenbelt Bingo Rules Not too onerous…

It was genius and a source of much amusement and debate. Friends who were not participating became intrigued and regularly asked to see what else was needed. There was competition amongst competitors (I love a good competition). There were additions – Clare Balding was worth 5 points, particularly as seeing her at the early morning Radio 2 broadcast required a 5.30am get-up. I pondered whether a boy, dressed as an alligator, unicycling would be worth. It even got mentioned at Last Orders – the nightly round up of Greenbelt’s best bits.

Without further ado, here’s my completed form as it looked at Monday lunchtime’s hand-in

Completed Greenbelt BingoJust after handing it over, I realised I’d neglected to add my name to it. Caroline replied that she’d know mine because I’d labelled it ‘Trainee Vicar’ – I explained this was more an illustration of a t-shirt I’d seen that I thoroughly disapproved of, rather than a naming device. However, mine was also obvious, given its highly annotated nature.

Point counting and prize awarding didn’t actually happen on Monday – it was only last night that I discovered I’d scored 71 points and was the winner! So I’ll have to remember that Caroline owes me a pint the next time I see her. Oh, and the debate hasn’t ended – last night’s Twitter feed was consumed with coming up with a family friendly version, and additional options for next year. One person even argued that as the winner, I should do the work. The jury’s out on that one…

Massive thanks to the Ely sisters and their genius initiative for adding a frisson of competitiveness to GB40!

Liz the Licking Vicar – an explanation

The quest to see lizclutterbuck.com become a reality has gathered some pace of late. (i.e. Some important questions have finally been answered, after early September’s dilemmas.) Today, my web designer and I had a meeting at the Royal Festival Hall, working out the answers to some key queries – like colours, banner photos and fonts.

Testing out a font that works perfectly, but may prove to be rather pricey. It’s the website creator’s Macbook & text…

Posting this image on Facebook elicited an exchange that drew to my attention my neglect of the ‘licking vicar’ story. So let me make amends…

Back in April, when we returned to Chateau Duffy for our Easter sojourn, we were graced with Chef Richard’s presence and his amazing culinary creations. One such delight was a dessert accompanied by a particularly yummy cream confection. After scraping my bowl with my spoon, the friend sat opposite me issued a challenge: she would lick her bowl clean if I did too – just so she didn’t feel bad about it. No problem! I duly picked up my bowl, stuck my face in and got to work. I have no shame.

For some reason, no one noticed Rachel the Challenger participating in this activity, yet nearly everyone saw my antics, laughed heartily and took photos. [Sadly the photos taken by someone on my own camera were amongst the few that remained lost even after The Great Memory Card Disaster was resolved.] It resulted in my being awarded the moniker “the licking vicar”, which, in this circle of friends has stuck. When I saw some of this crew in Texas, they wasted little time in sharing the nickname with others – which is slightly unfortunate, given that any mention of it requires immediate explanation.

Needless to say, no matter what the above photo suggests, the licking vicar will not have any place in my new website’s tag line!

Doing a Liz & recreating the Licking Vicar moment on the last night of Chateau Duffy #2.

Great theologians of the past, present and future

This past weekend saw the last Vicar Weekend of the academic year and with it, a day of assessed presentations on great theologians for the first years. It was somewhat stressful – how do you condense a mighty mind’s work into a 30 minute presentation and 15 minute discussion? And, more importantly, how do you make it interesting?

Some groups tried food – the Kierkegaard crew brought in Danish pastries, but sadly we weren’t presenting in the same room as them. However, I think our room was even more creative. The day began with ‘Teresa of Avila, This is Your Life…’, complete with nuns, monks and excellent acting and ended with a John Wesley themed Songs of Praise, involving compulsory hymn singing.

But the highlight – without a doubt – was the group presenting Martin Luther. For a start, there was an abundance of monk outfits; then there was a particularly gross Horrible Histories video clip of Luther’s toilet habits [his fascination with poo was news to me, so I definitely learnt something]; an enthusiastic baptism of a doll; a Luther inspired rap video; a spurious rap reference that only two of us appreciated (“I’ve got 95 theses but the pope ain’t one…”); and finally, and most gloriously, a live performance of the Reformation Polka. Obviously, I had to film it:

That guy with the guitar can be seen leading worship at Soul Survivor this summer. 
I can’t guarantee he’ll perform this number though.

And what of our performance? Well, we’d been allocated Barth, possibly the trickiest of all theologians to present in half an hour – and with the college’s Barth specialist marking us. Even my father, a Barth aficionado, says that reading his work is like walking through the forests of the Bavarian mountains – every so often you find a clearing and a beautiful view, but soon afterwards you’re lost in the forest again. We went with a court room setting and put Barth on the witness stand – I’m eternally grateful that my group consisted of me and two enthusiastic, competent actors. I’m also grateful that my Dad went to a Barth symposium with the excitement of a teenage boy at a rock concert and returned home with a Barth t-shirt (and a poster for his study) meaning that I had an excellent costume for my role as ‘super-geek Barth fan’. I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to dress up in a dress though…

That’s Teresa of Avila and Alex the judge watching Alex as Karl Barth…

I could also include our video interview with Karl Barth, but it’s not very exciting (apart from a brilliant papal infallibility joke), so instead I’ll close this post in the same way we closed our presentation:

Barth may have a reputation for being complicated and difficult to understand, but when stripped down to a basic ethos for doing theology, it is as simple as his summary of Church Dogmatics when visiting Princeton in 1962:  “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

And here is Barth’s Sunday School memory combined with another great 20th Century theologian, Whitney Houston… 

What’s in a name?

Something short and sweet (and previously featured) for today…

You may be aware that Starbucks recently introduced the concept of writing their customers names on their beverages to the UK (despite them doing it long ago in the US). In typical British style, we have been amused, bemused and cynical. People have created coffee pseudonyms; they’ve been encouraged by Radio 4 comedians to use ridiculous names; and generally, we’ve been confused as to why they should need our names in the first place. Sometimes it can be down right hilarious – have you heard the one about the guy who said his name was Voldemort and received a cup labelled ‘He who shall not be named’? Sometimes, it’s downright awkward – my friend Stew’s coffee arrived bearing the moniker ‘Jew’. Hmmm.

Cathryn has decided to give up & become ‘Kate’ at Starbucks.

Today, my Norwegian flatmate Øystein [major achievement in September: learning the Mac shortcut for that interesting little figure] ordered a coffee, gave his name, and discovered he was in fact a genius:

And you’ll notice that that’s not even how you spell Einstein… 

Fabulously, as he left the shop the barista shouted after him “see you Albert!”. Give credit to those comic Starbucks workers… 

It reminded me of a Friday Fun item from last year, which presumably has had a spike in submissions from Britain in recent months – Starbucks Spelling is a Tumblr of images customers have taken of spelling/listening/interpreting fails. Brilliant. Some are plain ridiculous, how can Tommy become ‘Duck’? Others simply illustrate the honesty of a barista who asked the customers name and promptly forgot it (which, quite frankly, is something I’d do in their position).

(It was Claire.) 

Just in case Starbucks feel I’m doing them a disservice, here’s a friendly public service reminder that they’re currently offering half-price Frappuccinos between 3 and 5pm until the 5th June. Make mine a Strawberries & Cream, thanks…

How to be a woman

You may remember that in the autumn I went on a bit of a feminist rant. Having never used the label, my new life as an ordinand in a church which is still divided over women in leadership, it’s now a word and state of mind I have to inhabit. [That post has also become a major issue of contention between a male friend and I – in fact, we had an argument about it while in Paris. I will take this opportunity to apologise for unintentionally labelling him a misogynist. He is not. He’s just a bit of a patronising git sometimes…]

Prior to returning to the French building site, I’d had a bit of a chat with a friend from last year’s trip who had shared some of my ill-feeling about such behaviour. [At this point I feel I’m having a can open – worms everywhere moment with that aforementioned male friend… Ooops.] We got onto the subject of girl power and feminism, which ended with her own mantra for life as a woman:
“Live and let live and don’t get breast implants”
The conversation also included an enthusiastic recommendation of a book that had been languishing on my wishlist for quite some time – Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman.

Serendipitously, it was on offer at WH Smith the following morning, so I snapped it up as ideal holiday reading. It was begun with glee on the Eurostar to Paris and was immediately engrossing. As described on its back cover, it’s part memoir, part rant and that’s a combination which was always going to go down well with me. In the back of the car en route to the Limousin, it amused me so much that passages had to be read aloud to the female friend I was sharing the back seat with – but in hushed tones, not wanting the men in the front to hear. After all, how would they respond to this explanation of how to work out if you’re a feminist:
“Put your hand in your pants.

(a) Do you have a vagina and
(b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist!”

Holiday perfection, right there.

The following day, another friend arrived bearing a copy and we rejoiced at how much we were learning and how ridiculous parts of it were. I was able to question whether she had been shocked/mystified by some of Moran’s revelations – was I the only woman not to have named parts of her anatomy? [No.] Did she agree with the plentiful use of the C word? [No. And I have written about my views on the subject here.] Had she ever gone commando? [No.] The women gathered and discussed feminism in serious and non-serious measures. A Texan builder picked up a copy, read a chapter, and had his eyes opened considerably.

Most amusingly of all, the book helped me overcome some of my more prudish tendencies. As I mentioned when extolling the virtues of Ackroyd’s London Under, we spent an evening alternating between it and Moran’s book – the latter providing some light relief from deaths via cess pits. I read aloud most of a chapter relating to underwear – which culminated in an excellent passage about the trials and tribulations of bra wearing (a subject that’s very close to my heart…). Moran has a manifesto against society’s passion for tiny pants which includes the following hilarious anecdote, which couldn’t really be left out:
“I was on a crowded tube with a friend of mine, who gradually grew paler and quieter until she finally leaned forward, and admitted that her knickers were so skimpy, her front bottom had eaten them entirely. ‘I’m currently wearing them on my clit – like a little hat,’ she said.”

I wasn’t sure I could read it out loud. I’m a trainee vicar. There were near-strangers in the room. Heck, there was a man in the room! But I took a deep breath and read on as if I said such things on a daily basis. [Interestingly, when any of us happened to get to the other C word, we always referred to it as ‘the C word’. Our sensibilities were not to be undone to that extent.]

I don’t agree with everything Moran writes, but it is written in such a way that you understand why she’s done, said and thought what she has. The chapter on her abortion was painful reading – but it is an admirable thing to have written about it in the first place. It isn’t a feminist manifesto in The Female Enuch sense, but it is a logical, coherent (and hilarious) text that illustrates just how ridiculous society’s attitude towards women – and women’s attitude to themselves – can be.