Besting 500 calories in one gym session….
The future Mrs S best be pleased 🙂
Back in ’94 when Delirious was still the house band for The Cutting Edge, a local youth event run by the Arun Community Church in Littlehampton, doing music full time didn’t look feasible, nor was the possibility of multiple Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. In fact between leading worship at the cutting edge events and keeping up with a hectic schedule of gigs across the UK, the group that would become arguably the UK’s greatest Christian contemporary music exports had to hold down day jobs to keep things ticking.
Song writer Martin Smith recalls being inspired by the seaside of Devon during a family holiday:
We were on holiday as a family. We were in Devon, staying in an old farmhouse. It overlooked the sea and the hills and the mountains. It really was, sit on the edge of a hill, pre-kids, being able to dream a bit more, I grabbed an acoustic guitar. That song just wrote itself in about five minutes.
Almost twenty years since then (seventeen since it made the cut on 1997’s Cutting Edge), it is a song that has consistently ranked amongst the most influential, and widely sung, praise and worship songs, been covered multiple times by artistes as diverse as Mercy Me, Sonic Flood and Hillsong United. Smith, now a solo artist since the disbandment of the band in 2009 still continues to be surprised by how much a simple song, cobbled together in five minutes continues to bless lives around the world. That is perhaps one of the more compelling themes of the Gospel, God’s Providence and Sovereignty in choosing to use things which are not the greatest or brightest and which do not have the greatest back stories to great effect.
In line at my GP’s, waiting for an audience with the receptionist who I want to confirm an appointment with, I find myself growing impatient despite being only the fifth person in line. It looks, and feels, like everyone and their dog opted to stop by today. It is a warm day and there are at least ten people in various stages of repose on the chairs scattered around the waiting room. Inwardly I am cursing myself and my daftness for choosing lunch to do this. At the head of the queue, a large-ish woman engages the receptionist in a conversation of sorts – if speaking two unrelated languages can be classed as a conversation. She, like me, has an appointment to confirm, unlike me she needs an interpreter to pass her query across. The dour, matronly receptionist seems to be at a loss, unable to determine what is an appropriate response besides saying repeatedly ‘The nurse is not in yet, she’ll call for you when she has an interpreter on the line’. Six times and five minutes later, she has made no headway, and the woman has held the line up for all of that time. Our saving grace is the nurse calling out ‘Olga”, allied with a name I can’t recall. Recognising her name, she makes her way to the consulting room to be attended to. Needless to say, I am not at my most gracious at the delay – unnecessarily so.
The GP visit has been occasioned by an unexpected bout of malaise. By my standards, four hours and some of sleep is plenty, but over the last few days even that has been about as attainable as a snow storm in the Sahara. I am hoping to have a chat with the GP, get all my vital signs checked, particularly my blood pressure and gain reassurance that nothing major is amiss.
That malaise ends up being unresolved, at least up until Friday when I get dragged out by my friend Q. for peri-peri chicken at Nandos. On a slightly positive, it provides ample material for my return to the3six5NG
In other, even more positive news, it is 8 days to the Hillsong Conference Europe, and I am preparing – by listening over and over to Louie Giglio’s message from Passion 2013 as well as Judah Smith’s and bobbing along to Glorious Ruins. Over the weekend, I got confirmation that my friend E who I haven’t seen since the back end of last year will be attending, even more incentive to look forward to some time away from the ‘Deen since my quick trip to Nigeria in February.
I was the first person in, just before 4.00pm. I had no choice but to RSVP in the affirmative when my friend O.’s invite to his house warming party finally arrived, largely because I had
harassed encouraged him strongly into putting it together. He had just bought a house on the other side of town, and starved of hanging out time, I’d seized upon that as an excuse to badger him into setting something up.
Pumping his hand, as I kicked off my shoes and stepped onto his lush persian rug, I could just make out the silhouette of his daughter and her two friends playing in the back garden whilst their mothers put the finishing touches to the cow leg pepper-soup that would be our starter. The room was already infused with the smell of lemon grass and suya spice as the large cauldron of pepper soup just about began to simmer.
F., Uncle Seni’s here…. O. hollered as I made my way to the back garden. I had to duck as an inflated rubber ball, a felele, bounced up in the air in my direction. The kids had been starved of attention before my appearance and seemed very keen to engage me in a game of football. I had to oblige, alternating between playing the goal keeper and the penalty taker as we ran up a small sweat in the back yard.
So engrossed was I that I didn’t know for how long the other woman helping with the cooking had stood in the doorway watching us play. She did clear her throat to get my attention eventually, simmering plate of pepper soup in tow for a first bite of the evening. At that time it was just past 4.45pm, and I was still the only guest around for a party that was meant to have kicked off at 4.00pm.
The next guests to arrive were N. and his wife, strolling in at ten minutes past five, a bottle of red wine in tow as their contribution to the festivities. Cork popped, and glasses passed we all stood round the kitchen table chatting and catching up on all things that we’d all missed in our corner of the world. Soon after, another young couple arrived with their rambunctious toddler in tow; sometime after that the first big plates of fried rice had begun to wing their way for us to dig in and savour; proper Nigerian fare.
Sometime after 7.00pm, we had a full complement , as with all things Nigerians, the men had somehow drifted away into a small huddle as did the women. The bottles of beer might have had something to do with the loudness of the conversation, the virtual table banging and the wrought emotions as the conversation segued into the murky waters of the intractability of the Nigerian problem, corruption and all the other safe topics fairly well-off people in the diaspora moan about their home country.
I found the noise a little too much for me, ending up in the extension to the living room, next to the garden. A few minutes later, baby K. sauntered in, extending her arms wanting to be carried. I obliged, just before she promptly fell asleep on my lap.
I may have fallen asleep myself because the next thing I remembered was Mrs N. plumping into the seat next to me. She, ever the gracious seeker of introverted partiers, had noticed I wasn’t amongst the guys talking loudly and gesturing wildly, and had taken it upon herself to find me.
She relieved me of baby K, laying her to sleep in her cot nearby and then returned to converse. I’d been itching to have a conversation with Mrs N. about B. the current cause of my latest phase of over-thinking :”>. She obliged, listening graciously as I moaned about her penchant for not responding to text messages in a timely manner or her extreme attention to work (she’s the one person I can safely say is more of a workaholic than I am, no mean feat).
It was past 9.00pm when the crowd began to thin out. Baby K. was still asleep, peacefully oblivious of the ruckus we’d kicked up. As I dropped off what must have been my third plate of fried rice, I remember being thankful that I would have no part in the clean up after the storm.
The bright warm sunshine that streamed in through the office windows – whilst I was hard at work on Friday afternoon – vanished in time for the weekend, true to form. Up here in my little corner of the world, the one gripe that we all – rich, poor, cab driver, CEO, native born or immigrant – share, is the weather and its propensity to turning on a whim at the most inopportune of moments.
For the last hour of work, I had fantasised about the weekend, and all the fun exciting things I was going to get up to – an hour at the gym, lunch and then a movie with Q., a house warming party at O.’s and an extended video editing session at the church I do life at.
It was only 8.30am before my genuine enthusiasm for the weekend was worn away by the weather, leaving my well laid plans in tatters. It was classic wet, cold and windy, and just the sight of the fog rolling in over Pittodrie from the relative warmth of my kitchen window did my lethargy no end of good. I did manage to drag myself to the gym on Saturday morning – thanks to the tenacity of my god daughter. She and her dad O. attend early start swimming classes at the city gym I use, and the one time I didn’t plan on being there at the same time that she would, I ended up being squealed to over the phone. In fairness to her, she’s one of my biggest fans, bragging non-stop to her Mom and Uncle about how fit I have become – burgeoning belly keg or not.
Gym done and dusted, it turned out my friend Q. was no longer up for a movie – we’d wanted to see Man of Steel- so I did the next best thing for me which was to head home and grab lunch. Lunch was a cup of oats with skimmed milk, microwaved, whilst I looked out of my window at the foggy horizon.
Lunch done, I ended up on my couch, curled up with a book, and an eye on the TV and re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. The book was Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s ‘The sound of Things Falling‘ (Telegraph review here), a meandering tale of chance encounters, a disillusioned law professor and an ex-convict somehow ending up with intertwined lives in the aftermath of Columbia’s drug wars and the death of Pablo Escobar.
By the time I was wrapping up the book, it was well past 11pm – the house warming party had been missed and dinner ended up being another (bigger) bowl of cereal, which was how I ended up spending well nigh all of my Saturday indoors.
The plus side was I’d finally completed a book in 2013 – it’s been a piss poor year (non-academic) reading wise for me – and I felt well rested…
When my courage ends
Let my heart find strength
In Your presence