On an unusually warm winter morning, twenty-five of us spent the first part of the meeting mulling over the week past and catching up with all the news. Mulling over coffee, not warm wine, just in case you were thinking that. That comes next week or so.
We then had Diane to contend with for the rest of the morning. I must say, though, she produced a well-balanced quiz for us. It was a cross between ‘Pointless’ and ‘Only Connect’.
We understood the questions but knowing and trying to recall the answers proved to be a bit more difficult. No question drew a complete blank but I only wish that I had continued on the course of ‘Memory Pills’ that had been given me.
Dr. Foster going to Gloucester was easy, but where did Sir Stamford Raffles go to found a State [or ancient city] and what did he do on his return to London? Both were associated with lions. He founded both the Lion City [Singapore] and London Zoo [more lions.] The geography session continued apace with us trying to find American States that started with the same letter and then, off to Germany, trying to name their current chancellor, which is, of course, Angela Merkel [or should that be Angler?] Our next port of call, by the steam ship SS Great Britain, now moored up in Bristol, was to China. Which Dynasty ruled China from 1368 until 1644? Was it the Yuan Dynasty or the Ming Dynasty or the Ch’ing or Qing Dynasty? Then back to Angela or should that be Angler or maybe Anglia, anyway, it was prefaced by the word East and it had something to do with ’Bootiful’ turkeys so the answer just had to be Bernard Matthews. There were twenty-six questions in all, and judging by the results of Diane’s inquision questions, we were all covered by a Latin phrase meaning ‘full control of one’s mind or of solid mind’, in other words ‘Compos Mentis’ so a good morning all around. Thanks Diane.
Peter finished with an epilogue relating to King Hezekiah trusting in the LORD, the God of Israel, and after discussion with the profit Isaiah and with prayer seeking God’s way, Sennacherib king of all Assyria was defeated. It only goes to show that God’s way is the right way.
CCC Coffee Pot – Christmas Report
“I’ll tell you the story of Christmas and you can decide if you believe it or not. But, whether you believe it or not… it’s still true.” started one of our narrators. The CCC Coffee Pot Christmas Nativity, Carol Service and Buffett was held just before Christmas. It was, of course, a CCC Coffee Pot Production that was adapted from a true story, taken from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as contained in the Bible. [All editions]. None of the names were or are fictitious and everyone had a part to play. We had two narrators, one a believer [Diane] and the other a non-believer, [Richard]. We also had two Bible readers [Viv and Nina]. All the usual Bible characters were represented and the cast included Mary [Gloria], Joseph [Chris], the Angel Gabriel, [complete with wings and halo, Christine], Elizabeth [Kathleen], Zechariah [Peter]. i/c all the Angels [Angela,] complete with a prompt board for all the Angels, and Pam [with her prompt board in hand] as i/c all the Shepherds, which included everyone.
We had a good old sing-song of Carols during the presentation. The door was left open for the rest of the Village Centre to hear our happy songsters, which generated only appreciation [as far as we know]. Ken accompanied us on the keyboard and Rosemary spoke to us about, “Jesus being the same yesterday, today and forever.” We were reminded that Jesus grew up, lived a sinless life, taught about God who was his Father, and later paid the price for us as individuals [the sins of the world.] and now all those who believe in Him will have eternal life.
Did the morning change the life of any one? The unbelieving narrator was asked if he “…believed yet?” “Do I believe yet? (Pause) Yes, you know, I think I do. I really do! I do believe, you know… I think it was the Angels what done it. They were great!” was his response.
So CCC Coffee Pot leaves you, the reader, with the question, “Do you believe yet?”
CCC Coffee Pot -Hot Seat
Meeting with: Dr. Margaret Westby.
Dr. Margaret Westby [or Maggie, as she likes to be known,] was born in a former Norwich workhouse (the West Norwich Hospital!), at the latter end of the last Millennium. Her parents were both teachers and they had two children, Maggie and her younger brother. Maggie was taken to church, from birth until she went to university (where she immediately dropped going to church!).
Maggie grew up in Norwich and completed her early education there before going to Jesus College, Oxford, to study Chemistry. [Note. She was the second year of women in the men’s colleges!!!]
After Maggie completed her Chemistry degree at Oxford in 1979, she went on to complete a PhD in Chemistry in London (rather than staying in Oxford), mainly because that was where her husband, Ralph was working, but also because it was a very prestigious place. Soon she realised that she couldn’t see the point of pure academic research [who wanted to know the energy levels in some molecule or other?] and she signed up for a week-long course that was an introduction to industry, and she liked it so much she decided to get out of the academic world and get a job in industry.
So off she went to work at ICI Paints in Slough in their research department. She worked there for 5 years. During that time she became disillusioned by the profit motive, got very involved in the Peace Movement, became a Christian, moved to Chinnor and then left ICI to have baby Oliver.
Then followed a career break of 7 years at the end of which she wanted to get back to work – but not ICI! So Maggie took a low paid job in Evidence Based Healthcare and later went to work in Oxford for the Royal College of Nursing on their guidelines programme and she really enjoyed that, especially because it was a way of helping people less fortunate than herself, and the RCN was a great employer. A lesson she learned there was that nurses look after the whole person and medics look after disease and body parts! After 2 years she got promoted, and started to work on the NICE guidelines – which was very hard work, with tight deadlines, but still fulfilling.
Merger of the NICE Oxford group with 3 other centres saw Maggie in a fairly senior job in London and facing a tough time – and she thanked some CP members for their prayer support. She finally decided to look after herself – and resigned in February 2014 without knowing what to do next. She had 3 months off over the summer of 2014 and then obtained her current position – a part time job for two days a week based in Manchester (and she goes there about once a fortnight). This job and the 3 months off have been a great healing experience for her. It’s the same sort of evidence-based health care work that she previously has had experience in, but a bit more academic. Maggie also signed up for a part-time MSc in London, which is brilliant and inspiring and all about social justice through evidence – she thinks it will enable her to help other people. Watch this space!
Maggie and Ralph moved to Chinnor in 1986 to be closer to Ralph’s new job. They had both become Christians 3 months earlier, and this was a guiding light for everything that followed.
In her spare time Maggie enjoys hockey, music, swimming and mountain walking, although mountain walking has taken a bit of a decline of late. Also she quite likes cooking. [Note. Maggie bakes great cakes. Ed.]
Meeting Ralph when she was sixteen was an important point in her life. They have now been married for 36 years and they have two children, Oliver and Harriet. They are also grandparents, with a Granddaughter, Sophie and a Grandson, Alexander. Maggie hadn’t quite bargained for being a double grandma whilst still trying to discover herself!
What have been some of the most important changes in her life?
Maggie and Ralph were involved in the peace movement, partly through someone at ICI. But it was an appreciation of evil and the need for peace and love that brought an important change in her life, and led to Maggie becoming a Christian at 29. This was vital and trying to find what God has in store for her was really essential. As a Christian, she still wants to try to deal with situations relating to social justice. If she could change one thing in the world, it would be to replace fear with love.
As she said, “I want to make a difference.”
[This is an edited version of the Hot Seat questions. pcb]
CCC Coffee Pot – The Peacock at Henton,
Was the venue for the CCC Coffee Pot New Year’s Lunch. There were twenty-nine of us there to enjoy a time of fellowship, friendship and good food.
After the lunch, major speeches were given by some of our members to remind us of our place in this life. Viv spoke on the place of husbands and how useful they were.
Nina mentioned the problems that Noah would have had if he had tried to build the Ark these days.
Diane revealed the workings of the modern sat/nav; the benefits, how it functions and absolute direction it gives, including when it is in the house directing normal daily household chores.
Chris remembered a tale he told in Wales and about an undertaker who dealt with false teeth, in a church where one of the members was actually an undertaker.
Joyce mentioned the joys of bringing up children and how undemanding they were, from infancy until years after they have left home.
Viv also brought to us the unfortunate situation of a young lad who lost his Granny. It did have a happy ending when the lad found he could contact Granny on his computer, by using copy, paste and return.
Derek brought up the possibility of building a two or four lane highway between San Francisco and Hawaii.
Peter spoke on ringing in the New Year and mentioning the words that are displayed in the clock room of Big Ben, “Lord, through this hour be Thou our guide: so by Thy power no foot shall slide.”* And reminding us that we could do well to remember these words ourselves during the coming year, 2016.
* Based on Psalm 37:23-24
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.