On the Road!

During my years at university I had a dream of visiting a certain bar in London. You might think visiting the bar is the dream and daily practise of most students, but this was a very particular bar, and I wasn’t planning to go there for the beer. No, this was Bob’s Blues Bar in North London, which boasted the claim of being the only bar in Europe that had live blues every night. Rumour had it that the musicians weren’t just local musos, but if you got the right night you might be entertained by the likes of Eric Clapton. Naturally as a guitarist and lover of this form of music, this was a must visit location! Finally, not long after my course finished, I managed to round up a few friends and off we went, hiking in hunt for this mystical venue. It took some tracking down, which surprised us – until we found out why. It had been closed down a few months before over some licensing issue. I was absolutely gutted…

Today (Sunday) as you read this I will trying to fulfil another life’s ambition and pilgrimage, taking part in the London to Brighton cycle ride. I’ve always wanted to do this, and hearing that a group were doing it from St. Cuthbert’s gave me the excuse to do it – please forgive my absence this morning! Hopefully by the time you read this I won’t be too far from the infamous Ditchling Beacon, the killer climb just before the descent into Brighton. We’re getting up for a 5am departure from Hoddesdon in the hope to make an early start from Clapham, so don’t expect me to be with it Monday morning.

Two pilgrimages. There were or will be obstacles on both, and yet in both, the end of the journey and the companions on the road will provide the motivation to keep going. One of the themes we’ll be touching on over the next couple of months at church, especially in the evening where we’ll be looking at the Exodus story, is this theme of being people of pilgrimage. We’re on a journey with God, a daily adventure of faith. We have times of great delight and laughter, and moments of despair and frustration too, but just as I hope I’ve found today, we’ll have each other’s company to keep us going. More than that, we’ll have the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us and provide us will the energy and desire to keep going. There’s also a finishing line, God’s Kingdom in all its wonder, where all wrongs are righted and all made new.

If I’m honest, I’m a little worried that I’m not as fit as I’d like to be for today, somehow August flew by in a fit of busyness and the bike was left lonely most days. Let’s not embark on this journey without being fit, but train ourselves through prayer, Scripture and sharing our stories of God at work with each other, encouraging each other with hospitality, a listening ear, and travelling companionship.

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The Thrill Is Gone

Today I woke to the sad news that another guitar hero of mine has gone, the great B.B.King, one of the last of the original electric blues players who created this wonderful music. Here’s a video which my brother brought to my attention (thanks!) featuring both B.B.King and Gary Moore, another much missed musician who could make this instrument cry like no other.

Blues Alive

Talking over breakfast this morning I mentioned that Gary Moore had died. The children asked who he was, and so immediately I reached for my copy of his live blues album ‘Blues Alive’ to give them a taste of this master at work. I was fortunate enough to see him at the Albert Hall during this period, and was totally blown away by him. There was something about the energy with which he played and his tone, that screaming, pure tone that sounded as if at any moment it could break free but somehow he always managed to keep it under control. I played a couple of his blues numbers and then Parisienne Walkways with that incredible 30s sustained note. Whilst baffling for non-guitarists, as a player I cannot help but stand amazed at this – at the Albert Hall jaws were dropping. How he manages it, I do not know, but to me it is a sound I’d die for….

Thank you Gary.