Always take your colouring book with you

Archive: Dec 2013

Christmas Traditions


On Saturday evening I had the absolute joy of watching Southend Choirs and Southend Vox perform in the beautiful surroundings of St James Piccadilly. An alumni of both choirs, I was smiling throughout: because they sounded great, because I wasn’t the one upfront trying to sing and dance, because I knew the carols back to front as they created such a triumphant sound around the church.

Carols are such a favourite Christmas tradition of mine, yet singing them on Saturday, I realised I’d made it a devoid motion. It’s Christmas, therefore I sing carols. I don’t think about the words. They just tumble straight down from the memory to the mouth, without my brain actually processing the lyrics and my heart opening up to worship God through them.

I was lucky enough to receive some early Christmas presents from Mum: cupcake cases, cookies cutters and ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’
Songbook. And as I sat at my piano for a sing-song, I realised like I too knew these songs but not the lyrics. They are beautiful lyrics, especially in ‘Thankful Heart’, following Scrooge’s epiphany:

With a thankful heart that is wide awake
I do make this promise with every breath I take
Will be used now to sing your praise
And beg you to share my days
With a loving guarantee
That even if we part
I will hold you close in a thankful heart

I pray that this Christmas, your heart is wide awake too. That joy, peace, hope and love, the words we so often hear, shine throughout your life. And that the next time you watch your traditional Christmas film or sing a song, you too realise something new from it.

Movember: The End of the Mo


I’m a proud man today. The 1st December isn’t just a day to crack open the chocolate and tea advent calendars, as awesome as that is. It’s the day I get to show off my moustache to the whole world, then shave it off before anyone suggests I make it permanent. By tomorrow, my face will be a blank canvas again.

My moustache has been a sign of solidarity, that I stand with the men and families whose lives have been devastated by prostate and testicular cancer. That same solidarity was on show at Macmillian coffee mornings in September, throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and now on World Aids Day. It fills me with such happiness that every Autumn more and more people are learning about these major health issues and baking cakes or wearing red ribbons or, like me, growing a moustache.

But before those public acts of solidarity, there has to be the private one. Early detection is crucial to treating both cancer and HIV/Aids. I’m not going to tell you how to do it. Most people have heard the relevant messages loud enough, they know it’s quick, easy and painless.

My moustache has been a sign of awareness as much as solidarity. I hope it’s been a sign for you to act.