Sunday, November 27, 2011


This blog currently seems to be an account of unfortunate circumstances in my life. Despite what these brief updates might suggest, I am actually fairly chipper. I don’t tend to add up the sum the of things going on in my life and wonder “why me?”. These things are all just part of life.

There is something else to add to the list though. In case this has not been clear to you, my partner is female. Not such a revelation you might think, and for most people it isn’t. But for one part of British life it is, the church – more particularly the evangelical church, which in my case is the Baptist church. The evangelical church has very specific views on same sex relationships. Since my teenage years I have been to church, and have been a church member i.e. on the formal membership roll, for about twenty years. But that is soon to change.

I don’t go to church very often, but I went today because I was on the bookstall rota. I stay on the rota because it gives me a reason to go to church or else my attendance would probably diminish to nothing. The person who oversees the bookstall is the mum of a friend of mine. She asked if I could go over for a cup of tea this afternoon. I asked if everything was ok and she said “I saw the card you sent [her son].” “Oh” I replied.

Let’s rewind back a week or so. My friend and his wife had a baby. I sent a congratulations card, which was signed by both me and G. My friend’s mum read all the cards that had been sent and then began to wonder about the card sent from me. She asked more about it and realised that all was not as she had thought.

When she returned to London from seeing her new grandchlld, my friend’s mum spoke to one of the ministers and the pastoral assistant at church about what she had found out. The conclusion was not good, hence her conversation with me.

She was really lovely when she spoke to me. I know her very well. I even lived with her and her husband for a year. But none of those things took away the bitter pill that she delivered. My role in the church is under review. It is very likely that I will no longer to be able to cover on the bookstall. I will also probably be required to resign my church membership – and if I don’t resign it myself they will probably withdraw it anyway. If they remove your church membership, they do this at a church meeting and explain the reasons for it to all the church members. At least if you instigate the resignation yourself they don’t explain the circumstances, unless you have asked them to do so.

I listened to what she said and explained that this was exactly why I had never said anything. I knew the theology of it all and “get” how the evangelical church views such things, but I said that ultimately it was all very personal and it was rejection – which was what I found so hard about it.

She said she’d never seen me cry before. She said that I would still be able to attend the church, but wouldn’t be allowed to have any responsibilities (that means nothing, not even handing out a notice sheet, and certainly not working on the bookstall where I could be peddling immorality) and would not be allowed to be a member. (I know that I also wouldn’t be allowed to take communion.) I said that I wouldn’t be attending any more in those circumstances because the church would have rejected me and ultimately would be telling me that I’m not good enough. She said that it wasn’t about being “good enough”. But it is really.

I guess some might wonder why I even care. Over the years, some people at that church have shown me great kindness. I wanted to keep going there because it felt so final to stop, as though something that had been so significant in my life was finally over. In times when I had greater faith than I do now, it was a great place to be and I made some good friends there. I also care because it hurts to be rejected.

I sent my friend a text to tell him what had happened. He phoned me straightaway. He was totally shocked and was really angry with his mum and appalled that she had told other people my private business. He had no idea she was going to do that and I had to talk him down from phoning his mum and having a big go at her. He says he is still really angry about it, but was going to take a bit of time to decide what to say. He lost his faith many years ago and this just impressed on him how little he misses that part of his life.

It hasn’t been the best day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trouble at Mill

We have been following a regime to try and declutter and tidy the place up to sell it. So far this has only involved clearing out two large cupboards. They look very nice though.

The house moving plan has ground to a screeching halt. The freeholder wrote to each of the leaseholders just over a week ago to say that suspected subsidence has been found in one of the flats they own. What was hairline cracks, shortly afterwards was joined by large cracks down the external wall of their flat. They called out a structural engineer and have now referred his report, which it seems was not good news, to the insurance company.

To begin with I was not that fussed by it. There is no subsidence in my flat and I was thinking that it was inconvenient, and as we have to pay the excess, yet more money that needed to be paid out. But then my brain began to whirr and I started to look into a bit. I contacted my financial advisor who said that all the flats will, ultimately, be tarred with the same brush and there would be no way to get out of declaring subsidence, particularly as the freeholder will be asked as part of the sale of my flat (not that I want to mislead. It is that the subsidence isn’t in my flat).

Then I looked at the possible consequences of subsidence:
-Underpinning. If that has to be done, you have to move out, sometimes for up to six months.
-Monitoring. No action taken for months and months. An uncertainty that I would think any potential purchaser would be totally scared off by.
-Holes being dug. To try and identify the source of the subsidence.

Unless, by some miracle, the insurance company concludes that it is not subsidence, there is no way that I can sell the flat at the moment. When I do finally come to sell, it might be difficult to find a buyer, or one that is willing to buy at a decent price. Fortunately, I have quite a bit of equity in my flat, but I think this could potentially put some of my neighbours into negative equity.

I go in phases of feeling a bit miserable about this, and then I feel ok again. I have various short term and long term plans for what to do and am doing my research to try and minimise any collateral damage. But for now the future in unknown in terms of if and when we will be able to move house. Particularly as we are reliant on the freeholder pushing things, but who does not have a great reputation for being efficient.

Oh and I tried to phone my solicitor about this, but his website has disappeared and his phone seems to go through to a very residential sounding answer phone. So I am now wondering if he has shut up shop. I then thought I would contact the solicitor who did the conveyancing for me when I bought the flat. It turns out he has been struck off, or at least had his license suspended.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


The news was mixed when mum went to the hospital. They had removed all the cancer during the surgery, but there was an "instability", which means that they have recommended that she has a mastectomy. Understandably, mum is not thrilled by this prospect. She seems to be in a phase where she is trying to find a source of information that suggests a mastectomy is not the only course of action, so that she at least feels like she has a choice - even though she will then choose to have the mastectomy. I went to the hospital with mum on Tuesday and we looked at photos post reconstructive surgery etc and that was helpful. Mum is still taking time to make up her mind though.

G and I went away on Thursday for the weekend. We decided to walk 20 miles along the canal from Bath to Caen Hill Locks in Devizes. We did this over two days, and my sister joined us for the second day. She was meant to be there for both days, but couldn't get the time off from work.

We had a really good time, and the walk was enjoyable, despite torrential rain on Friday afternoon that even my waterproof coat and waterproof trousers could not withstand, and blisters bursting on one of my feet as I started the very gentle gradient at Caen Hill Locks. A very satisfying thing to do with a weekend though. We are now thinking about attempting a thirty mile walk (over three days) along the canal from Birmingham to Worcestor. I like walking long distances, but without having to deal with going up and down hills and so forth. Canal walks are the ideal solution. We did, however, struggle to find the car at the end of the walk. We had dropped my sister's car off in the morning and then driven back to the start of the walk. We hadn't checked exactly where the canal was in relation to the car park, and so trying to find the car as the sun was rapidly going down was not the kind of challenge we needed having walked 10 miles to get there. We made it though, and did finally find the car.