Exclusive: Traycer Band album artwork revealed

It's been more than two long years in the making, but The Traycer Band's album is finally due for release this autumn. Solomon himself told us of the recording plans in his last guest post. Now, in another MMW exclusive, we get to preview the cover artwork for the album.

And here it is:

As widely forecast, the album is named after the hugely popular track The Staircase, a song which, as Solomon described in his Postcard from Barcelona, is always a great crowd-pleaser.

As for the music, that's being kept tightly under wraps (other than the title track) by ROTA Records for now. Be assured that any sneak previews or other inside info will appear here first!


Why doesn’t God…?

Why doesn't God heal me / my wife / my mother-in-law?

Why doesn't God make me more successful / give me more money / let me find my dream job?

Why doesn't God get rid of those antisocial neighbours / unpleasant colleagues / rude people?

Why doesn't God [enter your current concern / worry / struggle / burden / gripe / pain here]?

You get the idea. The stuff that bugs you / really hurts you / gets you down / causes you serious anxiety is different to my stuff, and changes over time, but if we're believers in Jesus Christ we all ask the Why doesn't God…? question from time to time.

I'm here to tell you that there are only two possible answers, whatever the stuff / trouble. And they both relate to the F-word.

No, not that F-word.

Faith. In God.

Because although God may want to answer my prayer / grant my request, I need to excercise the faith that says He is good, He's my Heavenly Father – and that I need to ask Him. The Bible says He knows what I need before I ask – which implies that He expects me to ask. And if it applies to what I need it applies just as much to what I want. He wants me to come to Him in faith, relate to Him and speak with Him – rather than just sitting back then complaining that I don't have what I want. It puts the emphasis on Him instead of me.

Equally, He may know that it's best for me not to get what I think I want. He may want to grow something else in me, grow some more faith in me, by putting up with my troubles / disappointments / failures and exercising the faith that says He Knows Best and that He Plans Something Better.

Hard to do? Absolutely. Easy to write in a blog post? Totally. True? I think so.

What's your question for God? Bring it to Him – along with the F-word.

This post was prompted by my wife's godly wisdom in response to my bemoaning something not to my liking.



Normally I hate blog posts about blogging, but…

…I’ll make an exception today because I’m writing one :-)

My WordPress blog goes through long periods of neglect (like my squash playing or cleaning the bath) but then the mood strikes and here I am again. How come?

  • Firstly because my To-Do app on the iPad prompted me that it’s time to back up my blog. Actually there’s not a lot of point me backing up this blog since the last post was in March and I backed it up in April. Although, since I’m now writing a new post…
  • Secondly because when I do blog I sometimes try a different theme and I knew that I really didn’t like my last choice. But of course, you can’t see my last choice because I’ve now changed it. And if you read this at some point in the future (what else might you do? read it in the past…?) you might not be seeing the theme I chose today ‘cos I might have changed it again…
  • Thirdly because I was thinking about writing a tech-based post due to the increasing frequency with which I’m being notified that my devices / software aren’t up to scratch to run the latest stuff. More on this below.

Hence, I sit and type.

On my 2009 Compaq desktop running Windows VistaVista???!! Yep. On which I run Internet Explorer 9, the latest Vista can understand. And which, Twitter, now tells me, is inadequate and therefore I am reduced to viewing Twitter Mobile. On my desktop.



My other ageing device is a second generation iPod Touch, circa January 2009. I recently tried to add a Gmail account to the mail app and Gmail refused, saying the device wasn’t secure enough. Can’t complain about that, what with me being an IT guy and all. Then yesterday YouTube on the iPod started warning me it no longer fully supported my device.

Dang it. Inevitable really.

And so I muse on changing the PC, upgrading the PC to Windows 8.1 (and thence to Windows 10), and whether to keep the iPod for music only and invest in – gasp – a smartphone that can handle my email and YouTube thingies. (My current phone is distinctly unsmart – it makes calls and sends texts, end of story. Until my iPod started showing these signs of obsolescence I thought I’d hang on to my old phone until it broke. But maybe not.)

If you have absolutely nothing better to do, watch this space for further developments. And if you really have absolutely nothing better to do than that, I suggest you seek help.

It’s OK for Christians to be anxious

No, really, it is! I found it in the Bible. OK, so it's in the New Living Translation, which is a bit of a paraphrase but is my favourite for general reading. I find it often brings out meaning I would miss from the NIV, which is my standard “proper” translation. And I tend to find The Message a bit, well, distracting somehow. It, too, has its moments of clarity but I don't like reading chunks of it.

So back to the being anxious thing. Here it is:

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

1 Peter 4:2

Told you. While some may quibble with the translation, I doubt many will dispute that it is a good thing to be anxious to do what God wants, what with Him being Creator And Lord Of All and everything.

Apologies if you you were expecting controversy, heresy or some other aberration at which to be outraged. I don't actually think worry is OK at all (I'd go so far as to call it a sin – yikes!). Have a read of this post of mine on that topic and then come back here for the rest of today's deep insights.

There's another verse about doing God's will that I've always “liked” (in the traditional, rather than Facebook, sense):

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

(And that one's from the NIV, as that's the version I learnt it in back in the eighties when doing Navigators Scripture Memory.)

So I would thank God for that verse and comfort myself with the knowledge that no matter how badly I seemed to be doing, or however unfruitful my life was, He was at work in me so that I'd want what he wants and then go out and do it. Methinks, however, that I've been somewhat passive and not playing my part. Because Peter says I'll be anxious to do God's will, not just sitting there waiting to be inspired to want it. And he also says:

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7

Earnest. Disciplined. Prayers. I need to ask God to bring this about in me. I need the power of the Holy Spirit enlivening and empowering me. I need to submit, surrender and make myself available to be compelled by the love of Christ like the apostle Paul was.

Fact is, none of that is new to me. But I'm coming back to it, and Him, afresh and looking to be that person who wills and acts according to His good purpose, anxious to do His will. I know He'll answer prayers like that, and already is doing. Please pray for me that I'll not forget, give up – or be anxious when I shouldn't.


Idolatry of the Heart


This is an old (2006) post from a blogger I’ve not seen before but speaks absolutely about the place I’m in as a Christian, even after 32 years. To the extent that I seek fulfilment through anything but God, my life is a waste. To the extent that I want Jesus to forgive my sins but not to be Lord of my life, my life is a waste. I can’t make myself godly; I can’t make myself into someone who puts others first; but I can surrender unconditionally, somewhat apprehensively I’ll admit, and let God begin a new work in me.

It’s a long article but if, like me, you’re a Christian who knows their life isn’t really that distinctive, or falls prey to pursuing security & fulfillment apart from God, please read it :-)

Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

The following piece is an excerpt from my book Walking the Walk by Faith. I decided to post the chapter titled “Idolatry of the Heart” today because of some very uncomfortable blogosphere discussions I have been involved in over the last few weeks. There seems to be a great deal of confusion rooted in pride in many well-intentioned Christians who are passionately doing battle to defend their “beliefs” who end up after a many skirmishes feeling somewhat ashamed of themselves. They end up asking for forgiveness from the very people they have been battling. Of course that “shame” is coming from the conviction of the Holy Spirit into their consciences. When I wrote this chapter over a year and a half ago I was trying to explain the greatest obstacle Christians have in becoming Spirit-led. That obstacle is pride which builds idols in our hearts with the biggest most…

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Photo Post: Tree roots at Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park


At first glance this is just your average stunningly attractive (he said, modestly) photo of tree roots in the grounds of Virginia Water, in the south-east corner of Windsor Great Park (yes, that Windsor) in deepest Surrey. Taken, once again, with my veteran (eight years old) Canon Ixus IS 800, the image does, in fact, have another side to it. Look at it for a few seconds and the tree roots begin to morph into…fingers?…limbs?…I even spotted a whole body shape. This is like cloud-gazing but looking at the floor instead of the sky.

What do you see?

For more images of Virginia Water (some of them better than mine, I'll admit), visit their photo gallery.


The Dad Diaries Chapter 2: In which a storm is weathered and pipe-smoking is rejected

Saturday, 8th January, 2005

Fierce winter storm last night. So bad I had to tie the barbecue cover back on.

Monday, 10th January, 2005

We now have three decorative stone heads in the back garden. Kind of Easter Island-ish but significantly smaller. Jack suggested they constitute pagan idols and will entice demons into the garden. I said I didn’t think Green Lane Garden Centre sold pagan idols.

Said an extra prayer for protection over the garden before going to bed.

Tuesday, 11th January, 2005

My American niece Anne-Louise is 21 today. I have an officially grown-up niece. This presumably makes me officially middle-aged and full of wisdom. Perhaps a pipe would underline my maturity and vast life experience. Not to smoke, naturally (I’m far too wise for that): just to suck on as I contemplate some conundrum troubling one of the young people.

Of course, had Anne-Louise been British she would have been officially grown-up three years ago and I would have been officially middle-aged in 2002.

Wednesday, 12th January, 2005

There was great excitement when I announced we were going to see Daniel Bedingfield in concert. I really am quite hip for a middle-aged bloke with pipe-sucking aspirations.

Thursday, 13th January, 2005

At Sarah’s parents’ evening we finally got some explanation of the convoluted grading system on her report. Something about a mark for the last test, a projected grade based on current performance, a second projected grade based on the student’s real potential if they just decided to work a bit, and a third projected grade based on a combination of local education authority demographic averages, last year’s median grade and what mood the teacher was in.

The net result was that while she’s a delightful person (gets it from her parents) and doing well in most subjects, she’s doing less delightfully in maths. Jack offered to help her out, being “well good” at maths despite being younger than Sarah. Sarah thanked him and I think suggested he go boil his head, but I couldn’t be sure.

Friday, 14th January, 2005

Sarah helped at the church’s Kidz Klub (that’s a deliberate, cool, mis-spelling, incidentally) and afterwards got some maths help from Joe, a university student who, she explained with a disdainful glance at her brother, “really knows what he’s talking about”.

If necessary I will notify Joe that I’ll be monitoring Sarah’s enthusiasm for maths.

Saturday, 15th January, 2005

Sarah did extra maths homework. Jack played on his PS2 and bought himself both a new ink pen and a new calculator battery. I cleaned our bedroom and both bathrooms. F. cooked us a Saturday tea worthy of Sunday lunch, followed by cookies & cream pie. After dinner we all laid on the dining room floor looking at the ceiling and just talking for three quarters of an hour.

Sometimes a family Saturday just goes well and leaves one deeply grateful.

Stubbed my toe at the bottom of the stairs on the way up to bed.


The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.




The Dad Diaries Chapter 1: In which 2005 arrives and a card is not sent to the Emperor of Japan

Thursday, 23rd December, 2004

My diary helpfully tells me it’s the Emperor’s birthday in Japan. If I’d realised sooner I could have sent a card. The shops have been full of Christmas cards for weeks so I probably missed the Japanese Emperor birthday card section.

More importantly, it’s Christmas Eve-Eve! Jack came back from the market with four new Santa hats to replace our rag-tag, scruffy collection. He’s a thoughtful son. We will of course now have to wear them for the next week.

Wednesday, 29th December, 2004

Bought a new pair of trainers and the ABBA Gold CD. They are so underrated (ABBA, not the trainers). Can’t believe it’s 30 years since Waterloo. Can’t believe I’m old enough to say it’s 30 years since anything. Well, obviously, I’ve always been able to say that; it’s just that now I can say it for events for which I was present, well, not present (since I wasn’t actually at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest – although I could have been, it being held in Brighton and all) but, you know, alive at the time of the event which is now 30 (or whatever) years ago.

Friday, 31st December, 2004

Decided I will not wax philosophical about another year drawing to a close, where does the time go and all the rest. Instead, reminded Jack and Sarah that, once again, they’re in danger of failing to write their thank-you letters before the end of the year in which their Christmas gifts were received. Once again they argued that it doesn’t matter, that it’s not even a week since the said gift receiving and that if Christmas was in August it would be different. And besides (they continued), it’s holidays from writing and stuff (everything’s “and stuff” with them these days). I then reminded them that while they may not set great store by a £5 Boots gift voucher (which we will inevitably end up swapping for cash because they don’t want anything from Boots), Aunty Muriel and Uncle Norman were very kind to think of them at all and that ingratitude is just downright rude.

They adopted suitably penetant expressions and asked if they could do it after Friends.

Sunday, 2nd January, 2005

Played squash with F. but was rubbish.

Christmas wasn't cancelled after all

Monday, 3rd January, 2005

Took the Christmas stuff down despite it being only ninth night. It now consists of six boxes and a bag. Reminds me of that episode of The Good Life where Margot declares Christmas as cancelled “because it couldn’t be delivered”. After all, we all know you don’t need tinsel and chocolate Santas hanging on an artificial tree to celebrate the birth of Christ. Although sherry and re-runs of Morecambe and Wise always help.

Wednesday, 5th January, 2005

Sarah and Jack finally wrote their thank-you letters. I suppose it’s because they’re back at school and are allowed to do “writing and stuff” once more.


The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.



Back up your WordPress posts with Export!

The other day my iPad blogging app got confused between a brand new post I’d written and an existing WordPress post on this site. Result: When I “published” my new post, it actually overwrote the existing post. Boo. It was a fascinating one, too (as are they all, of course). Having dried my tears, I came to terms with the fact that it was irretrievably gone. All my blood, sweat and tears, vanished in an instant.


Anyhoo, after telling myself to get over it, I realised I had fallen victim to a risk management failure (as well as a technical one). In my other life as an IT manager, it’s my bread and butter to ensure that data we don’t want to lose is protected – sometimes, in more than one place. In this case, however, since I don’t routinely keep local copies of my posts, I failed miserably to apply my own good principles. I am suitably ashamed.

WordPressExportA quick glance around my WordPress dashboard led me to the Export tool. This downloads my precious posts to an XML file suitable for re-import to any WP site. (But, at a pinch, the raw text could also be extracted.) So hereafter, I’ll download the file at least monthly so that in the event of further human or technical glitches I can recover.

Have a good day – and don’t forget to back up your data :-)

Photo Post: Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, Luxor, Egypt


Luxor was incredibly hot, although it was only April. By the time our tour reached Hatshepsut's Temple we were fit to drop and fed up with being harrassed by sellers and “guards” wanting money for posing for photos with you.
It was, however, a spectacular place. And although the history was fascinating, it was the lines and shapes that caught my eye. This image breaks the “rule of thirds” but still draws my eye in and puts a rather self-satisfied look on my face. Maybe the more technically-minded photographers can analyse the composition in more detail but for now it's just one of my favourite holiday snaps.