Showing posts from 2011

Album of the Year 2011

Here are my top 5 albums of the past year. They are not necessarily the most popular, but they are the ones that I’ve found myself coming back to over and over again. See what you think!

In descending order:

5/ Let them talk – Hugh Laurie
This gets on the list because it was such a huge surprise! Who would have thought that the star of Jeeves and Worcester, indeed Stuart Little’s dad, would have such an authentic blues voice. But he does, full stop. This is the real deal.

4/ Worship Central – Spirit Break Out
I get bored quite quickly with contemporary worship albums, all recording the same songs, in the same way, long after we have already got bored singing them in church. However, although this album has some familiar songs, it is just brilliant. There is a real momentum about the Worship Central guys, and there are some great songs, done really well on here. If you only buy one worship album a year, get this one. Job done.

3/ Laura Marling – A creature I don’t know
Riding the wave of new …

Book of the year 2011-The Top 5

5/ The Spirit Filled Church – Terry Virgo
Quite simply, there is no better book which sets out in a few simple chapters to explain why we do New Testament church life in the way that we do. I have already given away a pile of these, and anticipate that I will continue to wherever we meet people that want to know why we do what we do.

4/ Meeting of the Waters, 7 Global Currents that will propel the future church – Fritz Kling
This was outstanding, even more so because at the time it was a free download on the kindle! I have not read a book on missions that I agree with more, and which speaks with an understanding of the post modern west, and the new wave of 21st century social justice missionaries. Even if you have to pay full whack for this book, you must buy and read it.

3/ The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
The rise of Scandinavian crime literature is unabated this year, filling the void behind Stieg Larsson. All Nesbo’s books are gripping, this one is utterly compelling. This stuff is dangerous f…

Book of the year 2011

Here is the annual award for my book of the year. It is totally subjective, based on my own peculiar reading habits. Last year, a new publication of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer took the crown. Who knows, it may just be that my habits and the best seller lists have collided a little more in 2011?
This year I have enjoyed some great fiction, getting especially hooked on a succession of Italian police procedurals by writers such as Andrea Camilleri and Michael Dibdin. It’s also worth noting that I have read more books as Kindle downloads than paper copies this year for the first time ever. I don’t expect that trend to ever reverse.

In descending order:

10/ Notes on them and us – Justin Webb
A great little read by the presenter of Radio 4’s Today Programme. This is an anthropological study on the relationship between us and our cousins across the Atlantic, based on Webb’s years of living stateside. An endearing read, which surprisingly argues for a divorce from our ‘special relati…

Dear God.........

I've been doing some preparation for our New Years Day prayer celebration today and came across these fantastic children's prayers to God.

I'm sure some cynical adult sat and made them up, then posted them on the net, but the part of me which still weeps at High School Musical really wants them to be real prayers because they are so powerful! I've heard enough of our own family efforts over the years to laugh and cry in equal measure at the beauty of a child's thinking allied to their simple phrasing when it comes to bedtime prayers.

So here goes with my favourite ones. (Imagine a small American child kneeling by their bed, with a small American voice, maybe the lispy girl from Miracle on 34th Street!)

Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up.

Dear God,
I read the bible. What does beget mean? Nobody will tell me.
Love Alison

Dear God,
I like the story about Noah the best of all of …

Rubik's cube, Mother Teresa and suffering

In 1982 I tore open the Christmas paper on a small box, and something magical fell onto the patterned carpet. This cube of hidden meaning, it's secrets known only to a few with special knowledge - this stuff of the philosophers stone or Da Vinci code - the Rubik's cube!
Everyone had one for a while, they were all the rage after we had outgrown our chopper bikes and space hoppers. Nerdy kids on Saturday morning telly became household names for completing the Rubik's cube in 13 seconds, before most of us had even worked out which way up we were holding it!

The basic premise of the Rubik's cube was to mess it up, then try and put it right. Each face of the cube needed to be restored to its rightful colour. Sounds easy right? No - I think I managed one side, but then each move you made to correct the other colours messed up the good work you had already done. It drove me mad. I resorted ultimately to cheating. Taking a blunt knife from the kitchen drawer, I prised the thing …

What's in a name?

What's in a name? These days we are quick to saddle our offspring with the names of the latest pop star or cultural phenomenon. For the OK Magazine fanbase and the celebrity obsessed, there remains an increasing trend to even name the poor child after the place of their conception, as though they need that message in their head as they grow up. And so, a generation of little Britneys, Brads, Brooklyns and Broom Cupboards emerges into the world, understandably unsure of their identity!

What's in a name? In old money, a name used to express something of the true identity of the bearer. Mr Bun was actually a was Mr Baker as it happened! The name of Jesus Christ is such a name. It tells us something important about who he is, and helps us to understand what he isn't.

In the language of his day, this was a name loaded with meaning. It would be like me calling my son Geoff Hurst Junior - everyone would know my expectations as little Geoff grew up into greatness! In t…

Yellow weather warnings and the fog of separation

Yesterday I exchanged tweets with the Met Office. Having been awoken by the radio news of a so called 'yellow' weather warning, I was concerned that I may not be able to safely leave the house with my wife and travel to the deepest outer reaches of Ikea on the Purley Way. I just wanted to check...and they kindly replied to say it was ok!

On Intro3 tonight we are looking at the day the sky went black in the middle of the day. Something more than a weather aberration which the forecasters missed. This was unprecedented before or since. Mark's gospel confirms 3 hours of darkness, a withdrawal of natural light which represented something hugely significant.

In the dark, on a hillside, a carpenter from Nazareth was dying on Roman cross. Jesus Christ, enduring awful physical pain, was slowly suffocating and crying out 'my God why have you forsaken me?'
This desperate cry of abandonment aimed at heaven should have had an answer, someone should have come running. Yet not only…

When Angela met David.......

Today David Cameron, British Prime Minister, flies out to meet Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. Angela has a sneaky friend from France who has put her up to this but he has left her to do the talking. Basically France and Germany intend to give Dave a bit of a talking to over his stance on the Euro bail out. It will not work. We may all be European cousins, but we just don't understand each other, and we never have. This is how it will go.....

Real Jesus & the quest for a better vacuum cleaner

Mr Kipling spent his life trying to mass market exceedingly good cakes. Bernard Matthews gave himself up to the lifelong quest for the beautiful turkey roast. Steve Jobs pursued the most intuitive tech, Geoff Dyson tried to turn vacuum cleaners into sexy gadgets that even men might consider getting out of the under stairs cupboard and plugging in!
And it works both ways - In any marketing, customers are looking for a brand which carries authentic values, searching for something they can trust to do what it says, looking for a product to stay loyal to and identify with. That's why aspirational real life scripts work so well in John Lewis Christmas adverts. People are hunting down truth and authenticity, they want to belong to something with meaning and purpose - great advertising taps into this subliminal need.

On Intro tonight we are asking questions about the real Jesus. Could there be any truth in the claims he makes about himself? Is there anything authentic in his story? Is ther…

Steve Weiss & the US 36th

In the summer of 1944, Steve Weiss,aged just 18, was fighting his way into the South of France against intense German resistance.A part of the US 36th Infantry Division, these boys had been called up from Texas, trained in the outposts of Louisiana, before being dropped in North Africa to make their way by sea to the Bay of Salerno, Italy. By 1943,landing in the face of desperate opposition, they gradually advanced, pushing further north as winter approached.

By the following summer, boys had become men, growing up in a maelstrom, a storm of the most awful fighting. The liberation of France was now their goal, getting back home still a distant dream.
During a night attack near Valence Steve Weiss stumbled into an enemy position. 'Rather than the men behind me coming in on either side and flowing out to make a skirmish line which we'd learned in basic training back in the States, they ran away. I recognised at that moment that the American army was every man for himself.'


More than fat talking dogs and meerkats!

I hate those annoying insurance adverts. The fat Churchill dog, the fatter Go Compare man, those talking Meerkats – they drive me up the wall, but even I have to admit that they are effective. Sadly, the product they are selling is lodged in our national consciousness.
Recent surveys show that more 11-16 year olds believe Churchill to be a fat talking dog who says ‘Oh Yes!’ than the leader of the wartime coalition who says ‘We will fight them on the beaches!’ Families have even been buying meerkats in specialist pet shops, but asking for refunds when they discover that they can’t actually be taught to speak like a parrot! Arrrrrrgh!

Tonight we are using another insurance slogan ‘Morethan’ to launch our Intro course. Morethan thankfully conjurs no images of operatic insurance salesmen or talking animals, but it does enable us to ask the honest question ‘Is there more than this to life?’
Thom Yorke, the influential singer songwriter of Radiohead featured in a recent Guardian interview. Ask…

Literally: Jamie Redknapp & the Resurrection Man

I'm writing the ‘Resurrection Man’ talk for our Intro course today and wondering if we can ‘literally’ believe this stuff? It depends of course on what we mean by the word.Certainly not the ‘literally’ of Sky Sports football pundit Jamie Redknapp. These great phrases were all uttered during recent televised football commentaries.

“He literally turns into a greyhound.”
“He’s literally left Ben Haim for dead there.”
“Centre forwards have the ability to make time stand still. And when Chopra got the ball, it literally did just that.”
“He had to cut back inside onto his left, because he literally hasn’t got a right foot”
Redknapp maybe literally murdering the English language, making it say things that just can’t possibly be true, but can the same be said for the gospel accounts? Is it possible that they really meant for us to accept and believe the remarkable things they said?

The gospels all show a bodily resurrection of Jesus the carpenter, just over 48 hours after He was certified dead …

1 for a 1000, Arabs, Jews & Jesus

Yesterday, an emaciated Gilad Shalit returned home to Israel a national hero. His short journey, televised around the world, the first step in the long-awaited prisoner exchange between the Israeli government and the Islamist group Hamas. Whilst Shalit shook in front of the cameras, the West Bank & Gaza strip saw jubilant scenes as the expectant crowds prepared to welcome the simultaneous release of over 400 Palestinian prisoners. Another 500 will follow them to freedom in the next few weeks.

One man for a thousand is an extraordinary exchange, whichever side of this deep divide you stand on. The BBC were at pains to report that this was nothing more than a political transaction, there should be no reading between the lines of a greater peace narrative.

Even so, it’s hard to escape the powerful symbolism of one man being exchanged for the freedom of the many, especially when you paint in the scenery that this particular backdrop offers. 2000 years ago, a similar crowd shouted for th…

Paternoster power!

I've enjoyed reading books by the magnificently named Dutch Sheets, & the even more unlikely Preston Sprinkle this week! We just don't make names like that in the UK.
My favourite quote of the week comes from a proper, solid, sensible British name, Richard Foster. His classic on Prayer is every bit as worth reading as Dutch Sheets. Both will get you out from under the sheets earlier in the morning and onto your knees.

Writing of the Lord's prayer, Foster says:
"For sheer power and majesty, no prayer can equal the really is a total prayer. Its concerns embrace the whole world, from the coming of the kingdom, to daily bread. It is lifted up to God in every conceivable setting. It rises from the altars of the great cathedrals and from obscure shanties in unknown places. It is spoken by both children and kings. It is prayed at weddings and death beds alike.
The rich and poor, the intelligent and illiterate, the simple and the wise - all speak this prayer…

Rob Bell vs William Booth

Bell or Booth? Opposite ends of the theological spectrum, yet compellingly provocative in their own way.I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ this week, alongside some great old sermons by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army & agitator of the comfortable religious of the late 19th Century.

They are uncertain bedfellows on the surface – Booth’s strident, hell fire Victorianism sitting uncomfortably on the Ikea sofa alongside Bell’s skinny decaf gospel for post moderns.
Whatever you think of their eschatology (their views on the end of everything), you’ve got to love their overwhelming desire to impact society with a gospel which is far bigger & broader than simply preaching salvation.

Both are desperate to engage relevantly with their prevailing culture, using creative language that builds a bridge for the good news about Jesus to travel across.
Both are longing that we get out of our comfortable Christian places, roll up our sleeves & get our hands dirty being the …

Work, Rest & Romanians

We have been right over the last few years to learn much about rest, leisure, family time, date nights, fun with friends in church life. We’ve been right to turn from a frenetic, 'church meetings every night & 3 times on a Sunday' works mentality - Out from a need to be seen to be working hard for God, & into a grace fuelled rhythm of life which releases us from legalistic busyness.
However, perhaps we are in danger of losing the strong New Testament exhortation to work hard as we partner with God. Is it just possible that we risk settling so snugly in the slippers of our 21st century lifestyles that we now think it’s just going to happen or someone else is going to do it?

Whatever culture (legalistic church or lazy postmodernism) we have unthinkingly soaked up – the scriptures encourage us to get up on our feet & work hard by the grace of God for the spread of the gospel. This is an exhortation to hard work like we have never known, but allied with the beautiful re…

Jeremiah Lanphier & the longest thirty minutes.

As we conclude a powerful week of prayer today in East Grinstead, let me encourage you with one of my favourite prayer meeting stories. Whether you have been to our meetings or you read this in another part of the world – allow these words to catch your attention.

On 21st September 1857, a businessman named Jerimiah Lanphier invited workers to join him for a Wednesday lunchtime prayer meeting. His purpose was to reverse a decline in church attendance & Christian living.
On the first Wednesday he paced up & down the room borrowed from the Dutch Reformed church, fear & anxiety growing as the minutes ticked by. No workers appeared, no prayers came, only his. Jeremiah persevered, he decided to pray the full hour as publicised. Then, as the clock turned 12.30, he heard the first steps into the room. Eventually six came, ready to pour out their hearts for those outside of Christ.
Twenty came the second Wednesday. Within six months, 10,000 businessmen were gathering daily in New Yo…

The 100 Year Prayer Meeting

We are getting ready for a week of prayer here in East Grinstead. Wherever you are around the world as you read this blog, let this account from Pete Greig's 'Red Moon Rising' stir your heart again.

'The year is 1727 & the summer sunshine is flooding through the windows of a country church near Dresden, Germany, where a community of refugees has gathered to share communion. The bread & the wine are especially meaningful to this particular group, who have known their fair share of bursting veins & broken bodies.

Just five years earlier they had fled across the Austrian Alps under fierce religious persecution, hounded by the Counter Reformation away from their homes & livelihoods. Leaving Moravia in search of a new beginning, this rag-tag mix of politically incorrect misfits had been granted permission to settle here in Saxony on the estate of a 22 year old aristocrat called Count Nikolaus Von Zinzendorf. Here they hoped to build a truly Christian community…

Lucian Freud, the lost boys & the perfect elder brother

Lucian Freud the famous realist artist has died today. His portrait work is known for it's spreadeagled, warts & all presentation. You won't like what he produces if you sit for him, but it will be realistic, every bulge, every inch of mottled skin, every imperfection exposed.

His art was as real & ugly as his life unfortunately. For decades, Lucian & his younger brother Clement were estranged. When Clement died a couple of years ago, the full picture of the divided brothers was hung on the wall for all to see.

The intense dislike of one another dates back to their earliest years. Stories abound, but the truth seems to lie in a race which they ran against each other through Hyde Park as boys. With Clement winning, Lucian shouted 'Stop Thief!' A passer by apprehended Clement, whilst Lucian sprinted on to victory.

For such a trivial boyhood rivalry to harden into a lifetime of hatred is deeply sad. Perhaps we should expect nothing less of the grandsons of Sigmu…

3 Strikes & You're Out!

In solidarity with our colleagues who are exercising their democratic right to strike for their working conditions today, I thought I would post my top 3 strikes in living memory.
These are what we would call old school, proper strikes. No questions of these conflicts being voted through by a minority of members, or protesting over pensions - this was the hard stuff, these disputes matter in the here & now to millions of workers who were living hand to mouth. And these were no knee jerk, down tools reactions which our Gallic cousins are famous for - these strikes were entered into with a heavy hearted foreknowledge that it would hurt the strikers & their families even as they sought to change the direction of the government. In descending order:

Strike 3: The General Strike 1926
Amidst the changing social landscape of the post world war & flu pandemic turmoil, the Baldwin Government took on the Miners. As a million men were locked out from the pits, the TUC took 2 million oth…

A new Nicene for 21st Century Pagan Britain

Father’s Day was well celebrated last Sunday. What slipped by unnoticed, unless you conform to a more traditional denomination, was the fact that it was also Trinity Sunday.

The language we use to describe who God is & how He works in the world is up for grabs again. During the first 400 years of Christianity, believers went to great lengths to load their language with rich theological meaning that would resonate with their culture, & most importantly, be understood by the ordinary man on the street. Creeds like the Nicene which now most Christians find dusty & dry were bright with colourful revelation about the God of the bible to a world which thought & spoke from a different cultural language. These mighty creeds crossed the bridge into pagan cultures & allowed the gospel to take root.

In the 1600 years or so since the Nicene Creed, we have come full circle. What commentators call post-christendom is really nothing new. It is simply a return to a challenging age o…

Ed Miliband, Terry Virgo & Ernest Shackleton - a new kind of leadership.

It’s the time of year for football managers to play musical chairs, scrambling for the nearest vacant seat that offers more money or security. In politics, Ed Miliband looks increasingly likely to be stabbed in the back by a Labour party who gambled on the wrong brother & lost. In Libya, Syria & that other corrupt world power, FIFA, leadership is in question. The pace of leadership change is huge – the patience of the paying public shorter than ever. Like never before, the world needs more leaders, but what kind of weak, people pleasing leaders emerge from the bad soil of this kind of distorted culture?

Reading Terry Virgo’s new book, ‘The Spirit Filled Church’ , a high bar is set for leadership. Read this passage & get your idea of leadership redefined by some glorious truth rather than the demands of a self centred world:
‘If the church is perceived as simply a gathering of people who attend religious services, little leadership is required. Leading the meetings & p…

Fredrick Alliston & the life of a dangerous Hindu radical

Fredrick Alliston (Great Grandad) left on a boat for India around 1897 where he lived for 25 years. His story is one of huge decisions made at great cost with both eyes fully fixed on a greater hope to come.
Serving as a Salvation Army Officer, working as an Evangelist to the Hindi speaking natives, Fredrick operated out of the British compound. His desire to see locals impacted by the gospel, frustrated by the colonial British culture into which he brought converts & their desire to simply assimilate Christianity as Britishness.

Here is where Fredrick made the call that all heroes of the faith have made at some point down through the centuries. He decided that his need to genuinely reach Hindus with the gospel was greater than his need to live in safety & comfort amongst the 'little England' crowd in the compound.

This was no easy turning point for any man, particularly one with a wife, Louisa, & by now a growing family of small children. How quickly we make choices …

Dangerously Alive!

I finished the outstanding book, Dangerously Alive over the bank holiday weekend. Detailing the adventures of Simon Guillebaud in Burundi over the last 10 years, this book is not for the faint hearted. It will provoke, unsettle & make you smile in equal measure.

The book is full of stand out quotes, but from amongst them, these words by Robert Capon stood out all the more: As we move inexorably into the summer, another day, another week, another month - allow them to stir you from any sense of complacency or self centred, comfort eating religion that so easily settles over us. How about a different approach? Over to Guillebaud & Capon:

The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news.
Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn't change people into wide eyed radicals any more; He changes them into 'nice people.'
If Christianity is simply about being nice, I'm not interested.

What happened to the radical Christianity, the un-nice b…

Myra Wattinger & the voice of God

I've been reading Jack Deere's excellent 'Surprised by the voice of God' again this week. His story about Myra Wattinger is well worth retelling here.

Alone & penniless, Myra wondered through the South Texas towns of the 1940's, finally getting a job caring for an elderly man. The pay was pitiful, but at least she had the security of a place to sleep & food to eat.
Myra had a history of what psychiatrists today would call 'rejection'. She & her husband had recently divorced. Although he was prosperous he refused to give her any money. Her parents had died when she was an adolescent, so she had no one to turn to for help.
As Myra sat in the house watching her elderly employer sleeping, she thought her life had sunk as low as it could go. Sadly, she was wrong. The devil had planned a new torment for her, something that would even bring her to the point of killing herself. One day, while the old man was sleeping, she found herself alone in the house w…

Mashed screw heads & some old authority on marriage

I’m preparing a sermon for our first wedding of the summer tomorrow & I’ve been captivated by the idea of Jesus teaching us about married life. In Mark’s gospel it says he gathered the crowds & ‘he taught them.’ His chosen specialised subject was marriage.

In this frantic 21st Century, post modern, internet age – it seems a little odd that we might be taught about marriage by a single guy from the middle east who lived 2000 years ago. Yet his is not just another voice in the multitude of relationship advice that is out there – another user guide for dummies in the Amazon top 10. No - He has something to teach which is so foundational that we would be foolish not to sit up & listen. Ultimately, it says more about who Jesus really is that His words are still shaping our lives in this generation

He speaks as the one who was there in the beginning when God made man & woman. He teaches as one who was involved in the planning process for marriage & worked on the design bri…

Osama Bin Laden & the vicious cycle of bad theology

There are many things that have troubled me this week. I still don't understand the AV voting system & I only have a few hours left to go to the polling booths! Spotify want to charge me for music which I have got used to streaming for free. The Turner prize nominations have been announced.....need I say more.

However, my most uncomfortable moments this week have arisen whilst watching the world press & internet feeding frenzy on the story of an older Arab man who was shot dead in front of his family. Osama Bin Laden also happened to be the most wanted terrorist in the world.

I'm uncomfortable about all of this on so many levels. Whilst not wanting to drop into a knee-jerk anti american conspiracy theory diatribe - I find the chanting, cheering crowds outside the White House deeply troublesome. I remember 9/11 - it was terrible. Is there a just reason for going after those responsible & bringing them to justice? Yes, absolutely.
However, has the link between these act…

Top 3 Significant Royal Weddings in English History

Congrats to Wills & Kate, very happy for them both! By the time the confetti has been swept from the Mall this will have probably been the biggest TV event in history - a day where we throw off the lingering heaviness of post colonial shame & remember how to be Great Britain once again. A day where we suddenly feel confident in celebrating our identity in one giant street party before the world's eyes. A day where our ever shrinking planet shares in a truly global, tribal event.

So it is a genuinely significant day for us all, not least the happy couple. Whilst Wills & Kate may wake up tomorrow to the realisation that their ascension to the throne may take another 40 plus years, we can take a look at the top 3 Royal marriages which have had true & lasting significance.

In reverse order!

3/ William & Mary
William, Prince of Orange, married Mary Stuart on 4th Nov 1677. The Dutch Stadtholder was actually marrying his first cousin, & she just happened to be the da…

Grace Identity

Identity theft is big business. If you are looking to diversify as a criminal mastermind into a growing market - ID theft is the next big thing! The UK government estimate the cost to our economy from this kind of 'victimless' crime is over £1.2 billion a year. The real figure is probably higher with so many smaller crimes remaining unreported. No wonder Ministers have contemplated allocating budgets they don't really have to bring in national ID cards.

What is it about our identity that is so important, so precious? The age old philosophical question, 'Who am I?' has been debated over the generations by all the great minds. A Google search on that phrase today will necessitate you trawling through a mammoth 15,300,000 hits. Last year the Science Museum in London opened a permanent interactive exhibition dedicated to the question 'Who am I?' Or if you want to explore lower culture, check out Jackie Chan's 1998 movie classic of the same name!

In the script…

Dead works, Damien Hirst & the macabre scent of formaldehyde

I was drawn & repelled in equal measure by the various animal body parts that used to be kept suspended in big dusty jars of formaldehyde on the high shelf in our biology lab at school - a jar of eyes bobbing around as you took it down & shook it like a snow globe had an endless, macabre fascination value for this schoolboy.

Damien Hirst must have seen a gap in the market. His horrible, provocative art collections of entire cows & other animal parts in formaldehyde has sold at auction for over £100 million. Essentially a collection of bits stolen from my school biology lab, this is quite a feat to pull off. I wish I had thought of it first instead of limiting myself to stealing the cow eyeballs one at a time to put in Toby Pass's lunch box!

This trade in literal dead works also blights the contemporary church today. We like to think that we are safe from dead religion & ritual - These old ways are the preserve of the tired denominations, those who display their form…

No vintage classics: 5 books you must invest in!

There has been a lot of noise over the last week in blogs & chatrooms about the Orange Inheritance prize for vintage classic literature. In short, which book out of all the millions written would you pass down to the next generation? There wasn’t much on the list that took my fancy, Thomas Hardy apart.

The problem with all these 'Desert Island discs' moments is our inherent human dishonesty, allied with our desperate need to impress people. When asked which book has changed our lives, we lie in the face of the uber cool culture police & spout a list of books we feel we ought to read, or at least would feel good about being run over with it open on our kindle! The harsh reality is that most of the really cool stuff in films, music, books & popular culture generally is (say it quietly) a little bit boring!

Have you noticed all those facebook apps that do the rounds asking you how many of the top 100 books or films you have read or seen? They fall into the same trap – …