Please Choose an Egyptian Hieroglyph* (FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY: QUESTION)

My family loves acquiring ‘useless’ information, random facts that will probably never have any practical application in our lives. For example, did you know that crows hold funerals?

OK, I’ll admit, occasionally they do come in useful. In my work I come across a number of people who cry but feel guilty about ‘showing such weakness’. So it’s been a reassurance to gently point out that tears lower blood pressure and not weakness at all.

But the most frequent use for our family repository of random facts is quizzes.
You’ll regularly find us gathered together around the TV, watching The Chase or Only Connect or University Challenge, shouting out the answers as if we are part of the show. Or, almost every month, for over a decade, we’ll be huddled around a table at our local football club’s quiz night, exchanging banter with the MC, delighting or despairing over our score, and joining in with enthusiasm with the halftime meat raffle even though half of us are vegan or vegetarian!

My beloved and I went to the first of these quiz nights, a fundraiser for the club, with friends. Then, unable to find babysitters, we took our children along to another occasion, who enjoyed it so much we didn’t bother with babysitters after that. Another friend joined us, who then brought his sons. And then we noticed other whole families coming – it seemed we had started a trend.

Over the years, we’ve been joined by colleagues, our sons’ friends, girlfriend, my dad (not even Alzheimer’s could prevent his enjoyment), and even once by one of my patients turning up out of the blue! Our boys form their own teams now. It’s become such an integral part of their lives that our eldest has celebrated two birthdays there – I won’t forget having to make an 18th birthday cake large enough to feed the entire Quiz Night audience of over 60 people!

All those random facts binding a team, a community together, delighting in the range of experience, age, interests and skills that make for a great team resource. All those differences proving a strength when brought together for one common goal. All those useless pieces of information gathered together and finding a purpose for their existence.

There’s a metaphor here for how a family, a church, a community should be. Knowledge is power, it’s said, but how much more glorious if it’s also collaborative and fun!

(* In case you don’t know, this is one of the catchphrases from the ‘fiendishly difficult’ BBC show Only Connect. It’s great and somewhat addictive! Find out more here: )


What My Father Taught Me (Five Minute Friday: GOAL)

In days well before SatNav, my father would study his beloved Road Atlas of Great Britain, meticulously planning our route to our holiday destination. Every junction, every roundabout, every turning was documented into detailed instructions on a sheaf of A4 paper, tucked into the atlas (every map page also numbered) for my mum to read out to him as we travelled.

I was fascinated by those maps and that book. I begged my dad to let me navigate for a change.

Eventually he allowed it. I felt so honoured. And those journeys sped past as I read the directions whilst following our progress in the atlas, looking ahead to give my dad more detailed information of what was coming up, landmarks that would indicate how far we’d travelled, distances to the service stations so we could choose where to stop for lunch or a toilet break.

I knew I was a far superior, or at least far more enthusiastic, navigator than my mum.
But my greatest moment came on the occasion when unexpected roadworks blocked our planned route.

Dad wanted to stop so he could work out a detour. But I, hastily flicking back and forth between the various pages, confidently reassured him that I could plot our new course as we travelled.

And I did. We successfully arrived at our destination with minimal delay.

And, more importantly for me, I knew that I had won my dad’s trust.

Maps and navigation became ‘our thing’. He talked to me about how he had learned to navigate by the stars in the Air Cadets. We pored over maps of all kinds just for the fun of it, comparing the different Ordnance Survey symbols. I found his favourite Christmas present ever: a book of alternative routes between M25 junctions during traffic jams!

It’s Fathers’ Day and I can’t help thinking about my dad today. Not just how much I miss him. But how he taught me that even if our ultimate Goal remains out of sight or our planned route gets diverted, to keep looking at the Map and trusting the Great Navigator of our lives.


I think my life’s purpose is
To learn to love
And to learn to love well.

At first I only had to
Reflect and imitate the love shown me.

Then after some tentative steps
I gave myself in baptism to
The full immersion of my whole self
Given to another.

Now I practise the
Minute by minute
Prioritising of others’ needs
Before my own.

It isn’t always easy
I don’t always feel like it
I frequently fail.

And yet this is my life’s purpose:
To learn to love
And to learn to love well.

Here’s this week’s link up to Five Minute Friday community. The prompt word this week is WELL. You can find more great writing here