Friday, 9 September 2016

Blob Thing Was Happy To Be At Greenbelt But Has No Time To Write About It

Blob Thing does not have time for a blog post this morning.  It's a very strange time.  He keeps going away from home and being busy.  This is the strangest of the three recent times away.  His person seems far more subdued and worried by this time.  She's not showing it to the world and is masking some things about herself in a way that Blob Thing thinks is a bit unhealthy.  Blob hopes that his person will be back to normal soon.  Okay, not back to normal.  Some people would say that Blob's person has never been and will never be normal.  But back to what is normal for her.  Blob wonders whether there will be hoop dancing for his person next week and whether she will get herself a decent hoop and practice until she has at least one basic hoop skill.

No time this morning.  Blob and Winefride are being taken to a little place in Wiltshire soon.  They're quite excited about it but Blob's person seems quiet today and unable to smile quite as much as Winefride or to be able to happy flap the way Winefride was earlier at the prospect of another car journey.   Winefride isn't used to cars.  She hadn't ridden in one until a few days ago.  Blob can't remember riding in one either but he thinks that a car is a bit like a bus except for having less people in it and it stopping at houses rather than at bus stops.  Blob is looking forward to the view from the car.

So today Blob can't write a proper blog post.  He hopes that he can tomorrow but there seems to be so little time just recently.  Humans are so busy.  Why can't they just do important things like help soft toys to write about themselves?

Today Blob is going to share just one photograph from Greenbelt.  It's from the Sunday afternoon.  Blob's person was busy chatting with people.  Blob was happy about that because she kept telling people about him and Winefride and he got to meet lots of people.  Winefride got a bit overwhelmed by all the strangers and had to hide away in the bag for a bit and look at some of the free things that Blob's person kept collecting.  Blob has to say that his person collected a lot of nice free things at Greenbelt.  He was quite impressed by how much there was and how she was still able to fit everything into her bag when packing up - including two new coats and three new hats which will look completely stylish in winter.  They might be the style of a crazy person but they'll be stylish.

One photograph:

This picture is of Winefride, not of Blob Thing.  Blob wants to point that out in case anyone gets confused.  She is his sister and he loves her.  He wanted to say that too.  The picture sums up the overall Greenbelt experience.  Happy to be there.  Blob, Winefride, Blob's person and Blob's creator all want to go again next year too.  Blob also wants to point out that Winefride is not a unicorn but that it's fun to pretend sometimes.  They didn't meet any real unicorns at Greenbelt so maybe someone else was pretending too.   Isn't Winefride gorgeous?

Blob Thing hopes that tomorrow - or whenever he can write a full post - he can tell you all about the rest of that Sunday.  Some of it was difficult.  Some of it was blissful.  It was to be a day that was hard to cope with but which then didn't end until nearly two o'clock in the morning which is far past everyone's bed time.

Wiltshire beckons.  Another county for Blob to visit.  He doesn't think he'll ever visit all the counties of England.  His person has been to them all - although she doesn't remember Norfolk because she was only a few months old and she only entered Cornwall for a few hours.  Blob wonders where his future will take him.  He had never expected to be visiting Wiltshire or to be doing all the other things he does.  He's still hoping that before leaving Sussex he has time to go to a big park and see animals there.  Blob's person hopes they can do that too.  Winefride is wild about the idea and hopes that they can see the baby meerkats.  You can just see her face light up when Blob mentions them and she squeals so loudly with delight that everyone has to laugh.

[761 words]

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Blob Thing Meets Giant Refugees And Enjoys Art And Free Tea At Greenbelt

Blob isn't going to write much today.  He's finding it hard to focus being down in Sussex and at this point would much rather be with his friends.  Winefride is finding it hard too.  She's getting quite bored and it's left to Blob to do the looking after.  Blob hopes that she can come out on an adventure soon but his person keeps being busy and doesn't know if any of the busy people would want to go out on adventures with soft toys.  Blob also hopes that they can all escape soon and go out and see the animals.  Maybe today after all the other silly human jobs are done.  Blob says that humans spend a lot of time worrying about meaningless things and collecting meaningless things.  He doesn't understand humans sometimes.  Then again, his person doesn't understand them either and she is a human.  Blob and Winefride are very glad that Portal is here too because Portal brings a little bit of soft toy sanity in the place.  Even Portal is looking forward to being somewhere else.

Greenbelt was going very well but it was Sunday morning.  Everyone knew that would be a harder time due to the lack of things going on.  Grief.  Blob is finding it very hard to write while here.  It's not a comfy writing place for him.  Not comfy at all.  He's not going to go into the reasons why but you can probably guess some of them.

Blob said in his last post that he didn't want to go to the big communion service at Greenbelt.  Lots of people did go and they seemed to enjoy it.  But Blob didn't want to go.  However, on his way to breakfast that morning he and his companions met some very friendly people who were on their way to the service.  They were incredibly tall for humans and were from another country.  Blob and Winefride didn't quite take in what country they were from but they had their pictures taken anyway.

He thinks that the two people were refugees who had come to the United Kingdom not so much to find a better life but to escape a terrible one.  He knows that refugees have often escaped from horrendous situations.  None of them wanted to leave their countries.  They just felt they had to because their lives were so bad.  Not just through poverty.  Oh no.  If they were just poor people coming to Britain to get richer then that would be an entirely different situation and Blob would have preferred them to stay in their countries and some help given to build better financial and economic lives there.  That seems sensible.  It's not that simple though.  Refugees aren't refugees from poverty even though many of them were very poor indeed.  They are refugees from war, hatred, oppression, injustice and a whole range of awful things.  They had to leave their homes, their lives, and head off on a long and difficult journey.  Blob Thing is very glad that he has never had to be a refugee.  He might moan about how hard it is to write a blog post today but that's nothing compared to the lives these people have lived and the lives many still live due to not having been granted refugee status.

Blob had met refugees before and he was very glad to meet some more at Greenbelt.  They were ever so friendly and smiled almost as much as he and Winefride does.  Blob doesn't know how much Winefride understands the refugee situation.  She was pleased to meet the people and swung wildly on her reins as she was held and she giggled so much it's a wonder that the entire Greenbelt festival site didn't hear her.

After breakfast, Blob, Winefride, Blob's person, and his creator had a plan.  It wasn't mentioned in the main programme but Blob's person had seen that one of the tents would still be open and that they would be able to sit there and do some art things.  It was ever so good.  The people in the tent gave them all free cups of tea.  And then someone from another tent passed by and gave them all more free cups of tea.  Out of fairness to those people Blob has decided not to say which were the better cups of tea.  He was pleased to have received both drinks.

The tent contained lots of information about something called Iona.  Iona is an island off the west coast of Scotland.  Blob is now asking when he and Winefride can be taken to Scotland because it looks really close on the map from Newcastle and they have never been.  Blob's person says that it's quite expensive by train and takes a long time to get to on the bus but one day they will get up early at the weekend and go all the way.  Blob's person says it's more than a hundred miles to Edinburgh and even going by train would take quite a long time.  She hopes that one day early next year they can all go there on the train for free because she hopes to have a medical appointment there.  She has been hoping to have that appointment for a very long time but the powers that be keep not allowing her to have it even though she has been legally entitled to it for well over two years.  Blob's person has to be very patient.  Sometimes she doesn't care about it all.  Sometimes she's pretty unhappy about the whole thing.  Sometimes she doesn't even want the treatment that the appointment would eventually lead to and wonders what the point of it is.  Blob wants her to stop talking about it now.

Iona contains a Christian community.  They always seem to be quite nice people and they sing lots of nice songs.  Blob wouldn't want to be part of the community though.  They all have to read the Bible a lot and they have to keep praying and praying and praying and using liturgy addressed to the sky God he doesn't believe in.  Maybe some of the community members don't believe either.  They just use the liturgy.  Blob keeps reading about such people and he met some more at Greenbelt.  People who don't believe in a sky God but use long prayers addressed to the sky God.  Blob doesn't quite understand how people can do that.  He knows that there are ministers who don't believe in the sky God and lead prayers in every service addressed to the sky God.  Blob doesn't think he would be able to cope with doing that if he was a minister.  He would have to use prayer forms that removed the language of such forms of theism.

Iona people are nice though and later in the weekend Blob and his person would attend two Iona services.  Blob's sister and his creator would be at the second one too.  There was ever such a lot of singing in that and it was enjoyable.  Blob's person likes singing and it makes Blob happy to watch her enjoying herself.

The piece of paper Blob's person had read was true.  There was art to be done in the tent.  It was called the Northern Lights tent.  Iona is a long way north.  It was a bit confusing for Blob though because he got taken a couple of times to a church in Newcastle called Northern Lights and the tent didn't have anything to do with that church.  Blob's person had to explain that more than one thing can have that name.  Blob met a few people from that church at Greenbelt.  There are people from that church there every single year and they're all pretty nice too and some of them don't really believe in a very orthodox Christian God.  One woman in the congregation does believe in a sky God but not in the normal Christian story and she rewrites all the prayers and liturgy as she goes along and says different words to everyone else.  Blob's person has been known to do that too.  Not that she goes to church much now.  She attended more church things at Greenbelt than she had in the previous six months and she didn't join in with a single spoken prayer in a service.  It's lucky there isn't a sky God who created an eternal hell or she would be doomed and Blob would be doomed too and his fur would keep getting singed for eternity.

The Iona people had a plan.  They had a lot of spare boxes.  And a lot of pens.  The boxes and pens would be combined.  People could decorate the boxes with things to do with justice and inclusion.  That sounded like fun.  More fun than listening to sermons and sitting around while a thousand people shared bread and wine (or blackcurrant).

Blob's person and his creator got to work and they managed to create some nice things.  Blob's creator managed to decorate an entire box which she left behind for the display in the tent.  Blob's person only managed to decorate half a box and she took it away to complete at home.  She hasn't completed it yet.  But in part that's because she isn't at home.  Blob hopes that she will finish her box when she gets back there.

 After their time in the tent the four companions moved on.  Blob's creator and Winefride went off to do some things and Blob and his person went off to do other things.  Blob's person still needed to change into clean clothes and that seemed the most urgent thing to do.  As they passed the Big Top and the communion service, which still hadn't finished, Blob heard Justin Portal Welby talking.  He must have said something very funny because everyone laughed.

So that was the start of Sunday.  It was going to prove to be a difficult day.  Blob's person wasn't coping well for quite a lot of it and he had to look after her a lot.  By the end of the day things were wonderful again and that was a big surprise.  Blob's person would be totally surprised by her own actions and by how things turned out.  But that's a tale for another blog post.


[1720 words]

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Blob Thing Gets Up At Greenbelt And Goes To The Airport

Note:  All the photos are random ones taken on the Saturday of Greenbelt.  They aren't connected with the events told in this post.  There's a reason for that which Blob Thing will explain at the end.

Everyone is feeling very tired this morning.  Nobody slept that well.  It turns out that Blob's person has developed some kind of allergy to Crawley, the town their staying in.  Yesterday her eyes kept stinging and her nose kept running.  Maybe it's not Crawley to blame.  But it feels as though it is.  It was a problem last night though because every time Blob Thing or Winefride was falling asleep, Blob's person would blow her nose loudly and they would be wide awake again.   Blob wishes that his person's nose was designed in such a way that it could be blown silently.  If he was an intelligent designer we would have built the human body very differently.  Forget all that argument about the design or evolution of eyes.  He would have sorted out human spines.  He would have made everyone immune from the common cold.  He would have made noses silent.  And then, just to please everyone, he wouldn't have designed a creature at the top of the pile and given them hiccups.

For Blob Thing, hiccups is a good argument against intelligent design.  Stupid design maybe.  He's happy to agree that the hiccups argument doesn't remove God or a super intelligent alien race as designer.  But he does think that it's an argument against God being a good designer.  One classic argument from design spoke of a watch and how you knew it could only be there because it had been designed and made by a clever person who had studied watch making.  Blob asks whether anyone would be all-knowing and all-powerful and still design a watch that got hiccups?  You can tell that Blob is tired.  He wouldn't come out with his hiccup argument if he was full of energy.

Back to Greenbelt.  He's not going to write much because he's coming to talk about Sunday and that was a more difficult day.  Blob says:

Yes.  It was hard.  Yesterday was hard too.  Maybe in a week we won't be here.  Yesterday also had some good bits.  Winefride and I got taken to look round an airport.  My person has been promising that she will take us to see Newcastle Airport sometime.  We could go there almost whenever we wanted.  It's not hard.  Just stay on the Metro until the end.  But she hasn't taken us there yet and we haven't even been on any really long walks in a while and I would want to.  Yesterday was different.  We went to an airport and it wasn't Newcastle.  I think she only took us because she had to go there anyway.  She wasn't taking us as a treat or anything like that.  I don't suppose we'll get many nice treats while we're in Sussex.  She won't even take us to the Brighton Pavillion and that always looks so pretty in photos.  [Now, now Blob.  I haven't even taken me there.  Ever.  And this trip isn't for you two to be tourists.  It's for practical purposes.]  Today she might not take us anywhere at all she says.  Meanie person.  I'm only joking.  She's not mean to us at all and we have excellent lives for little soft toys.  And we got to go to Gatwick Airport yesterday.  We got there later than planned because we had to put up with her photographing a cemetery first.  She likes doing that.  I like it too when I get to pose on all the gravestones but that didn't happen yesterday.

At Gatwick we did a particularly exciting thing.  We got to ride at the front of a train that didn't have a driver.  I want to blog about that when I get home.  It was amazing.  A bit like riding at the front of the Tyne and Wear Metro trains but even better.  The whole of the front of the train was a window and we could see everything.  We could even see all the aeroplanes on the ground.  There was a man who talked about it and called it a flight.   Silly man.  It wasn't a flight at all.  We were riding on a train on a rail and the train wheels ran by the rail not on the rail so it was a crazy kind of train.  He told us that we were flying at a height of thirty-five feet and we weren't.  We weren't flying.  What kind of fool does he take me for that he thinks I might believe him?  Or maybe he truly believes it because he said all the same things on the way back too.  That would be sad if he is that deluded.  He's not harming anyone unless they believe him about a flying train.  But he could get some help to not be deluded anymore.  There are more dangerous delusions.  My person isn't allowing me to talk about them right now.  I am tired and I want to talk and talk and talk but she knows that if I am allowed to let my words fly this morning then I might say things that people don't like even more than they might not like some of the things both I and my person have said in the past.

My person says I should talk about Greenbelt.  Because that's what this post is about.  On Sunday morning my person got up before my creator.  She got herself dressed.  That didn't take long because she had slept in her clothes and didn't bother changing into new ones until later in the day.  She then went back to the all night cafe.  Winefride and I were able to stay in the tent so we got more sleep.  She got practically none.  At the cafe she bought tea.  Two teas.  The cafe was very useful for tea drinking.  They sold a spicy chai tea.  My person and creator appreciated being able to drink lots of it.  By the time Sunday evening came the people in the cafe knew my person's regular order.  Maybe not many people ordered the spicy chai.

Sunday morning was going to be a challenge.  Most things at Greenbelt stop on Sunday morning for a communion service.  It's hard to find things to do because the festival people think that you'll probably be at the service.  But my person and creator didn't particularly want to go even though an important man would be speaking.  At least, he's an important man in terms of church hierarchy.  Whether he's more important than anyone else is another matter.  He's just got a posh job.  The man was the Archbishop of Canterbury.  He seems nice enough but we didn't go and hear him.  My person didn't want to sit (or stand) through two communion services in twelve hours.  She doesn't go to church normally and is very glad to not go.

She used to go all the time.  For a while she went nearly every day and would very often arrive before the church was even unlocked because she was so eager to pray to her God.  What does she feel about that now?  I know that all the order and the rules and the certainty helped her cope with her brain and gave her some stability.  But does she regret quite a lot of it?  That's for her to talk about.  It's not a thing for a post about Greenbelt when it's my post.  The most exciting thing about the Archbishop of Canterbury for me is that one of my very good friends got named after him.   Portal's name is Portal.  Named after the archbishop.  His name is Justin Portal Welby.  I love Portal and we're all very glad that he came to Crawley with us.

So we were at Greenbelt and the programme didn't list that many events for Sunday morning except for that giant communion.  My person and creator didn't know quite how they would fill the morning.  They had a few plans but didn't quite know what to do.

Plan one was breakfast.  The Christian Aid tent had advertised a big fry up and while none of us wanted a big fry up we did fancy some toast and so we went to that.  It wasn't a very exciting thing and the programme had got the time wrong so they hadn't get cooked the frying food anyway.  We all really enjoyed the toast though and were pleased to have successfully eaten some food.

I'm going to stop now.  My person has just received some bad news.  Right at this moment.  All of a sudden she isn't up to helping me write my blog.  That's okay.  We can write it together tomorrow.  It's going to be a strange thing while we're away.  I don't know how much time I'll have for blog writing.  Well, I'll have lots of time but I need my person's help otherwise typing would be very slow indeed.

We'll just add a Greenbelt photo somewhere above to give you all something to look at and my person can then get on with the day.  Sorry that we didn't talk much about Greenbelt.  I promise that we did all find something nice to do.  Don't worry.  But the news is sad and my person might be a bit sad about it too.

[1576 words]

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Blob Thing Meets Rumi And Fails To See The Stars At Greenbelt

Blob Thing didn't manage to post anything yesterday.  He and Winefride had a very long day which got longer than they had hoped.  They had to accompany Blob's person to Sussex.  She is visiting her parents' house which needs to be cleared and sold and she is very anxious and stressed about the whole thing.  She was much too tired to help Blob with anything last night so he couldn't write his blog.  So he missed a day.  Blob wants to apologise but he stresses that it was entirely a circumstance not of his creating or his control.  He hopes that he will be able to blog every day while he is away from home but he doesn't make a promise.

Blob's first day at Greenbelt had been very exciting.  He had done lots of fun things and met lots of people who he would probably never see again.  And he had survived a storm.  Now it was time for Blob and his person to be reunited with his sister and his creator.  They had half planned some more activities to do once they had eaten food.

Before food Blob's person and creator met up in the Playhouse.  His creator had been watching a performance called Smash It Up.  Blob's person might have seen it all had she not been sheltering from the storm at the other end of the festival site.  As it was she only saw the end of it which wasn't enough to understand it.  But that was okay.  She was glad to have been able to find Blob's creator again in time for dinner and the planned evening events.

The first of these was in a place called Canvas, an open air area with a canvas roof.  They were going to a Sufi / Rumi session.  Someone was very kind and gave Blob's person and creator seats to sit on.  Both of them like Rumi and Blob's person has quite a few books of Rumi's poetry.  Blob wants to point out at this point that his person hasn't actually read the books yet, just browsed some of them and that she should stop buying books and read what she has.  Blob knows that the chances of that happening are nearly zero but he feels it would be a good idea.  Blob's person wishes that he would stop pointing out the silly things she does.  But she knows that the chances of that happening are also nearly zero.

The first part of the session was very interesting as the two people leading talked about Rumi and about Sufi beliefs and practices.  But then the session got a lot more practical.  Everyone was to chant one of the 99 Beautiful Names of God for a while.  And then another of them.  99 times.  Blob's person and creator weren't up to that.  Blob's person likes the names and Blob likes the few he has heard.  If he was using them of course he would have to change them because they are 99 names of a sky God and Blob doesn't believe in a sky God.  So where the names would say something like "God (Allah) the merciful"  Blob would have to say "God who is mercy."  That allows people to still be theists but also allows someone like Blob to move away from theism into nontheism, theopraxy, or even atheism.  Blob's person is quite into the theopraxy idea but may be stretching it even further to a statement of "whenever you are merciful you both express and create that which is God."  God thus ceases to be a being, and instead becomes Being, a way of being.

It's not a radical idea.  There would have been quite a few people at Greenbelt who said - or at least privately believed - quite similar things. Blob's person talked for a while the next day with an Anglican nun who said that she had given up believing in the sky God years ago.  Talk about radical!  The late David Jenkins said some things while he was Bishop of Durham that had conservative Christians up in metaphorical arms.  Blob's person didn't like those things at all and thought it terrible that such a man with such beliefs should be raised up to be a bishop.  Blob's person has changed a lot since then.  Blob is glad.  He would find it very difficult if she was to keep preaching to him about the need for conversion or about how Jesus died for his sins and only the blood and intercession of Jesus could ever keep him out of going to Hell.  Blob Thing may have been influenced by his person in this but he firmly believes that the whole idea of an eternal hell to punish people for real and imagined offenses and offensiveness in a single lifetime to be one of the most horrendously disgusting religious ideas ever.  Thankfully a lot of Christians don't believe in that idea any more or in the idea that every single person is inherently sinful.

Blob didn't want to sit and chant the names either.  And Winefride was obviously very impatient to leave.  So the four companions just got up and left.  No guilt.  Nobody should ever feel guilt about leaving a religious thing.  And that's another topic Blob could talk about and which his person could express from her own experiences.  Not today.  They left Canvas and didn't know what they were going to do to fill the next bit of time.

But then they passed Grove, where Blob had learned about the Jesus Fellowship earlier in the day.  A dance workshop had started and it looked.  The man who was leading it, Andy Raine, lives on Lindisfarne and helped found The Northumbria Community.  So he's connected with two of the nice bits of British Christianity.  The dances were simple and friendly and they were very fun.  This was far more Blob's kind of thing than chanting the 99 Beautiful Names.  Blob's person enjoyed it too and decided that she needed to do more dancing in Newcastle.  There's a wonderful dance event happening there in a few days but unfortunately she won't be there and will have to wait for another.  Newcastle has quite a few wonderful dance events for people who have no flexibility, no stamina and who have no clue about dancing.

Everyone enjoyed the dancing in Grove.  They didn't mind that the ground was a bit muddy from the storm.  Everyone smiled except when they were meant to be expressing pain and brokenness and dancing to one of the more depressing songs of Leonard Cohen.  That was the first time that Blob's person has ever danced to a Leonard Cohen song.  She has listened often.  She has sung often.  But never danced.

After the dancing Blob's person and creator had a definite event booked in their diary.  On the way Blob spotted a forest sculpture.  Some people make pictures and art from found materials when they're out and at Greenbelt there were some interesting pictures and patterns in some places.  Blob thinks that most of them were done by people involved in Forest Church or by people who went to workshops led by Forest Church.  He really liked the one he found and asked for his picture to be taken.

They left Grove in a hurry because they wanted to join the queue to go back to Playhouse.  There was going to be a play called Grandad and The Machine.  The was billed as a "brand new steampunk fairytale for adults."  It was very enjoyable and Britain was not destroyed.  There was music and chases and Zeppelins and all kinds of good things.  Blob and Winefride enjoyed themselves a lot.  Winefride hasn't been to proper theatres before.  Blob has been several times and likes it.  He saw The 39 Steps which was very funny and he saw The Night Watch which wasn't very funny at all.

After the play Blob's creator was tired and wanted to go and rest.  Blob's person refused to rest.  She had bought a festival ticket and was determined to use it as fully as possible.  After sharing a cup of tea, Blob's creator went off to bed and took Winefride with her.  Winefride had enjoyed the day a lot but she needed to rest too because at times it had been quite overwhelming.

Blob wandered off and took some photos, continuing to explore the site.  A brass band were playing some great music in the Big Top but Blob's person knew that she would never be able to get in there and enjoy such loud music or dance to it.  Oh no, she would never be able to do that.  Her head told her that she wouldn't.  Blob doesn't necessarily believe in believing the things people's heads tell them.  Blob is wise!

Around the site there were lots of pretty dangly things and Blob wanted to experience them all that night just in case he didn't have a chance to experience them later.

Blob's person walked back to Grove.  A man from the Forest Church movement was going to lead a session about the stars.  The description said "put on the dark and see the stars."  That sounded amazing.  But it was still completely cloudy after the storm so nobody saw a star.  Instead the man led a talk which included quite a lot of science.  Blob's person didn't stay for the whole talk even though it was quite interesting and she learned that Ursa Major is not a constellation.

So Blob and his person wandered again until they came to canopy.  They listened to the last part of a comedy night and during that time they spotted an old friend of Blob's person.  He was easy to spot because he was the only person still standing after a set of questions the first one of which was "Are you female?"  Blob's person doesn't think her old friend is female and doesn't quite know why he was still standing up.  But it made him easy to spot and it made people laugh.

Together they walked and talked and headed to a communion service.  Blob's person left the church this year and so wouldn't normally go to a communion service.  She wasn't going to participate in this one except by singing the hymns quite loudly.  She sang the last one loudly in Welsh because the service sheet said she could but didn't hear anyone else singing the original Welsh words.  It was a special communion.  The Outerspace Eucharist.  It was aimed at LGBTQ people.  Apparently they could come there with "no need to hide from God."  It's very sad that such a thing has to be said even at Greenbelt.  There is truly no need to hide from any God on the basis of sexuality or gender unless your God is a ****.  [Blob, don't swear like that!]

At the service Blob's person met some people from the church she used to attend and afterwards they went off together to the all night cafe.  Blob's person needed to eat something because she was quite hungry and she needed to sit somewhere for a while before attempting sleep.  It was then that she discovered the carrot cake in the cafe.  She would discover it again several times over the course of the weekend.

And so to bed.  Blob got an excellent night of sleep.  Blob's person did not.  Another day was coming and Blob wondered whether it could be as exciting as his Saturday had been.

[1927 words]

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Blob Thing Makes A Prehistoric Friend And Shelters With Good People At #Greenbelt

It was just a normal British Saturday.  Twenty-four hours long.  Sandwiched safely between Friday and Sunday.  The sun would rise and set.  The earth would turn on its axis and travel nearly one degree through its revolution of the Sun.  The solar system would continue its long journey around the galactic centre.  People on the earth would be born and die, marry and divorce.  They would work and play, laugh and cry.  Among them would be oppressors and the oppressed.  They would practise their religions and live with their lacks of religions and some would feel guilty that they weren't practising their religions well enough.  Some would fight and die for the sake of politics, or land, or religion.  Some would be forced to flee the fighting and leave their homes and countries.  Some would marvel that humans fail to get along so often.  Some would pray or work for a better future.  British typists would note that spell checkers were imperfect and would get annoyed that software designers didn't seem to know that practise is spelled with an s rather than a c when it's a verb.  A normal Saturday.  A normal late August Saturday.  Thousands would watch highly paid men kick a ball round a field for a while.  Millions would watch the highlights of ball kicking on television and watch as four people at a desk laugh at people who can't sing very well.  A few would go to watch unpaid women kicking a similar ball round a similar field in a way often more interesting than the highly paid men.

It was a normal Saturday.  But it wasn't a normal Saturday for Blob Thing.  He was at Greenbelt and was having a nice time.  When we left him last he was walking around the site with his person.  His sister Winefride had gone off for adventures of her own with Blob's creator.  Blob isn't being allowed to dictate this post about his adventures because he got so carried away with other things yesterday.  Blob says that it's entirely unfair.  He is pointing out that this post is meant to be entirely about Greenbelt but that first paragraph didn't have anything to do with Greenbelt at all.  Blob says that he would have just got on and talked about the matter at hand if he had been allowed to.  He says that the post is meant to be about the festival not about the inequalities in the pay of male and female football players.  Blob's person has to admit that he is making a fair point and the things about football were entirely her fault.

Blob and his person continued their walk.  It was still raining but not too badly and the sky was looking a little more like a normal sky, suited for a normal Saturday.  Blob says that his person shouldn't start all that normal Saturday stuff again.  He looks like he might get a bit cross with his person if she keeps misbehaving.  She knows she had better behave because he is starting to get a bit melty and she doesn't want to have to deal with Blob Thing in a full meltdown.  He's usually a very joyful Blob but when he melts it's not a pleasant experience for him or anyone around him.  Blob's person promises to behave and together they can talk about his adventures.  First they can have a big hug with lots of pressure and Blob can curl up very small and the universe can shrink down.

Done.  Blob Thing is smiling again.  Greenbelt.  Blob's walk led him next to a couple of sheds.  One of them contained a video "exploring the ambiguity of a moving landscape in time and space."  That's what the description says anyway.  Blob could just see some shapes.  He stood there for a minute and by that time was bored and asked to leave.  Blob's person was happy to depart because she often isn't very good at appreciating abstract modern art either.

Blob walked into the other shed and found it a lot more to his liking.  The display there concerned an archeological expedition that had discovered all kinds of strange things.  It wasn't a real expedition but it was interesting anyway.  On display were specimens of lots of the creatures the expedition discovered.  A couple of the creatures had come out to play and Blob thing went to play with them too for a while.

One of them was so happy to be playing with Blob that it lit up and glowed at him.  Blob's person picked up a card from the exhibition which contained a model to cut out and make of one of the creatures, called Mechanism Number Five.  The card says that there's a website about it all and Blob would have included a link to the site here except that the index page just contains one picture and a link to a second page and the second page contains nothing at all.

Blob left that tent - The Allotment Gallery - and continued to walk.  He decided that they should go and look at some of the stalls near the entrance, run by different charities and Christian groups.  The first one they came to was run by the United Reformed Church.  They were friendly.  They were asking people to write down the things they would scrap about church.  Blob didn't participate but his person did.  Several times.  There is quite a lot she would like to scrap about church in general and a lot more she would like to scrap from the practices and attitudes of some of the churches.  Blob isn't going to allow her to make a list here because he says she could do that on her own blog.  The United Reformed people were giving away some pretty stars too and they had organised a special star hunt across the entire Greenbelt site.  All you had to do was find twenty stars and answer a question about each of them.  Blob thought it would be a fun thing to do and he took a copy of the question sheet.  It was a bit too wet to attempt it then but Blob decided he could do it on a dry day.  He didn't.  The hunt was never undertaken so Blob wasn't able to claim his prize.  He saw at least most of the stars though and they were all very different.

Near the United Reformed Tent was star number seven. This was the Selfie Star and the hunt said that you had to take a selfie at the star.  Blob wanted to do that.  And since at that moment the rain wasn't too heavy, his person agreed to take the picture.  So here's Blob.

Blob is pointing out that his person didn't take a very good picture because she cut off a point of the star.  Blob's person was hoping that nobody would notice that but now he's pointed it out.  So everyone will notice.  She's not happy about that but has still agreed to include this close up of Blob in the star.  Doesn't he look completely wonderful there?  Rainbows and glitter suit his personality very well.

And then the weather turned.  Blob's person took a picture of the mid-afternoon August sky.  The camera doesn't show how dark it was.  And then it got darker.  And darker.  And then the rains fell.  And the wind blew.  And the power supply struggled again.  Fences blew down.  Things in the campsite blew away.  Blob was worried about his own tent.  Would that survive the onslaught of the elements?  Would he have somewhere to sleep that night?  It was a worry.  If Blob Thing had an interventionist personal God to pray to then he might have prayed to it.

It rained.  And it rained.  And then it rained some more.  Blob hid under the cover of the United Reformed tent for a while and then he and his person dashed to another tent.  And then another.  There were nice people in all the tents.  They didn't get to visit many of them - but there would be time for that later in the festival and they would soon learn of the joy of the free fruit being given away by Quakers.  Blob confesses that he passed that tent quite a few times and every time took some more fruit.  As he writes this he remembers that he had been considering going to Quaker worship this morning.  It's too late now Blob.  You've missed it.  You'll have to go another day.

In every tent Blob's person talked to someone.  What else can you do when sheltering in a small space with people and the world outside is blowing away?  One of the stands was run by a few queer people.  Blob's person talked with a transgender woman there who was friendly.  She heard some sad stories of other trans people including the tale of a woman who had nine children, none of whom would talk to her since she came out.  There are lots of sad tales like that.  Blob's person has been very lucky in the last few years.  She is a bit worried at the moment because in the next week she may have to meet a range of people who don't quite accept her.  They include people who couldn't even look at her when he read the address at her mother's funeral two years ago, people who wouldn't speak to her afterwards or look at her, and people who tell her how wonderful they are because they haven't rejected her.  Blob's person would prefer not to have to meet any of those people ever again.  After the next week she will hardly ever have to encounter them and that will be nice.

It's great though that at Greenbelt things were fine.  She felt accepted.  Nobody stared at her.  It was a place of freedom.  That's not to say there weren't some homophobic or transphobic people there.  Someone was talking with Blob and his person during the weekend and said that a homophobic person had come to their stall, a stall run by an organisation standing for equality and inclusion.  But it was okay.  The homophobic person was honest about their views and wasn't looking to condemn anyone.  He was wanting to find resources and help not to be homophobic anymore, without having to read his Bible in any dishonest manner.  Even the homophobic person was pointing towards change and acceptance.  Greenbelt is a safe space for queer people.  And it's a safe space for change.

Blob liked this T-shirt.  He might have bought himself one of them but it wouldn't fit at all.  It's very hard to find clothes in your size when you're a small pink soft toy.  Even size zero clothes are far too massive.  It isn't that relevant anyway as his dress is sewn on so might be uncomfortable to remove.

Blob's person spent time talking with someone wearing one of those T-shirts.  She was very nice.  The person said that they had once been a strong evangelical conservative Christian and had come to Greenbelt anyway.  Lots of Christians see Greenbelt as a bad thing.  Including that person's church pastor who threw her out of the church for attending the festival.  When church leaders act in such a way, Blob says that they are acting in a way that has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus.  They're worse than the "brood of vipers" Jesus talked about and whereas he gave seven woes to the pharisees he would probably find seventy-seven woes for such church leaders.

Blob says that if the way they live and act is Christianity then Christianity deserves to die.  Now.   It's not just some things should be scrapped about church.  It's that church should be scrapped entirely and be replaced by tea drinking and appreciating nature.  There was an if there.  Because Blob says that the way some so-called Christians live and act isn't Christianity.  It certainly isn't following the way of Jesus.  Blob says that his person used to be that way too in some ways.  Blob's person agrees with Blob but didn't particularly want him pointing that out right now.

Time was moving on and the rain was beginning to ease.  If Blob was very superstitious then he might have given thanks to God or some other being for making the rain stop.  People tend to praise God for making nice things happen but they don't criticise God for making bad things happen.  Yay!  God made the rain stop.  People say that.  But they don't tell God off for making people's tents blow away, the fences fall down, or for worse effects of weather.  Sometimes believers can be very inconsistent.  Blob says that all humans can be inconsistent sometimes even if they don't believe in God.

Blob and his person decided to walk back down the site.  They wanted to meet up with Blob's creator and with Winefride and eat some food before being together to share some events that evening.  It was going to be marvellous and there weren't going to be any more big storms.  Tomorrow Blob wants to tell you about his Saturday evening with Rumi, dancing, Steampunk, comedy, a queer church service and late night carrot cake.  It was all very amazing.  Blob wishes that it wasn't another fifty-one weeks before Greenbelt 2017.  He's looking forward to it already.  He's also pleased because he doesn't need to pay for a ticket.  Soft toys are allowed to attend Greenbelt for free.

[2264 words]

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Blob Thing Encounters The Jesus Army And The Ferret Walkers At #Greenbelt

Blob Thing writes:

I was already having a wonderful time at Greenbelt even though the volume of rain falling from the sky left something to be desired.  It was about that time when people were wanting to pray for a drought.  But no drought came.  In fact the opposite happened.

I wish to apologise because in writing about the first hours at Greenbelt my person and I left something out.  We had gone to a place called Grove.  It was a circular gathering space without any sort of roof.  I'm glad we didn't go there during the storms.  We went there several times later too and it was a bit muddy underfoot but in all honesty it wasn't that bad.  I was glad to be carried all the time though because my fur would have got horribly mucky walking around the soggy Greenbelt site.  I haven't got any adventure shoes and I haven't got any adventure feet to wear them on either.

Yes, my person and I wandered and we managed to find Grove in time to hear the end of a talk and some questions asked to the speaker.  Someone my person used to sing with regularly asked a question about inclusivity.  A good question.  The speaker was from a church called the Jesus Fellowship, a radical church where many of the members live in community houses and share their income and pretty much everything else.  It's a church with a checkered history and the long-term members might agree that it's the church in the UK that has made the most mistakes.  My person wanted to hear the talk and was sad to have missed much of it.  She used to be a member of the Jesus Fellowship too.  It's also known as the Jesus Army and she has been known to annoy people by repeatedly singing a terrible Jesus Army song to the tune of a Robin Hood song.

She says the Jesus Army had some awful songs when she was a member.  It had some very good songs too but they're not as fun to annoy people with so she doesn't sing them much.  Last year the Jesus Army released a song called Thank You which my person found totally gorgeous.  She kept playing it, badly, on the piano.  My person isn't much of a pianist.  We heard someone playing Chopin at Newcastle Railway Station yesterday and my person couldn't do that.  She doesn't play much at all now because much of her enjoyment came from playing God songs and she doesn't really believe in them any more which takes away lots of the fun.  When my person is playing the piano I generally remain in another room and I get one of my friends to stick their hands over my ears so I can't hear the racket.  I've got lots of friends at home and feel very fortunate.  I met the leader of the Catholic Church last night and then when to a meditation group run by something that seems to be something of a cult so I don't think I want to go there again even though as a one off visit it was quite fun.  Winefride was there too.  She got a bit bored and it was all we could do to stop her disturbing all the people trying to be silent and raise their kundalini by making funny arm movements and believing it so.

My person felt things through it but she wasn't surprised by that.  She knows that there are perfectly good physiological and psychological reasons for feeling that way.  It's quite a nice way.  But it doesn't imply the raising of some mystical kundalini.  And it certainly doesn't imply that the people's guru was listening.  And it most definitely doesn't imply what they teach about her being the reincarnation of a range of Hindu gods and also Moses.  And The Buddha.  And Mohammed.  And The Virgin Mary.  But not Jesus.  A funny feeling through meditation practices will never imply that a modern Indian woman is a reborn Mary-Mohammed-Moses.  That idea is just silly isn't it?  I don't know.  Some humans believe some very strange things and other humans feel that critique is not allowed or that pointing out that they're tantamount to lunacy is a bad thing.  Personally I feel that things should be called out for what they are and that if someone makes some wildly implausible claim they had better have some pretty good evidence to back it up before they try to convince someone else.

Anyway.  Greenbelt.  People there believe things that I don't believe.  But it didn't seem to matter much and they weren't trying to convince me to believe the same so that's okay.  They are free to believe in a personal saviour God if they want.  Or a god who is being, is love, is beauty and is lots of other marvellous things.  Or to believe in no god.  They can believe in heaven.  They can believe in a nirvana state.  They can believe that physical death is the end.  It's all okay to me.  As long as they don't look on me and say completely patronising but well-meaning things about what I believe.  I should blog more about that sometime and about my philosophy and about the way I keep arguing with my person about it.

I'd love to be able to debate these things with Winefride too but she's non-verbal and perhaps she's happier even than me and I'm very happy all the time and smile a lot.  We both got photographed today with a very lovely woman who does lots of teaching with refugees who have arrived in the area and who does a lot of work for charities helping refugees.  My person was happy at Greenbelt because she managed to replace her "Refugees Welcome" badge after a long time not owning one.  She lost the last one on a street in North London while having a panic attack about whether she could find someone's house and her phone battery was down to three percent and she needed to be using it because that's where the map and directions were.  It was all quite difficult but she got there in the end and saw a very friendly fox too.  She was telling me all about before Autscape because at Autscape I met the person she had gone to see in London.  I'll tell you about that day too sometime.  It was the Dalek day.  And Winefride and I rode on a swing which was ever such a lot of fun and the way Winefride squealed so loudly with total delight brought me possibly more joy than I have ever experienced.

Anyway.  Greenbelt.  My person says I need to stop talking about other things and talk about Greenbelt.  She says that she's regretting letting me dictate my blog post and that I always do this and things get a bit out of hand when I'm talking.  Greenbelt.  Yes person.  Whatever you say person.  I'll talk about it.  Even though we listened to that woman because you were in the Jesus Army, not me.  I was there for you.  It was interesting what she said about inclusion though.  She said that both she and the friend with her believed in full inclusion for LGBT people in the church.  She then said that her church hadn't quite caught up with her yet.  That's the same in quite a number of churches.  The younger people don't care.  They say that it's okay to be gay or transgender or whatever else and that God doesn't mind and let's all just get on with being ourselves and serving and enjoying God.  The leadership cares.  They say gay and transgender are wrong.  Biblically terrible.  They would say that any accepting yourself and either having a same-sex relationship or transitioning to live as the gender you are (or genders you are) would be frowned on by God and that anyone doing such a thing should repent and certainly shouldn't be having any position of leadership in a church.

But it's okay.  I say it's okay.  The leaders are going to die one day.  And that will be wonderful.  Hooray for death!  Because then the younger generation will be leading and there will be full LGBT inclusion in the churches - assuming the churches survive at all.  My person thought it was very nice to hear the Jesus Fellowship/Army person say what she said.  My person was encouraged.  She says that recently a Jesus Army member got in contact with her to ask if she would be able to offer advice or support to a woman whose child was transitioning.  I think that's great.  Stunning.  I love that things are very different for queer people in the church than they used to be.  It's true that some churches behave very, very badly and that queer people can still have awful experiences.  But in other churches they are now accepted more and more.  I wonder what those horrible churches would think of me - I have male pronouns but you wouldn't catch me not wearing my dress.  Oh no.

So that's the thing we forgot to write about yesterday.  My person went and talked with the Jesus Fellowship member afterwards.  It was a nice chat.  And then we went off and did other things.  Which we told you about yesterday.

My person says that I should stop talking now because I've already said a lot.  I think she wants to be in more control tomorrow and try to stop me talking about every topic except for the one I'm meant to be talking about.  But she might not get her way.  Why should she?  This is my blog.  It's not my fault that she doesn't get round to writing her own blog.  She's only got herself to blame for it.

I just want to share one thing more today.  Tomorrow I want to talk about some of the people we met as we attempted not to get very wet in the storm - because it wasn't over and then it got even wetter and very windy too.  Between the storms it didn't look too bad.  It was all very pretty and I hoped that the rain was over.  It wasn't.

As we walked away from the mime workshop we passed the village hall.  There was an advert for a discussion group on mental health.  My person said to me that we should go to that because she has had a long history of mental health problems.  She's relatively stable at the moment but only because of the drugs she's on and even with the drugs she is finding a lot of things very difficult and has to limit herself a lot more than she would like.  We didn't go to the group because it turned out we were doing something else at the time.  Greenbelt is a place where people with mental health problems are accepted.  It's a place where people who are good friends with small pink soft toys are accepted.  We loved it and think it's quite sad that we'll have to wait for nearly a year to go back.  Just think.  A week ago we were there.  A week ago we had survived the storm and pretty soon we would be going to the theatre.  I'll tell you about that tomorrow probably.  Or the next day.

Next year we can probably do even better at Greenbelt because my person won't have been so anxious about going to it and will just be able to jump in and enjoy herself without having to spend ages exploring and exploring until she could relax.  I think she did incredibly well on that first day because she had been pretty terrified.  I'm very glad that we were there with my creator too because that helped my person a lot to know that my creator was there, even in all the times that they weren't together.  I love my creator.  She's amazing.  She must be.  She made me.  I can prove that my creator exists.  God believers have been trying to do that with their creator for many centuries.  But my creator exists and I have met her and been held by her and I love her.  I even have photos of the two of us together.  I've posted a few in my blog.

Yes.  Yes.  Okay.  My person is bullying me again to get on with it.  Okay.  We passed the village hall and we saw this sign:

Yes.  Greenbelt has everything.  I'm not sure why my person took a picture of the sign.  We haven't got a ferret who needs walking.  It's good that such a service exists though.

Right.  That's it.  My person is ordering me in strong terms to stop now.  I think her fingers are getting tired and I think she wants to eat some food too.  It amazes me how inefficient the human body is that it keeps needing more and more food.  If it was designed by an omnipotent person then they didn't do they best job possible.  That's what I think anyway.  I know other people think that the wonders of the human body - which is admittedly an amazing amazing complicated thing - prove that it must have been designed by Mr. Omnipotent.  That's what they think anyway.  Okay, I'll stop.  I won't go into discussing the classical arguments for the existence of God.  If you insist.  Yes person, yes.  But they're all so fascinating and they are just as fascinating if you aren't convinced by them - or sometimes think that they're actually a bit silly - then if you are convinced.  Okay.  Stopping.  Now.  Don't get your ontological knickers in a twist.

[2523 words including this bit.  Blob's person writes:  I wasn't paying too much attention to the content of that.  I just typed it.  Don't blame me if Blob has said anything out of place.  He's hard to control when he gets going.  It's amazing.  Winefride is non-verbal and sometimes Blob is hyper-verbal.  There is no balance in this household.

They were in hysterics earlier.  I entered a public toilet.  There were two cubicles.  One was well lit and the other wasn't.  When I entered, the place was empty.  I went to the badly lit cubicle and sat on the loo.  I then started talking to myself as I often do.  My talking ended with "Strike down your father and complete your journey to the dark side of the toilet."  Just as I reached the word toilet, the other cubicle door slammed shut and when I left my cubicle there was a group of people out there.  They stared at me.  People often stare at me so that's nothing out of the ordinary.  I decided not to be embarrassed.  But Blob and Winefride laughed so much about it and they were teasing me right through our walk and every now and again this afternoon Blob has burst out laughing and spluttered the words, "Dark side of the toilet."  This is the life I lead now.]

Friday, 2 September 2016

Blob Thing Meets Story Tellers And Goths In His First Hours At #Greenbelt

Blob's person was anxious.  She had been quite scared of attending Greenbelt and having to cope with both a festival and a place where people might talk about Christianity quite a bit.  But she walked through the entrance with a smile on her face.  The sun shone and things didn't seem overly scary.

Walking into the festival everyone could see that it was big.  Lots of tents.  Lots of activity.  Lots of people.  Blob's person wasn't able to just throw herself into the activity.  First she would need to find her way around and learn where everything was.  She had been worried that there might be nothing at Greenbelt she would want to be involved in - or be able to be involved in - but was hopeful that there would be at least something.

First things first.  Walk the grounds.  Explore.  The four companions walked past the main big top.  John Bell of Iona had been discussing reading only the bits of the Bible that contain women.  Pretty soon the Archbishop of Canterbury would be having a chat with someone.  But Blob's person wasn't relaxed enough to try entering that big tent and listen.  They walked on.

They came across a yurt - if it was actually a yurt.  This was the Christian Aid Storytelling Yurt.  The people there were giving away a very good magazine.  It was filled with stories of people.  Blob looks forward to reading it all when he gets time.  Blob's person and creator took time there to have temporary tattoos attached to their arms.  Six days later and they haven't outlasted their temporaryness.  The tattoos were words:  brother, sister, sibling.  They are meant to express that all people are connected, that all people are one family.  It's doubtful that anyone has seen Blob's person's words and understood but they're quite pretty.  And the people at the yurt were very friendly.  They were part of the Christian Aid Collective, a group who make the claim that we are "bound together by our stories."  You can read about the story yurt here.

Blob's person and his creator went to a presentation by members of Actors for Human Rights, a group of more than 700 actors across the country.  It was called Asylum Dialogues and consisted of transcripts of the words of asylum seekers and people who helped them.  The stories were interweaved.  Three stories.  All of them moving and powerful.

As the people spoke, beyond their voices everyone could hear that trouble was coming.  In the distance was the sound of thunder.  At that moment in another tent people were taking part in an event called "Shelter From The Storm."  Nobody knew how much shelter would be needed in the next hours.

The dialogues were over and Blob left the tent.  It was no longer sunny.  The sky was filled with cloud and it was getting darker.  Blob was glad that he wouldn't get wet if it rained because he could hide in the rucksack his person was carrying.  Blob's person had no such advantage because she was much too big to fit in the rucksack.  Blob was amused by the thought of watching his person trying to climb into the bag and zip it up over her head.

And then, knowing their connection could never be broken, the four companions split up.

Blob and his person went one way.  Winefride and Blob's creator went another way to go and be involved in something.  It was okay.  They knew that they would meet again.

Blob continued exploring and wanted to walk all the way to the far corners of the Greenbelt site.  He passed lots more tents and saw even more tents and areas on the edges of the field.  Quieter areas.  Very noisy areas.  Blob was very glad that there wasn't a noisy fairground like there had been the last time he went to something on a big field.  He didn't think that he or anyone with him would have coped with that kind of noise for long.  He was glad that the noisy bits were related to people playing live music rather than to six different big beats playing at the same time.  Such an environment is very hard to tolerate for Blob because being autistic makes lots of sensory environments a massive struggle.  Tiring.  Painful.  Yes, Greenbelt had some noisy things.  But they were all meaningful and Blob wouldn't have to be near them if he didn't want to.  Later in the weekend his person would surprise him and surprise herself and they would be very close to some very loud music.  Winefride enjoyed that more than anyone could have imagined.

At the far end of the field, near a very large tent containing a theatre - a tent that Blob would have a lot of fun in later - Blob found a couple of friends.  They said that they were residents of a country called Jordan.  It's a long way away.  They weren't dressed the same way that most people Blob had seen were dressed.  But that didn't matter.  People are people and a different style of clothing shouldn't make us think people are scary, or not part of the family and connectedness that the people in the yurt had talked about.  The only time clothes should make us wary of people is if they have words written on them like, "I am a mass murderer and have a bloody axe in my carrier bag."  That would be scary.  But clothing from around the world isn't scary.  Religious clothing isn't scary.  Cultural clothing isn't scary.  A woman isn't scary for wearing a headdress.  A man isn't scary for wearing a particular style of hat.  That's what Blob thinks.

So here were some people who were dressed a bit funny.  They told him that in Jordan lots of people dressed like them and that there were historic, cultural, and practical reasons for that kind of clothing.  Blob was happy to learn about another culture.  These people had stories of their own to tell of a place much further away than Blob has visited.  Behind the stories they were people.  Just people.  Trying to do their best and trying to live lives of kindness.  Blob was very pleased to meet them.  Blob's person was pleased too - especially as they brought gifts from Jordan with them.  She likes gifts!

Blob and his person walked back down the field.   They passed the story yurt again and Blob stopped to play with some story cubes.  His idea was that he would roll the dice and then invent an adventure based on the order in which the nine cubes fell and the pictures on the top.  Foolishly, Blob covered up one of the cubes with his dress when he posed for a photograph.  He still wants to tell the story and is saying that maybe the ninth cube doesn't matter.  He can tell a good story with eight cubes.  Blob's person points out that he can tell a good story with no cubes at all and that she thinks that some of his recent posts contained a lot of fiction.  Blob is astounded that she might believe that some of his adventures were made up.  Blob's person says that she doesn't remember being hit on the head to wake her up after Blob's exciting chase in the library.  Blob says that's because her memory is faulty and that she shouldn't doubt him when he talks of how he eventually captured that dragon and that puffin.

Blob likes stories.  He says that stories are part of what makes us people.  To remove the stories would be to remove our personhood.  We should tell stories, write stories, read stories, share stories.  Because in the story there is life, meaning, beauty, emotion, vulnerability, strength, purpose, resolution, relaxation, and so many other things.  Story is important and it doesn't matter too much if that story is Shakespeare or Eastenders, religious myth or personal testimony.

Blob's person walked on, back to a tent called Forge.  She wanted to try a mime workshop but was a little late and missed the first few minutes.  She found it quite fun but then the workshop became working in pairs and she got anxious about that and couldn't do it - and didn't have a pair to work in anyway.  Blob's person wasn't able to approach someone to be half of a pair because she has a lot of problems initiating social interaction in some situations.  In some places she will just talk with people.  In others she can't do it.  Autscape was a wonderful place because she could wear a badge there explaining her predicament and everyone would understand - and many people would be wearing the same badge.  But that's Autscape and for the other 361 days of the year no such badges exist.

Blob could hear that the rain was very heavy and the thunder was loud.

And then the power went off.

The mime workshop continued anyway in a darker tent and without any music to move to.  Blob's person sat and watched for a while and then had to leave.  She waited until the rain sounded a little lighter and walked out of the tent door to be greeted by this sight:

The photo does not do justice to the clouds or to the way they were moving in the sky.  The sky seemed to be very different in each moment.  The rain seemed to be easing.  And then heavier.  And then easing.  Over and over.  In the end Blob and his person were forced to dodge the rain and walk into another tent even though the door was almost closed.

They discovered that they had just missed a communion service.  It wasn't quite like any communion service Blob's person had seen before in her 25 years of communion services in lots of types of church.  Everyone there was dressed in a way most people don't dress.  The entire tent was filled with a mixture of Goths and lovers of Steampunk.  Two cultures.  Coexisting at Greenbelt and living together in peace.  Blob and his person didn't quite fit in to the colour scheme because they were both wearing colour.  Apart from Blob's person's leggings they wore nothing black at all and neither of them had anything remotely Goth or anything like a cog, watch or goggles that would have suggested a steampunk influence.

But nobody minded them being there.  Nobody minded even when Blob asked to be photographed on the communion table with the chalice and the leftover bread.  Blob's person can imagine some church places where that would not be allowed.  Blob thinks that he won't sit on many altar cloths that look like this one.

Blob also believes that he wouldn't see many communion services using a chalice quite like this one:

It's a poison chalice with ivy and poison ivy berries.  The inscription says, "One poison drives out another."  The alchemists of Europe sometimes believed this.  Elsewhere there is a Sanskrit proverb that venom drives out venom and the Mahabharata contains a story about it in which Bhima was tricked into eating poison fruits.  He was then thrown into a river filled with poisonous snakes.  His captors fully expected Bhima to die quickly but he walked out of the river.  The snakes had bitten him and their poison had overcome the poison of the fruits.  Of course that's just a story and Blob Thing doesn't recommend jumping into a river full of venomous snakes if you ever get food poisoning.  He also notes that the bad guys in ancient Hindu stories commit the same mistake that the bad guys do in modern superhero tales.  They come up with some complex method of killing the good guys rather than just getting on and killing them.  Some complicated device in six stages with a chance of escape at any point rather than just a quick bullet.  Bad guys are a bit dim sometimes.  Blob Thing says so.

Blob and his person left the communion tent and continued to wander, with no set plan.  For the moment at least it wasn't raining much.  It would probably stop raining completely soon and everyone would be pleased.  Probably.  Blob was hopeful anyway.  He didn't want to have a mud bath at his first festival.  Neither did his person.  She was pleased with the Dead Sea mud given to her by Blob's Jordanian friends.  But that was all the mud she wanted to see at Greenbelt.

[2092 words]

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Blob Thing Journeys To Greenbelt And Rides On An Elephant During The Trip

Blob says that he wants to take a break from telling you about things that happened a long time ago.  He says that he enjoyed the last week so much that he wants to tell you all about it.  Now.  Immediately.  Everything needs to be told and it's very urgent.  Blob's person has reminded him that he said the same thing not so long ago about Autscape and that he hasn't shared any of those adventures yet either.  Remember Blob, how you spent all that time with lots of autistic adults and how you did surprising things too like riding on a Dalek.

But Blob Thing is adamant.  The recent adventures must be told.  Now.  NOW.  NOW!  He also says that his person should write about them too because sometimes she writes different things and somehow seems to have had an entirely different adventure even though they were together.  Like the person said - there are seven billion realities from seven billion people and each one is slightly different yet all are true.  Blob's person is surprised at how different her reality is from that of Blob but maybe both are true.

Blob Thing had an exciting week.  He's been to Greenbelt.  It's a festival.  Blob has never been to a festival before.  He went there with Winefride, his sister.  Blob says to say that he loves his sister.  He always says that about her.  He likes saying it.  He does love his sister.  She hadn't ever been to a festival either.  The two of them were taken to the festival by Blob's person.  She hadn't ever been to a festival either.  And that really surprised a man who Blob knows as Mister Chris.  He was very surprised indeed because he thought that Blob's person seemed like the festival type.  Maybe she is and just never knew it.  The Blob, his sister and his person would never have gone to Greenbelt had it not been for his creator.  It was her idea.  It was her instigation.  Without her, Blob's person would not have attended and so Blob and his sister wouldn't have been able to go either.  They're all very grateful for Blob's person.  She has been to a festival before.  It was also called Greenbelt.

So what is Greenbelt?  It's a festival.  It has changed its description over the years.  It was once a Christian festival.  Then it became a Christian arts festival.  The website now says that "Greenbelt is an arts, faith and justice festival with a long and rich history."

Arts.  Faith.  And Justice.  Blob likes those things.

It's true that most of the faith content of Greenbelt is Christian.  But it's not all Christian.  And it's not the kind of Christianity that condemns anyone for not being the right kind of Christian or for not being a Christian at all.  It's the kind of Christianity practised by nice Christians.  They're the kind of Christians an atheist can happily and safely drink tea with.

Simply.  They are the kind who Blob's person and creator can safely be with.  Blob's person says that the whole event was a special time because it was a few days in which she and Blob's creator were not stared at by people.  It was a time in which they fitted in because everyone fitted in and everyone accepted everyone else.  They both get stared at a lot.  Blob's person can cause people to stop dead in their tracks.  She hopes that those people won't ever stop dead in the road and get mown down by a large juggernaut.  At Greenbelt people didn't stare.  At Greenbelt things were fine.  Straight people.  Queer people.  Hippies.  Goths.  Steampunk lovers.   Theists.  Nontheists.  Atheists.

It's safe to say that Blob's person enjoyed herself.  Blob and Winefride loved it too and had plenty of adventures.  Only some of them were photographed because everyone was too busy for photos.

Today Blob wants to talk about the journey to Greenbelt.  Because even on the journey there was cause for adventure and surprise.

It was a very long journey.  So long that it began the day before.  Next year - because Blob wants to go back to Greenbelt - the journey might be a lot quicker because Mister Chris said that he should travel down with a group he comes with each year from Sunderland.  Blob would like that.

The journey began by travelling to Manchester to stay with Blob's creator overnight.  Then everyone had to get up very, very early.  Blob didn't want to get up and he was quite worried that Winefride might have a meltdown because she's not used to the early mornings.  Thankfully she took it all in her stride and was ready to leave for the festival before anyone else had a chance to put their shoes on.  It wasn't just because she hadn't got shoes to put on.  She was just there waiting and humming to herself.  Winefride likes humming at the moment.  Blob thinks that she should be exposed to all kinds of music so she can find what styles she likes the most.  And he likes it when she hums.  It's sometimes a bit of a drone but sometimes it's quite melodious.  Maybe she should be shown some simple musical instruments to play.  A bit of percussion or something she can hit and make notes.  Yes.  Blob says that would be a very good idea and is asking his person to arrange it.

Winefride was very calm as the four friends got on the bus to the city centre.  She had her photo taken on the bus and you can see just how calm and happy she is.  It was a beautifully sunny morning and it was impossible to be miserable on that bus ride.  Even Blob's person was happy and reasonably calm and she had hardly slept and was pretty scared at the idea of (a) going to a festival, and (b) going to a festival at which people talked about God.  Blob Thing told her it would be okay.  Blob's person told her too and together they did their best to calm her more and recommended following the example that Winefride was setting.

The journey was a very exciting one.  They had to travel on three different trains.  Fancy that!  Three trains.  Not just one or two.  And then at one of the stations there was a surprise adventure.  A complete surprise.  Winefride and Blob Thing met a real life elephant.  They had met sheep before - an adventure Blob told you about a month ago.  He hasn't written about his adventures with his sister since then.  They've had quite a lot of them and he wants to tell you about them all one day.

Yes.  It was an elephant.  Blob was surprised to see such a creature roaming wild in Yorkshire.  He has since learned that this is The Warrior elephant, part of a large herd of elephants that has currently descended upon a city called Sheffield.  Blob and Winefride were allowed to ride on the elephant.  He would quite like to go back and find more elephants to ride on but doubts he could find all 58 of them in a day even if he could go back to Sheffield and visit more of it than a railway station.

Just look at the two of them, riding proud on an elephant.  It was quite dangerous.  At one point Blob Thing fell off, all the way to the ground.  It was lucky that the ground wasn't covered in poisonous plants and that it wasn't the crater of an active volcano.  Very lucky indeed.  Blob wasn't even bruised by the fall and was able to climb back on the elephant.

It was soon time to leave the elephant behind.  He had been friendly and Winefride had kept laughing at his impressive trunk protector.  She laughs even more than Blob Thing does.  She would have liked to have stayed longer and hugged the elephant tightly before saying goodbye in the special way she has of saying goodbye to someone she likes.  She can't speak, but at least some of the time it's easy to know what she means.

Blob and Winefride caught the train from Sheffield just in time and the rest of the journey passed happily as the scenery flashed by.  And then they were nearing the end of the journey.  Kettering

From there it only remained to catch the special Greenbelt shuttle bus to the festival.  Blob's person kept singing "I wish to go to the Festival."  She KEPT saying it.  For days beforehand.  And pretty soon she would have her wish.  The bus went a very funny way to the festival through streets that were never designed with a double decker bus in mind.  But it got them to Greenbelt eventually.

The journey was over.  All that remained was to set up the tent - thankfully in the disabled camping area which was very close to the entrance.  Blob and Winefride didn't help at all with that.  They just sat back and watched as Blob's person and his creator attempted to erect a tent which they had never seen before.  Blob thinks it unlikely that he would be able to put up a tent on his own.  On the other hand he wouldn't need a big tent so might manage it and he wouldn't have to store lots of things in it because he only has one set of clothes and is happy to sleep anywhere.

The job was done.  The tent stood proud.  Proud and only slightly wonky.

And so the four companions turned from it and headed through the festival gates.

The joys and struggles and wonders of Greenbelt awaited them.

Something completely unknown to three of them would become known.  The next few days would be wonderful.

Assuming they could all manage to survive the large storm heading their way.

[1654 words]