Shoe on other foot?

Some time yesterday morning, the group general counsel, who is my manager, came up to me and asked for a confidential chat. We went into a small meeting room and he said to me he was going to let someone go later that day. He explained why he was doing that and he asked if I could be with him at the meeting.

A part of me wanted to pull away but it is work that needs to be done. A meeting to terminate employment is always best convened with more than just one on one. Having a third party present is always prudent. I’ve known this since striking a close working relationship with the group human resource head of Phileo Group in KL back in the day. Phillip K became a good friend and I’ve had the misfortune to have lost contact with him since we moved to Melbourne. As someone who is here to do work, I agreed to my manager’s not unreasonable request.

It happened just after lunch – my manager got riled up just before the meeting and so he was very short with the employee during that meeting. He did it quickly and left the room, leaving the CFO (who had been pulled in by the employee) and I to smoothen the exit. After finally seeing the person out some half an hour later, I debriefed my manager and then felt crappy for the rest of the day.

As I was getting dressed this morning, I wondered what that person’s day was going to turn out. I said a little prayer for her. I couldn’t help but thought there but for the grace of God go I…


Luigi, Hodgey, Prosper and LBJ

Some weeks, I feel totally flat by Friday arvo. On such weeks, I’d like to go somewhere I can feel at home for a meal. This little Italian place as the crow flies from our home, has become such a place. I’d drop the owner proprietor cook a note on FB some time during the day and the reservation’s done. Tress and I go there on average once a month and last Friday night when we went there it was a great way to just unwind. The food there is always fresh and delicious and Luigi and his crew – Italian accent and all – always make the occasion relaxed and enjoyable.

After dinner we went back home to watch Hodgey’s final game. The General was to retire, along with Bob Murphy and Matt Boyd, were all playing their last game. Josh Gibson was retiring too but he was still injured and so didn’t play. It was good to see Hawks win their final game of the season – against the Doggies – notwithstanding we’re missing out on finals footy for the first time in years. I regretted not going for the game but Friday night games have become a big challenge now, and I had mistakenly thought it was an away game as it was at the Etihad, when it was in fact a home game.

The next morning I went for the men’s breakfast meeting, and listened to a guy called Prosper Sebafundi talk about his journey, leaving Rwanda first for Congo and then to Australia, becoming successful here in Melbourne. After the talk, Tress and I went and kept our appointment with our tax consultants to submit our returns, before heading further out east to look at a potential property. We had last Thursday, agreed to sell a property not far from our home and we thought we’d put it back in something a bit bigger but a bit further out.

The weather was very ordinary right through the weekend and we could only manage short quick walks with the little fellow. It was the same yesterday – it was bucketing down for much of the morning and when Tress was away for a lunch with come ex-colleagues, I had to ward off the little fellow’s nudges and say to him we’ll go out when the weather clears up and when Tress was home. Tress got home a bit after 3pm and we managed a quick walk before coming back home to set up for the week.

It would be another busy week – the Group CEO transition means the usual cycles are disrupted and work is going to be a bit more frantic but such is life…

Rain, and Sunshine

Tress and I sat at a table by the window on Friday night, and watched the rain bucketing down onto the cars parked outside the restaurant. It was that sort of a wintery day and the desert was a coconut ice cream which we looked at and I had no interest.

My mind wandered to the horrible news earlier that morning – Barcelona, one of my sentimental favourite cities in Europe, had experienced the horror of what has unfortunately become a familiar account. A van was driven through Las Ramblas, mowing down and killing over a dozen people and injuring scores of others. I remember having a meal in the outdoor dining area of a café at Las Ramblas, nearly 20 years ago now – on the main walkway itself – and seeing a group of English tourists doing a runner. They were chased down and hauled back by the café’s waiters. They were ushered inside to the back of the café and I wondered if they paid with interest.

The rain made the Friday night dinner more subdued than it should be. Payom Thai is a local Thai place we’ve been to numerous time and it’s always a good experience. We quickly left when the rain eased up.

We went back and watched a little bit of the footy – Swans playing away to the Crows was always going to be a good contest but not 15 minutes in we decided to watch Suits on Netflix instead, and binge watched till neither of us could keep our eyes open any longer.

The weather the next morning was equally dull. We slept in a little bit and then I decided to take the little fellow for a walk before it poured again and before Amber arrived. It started to rain as the little jedi and I were heading back. He got a little wet and that annoyed Amber as it would be harder for her to clip the wild growth off his follicles if it was wet. As she groomed him we had our coffee and brekky and after he was done Tress and I left for our usual weekend chores. I also picked up the new plates I wanted to put on the Miata.

Later that arvo we met with Nadine, a real estate agent whom we’d asked to help with the proposed sale of an investment unit. If that works out we’d probably miss it but otherwise we’d be happy to keep it and let the current tenants continue on. Nadine appeared to be cautiously confident it’d sell so we’ll have to see how it goes.

We went back late arvo, binged on Suits a bit more, before switching to the EPL to see United chalk up an impressive second big win. Mourinho has certainly brought some mojo back.

We had a Ridley lecturer speak on Elizabeth I and her influence on the fledgling English reformation. She mandated uniform use of Cranmer’s work throughout England and entrenched important truths amongst ordinary folks. I often baulk at modern day churches’ disdain for traditions and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of Melbourne’s scores of little independent or ACC churches appreciated the roles of the likes these early protagonists. Without the likes of Tyndale and Cranmer and without Elizabeth I’s clear mandate, church history would probably take a very different trajectory and one can only wonder what that would mean for these little churches in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne today.

After lunch we took the little fellow for a walk – the weather had vastly improved and the sunny conditions were perfect. Later that arvo I cooked the week’s lunches and Tress did the ironing. We then rang her dad and my mum. We had in recent days said to ourselves we hadn’t done that for a while so we said we needed to ring them this weekend. It was good talking to my mum again and she sounded well. Life is just moving along for her – she now has May and her two boys with her and so the house now has 4 of them instead of just her alone and that has to be good.

Maybe it’s old age, or maybe the reality of mortality continues to dawn, especially given the news this morning that a 7-year old Aussie was amongst those killed in Barcelona late last week. As diabolical rains bucket down on our lives, one hopes the sunny conditions aren’t too far behind and they’d stay when they arrive.

Cranmer and Suits

For the most part the reformation had been, for me, about Luther and his 95 theses against the catholic church in the 16th century. In recent weeks however, the once woolly knowledge I had about Cranmer (through less than close reading of articles on Cranmer by Phillip Jensen some years ago) took a more front and center position, as St Alf lined up a series of talks to commemorate the 500 years since the reformation by focusing on the English experience.

The small group we’re in have also been talking about this at some length so both Tress and I have become a little more acquainted with the English chapter. Certainly, I now know Henry VIII as more than just the polygamous king his reputation branded him. The takeaway so far, has to be how sacrificial the lives of the likes of Tyndale, Ridley and Cranmer were, which Mark Sneddon said were really reflective of what the life of Jesus was like. Together with the old hymns and original liturgy, the service yesterday was really good.

We went to a café near the Blackburn Station for lunch thereafter, picked up some frozen foods from Madam K after that and went back to walk the little fellow. It was very balmy and even a little sunny so we extended the walk before coming home to binge on Netflix. We don’t have anything we really wanted to watch but on Friday night, we had started with the first season of Suits and surprisingly, Tress was more hooked than I was and we ended up watching 1½ seasons of episodes through till last night. We stopped only to fix the smoothie brekky for today and my sangers for lunch today.

On Sat morning we took the Mx5 in to a workshop to have it checked out and changed some fluids. I was very happy to hear the mechanic say the car needed no work whatsoever and he only changed the engine oil and put in some additives and gave me some advice on the tyres. Later that arvo we took the hard top off and went for a short cruising drive with the soft top down and it was loads of fun. I can’t wait till summer comes along. Later that night we caught up with the Hipos and Chews again. We were at a Chinese restaurant which reminded me a lot of what KL was like. The car park was full and appeared chaotic, the restaurant was loud, noisy and diners spoke on top of their voices and got even louder as the evening wore on, and the food was served in a way which suggested messing up the spaces on your table wasn’t a problem for them. The company was good however and I had another opportunity to play with the Hipos’ kids, which was quite fun.

Kiddo has just finished the last of the essays/assignments and wont have anything due for a couple of months so I hope she has some kind of down time and need to “only” worry about how to deal with classroom peppered with kids from all sorts of challenging background. I hope the warmer days also make life easier for her and Mic in the cold plains of Canberra.

Cranmer and Suits make a very strange combination for a weekend. I think they may even be at polar ends of each other, of sorts.


Work and Wait

The Group CEO of my employer leaves in less than a month. Notice of his resignation was disseminated early last week but in retrospect I should have seen it coming a lot earlier. The Malaysian colleague who is an EA to the executive leadership team, said to me she’d known for a while, when I asked if she knew. She is a lot closer to that space and is constantly asked to access and work on related documents so her knowing is par for the course. The CEO’s demeanor, his toing and froing in recent months, his at times almost carefree air about him, should all have been telltale signs.

That the CEO himself – the Group CEO at that – has headed to the exit door pretty much speaks of the organization I have been part of in the past 19-20 months. I must have known and said goodbye to up to 3 dozen middle to senior executives, and probably a dozen or so technicians and managers. It surely is God’s providence I still peck away on my keyboard and warm chairs in meeting rooms. There but the grace of God go I.

I’m keeping my head down and churn out as many docs, advices, meeting notes, emails, etc. as I need to. I want to just turn up to work, do my work, and go home and be with Tress and the Little Jedi. But with the in’s and out’s whirring around me, I can’t help but lift my head – in increasing regularity – to take in the state of affairs and assess my own.

Outside of work I continue to wonder what is my due, my role, in His service. Maybe given the state of my walk with Him all I can expect is to keep my head down, do my regular work here in South Melbourne each day and keep company – “be in fellowship” – with the rest of His family, my family, on weekends particularly on Sunday at St Alf’s. I don’t know what brings about that state, or the belief that I am in that state. That state – the state of inertia. Maybe it’s the crash bang experience of my time with the previous community that is causing me to “wait on Him” and merely that. I remain in a state of waiting. I seek Him, pray daily for His to show me and simply wait for circumstances to present themselves. That has been going on for more than what, 3 years now? But I read of waits far longer than that.

I don’t know – maybe that is my lot in life. Maybe my due, my role, is simply do whatever I can in my current situation – mainly around my work.

The risk of continuing in a state of wait is my sporadic distraction which can, and did, result in sticky beaks into the pleasures of life. Seeking out food to savor, wines to buy, cars to ride in, places to visit – these are all perfectly legitimate pursuits for pleasure and I don’t think any of those have been elevated beyond mere fun stuff. Certainly I don’t think any one of them is anywhere near idolatrous and yet I wondered if I should have been more stoic in my wait.

For now, there is a lot to do at work, which has been a good thing as apart from the fact that the days go by so much quicker, I am left with little time or energy to think about the stoic wait that is required for now.

The Group CEO hails from a famous blue blood name in the business community of Melbourne, so busy as he has been at work, I’m not sure his calling is too far out of the business circles. Mine I’m not so sure.

Tyndale, Cranmer … Moi leh?

It was a busy week at and out of work last week. I’d teed up dinner on Friday with Jason & Mel and the Hipos at a Malaysian restaurant in Donvale so we met there and enjoyed a good meal and great company. Jess however, looked stressed and distracted. She has been planning a fundraising event for her employer, a religious not-for-profit, which was going to happen on Sat night. It was also to be her swansong with that employer. Her kids however, have been warming up to Tress and I in the past couple of years so they were playing with us at the dinner. They were to come to our home on Sat morning too, as Jess had Gerry help with the event on Sat morning.

When they arrived shortly before 9am, Tress and I were just finishing up our usual Sat morning brekky and coffees. After settling them down, we took them to the playground across the street and then a walk through the ovals thereafter. When we got back, Tress selected some kids shows on Netflix and I went out to do some work on the garden. Early in the arvo, after Tress and I both got cleaned up we had home made chee-cheong-fun with Gerry and the girls also joining in. Then it was off for some grocery shopping. That night we watched some mindless vengeance flick on Netflix – with Mark Wahlberg spearheading some gratuitous shooting on some purported vigilante styled investigation. It was a contrasting finish to a very lovely family orientated day…

On Sunday Peter gave a very informative talk on the English experience of the Reformation, focusing on the work of William Tyndale who was martyred for translating the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into the English language. He also had the NT in different languages – Latin, Greek and old English – displayed on the stage, for us to look at after the service. It was a sobering lesson of a life lived sacrificially in honour and obedience to one who had also lived likewise.

After St Alf’s we went back to the Friday dinner venue for lunch before doing a bit more grocery shopping. We had also wanted to hide in a shopping centre – it was grey and blowy outside, and cold too. We had also wanted to get something to “celebrate” the little fellow’s birthday. The conditions got a bit better and we went home, took the little fellow for a walk, before coming home to cook the week’s meals while following the footy on TV. We witnessed the Hawks’ demise this season – finals footy are well and truly buried.

As I was lying in bed last night, I thought again about William Tyndale. As I look forward to next week’s segment on Thomas Cranmer I thought again about whether my daily/weekly routines are all there is to what I need to do. It feels – strongly – there has to be more to this.

My Miata

I was at Ivanhoe East with Phil and was about to take off when it hit me that it was happening. I was absolutely indulging myself in doing this. As I climbed into the low-lying seat and started the engine, my heart raced a little. I could not quite believe that for maybe only the second time in my life, I did something purely and simply for fun, to indulge in my fantasy.

Back in 1999 from the moment Andy Cole made it absolutely sure with United’s third goal against the grand old lady in Turin, I dreamt of watching them in the final in Nou Camp. Somehow Lawrence from the club secured tickets, offered me one, and away I went to Gaudi city. I remember walking along the La Rambla one morning and thinking how could that all be real – I was in Barcelona to watch United play in a Champions League final. To actually be there at the Nou Camp, seeing Solskjaer tuck in Teddy’s across the goal mouth header to win it in added time, was to indulge in a realised fantasy pure and simple.

When I pulled into Blackburn in the the MX5 – my Miata – I felt like Solskjaer sliding on his knees to celebrate that memorable goal. It was realised fantasy, pure and simple.