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take your pick

When you read the title of this piece what comes to mind? That could well depend on your age! Take Your Pick was a TV game show, hosted by Michael Miles. To qualify for the later quiz part of the show, contestants first had to face quick-fire questions from Michael and for one minute, while they answered, they were not allowed to say "yes" or "no". If they did, Alec Dane was on hand to strike a gong that would send the contestant packing. Some contestants were caught out straightaway, for example: Michael Miles: What is your name? Contestant: Harry Johnson. Michael: Harry Johnson? Contestant: Yes GONG!!!

The contestants that were astute enough to get through the first round would return after the commercial break to face three general knowledge questions. If they got them all correct, they then had the opportunity to choose a key that would open one of ten boxes, each of which contained a different prize. But before they opened the box Michael Miles would attempt to buy the key back from them by offering cash (making Take Your Pick the first British TV quiz show to offer a cash prize). The audience were encouraged to shout advice to the contestant in the form of "take the money" or "open the box." Any one of the 10 boxes could contain one of three booby prizes. There was also the mysterious box thirteen (mysterious perhaps because there were no boxes eleven or twelve). This could also contain a booby prize such as a box of matches, an old-fashioned mangle, or it could contain that week's star prize!

If you are slightly younger the phrase 'take your pick' may remind you of Woolworths pick 'n' mix. On the 5th of January 2009, over 800 Woolworths stores up and down the country closed their doors for the last time and with them, we lost a national treasure. I could write about how Woolworths failed to move and change with the times and how that gives us an example not to follow for our churches etc.... But maybe I will leave that for another time.

Their pick 'n' mix characterised two of the then main tenets of British society. Firstly, unhealthy food and secondly, an undying love of a good deal. Although speaking as a mother, I never thought that pick 'n' mix sweets were a good deal and I would tap the back of my children's hands, so that if I thought their bags were getting too heavy, some of the sweets would drop back out!

In these more enlightened times of not touching things because of the concern of spreading disease, it is a 'Wonder of Woolly's' (pun intended) that more young people did not catch more illnesses from grubby little hands touching and gathering up sweets. Oh, those young and carefree days of too many E numbers!

The sheer amount of choice was incredible. There was literally just about everything one could imagine, from foam bananas, cola bottles, milk bottles, fried eggs, jellybeans, flying saucers, black Jacks, fruit salads and much, much more. Not everything suited everyone, but most people could find something they liked.

In our Circuit, during the lockdowns, we all have had the chance to take our pick from all the different options of worship resources that are available. Collectively the Ministers, Preachers and Churches, in one way or another, have worked very hard to provide worship material in many forms. There are written home sheets for people, for people who can access the internet live Zoom services and recorded services are available. Some people have chosen to access churches within our own Circuit while others have logged in to churches farther afield. The lockdown times have been an opportunity to take your pick, to pick 'n' mix; to choose what suits you and your needs. Zoom for those who miss being part of a congregation and the interaction that a live environment brings. Recorded services which can be viewed at any time, but with less interaction. Written sheets for those without the internet. Just like the pick 'n' mix sweets, not everything suits everyone but, with all these available resources, surely most people can find something that helps them, in offering their worship to God. I invite you to 'open a box' and try, you never know what you might find.

Every Blessing, Pauline


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