Sunday, 11 April 2021

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

 Fiona and I gave the hour from 8am to Radio Four. I had failed to gel with the Archbishop's Easter service a week ago in the same timeslot. It is my experience that the last year has been a groundhog day on steroids. Now, another week has passed, but it has seen something of a seismic shift: the Duke of Edinburgh has died. This time, for me anyway, The Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster Abbey had it just right. The absolute driver was service and Easter, whether that be the service of Christ, Him to us and us to Him or the same service informing the life of Prince Phillip. The Anglican Worship was beautiful. Some small niggle in myself was ruefully thinking that this was what made the British Empire so successful and even now makes many around the World appreciate being in our Commonwealth. On offer is a velvet gloved totalitarianism in which the concept of Service can be used to persuade people to do extra-ordinary things (remembering that we live on a piece of space rock I wonder how much that should surprise us).. It is a sort of golden deal for the powerful, one which enabled Indian Maharajas or Pacific Island leaders to see a very appealing progressive contexualisation. Where appropriate it got you a Rolls Royce. As many folk are explaining (Robert Wise), at a different plane, the life experience of the majority might diverge. As the service ended the BBC announced that in a change to the schedule Rebecca Stott would give A Point of View on Kenwood Mixers. This was inspired editing. It cut very close to my grain. She landed us in the mid 1970s and utter family chaos in which a strong woman did incredible things. MEN! Prince Phillip was let down by his father! Staggeringly so. My experience of an army officer, a parachutist was quite challenging. A person who could lead, who could see what he wanted doing but was not about always being polite nor see that there could be family divergences. Between 1974-1976 I was a teenager very keen not to be part of the British Public School system. It was a conflict finally only resolved by becoming a Christian and realising Love was the key to becoming part of a much larger context than the individual. It is clear to me Prince Phillip understood that expression of Love in bucketloads, the Queen likewise. And also millions of everyday folk. That is why Rebecca Stott's remembrances of a crowded fatherless house in Hove are so important. Despite the pain, joy was found. I am no left wing feminist who thinks men should be seen and not heard as payback for what went before. I do think that to resolve the age old tension men and women experience, their relationships should be as persons laid before Christ.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Petrol bombs in Carrickfergus


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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

One year of the lockdown.


Today the nation is marking one year since the start of lockdown and remembering the 126,000 Covid victims. We are in a better place just now. I think 17 people died of it in the UK yesterday. But it has been an appalling roller coaster. It has not been Britain's finest hour although the vaccines do now offer real hope. Make sure you get yours! About the linked photo, my father 1916-2004 and mother 1923-2005 in their heyday. Three cars before their demise. Working backwards they had a Polo, a Golf, this BMW in 1971 and in the years before that back through to 1959 when I was born, two Rover P4s. The major impacting moment of their lives was World War Two. Now as it happens 16 and 17 years ago today and tomorrow we buried them. March is really tinged for me and Fiona's mum was a March death and burial too in 2018. I think the death rate in this Pandemic against one year of the war is broadly comparable. My mother was big on stories about parties at USAF airbases. They did not meet until after the war. In a sense they both had "good wars". But the chaos of the war certainly left scars which would impact their lives and those of their children for many decades. At least in the war, the front line forces were found leave. You could not be on duty all the time. Travel around Britain remained just about practical. I believe in this crisis for NHS staff a very difficult challenge has been getting away from the extra-ordinary PTSD level scenes they have had to deal with. We have simply not had enough troops! I am so glad neither my father or mother saw this pandemic. They would not have been impressed.  I can confirm that photo was taken in 1984 at Lymington by their friend John Brice.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Boris on Scotland

You will remember how Jeremy Corbyn came along and dismembered Scottish Labour with his attitude to devolution. To me it is no surprise at all that Boris Johnson did the same yesterday with his ill judged comments about devolution. This morning on R4 it was left to wise old Malcolm Rifkind to try to make some sense of it all. However so far no-one has tackled the elephant in the room. It is BREXIT. Guy Opperman had me telling the citizens of Hawick in 2014 that the only way to stay in the EU was to stay in the British Union. I am never going to forget that, as two years later that was swept down the pan. Support for EU membership, admiration for Sturgeon's government style, these remain strong and now with the crucial independence vote coming next May, the SNP have been handed a silver salver. Westminster Tories and Islington Socialites are incapable of understanding Scotland will be the mantra. I will level: the sooner Boris is gone the better. He is an utter disaster. He cannot manage social distancing in his own home, told to isolate, he opens his mouth on devolution! I am not keen on Scottish independence but Scotland is quite entitled to say our settled will was to remain in the EU and the UK government has to square that or else the UK becomes a footnote in history. It is a difficult one to square as is a Border in the Irish Sea and there are now only a few weeks in the world wide pandemic in which to do it. If we crash out to no deal on Jan 1st the resultant chaos will ensure a SNP walk over in May. Independence could easily follow even if I candidly feel it will not become a bed of economical roses. I also do feel that to insist on a referendum in 2021 when we are still reeling from Covid is rather beneath the belt. All Britons Take note, what happens between us and the EU in the next few short weeks will really affect whether you have one united union of nations to be proud of or not.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Monuments and the Queen

Emma Soames ""We've come to this place where history is viewed only entirely through the prism of the present," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. " Much of me has done my best to avoid talking about the rascist controversies. I am certain George Floyd died unjustly. But I am very uncomfortable about much that has happened in the middle of a pandemic lately. Yet to argue about this, easily takes one into a corner one does not want to be in. Do not think I have not thought and prayed about it much. So hear my best offering. At the root of all this lies man's readiness to bully other people. We just love it. I hated school for this reason, dammed near suicidally. I hated workplace bullies, I found my Lady and we have tried to build our little bit of heaven on earth. On all this I hate bullies, I am clearly with George Floyd but what if rioting and civil protest, taking over precincts in Seattle itself looks like bullying? How do we get out of this? I am offering this answer. We recognise that the ultimate bully, the one who started it all is God the creator (because I will not accept the Genesis account and that because man did not consciously fault but faulted into consciousness (I am with Auden, that profound bisexual poet of the 20th c (courting controvery at several levels there))). Auden learnt that, and says so bluntly, in our Pennine backyard. So grant to me any God who created this world must bear some responsibility for the bullying. What should we do in this moment? Surely logic says in the mood of our moment, anything that speaks of God must be torn down. We must not remember we believed. Justice can only be served by removal. Destroy the churches and temples! What does that remind you of? It reminds me of what happened in England after the reformation and in the Commonwealth. Is that the world you wish to be in because we could be quite near creating it in all this monument bashing? Alternatively you might want to read the Gospel stories again and see if some saving paradox is present? So give me a protest in Whitehall today or the Queen's ceremonies at Windsor and I will be with her. A most remarkable woman of faith.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

House of Bishops

I have just listened to R4 Thought for the Day. More often than not its announcement jumps me out of bed to switch the radio off. Today was the Revd. Giles Fraser and he rightly ripped into last week's House of Bishops report on Civil Partnerships. His most telling comment that the church blesses warships but will not accept that people can choose to love each other and value person before gender. Despite Jesus clearly valuing person before gender and the whole idea of "One God in three persons, holy and blessed Trinity" getting on for being two thousand years old. This week I have encountered a dear friend who is very much exercised by this dinosaur like mentality. I know many broad minded ministers and I know others who would struggle to welcome a gay couple into church and communion. This is such a pathetic dispute but at its heart lies the idea of authority and whether a book tops the spirit. Jesus never promised a book but promised the Spirit. In my view whether you believe in a seven day creation and possibly even more importantly did pain enter the world before or after the fall will colour what you make of gay relationships. I am with Auden "Man faulted into consciousness". Are you with science or not? Genesis does matter. It is wrong, wrong scientifically (about creation and about death), wrong morally, wrong in its treatment of women. Unless you are willing to confront that and be clear, then the pain will continue and the Churches will be left to the fanatics who do not welcome people and are full of fear and judgement. Sad that when what the world needs is to know that grace and love can be tops. And that God could take responsibility by being incarnate of the Virgin Mary.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Climate change New Year 2020

The Apocalypse is now. Whether you are in Idlib or the suburbs of Sydney. In Prudhoe it is a beautiful quiet morning and unseasonably warm for sure. In Australia it is our flaming June and it certainly is. There is months more to go. Australian institutions have been notably reluctant to recognise climate change. Just weeks ago they helped mess up the latest intergovernmental climate change conference. This I am certain of and so is the retiring BoE governor. Face up to the reality of the massive change needed in all our lives or we will quite likely burn. A dry summer in Prudhoe surrounded by its beautiful woodlands? That is what is happening to people just like you and me whether in Greece, California or Australia. This is a stark situation and I am amazed that many people will want to start New Year with a fireworks display? The thing is we have to listen to the Scientists and along the way the hearts of Putin, Trump et al have to change. But that is the rub, the hearts of all of us have to change. We need redemption. Recent political processes in Great Britain show the nastiness that lies in the human heart. Honest genuine patriotism can very easily be slid into warped hate filled nationalism. Nationalism will get the world nowhere in the face of where we are near headed. The miracle that is needed is a miracle of the heart and I would commend Jesus Christ and his Gospel and his presence today in the Holy Spirit as a power worth bending the knee too. My daughter gave me for Christmas a beautiful brand new apology for the Christian faith by Alister McGrath. And that reminded me of another book we have, all in the links below. I am an industrial archaeologist who sells out of date bus timetables married to a lovely librarian. Both of us work very hard in developing better public transport which will be essential going forward and where in the last 30 years investment (real betterment not like for like replacement) in North East England has been next to non existent. The famous industrial historian and founder of railway preservation L T C Rolt wrote one of the earliest green books - High Horse Riderless and I read it decades ago. Have a wonderful New Year Holiday and gear up for huge change in 2020!