Tuesday, 23 February 2010

In which I went to London ...

Tuesday 23rd February, and a trip to London to go to a Reception at Portcullis House, Westminster, at the invitation of The Office of Tibet, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama.

As you may recall, in May 2008 I attended a Group Audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Oxford. That was a gathering of families and friends of those who had been involved in Tibet and with His Holiness over the years.

This time, a smaller group was called together specifically to mark the time, 70 years ago to the day, when the Dalai Lama was enthroned. My uncle David was then stationed at Gyantse as part of the British military presence, and he was one of a very small group who made up the official British representation at the enthronement at the Potola Palace in Lhasa.

London was wet and bustling, and the physical act of entering Portcullis House lived up to the building's name. Since it is part of Parliament, we were scanned and searched, all the time surrounded by policeman armed with automatic weapons. I then had difficulty in finding a glass door that would open in order to ascend the stairs to the Boothroyd Room where the meeting was to take place.

With His Holiness presently in Florida, his greeting to us was conveyed by his official representative, especially to families of those who had been present at the Potola in February 1940. We then had a slide show of images of the event, as well as a short piece of silent film that had been found in the archives of the British Film Institute. The Lama's representative then gave ceremonial scarves to a member of each family, and my late uncle's daughter went forward to receive it. I have the one given to me by the Dalai Lama at our Oxford meeting.

It was good to be part of this gathering. Something to put down in the family archives.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Friday, 19 February 2010

40 days of personal satisfaction?

I have a problem with Lent, and it's because every year I feel it can be a bit of a self-satisfying guilt trip. The traditional disciplines of "giving up" something, or the decision to do something extra, can only lead to two things: a sense of achievement or failure. If the target is achieved there's a warm glow of satisfaction .... "I tell you, they have their reward already". If it's failure, then it's an increased sense of guilt at not having the personal strength of character to triumph. Out with the hair shirt and the whip.

Maybe it's just because I loathe this season. It somehow seems false - a superficial attempt to increase our sense of holiness, when what we should really be doing, and not just for the duration of Lent, is challenging the hypocrisy and prejudice that is plainly evident in the church.

This Sunday the Epistle reading from Romans will again be proclaimed: For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

A real challenge for this Lent would be to work to bring this scripture into reality. And our prayer should be: "Let it begin with me."

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Put a tiger in your tank

And if you remember THAT advertising slogan from ESSO then you're older than you think!

Chinese New Year decorations put up in the house and celebrated with a meal of Char Sui pork dumplings, roast potato balls, vegetable spring rolls, crispy roast duck & pancakes, sweet & sour chicken on egg fried rice .... wonderful!

I'm stuffed!


Saturday, 13 February 2010

But the sun did come out on Wednesday last....

and so, at high tide, I wandered down onto the rocks and did a pen and watercolour picture of Lindisfarne castle - quite different from the brooding one the day before.

Friday, 12 February 2010


Now back home after a couple of days away on the isle of Lindisfarne. Chilly north wind with sleety showers, but also sunshine and glorious views. For the first time in a couple of years I managed to dabble with my watercolours and did three small paintings. The virtues of the island were extolled as peace and quiet, though I felt that it was just as quiet down here in rural north Suffolk. More seagulls though, and salt spray, and a view of a castle instead of a round-tower church. All in all, a quite refreshing short break.

Friday, 5 February 2010


Been parochial by visiting the village school and hearing 5 young lads read with varying degrees of competancy, and am now making bread for the morrow ...

Thursday, 4 February 2010

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"

It's the minor character Marcellus, and not Hamlet, who coins the phrase. There's a reason he says "state of Denmark" rather than just Denmark: the fish is rotting from the head down—all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy.

The Church of England is "Established" and thereby the State Church.

It's not just Denmark that has its problems. Prayers needed here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Norman Rockwell's birthday anniversary

In celebration of this great illustrator I delved into an upstairs cupboard for some old copies of the Saturday Evening Post, and found this front cover ...

This Week's Cover:
Norman Rockwell's painting of the obstreperous dog holding up the onrush of civilization depicts an alley near Seventh Street and Rampart Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Bekins Storage organization had a van which would cozily fit the alley, but it was a white one and the artist wanted red. So the owners had it painted red, which shows how convenient it is to be Norman Rockwell. The models, denizens of the Los Angeles County Art Institute, include a violin teacher, upper right, waiting to give the hapless boy, lower left, an inoculation of music. Actually the boy could doubtless give the teacher a lesson, for the latter is Rockwell, who took two violin lessons when he was young and was advised to turn to painting or something.

Monday, 1 February 2010

And it started off so well

An "away-day" today, and a drive up to Stoke-on-Trent to say goodbye to two friends who are moving to France on Sunday. Bag packed, car windows wiped clear of anti-freeze, and off we go. First stop in Bungay three miles down the road for some petrol. Put in £30 worth and reach for my wallet ..... but it's not there, and neither is my mobile phone. Then I remember putting them on the roof of the car as I sorted out my jacket on the back seat. Bummocks!

Leaving personal details with the petrol station, and getting a chit giving me 24 hours in which to pay, I drive at high speed back to the house. No sign of wallet or phone in driveway or on the road outside. Visions of whole day going to pot!

Back into the house with the idea of phoning my mobile to see if anyone has picked it up to find a message on my answerphone from a neighbour saying that he found them in the road, and that they are with my next-door neighbour. Go out to go round there to meet the lady coming across her garden with a note to put through my letterbox. Wallet and phone are retrieved, albeit with a small piece of plastic missing from the phone case. These are the advantages of living in a small community.

Back into Bungay to pay for the petrol and then start my journey, an hour later than anticipated.

Straightforward drive until near Diss when a lorry threw up a large stone that chipped my windscreen right in front of my eyes. Nearing Uttoxeter, another stone, making a small chip right near to the first one.

But the hotel was found easily, the room is comfortable, and a good evening was had with the two friends and another couple that used to drink in the same pub we all frequented - The Globe.

(View from my hotel bedroom window)

Perhaps the return journey tomorrow will be less eventful. And apparently there's a large Chinese supermarket somewhere nearby on this estate, which could make for an interesting start to the day, especially with Chinese New Year (Tiger) looming.