Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Mummy's little Prince

from "The Local"

A Swedish appeals court has cleared the path for a couple in in southern Sweden to name their son "Prince" after rejecting a tax agency argument that the name was a professional title, and that there was a risk that the name would lead to misunderstandings.

The court based its decision on the fact that the tax agency had previously approved the name as an acceptable Christian name and despite the guidelines that "A first name may not be such that it can be seen as offensive or cause discomfort to the child, neither may it resemble a surname," the couple should be allowed to give their son the name.

The Swedish tax agency retains the right of approval for the naming of children in Sweden and all parents are required to register the names of their new born with the agency within three months of birth. Previously there have been disputes over the names "Metallica", "Google", "Dark Knight" and "Elvis".

Full story here

This of course is nothing new to the English.

In 1994 the Superintendant Registrar of Stafford reported on a couple named Belcher who registered their son as "Prince Charles". She also listed various other requests that had come to her: a Mr and Mrs Jordan who named their son "Jordan"; a couple with the surname Beer who wanted their child called "Bottled"; a Mr and Mrs Waters whose daughter was named "Mineral"; a Mr and Mrs Pitt who called their son "Frankenstein"; a girl registered as "Rheumatism"; another called daft, and one poor unfortunate girl named "Fatso".

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

And talking of blossom and growth ....


A film company in Sweden is recruiting 70 hairy naked extras for a new movie. Set in the 70's, "the extras need to feel comfortable about being naked and preferably have long hair," said casting director Fredrik Fornänger. "Already a large number of people have come forward, but about 15 more are still needed."

Full story at "The Local"
(There are no details about the casting interviews.)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Blossom and growth

This year's blossom has been good, and the new growth on this Christmas tree is fantastic .... it was a potted one that has taken about five years to establish itself in the ground.

I've had a visitor ...

... who kept coming to the door and tapping on the glass.

Steven and Tiwonge

As posted below, Steven and Tiwonge were arrested in Malawi recently for having a public engagement ceremony. They have been found guilty on various counts by the Malawian court. They are going to appeal the decision.

A letter or a card sent to them would help boost their spirits and show them that others are aware and care.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga (and/or) Steven Monjeza
Chichiri Prison
P.O.Box 30117,
Blantyre 3,

Please also visit the Amnesty International website for further information about campaigning against their appalling treatment where a form letter asking for their release can be adapted and sent to the Malawi Government.

And don't forget to add them to your prayers.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The value of "hymns, psalms and spiritual songs"

Choir singing can ease irritable bowels

Now, aren't you glad you know that?

As a comment on the article says: "Releasing bowels can ease irritable choir singing." You can't argue with that either.

There's a lot of pain out there

In my emails this morning there was a plea from "Julia Dian" asking "How can I make my penis longer?"
This was followed by the line "Subject: Size: 2504".

Now, if that's centimetres I would say that's long enough. If it's inches she ought to be undergoing medical examination.

Hold on a minute .... "she?"

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Malawi - home of the free

from the Associated Press network:

Today, in Blantyre, Malawi, and despite International protests, a judge convicted a gay couple of unnatural acts and gross indecency under laws dating from the colonial era. Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday and they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner Steven Monjeza, 26, who were open about their sexuality, were arrested in December the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.

Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa including Malawi. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that could sentence homosexuals to life in prison and includes capital punishment for "repeat offenders." Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have raped lesbians.

Gay people forced underground in Africa are unlikely to seek counseling and treatment for AIDS, activists say. In Malawi, nearly 1 million people — an estimated 12 percent of the population — are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The government, backed by Malawi church leaders, says it is clear the two men broke the law. Religious officials say homosexuality is "sinful" and the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality. Malawi relies on donors for 40 percent of its development budget.

From the Malawi Tourism site:

The Malawian people are, without doubt, its greatest asset: friendly and welcoming to a fault. Every visitor is met with a smile and the warmth of the welcome is genuine and long-lasting. Alongside a number of places of particular cultural and historical interest, and all travel will include some element of cultural experience as interaction with local people is very much part of any stay.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Ascension Day 1993

Extract from "Never Look Back" (see sidebar)

With more steely blue clouds gathering to the south west, I got to Chirac just as the midday Angelus was chiming from the church tower. I didn't stop, for then I would have got chilled in the breeze, but carried straight on for Chabanais which I reached about an hour later, freshly drenched by yet another burst of heavy rain. I began to look for an hotel of some sort as I entered the town, but could find nothing on the north bank, so crossing the Vienne for the second time, I tried the southern half. Following the main road round to the right I was rewarded with the sight of the hotel "la Croix Blanche", which once more seemed appropriately named for a pilgrim. I was acutely aware that I was drenched, and I didn't feel able to walk into the bar and up to the reception desk in such a liquid condition, so I took the opportunity of shelter afforded by the arched tunnel leading through to the parking area at the rear of the building. Here I stood for some five minutes, freely dripping, and attempting to dry myself off with a soggy handkerchief which I had to keep wringing out. At last I was less fluid, and I hurried through the rain to the bar entrance. The room was fairly full, the owner serving cups of steaming coffee and hot chocolate to similarly steaming customers, and in a lull, as he turned his attention to me, I asked for a room for the night. Looking me up and down, and taking in my dampened appearance, he grinned and asked if I wanted the room "Maintenant?" I replied with a "S'il vous plait", and was shown up some steps and through into the foyer in order to register and be given my key. Looking back I noticed that there was a pool of water on the stone floor of the bar where I had been standing and that as I passed over the inner carpet I was leaving a definite trail.

Up in my room, a light and airy chamber looking out over the rear parking area and across towards the river, I stripped out of my soggy clothes, found my towel, and started to make myself more comfortable. Wringing out my trousers and socks I hung them over the sink to drip dry, and then turned my attention to my boots. They were sodden, and having mopped out as much water as I could, I stuffed them with paper and stood them at an angle against the hot water pipes. I then found that my wallet had also got damp, and that several franc notes were in a very fragile state. These I pressed in my towel and laid them out to dry on the table. There was but one item soaked beyond recovery, and that was a postcard I had written the evening before and not had the opportunity to post. Not only had my writing smudged into an unreadable blue mess, but the card itself was disintegrating. It was a ball of multi coloured damp pulp that I dropped into the waste paper bin.

Down in the bar by a quarter to two, I decided that it was really too late to expect the restaurant to cope with another diner, although five minutes later, as I was sitting at a table sipping a shandy, a middle aged couple did come in and ask if they could be served, and were shown through to the dining room. Still, I was happy with a drink, and after a hot coffee I returned to my room to check on my clothes. Noticing that it had now stopped raining, I thought that I would take the opportunity to have a look around the town, for as I had crossed the bridge I had passed several market stalls, although at that time I hadn't been too concerned with taking in the sights. However, if it was market day, it could be a way of passing the afternoon, and so leaving my damp jacket hanging up, and trusting that I would be able to shelter from any further showers, I left the hotel with my single dry jersey as protection.

As I wandered around the stalls I wondered why the market seemed more like a Fair with most, if not all, of the shops closed, including the Post Office which, according to the schedule on its wall, should have been open. It wasn't until I strolled back across the bridge that I saw a banner which explained everything. In my travelling I had completely forgotten that it was Ascension Day, still a major holiday in France, and that this was the town’s Ascension Fair. So much for my liturgical knowledge. It reminded me of the time I had forgotten that it was Pentecost Sunday until I sat down to watch "Songs of Praise" in the evening, and wondered why all the hymns seemed to be about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I should say that this incident took place before I was ordained into the church's ministry!

I felt that I ought to light a candle as my contribution to, and in celebration of, the Feast, so I searched around until I located an open church down a side street. Pushing open its ancient wooden door I entered into its gloom. The small interior was lit solely by a few flickering candles and it took me a moment or two to find the light switches. There wasn't much to see once the place was bathed in an electric glow, and so I lit my own contribution to the votive stand, muttered a prayer, turned off the lights and left.

The Fair was clustered around the southern end of the bridge over the Vienne, and purchasing a hot waffle smothered in Nutella chocolate spread, I munched on this as I wandered round. It was more than a Fair, for there were several stands displaying cars, modern furniture and watercolour paintings, along with the more usual confectionary wagons and speeding roundabouts. An exotic flavour was added by a string of four camels giving the more brazen of the local populace a ten minute ride up and down their high street. Music was provided by a brass band sitting in the shelter of the entrance to the open exhibition hall and a small folk group of some indeterminate origin, possibly Andalusian, both competing with the records being played over the town's loudspeaker system. It all added up to a glorious cacophony of sound and an assault on the nostrils, much of the latter provided by the camels!

By four o'clock "the world and his wife" were out on the streets, so I bought myself a cream bun from the only open Pâtisserie and retired to my room to devour it. As for finding accommodation, I needn't have worried. On my stroll around town I found two other hotels, both open and with vacancies, one of them back over the river and which I must have passed without seeing on my way through.

Having taken a second quick turn around the streets, and with the weather still threatening showers, I snoozed on my bed until just after seven, and then went down to the bar for a pre dinner apéritif. With a Martini Rosso on the rocks safely disposed of, I moved through to the restaurant. Not fancying any of the set menus I threw both caution and finances to the wind and decided to dine "à la carte". An entrée of deep fried Camembert wedges served with green salad was followed by an entrecôte steak in a green pepper sauce, and the meal rounded off with a crème caramel, black coffee, and a Cointreau.

Friday, 7 May 2010

On the day of a Hung Parliament yet more vacillation

Every Autumn I look at this tree lying almost to the ground in my garden and wonder about chopping it down .... and every Spring I look at it and am grateful that I haven't.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Making my mark

I have exercised my democratic right. Not that our voting system is as anonymous as we are popularly led to believe. The booth might be enclosed, and you can make your mark in private, but your voting paper has a number on it that correlates to your entry on the Electoral Roll, so it could be possible to trackback and find out exactly how everyone has voted. In a country where we don't (yet?) have a dictatorship, police state or paranoid government, that's not really an issue, but under different political circumstances it could be, as it already is in some other nations.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Frugal living

I do sometimes wonder how I manage to survive on such meagre fare ....

A small piece of fillet steak, one tomato (halved and seared), some chips, a slice of bread and butter, and a bistro salad (leaves and shredded beetroot) tossed in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Washed down with a small glass of a very nice 2004 vintage Bordeaux. Ho hum. It feels like Lent all over again.

This year's record

The AGM's of the parishes are now over and done. Not a single member of the public turned up to any of the 10 parish meetings, nor any member of the church electoral rolls, so it was left to the PCC members to hold their own AGM's. Because of this they were simply a formality, and slowly everyone is getting the idea that if their Reports are printed out and circulated, then they can be read beforehand and we don't have to read them out in the meeting. This cuts down the time needed to get through the standard Agenda.

In the urban parishes of my previous post the AGM's could take a couple of hours. Last year's record down here in these rural surroundings was 17.5 minutes, and this year even that was beaten. The new record for both the Annual Meeting of Parishioners (to elect the churchwardens) and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (to receive reports on the past year's activities, adopt the financial accounts, and elect members of the PCC) took exactly 10 minutes.

I don't think we'll beat that. (We all went off to the local pub for a meal afterwards!)

British Democracy at its worst

(Hat-tip to Doorman Priest for this)

That's the trouble with Democracy, it allows everyone a voice. Which means people like this need to be exposed and opposed.

Monday, 3 May 2010

British Democracy at its best

I'm happy to say that the Monster Raving Loony Party still exists, and is fielding 27 candidates in the forthcoming General Election.

Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope (Witney against David Cameron)
John Cartwright (Croydon Central)
Colin Dale (Buckingham)
Alan Powell (Ludlow)
Crucial Chris (Barking)
Tony Davies (Blackpool North)
George Ridgeon (Tewkesbury)
Martin Hogbin (Surrey East)
Mark Beech (Cardiff Central)
Napoleon Dynamite (Old Bexley & Sidcup)
R.U. Seerius (Derbyshire Mid)
Ken Hanks (Cheltenham)
Monkey Drummer (Kingston & Surbiton)
Top Cat Owen (Wokingham)
Flying Brick (Derbyshire Dales)
Chinners (Esher & Walton)
Mike Young (Sittingbourne & Sheppey)
Norman Davidson (Faversham & Mid Kent)
Toby Jug (Huntingdon)
Matt Fensome (Milton Keynes North)
Lord Offa (Brecon & Radnor)
Roger Monksummers (Dorset North)
Knigel Knapp (Hackney North & Stoke Newington)
Sam Thing (Amber Valley)
Baron Von Thunderclap (Mid Sussex)
Eddie 'Elvis' Vee York)
Mark 'Zammo' Adshead (Sheffield Hallam against Nick Clegg)

Their Manifesto proposals include:

To combat global warming and climate change all buildings should be fitted with air conditioning units on the outside.

Make it illegal for super heroes to use their powers for evil.

All socks to be sold in packs of 3 as a precaution against losing one.

That Political leaders are banned if they avoid a straight answer "Yes" or "No". As they may still be telling fibbs, any such person found to string out an answer longer than 2.8 seconds should be forced to undertake a lie detector test.

That a government agency will be set up to paint contour lines on to hills and colour roads the same as on maps. This will help people know where they are.

That at election, instead of marking the ballot paper with a cross, we use a tick. A cross normally means "thats wrong", therefore a "tick" would be more suitable. Putting across next to someones name on the ballot paper is as good as writing "monumental cock up" next to their name.

Full proposals can be viewed here.

I know who's getting MY vote.

"May Day" Bank Holiday

Sunshine but a cold wind ...

Imagine a world without any colours.