Saturday, 31 December 2011

The old year now away is fled ....

.. the New Year it is enter-ed.
Then let us now our sins downtread,
and joyfully all appear.
Let's merry be this day,
and let us now both sport and play:
Hang grief, cast care away!
God send you a Happy New Year!

And now with New year's gifts each friend
unto the other they do send:
God grant we may all our lives amend,
And that the truth may appear.
Now, like the snake, your skin
cast off, of evil thoughts and sin,
And so - the year begin:
God send us a Happy New Year!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Past

This was taken at home in Brighton one Christmastime over 50 years ago - one of the rare winters when snow fell in the town. I could do with that balaclava now ....

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A good response

This article setting out an alternative path to unity to the proposed Anglican Covenant is well worth the reading and deserves consideration by all - maybe especially by those who so loudly call for the agreement to be signed and implemented.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

No room at the stable

One of the more crowded of the nativity scences I've come across, and the more you look, the more you see. Just what is that small child pointing at on the extreme left of the picture, curling round the legs of the buxom woman in blue? And then one of the sheep brought by the shepherds lies in the foreground, legs tied as a sacrifice, prefiguring the crucifixion. Joseph is being pushed into the background by the adoring crowd, off balance and almost falling over. Behind him are more men with packs on their backs and staffs in their hands. On the right the ox is held by its horns, but the bustle on earth is nothing compared with the riotous behaviour in heaven! Naked cherbus frolic, one holding on to the ankle of an angel, whilst another lifts up what looks like a bedsheet and peers blearily down. The angel dressed in rose-coloured fabric looks as if they are in the midst of a game of volleyball, whilst a more serene angel behind consults a book, more interested in words than The Word. Perhaps whjat is more disturbing is that on closer inspection the new-born baby looks, in its position and attitude, more like a still-birth - an interpretation accentuated by the way in which Mary is folding a cloth over his face, just as one covers a corpse.

I don't think that any Nativity Play or film version of the Christmas story has ever dared to follow the vibrancy and sheer chaos as painted here by Abraham Bloemaert in 1612. Maybe we should rise to the challenge and discard the sweet and serene Nativity cribs we erect in our churches and homes, and put up something more akin to this scene of holy disorder.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The days are swiftly flying

Ages since I posted anything, and in the intervening days I have had my pre-Christmas mid-week break, part of which was spent back on the south coast meeting up with friends for a meal and to exchange seasonal cards.

In reality it was a reunion of the owners of the long-closed independant Munnery's Wine Stores in Kemp Town, Brighton, where I worked on and off for about 11 years - them and other members of "staff". It's interesting that our friendship has continued beyond the closure of the shop, and we meet several times during the year, usually around a birthday or some such celebration. Our meal this time was taken at "The Badger's Watch" along the coast road at Peacehaven where there is a superb Carvery, and we dined well.

It's good to have these get-togethers, and there's lots of chat and memories shared. Driving down on the Sunday afternoon I get to stay over with two of the group until the Tuesday, so the journey, which is 166 each way, is not too strenuous. I know the route well by now, and once the Dartford Crossing is past (about 2 hours away from home) there's roughly another hour to go, and I often take a break at either "The Old Ship" or "The Cock Inn" just north of Lewes before the final sprint down into Newhaven.

On the return journey the break takes place at Ipswich and the Tesco store at Copdock. This gives me a chance to buy supplies for home, and the last hour's drive goes quickly.

Now the Christmas season has started in these parishes, and the first 3 Carol services took place yesterday. I was responsible for just one of those, which was the "Carols and Capers" service at Rumburgh that is organised by the local Morris team. I am simply the host giving the Welcome and Bidding Prayer, and then the Blessing at the close. It's the third year this has been running and it provides an unusual start to the Christmas sequence.

On the home front I've made some chocolate truffles, some stuffed dates, and the "pigs in blankets" are in the freezer. I'll start looking for a turkey crown tomorrow after my regular visit to the gym.

Christmas is a-coming in!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A word from the sty

This reply arrived today:

Thank you for your email and apologies for not coming back to you sooner, I have been out of the office.

I hope the following explanation helps! The sausage is make with 80% pork in the raw recipe, but the ingredient declaration reflects the product once it has been cooked. The 1st cook which we do before we send into the Coop gives us 10% cook loss and the 2nd cook in store removes a further 15% of moisture, therefore the mathematical calculation is 104g of pork per 100g of finished product simply due to the moisture loss in the product through cooking which then concentrates the pork value.

This does comply with labelling guidelines however you are right its very confusing and we are investigating how we can declare this in a better way and make it more user friendly.



Jackie Nettleton
National Account Manager
Holmesterne Foods Limited

Nope ... I'm none the wiser ....

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

They're telling porkies

I have contacted the Company and asked them to explain their maths. No answer as yet.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Day Three

The builders turned up just after 9.00 a.m. arriving as I was driving off to go and say Morning Prayer at another village. Leaving them to it I returned about an hour later to some good news and some bad news. The good news is that a new shower has been fitted in the bathroom; and the bad news ... that there appears to be a fault in the solar converter unit in the loft which will need a Warranty call-out to the manufacturers, and this may take some weeks.

At least progress has been made, and my visitors this weekend will be able to wash!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Unlike The Beatles ...

... who sang "It's getting better all the time - can't get no worse", the saga continues.

This morning (damp carpets still drip-drying in my neighbours old wooden garage) a young man who looked not much older than about 12 unexpectedly arrived from the builders to "Commission" my solar installation. Having seen his identity card I let him in, delaying my exit to the shops as he said he simply had to take some readings and look at the loft installation which would take about 30 minutes.

Forty minutes later, and with no sound from the loft, I checked that he was still breathing and not lying in a shrivelled electrocuted heap, smouldering on the attic floor. He finally emerged shaking his young head and muttering, "I've not seen one do that before. I don't know what's wrong with it. It keeps turning itself off. It shouldn't do that. There's probably a fault in the circuit board so I'll need to get them to come out and replace it. I've turned it all off for the moment."

He departed (back to his mid-morning milk and cookies), and so, a day and a flood later, the system is not yet active.

Then ....

... as my resident house guest entered into the guest bathroom and turned on the shower, there was a gushing in the pipes followed by a gap of a few seconds, and then a loud thump that reverberated through the house. I knew what it was. Following the water problems yesterday there was an airlock in the pipes that had just cleared itself.

My houseguest soon came downstairs and informed me that the electric shower did not seem to be working properly. It was either stone-cold or scalding hot. It went upstairs and played with the controls. After another couple of gurgles the temperature settled down, but when I pressed to OFF button the water kept flowing. I tried it again, but no change. Clearly something was wrong.

A search in the loft access did not reveal the stop valve for the shower water feed, so leaving my guest to crawl around in the second loft space, (and having turned the unit off at the fuse-box) I telephoned the builders. Having explained the problems of yesterday to the receptionist, and then the resulting problems today, she informed me that they could get a plumber out to me tomorrow.

I made it very clear to her that this was not acceptable, and asked to speak to the boss with whom I have always got on very well. I explained to him the problem and said that there was no way I was going to let the water keep running for 24 hours when this was all the result of the cock-up by his employees yesterday. I was put on hold for a few minutes and he came back and said that he would get a plumber out to me this afternoon, which he did.

The airlock had caused the motor controlling the inlet diaphragm to burn out and so the valve was not shutting. With the control lever located in the attic, the water supply was isolated so that there was no longer the continual flow down the bath. He departed saying that they would have to locate a new shower unit for me, and that it should be fitted tommorrow.

Thankfully I have another shower, but I also have guests arriving tomorrow afternoon for the weekend. This could get interesting.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


In the Fawlty Towers episode "The Builders", Basil hires the Irish builder Mr. O'Reilly to carry out some internal alterations to the hotel. He manages to block up the door to the dining room and move another to the base of the stairs. When his worknmanship, or lack of it, is commented upon, he asserts that "a lick of paint here, a lick of paint there" will sort it all out. Sybil Fawlty is less than impressed and lays into him with her umbrella. Basil decides to give him one more chance, which we know will turn out to be disasterous. The episode ends with Basil marching down the driveway of Fawlty Towers clutching a large garden gnome with the clear intention of inserting it into the hapless builder.

I had some work carried out on the house today. The Diocese has decided to speedily install solar panels on the roofs of many of its vicarages, and my turn was today. Two young Irish builders arrived at 07.15 and proceeded to erect their tower scaffolding. By 11.00 a.m. they were ready to drill a hole through the outside wall to feed the panel cable to the fuseboard. It all went swimmingly. Literally. Despite my warnings they managed to chew a small hole in the mains water inlet pipe.

Now the pressure in that particular water pipe is quite high, and my lobby, where all my DVD's are stored, proceeded to get a hefty shower. To cries of alarm his compatriot was alerted and the stop-cock turned off, but not before the carpet was flooded and the DVD shelves dripping merrily.

The afternoon was spent in mopping up, moving all the DVDs into the kitchen, wiping them down, taking out their wet covers and drying them on the radiators. The kitchen table now looks like a DVD shop, and it has to be cleared tonight as I host the post-communion breakfast tomorrow morning. And I have another PCC meeting this evening (in about 35 minutes).

In between all this I not only had a PCC to attend but also a pre-funeral visit with the relatives coming to me and clambering their way over pipes, tools, metalwork and cables, and dam dust-sheets.

The plumber arrived about 4.00 p.m. and it took him a good hour to access the damaged piece of pipe and remove it since the fuse-box cupboard had been built around it. Eventually the damaged section was removed and a new section brazed-in. The Irish lads cleared off before this was finished, their job done.

If I'd had a garden gnome handy .....

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I returned yesterday from the 2011 Inclusive Church conference that took place at the Hayes Conference centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire.

Seventy people (now there's a New Testament number on which to reflect ....) from the Inclusive Church network gathered to share in worship, listen to different speakers, hear real life stories, be amazed at a magic show and, of course, congregate at the bar.

The conference explored a range of topics, and detailed information can be found on the Inclusive Church website, including the personal stories of those who chose to share their various tortuous lives with the church with the rest of us. All are worth reading and can be found here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Horror story

I bought myself the DreamWorks animated movie "The Prince of Egypt" today. It had this classification warning on the reverse of the box. I think we ought to campaign for it to be pasted onto every copy of the Bible in our churches.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bonfire Night

Fireworks and a grand fire in the garden of the Old Vicarage here in the village. Parsnip soup, hot dogs, hash browns, duck pancake rolls, chocolate brownies, gingerbread men, and red wine. It was a very pleasant evening.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Another good man done gone

Sir Jimmy Savile, entertainer, broadcaster, and generally all-round good guy, has died peacefully at his home, aged 84. On his BBC TV Show "Jim'll Fix It" he made dreams come true for so many people. May all his dreams now be realised.

Tonight's the Night ....

... but don't go to extremes when you turn back your clocks.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

London - October 2011

Tuesday evening, 19th October, and the golden sun streams down Knightsbridge to illuminate the world-famous frontage of Harrods. I ventured inside for a wander around its ground floor Food Halls, always a place to view instead of to buy, especially at their prices, though my next-day’s foray into Fortnum & Mason showed them to be even more expensive!

Wednesday morning, 20th October, and a walk through Kensington Gardens in the chilly air. Grey squirrels scampered about foraging under the fallen leaves, ignoring the nearby walkers, cyclists and runners.

And so to the bridge across the Serpentine, and leaning over I noticed this line-up of seagulls. This is clearly a regular spot for them, for as I passed by again the following evening, the posts were once again occupied, some of the gulls observing a duck that was diving around them dredging-up tasty little snacks.

Wednesday afternoon I called in at the V&A and spent 10 minutes or so just sitting in the main sculpture hall surrounded by architectural grandness.

Thursday morning, 21st October, and as I walked through Kensington and up to marble Arch I encountered this line of Guardsmen passing Apsley House, en-route to the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

By lunchtime I was at the Tate Britain and viewing the exhibition of apocalyptic paintings by the Victorian artist, John Martin. A wealth of canvas and monochrome prints, and a good audio-visual show of his last three great paintings of the End of Days.

Later in the day I walked down through St. James’s Park and got this view from the Blue Bridge – surely quintessential London.

As the sun dipped into the west I ended up at the Albert Memorial and caught the last gleam of light as it shone on the gold decoration. It also shone on something else in front of the Albert Hall, something that shouldn’t, for reasons of good taste and style, be riding a bicycle. I thought I could hear the “Boris bike” squealing …….

In all, an excellent break in the capital, but it was good to get back to the quiet of the country.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Long silence means ....

... that it's been a busy couple of weeks, with piles of paper on my desk that have needed to be dealt with, but much of which has been waiting for responses from other people before it can be taken any further.

And now I have a fortnight off ... and on this, the first day of my holiday, I have phoned the Archdeacon to arrange the Commissioning of a Benefice Elder; dealt with the Diocese over a forthcoming conference I am attending; chased up English Heritage - without whose permission I cannot submit the Faculty application to replace a trashed window in a church vestry; spoken with a church treasurer about a yew tree, a dead branch on a lime tree, changing signatories on a bank account and another account; and re-filed the list of church papers etc. that are kept in the Suffolk Records Office.

But at least my desk now looks less cluttered.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Thursday, 22 September 2011

No Anglican Covenant

It's no secret that I am not in favour of the moves to bring in the Anglican Covenant. Maybe this post helps explain some of the reasons why.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I think I've died ...

... and gone to heaven ....

I've just found this page with the Penguin SF covers .....

I need to go back to my shelves and look at what I've got!

Another cover

In response to the comment in the previous post, I have delved into my bookshelves and found my copy of "The Wind from Nowehre" by J G Ballard, and as I expected, the cover illustration is by Alan Aldridge. The book was published in 1967, and it's a picture that screams that decade. These were the days when London's Post Office Tower was still open to visitors and the revolving restaurant at the top still operational. London, Paris and New York are all graphically represented here, with the boiling sea reminiscent of the 19th centuiry woodcut "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by the Japanese artist Hokusai. Since I first saw this book cover I've loved the image, and it was partly why I bought the book in the first place.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Carl Wilton - book artist

I have recently been looking at the work of Carl Wilton who was a cover artist for Pan and Great Pan paperbacks in the 1950's, especially his illustrations for their series of WWII memoirs. I find them very evocative images, and I have now posted up a page showing the volumes that I own. More will be added as I discover (and buy) them!

Carl Wilton

Monday, 22 August 2011

No rest for the earth

We haven't started our Harvest festival services yet, and Plough Sunday is not until January !!!!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Off the boil

I haven't ventured into public print with my rant. Instead what is needed is clearer written directions for those wanting to celebrate their marriages in our Benefice churches as to what they may and may not do in regard to moving furniture, hassocks, seat cushions, lecterns, bibles, small wall pictures, bookcases, carpets, tables and large calor gas heaters and accompanying bottles, to make the place "look nice".

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The kettle's boiling

I'm building up to a rant ..... which may well be dissipated by the time I come to write the "Tailpiece" for our September Benefice magazine.

And then again it may not ......

Friday, 12 August 2011

It's on the cards

Have been to a rather spiffing Postcrad Fair today over at Godmanchester, near Huntingdon. Spent much less than I anticipated, so that made the day even better!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

It's alive

My main PC is back, and having uploaded over 238 Windows updates (aaagh!) it's still running. All that was changed was the SATA cable. We keep fingers and other limbs crossed.......

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Lammas Sunday

The First Sunday of August and the opportunity to celebrate the agriculturl feast of Lammas - not to be confused with the Wiccan or New Age variety. The morning services will include a blessing of bread, and be followed by a bread and cheese lunch here at the Parsonage. Three different types of bread and about seven varities of cheese, plus chutney. Mmmmmmmnn.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Immaculate? I think not.

The new hard disk is installed and it's all restored to factory settings.

It would be even better if it had solved the problem of the intermittent loss of display and response from the pc itself, but shortly after it had started running there was a click and the whole system crashed again.

The choice of culprit seems to be narrowing down to a fault on the motherboard.

And that requires a trip to someone with a more professional computer knowledge.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Feast of the nativity

A new hard drive is installed, and is presently being uploaded with the "Restore to factory settings" disk.

We have yet to see if the infant lives and breathes and starts to run about.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Death is black

My main computer is now in the process of being "rebuilt" after having re-set it to the original factory settings. These contain a lot of dross that is unwanted, time-limited demo programs which were never used, and old versions of those I need, and which have all had to be updated and re-registered. There were also over 130 important Microsoft updates to download and install.

Which should mean that all is getting back to normal.

Except ....

I think the graphics card is now falling over. Every so often the monitor goes black and I can't see a thing. The computer is whirring away as it should but there is just no visual output. I've tried another monitor and this has the same result. I've taken the graphics card out and blown off the dust, but it's still happening, with no warning, and with no pattern. Last night it worked fine for 5 hours until shut-down. This morning on boot-up it died immediately I logged on. Re-booting and it's working at the moment .....

Ho hum.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Major meltdown

A major crash on my main study computer has meant that I have had to restore it to the Factory Settings. Fortunately most of my files are stored on a separate drive and have remained intact. However some minor stuff has been lost, and I shall now have to re-install numerous programs and shortcuts. You can guess what I shall be doing most of tomorrow!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dirty mac time

I came across this picture on the net which stirred memories. As I grew up in the eastern end of Brighton "The Continentale" cinema changed from showing "normal" films to those frequented by gentlemen in long raincoats, usually for the matinee showing. I went and saw the brilliant film "If" there soon after it first came out in 1968, but even by then this was a rare mainstream film to be screened in this establishment.

It was only a small cinema, and I seem to recall that the balcony was just 6 or 7 rows of seats deep. It was certainly intimate - in more ways than one. I often wish I had managed to get hold of the poster that advertised "The sexual adventures of Noddy" about this same time. (That's one title that hasn't made it onto the Internet Movie Database!)

If you stood in the side street and sheltered in the corrugated iron back porch, you could clearly hear the soundtrack of whatever film was showing, though with some of them there was precious little dialogue. It was a convenient place to stand and eat fishcake and chips from "Tony's" just down the road.

Happy days.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Thank you, Fraser

According to an article in today's "Guardian" which has been widely blogged, the Church of England is doomed since in 20 years time the ageing congregations will have died off and there'll be two little old ladies, a decrepit priest and an altar boy left.

What a load of tosh. When I was growing up in a poorly-attended Brighton church in the late 1950's and early 60's the cry was exactly the same. There were perhaps 10 of us youngsters in the choir and maybe another 2 in the congregation. Normal Sunday attendance was about 15 people in a church seating 1,500.

All these years later that church is well-supported with a mix of ages, and apart from one person, none of those former young choristers attend that particular place of worship. So the congregation of the future cannot be said to be dependent on the young congregation of today. In fact over my 27 years of ministry in the Church of England I've seen more people return to the church after a pastoral contact than I have due to involvement as a child.

Adults return following the baptism of their children, marriage, or death of a loved one. They come seeking connection with the holy, the numinous, the cloud of unknowing. They might arrive with some childhood knowledge of what we do, but it's not the reason they return.

So in 20 years I expect the make-up of our churches to be fairly similar to what they are now, for the Holy Spirit will continue to work in the lives of people as they reach a point of need. And that point is when they need the church, not when the church needs them.

Monday, 11 July 2011