Saturday, 15 December 2012

Rachel weeping

The events at the Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, are tragic, and mean unimaginable loss for the families involved, and our news media is full of the story. Our emotions and feelings of compassion are stirred by this futile and evil act of one young man.

Barely 24 hours before, on Thursday, 7 children and several mothers were killed in another school, but this one received only passing mention in the media. This school was in Damascus where a car bomb exploded.

It is right to feel outrage and sorrow over the deaths in the small New England town, but we need to be aware that we are often partisan in our compassion.

Some 21,000 children die every day around the world.

This is equivalent to:

• 1 child dying every 4 seconds • 14 children dying every minute • Just over 7 ½ million children dying every year

Or to put it another way, it is equivalent to:

• A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days • A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days

The silent killers of these children are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage, or arouse our feelings of empathy and sorrow.

Feel compassion for the familes devastated in Newtown, but feel it for the families of all young lives lost across our world, and in your desire never to see such events happen again, decide to make your response active not merely passive.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The ongoing cycle

I have been castigated for failing to post hereupon for many a day, but the only explanation I can offer is the lack of time to do so, and the dearth of subjects upon which I wish to comment.

Leaving aside the disastrous vote on women bishops, and today's climbdown by the Government over same-sex marriages in our churches (it will be illegal for CofE clergy to conduct such a marriage unless the CofE as a whole agrees to it - we're such a welcoming organisation - not!), so much is going on in the local churches where we continue to struggle with the future of one, and I feel like nothing I have said over the past 11 years has made any difference whatsover in the other 10. Maybe this is all well and to the good, for I have seen too many churches where congregations have become focused on the person up the front rather than on the reasons for gathering together in the first place.

One church has quaestioned the choice of carols made by an assistent who is leading their seasonal worship. The service contains all the old familiar carols with the exception of one unfamiliar one that is sung to the tune of "Morning has broken" (it wouldn't have been my choice, but that's beside the point). There was also the comment made over one of the other perennial favourites that it is too hard to sing, and that people come along to such a service to sing the familiar. I commented back that if someone has been asked to lead, then they must be allowed to lead. Thinking more upon it over the last few days I realise that the request has come from a desire for a community sing-song whereas the leadership has come from the standpoint of Christian worship. Christmas is always a balancing act between the two, but I do not like the idea of the "tail wagging the dog!"

My own Carol service layout for the two churches in which I shall conduct such a celebration is traditional in music, although there are continual comments that they don't know "Of the Father's love begotten" despite my having chosen it every year since 2002. However, I am interjecting two passages from the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Jesus into the usual canon of nine. I'll be interested to see what sort of comment that brings.

It's my eldest brother's birthday today, his wife's tomorrow, and my other brother's in about a week's time. I have yet to send greetings since it took me two days to deal with all the Christmas cards and the accompanying post. I sneakily bought all my stamps for this year and next before the postal charges rose in the summer, so that has saved me numerous £s.

Today - my day off - I have visited the dentist as a large filling dropped out last Friday, put up the greenery and string for the Christmas cards received in the hall, and am now awaiting the arrival of two new duvets - 15 tog - just in time for this cold snap. I have still to sort out the house for hosting the Benefice Shared Supper this Friday night, and that will entail moving tables and chairs and getting as many seating spaces as possible, for the Chrismas Supper is always well supported. I also need to get the lights up on the Christmas tree in the garden, though I can't do the house one until after the supper, otherwise I lose too much space.

The PCC's continue; there's the star to put up on the church tower opposite, the crib to be sorted out, and the church tree to erect. More sermons, more printing of carol sheets for the "Crib & Carols" on Christmas Eve in another of the churches, and not forgetting shopping for seasonal provisions as well.

Oh, and there's another birthday to mark this coming Sunday, when the person's parents are also coming down to visit.

Mind you, as this coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday I shall get to wear my new pink chasuble for the first time! Let's hope I don't get candle grease or wine on it.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Play Misty for moo

This, for the time being, is my new desktop wallpaper. It was taken on an early Sunday morning a week ago from the parking area at one of our more rural ancient churches.

In the deep dark of last night ...

... the faeiries were dancing merrily on my lawn.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Tower of Babel

I now know what those ancient builders felt like as I reconstruct the programs on my, now working, pc. So many layers and so many levels, and a multitude of strange-sounding phrases.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Windows into the soul

Windows Vista is now loaded and validated ... there was a problem with the Knowledge Base files - 45 of them - some of which had failed. They are now on and we're coming to the end of 125 Windows updates ... and they have taken about 5 hours. If the pc survives this, then tomorrow is when we start loading on the various drivers and programs and rebuilding the whole cosmos. My resident technician has proved his worth - I've fed him lasagna and garlic bread tonight. God help us all!



Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Aaaaaagh sob sob

Having used the OEM Recovery discs to restore the operating system, Microsoft now says that the Windows it has put on is not an authentic version, and it wants me to buy Windows 7. Hmmmmm. And my IT technician just sits here at 22.36 playing Solitaire on his laptop. Why do I accomodate and feed him? Ah - he's a lodger and I occasionally get some rent. Oh well, I suppose as he's been at it all day I can't really complain. Just as well I have my own laptop!


My main pc has got corrupted Windows! AAAAAAAAGH. Factory settings disc has been inserted (not in the orifice I would have chosen) and is currently overwriting the whole C drive. EEK!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

In the heat and dust ...

... the harvest must go on. Thankfully, modern combines are air-conditioned. It must have been lethal when they had open cabs!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

I'm melting!

21.50 and I'm sitting here dripping! Three changes to tops and tomorrow I have to get dressed up in my liturgical clobber to do the business. It's not giving away any trade secrets to say that in this heat and after the celebration of the Holy Mysteries x2 I'm not a pretty sight!

Phew! It's a scorcher!

Monday, 6 August 2012

A breath of salt air

A 48 hour sojourn down to the south coast again to meet up with a few friends to mark the occasion of my 60th birthday last Friday. Tempus Fugit, or something like that. Maybe I should have taken more note of my old school motto; "Absque Labore Nihil" which roughly translated means "Get off your backside you lazy old git or you'll never achieve anything!" Ho hum.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Colour me beautiful

After all the rain we had earlier this month, and now a few days of hot sun, everything in the garden is growing apace. I have three gro-bags with some courgette, marrow and squash plants in them, two per bag, and they are speedily taking over the patio! The bushes are heading towards the sky; the holly tree is disappearing under a rampant honeysuckle, and my one hydrangea plant is stunning!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The bare essentials

Visiting a hardware shop in a nearby town a couple of days ago I found that they had carried out some reorganisation of the departments. I was tempted to obey their sign, but I thought I might frighten the ladies behind the till, especially if I emerged from behind the plumbing display.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

How shall I spend the time?

From: The Connexion - France's English language newspaper:

GET A long lie on Sunday morning as scientists add an extra second to atomic clocks to keep them in time with the rotation of the Earth.

The "leap second" will be added just before midnight Coordinated Universal Time on Saturday - at 2.00 in France. For a brief moment the time will be 01:59:60 before flipping to 02.00.

This is the 34th time that the leap second has had to be added to cater for the change in the way the Earth wobbles on its axis as it rotates round the Sun. The last one was in 2008.

Daniel Gamis, director of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service which monitors timing systems at the Observatoire de Paris, said that the length of the day on Earth was slowing down.

This is because of the actions of tides and the reactions of the Earth's core, while violent earthquakes such as Fukushima can also upset the planet's rotation.

The Earth takes 86,400 seconds for a full 360-degree rotation but tides slow it down by 1.4 milli-seconds a day - meaning that in around 300 to 400million years the day will be just 22 hours long.

Since 1967 governments had agreed to move away from solar time and towards the precise measurements from atomic clocks but also agreed to adjust International Atomic Time to get rid of the discrepancy between the two.

The adjustment is generally every two years or so, but an unusual speeding up of the Earth meant it has not been needed since 2008.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Like sheep unto the slaughter

I was in Norwich yesterday with time to wander as my car was undergoing heart-by pass treatement with a 40k service (including cam belt change) and MoT test, and I decided to call in to the Cathedral where I unexpectedly had the opportunity to join their 11.00 a.m. BCP Holy Communion service. An interesting celebration, with bits missed out and no directions given and a priest who seemed to be saying the words by rote rather than by heart, but still a channel for God's grace to flow through. This was a refreshing stop for me by itself, but as I left the small circular side-chapel I found myself witnessing a walk-through rehearsal for the ordination service this Saturday. About a dozen ordinands dressed in their crisp new black cassocks were going through their paces for the service, and receiving instruction as to what to say, when to say it, where to stand and what they would be holding. It was a reminder of my own ordination rehearsal held 28 years ago in Salisbury cathedral when I started out on this slippery slope of ministry.

Leaving The Close I called in at the Tombland Bookshop and within minutes had found a volume by Baring-Gould on the development and change that was sweeping through villages at the end of the 19th century. There is a whole chapter on the parish church and how ancient screens, traceries, pulpits and the like were being hauled away in the name of "restoration". The book contains a timely reminder that once it's gone, it's gone, and calls for a more reasoned approach to heritage whilst balancing that with the worship needs. The words may be over a century old, but they remain bang up to date.

Then into the city centre to wander round a cheap CD and DVD store, get a coffee from a well-known Coffee House chain, and then to Cafe Rouge to use a 20% discount voucher against a wonderful main course of "steak/frites".

More wandering followed, up to the "Country & Eastern" emporium housed in the old skating rink, and its wondeful stock of oriental carpets, china, textiles and wood. On the way, passing through the Market Square, I saw something that restored my faith in human nature. An elderly gentleman walking with the aid of a frame on wheels had misjudged the shallow steps to one side of the square, and had fallen forward and was hanging on to the handrail unable to move. A group of youngsters - probably from the UEA - immediately went to his aid, helping him up, retrieving his scattered parcels, and checking that he was uninjured. Young people get such negative press, but here their help was instinctive and speedy.

And to top it all off, even though the car servicing was faily expensive, it was exactly as estimated and with no unexpected work required.

A good day off all round.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Not in my name

Here's the link for the Petition opposing the recent "Church of England" declaration against same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Sorry - I may be thick, but ....

... who the hell is this "Church of England" that has made its announcement about marriage today? Having looked at the Cof E website and followed the link to the full statement and press release, its authors are no-where attributed. All it says in its headline and opening lines is:

A Response to the Government Equalities Office Consultation -“Equal Civil Marriage”- from the Church of England


The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.

The news media has therefore gleefully announced in every bulletin that the Church of England, i.e. every lay and ordained member, has said "No" to the Governement's same-sex marriage proposals.

Well, not here matey! Once again a statement is made from some unknown central source and on my behalf over which I have had no input, no debate, no reference whatsoever.

Along with many other Church of England clergy, this announcement does not reflect my position, and it was disingenuous of its authors not to mention that there are opposing views within the CofE.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Now there's a surprise

A fellow Blogger has published this little gem from THE CHURCH TIMES:

"No timescale is to be put on the adoption of the Anglican Covenant, the Standing Committee of the An­gli­can Communion (SCAC) agreed last week. The Covenant was discussed on the first of the three days of the committee’s talks, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and elected members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ standing committee.

A statement released afterwards said: “The Standing Committee re­ceived an update on the progress of the Anglican Communion Covenant. It was noted that eight provinces had endorsed the covenant to date, in some cases with a degree of qualifica­tion. They were the only responses received so far by the secretary general.”

The Church of England, which rejected the Covenant when a majori­ty of dioceses voted against it in March, was not included in the responses received.

As he comments:

"If your team is losing and you are in charge of making up the rules of the game, you just get rid of the final whistle so that the game goes on for ever. That way, you need never admit defeat. Of course, if you have been well and truly defeated and there's no way to get around that fact, just pretend that you haven't. Ignore it. Act as if nothing happened."

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Ramblers and rabbits

A small group calling itself "The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers" paid a visit to St. George's church in the village of St. Cross South Elmham a couple of weeks ago, and were much taken by our churchyard sign warning people to take care when walking across the sward. They liked its humour and wished that more churches could be as light-hearted in their approach.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Take off dark glasses

With the cooler weather, and now the wind and rain, the fields of rape around us here in NE Suffolk have finally "turned". The yellow flowers have been replaced by the infant seed heads and we can finally take off our dark glasses, for when the sun was out it was somewhat blinding! This was Ilketshall St. Lawrence about a fortnight ago.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee

One church in this rural Benefice has connections to the anniversay celebrations sweeping the country this weekend, and that is St. Margaret South Elmham. Its altar frontal is made from cloth that was used in Westminster Abbey 60 years ago at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Since all it has is this blue frontal and a green one, it is used for every season except Ordinary Time.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Call me Ishmael

The things you see walking the streets of our local fine city when the sun is out and you don't have your harpoon!

Fashion? Round spherical objects!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Death of the Prime Minister

Today is the 200th anniversary of the death of the British Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval. A good subject for a Quiz question, Spencer Perceval holds the dubious distinction of being the only British PM to have been assassinated.

Spencer Perceval was born on 1st November 1762. The younger son of an Irish earl, Perceval was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, practiced as a barrister on the Midland Circuit and became a King’s Counsel, before entering politics at the age of 33 as a Member of Parliament for Northampton. A follower of William Pitt, Perceval always described himself as a "friend of Mr Pitt" rather than a Tory. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery, did not drink as much as most Members of Parliament, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his twelve children.

After a late entry into politics his rise to power was rapid; he was Solicitor and then Attorney General in the Addington Ministry, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons in the Portland Ministry, and became First Lord of the Treasury (effectively making him Prime Minister, although the term was not used at the time) in October 1809. At the head of a weak ministry, Perceval faced a number of crises during his term in office including an inquiry into the disastrous Walcheren expedition, the madness of King George III, economic depression and Luddite riots. He survived these crises, successfully pursued the Peninsular War in the face of opposition defeatism, and won the support of the Prince Regent. His position was looking stronger by the spring of 1812.

At 5:15 on the evening of 11th May 1812, Perceval was on his way to attend the inquiry into the Orders in Council. As he entered the lobby of the House of Commons, a man stepped forward, drew a pistol and shot him in the chest. Perceval fell to the floor, after uttering something that was variously heard as "murder" or "oh my God". They were his last words. By the time he had been carried into an adjoining room and propped up on a table with his feet on two chairs, he was senseless, although there was still a faint pulse. When a surgeon arrived a few minutes later, the pulse had stopped, and Perceval was declared dead.

At first it was feared that the shot might signal the start of an uprising, but it soon became apparent that the assassin – who had made no attempt to escape – was a man with an obsessive grievance against the Government and had acted alone. John Bellingham was a merchant who had been unjustly imprisoned in Russia and felt he was entitled to compensation from the Government, but all his petitions had been rejected. Perceval’s body was laid on a sofa in the speaker’s drawing room and removed to Number 10 Downing Street in the early hours of 12th May. That same morning an inquest was held at the Cat and Bagpipes public house on the corner of Downing Street and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.

Perceval left a widow and twelve children aged between three and twenty, and there were soon rumours that he had not left them well provided for. He had just £106 5s 1d in the bank when he died. A few days after his death, Parliament voted to settle £50,000 on Perceval’s children, with additional annuities for his widow and eldest son. He was buried on 16 May in the Egmont vault at St Lukes Church, Charlton. At his widow's request, it was a private funeral. Lords Eldon, Liverpool, and Harrowby, and Richard Ryder, were pall-bearers. The previous day, Bellingham had been tried, and, refusing to enter a plea of insanity, was found guilty. He was hanged on 18th May.

Jane Perceval married Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Carr in 1815 and was widowed again six years later. She died aged 74 in 1844. Of her 13 children with Spencer, twelve survived into adulthood.

• Jane (1791–1824) married her cousin Edward Perceval, son of Lord Arden, in 1821 and lived in Felpham, Sussex. She died three years after marrying, apparently in childbirth.

• Frances (1792–1877) lived with her mother and three unmarried sisters in Elm Grove, Ealing. On her mother’s death the sisters moved to nearby Pitzhanger Manor House, while her brother Spencer took over Elm Grove.

• Maria (1794–1877) lived with her unmarried sisters in Ealing.

• Spencer (1795–1859) was, like his father, educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. After Perceval's assassination Spencer junior had been voted an annuity of £1000, free legal training at Lincoln's Inn and a tellership of the Exchequer, all of which left him financially secure. He became a Member of Parliament at the age of 22 and in 1821 married Anna, a daughter of the chief of the clan Macleod, with whom he had eleven children. He joined the Catholic Apostolic Church and was created an apostle in 1833. He served as a Metropolitan Lunacy Commissioner.

• Charles (born and died 1796).

• Frederick (1797–1861) was the only one of Perceval's sons not to go to Harrow. Due to his fragile health he was sent to school at Rottingdean. He married for the first time in 1827, spent some time in Ghent, Belgium, was a director of the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Society and a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and for Kent, but generally led a quiet and retired life. Widowed in 1843, he married for the second time the following year. A grandson who was a Canadian rancher became the 10th Earl of Egmont.

• Henry (1799–1885) was educated at Harrow, where he was the only Perceval to become Head of School. He went to Brasenose College, Oxford. In 1826 he married his cousin Catherine Drummond. For 46 years Henry was the rector of Elmley Lovett in Worcestershire.

• Dudley (1800–1856) was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. Like his brother Spencer, he was given free legal training at Lincoln's Inn but was not called to the bar. He spent two years as an administrator at the Cape of Good Hope, where he married a daughter of the Governor in 1827. Back in England he obtained a Treasury post and defended his father's reputation after it was attacked in Napier's history of the Peninsular War. In 1853 he stood unsuccessfully against William Gladstone in the election for an MP to represent Oxford University.

• Isabella (1801–1886) married her cousin Spencer Horatio Walpole in 1835 and was the only one of Perceval's daughters to have children. Her husband was a lawyer who became an MP in 1846 and served as Home Secretary. They lived in the Hall on Ealing Green, next-door to Isabella's four unmarried sisters.

• John (1803–1876) was educated at Harrow. After a three-year career as an officer in the Grenadier Guards and a term at Oxford University, he spent three years in asylums and became a campaigner for reform of the Lunacy Laws. In 1832, just after his release from an asylum, he married a cheesemonger's daughter. • Louisa (1804–1891) lived with her unmarried sisters in Ealing.

• Frederica (1805–1900) lived with her unmarried sisters in Ealing. In her will she left money to build All Saints Church, Ealing, in memory of her father (he was born on All Saints Day). It is also known as the Spencer Perceval Memorial Church.

• Ernest (1807–1896) was educated at Harrow. He spent 9 years in the 15th Hussars, seven of them as a captain. In 1830 he married his cousin Beatrice Trevelyan. They settled in Somerset and raised a large family. Ernest served as Private Secretary to the Home Office on three occasions.

And why the interest, you may ask? Well, Spencer Perceval’s great-x6-grandfather, David Perceval, who died in 1534, is my great-x12-grandfather! A very tenuous claim-to-fame I admit, but as well as possessing Spencer Perceval’s silver pencil holder with a seal at the end carrying his initials, I also have Perceval as one of my names. I shall raise a glass to his memory tonight.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bathroom Saga

Cutting a long story short, since it was impossible to remove the taps on the guest bath in order to replace them, the Diocese generously decided to pay for a complete refurbishment of the room, and even took on board my suggestion that the bath be replaced by a shower cubicle. So, in the space of 10 days we have moved from this .....

to this .....

and all just in time for the arrival of a house-full of friends this weekend!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Meetings Season

'tis the season for Annual Church Meetings, and this being a large Benefice I have 10 PCC AGM's to conduct plus one Joint Benefice Council AGM, all before the end of this month.

This year I must be particularly keen on this administrative task since this evening I attempted to turn up to take one which we had held at the end of March. I did wonder why there was no-one there at 7.30 p.m.

I think I need a holiday.

Friday, 20 April 2012

We don't have to ordain you, you know.

This was the memorable phrase uttered by the Principal of Salisbury & Wells Theological College to one student who had just cast doubts on my parentage at full volume on the main stairs of the College. It was said with a twinkle in his eye, which is how I will always recall Rev Canon Reggie Askew whose death on the 9th April was announced in last week's Church Times.

Reggie always stood up for his students and supported them through the ups and downs of theological training. One person who had taken early retirement to enter the church told of his interview with Reggie who looked at him and said, "Well, you'll want to get on with it then if we're to get more than a couple of Evensongs out of you!"

A man of deep spirituality I sat in the Old Chapel as he took us through Meditation techniques - posture, and then slowly listening outwards from ourselves, through to the sounds of the College, out to the Close, then to the far away traffic hum and beyond. They were magical hours.

Then there was his preferred technique of saying the Morning Office - quietly. "If you can't hear the person next to you then you're saying it too loud" was the guiding principle, and so we whispered our way through the responses, canticles and psalms, pausing monastically in the middle of each verse and saying a silent "Ave Maria" to get the timing right.

He had a deep love of the College, having been Lecturer and Vice-Principal of Wells Theological College during the 1960's before it merged with and moved to Salisbury. Every year it was traditional that we travelled back to Wells for an annual Cricket match before Evensong in the Cathedral. He became Principal of S&W in 1973 and remained there until he moved to be Dean of King's College, London, in 1988.

Reggie also had a unique way of looking at liturgy and worship. He encouraged the "Friday Night College Eucharist" which was always a liturgy pulled together by one of the Tutor Groups, and they could be anything, and usually were. The College was also responsible for Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral once a term, and on one occasion Reggie led the prayers. In them we prayed for everyone connected with death, from undertakers to pall-bearers, gravediggers and layers-out, coffin-makers, those who forged the nails and those who wove the silk linings. It was unforgettable, and as we processed out the Dean of the Cathedral was heard to mutter, "Never again!"

When I entered my training I was only "conditionally recommended" and Reggie made sure that I felt secure in my calling and that I would be approved to continue after my first year. I shall remain grateful to him for that, though whether my subsequent congregations would agree is best left unasked.

The end of Christmas term student pantomime in 1983 was based upon a cult TV sci-fi character and titled "Dr. Broo and the Diakons". We had a New Testament lecturer called Dr. George Brook, who was mercilessly parodied throughout, and Reggie was written into the script as "Canonaskew the Cosmic", the portrayal of him on the stage frighteningly lifelike. He roared with laughter throughout, as the picture shows, and that's how I choose to remember his ministry amongst us - a presentation of faith with humour.

A quote from another Reggie seems appropriate here:

From the original series "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", Reginald Iolanthe Perrin (initials of RIP) is speaking about the type of people entering his new commune:

Well, at the moment we've got a stockbroker, an overworked doctor, an underworked antiques shop owner, a disillusioned imports manager, and an even more disillusioned exports manager. Three sacked football managers, a fortune teller who's going to have a nervous breakdown next April, a schoolteacher who's desperate because he can't get a job, a schoolteacher who's even more desperate because he has got a job, an extremely shy vet, an overstressed car salesman and a pre-stressed concrete salesman. People with sexual problems, people with social problems, people with work problems, people with identity problems. People with sexual, social, work and identity problems. People who live above their garages, and above their incomes, in little boxes on prestige estates where families are two-tone, two-car and two-faced. Money has replaced sex as a driving force, death has replaced sex as a taboo, and sex has replaced bridge as a social event for mixed foursomes, and large deep freezes are empty except for twelve sausages. They come to Perrins in the hope that they won't be ridiculed as petty snobs, but as human beings who are bewildered at the complexity of social development, castrated by the conformity of a century of mass production, and dwarfed by the immensity of technological progress which has advanced more in fifty years than in the rest of human existence put together, so that when they take their first tentative steps into an adult society shaped by humans but not for humans, their personalities shrivel up like private parts in an April sea.

And that sort of sums up Salisbury & Wells Theological College under Reginald James Albert Askew's leadership. Thanks Reggie.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Church's "Listening Process"

I'm rapidly gaining the impression that the so-called "Listening Process" is nothing more than a phrase that is trotted out when the Church of England is challenged over the issues of human sexuality. Far from helping the Church gain inclusiveness, it has actually put a brake on any movement at all.

The Epistle of James has a lot to say about faith without works being dead.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Like a mighty river flowing ...

In these days of drought it behoves us all to save water where we can, and at the very least to ensure that our taps flow freely and shut off efficiently, and to this end I asked the Diocese to attend to some small problems with a couple of taps in the Parsonage. In the sink in the utility area the taps have battled for years against limescale. A month or so ago I noticed the hot tap was getting stiff, and a few days later, having run hot water into the sink it refused to turn off. I had to resort to shutting off the flow with the screw control on the pipe and then knocking the tap with a hammer until it freed itself and screwed down. Aha! thought I - 'tis the washer! So I purchased some tap washers and set about replacing them. The trouble was, I couldn't undo the top of the tap. It was solid, and no matter how I grunted and heaved, the nut remained locked. Time to call in the professionals, thought I, and so I contacted the Diocese who agreed to the fitting of new taps. And so, yesterday morning, the plumber arrived to deal with that problem and a related problem with the taps in the bath in the guest bathroom. There the hot tap also sticks, and the cold tap dribbles until you screw it shut, open it, shut it, open it, shut it and open it again, at which point it gives a gasp and the cold water gushes out.

The young plumber - just out of short trousers - started with the utility room taps. On the floor, wrench in hand, he succeeded in removing the cold tap, but the problems began with the hot one. The locking nut unscrewed halfway and then stuck solid. It took half-an-hour, lots of muttering, and a quiet prayer to the Almighty from me for skill and strength, before the tap finally came out. The new mixer taps were fitted in ten minutes and all restored to full flow. Then to the bathroom .....

... and this is where the story really starts .....

The bath panel was removed (to the sound of splintering wood since I couldn't remember how I'd fitted it!) and he began to try and undo the hot tap, but there was no way it was going to budge. The tap was solid, and when he investigated the problem with the cold tap he found that the tap mechanism itself was giving up. New taps definitely required, but try as he might, the old ones remained stuck fast. There were conversations with his office on the mobile phone, with the end result that the only way these taps would come out was if the bath was removed so that there was room to really attack the fittings...

... and this is where the story really starts ......

The main problem here is that the bathroom is small, and seemingly built around the bath, for the tap end is recessed into the exterior wall itself. Looking underneath the bath the wall has not even been plastered and the bare brick is showing. Add to this that in order to lift the bath out, the pedestal sink will have to be removed as well. And then there's the damage to the wall tiles ..... so the end result is that a surveyor is coming tomorrow morning to look at the possibilities of removing the bath, removing the taps, or breaking-up the bath in situ (it's a cast-iron one) and putting a new one in. How that will work with the sink still in place is questionable..

... and this is where the story really starts .......

My preferred solution is to smash the bath, remove the pieces, and replace it with a shower cabinet, especially since there is already an electric shower plumbed in over the bath.

And I haven't even mentioned the problems with the drainage from the kitchen sink .....

Watch this space .....

Monday, 9 April 2012

He still doesn't get it.

Jean Mayland, Patron and Trustee of "Changing Attitude" has posted: "In remarks last week ++ Rowan was virtually saying that the Covenant had been destroyed by extreme evangelicals and extreme Liberals. It was not. It was destroyed by the rank and file clergy and laity in the Church of England and he and the House of Bishops need to recognise that." I wouldn't hold your breath, Jean.

More wanderings in the capital

On my recent visit to London I "discovered" the Wallace Collection at Hertford House in Manchester Square. My remaining impression is of an overwhelming number of canvases lining the walls of every room, and of it being somewhere impossible to really appreciate through just one visit. I shall definitely make return visits to take a more structured and leisurely look at the wealth of paintings, artifacts and furniture. I drooled over the Canaletto paintings, and then found the erroneously-named "Laughing Cavalier" by Frans Hals, for the man is neither laughing nor a cavalier ... and in some way the reality only just managed to live up to the memory of the reproductions I've seen of this work right from my childhood, for my parents had a framed print of it for many years which hung in the house in which I grew up.
For more details of the Collection, follow this link.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Maundy Thursday vigil

This year's Maundy Thusday Eucharist and Vigil took place in St. Mary's church, Flixton, and for the first time in 11 years of celebrating this around the Benefice churches, we had an Altar of Repose. It was set up on the altar in the north aisle, and it looked quite effective for the Watch through until 10.00 p.m.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Sunshine in London

Whilst much of the country was experiencing high wind and driving snow, yesterday was warm enough in London for me to walk about without a coat. The blue skies lasted until lunchtime, and as I travelled homeward it was only north of Ipswich that the skies became leaden and I entered continual rain. As well as numerous churches I also got to The Monument at Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of 1666 began, and saw the tall "Shard" from a distance - still under construction.
The day before (Tuesday) I also spent a couple of happy hours wandering around the Mediaeval galleries at the V&A, noting to myself that in the churches of this Benefice I work daily with some of the items thought worthy to be included in a national archive.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Holy Week ....

... and a couple of days in London where you can see all kinds of strange sights ....

Friday, 30 March 2012

Death throes

Thinking Anglicans carries this news comment on the defeat of the Covenant in the Church of England:

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Williams said: “This is, of course, a disap­pointing outcome for many of us in the Church of England and many more in the Communion. Unfor­tunately, the challenges the Covenant was meant to address will not go away just because people vote against it.

“We shall still have to work at vehicles for consultation and manag­ing disagreement. And nothing should lessen the priority of sus­taining relationships, especially with some of those smaller and vulner­able Churches for whom strong international links are so crucial.”

The blinkers still seem to be attached. What this defeat has said is that the Church of England wants to hold on to its Anglican heritage of unity in diversity, and has overwhelmingly voted against any ecclesiastical vehicle "for consultation and managing disagreement".

It appears that as our Archbishop starts to pack his bags for the airy corridors of academia he still doesn't understand this, and nor do the majority of our Bishops.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ministry Development Review

I have been invited to attend a Ministry Development Review with one of our Diocesan Bishops later this year. In my reply I pointed out that I have not transferred my post to Common Tenure, and that until I read the “Comparison of Freehold with Common Tenure” document, no-one had ever informed me that as an Office holder of Incumbent status my participation in an MDR was voluntary.

I then added that i would be happy to attend this MDR meeting on the understanding that it would be an opportunity to informally review my ministry rather than to formally assess it under the Clergy Terms of Service Regulations.

The CofE has "shafted" me several times since I began training for the ministry. I've now reached the stage of making my position clear, and may well take this opportunity to descibe the various ways in whioch I find myself "out of step" with several official pronouncements.

There again, I might just shut up .....

Saturday, 24 March 2012

What we've been saying all along

My cynical side says that our Archbishop saw the writing on the wall .....

Not waving but drowning

As of today, the Anglican Covenant proposals, as they stand, have been defeated by a majority of CofE Diocesan Synonds. The issue is now "dead in the water" and cannot come back to General Synod for at least 3 years, though expect some sort of "back-door" attempt to reintroduce the prescriptive control seemingly desired by the majority of bishops.

Puts a spring into my step as the clocks bounce forward an hour.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Anglican Covenant voting update

In Ripon & Leeds the voting was :
Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 12 for, 22 against
Laity: 8 for, 17 against

In Southwark the voting was:
Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 10 for, 27 against, 2 abstentions
Laity 21 for, 32 against

In Worcester the voting was:
Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 5 for, 19 against
Laity: 6 for, 22 against

In Carlisle the voting was:
Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 19 for, 13 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 33 for, 17 against

In Bath & Wells the voting was:
Bishops: 0 for, 1 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 17 for, 22 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 18 for, 23 against

In Coventry the voting was:
Bishops 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 22 for, 7 against
Laity: 26 for, 2 against

These results take the running total to 17 dioceses against and 10 in favour. Rejection by 22 diocesan synods means that the Covenant will not come back to the General Synod, and can’t be approved by the Church of England.

What strikes me immediately from these six results is how much the Bishops seem out of tune with their clergy and people over this issue. With the exception of Southwark and Bath & Wells, where there were 2 abstentions and one for and one against, the other diocesan bishops held the party line and voted for the proposed Covenant.

That in itself speaks volumes.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pass the bucket ...

14 punters merrily ate winter vegetable soup and picked at the cheese and paid for the privilege. Only about 6 servings left over, so that worked quite well.

Kitchen madness

It's the day of our first Lent Lunch, and so my home has been turned upside-down to arrange tables and chairs, and I will be able to seat 19 with an overflow into the sitting room with bowls on trays. The soup is bubbling away almost ready to be "blitzed", the rolls ready to warm in the oven, soup kettle on and coffee machine filled. Cheese sliced up, biscuits in bowls, sandwich pickle also on the tables along with salt & pepper, sugar and milk for the tea or coffee. Sliced ham is in the fridge for the one person I expect to come along who doesn't eat cheese.

This year I have cut down from doing this every week for 6 weeks to fortnightly, so there's only 3 to sort out. I have always given them a choice of two soups as well, but this year there's only one. The trouble with doing two is that one is always more popular than the other and I get left with several pints which I have to freeze. Then when it comes out again it's the least popular once more, so it ends up being chucked, which is a waste. So now its a "soup de jour" and like it or lump it.

There have been a few comments from parishioners that it's not happening every week, but I note that no-one else has volunteered to host and cook for the 3 blank Wednesdays ......

Sunday, 26 February 2012

On the beach

It has been pointed out to me that this Blog has gone silent for a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd better post something.

I've been going through some old slides of my father's and transferring them onto the computer, and I came across a series of shots of the MS Athina B which ran aground on Brighton beach on January 21st 1980. Along with thousands of others, including myself, my father grabbed his 35mm camera and headed off to the seafront to take photographs of the grounded ship.

The Wikipedia entry for the event reads thus:
The Athina B left the Azores on 11 December 1979 laden with 3,000 tonnes of pumice. Her destination was Shoreham-by-Sea. During the voyage, she had problems with her generator, gyro compass and radar, and put in to La Rochelle in France for repairs. On arrival at Shoreham on 20 January, force 7 or 8 winds meant she was unable to enter harbour. This was not helped by a loss of power from the engines, and a Mayday call was issued. The Shoreham Lifeboat Dorothy and Philip Constance took off half the crew and the captain's family, with the rest being rescued on the morning of 21 January. A total of four attempts were needed to rescue all those on board. The ship drifted eastwards and eventually ran aground to the east of the Palace Pier. The ship broke her back and was declared a write-off.

In a cupboard I have, in an old shaving stick container, some of that pumice cargo, labelled for posterity. I also have some photos which I took the following stormy weekend showing waves crashing over the side of the ship as it lay at an angle on the beach. My father obviously walked along the Palace Pier (now re-named Brighton Pier) and took this shot which shows just how close the boat came to demolishing that structure.

It was all rather fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Nice ice

Thankfully I haven't had to venture out today - the snow and ice hasn't melted at all and the pavements and roads are treacherous in places. The birds swoop down for the food I put out and the fresh water in the bird bath, which begins to freeze over almost immediately. Over the past week I've seen Dunnock, Long-tailed tits, Blue tits, Great tits, a Green Woodpecker, Collared Doves, Wood pigeons, pheasant, Blackbirds, Rooks, Starlings, House sparrows and Robins. A Muntjac has also made a fleeting appearance. I haven't seen that many parishioners! That's rural living for you!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow Day

Saturday 4th February, and the overnight snow arrived as forecast. I woke to a white world.

Managing to negotiate the snowy country lanes I drove to the first service at Rumburgh where there were 5 of us. We celebrated on a card table in the tower room as it was warmer!

At the second service at St Peter South Elmham there were 2 of us, and as the other person doesn't receive communion we said a shortened BCP Morning Prayer and headed home.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

I was sent this by someone who should know better

Best friends graduated from medical school at the same time and decided that, in spite of two different specialties, they would open a practice together to share office space and personnel.

Dr. Smith was the psychiatrist and Dr. Jones was the proctologist; they put up a sign reading: “Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones: Hysterias and Posteriors.”
The town council was livid and insisted they change it.

So, the docs changed it to read: “Schizoids and Hemorrhoids.”
This was also not acceptable, so they again changed the sign.

“Catatonics and High Colonics” - No go.

Next, they tried “Manic Depressives and Anal Retentives” - thumbs down again.

Then came “Minds and Behinds” - still no good!

Another attempt resulted in “Lost Souls and Butt Holes” - unacceptable again!

So they tried “Analysis and Anal Cysts” - not a chance.

“Nuts and Butts” - no way.

“Freaks and Cheeks” - still no good.

“Loons and Moons” - forget it.

Almost at their wit's end, the docs finally came-up with:
“Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones - Specializing in Odds and Ends”.

Everyone loved it.

Monday, 23 January 2012


The year of the Water Dragon ... which is me! What is uncanny is how accurate this depiction is of me first thing in the morning as I emerge from the bath!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Cast into the outer darkness...

... where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My laptop has died.

Or to be more precise, the motherboard has died.

I turned it on - several lines of DOS script flashed across the top of the screen, and then it turned itself off.

I turned it on, and couldn't get past the initial Toshiba flash screen. The keyboard was dead, and so was the power button. The only way I could turn it off was to flip it over and remove the battery.

A trip to a shop has confirmed the death of the motherboard, so as it will be cheaper to buy a replacement laptop rather than get a new motherboard and have it fitted (with no guarantee on its life), the laptop is now in pieces in my kitchen with various parts earmarked for sale on E-bay.

The only consolation - both hard drives are still working and by using an external caddy I can access them, so I have not lost any files or pictures.

Could have been worse.