Friday, 9 January 2015

Do we have Free Speech in this Country?

Would I be free to publish a cartoon mocking gay marriage? I would probably be arrested.
Would I be free to publish a cartoon mocking Christianity? There would be probably be am out cry (assuming I was sufficiently famous as a cartoonist).
Would I be free to publish a cartoon mocking Islam? I would probably be murdered.

So do we have free speech in this country?

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The European Debt Crisis Visualized

Apologies to all those who fully understand this - I found this very helpful:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Some suggestions for New Year Resolutions - by Rabbi Sacks

Have you made your new year resolutions? If not, try the following. Each is potentially life changing.
1. Give thanks. Once a day take quiet time to feel gratitude for what you have, not impatience for what you don’t have. This alone will bring you halfway to happiness. We already have most of the ingredients of a happy life. It’s just that we tend to take these for granted and focus on unmet wants, unfulfilled desires. Giving thanks is better than shopping – and cheaper too.
2. Praise. Catch someone doing something right and say so. Most people, most of the time, are unappreciated. Being recognised, thanked and congratulated by someone else is one of the most empowering things that can happen to us. So don’t wait for someone to do it for you: do it for someone else. You will make their day, and that will help to make yours.
3. Spend time with your family. Make sure that there is at least one time a week when you sit down to have a meal together with no distractions – no television, no phone, no e-mail, just being together and celebrating one another’s company. Happy marriages and healthy families need dedicated time.
4. Discover meaning. Take time out, once in a while, to ask: “Why am I here? What do I hope to achieve? How best can I use my gifts? What would I wish to be said about me when I am no longer here?” Finding meaning is essential to a fulfilled life – and how can you find it if you never look? If you don’t know where you want to be, you will never get there, however fast you run.
5. Live your values. Most of us believe in high ideals, but we act on them only sporadically. The best thing to do is to establish habits that get us to enact those ideals daily. This is called ritual, and it is what religions remember but ethicists often forget.
6. Forgive. This is the emotional equivalent of losing excess weight. Life is too short to bear a grudge or seek revenge. Forgiving someone is good for them but even better for you. The bad has happened. It won’t be made better by your dwelling on it. Let it go. Move on.
7. Keep learning. I learnt this from Florence in Newcastle, whom I last met the day she celebrated her 105th birthday. She was still full of energy and fun. “What’s the secret?” I asked her. “Never be afraid to learn something new,” she said. Then I realised that if you are willing to learn, you can be 105 and still young. If you are not, you can be 25 and already old.
8. Learn to listen. Often in conversation we spend half our time thinking of what we want to say next instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying. Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone else. It means that we are open to them, that we take them seriously and that we accept graciously their gift of words.
9. Create moments of silence in the soul. Liberate yourself, if only five minutes daily, from the tyranny of technology, the mobile phone, the laptop and all the other electronic intruders, and just inhale the heady air of existence, the joy of being.
10. Transform suffering. When bad things happen, use them to sensitise you to the pain of others. The greatest people I know – people who survived tragedy and became stronger as a result – did not ask “Who did this to me?” Instead, they asked “What does this allow me to do that I could not have done before?” They refused to become victims of circumstance. They became, instead, agents of hope.
Most of these are, of course, integral elements of a religious life, which may be why so many surveys have shown that those who practise a religious faith tend to live longer, have lower levels of stress and report higher degrees of wellbeing than others. This is not accidental. The great religions are our richest treasuries of wisdom when it comes to the question of how best to live a life.
Life is too full of blessings to waste time and attention on artificial substitutes. Live, give, forgive, celebrate and praise: these are still the best ways of making a blessing over life, thereby turning life into a blessing.
(First published in The Times, January 2008)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Need to backup your computer

I have just read a sad posting on Facebook written by a friend who has lost her photos on her computer. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who never backup there computer/ipad/phone etc. All mechanical/electrical things eventually fail. So please make sure that your data is backed up.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Still trying to find Gus and Pam!

We (or rather I) lost our address book in 2013. We are still trying to find the address/phone number/email for Gus (Angus) and Pam MacConnachie. They live in Broughty Ferry just outside Dundee. If anyone can help me in my quest I will be extremely grateful.
Happy Christmas
Barry and Julia

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Letter from the Mellish Family

Dear all,
We are running later than intended this year so it will be a blog post for our 2014 Christmas Letter. In may ways 2014 was a brilliant year. Not quite up to the standard of 2013; but then it would be hard to beat the birth of our first grandchild - Henry Thomas Reynard Mellish; my ordination and Helena's wedding to Sam. But we did try!
There were two major highlights; firstly the ITSO Reunion in San Jose - this was the group that I worked in when I was on assignment in California. There were about 80 of us from 18 countries. We decided that as it may be our last trip to the States we would make a proper go of it. So we started with five days in Boston and then flew over to San Jose for the reunion. After the reunion we went to Lake Tahoe for a few days staying with Joan and Bruce then to Yosemite for four days. Then back to San Jose staying with Tim and Pat. We met up with nearly all of our American friends who treated us like royalty. We had  a fabulous time.

Julia in Boston

Barry showing the Americans how to throw tea overboard!

The sea at Monterrey

Julia with Wendy at the Reunion

Overlooking Lake Tahoe

Toulumne Meadows in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park - my idea of heaven

Julia at Sausalito

Having wondered when (if) we would go back to America we found ourselves back in San Jose in September! Having booked our June trip I was then asked to conduct a wedding service for Meredith who is one of Helena's closest friends.  So it was back once more, yippee! We had a great time. We saw more of Helena and Sam in California then we had all year in the UK. After the wedding Julia and I had a few days in Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) wine tasting. Then we joined Meredith and Jon, plus family members, plus Helena and Sam for a few days camping at Capitola Beach. Well they camped and we stayed in a hotel. It was great fun. One of the highlights was when our friends Tim and Pat took us to see the 49ers play the first game at the Levi Stadium. Sadly they lost but it was a brilliant day.
Meredith and Jon at the wedding

Helena and Sam talking to Jon

Julia at the Levi Stadium in her 49ers shirt

Northern Californian Coast

At our B&B in wine country

Helena and Sam at Santa Cruz

Waiting for a ride at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz

The Marin Headlands with SF in the background
Almost inevitably as we get older so the number of funerals that we go to increases. Three good friends died this year and we learnt that two of our oldest and dearest friends both have prostate cancer. We are praying for them. Hopefully it has been caught in time.

All the "children' and their other halves are doing fine. Andrew and Gaew moved house early in the year. Henry continues to thrive. We do not see Lawrie, Emma and Henry as much as we would like as they live in Halesowen a three hour drive from us. Julia did get to spend a week with them when Lawrie was away in Wales helping police the NATO Conference. They came down to us in October for a few days and we took Henry to see the poppies in the Tower of London Moat. My poppy is not due until February!

Lawrie and Henry with HMS Belfast in the background

Henry with granny

Lest we forget

Almost forgot!!! I finished my Honours Degree and was awarded an Upper Second - it is in Theology and Scripture Studies. The photo was taken outside Westminster Cathedral where the degree ceremony was held. It was on the day (24th July) of our 43rd wedding anniversary.

The past 43 years have been brilliant (well I think so!)

We hope and pray that you dear reader(s) had a good 2014. Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Christmas and Peace, Prosperity and Good Health in 2015.

All our love and best wishes

Barry and Julia

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Some thoughts on the latest health warnings on excessive drinking.

Our government has implemented laws against drinking and operating vehicles, due to the danger of accidents. These laws are enforced with ruthless severity, starting with a one year ban for any infringement.
I am fully in agreement with this, and indeed now propose that these exact same laws will be applied to all those working in government and making key decisions involving the operation of that vast vehicle, the Great British economy, There is clear scientific evidence available showing that judgement is severely impaired after the consumption of any alcohol.
I therefore propose that the selling and consumption of alcohol on government property, including the House of Lords and Houses of Parliament, is immediately banned. Furthermore any politician or government employee found on government property to be under the influence of alcohol will be forthwith banned for twelve months from office without pay or benefits.
To ensure that the Law of the Land is held in the highest degree by those who make the laws, I further propose that all entering government premises have to take a breath test, and also that random checks will be performed throughout the corridors, hallways, offices and toilets of power.
Only once we have made sure that clearheaded and capable drivers sit at the steering wheel of the UK economy as it is navigated meticulously around the hazards can we rest assured that a bunch of pickled brains is not making impaired decisions and steering us deeper into the abyss.