Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Blunder - It came sooner than expected

I wrote earlier in the week that something would happen, some blunder, that could turn the election. Well it happened sooner than expected. After what seemed a reasonable exchange with an ordinary member of the public Gordon Brown, the "beloved" prime minister was caught on microphone calling her a bigot. For those of wanting a more detailed account click here. This has revealed the fatal flaw in Gordon's character; he really doesn't like ordinary people and has no idea how to communicate. If he thinks that Gillian Duffy is a bigot how will he come with a real bigot?
Meanwhile all the main parties continue to huff and puff on the economy; not one of them has the guts to tell it as it really is. Great Britain Ltd is almost bust and heavily in debt; to get back to anything like normal is going to be a long hard road. I cannot say that I really blame the politicians as the truth is very unpalatable and most people would really not hear the truth.

While walking down the street one day a "Member of Parliament" is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the  entrance.

'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter.. 'Before you settle in,  it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I  have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,'  says the MP.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with  that, St. Peter  escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down  to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green  golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it  are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with  him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had  while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a  friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and  champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises....

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time  to visit heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group  of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing.  They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by  and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and  another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it  before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but 
 I think I would be better off  in hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down,  down, down to hell.

Now the doors of  the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with  waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his  shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the MP. 'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time.. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.

What happened?'
The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning... ...
Today you voted.'

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Church and Politics

At last we are seeing some leadership from the Church with relation to the child abuse scandal. The Bishops of England and Wales issued a letter which was read out throughout the country last Sunday. It acknowledged not only the guilt of a few members of the ordained priesthood; but that of some of the hierarchy in organising a cover up. It asked for forgiveness from those who have been brutalised by the affair and promised public exposure of all those caught doing such things whether recently or in the past. The full letter can be read by clicking here.

The election continues apace. It is interesting that the internet which was meant to set it all on fire has played a low key part so far. A couple of candidates have been sacked form their parties for expressing somewhat unpalatable and extreme  views and there has been the odd unwise comment on twitter. Apart from that it has been politics as usual; with , of course, the exception of the televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties. So far it is all rather close; but there is over a week to go and my guess is that one of them will make some colossal error that will shake things up. So far my money, if I were to bet, would be on a Tory majority of about 20 seats, we will soon see how wrong I have been!

Last weekend

Most of Saturday seemed to be filled with church matters. We had a training session in the morning for Special  Ministers of the Eucharist. this was run by Mary and did she did a really great job. There was a panic at the last minute when the projector refused to show anything. This was/may have been caused by me trying to adjust the screen resolution in an attempt to rectify colour washout.  I rushed home to get my laptop but this did not work either. We were saved by someone rushing home and bringing another one.  I took the projector home and it worked OK first time!
Sunday was David's birthday; he was out most of the day as he and some friends had been celebrating the night before and he stayed over at a friends. We went out for dinner in the evening. the plan was to go to our local Italian; but it was closing early it being a Sunday. Instead we went for a an excellent curry at the raj palace A really good meal and very reasonable priced. Not quite what we had intended but the three of us, David, Julia and me all had a good time which is the main thing.

This week we have the final TV debate on the general election to look forward to; cannot wait!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Exciting Weekend?

Well yes it was really; Friday night Julia and I went to the Old Askean Association Annual Dinner. I have been a member for several years now, there being a gap of almost forty years between my leaving school and joining the old boys. Sadly in recent years the numbers attending these functions has dwindled and the current president, Roger Goodman, an old school friend asked us to go. It was a great evening held at the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, which claims to be the oldest golf club in the country. Although we did not know many people at the start of the evening we were made to feel most welcome and had a great time.
  Saturday was mainly spent in the church hall taking part in a training course which was very interesting and useful. At least I did the training and Julia slaved away doing refreshments.

Sunday we went, with David, to Birmingham to see Lawrie and Emma. It is Lawrie's birthday next Monday. Normally we would have gone up the Sunday before for a celebration. Sadly he is working that day, all police leave being cancelled as they have to marshal an event/parade or something. We all went out to a tapas bar and had a great meal. Then we went for a stroll along the canals and visited an art gallery. Then back to Lawrie and Emma's for a coffee and a quick snooze for me (what a surprise). Then the trek back to London, a great day out enjoyed by all.
David, Julia, Lawrie, Barry
Emma and Lawrie

Monday, 19 April 2010

General Election and Things

Well the election has had last come to life. Sadly it is not political policies that are setting the pace; but the personalities of the three main party leaders and how they fared during last Thursday's televised debate. It promised to be dull; but at the end it started to get interesting. Nick Clegg "won" according to the polls and the race for power is now wide open. I believe that if most people realised that he and the Lib-Dems are in favour of closer integration into the EH and that we should the Euro then he would lose support. Whereas a year ago we would have confidently been expecting a Tory win now nobody knows. My guess is still a Tory majority of 20 -25  it is now wide open.

The Pope, at last, is now publicly exhibiting real leadership over the child abuse scandal and the subsequent cover up during his trip to Malta.  I suspect that much has been taking place behind the scenes and no doubt "coded" messages have been emanating from the Vatican. The problem is that as with politics, the general public does not understand the coded messages. What we want is clear simple talking. As a friend says if only the Church would say:
"The Catholic Church apologizes unreservedly for any abuse carried out by its priests.  It also apologizes unreservedly for any and all occasions where cases were not properly investigated and acted upon.   We now have in place policies and procedures which will prevent any possibility for future abuse and which, we believe, sets a standard for others to follow in the prevention, investigation and resolution of such cases.

Finally, we are truly sorry for the hurt that has been caused to the victims and their families.  We humbly beg their forgiveness."


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Catholic Church and Child Abuse

As a committed Christian who is Catholic I feel that I must comment on what is happening in the Church right now.I agree that the Church does not abuse children, it is evil people who do this and they are evil even if they are priests or in religious orders. Sadly though, it has been people with positions of authority within the Church that have condoned such actions by failing to report the perpetrators to the civil authorities, in short they organised a cover-up and brought shame and disgrace on the Church that they profess to love. In some cases, if the Irish enquiry reports are to be believed, all that happened is that the guilty were merely moved to another parish. Anybody who took part in covering up such actions has proved themselves unfit to hold official positions within the church.
"It is not enough in a situation of trust in the commonwealth, that a man means well to his country; it is not enough that in his single person he never did an evil act, but always voted according to his conscience, and even harangued against every design which he apprehended to be prejudicial to the interests of his country. This innoxious and ineffectual character, that seems formed upon a plan of apology and disculpation, falls miserably short of the mark of public duty. That duty demands and requires that what is right should not only be made known, but made prevalent; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated. When the public man omits to put himself in a situation of doing his duty with effect it is an omission that frustrates the purposes of his trust almost as much as if he had formally betrayed it. It is surely no very rational account of a man's life, that he has always acted right but has taken special care to act in such a manner that his endeavours could not possibly be productive of any consequence." Edmund Burke
Archbishop Vincent Nichols has, in some excellent articles indicated the action that has been taken in the UK and that lead should be followed throughout the world. True to form the situation is not helped by leading Cardinals trying to deflect criticism of the Church by blaming homosexuals. Cardinal Bertone recently said: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.” How anyone can say this and believe in it totally defeats me. All I can do is to apologise to all the homosexuals that I know and say that I totally disassociate myself from such views.
A thorough cleansing of the Augean stables is what is called for; but where is Hercules when you need him?

The Election Continues..................

Well the whole country is riveted by the exciting campaigns that are unfolding before our eyes.  At least watching election broadcasts is a sure cure for insomnia. If only one party leader would have the guts to speak to a "real" audience rather than one filled with party hacks. At least that way we might get some good old fashioned heckling and perhaps hear some truth. As it is all we get are sound-bites and pious platitudes. there is far more excitement on the political fringes and here the politicians are unafraid to spell out exactly what they believe.They also come out with some great posters.
For those of you not familiar with all of the UK political parties UKIP stands for UK Independence Party and wants us to withdraw from the EU.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Electioneering Day 1

Well the election has been called and we are now set for four weeks of being lied to by all the parties. Will any of them really spell out the awful truth that this country is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy and that tough times are ahead? No matter who "wins" and I think that winning the election mat be a mixed blessing they will need to put in some tough austerity measures.
Not that any party will have the guts to do anything really radical. How about raising the income tax threshold so that nobody on minimum wage pays income tax; then abolish all the tax allowances and have two rates of tax, one for those from minimum wage to say £50k then another rate above that. At a stroke we could get rid of an army of tax inspectors and make most tax accountants redundant.  The rates could be set so that they are neutral in revenue raised. Simon Heffer in today's Torygraph has a very interesting article; click here to read. One paragraph that is worth copying:
And the Liberal Democrats? They have a flexibility of principle that leaves even that of Mr Cameron standing; a record of opportunism and incompetence in local government (the only place they have had any power) that puts Mr Brown's moral and intellectual inadequacies in the shade. One would be inclined to ridicule them entirely were they not likely to do as much damage to Labour in some parts of the country as the Tories are, and because of the far from impossible prospect of Vince Cable having some say in the running of our economy in a month's time. With various useful independents standing in certain seats, with the Greens in with a chance in Brighton Pavilion, with Ukip a not impossible prospect for the Speaker's seat in Buckingham, with votes being split in a way they have rarely been split before, not just by the Greens and Ukip, but also by the knuckledusters of the BNP, anything could happen.
Personally I would like to spend the next four weeks living as a hermit on a remote island with no access to the internet, mobile phones or any form of news. Perhaps I should ask my friend Max if I could crew on his boat and that we sail it to the Azores leaving all methods of communication at home. Meanwhile I will no doubt report on how we are being lied to later.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Politics and the General Election

It does seem as if, at long last, that "brave" Gordon will call the general election. Not that he really wants to mind, but that he is forced to, although it seems as if he will avoid leaving it to the very last minute. They really have been dreadful in the last few months, well longer than that if the truth were told. They started off with such high hopes some thirteen years ago and are ending up surrounded with the whiff of  corruption and decay. I wonder if David Cameron (I refuse to call him Dave) will really go for jugular. There is much to go for; the selling of gold at the bottom of the market, the wrecking of private pensions schemes, the ID card scheme, the lies and hypocrisy over immigration, the fueling of the credit boom (sorry that should read the end of boom and bust according to Gordon!), the list goes on. There is an embarrassment of riches to go for. They are even losing their touch at PR and spin at which Labour excelled. The recent poster scheme has spectacularly backfired on them. For those of you that did not see it this was the poster that was proudly unveiled by the Milliband brothers (they really do look like a prize pair of twerps).
Within hours the Tories had come up with this version:
For months the Tories have been trying to re-brand David Cameron as cool and with a hard edge, and Labour do it for them! They must have been asleep not to realise that Gene Hunt has become a cult figure and that the general population is fed up with the whole Political Correctness culture that is currently so prevalent. I just wonder if the Tories will have the nerve torun with this poster as the lead in the election campaign, we live in interesting times.


Easter is the most important part of the liturgical year. The services that we attended were all very moving. The sense of the joy of the resurrection was made very real for us  as we learnt of the death of  my Aunt Jean (widow of my dad's brother John) who lived in America. She had been ill with cancer for some time and is now at peace and reunited with John.
The Mass of the last supper on Thursday was very moving. it was followed by a period of quiet prayer and contemplation and then night prayers; with all that has been happening in the Catholic Church recently there was plenty to think and pray about. Then on Good Friday there was the march through Bromley with all the other local churches led by the Salvation Army Band. It was great to be with the churches and concentrate on what unites us all rather than the differences. The prayers were led by different priests/pastors from different churches including our Parish Priest, Father Tom. Then in the afternoon there was Good Friday service starting at 3pm. which included the Veneration of The Cross and distribution of Holy Communion; there being no Masses said on Good Friday.
On Holy Saturday we went to the Vigil Mass; this starts outside the church around the fire which is blessed and the Easter Candle is lit from it. As we enter, the Church it is in total darkness, apart from the light of Christ emanating from the candle, we all have candles which are lit from the Easter Candle. It is very moving as the light gradually fills the Church. At this Mass three adults were received into the Church and were baptised; then the whole congregation renewed their baptismal promises, then Mass was celebrated. After the service was over we retired to the Church hall to celebrate with those who had just been received into the Church. Julia was able to join us in a drink; she had given up alcohol for Lent including all puddings that contained any drink!

All of the Easter services were packed which was good to see, especially as they are long although none of them seemed long at the time. The Easter Vigil lasted about two and a half hours although it seemed to me to be very little longer than a normal Mass which is about an hour. Father Tom did not shy away from mentioning the current child abuse scandal that is currently rocking the Church. As he said, and as Archbishop Vincent Nichols has said in his excellent article in The Times, see below. It is not just the abuse, which is wicked and evil,  but the systematic cover up by those who should have known better. One can argue that the abuse was not committed by the Church but by evil people. The cover up tough was committed by those in the authority in the Church and that casts a shadow over the whole Church, sadly some in the Vatican do not understand the widespread anger and upset that there is in the Church at present.

"The child abuse committed within the Roman Catholic Church and its concealment is deeply shocking and totally unacceptable. I am ashamed of what happened, and understand the outrage and anger it has provoked.
That shame and anger centres on the damage done to every single abused child. Abuse damages, often irrevocably, a child’s ability to trust another, to fashion stable relationships, to sustain self-esteem. When it is inflicted within a religious context, it damages that child’s relationship to God. Today, not for the first time, I express my unreserved shame and sorrow for what has happened to many in the Church.
My shame is compounded, as is the anger of many, at the mistaken judgments made within the Church: that reassurance from a suspect could be believed; that credible allegations were deemed to be “unbelievable”; that the reputation of the Church mattered more than safeguarding children. These wrong reactions arise whenever and wherever allegations of abuse are made, whether within a family or a Church. We have to insist that the safety of the child comes first because the child is powerless.
Serious mistakes have been made within the Catholic Church. There is some misunderstanding about the Church, too. Within the Church there is a legal structure, its canon law. It is the duty of each diocesan bishop to administer that law. Certain serious offences against that law have to be referred to the Holy See to ensure proper justice. Some of these offences are not criminal in public law (such as profanation of the sacraments), others (such as offences against children) are. The role of the Holy See is to offer guidance to ensure that proper procedures are followed, including the confidentially needed to protect the good name of witnesses, victims and the accused until the trial is completed. It is no different from any other responsible legal procedure. 
This “secrecy” is nothing to do with the confidentiality, or “seal” of the confessional, which is protected for reasons of the rights of conscience.
The relationship between the administration of church law and the criminal law in any particular state is a point of real difficulty and misunderstanding. Nothing in the requirement of canon law prohibits or impedes the reporting of criminal offences to the police. Since 2001 the Holy See, working through the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, has encouraged that course of action on dioceses who have received evidence about child abuse and which the diocesan authorities are responsible for pursuing. The canonical procedure is best put on hold until the criminal investigation is complete, whatever its outcome. This is what is needed. That it has not happened consistently is deeply regrettable.
In England and Wales, since 2001, the agreed policy followed by the bishops has been to report all allegations of child abuse, no matter from how far in the past, to the police or social services. By doing so and by having clear safeguarding procedures in place in every parish as well as independent supervision at diocesan and national level, we have built good relationships with those authorities in these matters, including, in some areas, co-operation in the supervision of offenders in the community.
What of the role of Pope Benedict? When he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he led important changes made in church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statue of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders. He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words.
Every year since 2002 the Catholic Church in England and Wales has made public the exact number of allegations made within the Church, the number reported to the police, the action taken and the outcome. As far as I know, no other organisation in this country does this. It is not a cover-up; it is clear and total disclosure. The purpose of doing so is not to defend the Church. It is to make plain that in the Catholic Church in England and Wales there is no hiding place for those who seek to harm children. On this we are determined.
One more fact. In the past 40 years, less than half of 1 per cent of Catholic priests in England and Wales (0.4 per cent) have faced allegations of child abuse. Fewer have been found guilty. Do not misunderstand me. One is too many. One broken child is a tragedy and a disgrace. One case alone is enough to justify anger and outrage. The work of safeguarding, within any organisation and within our society as a whole, is demanding but absolutely necessary. The Catholic Church here is committed to safeguarding children and all vulnerable people.
Vincent Nichols,  Archbishop of Westminster

Friday, 2 April 2010

Just come across this

The one thing that current government has done brilliantly over the past thirteen years - waste our money! Do click here and have a view.

April 1st

Check out the Bursledon Blogger, enough said!

Helena's Birthday Weekend

Last Saturday marked Helena's birthday, one should never disclose the age of a lady, but she was .......!. So Friday night she, her boyfriend Sam and friend Noor drove down from t'up north to Mellish Towers in Bromley. Saturday morning Lawrie and Emma came down from Birmingham and Andrew and Gaew trekked the five miles from Beckenham and David is currently living at home. Stuart, a college friend of Helena also joined us for a special lunch.
Sam cooked the meal which followed the grand present opening.
Present opening

Sam and Noor busy in the kitchen preparing:
Deep fried poached eggs with roasted asparagus
Home made ravioli (four kinds) with a cream sauce
Chocolate sponge puddings filled with chocolate

Lunch, which started about 4pm was, like all family lunches, a rather protracted affair. We eventually finished about 9 pm. Then into the front room for more merriment (booze). At about 11pm the "youngsters" went of to a club while Julia and I retired to bed. Heaven only knows at what time they all returned.

Stuart, David, Andrew, Gaew, Helena, Lawrie (back of head!)

Sunday saw some unexpected excitement and an additional guest for dinner. Mary ,who is one of the more senior parishioners and a widow, collapsed  during Mass. The ambulance was called and I went with her to hospital. After a few hours of excellent attention, thank you Farnborough Hospital, I took her home, As she would have been by herself I asked her to our home for lunch. I am not sure if a lunch with 11 people was restful, but Mary seemed to enjoy it. It was a traditional Sunday roast and much enjoyed by all.

Helena, Barry, Noor, Emma, Mary, Julia, David. Lawrie. Stuart, Andrew, Gaew.

It seems strange that we go for some years without us all being together, then in the space of a few months we have two complete family gatherings. After lunch the party started to disperse. It was good weekend enjoyed by all. Although as we had some 9 people staying there was some hard work involved. Still it was worth it. It was good to be all together again. We mentioned to someone at church that sometimes it would be good to spend some time by ourselves as these gatherings were tiring. She told us that she had not seen her daughters for some twenty years. There are times when you just don't realise how lucky you are.

Sadly Lawrie and Emma will not be with us at Easter. All leave has been cancelled in the West Midlands Police Force as they are expecting some trouble at a march planned by the English Defence League. This is being opposed by an anti-Fascist Group who supposedly are in favour of freedom of speech. I just hope that we do not read or see on TV anything about violence during the marches. It always seems strange to me that these groups who all proclaim the defence of our rights have to violently oppose and try to stop each other from marching. Hopefully soon the sad man who calls himself prime minister will call an election and we have a chance to change the direction that the country is taking. They really are a dreadful bunch although sad to say the opposition is not that much better.