Sunday, 3 December 2017

2017 - The Year of "Seventy"

Round the luncheon table

It has come to that time of year when I feel I should put finger to keyboard and write something about what happened to Julia and I (and the children) during the past year. Last Christmas and New Year were great. The whole family were down, although we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take a group photo!
Grandad teaching his grandson how to nap

Helena, Julia and I went to Herne Bay in the rain just after Christmas

Then at the end of January we had a "minor" mishap that has taken most of the year to recover from. To cut a very long story short following a succession of "colds and coughs" at the end of 2016that lasted several months Julia ended up in hospital at the end of January. After many tests/X-rays/scans etc the diagnosis was Vasculitis which is where the bodies auto-immune system attacks the blood vessels. In addition she had the Epstein-Barr Virus and the Influenza A Virus - quite a cocktail. Julia is still under the consultants and still gets tired very quickly - it has left her with damaged eyesight and hearing - so we both now have hearing aids!! Sorting this out has taken inordinate amounts of time but she is now much better than she was although still not 100%.

In March our God-daughter Billie, who is slowly recovering from leukaemia, married Tony, the son of good friends of ours, Aidan and Kathy. It was a fabulous occasion with much dabbing of wet eyes.

Tony and Billie with us and Father Tom
 Julia made a trip toYork and met up with old college friends. I went on a Church retreat to Merville in France so the year was fairly busy.

The "girls" in York -all went to St Paul's Teacher Training College 
Andrew & Gaew organised a family BBQ in July at their house. Sadly we cannot seem to find any photos of the event - but we do have this photo of a rather strange sporting event.

During the year we made several trips to our lodge in Devon. The one downside is that it takes us around 4 -4.5 hours to get there. But when we are down it is really fabulous. So all in all well worth the trip.

One of the gardens we visited

I turned seventy in October. Julia and I went to La Gavroche  for lunch to celebrate. Then at the weekend the children took me out for lunch. Well at least that is what they told me. I missed this lunch as they had arranged a surprise party for me. It was really great and I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

Alcohol was consumed!

The day after the night before!
Celebrations continued into early November as we spent a few days in Dorset with old college friends. Us "boys" all turned 70 in September/October.

Cutting our cake in RCET colours with Martin and John

Golden Cap in Dorset

Almost inevitably there was some sadness in the year, one of the penalties of getting older. My cousin Lesley's husband Ken died after a long illness. They lived in Canada and so we were not able to get to see them very often. We were not at the funeral; but I was privileged to be able to help officiate at the service when we buried Ken's ashes in his family's plot in Sussex.

Lesley and Ken with David, Julia and I on a visit to England in 2009.

Father Cyril, who was a retired priest and a great friend died early in the year. Cyril had been a great help to me and source of inspiration when I was in formation for the Permanent Diaconate.

Dermot Poston, my first English teacher at Aske's school died. Dermot was an inspirational teacher and introduced me to the delights of caving. What I did not know at the time was that my first day at Aske's as a pupil was Dermot's first day as a teacher! I got to know Dermot quite well over the last few years at various dinners and rambles courtesy of the Old Askean Association.

Dermot and Julia talking at an Old Askean Dinner

Two second cousin's on my dad's side of the family, Anni Martin and Peggy Dawson died. Both had been ill for some time but this does not make their passing any easier.

A deacon friend, Peter Rennie, tragically died far too young. Peter greatly helped me during my diaconal formation and was one of the deacons who played a major role at my ordination. This photo was taken at the post-ordination celebration.

With Peter Rennie, 8th June 2013

My cousin Tony, whom I spoke to on  4th October, my birthday, was taken ill and died on Friday 13 October. He was a lovely man and we are all recovering from the shock. Barbara, his widow, organised a wonderful funeral service for him which was a fitting tribute. We all miss him.

Tony, Barbara, Helena and Julia when they visited us in California in 2001
We ended the year with a three day break on the Isle of Wight, courtesy of Julia's twin sister Phil - she and her husband Peter gave me a two  night break in Shanklin  as a 70th birthday present - thank you both very much. We had a great time - I had not been to the IoW since our honeymoon some 46 years ago.

Beautiful but rather chilly
I end this missive on a very happy note. Emma, partner to Lawrie and mother to our only grandchild Henry, is expecting a second baby on December 31 - so the year should go out with a bang!

All in all 2017 was an interesting year, we hope and pray that it was a good one for you and yours.
Wishing you all Good Health, Prosperity and Good Luck in 2018
All our love and best wishes
Barry and Julia

Friday, 9 June 2017

Worst political judgement ever?

The stupid, stupid woman. Have just woken up to find the result of a hung parliament. In 9 days time negotiations with the EU start on Brexit - will we have a government by then? Who knows, she should resign. Far from strong and stable it will be weak and wobbly.
Why on earth did she call the election? Was it because she feared the results of the enquiry into election irregularities?
We may as well give up on the Brexit negotiations, Angela Merkel must be roaring with laughter.
The worst possible result for the country all to satisfy May's ego. At least she will go down in history as the worst PM ever, or the one with worst judgement.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Retreat at Buckfast

It was one of the best retreats that I have been on - it was very spiritual in tone and it was excellent to have two sets of adoration finishing with Benediction -  we ended the retreat this way having prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet during the Adoration. 
Praying the Rosary in the Abbey as a group was also great - it also made a statement to the visitors to the Abbey - some joined in with us others stood and looked somewhat bemused.
Father Guy is a very good  priest - reminds me somewhat of Fr Peter Edwards. His two talks on the spirituality of the diaconate taught me an awful lot and gave me a great deal to reflect on. Dr Olivers talks where different in style but equally as reflective.
Thank you to all my fellow retreatents. I hope and pray that you got as much out of it as I did.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Catholic Church and Freemasons

There has been a programme on Sky TV "Inside the Freemasons". This has prompted some to ask 'Can a Catholic be a Freemason?' The lastest official document that I can find states as follows;
"It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.
This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.
Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).
In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.
Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.
Joseph Card. RATZINGER
+ Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium

Monday, 13 March 2017

Dermot Poston RIP

I have heard the sad news that Dermot died last week. I will post the funeral arrangements when they are known. This is a newspaper article on him:

Dermot was my English Teacher at school, he was a great influence on me and many others. In addition he helped run the Explorers' Club at school and introduced me to the delights of caving. He was a great man, one of the best.

Dermot taken many years ago
Dermot Talking to Julia at an Old Askean Lunch

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The NHS is stil working

Despite all the negative comments recent personal experience shows to my wife and I that the NHS is still working. Last Tuesday evening, 31 January, Julia, who had been unwell, noticed that her hands and arms were starting to swell and a rash was spreading on her body at an alarming rate. She dialed 111 and they said that a doctor would call back within the hour. Fifteen minutes later he called back, listened to her and asked some questions. He then said to go to the PRU (our local hospital) and hat he would send her notes over. We went to the PRU, the notes were there. We saw the triage people very quickly and some blood samples were taken for testing. Then came the one frustrating part, a five hour wait to see the doctor.
Once we saw the doctor things moved at a great rate, more tests, ECG, X-rays etc.A move from Accident & Emergency to a bed in the Emergency Assessment Unit and visits from two consultants. Late on Wednesday she was moved to a bed in the Chartwell Unit. Over the next few days she had more tests, CT scan, Ultra sound tests and regular blood tests. The diagnosis was vasculitis and she was out on a course of steroids.
Yesterday evening, Tuesday 7 February, Julia was discharged with a course of steroids to complete and a series of follow-up consultations to attend.
The treatment could not have been better, everybody; cleaners, porters, nurses, doctors, consultants etc were friendly and approachable. I suspect that if we were really try we could somethings that were not quite perfect. But overall the NHS delivered on its promise.
So do not believe all that you read. No doubt budgets are stretched and some people do not receive high quality treatment. But for us it was brilliant so a big thank you to the NHS, to the PRU and to all the staff who work there.