Monthly Archives: March 2007

Thoughts

Last Sunday I wrote about a man that we keep hearing about. He is a youthworker with a “vision” for the area we live in. I put the “” around vision because I am a cynical person by nature. During my youth I was encouraged, by various people, to question everything and to take nothing for granted. Test every theory or proposition that you are given. Accept nothing at face value.

So today, as its a little quiet at work, I took time out and decided to investigate a little into this guy. Isn’t the internet a wonderful way of snooping into other people’s lives. I’ve believed that you are not “something” until you find something about yourself on the internet. However it only applies if its something posted by another person or body – self publicity does not count, nor mere name checking.

What I discovered was that he was someone I’d heard about through articiles and magazines but never met. The name rang a bell but only in the far reaches of my mind – it is a rather large area to cover by your mere human standards 😉

He is a hoody! Well that’s the picture I found. Then I found an article on the BBC which shed even more light. He was one of the people who set up the Youth Bus that tour(s) St Mellons in Cardiff providing a place for kids to meet and have fun. A non threatening environment and one that does not immediately scream CHURCH at them. He is also a member of Ignite, the youth centred outreach mission.

Now this is someone I can immediately relate to. Someone who does what I believe most Christians should be doing, getting in touch with their communities. Making a difference in the lives of those around them. Not living in a Christian world hermetically sealed off from the great unwashed, like something out of Logan’s Run. The overall mission that we have is to reach out to the disadvantaged and weak; those who are marginalised by society because they come from less well off estates and families.

I remember a minister from Penarth coming to our Chapel and asking the question: “How many non Christian friends do you have?” I thought about what he’d said and hen realised that my non-Christian friends were greater in number than my Christian ones. It was rather easy as I have few people I class as friends, acquaintances plenty, but few real friends. Even my non Christian acquaintances were greater.

Now I think that God is giving me a hint of what He wants me to do. The plan isn’t clear but the idea is certainly taking root.

Relax By Rushing Around The Country

Personally I’d never compare myself to Bob Dylan. For one thing I have a better voice but he beats me at everything else musically.

Today I have been told that I have to leave work at 5:30 and no later. I’m being evicted because the normal “key” person is on holiday and there’ll be no one to lock-up after that time. As its a nice evening I suppose I can take the roof down and drive.

I’m really pee’d about tomorrow. FW and I want to visit her folks this week and intended going tomorrow lunchtime and coming back Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately I’ve been roped into a customer visit tomorrow afternoon. Now we won’t get to Swanage until late tomorrow evening. I’ll be knackered from all that driving. At least Friday will be a quiet day with them anyway.

Sunday is the last day at our little chapel (ver. 1.0) and we promised that we’d be there as they wanted to make sure we left and FW has a sleepover at work on Saturday night. Therefore everything is a little rushed.

I’m still waiting to hear from Eeeeee & Crayon on their impending visit. Our weekends book up very quickly you know….

Peace At Last?

Yesterday saw the possible end of one of the longest running conflicts in the world today. We finally had Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sit down together and actually speak to each other. Now I know that many of you, outside the UK, may not understand the significance of this.

Ian Paisley has been the most outspoken critic against the Catholics in Protestant circles. He has maintained for 40 years that he would never sit down with the IRA or Sinn Fein, their political wing, as he would never talk to terrorists. They have been in the same room together or rare occasions but have never talked until yesterday.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are the leaders of Sinn Fein and have also been senior leaders in the IRA, at one point or another. Though they’ve never been keen to admit their involvement in that organisation they finally admitted to it a few years ago.

What finally helped to unite them? Would you believe the imposition of Water Rates (a tax)? They decided that the time had come to bury the hatchet and work together for the good of Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein & the IRA agreed to everything that Ian Paisley demanded of them and they then sat down and signed the necessary agreements to allow the power sharing to begin.

I’m not going to get over excited and say that this will mean everlasting peace between the 2 communities. There are still too many guns and explosives lieing around to make that 100% certain. In addition they still need to turn the “former” terrorist organisations away from crime. The Catholic and Protestant gangs now run most of the criminal activities going on in the province.

You also have the problem that the Catholics still want a united Ireland and the Protestants still want to be part of the UK. However they also want to rule without interference, or the imposition of laws, by the British parliament. This is what united them in the end – a common hatred of the current British parliament.

Let’s pray that they’ll see sense and begin to work together to end the centuries of distrust and hatred.

Slavery

This year sees the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in British controlled countries. It is also a great chance for us to increase pressure on governments to stem the tide of slavery that still exists today. It is not as open as it was 200 years ago but it is still as prevelant.

Instead of predominantly black slaves on plantations, we now have East Europeans and Asians in the sex trade and other fields. We have poor families in Africa forced to sell their children in order to reduce the burdens on their families. There are Asians and Africans working in Western countries illegally to make a better life for themselves but imprisoned by those who brought them here. We still need to raise this before the public to engender the same response as that given 200 years ago.

Slavery has been with man since man fell from grace. I can never see it being totally stamped out but everything we do can get us closer to that goal. At the end of the day there are always people willing to oppress and ill treat others weaker, or different, to them. That is part of man’s nature and it will never completely change.

However there is something else about slavery that really, really annoys me. That is the constant calls for us to apologise for perpetuating this activity. It is made to sound as though the “white” European nations are solely responsible for slavery throughout history. Yes, we did take advantage of it in settling the American Continent. Yes, we did profit from it. Yes, we did ill treat the slaves and made their lives a misery. However it wasn’t just us involved.

There was already a very lucrative trade in slaves going on before we appeared on the African continent. Before us there were the Arabs and they were still plying their trade after we stopped – it took the Royal Navy to put an end to most of their actions.

Yet who were putting these people into slavery. It wasn’t just the Arab or European traders who profited or kept it alive. We also have to look at the Africans themselves. It was tribal fighting and conquest that provided the majority of slaves to the traders. The image of Arab or European raiding expeditions is much stronger than this equally true story.

I’m not trying to say that the Africans are solely responsible. If we hadn’t bought them then there would still have been a trade in slaves. That is not just true of African slavery but also of slavery throughout time.

Slavery was born when the first group of humans fought another and used the captives to tend their fields, work in their houses or palaces. The Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman Empires were already trading in slaves. They were seen as a prize of conquest or revolt. It occured in pre-Christian times and continued unabated throughout history until the slave trade was supposedly ended. Remember that Nazi Germany was using conquererd nations as slaves during the last World War; groups such as the Khmer Rouge and The Lords Resistance Army are, or were, using them in the last 30 years.

As far as I am concerned I am happy continue to fight for the abolition of slavery. I will happily apologise for the part that my country played in this until 200 years ago. What I can’t understand is why we are called to compensate the modern descendents of the slaves.

My own family, as far as I can see, never took part in the slave trade. We never profited from it either. Yes there were people who did but the vast majority of us did not. How can us paying compensation to others really make amends. Do we ask the same of other country too? Do they ask the Arabs, the Chinese or Japanese? Do they ask the Egpytians, Romans, Assyrians or Greeks?

This just highlights a problem of modern society. Someone always feels the need to punish others for the actions of their forefathers. Maybe they think that what’s good enough for God is good enough for them…

Good Days & Sad Day

We’ve had a great weekend.

Friday evening was spent in the company of my mate Dodgy Bloke. Why this name? Well, he is definitely a dodgy geezer. Do you remember the Paul Whitehouse character from the Fast Show? He was a little bit – eeeee and a little bit eerrrrrr and you wouldn’t trust him with your car keys. Well Dodgy is a little like that but has many redeeming features that out weigh that side of himself. You can’t help loving the guy. For all his faults he just has this honesty and loyalty that you can’t help but find endearing. Whatever he gets up too he is always loyal to his friends and would never do anything to hurt them.

I hadn’t seen him for almost 2 years and FW had never met him. We got to see his youngest daughter as well. It turns out that she has become a church attender and is taking to this with great enthusiasm. She attends three times every Sunday and goes to two midweek meetings as well. Dodgy Bloke is stunned at this, as is Mrs Dodgy.

She tells the story of the 10,000 tea bags that fell off her dad’s lorry. Now Dodgy drinks lager, as we drink tea and coffee, and the rest of the family drink very little tea as well. They therefore thought it a good idea to give them to the church. Unfortunately the youngest had to lie when asked where they came from and say that her dad’s employers gave them to their employees regularly.

On Saturday we had a quiet day doing very little. We had lunch in a cafe near our old flat and then had Best Man round in the evening. He provided us with a great Germanic treat – salami, rye bread and Emmental cheese. I used to eat this quite regularly but hadn’t had it since we got married. Washed down with Wheat Beer is a great treat. Plus it fills you up quickly as well.

We had a great evening catching up and hearing how he’s been selling his soul – he’s had a Sacha Baron Cohen booked published (mainly for the US market), that he’s describes as something that rakes in some shekels but is devoid of real artistic merit; he’s also contributed the writing to a coffee table book about India that he is far more pleased about.

This morning we attended chapel no. 2 on our shortlist. This comprises of an elderly congregation – we were the youngest by a good 20 years – but we had a really good valley’s welcome. Everyone in the congregation wanted to know about us and what we were there for. They were really pleased that we’d even considered going there.

We did have a smile when we were told that the pew we were sat in was actually the seat used by one of their deacons, who’d sat there since he was a child. Unfortunately he was in hospital so we were perfectly safe this week.

Oh Dad, Barbara Weaver told us to say hello!

Then today was the last day with our Youth group. After 18 months together, and a further 9 months on my own, we called it a day. We had a little bit of a party and we thanked them for the enjoyment they’d given us. It is this part of the Chapel that we’re really going to miss most of all.

During our time in our new home we’ve heard constant mention of a man from Cardiff who wants to set up an outreach on the estate we live on. I heard about this at a small chapel that a friend preached at a few months ago. Then FW was told on a visit to the local Christian bookshop. Last week at Nodfa and this week at High Street we were told the same. They guy is especially interested in youthwork.

We think that God is giving us a little hint here…..

Things Could Be Marvellous

There are many things in life that I get annoyed at. Some would find it amazing that this would be the case. That means they either haven’t read my wiblog or don’t really know me 😉

Today I went to my new doctor’s. I’m not ill, well no more than a diabetic can be anyway. I haven’t had my medical exam with the nurse yet but needed a new supply of meds. As I haven’t been fully inducted, as it were, there were no details about me on the system. Therefore, instead of my usual 2 months worth of meds, I could only have a month’s worth.

I can’t see the nurse for my welcome check until 13th April at 17:30. Now normally I’d have a fasting blood test done at this exam but it will be too late in the day for that. Luckily we have a small health centre on our estate, thank the Lord for deprived areas in the vallies, so I can make an appointment and get this done here. By the time I see my new doctor in a month’s time they should therefore have the results of my blood test.

This all got me to thinking about our current government’s failure in the NHS. By now we should have a centralised database that contain all our medical records. These can then be accessed by doctor’s and hospitals as required. Therefore we wouldn’t need to have “welcome” checks if we changed doctors. Unfortunately this process has been so badly organised and implemented that the programme is 3 years behind schedule at present (with no end in site) and around £6bn over budget.

Why is it that every major government programme is behind schedule and over budget. What’s worse is that the government never seem to have a detailed idea of what’s actually needed. They prefer to use consultants to set the parameters and avoid talking to those people at the “coal face”. Therefore the systems are always developed in occordance with what’s best for the consultants.

Take the NHS IT system. This wqas divided between several companies to prevent a monopoly situation emerging. Unfortunately it was now a set of regional monopolies as hospitals and health authorities would only be aloowed to deal with the regional supplier for their area.

In addition most of the suppliers chose a software partner who didn’t have a programme built capable of meeting present needs. Alternatively they selected a partner with an exiting product ready to go – except that the software was made for the US and was not consistent with UK health practises. So what’s happened?

1 Major software supllier has been forced out.

1 Major software supplier caused a major scandal as they were inflating their earnings to the stock exchange and taking huge personal bonuses. It was then found that they taken the profits on their accounts before actually earning any money.

1 Major IT supplier has completely quit the project.

The government were due to pay on results only. Of course, performance has been so bad that there were almost no earnings to pay. Yet none of the suppliers have said anything about this and not reflected the fact in their accounts. Why? Because the government have been making payments against future performance.

As well as this the officials involved, from civil servants to government officials, have lied to parliament regarding progress and the sums paid out to contractors.

So can we therefore vbelieve anything that this government tells us anymore? Remember how they promised that they govern in a way that was markedly different from the sleaze of the last lot? Remember how things could only get better?

Holiday Thoughts

Our impending trip to Amsterdam isfast approaching. I’ll have to get the car ready for action next month. She is in definite need of a wash and clean, plus we’ll need a working CD player to while away the hours.

We’re hoping to visit some friends in Cambridge but they haven’t answered my e-mail yet – Tiff get your butt in gear mate. We’re definitely visiting my friend in London on the way through, it’ll be good to see her again.

I saw an advert on facebook earlier for trips to Normandy to visit the D-Day landing sites. Mmmm thinks I; maybe we could take Mazda later in the year. We get discounts with Sea France so could include a trip around Flanders as well.

I know that I want to do the Market Garden Drive in Holland while we’re there; Eindhoven via Njimegen to Arnhem. I’ve always wanted to see the conditions that the Allies faced in getting up a single teack road to reach the Parachute Regiment in Arnhem. Its one of war’s great could have beens.

Proctor & Satan

I’ve just read a report in the BBC’s business section of their website; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6471373.stm

For those too lazy to read it. It reports on the culmination of a trial that has been in front of the US courts for 12 years. Four distributors of Amway, a rival in the household cleaning sector, had accused Proctor & Gamble of Satanism. The distributors had told customers that the image used to promote P&G, a moustached man looking over a field of 13 stars, was an image of Satan.

It appears that this is, in fact, just one of several lawsuits that P&G have brought against people passing on this rumour. It had also been suggested that P&G subsidise several Satanist groups. I thought that I had heard every unscrupulous marketing ploy ever but this takes the biscuit. What’s worse is that some people seem to have believed it.

As much as I hate large organisations like Proctor & Gamble, I hate people like Amway even more. To use unsubstantiated rumours of this nature is obscene. No wonder some Christians are looked on with contempt by those outside. Does this really help our cause in anyway whatsoever?

In the words of a UK columnist: “You couldn’t make it up!”

Rather I’d say: “You really wouldn’t want to. Would you?”

Number Crunching Projects

Today I was hoping to contemplate my naval. It is something I haven’t done for a long time. Unfortunately I don’t think that the people I work with would want to see my hairy naval. So I’ve been working instead. I’m currently 4 days ahead of myself. This sounds like a good thing, until you realise that I’ll have less work to do as a result. I’m keeping busy now but will soon hit that preverbial brickwall.

I can’t entertain myself with a book as I finished that this morning before I left for work. Therefore I’ll do some of my online training for work instead. This will mean that I’ll be busy for a few hours as I finish the next 2 subjects on my list.

I’m also pulling together the reports I need to use tomorrow when I begin my new project with the people at my branch office. I get to sit on people (not literally) and poke them when they don’t do things when they should. I’m really looking forward to this because it’ll prove that, though I am a sociopath, I can manage people effectively as well. This is one of the “boxes” that I have to tick to please my temporary boss and prove that I deserve the rise in grade and money.

The one thing I hate most about working from home is the fact that I can’t go home and chill out with the Mrs after work. I forgot the other book I was reading as well so I’ll have to watch TV instead. At least Dragon’s Den is on tonight and I get to go home tomorrow afternoon.