Monthly Archives: August 2008

Shit Happens!!

Sometimes are lives become over complicated, extremely busy and we forget what should be important to us. We overlook situations and relationships that should take first place in our lives. The past few weeks have been very busy and we have had to prioritse what we can and can’t do.

While we were in London we had news that Best Man had been rushed into hospital. He had had a fall in the bathroom of his friend’s in Rochester and taken to Medway Hospital. The fall had been caused by a bleed in his brain and had caused him too collapse. He was the then moved to Kings’ Hospital and has now been brought down to our local hospital.

Though is what 2 weeks ago that this happened, it wasn’t until last night that we were able to get to see him. Now I hate hospitals, I spent to much time in them was I was young, and would have loved to put off a visit but knew that this couldn’t be done – I’d only regret it afterwards.

In some ways it was good to see him and in others it was upsetting. He is currently paralised down his left side and has now movement there whatsover. His eyesight is a little shot, I gather that things are a blur for him and that he has trouble distinguishing items. However is brain is as lively as ever; this is a very good sign as words are both his love and his livelihood.

As much as I hate seeing anyone like this I’m just happy that he is able to think fairly clearly. though he does have some short term memory problems. I know that he has no faith of his own but pray that God will be there to provide him with strength, encouragment and healing.

In the door of his cupboard was a New Testament and Psalms. I pointed out the irony of this in the room of an aethisist. This was greeted by the response: “I’d love a New Testament Massage now!”

So What Happened?

Well everything depends upon how you look at things….

On the very positive side we have been told that the number of attendees will double tomorrow. The bad news is that the leafleting of the surrounding area was not a great success. For those who attended it seemed to be an enjoyable experience.

Upon arrival we found that Welsh Water had decided to dig up the road outside the chapel. This was complemented by discovering that the mains had caused a “blow back” last night that blew some pipes in the kitchen/ladies loo and flooded part of the hall. Thankfully there were people around at the time and things were halted in time.

Then, just after we started this morning, they managed to break the main and cause a 20ft high geyser. Clever fellows…

So we started the holiday club with a total of 7 adults…. and 2 children; fair play they had tarvelled the best part of 10 miles to get there. Yes, our total attendance was my two nephews, it was a good job I’d called my sister to remind her last night.

Are we dispirited? No!

It went well and we are seeing this as a trial run. What has become clear is that we, as a church, need to engage with our local community. This is something that many chapels and churches are discovering. As Christians we very often forget about everything else and literally live “of the world” but not necessarily “in it”.

So we now need to see that our outreach to the young needs to begin with an outreach to the community as well. Unless Christians actually engage with the world immediately around them then our witness will amount to nothing.

History Today:

476: The Roman empire in the west comes to an end with the forced abdication of Romulus Augustulus. Maybe it would be considered that the last emperor would have the names of its co-founder and its first true emperor.

1864: The first Geneva Convention, governing internationally accepted rules of warfare, is signed by 26 nations.

1879: King Cetshwayo, the last great king of Zululand is captured following his defeat in the Anglo-Zulu war. There had been some early victories by the Zulu, especially Isandalwana and Hlobane Mountain but, following defeat at Khambula in March, the capital Ulundi fell in July. Zululand was annexed in 1887, following further rebellious activity, became part of Natal in 1897 and joined the Union of South Africa in 1910.

1914: The first naval action of WW1 sees the Royal Navy destroy German coastal patrols at Heligoland Blight. The British lost 33 men compared to 1000 Germans.

1963: Martin Luther King Jnr makes his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech to a rally of over 200,000 in Washington.

1983: Menachim Begin resigns as Prime Minister of Israel. A former member of Israel’s Stern Gang – a terrorist organisation – became reborn as a politician.

Countdown Begins

Tomorrow sees the start of our 2 day Holiday Club at chapel. I say 2 day but actually mean 2 mornings – well, 2 hours each morning.

In our last chapel we had the problem that you could never motivate most of the congregation to help with anything. It was left to the same people to do the work and organise everything. At our present chapel it couldn’t be more different; people want to help.

FW and I are the youngest people there. One of the other women is not much older but everyone else is almost pension age or beyond. We couldn’t be more surprised at how they’ve embraced the idea of holding a holiday club. We have about 5 other helpers, all willing to dress as pirates and make an ass of themselves.

FW has been doing a lot of the organising but there are others who have stepped up and arranged things as well, especially as she has been away for quite a few days in the last 2 weeks. Today they spent 7 hours getting as much finished as possible.

Our chapel is an old 19th century one and they are doing everything they can to maintain and improve the building. Upstairs in the rear are several rooms that are empty but in need of overhaul and repair. They have offered us the option of having a few done out to use as rooms specifically for the youthwork and as meeting rooms solely for the children.

I’ve always believed that God helps those who help themselves, and others. Let’s be grateful that he’ll be there tomorrow to help us along. We hope that we can begin the work of introducing a new generation to the “family”.

History Today:

479 BC: The Persian invasion of Greece, under Xerxes, is defeated by Pausanias at the Battle of Plataea – not single handedly mind you, though I dare say it would be if Hollywood did it…

1928: The Kellog-Briand Pact condemns ‘recourse to war for the solution of international controversies’. That worked then, didn’t it?

1979: Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin, is killed by an IRA bomb on his boat in Ireland.

Full of Energy

What do you do when your government runs out of money? How do you help the economy out of a recession?

If you are the UK government then you have your MP’s start pressing for a Windfall Tax on the over profitable energy companies. I mean with them raising prices by up to 29% and still making monster profits who’s going to care? How about the taxpayers/customers who’ll foot the bill?

The idea is that Robin Hood (the government) will rob the evil barons (energy companies) and give the money to the poor. Thus they will be seen to be heroes in the eyes of all.

They will take the excess profits and give them to those people in “fuel poverty”. However no one seems to be able to provide any figures on how much will be taken, who will get it and how much the government will salt away.

What the government don’t say is that much of our current household fuel increase is down to the energy companies not building sufficient storage facilities to store gas/oil in the summer, when prices are lower, but have to buy on the open market as prices increase.

We also need to remember that many of them hedge their supplies against future increases; this is part of the reason for the commodity markets. They make money by selling the energy they discover, they make money on the energy they sell and make money by trading on the futures market.

Maybe it doesn’t help that much of our energy industry is owned by foregin energy companies. They appear to be able to build storage facilities at home and buy cheaper fuel there than here.

We need a regulator who will actually have the necessary teeth to control our energy suppliers and a government that is able to assemble a conhesive energy policy that sees a reduction in fossil fuel and investment in alternatives – that may even mean a greater investment in nuclear.

We have to be open enough to look at all the possible alternatives. New coal and gas power stations are not the answer.

History Today:

1346: Edward III, claimant to the French throne, crushes the army of Philip VI of France at Crechy. This is where the longbow is first used as an offense weapon. It also sees the start of the decline of mounted knights in European warefare and the rise of England as a world power.

1789: Those dasterdly French revolutionaries adopt the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Great ideals often forgotten or ignored.

1883: Sees the start of 2 days of continuous eruptions on the island of Krakatoa. Tidal waves kill an estimatted 35000 and leave most of the island inhabitable – not even a reality TV show remained.

1914: The Germans rout the advancing Russians at the Battle of Tannenburg. Russia never really recovers after this.

1920: The US Senate ratifies the 19th Amendment – giving women the vote. No wonder the world’s in such a mess.

1936: The BBC transmits the first high-definition TV pictures. More than 7000 people queue at the Olympia Radio Show to see the pictures being beamed onto local TV sets from Alexandra Palace.

1959: Austin and Morris launch the Mini – British icon.

1978: Pope John Paul I is elected post. 33 days later he’s dead – maybe it was Dan Brown and the Illuminati.

Peace & Quiet

This weekend has been very quiet and relaxing. FW has been away visiting her family and I’ve stayed at home watching films and football – though the football was a great disappointment (that’s what happens when you follow West Ham).

In between I have had to do some work as I have things moving for a customer this weekend, so I have had to have my Blackberry and mobile on. I also have to read through the pack ready for Thursday and Friday’s Holiday Club at chapel.

This morning I had a call from Shouty Boy asking if he could come and live with us. I asked him what he’d done wrong; why else would he want to leave home? It appears that he’d been fighting with his brother. I pointed out that he wouldn’t want to live with me as I’d tell him off. After that he seemed happy to stay with his family.

History Today:

1940: The RAF mounts its first air raid on Berlin. This is a responsive to Germany’s bombing of London two nights earlier. Goering had said that if one bomb fell on Germany then “you can call me Meyer”. In Germany this would have been an insult.

1944: Paris is liberated intact. The German general Dietrich von Cholitz had disobeyed Hitler’s orders to destroy the city. It seems odd that, after 5 years of war, Paris came through with barely a scratch compared with London or Berlin.

1997: Egon Krenz, the former East German leader, is convicted of instigating the shhot-to-kill policy for defectors.

Weekend 2

Kerensa, you are quite right – that is definitely Wong Kei’s.

Sunday saw us meeting Tractor Girl, having a nice lunch at the little Italian cafe in Leicester Square. If you haven’t been there it is just opposite the Vue cinema and does the best coffee’s in town. Their food is also just as good.

Afterwards we went to the Natural History Museum, see Tractor Girl’s Wiblog for a summary of her visit with FW. Stroppy and I went to see the dinosaurs and mammels instead of the butterflys. I must say that a Sunday afternoon in August is not the quietest time to visit – the queue is very long and slow. I really hate tourists!!

Afterwards we accompanied TG back to Victoria, said our goodbyes and headed off to Madame Tussards. Remember the toursists? Well this was about 3 times as busy. We decided to give up when we got to the back of the queue.

That night we ate a very uninspiring meal at Bella Italia and then had a night time coffee/hot chocolate at the Italian again and then went back to the hotel.

Monday saw us going to the Imperial War Museum. I hadn’t been for about 20 years and SB really wanted to see it. We spent a few hours wandering around the First & Second World War exhibits. FW had had enough by the end of WW1; SB had enough around halfway through WW2. I’d had enough by the end of the D Day exhibit. I was sorry to miss the Conflicts Since 1945 bit and the Holocaust exhibit but definitely intend going again.

After that we decided to beat the rush hour and have a quiet night at the hotel instead.

History Today:

1119: Henry I defeats Louis VI of France at the Battle of Bremule, fending off an attempt to sieze his Norman lands.

1916: Captain Leefe Robinson becomes the first pilot to shoot down a German Zeppelin airship during a raid on London. The Zeppelin crashes at Cuffley in Hertfordshire. He is later awarded a Victoria Cross.

1940: Winston Churchill rallies the nation with his “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” speech – maybe he forgot about the 300 Spartans who saved Greece. But I think he was right.

1944: The Western allies trap two German armies in the Falaise Gap. This brings an end to the battle for Normandy.

1968: The Soviet army brings the “Prague Spring” liberalisation of Czechoslavakia to an end, as 200,000 troops arrive. To draw a parallel with today: this was an election year in the US – as was 1956 in Hungary. See somethings never change.

1989: The pleasure cruiser Marchioness is hit by a dredger, the Bowbelle, on the Thames. 51 people, attending a party on board, are killed.

1998: President Clinton (the male one) launches missiles against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a chemical weapons factory in Sudan. This was in retaliation for attacks on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

1998: 229 people die when a Swissair plane crashes into the Atlantic near Nova Scotia.

Weekend 1

We have arrived home after our weekend in London with Stroppy Boy.

It was a very enjoyable weekend. We managed to do some touristy stuff and find time to meet up Tractor Girl before her move northwards.

Friday night started with dinner at Wong Kei’s in Wardour Street. This is very cheap Chinese with great service and superb food. You can get very bruske service on busy nights and it jas been known for parties to be divided not only over tables but floors too. After that we went to the Haagen Daz take out in Leicester Square before returning to the hotel in Docklands.

Saturday saw us trekking to my spiritual home in London, Upton Park, to buy tickets to see West Ham play Wigan that afternoon. FW had promised that she’d come to at least one home game in her life and I’d promised that I’d take Stroppy a few years ago. Thankfully we managed to get tickets. It seems that the credit crunch has hit football with 3000 fewer season ticket purchases at West Ham this year.

After that we had brunch at a local cafe, well used by Hammers supporters and then went to spend some time near the Tower before heading back. We managed to get down by Tower Bridge just after it had been raised. Seeing the road raised vertical is a great sight.

The match was great in places. West Ham scored twice in the opening 15 minutes. It was slightly off putting to have a potatoman in our vicinity who insisted on continually standing up and berating everyone for the lack of atmosphere in our stand. When you pay close on £50 for a ticket you don’t always want people jumping up and down and slagging you off.

Saturday night we ate at the hotel.

I’ll say about SDunday and Monday tomorrow.

London Baby!

So tomorrow afternoon we depart for a long weekend in Londion with Stroppy Boy. We’re aimning to catch up with tractor Girl before her move to “It’s Grim Up North Lass!”

So far we know that we’ll be visiting Madame Tussards, the Imperial War Museum and West Ham. We’re also hoping to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, while FW visits the Butterfly exhibition that’s on there. If we have time then I hope to squueze in a visit to the British Museum as well, for the Egyptology & Hadrian exhibits.

I’m sure that there’ll be others things that we’ll do as well – like walk under the Thames.

History Today:

1834: The Poor Law Amendment Act introduces ‘workhouses’ for the healthy poor.

1941: The Atlantic Charter, the precurrsor of the United Nations, is issued. This seals the Anglo-American alliance against Germany and Japan, before the US formally joins in the ‘fun’.

1969: British troops are sent to Northern Ireland in a ‘limited operation’ to restore law and order. It’s 30 years before the the ‘limited operation’ ends.

1979: Dozens of yachets are lost and three people are killed a freak storm blows during the Fastnet Yacht Race.

1980: Polish shipyard workers go on strike in protest over the dismissal of a trade union official. Solidarnosc is born.

2003: Massive power failures cause chaos across NE Amnerica, hitting cities such as New York and Ottawa.

Olympic Spirit

I don’t know what’s happening in the Olympics, so please don’t. The only thing I have any remote interest in is the men’s 8 rowing. The reason for this is that our regional director’s son is part of the crew.

I suppose that I’ve never recovered from the 70’s when women were men and men were on even more steroids. Do you remember the East German women who looked more manly than the men? There was also the male East German who took so many drugs that he competed as a woman.

Today things are even worse with so many athletes on designer drugs that can’t be detected. How do we know that the winners are really drug free and win because of their prowess, not some chemical booster? 13 members of the Russian were sent home before the games officially started, following positive dope tests.

History today:

1620: The Pilgrim Fathers set sail on the Mayflower for the New World. You aren’t a real WASP unless you can trace your roots back to their arrival – providing you aren’t a Native American.

1819: British militia are used to break up a mass meeting demanding the reform of parliament at St Peter’s Field, Manchester. At least 11 protesters are killed. It’s now known as the Peterloo Massacre.

1822: Lord Castlereagh commits suicide, fearing blackmail over his homosexuality. Somethings never change.

1896: Gold is discovered at Bonanza Creek on the Klondyke River. The Yukon gold rush starts.

1897: The Tate Gallery opens in London – endowed by sugar merchant Henry Tate.

1949: The Fourth Geneva Convention is signed. It was to provide greater protection to civilians during war. That worked then!

1977: Elvis finally leaves the building once and for all.

1981: IBM announce the introduction of the first PC.

Deja Vu

“It’s all just a little bit of history repeating”, so sang Shirley Bassey & The Propellerheads.

If you don’t believe this statement just look at what’s happening in Eastern Europe these days.

A few years ago we were told that history was over, following the demise of the Soviet Union. 45 years of Cold War was ended and we welcomed the new democratic states of Eastern Europe, freed from the yoke of Soviet tyranny. Russia found itself isolated, defeated and close to bankruptcy. We rejoiced that we were safe from nuclear war and the “Red Threat”.

17 years later and democracy in Russia is close to dead. Putin still pulls the strings behind the throne of President Medvedev and authoritarian has returned. Russia nows uses its energy reserves as a political tool to harry, destabilise and bully its neighbours.

Now we have the sight of a resurgent Russian military marching against a neighbour. South Ossetia has been a thorne in the side of Georgia since the breakdown of the former Soviet Bloc. Russia has been putting pressure on Georgia to fall into line with its wishes and move from the overtures made to the west.

What do we do in response? Protest feebly. We know that we won’t do anything serious in response. Western Europe is too reliant on Russian gas and oil; how would we cope if they cut off our supplies? Britain and America are stretched with Afghanistan and Iraq too deal with. No one else has the nerve or capability to do anything to stop them.

Our only hope to pressurise our governments too do something positive Not just spineless diplomatic murmurings but strong pressure. We’ve been down this road before with Russia, Germany and other countries working in this way. Thew trouble is we are less able, willing or prepared to respond.

History Today:

1492: Roderigo Borgia obtains the help of the “Holy Spirit”, by bribing enough cardinals, to become Pope Alexander VI.

1909: The first recorded use of the new emergency wireless signal, SOS.

1919: Following the abolition of the German empire the democratic Weimar Constitution is adopted. This is Grmany’s first attempt at democracy after centuriess of monarchial/authoratarion rule.

1942: Prof. Barnes Wallis patents a “bouncing bomb” for use to breach German dams.

1965: The Watts Riots breakout in Chicago.

1968: The last steam passenger service runs on British railways, hauled by ‘Oliver Cromwell’. B********!!!

1975: The British Government takes over ownership of British Leyland. Its long slow death begins.

2003: NATO takes over peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan, the first time it has operated outside Europe.