Monday, 28 June 2010

A visit of nostalgia (part 2)


On Thursday we went to Portsmouth to see the Spinnaker Tower and look around the Gunwharf Quays Shopping Centre. The Spinnaker Tower was built to celebrate the Millennium and as part of the regeneration of Portsmouth Harbour. Rising to 170 metres above Portsmouth Harbour, the Spinnaker Tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth.

We approached the Tower passing the site where that abomination called The Tricorn had been built, now, thankfully, demolished. Parking is available at the Spinnaker tower complex but it is quite expensive (£6 for 5 hours) We were advised to buy our entrance tickets in advance so we were able to proceed straight to the lift to take us up to the first level. The views are breath taking. We managed to see as far as Chichester Cathedral on the east, the Isle of Wight, Gosport and in particular our old parish church of St. John’s, Forton on the west. It was a most wonderful experience and we stayed on the first level for quite some time before going up to the next level which is even higher. I’m afraid we didn’t venture up to what is called “the Crows Nest” which is an open area.



Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent are always busy with shipping of all shapes and sizes from Ocean going liners, Brittany Car Ferries heading to France and Spain, the Isle of Wight car ferries and catamarans, Navel Ships, the Gosport ferries and a multitude of local yachts and power boats. After a walk round the shops and a brief half of HSB at one of the pubs en route, we had lunch at the Spinnaker Cafe. We had a table overlooking the harbour where we could just sit and watch all the harbour activity. Interestingly, the new boat, sponsored by Jack Petchey was moored on one of the pontoons; this has been purchased for the Sea Cadets.


(Three generations of ships)

After lunch we drove to Clarence Pier and then along the seafront to Eastney before returning to our hotel on Hayling Island.

On Friday we went to Lee-on-the-Solent where we lived prior to going to Salisbury & Wells Theological College. It was interesting to see how much the place had changed and how much new development has taken place since we left. We loved living at Lee. One year, after a serious illness, during a hot summer I was able to swim every day. The beach was less than a 100 yards from our house so it took very little effort to leave the house and walk to the beach. We then set of back home.

One thing this nostalgic visit proved to me is how much my wife and I miss the sea. Let’s face it there’s no sea at Romford!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

A visit of nostalgia

Last Monday we went for a four night break to Portsmouth and environs. It was a trip of nostalgia as I was born and lived for many years in and around Portsmouth. Our first stop was at Butser Hill to remember my parents whose ashes were scattered there, at their request. They had visited Butser frequently and held a season ticket for the car park. We left two rosebuds from our garden, said a brief prayer for them and then had our picnic. The views from Butser are stunning. We then took a trip round Horndean and Rowlands Castle where both Ann and I had lived and where I was the organist & choirmaster for many years. At our Nuptial Mass the choir including 23 boys, one of the largest boys’ choirs in the Diocese were photographed with us outside the church..

We stayed at an hotel on Hayling Island. I’m old enough to remember going there as a child on what was known as the Hayling Billy, a small gauge steam engine. Although the line ran at a profit, it suffered the Beaching axe in 1963 as the bridge from the mainland onto the Island needed repair and it was considered too costly. It was great fun catching the train at Havant which during school holidays was loaded with kids but the station was quite a distance from the beach and we would walk there bearing our sandwiches and swimming gear. It always seemed twice as far on the walk back! In those days there was white sand and sand dunes everywhere but we couldn’t find any white sand and the dunes seem to have disappeared as well. Hayling is an area renowned for people quickly getting sunburnt and great care needs to be taken.

On Tuesday we went to Fishbourne Palace to explore the remains of the Roman palace. Although there were several parties from schools the children were all well behaved. It was then on into Chichester for lunch. Afterwards Ann visited the Cathedral whilst I stayed in the grounds as by then my legs were aching. I am delighted to say that Chichester Cathedral welcomes visitors without asking them to pay an entrance fee. I deplore being asked to pay to go into a Cathedral. I have visited Chichester Cathedral many times in the past so didn’t mind not being able to make another visit.

On Wednesday we visited Petworth House using our National Trust Life Membership which the parish gave me when I retired. Petworth House contains the largest collection of pictures owned by the National Trust but I can’t say I was impressed by the house itself. Having seen it from the road many times, this was my first visit and I was very disappointed. We were intending to have lunch at the restaurant at Petworth House but it was so expensive we went into the village instead and had a bite there with a wee drop of Gales HSB, my favourite beer. The drive to Petworth went through Slindon Woods which was picturesque and we drove back on the A272.

To be continued

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The proposed amendments by the Archbishops of Canterbury & York

Having been away for a few days I missed the announcement, earlier this week, about the proposals of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York concerning an amendment they intend to put at the forth coming debate in General Synod about the consecration of women as bishops and it was only when I returned home yesterday that I was able to read just what they are proposing for the “traditionalists”. My immediate comment was ‘too little, too late.’ I have now had the chance to read the interesting blog by Edwin, retired Bishop of Richborough and others who have written concerning this. And I have to say, that I agree with what the majority are saying.
Apart from the fact that I don’t think General Synod will accept their (the Archbishops) admendment to the motion, I really can’t see how it can be acceptable either to those who cannot accept the consecration of women, or to those who support such an innovation. It seems to me that far too much discretion will be left to the Diocesan Bishop for either he/she to decide just how a request from a parish will be granted. It still gives the Diocesan Bishop the right to conduct whatever services he/she desires in a parish although encouraged not too. Right!!!! Trouble is, some of us have experience of the way some bishops act and can place no trust in this unless it is mandatory.
I will be writing about this further after some more thought.

Monday, 21 June 2010

We love the place………..?

It’s a truism that buildings have atmosphere. I have walked into some churches and have felt the presence of God and into others which have just seemed like hollow shells. Interestingly it hasn’t seemed to me to have anything to do with age but rather what has happened in the church. Another factor has been the presence of Our Blessed Lord in the Tabernacle.

When I was a teenager I visited Kelham to test if I had a vocation with the possibility of entering the “cottage” a sort of pre-theological training, preparing young Ordinands. Kelham had a profound effect on me and it was the time I spent there which rooted me in the Catholic faith. Much of that was engendered by the time I spent in the wonderful chapel experiencing the Liturgy in all its glory.

A couple of years ago I was staying in the north and discovered that Kelham was just down the road from the hotel. My wife and I decided to pay a visit aware that SSM were no longer there. The building is now used as Council Offices. At Kelham we went to the Reception area and I asked if I might visit what, in my youth, had been the chapel. They were very obliging ad arranged for an official to take me through the building to the chapel which is now used as the Council Chamber and as a Ballroom for functions.

As I walked into the chapel, somewhat apprehensively, what had been the chapel was now full of the bits and pieces used for Council meetings. I stood there transfixed for some minutes remembering what had been and I’m not ashamed to confess that tears rolled down my cheeks. The chapel was gone, the atmosphere gone; no longer was the wonderful liturgy celebrated with its clouds of incense.

The church is not the building we worship in but the people of God who gather to worship, pray and celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass. Remove the people, remove the tabernacle and you are left with an empty shell which is what the old chapel at Kelham now is under its new owners.

These thoughts came to me as I have read various blogs talking about taking churches into the Ordinariate. Whilst it would be great if the CofE agreed I have no doubt in my mind that they will not do so. But the church is not a building it is the gathered people of God offering Him praise, worship, thanksgiving but most of all the Holy Mass. We should not be afraid to enter the Ordinariate because we don’t have a church building I believe God will go with us as we journey into this new and exciting venture.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Disasters of One Sort or Another

The total hypocrisy of the Americans is unbelievable. In December 1984 the community of Bhopal, India was struck by a gas leak from the Union Carbide factory which resulted in the immediate deaths of 4,000 with a subsequent death role of 11,000 at least from the effects of the poison. Thousand suffered from the effects of the poisonous gas and are still suffering. The compensation paid to the people of Bhopal was miniscule.

The deadly effects of the oil leak on the beautiful coast line of Florida from the BP Oil Rig has affected or will affect the livelihood of many Floridians and has had a devastating effect on the wild life: birds, fish, sea creatures et al and those who earn a living from fishing and from catering for the thousands of visitors which visit Florida’s coast every year. And still the leak continues despite the efforts of BP to deal with it. The American President has been scathing in his criticism of BP, demanding billions of dollars in compensation and it has been suggested that the pressure being put on BP could result in its demise. I didn’t notice a similar concern for the people of Bhopal but then it’s not Americans who are suffering as a result of the Bhopal disaster.

This hypocrisy is reflected in the attitude of The Episcopal Church whose primate thinks she can do what she likes, when she likes with impunity. The consecration of homosexual bishops living with partners, pagan ceremonies at a recent consecration of a lesbian woman, same sex marriages – the list goes on and on. My question is how can we stay in Communion with The Episcopal Church?

The sad thing is that what is happening in the USA with The Episcopal Church (Anglicans) will, no doubt, be repeated in the UK before very long. The slippery path of liberalism began with the ordination of women to the priesthood and will continue with their consecration as Bishops. Today I received the programme for Sarum College advertising a course for ”Women Who Would be Bishops” ........ a new leadership programme for women priests. The first of these is fully booked but, I am informed, another will start in September 2011.

Those who believe that General Synod will make any acceptable provision for Anglo-Catholics are, I think, totally misguided. We need to face the facts; all that will be on offer is a “Code of Practice” which, as we all know, “Will Not Do”. Even if it is implemented it will be ignored by many of our Bishops who have done their utmost to destroy the Act of Synod or to run slipshod over it. In around a month, when General Synod convenes, we will know but as far as I can see, there is no future whatsoever in the Church of England for Anglo-Catholics.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

That was the week that was

What a week! Monday I settled down to do a job which I detest – preparing my Tax Return. In the afternoon I needed to print something of only to find that the ink on my printer had run out. It’s OK I thought I always keep a spare – went to get it and I’ve several refills of every colour except, of course, the one I needed, black. So down to the nearest supplier to get some but, of course, they had run out. On to PC World where they did have them. They also had a sale with some reduced digital cameras which I have wanted for ages. My existing camera is too big to slip in the pocket and whilst I wouldn’t want to be without it I can’t easily carry it everywhere So I spent far more than I would have done if the ink had been available in the first place I went.

Tuesday nothing interesting happened; we spent a lazy day at home doing some of the mundane things one has to do some times.

Wednesday I went to Upminster Crematorium to officiate at a funeral and then at 6.00 p.m. to school for a Governors Training evening. It was an interesting evening but a pity that more of the Governors were not able to get there.

Thursday I drove to Swindon to see Mother-in-Law who at the age of 93 has decided to go into residential care and to bring back some items of furniture she no longer needs for sale in the St. Augustine’s Saturday Shop. She has all her faculties apart from being a bit deaf unlike many of the other residents. We had lunch with her and I think it qualifies for the worse meal I’ve ever eaten. I felt really sorry for the residents who have no option but to eat what is put in front of them. The chef is away and someone who has no idea about cooking was temporally replacing him. I was unable to eat it! The good side is that the residents are well cared for by attentive staff.

Friday and we look after our granddaughter which is always a delight. My wife takes her swimming in the morning and at 18 months she has been going regularly to the swimming pool for several months. She loves it. Saturday saw us at the Saturday Shop delivering the items we had brought back from Swindon and helping sell bits and bobs.

The World Cup has begun and whilst I have no interest in it whatsoever being wee bit patriotic, I hope England does well. My only real complaint is that for the next few weeks we will be treated to floor to ceiling football on the television and radio so it will be either watching DVD’s or old fashioned reading. As far as I can see at the moment, most programmes which aren’t football are repeats as well as films that have been on so many times previously.

Monday, 7 June 2010


In the Sunday Times it was reported that Ofsted have highlighted the appalling standard of Religious Education in schools – something that most of us have been aware of for many years. I suppose the only surprise is that it has taken OFSTED so long to recognise the situation.

When I was serving my title in Bristol some 25 years ago a number of Christian parents withdrew their children from the local Primary School because of the unfair way the Christian Faith was marginalised. It seemed the local Imam was a regular and welcome visitor to the school for Assembly. I was invited to go and take the School Assembly but I was give strict instructions that I must only tell Bible stories, preferably from the Old Testament. It was significant that the school observed all the Muslim and Hindu festivals and few, if any, of the Christian festivals. I was told that I would not be permitted to use the Lord’s Prayer. So I refused to go. The children who were removed from the school had parents who could afford to pay and so they went to a local private school where the Christian Faith was treated properly.

I was concerned about those children who had to continue at the school and so I started a Summer Holiday Club in the school holidays which ran morning and afternoon and which was great fun for the children and, I think for the adults who volunteered to help. There was considerable Christian input which the children enjoyed but the great thing was we had so many children come, including some sponsored by the local authority. And we received a generous grant from the BBC “Children in Need”. Although this was an Anglo-Catholic Parish we had some theological students from the Evangelical Trinity College who were a tremendous asset.

Do I think the OFSTED report will make any difference? I’m afraid not. Sadly teaching Religious Education is not regarded as of any priority by most teachers. So concerned were two Christian teachers in a school known to me that I was asked to go and take a “Science” lesson on water and use this as a means to talk about Baptism. Sadly when those teachers moved on this stopped.

If General Synod devoted some of their time to considering this problem and what the Church could do about it rather than some of the other less important matters which seem to consume their time it might be possible to find ways of redressing the balance.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


I really enjoyed my two visits to the Holy Land a few years ago but was quite distressed by the awful wall surrounding the little city of Bethlehem. Nobody denies that Israel has a right to defend itself against the attacks it experiences from terrorists but the wall means that lawful people are unable to go about their daily business without the greatest of difficulty. The area is closely guarded by unsympathetic Israeli soldiers who seem to go out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for the residents.

The blockade of Gaza is a different matter though. After the Israeli attacks on Gaza the place has been left devastated but has no materials to allow the inhabitants to rebuild their shattered buildings. What’s more, although the Israelis allow a certain amount of food and other essential supplies into Gaza it is not nearly enough and as consequence many go hungry or suffer needlessly due to the shortage of medical and other supplies. Unemployment stands at 44%. Sadly. homemade rockets are still killing innocent Israelis launched from Gaza by Hammas.

The killing of some Turks on the ship carrying relief supplies and attempting to break the blockade last week has been roundly condemned around the world. Now, today they have boarded an Irish Ship, and are forcing it to go to an Israeli port. All this is in International Waters. Is what they are doing legal. Certainly the way the Israelis are treating Palestinians is immoral and does not accord with Biblical principles of proportionality.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The National Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Yesterday, we went to the Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (for more details see St. Augustines Blog) One of the many blessings of going to the event is the opportunity to see friends especially those that you haven’t seen for some time. It was bitterly cold in the morning and early afternoon and not at all like a late May holiday. I’ve been on these in the past where it has been scorching hot and I’ve got sunburnt – no chance of that yesterday! (I’ve also been when I’ve been drenched to the skin).

It seemed to me that there were more priests than last year although I also thought the total number there seemed slightly less than previously. We were a little surprised when we discovered that the price of car parking had risen from £1 to £3.50 in a year; I thought the inflated price way over the top!

The Protestant Protest Group were there as usual but I think they were a bit flummoxed when we joined in the hymn they were singing as part of their protest. I always enjoy going to Walsingham for the National but enjoy even more going on a parish or private pilgrimage. There is a great deal of spirituality about the Shrine and I like being able to say the Divine office in the peace and quiet of the Shrine Church and saying Mass in one of the chapels.

There is something very special about this Holy Place and I always return home feeling spiritually refreshed. I think it is the very closeness one feels to Our Lady and to her Holy Child which draws one back year after year.