Sunday, 28 August 2011

THE RIOTS AND AFTERMATH

I have refrained from making many comments about the riots as I wanted time to reflect and consider the situation. One thing which has become very clear is that they weren’t restricted to Hackney, Tottenham, Croydon or Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Bristol. Other areas, which received little or no publicity, were also subject to rioters with looting and other criminal activities. They included Romford, Dagenham, Barkingside, Ilford and Hainault and I expect other communities outside London. There were even some problems in the small shopping centre near to where we live: Hilldene.

Perhaps we should be considering the causes for our young people to do such wanton damage. We need to ask questions: is it bad parenting; the lack of suitable employment; life on the sink estates; the feeling of total hopelessness when teenagers watch bankers and politicians with their hands in the till facing little or no punishment when they are found guilty.

Various judges, politicians, magistrates and other commentators have said that exemplary sentences must be given to all the guilty parties. This has led to some of the most ludicrous sentences being passed in the courts: to quote one example 20 months in prison for a first offence despite a guilty plea with the offender handing himself in to the police. Very soon all the prisons will be full.

It costs around £45,000 to keep a person in prison for twelve months and just on the pure economics it makes little sense to fill our prisons with people who have committed fairly trivial crimes. Of course, those who have used violence, those who have done thousands of pounds of damage, those who have destroyed businesses with fire bombs or who have used violence against the police must warrant a custodial sentence. But for the rest, surely it would be better if any sentence included the provision for restitution and for clearing up the mess that has been created or for some other form of community service.

Perhaps the money we spend on keeping inadequate people locked up would be better spent in providing better facilities, better education and providing hope to the hopeless and socially inadequate.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A LOVELY DAY OUT!

Yesterday we went to Kensington Palace followed by Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly which was a Christmas Present from our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We were very disappointed in Kensington Palace which had virtually closed for multi-million pound renovations and the small part that was open had been turned into an exhibition called “The Enchanted Palace”. Much of this was in semi-darkness so that those items from the Palace which hadn’t been removed were very difficult to see. They had some actors/actresses wandering around but what the point of that was is anybody’s guess. It appears that the Palace will fully reopen in 2012. We both felt that it would have been better if they had closed the Palace completely. Our daughter was not aware that the Palace was virtually closed when they purchased this special “day out” and I think this was most unfair of those marketing it. We did however enjoy the gardens which I’ve pictured.

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Tea at Fortnum and Mason was excellent with a variety of different teas to choose from, a lovely selection of canap├ęs, sandwiches, scones and cakes and the most attentive service from the waiters. Afternoon tea has made a comeback in recent years and is rightly considered one of the best of English meals. All in all we had a lovely time.

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

EPIC WIN

Last night I watched a television programme which I think was one of the worse I have ever seen (no I’m not talking about the “X” Factor). This excuse of a programme which comprised of the utmost drivel was on BBC1 and is called “EPIC WIN”. Contestants who have “unusual” skills are challenged to use them in a task. If they complete the task three celebrity comedians/non entities allocate sums of money ranging from £1 to £1,000 each. The contestant then have to guess the amount that has been allotted. Various figures appear on the screen and they have to push a button. If they go a £1 over they lose. Last night we were enthralled by some one recognising which lawn mower had cut which strip of grass. They had to get three right and, in fact, got all five. One contestant had to identify various songs with just a couple of notes – they failed. Another had to change his clothes whilst balancing a football.. I’m grateful to note that only 6 of these totally inane moronic programmes have been made. I really don’t think the BBC should be wasting licence money on this sort of garbage.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

BLUE EYES by Hema Macherla

Looking round our local library a few weeks ago with Ann I spotted a book which looked interesting and, on reading the dust cover, I thought it would be of interest to her. She had a look, agreed and so we borrowed it. When we got home I read the first few pages and thought I would read it myself when she finished it. On the cover it says this “Set in Gandhi’s volatile India, the story opens with Anjali aged eighteen, about to be burnt alive on her husband’s funeral pyre – the conventional widow’s fate” 

Escaping, Anjali is assisted by her childhood friend, Saleem in this fast moving and beautifully written narrative which features the violence surrounding India’s struggle for freedom.

Hema Macherla was born in India but now lives in London. She is a talented writer who writes convincingly about a transitional time in India’s history when the Raj was still very much in place. Anjali is a Hindu whilst Saleem is a Muslim and this book deals with these religions as well as a mention of Christianity. It deals with the sometimes irrational Indian traditions and the caste system.

Although I have only visited India once I fell in love with it finding it a totally fascinating country and live in hope of going there again before too long.

Monday, 15 August 2011

VENUS

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Today we took our granddaughter to Colchester Zoo where we are Platinum Members which means we can visit as often as we like free of charge. Our daughter and son-in-law gave us membership as a gift a few months ago and we really enjoy going there. Today the place was packed with people enjoying the decent weather and there were loads of children and teenagers there but I didn’t notice any bad behaviour – just kids enjoying themselves – what a contrast to the mindless vandals who did all the destruction in the recent riots

In the past I’ve never been too keen on Zoos as I don’t like seeing wild animals coped up in small cages but at Colchester they have large areas to run around in and they seem very happy and content.

I am very fond of Baby Hippos and for the last couple of Christmas’s the family have sponsored Venus, a baby hippo, for me so every time I go to the zoo I pay her a visit. I’ve tried to get her photograph but as you can see she’s somewhat camera shy.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

NO SAE!

One of the responsibilities which clergy have and are often asked to fulfil is to provide references for people. Despite being retired, it is something that I am asked to do quite frequently and I am always pleased and willing to do so. However, one thing I have noticed just lately, and one that really annoys me, is that those that come from Government Institutions, both local and national, no longer include a stamped addressed envelope. In the past it didn’t really matter as I could use my postage allowance from the parish, although more often than not a sae was sent anyway. Recently, since all the cutbacks, this has not been the case. If it was possible to reply electronically, it wouldn’t cost me a penny but for some reason these institutions don’t use this method despite all the savings that this would make both to me and to them.

Friday, 12 August 2011

NOT THE CHURCH TIMES NEWSPAPER 2042

In an exciting new development the Church of England’s Department for Outreach and Mission has issued details about two new initiatives. The first is to be known as CHURCH LIGHT. Those churches who decide to take part in the scheme will offer a “light” edition of the normal Sunday service which is to be published in the near future. The Basic Service will consist of a short reading from the New Testament, some well-known worship songs, a 3 minute address, The Lord’s Prayer and a Blessing. The Extended version will include some short, pithy prayers and the option of a reading from the Old Testament. The Extended Service “Light plus” will include a brief Eucharistic Prayer, specially designed for the service and will be recommended for use at Christmas and Easter services.

Churches will be able to opt into the new scheme or not, as they choose but unless they opt in they will not be eligible for the other new imitative: Church Club Card. A spokesperson said it was felt that the majority of churches would want to opt in, even if it is was only to make the Club Card available. It was hoped that each church/Worship Centre would hold one Church Light Service every Sunday and, as the spokesperson pointed out, that didn’t prevent other services being held. The spokesperson said that the Church Light Service did not necessarily need to be held in church; it could be held in a supermarket, on a football pitch, in a country park or recreational ground – the opportunities were endless and as varied as ones imagination.

The Church Club Card will be available for every member who attends a Worship Centre/Church and who goes on to the Electoral Roll. They will be given their own unique Card which will be swiped in a special machine at the end of the service as they leave the Worship Centre. People will earn Club points depending on which service they attend. For example if they opt for the “Light” service they will get one point, for the Extended version they will get two points and for the Extended Service Plus they will get three points. Normal services would earn 3 points. Extra points can be earned by undertaking small tasks. For example: cleaning the church will earn 3 points, singing in the Worship Group will earn 3 points for every attendance, helping with keeping the church tidy outside will earn 3 points. At the end of the quarter the number of points earned will be shown on a statement and these can be redeemed using one of the many different options available including discounts on motor and home insurance, different eateries and take aways, discounts on holidays, pilgrimages and retreats.

The spokesperson related that these two schemes were the brain-child of Professor Jane Woolley, Professor of Applied Business Psychology and Interpersonal Relationships. When the Bishops had viewed the proposals they were delighted, she said. With the rapid decline in attendances over the last few years this was something which could redress the balance they thought and they thoroughly recommended it to every parish.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

THE RIOTS

Although we live some distance from the areas of rioting, this morning there were clouds of smoke and a rather pungent smell of burning plastic in the air, which we could see and smell from our back garden. What has happened in the last few days in areas such as Tottenham, Enfield, Croydon, Walthamstow, Barking et al is a matter of great concern. The fact that the rioting has spread to Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Leeds is also very worrying.

The police seem to be totally ineffectual in preventing the looting and the arson and I really don’t understand why they haven’t used water cannons to disperse the yobs. To see young people, some no more 14 years of age, and possibly even younger, walking out of shops like PC World, Debenhams etc. with arms full of stolen items whilst the police stand by and watch seems quite farcical. It is very sad that folk have been made homeless by the arson, losing everything they own, and destroyed by people of their own community. It is totally inexcusable but is it without cause?

Many of these young people causing this mayhem are totally without any hope for the future. I was interested in what some one on LBC Radio said this morning, discussing these youngsters. He pointed out that many had no jobs nor any hope of a job in the foreseeable future; they come from deprived backgrounds; their time at school has probably been wasted because their home life has given them little or no encouragement. Facilities which were designed to help them have been closed by local authorities due to “cut backs”. They have seen the chance to get items which they can’t afford and have taken it. The fact that they may end up in prison doesn’t worry them in the slightest – for some it will be little different, if any, to the life they have now and for some, sadly, it will be possibly better. What a condemnation of 21st Century Britain.

In just a just under a year, London plays host to the world in the Olympic Games. What a poor advert for our country.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Road Up!!!!!

After celebrating Mass at St. Augustine’s today, we intended to go home for a quick lunch and then to go to the Military and Flying Machines Show at the Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Upminster. Romford at the moment is surrounded by road works – everywhere you go they are digging up the road, or resurfacing it, or replacing water pipes or gas pipes or sewage pipes. Journeys which would normally take 10 to 15 minutes are taking anything up to 30 minutes with temporary traffic lights, roads closed or major diversions. It is a complete nightmare and something we have had to live with since last year. Today driving towards Upminster we were confronted by a major hold up and complete traffic chaos as workmen were resurfacing the road and holding up traffic in three or four directions at the same time. We sat in the queue for absolute ages watching the growing chaos – unbelievable.

In passing, one of the things which really annoy me is when the road is dug up; there are temporary traffic lights but never a workman in sight. There is one such quite close to where we live: the road has been closed in one direction for the best part of two weeks as there is a large hole but although I pass this quite frequently I have never seen anybody there doing anything with the hole. One of the local traders told me yesterday that it was going to be another three weeks before the hole is filled in. In the meanwhile, this business and others, who rely on passing trade, is losing revenue.

But to continue…….when we finally got on our way, the heavens opened and we had a torrential downpour so, thoroughly fed up, we turned round and came back home a different way and, of course, never got to the Military and Flying Machines Show. One of the servers who went yesterday told me this morning that it was really splendid – we will have to wait until next year and try again.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

R.I.P.

I was saddened to read that my first Spiritual Director, the Revd.Canon Peter Keightley died on the 24th July at the age of 93. Father Keightley was formerly Vicar of St Peter and St Paul, Wymering, The Church of the Holy Spirit, Southsea and Chaplain of St Marys Hospital, Portsmouth before retirement. Funeral Requiem Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Fawcett Road, Southsea, on August 10, at 10.30 a.m. followed by private cremation.

Please pray for the repose of his soul.

May he Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pension Warnings

People were warned yesterday that they need to do more to save for their old age with the caveat that the Pension Industry needs to be simpler to understand and more efficient. It appears that many people are dubious about Private Pension Schemes and this is something I understand only too well from personal experience.

After quite a few years working for one company I moved to another. My pension with the first company was supposed to be preserved; during the ensuing years I made a number of requests to be allowed to remove the assets to a different scheme but each was refused. After several promotions I worked in a senior position for another company a few years later and when I left to go to college, I had a substantial reserved pension which I thought would be a very good addition to my Church Pension.

When I retired the first company wrote to me to tell me that the total available was insufficient to produce any sort of pension so they were intending with permission from the “authorities” to pay me a lump sum which amounted to a laughable amount of just over £200. In the case of the second, due to a certain Chancellor, the amount available for pension provision was severely reduced and I have ended up with a pension which amounts to £8 a week paid half yearly. When the pension was preserved, around 1983, I had a letter telling me that it’s current value was around £12 per week but it would continue to grow until I could draw it at 65, or later if I so desired. Over the years I received statements showing the growth in the fund and I felt quite confident that I would receive at least £20/25 a week. However the taxation imposed by the Chancellor together with a falling Stock Market meant that I am only getting the equivalent of £8 a week – not much for all the years of full employment and all the promises!!!

If the Government want people to make provision for their old age they must give them some encouragement to do so – what happened to me has happened to many others.

Monday, 1 August 2011

ORGAN CONCERT AT THAXTED

 

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After Mass and a quick lunch we set out for Thaxted for a Concert by Peter Jebson in Thaxted Parish Church. Peter is the Organist & Choirmaster of St. Cuthbert’s Church at Lytham St. Annes and for nearly 30 years was the resident organist at Blackpool’s Cliffs Hotel. He regularly appears on BBC Radio 2’s “The Organist Entertains” and has performed on the wonderful organ at Blackpool Tower and at Blackpool Opera House and at numerous other venues throughout the country.

In a varied programme Peter enchanted the audience on the three manual Makins Organ which belongs to the Thaxted Festival and is on loan to Thaxted Parish Church. The Concert was to raise money for The North Aisle Rood Project. After the Concert we went with Peter and another fellow Organist, and great friend Brian Atkinson, to The Swan for refreshments and dinner. A really enjoyable day!!

To listen to Peter playing the organ at Blackpool Opera House click here