Monday, 27 February 2012


Congratulations to Meryl Streep on being awarded an Oscar for her brilliant performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady for which she had previously been awarded a BAFTA. Although I haven’t seen the film, the excepts I have seen illustrate just what a fine actress Meryl Streep is and her portrayal of Baroness Thatcher seems very accurate. But for me this begs a question?

Should films like The Iron Lady be made, when the person concerned is still alive and when they are is what is called factional because some of the content has to be invented (i.e. fiction). It is not so bad when it is made with the full co-operation of the person concerned who can monitor exactly what is portrayed  but so many of these types of film, made for the screen or for television are positively inaccurate and are, in my opinion, in very bad taste.

Sunday, 26 February 2012


What to give up for Lent....

Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.

Give up pessimism——become an optimist.

Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.

Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.

Give up discouragement——be full of hope.

Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.

Give up hatred——return good for evil.

Give up negativism——be positive.

Give up anger——be more patient.

Give up pettiness——become mature.

Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.

Give up jealousy——pray for trust.

Give up gossiping——control your tongue.

Give up sin——turn to virtue.

Give up giving up——hang in there!

I discovered this on a Franciscan Blog here. Lent in my opinion should be more about doing something positive than giving up sweets or beer, cakes or biscuits etc. but here are something's we could do well to give up.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Thursday Mass at the Hospital Chapel

Yesterday I celebrated the regular weekly Mass at the Hospital Chapel. Work has been going on at the Chapel installing new electrics and refurbishing the coffee room dince the begining of last week.  As a result, we have been unable to have refreshments after Thursday Mass but at least now the heating is working. Last week we had very little except in the Sanctuary and no organ.but it was back in use today.In my sermon I talked about the three things we need to do if we want to “come after Jesus”  We need to deny ourselves, take up our cross and to follow Him.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012




Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



Today we begin the great season of Lent, a time of preparation for the Easter Festival. A wise old priest once said to me that only people who keep a proper Lent could celebrate a wonderful Easter. May you enjoy a wonderful Lent in preparation for the most wonderful season of the Christian Year, Easter.



1. The manager of the cinema never visits me.

2. I did go a few times but no-one spoke to me.

3. Those who go there are not very friendly.

4. Every time I go they ask for money.

5. I went so much as a child, I’ve had all the entertainment I need.

6. The people who go don’t live up to the high mortal standards of the films.

7. The performance is too long. I can’t sit for two hours.

8. I often disagree with what I see and hear.

9. I don’t think they have very good music.

10. The films are all shown in the evenings and that is the only time I have to be at home with my family.

Does this sound familiar?

I am grateful to Bishop David Chislett for this which appears on his blog

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Way back in the 1980’s unemployment was at a peek caused by runaway inflation. I can well remember calling to see a client and being greeted by a newly employed young lady on reception.The business owner explained to me that he had joined the new government initiative which meant that he could have a young person to work for him, funded by the government. If my memory is correct, the scheme only lasted for three months and then it was anticipated that the person would be offered a job. It was fairly obvious to me that a job existed. In fact the owner explained to me that he had sacked his previous receptionist to enable his company to have a receptionist for free. After three months he would sack the present girl and get another and that is what he did. I’m certain there must have been many others abusing the scheme.

Under a new Government initiative to bring down the unemployment figures amongst young people, the unemployed are being asked/told to work for companies for nothing except the job seekers allowance plus the cost of bus fares to the place of employment. As a result companies are able to save on wages and we, you and me, are subsidising these large companies and our young people are being grossly exploited. Although the Minister involved has denied it, I understand that if the young person refuses to take this unpaid employment they could loose their job seekers allowance.

I believe several companies have withdrawn from the scheme no doubt due to the detrimental publicity it has generated. Whilst it was something we didn’t know about it was OK it seems but know it has become known some companies are quickly withdrawing. What young people want and need are real jobs paying real salaries for real employers not this exploitative scheme.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Father John Studdard RIP

I met Father John Studdard when I was Rural Youth Development Officer for the Bishop of Colchester. At that time he was the Curate at Halstead Parish Church. Fr. Studdard only moved to Thornbury last summer after serving as Team Rector of Witham in Essex. His brutal murder continues to be investigated by the police.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Child Poverty in India

In 2001 Ann and I achieved a long held ambition to visit India. We travelled first to Delhi and then went on the “triangle” visiting, amongst other places, the beautiful Taj Mahal. We stayed in quite luxurious hotels including one which had been a  Maharaja’s palace. We saw the new estate on the outskirts of New Delhi where all the banks have skyscrapers and there are lovely apartments for the people who work in them. Contrast that with the frequent abject poverty we witnessed.

India is a place of contrasts from the beautiful palaces of the Mahajas to the hovels of many of the people, from the limousines and top of the range cars to the three or four people attempting to travel on a moped. To the superb restaurants and hotels to the free food offered every evening by the Sikh's and Hindu’s to all who need food. Along many main roads are encampments of people living under sheets of plastic or w.h.y.

Interestingly there are more millionaires in India that in the UK. and what was once a very poor third world country is now flourishing financially. It is now an offence under Indian Law to give money to beggars who litter the streets everywhere you visit. Some have very badly damaged bodies which have been badly mutilated by relatives as this will make them better beggars! On one occasion alighting from a coach on which we were travelling we were surrounded by children. We initially thought they were asking for money but in fact they wanted ball point pens!

I suppose the worse thing you experience in India is child poverty- something we also saw quite a lot of in China. Many children live on rubbish tips making what ever money they can by recycling items thrown away by the public. Over 50,000 children are abandoned in the country every year. 11 million children live on the streets and there are more than 44 million child labourers in India in all.

India is a beautiful country and one I hope to visit again in the future. I really hope that something can be done to eradicate the child poverty so much in evidence. There is something very strange about observing the wealth and seeing the poverty in such close proximity. God bless India.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

St. Mary’s Church, ILFORD

Today I had the pleasure of returning to St. Mary;s Church, Ilford to concelebrate and preach. During the interregnum I was a regular visitor to celebrate Mass and preach so it was good to be back there again to a very warm welcome from both Father Gareth and the congregation. After Mass thhere was a glass of wine as well as the usual tea, coffee and biscuits in the St. Mary’s Room as we wished well to one of the long-standing members of the congregation who will be moving shortly to Bexhill.Afterwards Ann and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Father Gareth and cooked by his wife.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


I was sad at the recent judgement that Prayers before Council Meetings are illegal and hope that steps will taken urgently to change the law. I understand that it has been the custom for prayers to be offered at Council meetings ever since Elizabethan times. The atheist who took the case to the High Court, in conjunction with the Secular Society had previously been a member of the Bideford Council. In his judgement Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled: ''The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a council is not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue.'' There is no doubt in my mind that this was another attempt to marginalise Christians but as I will demonstrate this doesn’t only affect Christians.

In the year before I retired as Vicar of St. Francis, Barkingside I was privileged to be Chaplain to the Mayor of Redbridge, a role which I very much enjoyed and which I hope I fulfilled satisfactorily. On the night of the Mayor making, the Chaplain to the previous Mayor, a Hindu priest, took the prayers. At subsequent Council Meetings it was my responsibility to lead the prayers and I saw my role as Mayor’s Chaplain as one of being Chaplain to all members of the Council.

The Council then was made up of members of many different faiths:Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Jainism etc. None were compelled to attend the pre-council meeting prayers but many chose to do so. The next Mayor to take office later this year has announced that he is appointing three Chaplains of different faiths for the next year. I don’t think Redbridge is unique in appointing non-Christian chaplains when the Mayor is not a Christian but a follower of a different faith. So this ruling will be detrimental to all faiths until it is corrected.

Friday, 10 February 2012


When I recently received my renewal  for my House and Contents Insurance I was somewhat daunted to discover that the premium had increased by 20%. Last year it did the same. Convinced that there was a mistake I phoned the company and was assured that the premium was correct. I decided to try the Internet and found several reputable companies who were considerably cheaper. By changing to one of them I saved £130; a lost of money when your a pensioner!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Yesterday General Synod of the Church of England decided to increase the fees payable at weddings and funerals. Nothing too much unusual about that, it happens every year and fees increase annually. The difference this year is the amount of the increase. Present funeral fees are £102 which are to be raised to £160. I can see no justification whatsoever for such a steep rise of over 50%. which will hit people at their most vulnerable and begin to make funerals taken by CofE clergy prohibitively expensive. Where is the pastoral care demonstrated by this increase?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Today  we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. He was born in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, very close to Portsmouth Dockyard and the Royal Hospital (now demolished) As I was born just outside the City of Portsmouth I have always regarded Portsmouth as my home town and know the terraced house well.


The local branch of GSS met yesterday evening for a Solemn Requiem Mass at the Hospital Chapel of St. Mary and St. Thomas of Canterbury. Father Hingley celebrated Mass and I preached.

Monday, 6 February 2012


This afternoon the General Synod of the Church of England meet at Church House, Westminster. The main debates during this session will be on Women Bishops, looking at the provision made for those who can’t accept this innovation which I have to say, having read the paper on it, is about as much use as a chocolate teapot for traditionalists. I was not impressed by the comment made yesterday in the Telegraph by the Revd.Rose Hudson-Wilkin “The Church is desperately trying to hold everybody together, and we haven’t understood that this is not going to be possible. To try to do that is to put on a sticking plaster that is going to curl at the edge and fall apart. It cannot be sustainable. The whole thing is a mess. We need to say, as a Church, 'We ordain men and women.’ Full stop. All the way to the top. For those who feel that they can’t live with it? They’re adults. By all means, go to Rome. Join the Ordinariate. Don’t stay and make demands of the Church. It’s wrong.”

The only demand that I and many others make of the church is that they observe the guide lines of scripture, tradition and reason when making any decision and make adequate provision for those who cannot accept Women Bishops and Priests AND THAT IS NOT A CODE OF PRACTICE.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


For once the weather forecasts were accurate and we had snow last night, lots of it, so we woke up this morning to discover our road virtually impassable. Living on an estate means we have to travel on two side roads before we can access anything like a main road. Our local authority doesn’t believe in treating side roads so we are left to do so ourselves.

Father Martin rang very early and suggested that we didn’t attempt to travel to St. Augustine’s as the roads in Rush Green were difficult and dangerous. So we celebrated Mass at home and then set about trying to clear the cars and our drive and some of the road outside our house. It seems we have had about 12 inches of snow. Several of our neighbours were out doing the same but the problem is going to be some of the other local roads where absolutely nothing has been done.

Friday, 3 February 2012


I celebrated Mass with the Ceremonies at Ilford Hospital Chapel of St. Mary & St Thomas of Canterbury yesterday at the usual Thursday lunchtime Mass my first Mass here.

On Monday evening at 7.30 p.m. the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary will be using the Chapel to celebrate a Requiem Mass that was postponed from November. I will be preaching at that service.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Diamond Jubilee Prayers

The Diamond Jubilee Prayer released by the CofE reads:



Almighty God, we pray that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm, may continue to grow in every virtue, that, imbued with your heavenly grace, she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil and, being blessed with your favour may, with her consort and the Royal Family, come at last into your presence, through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.