Friday, 30 March 2012

Pies, Pasties and Petrol

Quite close to where we live is a College and at lunch times the students crowd into the local bakers for their hot snacks. This little shop is always busy; as well as quite delicious bread and doughnuts, it also sells sandwiches, hot pies, pasties, sausage rolls etc. In the future, thanks to the Chancellor, students who have been able to buy a pasty or large sausage roll for, say, £1 will now have to pay £1.20.  I know the argument that this increase is to bring bakers into line with fish & chip shops but it is another example of a stealth tax which will penalise students on a very limited budget. Of course, if you never buy a hot pie or pasty it will not affect you! This is another example of a nasty unnecessary tax which will not be of any consequence to the wealthy in society but will hit students and others hard.

All around this area, petrol stations have notices up saying they have no petrol due to the crazy way people have been filling up their tanks following the advice of politicians. It is thanks to those stupid politicians a non-existent problem is now a major crisis. Queues were forming yesterday on a busy dual carriageway in this area to get into garages and this was causing chaos, danger and mayhem as one lane became blocked. I noticed that some wily proprietors increased their prices – what a surprise! If the government were in any doubt that the motorist would rebel and not pay the forthcoming petrol increase later this year, this will have calmed their fears. Some. it seems, will pay any price to keep their cars on the road and be prepared to queue for ages to do so. Why don’t people use public transport? Because it is frequently expensive and unreliable. So the motorist will continue to be the Governments milch cow.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


I was very sad when I heard that Tony Newton had died. He was the MP for Braintree for 23 years and held various Government posts in Conservative Governments. He occasionally came to Cressing Church when I was the Vicar there. He was a very nice person and an excellent constituency MP.

Our daughter went to Portsmouth University and had terrible problems with the City Council in getting her Housing Benefit to which students were entitled in those days. In the end, after I had contacted the Council on several occasions and got nowhere we went to a meeting with Tony Newton and told him what was happening. Within a matter of days he had the whole thing sorted out; he was a very busy man and I really admired the way he did this.

May he Rest in Peace

Monday, 26 March 2012


It was with quite a lot of nostalgia that I watched the programme on BBC4 about the Choir of Salisbury Cathedral. Shot in the Cathedral and the Close it reminded me of the two very happy years we spent in Salisbury in the 80’s when I was at Salisbury and Wells Theological College. During each academic year we spent one term worshipping daily in the Cathedral for Mass and silent meditation. On Ascension Day the College Choir sang Evensong. It was my joy to accompany them on the Cathedral Organ also to play for a Save the Children Fund Service.

It had always been a dream of mine to play the organ of Salisbury Cathedral. When I was quite young, around 9 or 10, my parents took me to the Cathedral for a visit. Somehow or another we found ourselves in the Cathedral as it started to fill up for a wedding. Not wishing to  cause any problems we quietly sat in the chairs and then the organ started up. Well!!!! Up until then I had never experienced a sound like it and I became determined to learn to play the organ.

Shortly after we left Salisbury to begin my curacy, the Cathedral started a Girls Choir which has, over the years, gone from strength to strength. My daughter, a teenager then, desperately wanted to sing in the Cathedral and had the chance as part of the College Choir.

On one Palm Sunday the College went to the Palm Sunday Procession which began in the cloister with children dressed up and one poor little mite sitting on a donkey. All went well until we arrived in the Cathedral singing “All glory, laud and honour.” Suddenly the organ started with mighty great chords and the donkey bolted, straight up the aisle towards the high Altar, with the child hanging on precariously and a verger or two pursing it, eventually catching it. It was hilarious.

Both Ann and I look back on our days in Salisbury with great affection; we were so happy there – Salisbury is a lovely place to live and the Cathedral a wonderful place to worship although normally we went to St. Martins where Father Giles made us so welcome and really encouraged us.


As a result of our impecuniosity and the urgent desire to have a wonderful and expensive holiday, we have decided to follow the example of a certain party treasurer and offer to meet and entertain people in accordance with their donations to our funds.

We thought a suitable scale might go something like this:-

1 Tea or Coffee in the garden with a hot cross bun or mince pie £25

2 The same in the sitting room with a brief meeting with our cat £30

3 Two course Supper with wine and the opportunity to meet the wife £100

4 Premier League. Dinner with me plus wine, minimum £250

We need to recruit an organiser as we expect to be inundated with requests but Cruddas is not available. Applications to be considered as a guest enclosing cash as above, preferably in a brown envelope, can be dropped through my letterbox at any time.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


No doubt it came as a shock to many people when they realised the full implications of the Chancellor’s plan to “simplify” the tax situation as it related to old age pensioners. Most of us didn’t believe that we would be the targets so that he could fund the reduction in the amount of tax paid by the wealthiest in society from 50p in the pound to 45p.

When I saw the amount that the top tax payers would be getting as a result of this reduction I really couldn’t believe it. Of course from April all OAP’s will be getting a rise in their pensions as the Prime Minister was quick to remind us but that is no more or less than a rise triggered by inflation; it is not the act of a generous government helping some of the less well of in society. And in any case this move by the Chancellor will, in due course, claw it all back.

If you feel as cross about this as I do why not sign the e-petition here

Friday, 23 March 2012

WHAT A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Wednesday the Exploratory Group met at St. Augustine’s, celebrated Mass and then continues the study of the development of the Mass from New Testament times. This is in preparation for a celebration of a Passover Meal on Palm Sunday evening.

On Thursday I celebrated Mass at St. Augustine’s and then a quick drive from Rush Green to Ilford to celebrate Mass at the Hospital Chapel. Home around 3.30 so just time to have a quick rest before supper and back to St. Augustine’s for Stations of the Cross. Like an idiot I left my glasses at home and these days I need them to read pretty well anything. What to do? I couldn’t see the Stations I had prepared, I couldn’t see the hymn book and there wasn’t time to go home to get my glasses. Our Lay Reader Joan arrived and I shared the problem with her and she suggested I tried her glasses. We must have a similar prescription because they were just fine so I was able to take Stations with no problem.

Today Ann and I went to Earls Court to the Ideal Home Exhibition using complimentary tickets we had been given. We had an enjoyable time looking at all the things we couldn’t afford and many that we wouldn’t buy even if we could afford to do so. We haven’t been for many years but we remembered when we used to go occasionally that there were always long queues to go round the show houses and there still are so we didn’t bother……………….perhaps next year we’ll go round them if we are given complimentary tickets again.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


I was very surprised when I was listening to some comments on television about the possible suspension of Sunday Trading Laws during the 8 weeks of the Olympics when a woman priest said that should the Olympic Torch come near her church on a Sunday she would cancel all services so her congregation could attend. Now whilst I could see the point of changing the times of services, if that should be the case, I can see no reason whatsoever for cancelling all the services. What sort of Christian witness would that be?

Monday, 19 March 2012

To Toll or not to Toll–That is the Question!

David Cameron has announced that the Government are intending to privatise some roads by inviting private companies invest in them, maintaining them and building new roads and motorways for which they will be awarded part of the annual licence fee revenue and by charging tolls on new roads. Britain’s motorists pay some of the highest charges in the world by the annual licence fee, plus petrol tax plus vat. In France where they have toll roads they don’t have an annual licence fee and there are alternatives to the toll roads.

This is another ploy which will end up like the fiasco of Blairr/Brown’s pfi with hospitals in increasing debt; it will result in the motorist being hammered again and again, as companies increase tolls to maintain or increase their profit margins. Remember how we were promised, years ago, that the tolls at the Dartford Tunnel would only remain until the new bridge had been paid for. Yet year by year the tolls increase whilst the bridge must have been paid for time and time again. It is now seen by our political masters as another way of revenue raising.

Although Cameron has denied that it is the intention to charge tolls on anything but new roads, in contradiction he said: "Road tolling is one option - but we are only considering this for new, not existing, capacity. For example, we're looking at how improvements to the A14 could be part-funded through tolling.” Now, excuse me, but isn’t the A14 an existing road?

Sunday, 18 March 2012


It is forecast that George Osborne will introduce temporary legislation to relax the 6 hour limit on Sunday Trading in England & Wales during the eight weeks of the Olympic Games so that large stores will be able to open when they like. At present they have to open between the hours of 10.00 a,m. and 6.00p.m. The Metro reports that: “if that proves to be successful, a permanent change to the Sunday trading laws will be considered” Read more:

The Sunday Telegraph says: The Chancellor’s speech on Wednesday will outline moves to lift restrictions on Sunday opening hours for two months this summer, with plans for a permanent relaxation if the policy is considered a success.

It appears that there have been plans to end the Sunday Trading Law restrictions for some time. Needless to say I am bitterly opposed to this as I was to the removal of the previous Sunday Trading Laws. I knew that despite all assurances to the contrary Christians who wanted to be able attend church on a Sunday morning would find themselves in a very difficult position and I soon became aware of supermarkets who gave their employees the choice of either working or getting fired.

The Keep Sunday Special Campaign says this: “It is KSS’s view that primary legislation would be needed to change the law on Sunday trading. It would be cowardly of the government to introduce this proposal as part of the Budget process and shameful indeed if Parliament allowed such a change to be pushed through, especially as there was consultation on Sunday Trading only last year – carried out by the Deputy Prime Minister – which showed conclusively that there was no appetite to change the law.” Read more.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


As a gift for my 25th anniversary as a priest Ann gave me a bread baking course at the Waitrose Cookery School. On arrival at their premises in Hampstead at 9.30 a.m. I was offered freshly baked croissants and pan au chocolate, freshly brewed coffee, tea or various fruit juices. The course continued all day and we learnt how to make wheaten grain bread rolls, hot cross buns, doughnuts, flat bread, focaccia and we made most of them, bringing our baking home with us. The bread rolls were made and cooked ready to eat for our lunch. All in all it was a good experience with some delightful people attending. When I arrived home I was totally exhausted!

It was on the way home that I heard the news that Dr.Rowan Williams had decided to return to the world of academia after serving as Archbishop of Canterbury for ten years. Now the speculation begins on his successor.




The Government has launched its consultation on redefining marriage. Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said she was determined to change marriage whether the public likes it or not.

We would like you to contact your MP about this undemocratic and high-handed move by the Government.


They're trying to silence you

Not only are they seeking to change the meaning of "marriage", now they're trying to change the meaning of "consultation". They should listen to the public before making a decision, not the other way around.

Whatever they say in public, we know the Government has been rocked by the size of the opposition to their plans. The strategy to introduce gay marriage in a low key way is now in tatters. Government ministers now want to discourage people from voicing their opposition. They want to dishearten supporters of marriage like you with a 'resistance is futile' message.


Don't let them

We know that your commitment and affection for marriage is stronger than that. We know that you care deeply about future generations and want them to enjoy the benefits of marriage that past generations have enjoyed. We know you are passionately positive about marriage because of the common good of society.

Whatever the government says in public about its intention to ignore you, privately they're very concerned about tens of thousands of the British public responding to the consultation and saying "don't redefine marriage".

We will also be taking other initiatives to make sure the Government doesn't ignore the public's voice.


Email your MP today

As a first step, please tell your MP it is undemocratic for the Government to say it will redefine marriage over the heads of the people.

Please remember to be polite and brief. Many MPs on both sides of this issue will agree that the Government's actions are undemocratic.

The following may help you:

  • Redefining marriage wasn't a manifesto pledge of the Tories, the Lib Dems or Labour. There is no mandate for change; nobody voted for this.
  • A real consultation means listening to the people before making a decision. Why is the public being ignored like this?
  • If your MP's position on this issue would affect your vote at the next election, say so.
  • The public don't want this: 70% want to keep marriage as it is, and over 230,000 (including you) have signed the national petition for marriage.
  • Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Politicians should not play politics with marriage.

Please email your MP today, or as soon as possible. Don't let the Government discourage you or silence you. Show them that your affection for marriage is greater than they realise.

Taken from an email from the Coalition for Marriage

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Our new Cooker!

Today our new cooker arrived and was fitted. Our old cooker gave up the ghost last week-end – something which was not entirely unexpected as it has been playing up for a while. We went round various outlets and eventually found what we thought would be an ideal replacement but were somewhat daunted by the price of £699 plus £85 to fit, plus £9 to take the old one away, plus £5 for delivery.

After consulting “Which” we concluded that the cooker we had seen best met our needs and I decided to see what prices were quoted on the Internet. I found that it was £150 cheaper at Sainsburys than Comet so I ordered it from them. When the delivery people phoned to say they were on their way we discovered that it was being supplied, delivered and fitted by…………………..COMET (who did it really well). We’ve just enjoyed our first meal cooked on our new cooker but I still can’t believe that I ordered the cooker from Sainsburys and got it from Comet!!!!!!!!! and considerably cheaper as well.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Today, whilst I was waiting for Father Martin to pick me up to take me to the meeting of the SSC, there was a knock on the front. door. I opened it to two very presentable men who when they saw my dog collar looked a bit thwarted. I was being visited by the local Jehovah’s Witnesses. I always dread these encounters and hope to avoid them but, in fact, these were two very interesting people. One of their concerns is the present moral state, or the lack of it, amongst many of our young people And the fact that many people no longer have any thought about society, just living their lives in a cocoon from the needs and concerns of their neighbours. They were also concerned about the Governments plans for Gay Marriages. It was an interesting chat and not like the many I’ve had in the past.

We drove to Colchester, (stopping at Sainsbury’s for coffee and a doughnut) for the meeting at St. Barnabas which started with Mass followed by lunch and then the opportunity to meet Norman, the new Bishop of Richborough who gave an interesting talk and then answered our questions. Bishop Norman will be made an Assistant Bishop of Chelmsford Diocese on the 27th March at 5.15 p.m. to which all are welcome

This years Chrism Mass celebrated by The Bishop of Richborough will be on Monday 2nd April at 12 noon.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

No right to wear cross at work, says Government

Today’s Sunday Telegraph gives details of the way the Government intends to fight the case before the Court of Human Rights in which two British women seek to establish the right to wear a cross at work.  The newspaper reports: A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.”

Of course, our Government will defend the right of Muslims to wear the hijab, Sikhs to wear the turban and the Kara bracelet.  Another example is the Governments intention to plough ahead with legislation to permit “gay” marriages despite the fact that the majority of Christians are opposed to this as they see marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman for life. There is no doubt in my mind that Christians have become the marginalised faith of this supposedly Christian country.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Quite a number of people called in today to explore this gem in the middle of Ilford on the Open Day organised by the Friends of the Hospital Chapel. I was able to play the organ for some of the time which although small is quite an effective instrument, just right for the size of the chapel. Refreshments were available all day and seemed very popular. Guided tours were available illustrating the history of the chapel which goes back to the 12th century. There will be another open day in April – watch this space for details.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Today I celebrated Mass at the Ilford Hospital Chapel, one of the oldest, if not the oldest buildings, in Ilford. On Monday a team of people tidied and cleaned following the visit by the electricians and the man who refurbished the “tea” room. Monday gave me the chance to sort through the vestments many of which are so old and threadbare that they are no longer useable.

I was very saddened yesterday when I heard the news that 6 young men had been killed in Afghanistan as a result of an IED. It’s only a few weeks since our son returned from Afghanistan, safe and well, for which we are very grateful. May they Rest in Peace.

Saturday is the Open Day at the Hospital Chapel with guided tours available to show and explain the many interesting features including the Pugin Reredos in the Lady Chapel, the medieval stained glass windows, the connection between one of the previous Chaplains, Father Sparrow Simpson and Sir John Stainer the composer of the Crucifixion. There will the opportunity to admire and perhaps photograph the Italianate carved reredos of the Last Supper on the High Altar as the six tall brass candle sticks having been removed for a better view. I will be playing the rather splendid two manual pipe organ during the morning from time to time. Home made cakes and other refreshments will be on sale as well as Birthday. Mothering Sunday and other occasional cards. Do come if you’re free especially if you have never visited this gem in the middle of the bustling town of Ilford.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

SYRIA – the unfolding tragedy

The unfolding tragedy in Syria is now a daily feature on our television screens, in our newspapers and on the radio. The allegations of mass murder and torture are evidenced by horrific pictures which are no doubt authentic but which can’t be confirmed. Yesterday more pictures were shown which depicted victims of torture within a military hospital where it is alleged victims of the Syrian bombing have to be taken. An employee of the hospital said: "I have seen detainees being tortured by electrocution, whipping, beating with batons, and by breaking their legs. They twist the feet until the leg breaks"

Diplomatic efforts and condemnation by the United Nations have been blocked by China and Russia in the Security Council.So what action can be taken? According to an United Nations tally 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising began although this statistic has not yet been verified.

Amongst those summarily executed are a number of children.Click here to read a BBC report by Paul Wood  "A terrible fear has seized people here about what the government forces are doing now that they are back in control," writes the BBC's Paul Wood outside Homs.

Ahmed Ibrahim told me that 36 men and boys were taken away.  Among them were four members of his own family including his 12-year-old son, Hozaifa. All were dead now, he said.

He said he had seen everything, lying flat behind some trees.

He told me: "There is a major checkpoint near our house. Reinforcements arrived there. They brought Shabiha (the "ghosts" or paramilitaries). They began arresting all the men in the area so I crouched down in the orchards just beside my house.

"They started beating them up. Then they moved them into a street next to a school. They killed them all. I saw it. I was 50 to 100 metres away. Their hands were tied behind their backs. A soldier held each one still on the ground with his boot; another soldier came to cut their throats. I could hear their screams."



I was pleased that Cardinal Keith O’Brian condemned the proposal by the Government to permit civil Gay “marriage”  although he might have used less controversial language to do so instead of “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".  Having said that, I do agree with the essence what he writes.

I believe marriage to be a Sacrament between one man and one woman for life.I acknowledge that that is the ideal and, regrettably, sometimes a marriage can break down. However, a partnership between two men or two women is not, and never can be, a marriage. I have no problems with Civil Partnership and can see the wisdom of these. O’Brian argues that within a civil partnership homosexual couples have all the legal rights of marriage.

At present the proposal is that gay marriages should be civil ceremonies; how long will it be before the church comes under pressure to permit these in church or to provide a church blessing following a civil ceremony?

I understand that there will be a similar statement from the RC hierarchy read in all Roman Catholic Churches this forth coming Sunday. In the CofE the Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu  issued similar condemnatory statement in the Daily Telegraph on the 27th January read here

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Just Another Weekend!!!!!!

We’ve had the grandchildren to stay – they arrived yesterday afternoon, so that their parents could attend a concert in the O2 Arena. We took them to “MacDonald's” for a treat and I have to say I thought it was quite a treat too! I can’t remember the last time I had a MacDonald's.At Sunday Dinner we drank the bottle of champagne that the family gave us when I celebrated my 25 years as a priest last year. We said we would enjoy it together when my son returned from Afghanistan. The grandchildren are 5 & 8 – and later this afternoon our other two came. One thing about grandchildren - you can give them back after they've tired you out.

Today I celebrated and preached at St. Paul’s, Goodmayes. At the start of Mass we had Asperges whilst the choir sang the Lent Prose. They sang unaccompanied and it was a real delight to hear it sung so well. After Mass I returned to St Augustine’s for coffee and to learn the mysteries of the heating system so we don’t freeze to death when I take Stations on Tuesday at 7.30 p.m.

Friday, 2 March 2012

WORK EXPERIENCE - Just Imagine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An imaginary scene: Office of the Managing Director of a totally imaginary chain of imaginary supermarkets.

The Recruitment Manager is talking to Harry, Managing Director.

“I’ve some great news Harry; I can get shelf stackers for nothing”

“Really! You’re joking aren’t you? How?”

“The Government’s scheme “Work Experience”. The Government even pay their bus fares.”

“You must have it wrong, there’s got to be a mistake; we’ll have to pay them minimum wages as we always do”

“No Harry we don’t– they get their Job Seeker’s Allowance, paid by the Government and that’s it.”

“So you’re telling me we can get these people free, gratis and for nothing!”


“There’s got to be a catch somewhere – how long do we get them for? And I suppose we have to offer them a job at the end.”

“We get them for eight weeks or so. Then they go and we get another lot. Of course, if we want to look good we could employ the odd one or two – we’ve always got vacancies, but there’s no obligation to do so. Let’s face it, shelf stacking’s pretty boring so if we do give the odd one or two a job they won’t stay long anyway and there’s plenty more where they come from.”

“Well let’s go for it then and increase our profitability”