Sunday, 29 April 2012

Cardinal castigates Government

At long last, one of the church leaders has spoken out about the dire way the Government have treated, and are treating, the poorest members of our society. Cardinal O’Brian said this: the prime minister is behaving immorally by putting the needs of the rich ahead of ordinary people affected by the recession. In a BBC interview, the cardinal said people who had worked hard and saved for their retirement were being forgotten.

Certainly the Budget did little for the poorest members of society; it took some out of tax which was very welcome but whilst increasing the OAP, took back tax allowances. In many ways it seemed to me to be a spiteful budget: the granny tax, the pasty tax and, of course, the reduction of tax for the wealthiest to the detriment of the poorest in society. One of the problems, this, and many previous governments has, is that most members have never experienced true poverty, they’ve never had to queue up at a Labour Exchange – I’m sorry Job Centre Plus. They’ve never had to struggle to decide what bill to pay or, instead, to buy food for their children or themselves. In an interview I watched this week, one family where the husband is in full time work, had insufficient money to buy food after paying their rent and other bills. Their cupboards had barely anything in them. They rely on food banks.

I have been horrified at the number of people who need free food hand-outs from Food Banks which are being set-up all over the place by churches and charities.In a country which can afford to spend billions on the Olympic Games it is an utter disgrace that some of our citizens are living in conditions equivalent to the Third World; many of them are our retired folk who are living in dire poverty. A disgrace  that they need to go to food banks so that they can eat.

It is interesting that today the Sunday Times has printed its annual Rich List which demonstrates that the majority of the very rich have become even richer under this Coalition Government. It should hang its head in shame that it has given tax reductions to this group of people at the expense of the poorest in our society.


Today I was celebrant and preacher at St. Mary’s, Ilford for their Parish Mass. I preached on the Gospel theme of the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep,us, and is prepared to lay down his life for us. The Mass setting was one with which I am not familiar; The St. Mary Mass by Caesar. During the Communion the choir sang “I give you a new commandment” by Aston. After Mass it was the Annual Parochial Meeting so I left and went to St. Augustine's, for coffee.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Breakfast (but not at Tiffany's)

On Thursday, with the most terrible weather I celebrated the 10.00a.m. Mass at St Augustine’s, Rush Green where I had a congregation of 16 and then went on to Ilford for the 12.35 p.m. Mass at the Hospital Chapel with a congregation of 21. Obviously the heavy rain did not deter too many.After Mass we have tea, coffee and other refreshments but this week we were invited to our next door neighbours the Conservative Club  by one of the congregation This was originally a home of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. From the outside it looks very dreary but inside there’s quite a dramatic transformation. The room we were in is wood panelled. There are large meeting rooms and it is often used for banquets. What was once a badminton court upstairs for the Salisbury family is now used as a ballroom.

Today we went to Ikea as we need some more storage for the kitchen. We went early so we could enjoy their full English Breakfast for 99p including coffee/.tea. As usual it was full of people on the same mission. For 99p we had a sausage, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomato, hash brown and scrambled egg. Needless to say Ikea didn’t have what we wanted so we went to another retailer where Ann found it. Tomorrow we are heading of to Swindon to visit mother-in-law whose celebrates her 96th birthday on Monday.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


One of the most precious commodities is water. Without water we die. Before we are born we are surrounded by water in our mother’s womb and we when we are about to be born we say “the waters have broken”. In many parts of the world people have to trek miles to fetch water which is often dirty and unhygienic. So in this country we are very fortunate in having water straight from the tap any time we want it. This ease of supply has made us very careless with its use and most homes waste a tremendous amount every day. Now, if the drought continues, we may soon be experiencing what Third World countries have all the time by having the water cut of and just a stack pipe in the road where we will have to fetch and carry it back home.

Periodically we experience a drastic shortage of water in the UK which I find almost unbelievable given the fact that it is often raining here – the last few days are an example.. Take Cyprus for example, a small very hot Mediterranean Country, where the average rainfall is very small indeed. During the winter they often experience snow on the Trodoos Mountains which then supplies water for the summer period. If there is little or no snow and little rain, then they can experience a severe drought. I have been in Cyprus when water has been rationed to three days a week except in the tourist areas.

Compare that to this country where annual rainfall is usually quite heavy although the Water Companies say that rain over the winter last year and this has been so little that the reservoirs Which must prompt the question of why is there a drought order in this area which is covered by Thames Water. And why is there no drought order in those areas covered by Essex Water our near neighbours. In fact in the Romford area, one side of one road is served by Thames Water with drought restrictions whilst immediately opposite the houses are served by Essex Water with no such restrictions
It seems totally ironic that statistically million litres of water a day are wasted through leakage in the Thames Water area.

It is also ironic that there are many areas in the UK where there is plenty of water available (for example Wales). Why can’t some of the excess water in the areas which have plenty be piped to the areas which are suffering drought orders? In 21st century Britain it is fairly obvious that we need more water storage facilities but because historically we have always suffered many days of rain replenishing existing reservoirs the Water Companies have not bothered to create any new water storage facilities and many are quite content to make vast profits without being stewards of the water we do have by letting it leak, to the extent of millions of litres daily,

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Yesterday evening I concelebrated Mass at St. George’s Church, Brentwood with a packed church. Father Gareth Jones from St. Mary’s Church, Ilford preached an excellent sermon and after Mass Father Gary and his parishioners laid on an splendid buffet.


If you only had the television and radio to provide information about the candidates for the Mayor of London you could be excused for thinking that there were only 4 candidates: Boris Johnson (Conservative) Ken Livingstone (Labour) Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats) and Jenny Jones (Green). Yet there are 3 other candidates about whom we had heard very little. They are Siobhan Benita (Independent) Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) and Lawrence Webb (UKIP) Although the television companies mention the other candidates whenever there is a broadcast debate etc. they are excluded from the debate itself. Yet I, and I’m sure many other voters would like to know what the other candidates are like, what they stand for and their opinions on what is best for London. I would like to see this in a proper open debate which would sort the “wheat from the chaff”.

One opinion poll puts Siobhan Benita and Lawrence Webb ahead of Jenny Jones so surely in the last few days prior to Election Day on 3rd May the voters in London deserve the chance to make an informed decision. I personally find it reprehensible that the TV companies decide which candidates are eligible to present their views to viewers. In my opinion this gives an unfair advantage to four of the seven candidates..

Monday, 23 April 2012

'God for Shakespeare, England, and Saint George!'




I’ve slightly altered the quote from King Henry V as today is also the the projected birthday and the actual date of Shakespeare’s death in 1616. Without any shadow of doubt Shakespeare is the finest British playwright and poet who is celebrated and loved around the world.

I celebrated the Mass of St George, Martyr this morning at St. Mary’s, Ilford and will be concelebrating this evening at the Solemn Mass at the Patronal Festival of St. George, Brentwood.

One of the puzzles for me, is why we have as our English Patron Saint a Roman Soldier from Syria. St |George is venerated particularly by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Never-the-less St. George has been the Patron Saint of England from around 1190. His flag, one of the main parts of the Union Jack, a red cross on a white background, has been sadly hijacked by right wing organisations.

File:Flag of England.svg

So let today be a Day of Prayer for our Country that the Christian Ideals for which St. George was martyred may be maintained and that all ant-Christian propaganda may be silenced and that our church leaders and politicians maintain marriage as a Sacrament between a man and a woman for life, and abandon the possibility of the marriage of two men or two women.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Canon Reginald Askew

Canon Reginald Askew, who has died aged 83, was Dean of King’s College London from 1988 to 1993 and before that Principal of Salisbury-Wells Theological College.


A thoughtful, scholarly priest, Askew had a special interest in the relationship between theology and the arts and knew a good many people in the literary world. At King’s his bearded face made him a distinctive figure in the college, where he had a particular responsibility for the pastoral care of those students — an ever-decreasing number — who were preparing for Holy Orders.

Twice in his career, however, he had the misfortune to succeed outstandingly successful priests and to suffer somewhat by comparison. The first of these was the charismatic Anthony Bridge, who had taken Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, in Paddington by storm in the 1960s and left to become Dean of Guildford; the other was Richard Harries, a future Bishop of Oxford (and now Lord Harries of Pentregarth), who had not only made a considerable impact at King’s College but also become a media personality and an authority on ethical issues related to warfare and medicine.

Askew did his best in both situations but, through no fault of his own, struggled to match his predecessors. By contrast he was a highly effective theological college principal during a period when the organising of colleges and the training of future priests was changing considerably.

Reginald James Albert Askew was born on May 16 1928 and educated at Harrow and Corpus Christi, Cambridge. He prepared for Holy Orders at Lincoln Theological College.

From 1957 to 1961 he was a curate at St Michael’s church in Highgate village, where he was very much at home with journalists and writers. He then spent eight years on the teaching staff of Wells Theological College, first as a lecturer, then as vice-principal. He was also a priest-vicar of Wells Cathedral.

Short of parish responsibility, Askew then accepted — unwisely, many thought — the challenge offered by Christ Church, Lancaster Gate. He was a diligent pastor and an interesting preacher, but the recent prosperity of this church had depended too much on the unusual flair of his predecessor, which probably no one else could have matched, and decline was inevitable. After dry rot was found, the church was eventually closed.

In 1973, therefore, he went to Salisbury, where the theological college had been united with that of Wells and where his teaching gifts and experience were much valued.

He was made a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and chairman of the Southern Dioceses Ministerial Training Scheme — a new project which provided training for future priests who were unable to undertake full-time preparation.

At King’s, Askew was in effect senior chaplain of the college and also responsible for organising the theological lectures open to the students of every faculty. He represented London University on the General Synod from 1990 to 1993.

During his five years in London he developed a particular concern for the conflict in Northern Ireland and made several visits to the province. Having joined the Corrymeela Community in 1990, he shared in its work of reconciliation.

Askew retired to Somerset in 1993 and wrote Muskets and Altars: Jeremy Taylor and the last of the Anglicans (1997), about the godly 17th-century bishop and writer.

He is survived by his wife, Kate, and a son and two daughters.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Numbers were a little down today for Mass probably due to the awful weather late this morning. We now have three servers who work on a rota and four people authorised to administer the Blessed Sacrament. Today we recruited three people to look after the flowers and they will do a week each. Sister Felicity from the Urselines, Ilford came to talk to us about the forthcoming Prayer Week based at St. Andrew’s, Ilford in June.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


The report on Truancy by Charlie Taylor, the governments expert advisor, suggests fining parents whose children play truant. He suggests that schools should impose fines of £60 rising to £120 if they are not paid within 28 days and if they remain unpaid, then they should be automatically deducted from the parents Child Benefit. Truancy has been a growing problem in some areas for some time and some action needs to be taken but is deducting Child Benefit the answer?

Take an example known to me. A teenager played truant and his mother, a teacher at a different school was informed.that her son was not attending school. To make sure that he did attend she started to drive him to school ensuring that he went into the school building and not leaving until he did. However once inside and certain that his mother had left, he walked out. When challenged the school said it was not their responsibility to ensure that children stayed, which to my mind begs the question of who is responsible.

The problem with imposing fines is that the most vulnerable are the most affected. A family with an income of, say, £60,000 is hardly likely to quibble about a £60 fine whilst a single mother on income support is going to be drastically hit if a fine is imposed on her Child Benefit. As Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo's, said: "All primary school children should be in class – that is non-negotiable. However, docking unpaid fines from child benefit risks punishing the pupils as well as the parents by penalising already deprived families. Barnardo's experience shows that the most effective way to improve children's attendance is to intervene early to deal with any underlying problems within the family – for example through parenting classes." The problem is that fixed amount fines penalise the most vulnerable in society.

In an interview on Channel 4 News last night there was a girl who had constantly played truant. Her school record was appalling with, understandably, very low grades, She was helped by the Princes Trust and given a mentor. She was allocated a place in a Pupil Referral Unit which she now attends regularly and has achieved high grades in her exams. She said that she now finds the lessons enjoyable and interesting whilst the teachers, being in much smaller units I suspect, care for the pupils individually. Perhaps the answer to truancy is the use of skilled counsellors interviewing the offending child and the parents to discover why the child prefers to wander around rather than attend lessons.

Sunday, 15 April 2012



Today I was celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Ilford when the Mass was sung to Schubert (from Deutsche Messe). In my sermon I likened St. Thomas to Victor Meldrew “I don’t believe it”. For whatever reason Thomas wasn’t present when Jesus appeared in the Upper Room so he only had the word of those who were. It was a week later when Jesus appeared in the Upper Room a second time and Thomas was then present. Convinced that Jesus had truly risen from the dead Thomas was able to make a declaration which none of the others had “My Lord and My God”. We are unable to prove that Jesus died and rose again; for us it is a matter of faith – a choice which we freely make. When we come into the presence of the Living Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar we too can proclaim “my Lord and my God”. After Mass I drove to St. Augustine’s to meet with the family. Next Sunday I will at St Augustine’s for Mass and the following Sunday back to St. Mary’s.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Revd. Canon Reginald Askew

It was with sadness that I learnt yesterday of the death of Reggie Askew, the Principal of Salisbury & Wells Theological College when I was a student there. Reggie was an authority on Jeremy Taylor a 17th century priest who became a Bishop in Ireland. Reggie went on from Salisbury & Wells to become Dean of King’s College, London.

May he Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


It seems that George Osborne has had a surprise and he is “shocked”!. He has discovered that the super rich do all they possibly can to avoid paying Income Tax. And, by enlarge succeed.  Well, there’s a surprise. He felt so sorry for the poor darlings that to assist them he reduced the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p in the £ in the budget and financed that by increasing the tax burden on the pensioners. It brings a whole new meaning to Cameron’s “we’re all in this together” What are we all in together – some one please elucidate (politely please – I can think of the rude version myself).

This morning through the post came my Self Assessment Form from HMRC telling me that if I am as much as 24 hours late in providing the information they want, they will fine me a £100 whether, or not, I owe them any tax. Why aren’t they chasing those who avoid tax, I wonder or finding ways to close the loop holes that allow them to do so.

Monday, 9 April 2012



We went to the Hospital chapel in the afternoon to prepare for the service at 5.00 p.m. when we Lit the New Fire , Blessed the Paschal Candle and celebrated the First Mass of Easter and finally blessed the Easter Garden.. We now have a team of servers at the Chapel together with 4 people authorised to administer the Blessed Sacrament. I was very pleased with the numbers who supported the service. The next service at Ilford Hospital Chapel is on Thursday at 12.35 p.m. There is an OPEN DAY on next Saturday and if you have never visited this historical gem in the middle of Ilford why not come along. There are guided tours and refreshments available,


At the crack of dawn we were up to go to St. Augustine’s  for the Easter  Vigil & Ceremonies at 5.30 a.m. Despite being dark the birds were all singing – you can read all about this and the other services at St.Augustine's here

Friday, 6 April 2012


One of my illustrious predecessors at Ilford Hospital Chapel of St. Mary and St. Thomas of Canterbury was Dr.W J Sparrow-Simpson who was Chaplain for over 40 years and who wrote the libretto for “The Crucifixion” by Sir John Stainer. So it was with special interest I went to St. Mary’s Church, Ilford on Wednesday when they had a ‘come and sing’. Although the massed choir only had one rehearsal It was a wonderful performance which I thoroughly enjoyed. Ann sang alto.


I received an emergency phone call just as we were sitting down to dinner asking me to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper etc. at St. Mary’s, Ilford. So eating dinner quickly, rustling up a sermon and getting into the car just before 7.00 p.m. for the drive to Ilford was quite a feat. The servers at St. Mary’s are a wonderful group who know what they are doing and were able to brief me and guide me when I needed to be guided. It was a lovely service, with some first class music culminating in the procession to the Altar of Repose with the Blessed Sacrament for the Watch until midnight. As Ann was serving at St. Augustine’s we couldn’t be together.


This morning began with hosting the Ilford March of Witness at the Hospital Chapel. The MP for Ilford South Mike Gapes and the Mayor and Mayoress of Redbridge attended and joined the March following a brief service in the Chapel.  At 12 noon I conducted an hour of prayer, meditations, and silence contemplating the great events of Good Friday. Then it was into the car and a drive to St. Augustine’s to take part in the Liturgy of the Day.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


The Government have announced plans to monitor all text messages, emails, Skype phone calls and every website visited by every person in the UK at a cost of £2 billion over ten years. The records will be kept for two years by Internet Providers with the storage facilities paid for by the Government. I seem to remember that when a similar plan was proposed by the Labour Government it was strongly opposed by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The word hypocrites come to mind!

The Daily Mail points out: Britain is already one of the most spied-upon nations – with three million operations carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – ostensibly an anti-terror law – over the last decade. Read more: here

We are assured that it will only be the names and addresses of the sender and recipient that are known; to access what has been written or to listen to what has been said will require Home Office sanction. Right! For how long? And why does anybody need to know that I shop at Amazon, occasionally look at EBay and the Daily Telegraph In my opinion it will not be very long before it becomes the right of Government to know what you are writing or saying and to whom. It will be a hackers playground and confidential information will, somehow or another, find its way into the media. I personally don’t trust any of the reassurances given today by either the Deputy Prime Minister or the Home Secretary.

If people value the right to privacy this measure must be strongly fought until it is defeated. 

Monday, 2 April 2012


Today Bishop Norman, the Bishop of Richborough celebrated the Chrism Mass at Chelmsford Cathedral for those who don’t accept the ordination of women; the Bishop of Chelmsford was present and at the end of the service jointly gave the blessing with Bishop Norman. I was expecting the numbers to be down as they were last year when the celebrant was Bishop Linsey Urwin following the departure of a number of priests and people to the Ordinariate but I think there were slightly more clergy there today. The Mass started with the Angelus

Afterwards refreshments were available in the Chapter House, provided by Forward in Faith.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Years ago I learnt that if you want to avoid a crisis one very good way to do so is to cause another. For the Government the crisis over the reduction of tax allowances for OAP’s, the reduction of income tax for millionaires and the increase in the cost of pies, pasties etc. plus the Party Treasurer offering dinner with the P.M. for £250,000 caused no end of bad press. So what better way of diverting attention than by creating a crisis with petrol causing total chaos in all the garages in this area and around the UK with most, if not all, totally out of petrol. To emphasis the situation, one idiot minister suggested filling up jerry cans and it is not inconceivable that the woman who sustained 40% burns when the petrol she was decanting caught fire is down to just that. Are resignations in the air? Somehow I doubt it, politicians no longer resign when they make a complete hash of things!

I’m afraid though that the bad publicity is continuing with my Sunday paper highlighting the 20% increase in pies and pasties whilst owners of fish and chip shops who have paid VAT claiming they have been wrongly assessed and taking action to obtain refunds.