Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Those resolutions

I may have said before that I never make New Year's resolutions and I haven't this year. I think that January is possibly the one time in the year when good intentions are most likely to fall by the wayside. After all it is cold, wet and cheerless with nothing on the immediate horizon to look forward to. January is just bleurgh and the only upside is that it means that the gym, which is heaving with newbies hogging all the machines in the early part of the month should return to normal by about mid-February.
However the government, perhaps mindful of events such as dry January, chose this month to issue new alcohol guidelines the first major update since 1995. The report/ advice, which many did decry as evidence of the nanny state, made pretty grim reading saying that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and reducing the recommended limits for men to 14 units a week, the same as that for women. Now it is important to keep information in proportion, one website I looked at carried articles warning of potatoes increasing the risk of diabetes, hot drinks linked to cancer of the throat and so on, however in this case I am pretty sure the risks have not been exaggerated.
My usual  consumption consists of  a bottle of wine opened on a Friday night and it takes me two or three days to drink.  So far, so good. The problem is that Mr M is very prone, once the bottle is finished, to open another one on a weekday evening- and I don't usually complain, or I do but only feebly. But unbelievable though it may seem, two bottles of wine takes you into the region of 16-21 units, over the recommended levels.  I am not doing "dry January"( though interestingly loads of my colleagues are) but I am just making sure that once the bottle is gone, another one isn't opened until the next weekend. This usually gives me four or five alcohol days per week. It is not a resolution, or at least not a New Year's resolution, it is just how I think it ought to be.
On a plus note, I've  discovered that one glass of wine contains as many calories as a cornetto ice cream which sounds like an absolute result except that regular consumption no doubt increases your risk of a host of nasties by ridiculous percent...

Friday, 15 January 2016

Friday night

I wrote in a post last week about the likely feelings of Justin Welby facing the start of the Primates meeting last Monday and posted this little clip. I've been down the gym doing my Friday evening stint and seen Welby "apologising" to LGBT people. He doesn't look a happy man. Despite the fact schism has been avoided,  the archbish looked like someone who knows things just aren't good and, it may be my imagination, but he looked a little shrunken as though he felt that the church he leads looks that bit more shoddy and shabby than it even did before.  In spite of brave talk of no victors or vanquished, this was never a win-lose situation and always a lose-lose situation for so many people and most of all for the Church itself.
Sometimes Friday night feels worse than the dreariest Monday morning.

Monday, 11 January 2016


One of the items on my Christmas list this year was some Marks and Spencer's thermal socks. I wear them a lot in the winter- we don't put the heating on that much- and my old pairs were getting decidedly threadbare. However the extremely warm December made me wonder whether I would ever need a pair of thermal socks again! So this sudden cold, or at least colder, snap has had the benefit of allowing me to break into said socks and very warm and cosy they are. In line with the £20 pound Christmas present spending rule (which Mr M broke...), I  am taking the time to really appreciate everything I received for Christmas this year.
I know there possibly more important things going on in the world than my socks- news of David Bowie's death, possible schism in Anglicanism and so on, but where would we be without socks I ask myself? Makes you think, huh?

Sunday, 10 January 2016


I heard this morning about an open letter signed by 105 church leaders, many of them senior, to Justin Welby and John Sentamu saying this is the time for repentance in the Church of its treatment of LGBTI people, its lack of duty of care and its inability to embrace and celebrate LGBTI people. In some ways I support this letter. The Church has hurt and continues to hurt LGBTI people in profound ways and its attitudes have, I believe, contributed to discrimination, hostility and violence. I  might go so  far as to say the Church has blood on its hands, for example in the instances of suicide and the violence, often murder of trans people caused by attitudes to which it may have contributed.
 My views on the issue of discrimination in the Church whether on the basis of gender or sexuality are the main reason I am not a member of the Church of England. So I don't have a problem with the idea of repentance, I just wonder how helpful it is, especially at this particular time? After all, the insurmountable problem is that many others, especially those in the African wing of the Communion also fervently believe that those who support LGBTI rights, and support gay marriage need to "repent" of what they see as non-adherence to scripture- and they could argue about that for a long time really, and in fact have done, and still not managed to agree, in many ways because of different cultural perspectives.

I think both sides have to understand that the likelihood that the "other side" is going to change their views and "repent" is slim or non-existent.I suspect that when people are told to repent, especially when they have made their mind up and believe they are in the right, it just pisses them off even more. It is also very important to remember that repentance is not just for other people but for all of us, and we all have lots and lots of things to repent of, starting with our inability to show love to each other especially when that is really difficult.

The Archbishop of Brazil, the Most Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva, said that he hoped the gathering would be, " a meeting between pastors and not a chess game", and that, "in Christ, every person is welcomed... and the exclusion of those who are liberals or conservatives is not a good start." He continues, " No one is the owner of God's will. Everyone needs to change their mind and spirit to become truly servants and address adequately those issues that our times challenges us with: the absence of love and the absence of justice."

 What will happen, will happen. In the greater scheme of things, it doesn't matter too much, but if you do have any lingering affection for the idea of a global Anglicanism, pray for a spirit of wisdom and love, echoing hopes of the Archibishop of Brazil and Justin Welby below.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Dragging on?

 You may or may not  have caught wind of the fact that the next big event in the Anglican Communion takes place this coming Monday at Canterbury in the form of a Primates' meeting. Nobody cares knows what will happen in this meeting. The press seem to fervently hope there will be a major punch up (metaphorically obviously), there are comments along the lines that the Anglican Communion is "at a crossroads" (again? still?) and some reports that Uganda will walk out or alternatively that there will be a good disagreement.
Like everyone else, I don't really care. If had a choice, I would always go for agreeing to disagree, if that's not possible then a parting of the ways seems fair enough to me, after all what could be more excruciating than things dragging on like this? If you are bothered, Mark Harris tries to explain why it matters. You might spare a thought for Justin Welby who possibly will be looking forward to Monday morning even less than the rest of us. I've no idea how long this Anglican shindig is planned to last- hopefully it will be over by Friday for his sake.

Sunday, 3 January 2016


We attended the meeting house this afternoon for the first time in ages; we didn't make it during November or December despite good intentions. After a year or so meeting in a local church, we returned to the the little Unitarian chapel. It dates back to the 17th century and I much prefer it as a venue because it makes me feel a connection to the past and I just generally love its atmosphere.  Over the last few years, Christmas has had the effect of making me yearn more than ever for simplicity, I really am tired of all the emphasis on things. My resolution (one I've had for a while as I don't make resolutions at New Year) it is to downsize as much as I can this year in preparation for hopefully downsizing permanently in the future.
Possibly my favourite Christmas present was an original (1934) edition of Watkins' Last Expedition by Spencer Chapman. I've got a real thing about old books, one of my most treasured gifts from a class is a small 1903 copy of Measure for Measure which they all signed. My younger son this year bought me the above book and also an early Penguin edition of Jane Eyre.
I know Jane Eyre pretty well so thought I would give Watkins' Last Expedition a go and it is a truly fascinating read giving an account of a 1932 expedition in their boat, the Stella, to Angmagssalik  on the east coast of Greenland. Watkins had some funding from the Royal Geographical Society to do meteorological work. He was accompanied by ornithologist and photographer Freddie Spencer Chapman and two other men. Tragically, Watkins died in a kayaking accident fairly early in the expedition (hence Watkins' last expedition) and the book was written presumably both as an account of the trip and a tribute to him. It is full of details of journeys. sledging with dogs, hunting seals, the Eskimo way of life and some beautiful descriptions of the breathtaking scenery and power of the natural world. It reminds me a little of watching Frozen Planet and I didn't expect it to be quite so interesting.
A paragraph in the preface sums up the appeal, urging the reader to imagine a trip that would allow them to:
" know something of the life of that fantastic land, of its ascetic nakedness, of its strong weather, of its laughing people...To know more, throw away your job, your friends, your cares, beg a quarter of the money you will need and an eighth of the food you will eat, learn the language and go there not as a great white man to teach , but as an inferior to learn from these people something of their way of life,; how to get a living from their barren country, how  to share as they share, how to endure as they endure, to live for the day caring nothing for the morrow."

 There is something of the gospel and the zeal of a disciple in the approach taken here and I am sure you noticed some deliberate echoes of  Jesus's words, in particular in   the reference to caring nothing for the morrow.
Anyhow, whether you are embarking on momentous life changing events, or likely to follow the same old routine this year, I wish you well with all  your plans,hopes or priorities for 2016 and hope they bring you blessings and joy!