Thursday, 25 February 2016



I haven't blogged for ages and feel I should start up again, so a brief resume of what has happened for the last 15 months or so. At the beginning of 2015 I got an illness that I was unable to shake off I lost getting on for two stone. It turned out to be (apparently) nothing much although it didn't seem like it at the time. The week before I returned to work, Debbie and I went away for a week which I have not done for the last 40 odd years. The chance to reflect and seek God whilst gently relaxing was pretty life changing. 2015 was overshadowed by the unexpected death of Jonathan Wren in July and getting accustomed to life without him trying to support the grieving family. I upped my running mileage around that time but my hopes of keeping up 10 miles a week regularly did not come to fruition.

On 28th December I bought a banjo having an inspiration more or less out of nowhere to start learning it, thinking some of my guitar playing skills would transfer. Maybe they do, but two months in and it's a steep learning curve, I have drastically reduced my reading and practice up to an hour a day, more if I have the time. It's a slow process. If I can work out how to post videos on this blog I will map my progress.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Wealth Money and all that Jazz,

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning one of our Pastors spoke about giving. I enjoyed it, (the communication was very good). The whole area of wealth is a bit of a minefield and I thought the brother who spoke very wisely avoided making comments about riches and rich people. Funny though how we always look at things according to our own viewpoint (and that must be the only way we can look at them) some in the meeting had a different viewpoint than me and interpreted the message differently. Rather than criticising those people I should first take a walk in their shoes.

I have never had any money to speak of but I have never been in poverty. My parents were poor but very generous. They taught me that money and posessions are to be held lightly. As a result of my upbringing and my choices as an adult I see money as a means to an end. I never wanted to be rich. I remember how I left my first job (in a Bank, no less). I was called for some kind of reveiw at head office. I hadn't started doing my Bankers diploma. The reason for this was basically that I was still a kid at seventeen, afraid of everyone and everybody and the thought of study after a dozen perplexing years at school didn't do it for me. I didn't know how to learn and wonder how I ever got any O levels. The Bank wanted people who wanted to advance. I told the person (or it may have been a couple of people) that I wasn't really interested in money and they suggested I resign, which I did.

At the age of 23 I moved into common purse community. Our vision was relative poverty so we got by. I have sometimes gone weeks without spending any money. I have never lacked, have never had to wonder where the next meal was coming from.

There are positive and negative spin offs from this lifestyle. I perhaps, freed from the responsibility of making ends meet taken a lot longer to grow up than I would otherwise have done, on the other hand I have learned to hold loosely the things that I can't carry with me into eternity of which money is one. I want to emulate my parents. They gave generously and in turn they received bountifully.

I have no Bank account and as far as I can only spend what I need to. What then do I think of riches? Jesus says make friends for yourself with money and he also says that if we do not act honourably with money who will give us the true riches. It also says that God will provide all my need according to his riches in Christ Jesus. I am happy with that. My antecedents have established my viewpoint.

What of another person with a different history? How can I walk in their shoes? Maybe they grew up in poverty desperate just to have enough. To escape poverty and live free from the gnawing anxieties generated by lack has driven them to seek financila stability and abundance. Should I label them as a heretic, someone who embraces prosperity teaching and therefore have nothing to do with them or should I try to understand? There is such a problem when we make it our life's work to attack what other people are doing, to label everyone who does not accord perfectly with how we do things as somehow under God's judgement. No. We may of course be unable to agree, we may not find ourselves able to inhabit the same space churchwise because of our differences. We have got to look for agreement, what can we encourage in each other; what can we DO together to establish God's kingdom on earth?

From that sermon a couple of Sundays ago I remember one main thing: What we give financially to the work of the Church has to be what we have decided in our own hearts.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Willow Tree

The Willow Tree stands by the water, not the tallest, never stronger -
Than mighty pines and oaks that grow taller and live longer
Yet flexible her branches, her swaying limbs as the wind blows
-That stormy destroying wind which picks up larger trees and downward throws-
Is cut into a thousand pieces by the whipping branches and reduced to a whispered hiss
By the little leaves resistless motion. The storm is stilled by this.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

I've been there

I've let the side down
Gone against the tide - down
From where I had their trust
To grovelling in the dust
From Alpha to Anathema
From healthy to a carrier
Of disease and I have been
In solitary quarantine.
I've been there.

I've been on the other side
In me the others can't confide
'Cause I'm not Kosha anymore
And I must wait outside the door
Until my penance is complete
And I can stand upon my feet
I have betrayed those that I serve
And I have got what I deserve.
I've been there.

And there I found him
Smeared with other people's sin
And mine - I know he saw, he knew
The pain that I'd been going through
Did what I'd done even evince
From his bruised soul an extra wince?
I'd nailed him up, joined in the kill
But I knew, slowly, dawningly,
He loved me still.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Composed whilst helping in Bridge drop in 16/7/14

                                                    Better than nothing

 I live somewhere, it's not home
It's just somewhere to be
I suppose I should be grateful
I'm not on the streets
It isn't special
But it's better than nothing.

I go to a place in the mornings
And eat beans on toast
Bread from Sainsbury's
That they couldn't sell
It's not my choice
But it's better than nothing.

They give me clothes
I can get a shower
Use the phone, talk to people
They aren't my friends
Just other people who go there
But it's better than nothing

I'm on Benefits JSA
I've been inside
I won't get a job
But I pretend to look
So I won't get my money stopped
The money is a joke
But it's better than nothing.

I've got a kid, don't see him
His mum's a bitch
We split up
I've got a new partner, she's a pain
I don't love her
But it's better than nothing.

I drink a bit, but don't take drugs
I'm not a junkie
I'm better than that
I drink this cider
It's never seen the inside of an apple
But it's better than nothing.

I'm not happy
But I like the footy, I used to play
But it didn't work out
I didn't fit in
I only watch it on T.V. now.
But it's better than nothing.

Why do I keep going?
Something won't let me stop
I duck and dive
Watch my back
I wouldn't call it life
But it's better than nothing

I'm not special, noone cares
My Dad left, my Mum died
I don't see my family
They don't like me
I have acquaintances, not friends
But it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The eroding of the dream

It's getting on for a year since I blogged anything. Not without event but without comment. The most significant happening in the year was the death of my Mum on 12th April. Everything seems more looseley attached since then and I marvel that anything ever carried an air of permanence. Existence has changed from an endless land fading into an unseen horizon light years away to a fast burning fuse crackling towards the inevitable bomb.

At Mum's funeral I was told by my cousin that my favourite home of my childhood had been bulldosed to make way for 3 luxury houses which together would cost 1000 times more than what my parents paid for the house in 1959. The old house is still on google earth....for now.

In 2001 when Debbie and I were on honeymoon I photograped her in front of a massive cedar tree at Watersmeet. last week we visited the same place, but, no tree; in its place a circular wall with a lid covering the stump.

With the passing of the years, more and more things seem to drift from the essential to the futile. Those things which seemed urgent and vital the causes we embraced, the vision we carried seem more like a frantic grasp at something which is moving away from us at ever-increasing speed.

I can understand the hermits going off into the desert away from the decay, where time and effort can be put into the seeking of the imperishable and unchanging, although I believe it can be sought anywhere; it's not the geographical location which is important rather the absence of distractions. Hearing the love song is easier when someone isn't operating a road drill 30 yards away but the song is there for those who manage to filter out the racket.

In an antique shop recently there were some coal shovels similar to the ones we used at home when I was growing up. Junk really but ridiculously expensive as they were old. Today's stuff is tomorrows antiques. My smartphone in the british museum with onlookers chortling at how primitive it is.

What is to be done? Still restless, still dissattisfied still hungry. That doesn't go away. I am a hermit in babylon seeking to find out how to drown out the noise, to turn from the glitter, link with the eternal. To see it in colour rather than black and white.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Where to draw the line

Starting to regularly pray for people raises an interesting problem.  I know a lot of people. The other day in the car I decided to pray for my relations which is not something I have really done before,  but how far do you go? I got to about 30 people and still I could have brought more to mind.  Where do I stop?

This is what I have concluded:  Apart from one or two people I have never prayed regularly for others (shameful but true), now I am holding quite a few people before God.  The transition from almost nothing to where I am now is a great improvement.  If I can maintain that it's got to be good. I must trust God to fill in the gaps (and with several billion people in the world there are a lot of gaps!) and remember that it isn't all down to me.