Saturday, 29 August 2015

Her name is Susan

If I have any kind of thought out pattern or ambition for these posts, it is just to write stuff that makes us all feel a bit better. We all have plenty to deal with and my personal opinion is that, as far as God is concerned, we are all probably doing a lot better than we think. Sometimes though, I just have to rant or cry or share things with you and then you can take or leave these as you see fit. 
Whatever your personal politics, you have to be horrified by the things that we are seeing happening in the Mediterranean as women fight to keep their babies heads above water. Or the terrible stories of murder and mayhem on streets which people used to walk down every day just to shop and to carry on with life. Even this week we have all probably imagined the horror of over 70 people fighting in vain for life in the back of a sealed lorry, watching as their loved ones succumbed to suffocation.

Yet sometimes something lodges itself in your head above and beyond all else. It's not a graphic photograph - not compared to some of the stuff that is out there at the moment. The origin of this photo is uncertain; wiser people than me think this lady and child may be Christians holding their names up to be sold as slaves or possibly to be exchanged for a ransom from their family. (SOLD AS SLAVES - this disgusting phrase - in this century!) The thing that struck me hardest was that the paper has her name on it and the translation of her name is Susan. It's such a normal, ordinary name. It was a very popular name when I was young. I know lots of Susans. She's just a lady - with a child and I cannot get the look of hopelessness and resignation on her face out of my head. She could be me. She has had her life snatched away in the midst of unfathomable wickedness and she is just a mum, like me or maybe like you. She is a person, not a statistic and she puts me to shame.

I am ashamed of my government for confusing the words refugee and migrant so that desperate people, who are running to save their families' lives are portrayed as people coming here because it might be easier to get a council house. I am ashamed because this government agreed to take a certain amount of refugees and seems to now be reneging in that agreement because it wasn't playing well at the General Election.

I am ashamed that this subject isn't front-row-centre of the Christian church's agenda at the moment. If they cannot expect help and mobilisation from us, then where are they going to get it? I am ashamed because my response is falling so short of what God requires. I don't think anyone should think for one moment this whole thing is about religion. It's about what most things are about - the powerful and strong taking advantage of the weak and the weak minded to increase their power base. It has no connection to any kind of faith. 

It is overwhelming. What are we supposed to do? A few suggestions.

  • Pray. Pray for refugees as they are - people - individuals, men women and children. Pray for a solution.
  • Talk the talk. Try and stand up for what is right. I am not talking about hiring a megaphone and standing on a plinth in the market square. But, if I had a fiver for every time I have heard someone say - "Well - with the best will in the world we can't take everybody" No-one is asking anyone to take everybody. These people are not getting into dinghies because they have heard that our National Health Service is a hum-dinger. They are coming because people are being killed in the streets. We should maybe just try, gently to point out that you can't believe everything you read in the papers.
  • Think about parting with some dosh. People are out there helping at the pointy end - they could do with some support. I don't suppose any of it will help much but as I see Susan's child cling to her for dear life - I just think we have to do something.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Well this looks good

Well this looks like good news. Dad's Army trailer is here. Great cast. (Step forward Michael Gambon). All very promising. Have not been so pleased to see a film trailer in a long time.

Except for Star Wars of course.

I should have thought that was obvious.

Completely obvious - it's Star Wars.

Are you on drugs? It's Star Wars and Han Solo is back. How could anything possibly be better than that?

Sunday, 23 August 2015


Firstly, to address the elephant in the room. (Although why he would be interested in anything I had to say.....) The blogging or lack of. Nothing much to say really. I have just had two weeks annual leave. In three weeks our kids leave us to go to university. One to do his Masters back in York and the other to start university in Exeter. I decided (in a gradual way - I didn't make a speech or anything) not to blog. We were going to chill and spend time together as a family. We did very little - just spent the time. I'm glad I did it. I would do it again. So there you are. 

I was back at work last week which seemed to take me by surprise as usual. I have no idea why. The date is in my diary and it tends to be a Monday when I go back - especially if I had finished on a Friday. Anyway, library books were due back. It's a total pain paying fines but I have no-one to blame but myself. I tried to renew online but some sneaky person had put an order in for the Mary Berry book that I am borrowing. So on Friday I found myself dragging back to the library in the pouring rain muttering to myself that I was not going to take anything out this time - I have lots to read at home at the moment as well as stuff on the Kindle and all that. No need for any more on the pile - just no need. 
Twenty  minutes later I am in the queue to go to the little machine to check out four books and I realise that they are all about downsizing and clearing out clutter. Some may say that I had been divinely led but I think it was more likely that I was rushing to get back to buy some wine that I had promised someone for a garden party and was only able to look down one aisle.  

Bea Johnson's book is the first one that I read. I did it in about three sittings. (two and a half probably)  This book is full of things that I will probably never do. I cannot see me ever making my own mascara. Unless there is some kind of apocalypse and we are all living in the woods, I think it unlikely that I will go to Morrison's Fish Counter and ask them to put two salmon fillets in a glass jar that I have bought expressly for that purpose.(Apparently they are not very keen on doing this in supermarkets because it is a Health and Safety nightmare but if you are truculent enough they give in eventually) I also cannot see the day coming anytime soon when I am wiping my behind with my hand to cut down on toilet paper use. (To be fair, it was a very short lived  experiment in her house as well)

But...there is lots here to challenge you. Some stuff is dead easy. I have already cleared out my Inbox and unsubscribed myself away from lots of people that I have given my email address to. We were already using a bowl to collect water when we shower so I was quite smug about that. (Actually I think the only reason the family let me do that was on condition that I told NOBODY - oh well, never mind) There is lots of stuff about clothes and possessions generally. I have cleaned out my hang around the house T Shirts because supposedly no one needs 38 T Shirts. (They have sentimental value actually) I have been brutal and whittled them down to about 30. I am feeling very cleansed actually. I am off to order copious amounts of baking soda to whoosh out my drains - or something. 


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cue Zither Music

Plymouth Herald
Out at something a bit different last night. Our local arts centre had arranged a viewing of The Third Man at Plymouth's Council Chamber. The idea was (I think) to show a film about post war secrecy and confusion, in a setting where secrecy and behind the scenes chicanery still exist. I'm not sure about this myself because you can actually watch the Plymouth City Council in session over the old Interweb should you not have a life (not what you would describe as shot through with tension - sorry) and they do run tours to the building as well. However, the setting was a huge success - all teak walls and spooky shadows. 
There also plans to show "The Life Aquatic" with the screen on the massive fish tank in the National Marine Aquarium, Fight Club at the Royal William Yard and lots of other stuff. FOW 2 is a bit worried. She helps out at the Arts Centre and on learning that the lady who introduced our film was in full 1940s fancy dress, was concerned to see that she appears to have her name down to do some ushering for The Rocky Horror Show. "I am NOT dressing up is suspenders for anyone" and also Raiders of the Lost Ark which will be shown at the Tamar Trail "Nobody should think for a minute that I am getting on one of those zip-wire things" 
"ThirdManUSPoster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - 

It's a long time since I have seen the Third Man, with its genius script and atmospheric shots and the very hot Orson Welles. It's just one of the best films ever made. That is all.
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