Sunday, 22 October 2017

Lament for the Liverpool FC Defence

Great is the mourning on the Walton Breck Road
A lament arises from Bootle.

The Liverpool Back 4 lies in ruins
The gegenpress is broken down.

The Heavy Metal football is rusted
and we are below Watford. Watford.

The centre backs miss their headers
and the goalie can't come for crosses.

Confused, he flaps at the ball
and wonders where it went.

And where are the heroes of old?
Who could clean the boots of Alan Hansen?

Who has the venom of Tommy Smith?
The fire of Emlyn Hughes?

The commitment of Carragher?
The intelligence of Hyypia?

The bigness of Big Ron Yeats
Even the comedy value of Djimi Traore?

Bereft, Coutinho dreams of Barcelona
Sturridge wonders if that was a twinge he felt in his ankle.

Can longs for his free transfer
But he'll be lucky if Bungay Town would have him at this rate.

In vain we wait for the circling year
to bring round another transfer window.

Let these defensive clowns be gone
and let others take their place.

I mean.
Watford.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Friday, 20 October 2017

Church of England Definitions : Faculty

Faculty (noun, intransigent)

1. The ability to do something.
2. A way of discovering all the different things that will combine to stop you doing something.
3. An application to do something to Victorian architecture that the Victorians would not have hesitated to do to the architecture of previous generations, only more drastic.
4. A way to spend hours every month discussing something that isn't happening.

Completely rebuilt by the Victorians




Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

A Psalm for a Working Morning

The waves crashing down on the tormented rocks
Whilst humans gaze sadly at smartphones and clocks.
While nature is driven by sun, sea and moon
There's a five-hour workshop that's scheduled for noon.
The estuary floods, then the weary tide falls
Office workers are stranded in all-day conf calls.
But from night's dark embrace to the dawn's tender greeting
There's nothing so sweet as a late-cancelled meeting.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Thursday, 19 October 2017

An Atheist Born Every Minute

An old meme from Richard Dawkins goes round the block again thanks to Linda Beale, a comedian who seems to think atheism is still cutting-edge.
Now, I guess fundamentally I just can't see how a newborn can be an atheist. To me being an atheist requires a decision that there is no god or gods - at least an intellectual assent. A newborn baby is just a baby. If being at the default setting (ie with absolutely no opinion on the existence of god(s) is the right one, here's a few other things babies don't do:


  • Understand the philosophy of science
  • Know where Tarporley is
  • Drive cars
  • Ride bikes
  • Operate smart phones
  • Understand the metanarrative of "The Woodlanders" by Thomas Hardy
  • Write haikus
  • Get comedy
  • Use Powerpoint to create memes
  • Read Twitter
  • DIY
  • Care for pets
  • Speak Dutch - or even, let's be honest, whatever their native language is scheduled to be
  • Be smug


No, all these things have to be taught and / or learnt by experience. The only thing babies can do are drink milk, excrete and accept love. Along the way babies, as they grow into adults or comedians, will learn the power to discern, to pick up or reject ideas, to know the difference between an edgy tweet and a 3-year-old idea that was never right in the first place. They will pick up nationalities, their local culture and - hopefully - the cultures of the world. They will learn about their context in the world. They may or may not grow up in a religion, and they may or may not decide to reject it, or indeed embrace one. They may grow up in liberal families or conservative ones - and again they can choose to accept or reject. They may grow up with parents that like Elvis Presley, Russ Abbott's Comedy Madhouse or W1A - and again, they can rebel or not.

In short, babies have got a lot of learning, growing and changing to do. Don't go thinking their default setting is the right one. Babies are useless.

There's a better response to Dawkin's original comments here from Andrew Brown. Don't go "below the line." They're not very edifying.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Coming to Their Census

As the great "who plays which role in the Nativity Play" crisis draws closer, at least little Celestine is making it easier.

I mean, I'll have to write another scene. But compared to having another wannabe  Mary? Especially when the Druid's grandkid getting that gig is always gonna be controversial.

Anyway. Celestine wants to be the one in overall charge, who gets the key characters to Bethlehem.

No, not God. Augustus Caesar.

I'm very proud.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Church of Not Thinking Too Hard

Yeah, it was a strange part of my early development. I spent a year in quite a fundamentalist church.

They regarded most modern learning with suspicion. You had to be able to read 17th Century English, of course, so you could read the Bible. But science was seen as deeply suspect. Mathematics was encouraged as how else could you calculate the end of the world? But you could forget anything approaching geology or human biology.

Greek and Hebrew were regarded as unnecessary, as the Bible had already been translated perfectly. And Modern Languages were generally held to be deeply suspect, as doubting the power of God as revealed at Pentecost.

And in fact it was the languages stuff that caused me all the trouble. It was a great internal struggle. I knew I would get disfellowshipped. I liked many of the people, and knew I would have to leave them. But, you know, in the end I knew I had to be true to myself, however horrified they would all be.

So I did it. I came out as bilingual.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Monday, 16 October 2017

Shut Your North and South (or - My Kingdom for a Norse)

In the category of "Exciting News Only a Guardian Reporter Wouldn't Know is Old News..."

A historian has discovered that the divide between North and South may go all the way back to Viking days.

Let's have a think.

"Husborne Crawley."  Anglo-Saxon from start to finish.

"Derby". Danish.

Blimey. It works.

If only everybody else in the whole of history hadn't known about this before, it would be absolutely amazing. Except, in the broad sense, we all did.

Watford Gap, by the way, the place that he claims has a historical role going all the way back. totally fails as a place that divides the two.

"Watford", the village after which the Gap is named - is Anglian.

To the West are Kilsby, Barby,  Willoughby, Ashby - all Norse. Should be Saxon, according to this theory. Even Rugby is south-west of the Watling Street, for pity's sake.

To the East - sure, there's Long Buckby. But also the Haddons (Anglian), Winwick (Anglian), and - to the North East where they should definitely be all-Viking - the fantastically-named Yelvertoft. Anglian "Yelver", Norse "toft".

Proving that (a) life is always more complex than simple rules and (b) there are no measures historians won't go to, to get a grant.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Of Sexuality and Surgery

Burton Dasset over-excited about the news that doctors will be asking patients about their sexuality.

Spent his whole time in the appointment giving the (female) doctor details of his sexuality. Including the disturbing degree to which she features in his mostly-imaginary sex life.

Apparently she was quite surprised, took a few notes. Said thanks but it was really only going to be for statistical purposes.

Unfortunately he ran out of time. So he'll have to get his ingrowing toenail looked at another day.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Flu and Flights of Fancy

I'm going to give you a warning. The link here goes to a Daily Mail article by Katie Hopkins.

You probably don't want to follow it, but it's right I source it.

To save you the trouble of reading it - it's Katie Hopkins telling us she won't allow her child to receive the flu vaccine because he's "fit and healthy." The article is a fine example of the power of anecdote over data.

Up to the 1918/9 Spanish Flu pandemic, influenza outbreaks followed the "U shape" of many diseases, where the very young and very old were most likely to die. Spanish Flu was different. It killed young, healthy adults. People drowned as their own lungs filled with blood.

Being young and healthy, given the wrong flu strain, is no protection. If the immune system of a young, healthy person turns against their own body it can be catastrophic.

I'm not saying this year's flu will be catastrophic. The Australian outbreak has probably told us roughly what it will be like. It's much like last year's but worse. But kids are abnormally good spreaders of disease, and the wrong rogue mutation could spread like wildfire.

I won't tell you what to do about flu vaccination - it's terribly complex. But I can tell you this - don't listen to Daily Mail controversialists who have to delete large numbers of tweets because they don't think very well.

They're not a very good example.




Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas