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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"Spaceman came travelling" - a theological reflection

Let's face it. It is, to all intents and purposes, Xmas. Around us the Herald Angels sing, from Argos to Zanussi.  And it is traditional in the Beaker community, at this time of year, to play that great classic from the Much-Eyebrowed One, Spaceman came travelling.


But we are deeply theological people, and it would be wrong to leave a work this deep unexplored. In merely listening to the song over the Public Address System at Body Shop or, as it might be, Debenhams, one merely absorbs a measured dose of Xmas cheeriness. But this is a song that deserves deeper investigation.

Let us take the first line and title. A spaceman came travelling. Note the assumed masculine superiority. We have no evidence, for obvious reasons, that alien life will split into two neat genders as most of humanity does. Little green people (I adopt the term despite its obvious chromist and anthropomorphic implcations) could reproduce by mitosis, by budding or - if they stayed in the same place on their alien soil for long enough - by the dispatch of rhizomes. They could have two genders, but it could be the Little Green Women that go to work, fly space-ships and fight off Space-wolves, while the Little Green Men stay at home and watch J3r3my Kyl3. Or there could be three genders, with all the inter-relational complexities that would involve. After all, just imagine if an alien of the "Male" gender fancied the podules off a member of the "Female" gender, but she had the hots for a member of the "Neuter" gender who didn't like the Male at all. No wonder on the earth a limit of two seems to be optimal.
So much for the title.

The second line has a reference to "light years of time" during which said spaceperson travelled. Well, I didn't need Burton Dasset to point out to me the apparent flaw with this. A Light Year is a measure of distance, not of time. But I would not use this line to have a cheap gybe at the scientific illiteracy of the man with the biggest eyebrows and creepiest smile till his cousin Richard Dawkins appeared on the scene. No. Clearly Mr de Burgh is playing with the concept of Relativity. Is it a distance, is it a period of time? Who knows. Maybe for the quantum space person of indeterminate colour, he can roam the vastness of time while he inches ever further forward - and can never go backwards - along the dimension of depth.

We then move on to the line in which the alien (or, as I should say, "welcome visitor") has "the face of an angel" and talks to a mother and child. Clearly we are to think of a certain mother and child, and a story involving angels. But of course that story never had an angel addressing the mother and child together. Go and check it. I'm pretty sure I'm right. So maybe this spaceperson has actually gone to a mother and child in a completely different village - maybe even in a different country, in a different time, on a different planet or even in a different universe. It's deliberately left unclear. In his ability to combine apparent profundity with deep vagueness, Chris de Burgh aspires even to the Beaker. He could almost rival certain bishops.

And look at the craft in the songwriting. On a superficial listening we would think this is just another shallow festive record such as "Walking in the Air" - albeit that has terrifying Pelagian overtones when you think about it. Listen to it more carefully and you might think it fetches its theology from Erich von Däniken, a "God was a spaceman who came travelling" kind of theme. But of course it's not the baby with its mum - whoever they are meant to be - that is the spaceperson. It's the visitor him/her/it/er-self. Again, achieving what one might call a level of mythic auto-deception.

We now move on to what might be called the promise of an Alien Parousia - "When two thousand years of your time has gone by,This song will begin once again, to a baby's cry..."
Now, I've thought long and hard about this. Clearly one would think this messianic. There is the promise of a return. But what is de Burgh saying? That somehow, in his own era, the promise that was first seen in what one presumes is meant to be 1st Century Palestine is fulfilled? That's one heck of a forecast.

But I think it's easy to read this in too portentous a way. Maybe the message is this - that 2,000 years after the alien made its first visit to earth, a song would arise that would make a baby cry.

And I think it's pretty plain, when we read the text in this way, that the song thus prophesied is "Lady in Red".

This becomes clearer when we hear the line "There are thousands standing on the edge of the world." What could those thousands possibly be doing? My contention is that they are waiting to jump off the edge into the void of outer space, if they ever hear Lady in Red again.

So I hope this has helped. And that next time you hear "Spaceman came travelling" playing in a supermarket in the five or six months running up to Christmas, you won't just ignore it as a festive song from the 1970s. And instead treat it as the sinister thing it really is.

Thawing out of Beakers

Thawing out of Beakers will take place in the Moot House between 9am and 12 noon. Please bring a stick each to put on the fire. The Eternal Flame's gone out again.

Monday, 29 November 2010

In memoriam - Leslie Nielsen 1926-2010

Although the great Leslie Nielsen has left the departure lounge,  Dr Rumack and Lt Frank Drebin are with us always. So we were glad to welcome them to join us today for our commemoration.


Introit: the Beaker People arrive by driving up to the Moot House too fast and crashing their cars into fire hydrants and dustbins.


Archdruid: Having heard the sad news we're holding this memorial.


All: A memorial? What is it?

Dr Rumack: It's a service for remembering dead people, but that's not important right now.

Liturgy of loss

Burton: A parachute not opening... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine... having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go!


Drebin: It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.


All: Goodyear?


Drebin: No, the worst.

Confession

Archdruid: Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?

Drebin: It's hard to tell. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover...

Drebin clears his belongings prior to departing to the next life.


Drebin:Hey! The missing evidence in the Kelner case! My God, he really was innocent!


All: He went to the chair 24 years ago, Frank.

READING


Drayton Parslow: And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

Dr Rumack: Yes, the Lord was in that place. And don't call me Shirley.

At this point, Kylie, or, as it may be, Kayleigh may carry a fine specimen of the North American mammal Castor Canadensis into the Moot House.


Drebin: Nice....

Archdruid:.. Don't. Just don't.


Archdruid: I flew single engine fighters in the Air Force, but this plane has four engines. It's an entirely different kind of flying altogether.


All: It's an entirely different kind of flying.

Valediction

Archdruid: Leslie, I just want to tell you good luck. We're all counting on you.

Blessing

Drebin:It's a topsy-turvy world, and maybe the problems of a few people don't amount to a hill of beans. But this is our hill. And these are our beans!


-Today's Supper - Lasagne -

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A demographic and ecclesiastical study of an English village

Advent Sunday and Dualism

I love Advent. And what a fantastic Advent Party we have planned for this afternoon. Our favourite Fancy Dress theme - "come as your favourite womble". I'm planning to be that little-known  female womble with the more famous husband, Orinoco Flo.

Dualism is one of the things we set ourselves against when we formed the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley - inasmuch as we assumed any actual doctrines at all. Why, we asked, divide up the way we are in religion, from the way we are in real life? At this time of year, there's bling breaking out all over, the first Christmas meals are being planned, and the TV channels are already starting to show Christmas-related programmes. I leave aside the honourable exception of UK Gold, which is as capable of showing a Last of the Summer Wine Christmas special in July as at any other time of the year. And yet churches go into a kind of expectant mourning. Purple vestments, purple drapings, purple on the lectern, it's all a feast of purple, while the worshippers think of Death, Judgement and The Last Things. In these circumstances, where you can be expecting the Fall of Babylon one minute and tucking into a mince pie the next, cognitive dissonance is bound to ensue.

So we say, there may be trouble ahead. It may be -6C in the shade. The snow is falling, snow on snow (although just a few flakes so far, to be honest). So let's face the music and dance. Others may sneer at our Advent Jellies, Advent Champagne and Advent Cakes. Not to mention the mince pies, which will start to be eaten today and cease round about Christmas Eve - when we will switch, as night fades into day, to Hot Cross Buns and Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Yes, they may sneer. But at least we are true to ourselves. We look at the dark and say "stuff it, we're lighting the Giant Snowman". We put on our lemon-yellow hi-viz, switch on the Ultra Violet disco lights, let the strobe light up the dawn, and defy the darkness to do its worst. And through it all, we are true to ourselves.

So Happy Advent. We'll have one for you. Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999. And we're gonna do it because we have integrity.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Bling

That's a fantastic display of bling we've got up now. The reindeer look superb, the penguins are dancing, the icicles are dangling and the illuminated wind chimes are binging out an Amin6 chord, leaving the rabbits in the Orchard ever so slightly on edge the whole time as they wait for it to resolve.

There are some that say we've put it all up a little early. But I say yah phooey.

It's cold. It's dark. And we've got one bunch of politicians telling us how harsh the cuts will be because it makes them look hard, and in four years time they can say they got us through it. And the other bunch of politicians telling us how harsh the cuts will be to show us how nice they are, and nasty the other lot are. And if politicians or churchpeople or anybody else says anything about anything, a bunch of joyless jobsworths analyse every word to see who they can find that they can claim might have been offended.

So I say let port-soaked Tories say stupid stuff. That's what they're there for. Let Socialists wear duffel coats and wave the red flag and hate the rich. That's what they're meant to be for. Let's let a thousand tea lights blaze and a million blue LEDs flare into the cloudless frozen skies. Let's bling in the new.

But can we leave that giant illuminated Snowman till tomorrow? If we light it early we're missing the whole point of Advent.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Ammonites Receive their Just Rewards

And so the BBC once again push their brand of equal-species-rights, blind disregard for Biblical historicity and Dawkinsism.

I refer of course to the article, originally printed in the godless Geological Journal - and what could be more profane than a magazine named after the goddess Gaia? - in which the BBC claims that Ammonites in Lyme Regis were eaten by squid. The first issue I - and when I say "I", I mean "I, based on godly and infallible revelation" - have with this is one of  dating. For the BBC claims this happened at the end of "the Cretaceous Period" - which is supposed to have been 65 million years ago. Clearly earlier than the beginning of time, in 4004BC - and even earlier than the birth date of the oldest residents of Lyme Regis.

Secondly, it is in direct contradiction of the Word of the Lord. For behold, in Judges 11 - Jephthah fought against the Ammon, and smote them quite severely.  And - and I quote - "The Ammonites were crushed by the people of Israel". What more do you need to hear? No squids were required.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thanksgiving

First of all, I'd like to thank Bernie for serving up such a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner for us. As a community we are happy to embrace people of all cultures and none. And who would have thought we had so much pumpkin left over from Halloween?.

And normally on this day we give thanks for all the people without a sense of irony having left these shores in the 17th century.

But this year, our thanksgiving was constrained by the evidence from a number of directions that Good King Charles's Dad, the Martyr, didn't scare them all off.

So today we remembered all the people with no sense of humour that still populate this green and pleasant land. And we started to build a little boat that we like to call "Mayflower II". I'm sure you can all think of someone you'd like to put in it.

And in these humourless times, I would like to make it quite clear that if you're an American, we're not necessarily saying you're all without a sense of irony. While reflecting that, if you're the kind of American that has a sense of irony, you'll know that already.

Enough already. I'm off to go through Harriet Harman's Little Book of Terms you Shouldn't Use. I notice that "ginger" isn't in there, though. Who would have thought?


And to say a little prayer that, when Sarah Palin becomes president, somebody else is actually looking after the missiles.



Sarah Palin available through Wikimedia Commons - t toes.

The Student Demos

People may have misunderstood yesterday.

I know that I said "Those students protesting about the fees! Takes me back to the old days when I went on Anti-Apartheid rallies! I remember that day when we covered the Barclays on the North Bank with Anti-Apartheid stickers! Do you remember how Neil Kinnock stood up at Trafalgar Square to speak so we all left before we got bored? Makes me feel young again!"

But that was before I realised that the people who rather unwisely enrolled on our "Entrails Studies, Tea Light Thermodynamics and Surfing" BSc were occupying the Moot House. In the circumstances I had no choice but to over-ride the fire safety equipment and drench them with water, washing up liquid and helium. Nobody looks so threatening when they look and sound like Donald Duck after a good bubble bath.

So I apologise for the confusion. And I apologise in advance for calling them a work-shy bunch of sweaty slackers who would be more profitably occupied in working in a burger shop, which is what the useless degrees we teach will qualify them for anyway. And I apologise for any offence to people who work in burger shops, who do a really valuable job, and have to deal with very shirty customers sometimes, and without whom I would occasionally go hungry.  And I apologise, of course, for offending the shirty customers of burger shops, who have frequently had very hard days themselves, and one of whom is occasionally myself. Not that I am condoning people being shirty in burger shops. And I apologise to people who are unable to get roles in burger shops. After the experience of various people over the last couple of weeks, it strikes me you may as well apologise first and save time later.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Lib Dem's lost Majority examined

Thanks for all those that emailed in asking if I had thawed out yet. The Archdruid said they had flooded in. Although admittedly she had that "in quote marks" look when she said it.
Anyway, while recovering from yesterday's near-hypothermia, I've been watching BBC 24 and listening - if that is the right word - to Twitter. And I've been doing some calculations.

I've assumed - and surely this is a reasonable assumption - that people tweeting or saying in interviews that they've been betrayed by Nick Clegg, or who  are otherwise angry with the Liberal Democrats - must be people who voted from them in the General Election.

And then I've made a certain allowance for bias in Twitter for clergy in the Church of England - who tend to be Liberal Democratic, possibly because they're used to making fantastic promises for the future without any real danger that anyone will listen to them. And aware that the current political situation is for a Lib Dem vicar akin to the Kingdom of God suddenly arriving on a Sunday morning in Advent, when you've just spent the last ten minutes of the sermon explaining that the Parousia isn't going to be a literal event.
And then I've extrapolated across the country.

My conclusion then, based on these assumptions, is that at the General Election, the Liberal Democrats won a  resounding majority.

And now I have a conundrum. Either there was widespread electoral fraud at the last election, on a scale
unknown outside certain banana republics. Or a lot of people are claiming to be angry with Nick Clegg, with no right to be  because they didn't vote for his party.

I don't like situations like this. They're hard to resolve, requiring an understanding of human nature that I have no right to claim. So I think I'll go and add up an asset register. That always soothes my mind.

A celebration of Gillian McKeith

8am - Vegan breakfast (tasteless)

9 am - Screaming

10 am - Revelation that we all have phobophobia is phollowed by pantophobia and general screaming

12 noon - Fainting

1 pm - Vegan lunch (pointless)

2pm - Awarding of doctorates

3pm Ritual of centering (it's all about "me")

4pm - Not waving but drowning

8pm - Invertebrate dinner (spineless) followed by cowardy custard

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Burton is recovered

Thank goodness, we've got Burton Dasset back.
When an accountant goes missing like that you start to worry. They could be almost anywhere - adding up columns of numbers on discarded supermarket receipts, decoding the check-digits in EAN-13 barcodes - their interest in controlling the world through the power of numbers is unlimited.
But on this occasion we've recovered Burton from Ridgmont station. We should have thought of looking there first, of course.
Initially I thought he'd made the old mistake of trying to collect engine numbers. He's done that before, you know. Stood there for hours and forgotten the limited variety of numbers available on the Marston Vale line. But on this occasion he'd spent all day correlating the timetable to make sure the timings between stations were consistent.

Anyway, we've got him back now  but he's a bit blue from the cold.  I suggested it was British Rail blue, but Burton says it's more like a GER livery.

St George's Day

I note that it is St George's Day in Georgia. Not in Georgia, US - but Georgia, Georgia. Lovely Georgia. No peace can I find. Just an old sweet song keeps lovely Georgia on my mind. Sorry, straying there again. No, the Georgians celebrate St George's day on 23 November - a full 6 months after everybody else.
I don't understand why they do it, and I'm not going to deny their right to hold St George's Day any day they want. We all have free will.  Or, at least, I'm made to think we do. But until they start celebrating St George's Day on St George's Day,  and not on St George's Day, as far as I'm concerned they're six months out.
Happy St George's Day.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Festival of Maggie's Downfall

It's been twenty years since that dies mirabilis when we found out that Margaret Thatcher had resigned.  Who can forget where they were that glorious moment when they found out? Apart from those who went straight down the pub to celebrate, obviously.  Twenty glorious years, in which we have seen the boring technocrat Major, the  warmonger Blair, the bad-tempered and incompetent Brown and now some bloke called Dave. So in normal circumstances, we'd be celebrating. But in a weird kind of way, I'm feeling quite nostalgic.

Dress code: Stab-proof vests and dark suits

Archdruid: Maggie! Maggie! Maggie!

All: Didn't we do this a while back?


The liturgy of the Miners' Strike


Archdruid: Vanity, vanity, all is vanity


All: Especially if you're a bloke called Scargill with a hair cut like a shredded wheat.


Archdruid: The irresistible doctrine met the immovable vanity. In a power struggle that wrecked communities and lives.

All: But in the end just one remained.


Archdruid: Just the doctrine. No vanity. No conflict. No power. None of Scargill's hair.

All: No coal mines.


Archdruid: Let us give thanks for the Service Industries [bows head]


All: Oh no! Here comes Tarzan!

Drayton Parslow swings in on a jungly tendril and tries to push the Archdruid off her Box of Leading. But a boring finance man (Burton Dasset) pushes him into the Brook.

Archdruid: et tu, Drayton. Take him away to the Doily Mines.

All: We can't. You've closed them.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A bunch of strange stuff

The full moon this evening, behind a rapidly-moving wave of cloud blowing in from the North-West. Strange.

The smell of tomato soup, taking you back to when you were 7. Strange.

The NIV when you've never read a Bible before, containing mythology, history, holy biography and livid prophets in equal measure. Strange.

The sun setting on a western bay in Cornwall or Brittany, floating for a moment over the purple sea. Strange.

Quantum entanglement. How else could you describe it?

The baffled look of a cat. Strange.

The Rollright Stones on an October morning when the water in the puddles at the side of the road is freezing to ice. strange.

The sight of Lembit Opik in a cage. Kind of right.

The irrelevance of religion

At a loss where to start this afternoon. The Pope declares that condom-use is a slightly better option than a gay prostitute infecting a customer with HIV. Or at least that's what he said until we get the next correction/clarification.  The Bishop of Willesden declares that the Royal Family are scroungers whose marriages never last, and says something mildly rude about the late Saint Diana. And the Poet Laureate refuses to get off her bottom and write a poem about the engagement. At least Bishop Pete made the effort. Proof once again that in this supposedly secular world, religion's busy doing stuff while atheists like Ms Duffy no doubt sit at home writing scathingly witty remarks on whatever has replaced the Dawkins forum.

Meanwhile the Irish must be livid. They were all keen to be a go-ahead modern secular economic  powerhouse, and now it turns out they weren't much better at it than Iceland. But nobody cares because the Pope has said something about sex. You can't even fail properly these days when religion gets in the way.

You don't mess with the Wodewose Posse

What on earth was that ooser doing in the woods? Surely they're meant to live in Dorset? Or did the Archdruid accidentally bring one back from Wessex with her?
Anyway, they're not as bright as they might be. They may be scary with horned heads, but they don't have the sense not to attack other mythical creatures. Especially when I do have this rather substantial club. And that's ignoring the noble way the rabbits jumped up and bit him in the ankles.

So, he's headed off towards Ridgmont, so good luck to him and them. But one thing worries me.
You think about it: "wose", "ooser"... in an English language notorious for adding and subtracting the letter "w"  when it precedes an "o". You don't suppose he's a cousin, do you?

When post-modern religion requires sacrifices

I know. I invented this religion so there was one religion - just one - which is unambiguously about comfort, having a good time and feeling good about yourself. And you signed up and pay your tithes so that you could join a "happy" religion. But even a happy religion demands things from you occasionally.

So yes, I know it's dark.
Yes, I know it's cold.
And it is very early.
And it's foggy as well, so you can't actually see the sky.
And it's setting as well.
But it's still just turned full.

Now can all Beaker Folk please get outside. That moon's not going to howl at itself.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The atheist / believer niceness index

Gurdur directed me to the Hon Toby Young's article on believers being nicer than atheists. And while Toby's probably right (and I note the typo in the URL), I am aware that his first degree was in some arts subject or another. So I've applied a bit of logic and science to this. Below I've ranked a number of famous believers and atheists in order of niceness. I'm happy to be corrected on their belief or niceness, and I've excluded all those that are generally regarded by their followers as deities or chief prophets. Except for I've ignored the protestations from those members of the Church of Marcus Du Sautoy. They're just being silly.
There is one simple rule. I've generally put anyone who would want to kill people for their beliefs, below anyone else. It's an attribute I've always found particularly nasty.

So from nicest to nastiest, I go for:

Mother Teresa (b)
Gandhi (b)
Douglas Adams (a)
Pope John Paul II (b)
Marcus Du Sautoy (a)
Abp William Temple (b)
That nun with the art and the caravan (b)
Stephen Fry (a)
Prince Charles (b?)
Richard Dawkins (a)
Tony Blair (b)
Tomas de Torquemada (b)
Queen Mary I (b)
Henry VIII (b)
Pol Pot (a)
Oliver Cromwell (b)
Josef Stalin (a)
Chairman Mao (a)

Blue Monday Preparations

It seems a shame to spoil the mood of festive jollity, as the first inflatable Santas appear on the roof of the Great House and now the dancing penguins are stretching all the way down the drive.
But I'd like to remind all Beaker Folk about the preparations for Blue Monday, which this year will be 17 January. I know it's really an advertising campaign, but I never miss the chance to add another seasonal date into the calendar. Especially if I can get some money out of it.

So on 17 January we will be celebrating with Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth. Which gives you all about 6 weeks to get to the dentist's to make sure your teeth are in decent Gnashing condition. So get down there now.

If you go to Mr Fang's in the village, I get double Nectar points. So I'd strongly advise those of you who don't qualify for NHS dentistry (probably all of you, these days) to see Mr Fang. And with any luck, the bleeding will have stopped in time.

For those of you without your own teeth, don't worry. Teeth will be provided.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Facebook and Sin

I am grateful to the various people such as "Church Marketing Sucks" who have drawn our attention to the American pastor who has banned his staff from Facebook, and recommended all his flock stay off it. And he is of course right.

Let us face it. On Facebook you have the ever-present temptation of a whole world of potential former loved ones. You can interact with the avatar of your former flame - an image that will never fade, and was probably taken in 1983. If you become "friends", they have the ability to "like" what you do. And that is, after all, part of the problem. Because you gain an artificially approving image of the blast from your past. How much more godly, I say to myself, if Facebook had the ability for "friends", as well as "like"-ing your status, to "dislike", "raise their eyebrows at", "say it's definitely one last chance or that's it Buster at", "reckons that's about typical", "reckons ..... was drunk again, the beast", or "just gives up, simply gives up with...".

I have had a discussion with Eileen, and proposed some changes she could make to encourage a more godly Community around here. In the first instance, I've suggested she block the IP addresses of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Particularly LinkedIn. Given that many people have affairs in the office, the last thing you want is people making contact with former colleagues.

And that takes me onto my further suggestions. Since many people do have affairs in the office, factory, guinea-pig-dairy or other work-related environment, I've recommended that all members of the Husborne Crawley community be banned from going to work. And since former love interests are renowned for wandering the lanes of Mid Beds and Milton Keynes, searching for innocent married souls they can corrupt with the darkness of their extra-curricular fumblings, I've suggested that it's best if all Beaker Folk be kept to the environment of the Great House and its grounds, while all visitors be scanned with my new "pheremonophilic detector". This will ensure we exclude all that might be capable of exciting unwanted and unwonted lust. It will be a great drag on my evangelistic campaign, but one can't be too careful.

But I am aware that some people find  propinquity is the necessary ingredient for unbridled animal urges. And if we confine all Folk to barracks, as it were, what might be the danger of them actually falling in love with each other? Much better that married couples be locked into their rooms. We can push blank doilies under the door and receive the pressed ones back, ensuring that they can still usefully contribute to the financial well-being of the Community.

Single people, naturally, can be allowed out- provided they are chaperoned either by someone who can be utterly trusted, or by people who can be guaranteed not to raise uncontrollable sexual urges in others. I suggest in the latter category atheists in anoraks and 45-year-old computer programmers. Or best of all, atheist computer programmers in anoraks.  A reliable member of the senior staff might be regarded as "utterly trusted", but unfortunately that takes us back to where we came in, banning senior religious figures from dangerously provocative situations.

As for myself, I need access to Facebook. If I don't have it myself, how can I keep track of, and shut down, all the "We hate Drayton Parslow" groups that Eileen and my wife Marjorie keep setting up? Bless them, it's a great joke. But even the best joke to wear thin after 213 different Facebook pages.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Feast of Ss William Tell and Cab Calloway

A hazy gibbon moon hangs over Husborne Crawley as we recover from William Tell Night.

Earlier on, today's celebration of the life and work of Cab Calloway was most satisfying and enjoying. After a few rounds of singing "Minnie the Moocher", and a liturgy loosely based around the theme of "Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns that way", we went out feeling that life was good. What more would you want from an act of worship than that? But then it all went downhill in tonight's Apple Ceremony.

It's Hnaef I feel most ashamed of. I mean, he runs an archery school. I know he normally does longbow not crossbow, but still. Four hundred shots and not one hit on that apple.
Obviously, I'm glad that for health and safety reasons we replaced the crossbow bolts with sticks of rhubarb*. But poor Marston. His face is really going to ache in the morning.

Now if everyone will please stop humming the "Overture", I might be able to get some sleep.



* The Beaker Folk would like to point out that we do not condone shooting anyone in the face with anything, including sticks of rhubarb. Don't try it at home. Not least, the juice really stings.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Atheists are people too

Read this from the echurchwebsites blog. Which left me pondering.

Isn't there a good reason why, outside of churches, we remember the Fallen from our wars with silence?

Pray and Go

Take a prayer book and a hymn book into the Worship Space? Not me. I just want to "Pray-and-Go".

I'm happy to announce a new kind of worship experience, specially designed for those who are money-rich but time poor.

We've now had several thousand years, in different faiths, of the "pray-while-you-wait" model. But sometimes you just need to join in collective religious activity while you're somewhere else. And that's why we're offering our new option. Just check in to the pray-bay at our drive-in prayer hatch, make the simple, reasonable payment via Pray-Pal and it's just as if you were going to be with us all morning. Don't worry - we'll pray one for you!

And I know you can feel that somehow you're not part of the spiritual experience if you're not actually there.  So why not upload the new Pray-and-Go application onto your Praystation 3? By the use of some cunning technology ideas we stole from 2nd life, your Prayvatar can interact with other worshippers in our Praypen -while you're busy designing a website, studying Sociology, building a new chimney or teaching an archery lesson to people with no thumbs. And for those self-centred believers who'll change congregation because "I don't get anything out of it", we can reveal our new Nintendo plugin, the Mii-Mii-Mii.

It's the perfect solution to that problem of guilt that you're not making it to church often enough - and it gives us the chance to boost our attendance artificially to pretend we're more important than we are*. And what's even better, while you're checking in to our pray-bay, we can sell you a real Fair Trade Coffee and an Unfair Trade bacon bagel.


* Warning to Church of England congregations - may accidentally increase your Parish Share.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Of waxing and waning gibbons

[Link removed as the site may damage your soul]

If you're going to put out a website regarding occult implications of the phases of the moon, it is worth remembering that gibbons are a kind of monkey. "Gibbous", a Latin word meaning hunch-backed, indicates a moon that is more than half-full. It's an easy mistake to make, but that's no excuse for making it. Sorry to bang on, but we had a whole new religion founded on this mistake round here.

And "magic" doesn't have a "k" in it, either. That's just an affecktation.

1001 posts

I'm afraid any Beaker Folk needing to do some adding up over the next few days will have to do it without assistance. Burton Dasset has unexpectedly gone down with painful toes after his last posting.

1,000 posts

I was very interested when Eileen told me that we're heading towards our 1,000th post. She seems - as is the case with many of the less numerate - to assign special importance to apparently round numbers.
I have pointed out to her that 1,000 only seems important because we happen to have ten fingers, and therefore use base 10. Indeed, a much more important number in the universal and IT world would be 1,024 - or "one K" as programmers would refer to it. Consider, compared to the shortness of 1,000 base 10, 1,024 is written in binary as 10000000000. Now that's what I call a round number.

Anyway, Eileen's very excited and I can't wait to hear what she's going to say. Congratulations, Archdruid! And enjoy your 1,000th post!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Eileen Reminisces - Post 999

We just have the one post to go to reach 1,000 blog posts of life in this little enclave of spirituality within the Beds - Milton Keynes borders. And it's at times like this you look back and remember the good times.
So I've done that. Took a moment or two. But I think back to a time before the first of these blog posts - and indeed before the other posts that took place before even then.

It was the conflation of three events that really gave the Beaker Folk their impetus. These events were a talk on Celtic Christianity at which it became quite clear the entire thing was composed of wishful thinking and fake history; a service in which instant ambience was created by the liberal application of pebbles and tea lights to an otherwise innocent altar; and an evensong in the style of an Eastern church on the occasion of the feast day of, I seem to remember, St Ephraim the Syrian. I remember the way that the first and second  received widespread acceptance and approval in the little group with whom I was associated; while the other, for all its authenticity and earnest fidelity to a tradition, was regarded by some as beyond the pale of acceptable worship.

Well, naturally I realised the lesson to be drawn here. If I were to attract the well-meaning, bumbling and generally lucrative to my little community, I would rigorously have to eschew all genuine meaning, authentic expressions of historical traditions and moral insight. These would only cause division and trouble. Instead, I would look for instant experiences, fuzzy feelings and satisfying the need to be wanted and loved.

Indeed, I would regard these as the three legs of the Beaker Stool. On the whole, it is fair to say, it is a stool that mostly has to stand on two legs.  We have succeeded with the first and second, and failed dismally with the third. Well, it's not easy. After all, when you go around offering instant experience and fuzzy feelings you appeal to such a needy constituency. You try loving them.

Well, I've enjoyed this little ramble down memory lane. And I'm really excited about post 1,000. I've some incredible prophecies I can share with you - guaranteed to make politicians shudder, bring dynasties to their knees, and hopefully make all us Beaker Folk a lot of money.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Drayton Parslow sees a revival

It's a great delight to me to see that once again the congregation has doubled in size here at Bogwulf Baptist Chapel. A great welcome to you, members of the Aspley Heath Hiking Club. And I can guarantee that I will indeed unlock the door after you have sung "I vow to thee, my country" in a suitably rousing way. If any of you have the idea of trying to rush me to get the chapel key off me, I can assure you that "Hayemaker" here does indeed know how to use all of his teeth, and is just about the right side of the pit bull/Staffordshire breed divide to pass muster under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Eileen was so proud of "Thatcher" when she produced that litter.

The Millennium Approaches - 997

According to Blogger's Dashboard we are approaching the 1,000th blog post from the Beaker Folk in their current incarnation. I think it is widely known that the previous blogposts, both from this URL and the original ones from the gazsadblog, were lost in the Time Wars. Probably deleted by daleks.
And it is at times like this that one's mind is troubled. For clearly 1,000 is just a number. And yet at this time of encroaching darkness the temptation is to make the 1,000th post just that little more portentous.  We think, for example, of Hnaef's 5/6ths of a Beast post. And consider revoking his blogging rights in case he should make a long-awaited return, purely by chance, on the thousandth. Or we think of posting a "best of Beaker Folk" blog. But it seems a shame to waste the thousandth post on something so trivial. For better or worse, 1,000 posts is quite a number.
So I shall probably spend the 1,000th post in quiet shivering in the Great House, convinced that the End will come if I write it - or possibly that the act of turning over from 999 will reveal that in fact Blogger can only cope with 3 digits, and I shall crash back to number one. It's quite a thought.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

In Flanders Fields

If you wear no poppy, feel free.  But please give for those who've suffered and those who've lost as a result of war. Not wearing your heart on your sleeve doesn't have to be opposed to compassion.

If you wear a white poppy, feel free. But please give also for those who've suffered and those who've lost as a result of war. Pacifism shouldn't be opposed to compassion.

As for me, it's red and the British Legion. Whatever the foolishness of our politicians, and God knows we've seen enough of that over the last ten years or so, our armed forces deserve our respect and support. And those who've suffered and those who've lost deserve all we can give.


In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

15 random song shuffle meme thing

Tagged by Phil Ritchie,


First fifteen music meme

1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up–song title and artist–NO editing/cheating, please.


1 - All in a Mouse's Night, Genesis
2 - High Fidelity - Elvis Costello
3 - Can Sheep speak Danish? - Doug Horley
4 - Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God - John Taverner
5 - Time - Tom Waits
6 - Miss Otis Regrets (Live) - Kirsty MacColl (sans Pogues)
7 - Guns of Navarone - Specials
8 - Surely our God (from Celtic Source)
9 - Sound of the Suburbs - Members
10 - By the Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers
11 - Benedictus from Messe Basse, by Gabriel Faure
12 - Crime of the Century - Supertramp
13- Jesus said "Father, Forgive them" - from Stainer's Crucifixion
14 - It is now - Moya Brennan
15 - We wish you a Merry Christmas - From Classic Christmas Carols, on the Crimson label
Let those who wish to be tagged, consider themselves tagged.

The Gospel according to Douglas Adams

I've been working my way through books, radio series and TV series. And then I've had a bit of a sit down and think. And then I had cheese on toast for supper and had some amazing and disturbing dreams last night.  And I''ve seen the light. We've all missed the point in reading Douglas Adams. In thinking that The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an infinitely materialistic, anti-religion, evolutionary text that extols nihilism - we've not noticed that it is in fact a deeply Christian work.


In the forthcoming analysis, I explicitly exclude the 3rd through 5th books of the trilogy, as the creativity clearly dribbles away at this point. And of course the 6th book, which is strictly extra-canonical in my opinion. I see them as the equivalent of the last chapter of John's Gospel - a bit added on after the main action has been completed. I also make reference to the TV and radio series and novels - regarding these as canonical, even where they are contradictory, just like a proper fundamentalist. I should say that as well as cheese on toast, this line of thought was was also inspired by my hearing this link of the Church Mouse on @twurchofEngland website. In which His Mousiness sounds remarkably like the pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent being, Benjy Mouse.


So. In the first place, take Arthur Dent. Arthur, as well as being Everyman and the Pilgrim, is Noah. When the world is threatened with destruction - in this case due to humanity's laziness in not going to the nearest planning office - Arthur is saved and carried off, like Noah or indeed Gilgamesh, on a great journey. The Vogons are symbols of primeval chaos - they are the Flood, and are also representative of those great enemies of the Jews and eternal enemies of God's People - in other words, the Vogons are the Babylonians - destroying the homeland, inflicting their awful poetry on people, and yet paradoxically providing a haven for the remnant.


Throughout the story, the part of the Tempter is provided by Zaphod. Superficially attractive, yet interested in the end only in his own best interests, Zaphod constantly leads Arthur and his friends into temptation. To draw analogy with another belief system, Zaphod is Loki. And yet,  through the intervention of his guardian angel, Ford, and with his Bible - the Guide itself - Arthur perseveres to the end. Meanwhile, Adams satirizes the failures of psychology to deal with our human condition - "Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?"


And the false prophets abound - people that promise to give us the answers and yet fail every time. The philosophers who are in it only for the money, the computer geeks that think they will get all their answers from silicon. Deep Thought himself - the representative of science and technology -  who, after pondering for seven and a half million years can only come up with a meaningless answer.


Realising that I could not be the only person to have noticed this in a world of six billion bloggers, I found this blog which identified a similar theme. And yet I feel that the author has missed the point. In his view (and to be fair he's only seen the movie) Ford Prefect is somehow a Christ-figure. But Ford never sacrifices anything. Likewise it might be tempting to see the Great Prophet Zarquon as the Christ-figure in the movie - infinitely delayed and ultimately disappointing. But that's what Adams thinks you're going to think he thinks. There is only one Christ-figure in the Hitch-hiker's guide. He is the one who sacrifices himself in order that the others may live. He is on this world, deliberately given to give help to others. He has a Genuine People Personality. He is that Android of sorrows, Marvin. He is the one who  has to "lay down my life selflessly for you? Make the ultimate sacrifice?  Consign my brain, which is the size of a planet, to death in a blazing sun, so that you can all pursue your futile little lives?" However I will stop drawing the analogy here, as it's becoming needlessly messianic - and indeed perhaps a little docetic.


After being teleported out of a rock group's stunt ship moments before crashing to his death in a blazing sun, Arthur ends up on yet another Ark - this time a B-Ark. Through this Ark he comes safely to land in his new Eden. And yet, like Noah's landing, although all is new and pristine, the Ark has brought the seeds of its own new travails with it. Arthur himself - and a group of middle managers and telephone sanitizers -  have wrecked the algorithm - the one that would produce the Ultimate Question to the Answer 42. In the future lay wars and rumours of wars, county council environmental officers, and a Hyperspace Bypass. And yet beyond that lays the promise of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the feast at the end of time.  Which holds safe all those who have saved up their worldly wealth (or, at least, one small part of it at compound interest). Here the Blessed sit, watching the ultimate hopeless end of those who seek their salvation in this material cosmos.


I tell you, it gives you hope for the future of all life-kind.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Spartacus for a Day

When  I went out for a stroll round the estate this morning, the Twitter feed was alive with the hashtag, #iamspartacus.  I guess they have forgotten that all the Spartaci in said film ended up crucified. But the event behind this mass folk movement is the original tweet by Paul Chambers in which he threatened - or rather didn't - to blow up the ludicrously-named "Robin Hood Airport", closed due to bad weather, if they didn't open before he had to fly from it the following week. As is now Social Networking history, Mr Chambers ended up in court, charged with sending threatening messages, and was fined. He's now received an even bigger financial penalty after appealing. Mr Stephen Fry is offering to pay Paul Chambers' fine. I'm hoping that if I drive around in a tweed jacket the whole time, Mr Fry might also offer to pay for my speeding fines.
But I digress. The point is that this morning, everybody was tweeting the original "threat" - in effect challenging the CPS to do anything about it. By this evening, everybody was digressing off into post-modern and ironic comments about the #iamspartacus phenomenon, rather than the original tweet. That's the trouble with Twitter - we get very excited about it, and feel the buzz of being part of a worldwide phenomenon - for ten minutes. You can feel very daring and anti-establishment from the comfort of your sofa. Which, to be fair, is miles better than throwing stuff off high buildings in London to ask people to give you money.  But by tomorrow, Paul Chambers will still be fined, the law will still be an ass, the CPS will be trying to prosecute some Christian for having an icon in the workplace, and nobody will care anymore. And on Twitter, the new hashtag du jour will be something to do with the X-factor.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Zoe seems to be the hardest word

So the French Court has confirmed that Renault can indeed call their new car the Zoe, without infringing the human rights of girls with the same name.

Good news for the marketing departments of car companies, you might think. But bad news for Mr & Mrs Minor and their son Morris, Mr & Mrs Folks-Wagen and their daughter Sharon, Mr Austin Allegro, the new member of the Famille  Citroen (Xsara), Mr Robin Reliant, Minnie Cooper, and my dear American friend Pontiac Firebird. Not to mention a small boy of my acquaintance, little Harley Davidson. And dear old Alf A Romeo and Portia Cayenne, and the new posh, welsh member of our community, Dai Hatsu-Charade..

Who killed Goliath?


2 Samuel 21:19 (New International Version - UK)
19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod.

As we know, at the Fall all of humanity was tainted with sin - body, mind and spirit. That this means we should beware of the pleasures of the flesh, sinful as it is, goes without saying. That we should likewise avoid the use of the mind, instead clinging to the ways of the spirit, is equally clear.

But every now and then, Christian man (or Christian woman to whom these spiritual teachings may be explained by a husband, pastor, father or suitably-chaperoned small-Bible-study leader) - every now and then one is forced to use the mind, corrupt and evil as it is, to wrestle as Jacob wrestled with the meaning of the Good Book.

One such passage is the slaying of Goliath. For in 1 Sam 17 we have the story of the slaying of Goliath. Familiar to millions the world over, and even to some Anglicans who occasionally cannot avoid hearing God's word, no matter how hard they try.

And yet - what is this I find? Although the pure and unadulterated word, in the Authorized Version of the Bible, Sam 21:19, has Elhanan killing the brother of Goliath,  yet the Nearly Infallible Version for the same passage has Elhanan killing Goliath himself.
Now clearly this wouldn't normally bother me, since the AV always trumps the NIV. Not least because the American version of the NIV corrects the text to the real version. But it's Eileen coming round pointing out to me that "the Hebrew says Elhanan killed Goliath, not his brother" that's starting to get to me.  Her argument that since the Bible was written in Hebrew then the Hebrew's probably right is obviously opposed to the clear word of Scripture, but weak minds might accept it. So I have to address it.

There are three possible solutions that have been offered and they are as follows:
1) Eileen's explanation. What might be called "The Heretical Alternative".  She suggested that it was indeed Elhanan that killed Goliath, and David "pinched the story to big himself up. He probably did Elhanan in into the bargain, to make sure he kept quiet - after all, look what he did to Uriah". She then went on to explain that David also killed Saul in a palace coup, and wrote the whole of 1 and 2 Samuel himself to cover his tracks. She also made a suggestion about the phrase "spear as big as a weaver's rod" that I could not possibly mention on this family blog.

2) The critics' explanation. What might be called "The other Heretical Alternative". This is that David killed some other giant, while Elhanan killed Goliath. In time the name "Goliath" attached itself to the giant that David killed as well, by a matter of folklore and similarity. This preserves David's good name and giant-killing reputation, but brings in matters of redaction and source criticism that imperil the souls of decent Christian men. 

3) My own suggestion. What might best be called "The right solution". To me it is obvious that Goliath the giant had a brother called, for reasons we cannot at present understand, Goliath. Maybe it was a Philistine surname. Or maybe their mother was slightly crazed. Or maybe they were both monks who took the name "Goliath". Or maybe "Goliath" was a Philistine word, now preserved only in these stories, which meant "big bloke". Or maybe Goliath II was named after his older brother, Goliath I, after David had achieved his triumph. In any case it is clear - both brothers were called Goliath. David killed the first one, Elhanan the second. And now the Hebrew, NIV (British and American) and authentic word of God the AV are in total agreement. David killed Goliath, and Elhanan killed his brother, Goliath. Ockham's Razor triumphs again.

Eileen remarks that this proves that war is hell but sometimes necessary, that truth can be a  casualty, and that ordinary human beings killing each other is a sign of our fallen nature. And for once I have to agree with her.

The debt we owe

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; 
They sit no more at familiar tables of home; 
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; 
They sleep beyond England's foam.



Grant eternal rest, O Lord, and light perpetual shine upon them.

EF Miller, 2nd Lancs Fus  12 October 1916, The Somme

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dangerous Neanderthal Nonsense

I've been out on an evangelistic campaign in Milton Keynes all day, so I missed Eileen's heresy yesterday.

But I can already see why her questions about Neanderthals  are so wrong.

If Eileen's saying that all the Neanderthals evolved into modern human beings- then why are there still Neanderthals around, eh?

There you go - the Theory of Evolution - debunked in an instant.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Neanderthal Spirituality

We're all fascinated by this assessment of Neanderthal intelligence and capabilities, in comparison with those of homo sapiens sapiens children of the same age. The conclusion was that the brain size and disposition at an early age was much the same for modern humans and for our nearest ancestors at birth - but by the age of one year that starts to change.

There are all sorts of questions this raises - does this imply a level of consciousness in modern humans that is acquired in that vital first year - in which case what was the equivalent for Neanderthals? What does it say for the idea of human rights at the age of six months, as opposed to say six months of gestation or a year after birth? Did Neanderthals have souls? And if so, could they be Catholic priests? (Obviously this question only applies to the male Neanderthals). If some frozen Neanderthal DNA were found, extracted and implanted in a Jurassic-Park style experiment, could the resultant revivant Neanderthals be treated as brothers and sisters? Or rivals? Or slaves?
And most interestingly of all - why did the BBC Radio news article I heard on this subject major on the similarities, and ignore the differences?

Unfair competition

Saw the interview on Newsnight last night with Jeremy Paxman, Rosie Harper and the Migrating Bishop of Fulham. I presume that when Flying Bishops leave they migrate?

Let's cut through the theological trivia, as if that's ever going to interest a Newsnight viewer. Revd Rosie seemed  intelligent, bright and attractive, while I'm afraid that Mr Broadhurst, as I presume he will now be known for a short while, came across as a bit of a bar-room grump. It struck me that if this is the new Diocese of Oxford strategy for evangelism, it may be onto a winner.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Notable Departures

There comes a time when, however deeply engrained a relationship is - even if it has lasted for twenty or thirty years - something changes. You realise that things have changed, things are no longer the way they were and other  fields are calling. In the interests of honesty, and of integrity, it is time to move on.

And so Jack Duckworth shuffles off his fictional coil, resting after an enthusiastic celebration of his birthday. And saves the last dance for Vera.

I apologise in advance to any Mancunians who object to this portrayal of their accents. I'm not saying you really talk like this. Let's just say that this is how you sound to me.

I apologise also for any misrepresentation of the characters or plots of Corrie. Suffice it to say that last time I watched it, Ooncle Albert was still in it.

THE LITANY OF CORRIE (JACK DUCKWORTH MEMORIAL)

Dress Code: Women's Bowling Wear

Archdruid:  Ee, ar Jack
All: Ee, ar Vera 


Archdruid: Ee, ar Kid
All: Ee, ar Jack.


Archdruid: Ee, ar Mavis
All: Ooooh, ai durn't really knur, Rita.


Archdruid: And so the glass is empty. The dregs of life are drained. The beermat of existence is ripped into small pieces by the neurosis of oblivion. Last orders are called for the last time.  And the Rover returns to his final watering hole, knowing he does indeed have a home to go to.
All: Enough with the poetry, Eileen. This ain't Shakespeare you know.

Archdruid:  Alrighty then. Ar Jack! Get thaself oopstairs now!
All: No, that's Yorkshire you're doing now. Get a grip, woman.


Archdruid: Fair enough. Anyone for a pint of Best?
All: Now you're talking. Get them in.


LITANY OF LOST CORRIE


Archdruid: Ena Sharples, Stan Ogden, Albert Tatlock, Ernie Bishop, Fred Elliot, Vera Duckworth, Blanche Hunt, Jack Duckworth. All flesh is as a pint of Newton & Ridleys Best. For in the evening it is full of body, fizzing with life and bubbles. And at the end of the night, flat and forgotten, it is poured into the slops tray of eternity. For in the end, all will be written out of the series.
All: But Ar Ken goes on forever.

All retire for one of Betty's famous Hot Pots.

Autumnal Indulgence Day

Here in Husborne Crawley, whatever we lack in actual theology we make up for in self-indulgent thinking. I'm particularly thinking of our Acts of Reassurance - a bit like a Confession, but instead of being assured of forgiveness we're informed it wasn't particularly bad in the first place, and there's no such place as Hell, and if there is it's probably merely comfortably warm.

So on this first Autumnal Indulgence Day, we are going to peer out of the window at the rain. I'll be switching the strings of white lights on fairly early because the weather's so dismal. And there will be chestnuts roasting on the open fire, crumpets and hot tea.

Now I know you're all worried, thinking what about all those ditches we were going to clear. And when I says "we" I do indeed mean "you".  But don't worry. A man called Mr Ian Duncan Smith called round on Friday, and he promises he's going to send some people round from Bletchley later on to do all that for us. And the good news is that, as he says they're all workshy skivers, we don't even have to pay for them! I think this is a fantastic scheme, and I'm wondering whether he's got any more with the basic skills to punch out doilies or do the accounts. I'm starting to worry about Burton's ability to hide the profits.

Since we are in the season of Blingtide please note that liturgical dress is green hi-viz. This does not apply to Mr Duncan Smith's Task Force, for whom I've arranged some nice white outfits with black arrows. He does keep telling me they're not prisoners, merely scroungers, but I'm still struggling to understand the difference. I tell you, if these people from Bletchley are any good I'll even be able to send those Polish people who have been ploughing the Big Field back home.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The story of the Blind People and the Elephant

So six blind people (they used to be men, but I guess I'd better get this story up to date) went along to investigate an elephant.

And the first bashed into its side. And declared that the elephant was like a wall.
And the second grabbed its tusk. And announced that in his/her opinion an elephant was like a spear.
And the third pulled its tail. And said that an elephant was like a rope.
And the fourth grabbed its ear, and said it was more like a fan.
And the fifth, feeling its trunk, said an elephant was a kind of snake.
And I can't remember what the sixth thought, but it was something amusing caused by a misapprehension of the size and complexity of elephants.

And the narrator of the story went off feeling very pleased with himself. Because by telling this story he'd proved how much cleverer he was than a bunch of imaginary blind people annoying an elephant. And that while those blind people had just a glimpse of the truth, he knew all of it.

And as he wandered along on his smug little way, he was tragically crushed when an elephant fell out of a tree and landed on him.

MORAL: There's more to elephants than you imagine. The sneaky beggars.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

BBC NUJ strikes - those programme improvements in full

"Today" programme - replaced by I'm sorry I haven't a clue

5 Live breakfast - replaced by I'm sorry I haven't a clue


5 Live phone-in - replaced by an infinite number of monkeys, armed with typewriters, with more chance of finding the answers to the issues of the day.

5 Live Drive - replaced by reruns of Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Radio 4 "PM" programme - replaced by I'm, sorry I haven't a clue

From Our Own Correspondent - replaced by Just a Minute. Forever.

Any Answers - replaced by a bloke just saying "no" repeatedly.

BBC News Channel - replaced by the 1981 Ashes series.


Newsnight - ironically replaced by 1970s episodes of University Challenge, hosted by Bamber Gascoigne

BBC 1 News - replaced by the Moomins.

Smashing Pumpkins

OK, enough orange autumnal squash-based meals are enough.  Get those steel toe caps on and get out there.

You can guess what the background music's going to be.

How others see us

Exhilarated by the entry of the Beaker Folk at number 21 on the Wikio religion list - a position from which I expect to fall as time goes by and other sites are re-classified.

But what is this I see - a rather unexpected word cloud:

Allergies Canada Celebrity ChristianityHoliday and Celebrations J. D. Salinger Kirsty MacColl Moon Music New RomanticRafael Benítez Richard Dawkins Royal Families Sciences Soccer Swine fluThe Moody Blues US World

According to the Wikio cloud, the Beaker Folk are interested in the Moon, Sciences and Richard Dawkins. But the US? Meanwhile Rafael Benitez is as important as Kirsty MacColl and Christianity, while this blog is both romantic and deeply into Canada and the Moody Blues. I think I need a sit down.

Pumpkin Porridge

It's not having pumpkin-flavoured porridge itself that really sticks in the throat, although of course physically that's exactly what it does, with its incredible fibre quotient.

It's the way the seeds keep getting caught in your teeth. Poor Maybell's dentures are never going to be the same again.

Friday, 5 November 2010

A face on which time makes but little impression

Can all Beaker Folk please note that tonight is "Return of the Native" Night. Time to start reading the great novel, on the day the novel starts.

Possibly the best written work in the English language. Featuring love, betrayal, death, loss and gawping rustics. A world of community. A world of danger. A world where oosers run amok while demented housewives say the Lord's Prayer backwards.  A world where yokels jump around in dying bonfires because they can. A world we'll never understand.

You've six weeks to read it. And then it's time for "Under the Greenwood Tree".

NUJ strike

Not wanting to be controversial.

But I heard Radio 5 this morning during the Breakfast show. Without Mr Campbell or Ms Fogarty. And it was much better. Not that Nicky and Sheila aren't consummate professionals, but I got the news without chat, flirting or references to "Edelweiss".

Then this evening, again at drive time. Radio 4 just broadcast the news, devoid of left-wing bias. And where we would have had hours of further left-wing analysis, we had something quite funny with Clive Anderson.  And again on 5 Live, where normally Peter is amusing and posh, we just mostly had news and stuff.  

So this may be unrepresentative, but if the NUJ want to extend their strike beyond 48 hours, I'll be standing right behind them.

Citrouille du jour

Pumpkin surprise. Just what we needed.

In a combination of two seasonal traditions, Bernie took the pumpkins and stuffed them with Roman Candles.

Fair enough, that was a surprise.

St Guy Fawkes' Day

Six saintly shrouded men move across the lawn slowly. They are dragging pallets across to the Bonfire field, as we prepare for yet another defiant autumnal fire before we really start.

In Leicester, Derby and Wellingborough they prepare for the Great Day as the Protestant feast of St Guy Fawkes' Day (when we remember that St Guy was lucky enough to avoid being quartered alive when he died in the "hanging" part of his execution) co-incides with Diwali. There's gonna be a lot of gunpowder in the air in the East Midlands tonight.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Pumpkin Pizza

[bleh]

Good news from America

I have spent the last 24 hours on my knees, praying for the results of the American election. And it was only in the last ten minutes that I discovered from Eileen that in fact all the results were in by yesterday morning. However Eileen consoled me that my prayers were not wasted. As long as I did not know what the results were,  Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle means that my prayers were effective retrospectively.  What a lesson this is to us - never stop praying, and do your best not to know what it is going on in the world.

So now the dust has settled, what do we see? A far more acceptable American political scene, in my opinion.  And therefore, I hasten to add, in the Lord's. A 12% increase in congressmen that believe trilobites are just overgrown woodlice that died in the Great Flood. A giant jump backwards (in other words - to the fundamental truth). Power given to people who see all scientists for the atheist enemies of faith that they are - demanding evidence and consistency as if they ever achieved anything.

Surely the US of A, as I believe it is technically called, is seeing growing numbers of people across that great country who either shoot moose or play the banjo.In other words, the godly.  Before long Creation Science will be taught in all schools and snake-handling will be compulsory at American council meetings. People who think the end of the world might be a good thing, are once again closer to the Big Red Button. It's good to see America on its way to being great once again.

I include below my personal analysis of American voting patterns. I think you'll agree that it shows a clear swing from the Democrats to the people who believe that unicorns died out when they missed the boat with Noah.