Archive for June, 2008

The Times has the following item:-

A chief examiner told the paper he gave two marks to a GCSE candidate who wrote “eff off” – for accurate spelling and conveying meaning successfully.

It is worrying that such standards are now treated as acceptable by those who educate our children.  Sadly, this sort of language will be all too common for many parents.  Obscenities such as this are offensive to “accepted” standards of decency.  Where are children to learn such standards and what is the cost to society of having no such standards?  I wonder whether the examiner would have been so generous had the phrase been racially abusive.  I suspect not, in fact it is likely that serious consequences would have resulted from such an event.  Perhaps it is time to have a Government Minister for Public Decency but sadly, no suitable names come to mind.


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Raft Race

Local people will know of the Raft Race which took place each year on the May Bank Holiday, sailing 7 miles down the River Ribble.

I was first involved building a raft for a team at the Jobcentre but soon wanted a raft of my own.  My mate and I decided that winning was not going to be the priority (?) but to have a lot of fun and set ourselves a personal challenge.  The best we could think of was to put a piano on the raft and go down in evening dress as a Barber Shop Choir.  This seemed to be suitably bizarre because it attracted the attention of Radio Lancashire (as it was then) who came onto the raft and interviewed us live.

We completed the course, including going over a weir, without incident.

Piano complete with monkey

The following year I decided that we needed more than a piano so I built an orchestra – well, a string trio, with conductor.  It was all animated , with a collection of wires and levers which allowed the musicians to move the bows and the conductor could move his arms up, down and side to side all independently.  The problem was that while I was prating about with all the levers, the other 3 crew were trying to paddle the thing.  With two on one side and only one one the other the raft went round in circles.  I soon got told what to do with the levers ! and was told to get on with paddling.  Again we completed the course without incident.

After that we needed a proper challenge so we decided ( I decided ) to put a car on the raft.  Yes – a car.  We got a mini which had failed it’s MOT but still ran.  It was modified to allow it to be chained onto the deck.  For safety, the glass was taken out, but my mate didn’t go for this nonsense and insisted that we take it for a test launch to avoid us looking stupid on the day of the race with the whole lot going to the bottom with just a few bubbles rising.  It passed its sea trials and away we went.  The men in wet suits at the weir. who were supposed to be making sure everyone got down it safely cleared off out of the way when we approached.  The whole thing was so successful that we sold the car at the finishing line to a Lancashire Evening Post photographer.

All of this begs the obvious question – Why?  I am afraid I cannot give a definitive answer to that.  We may have known at the time but if we ever did have an answer then it has long since passed from us. The only thing I can say is that we had some jolly good times on the raft and I would recommend it to anyone.

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I sneaked along to Church yesterday to see what the youth club was doing.  I’m not sure that it was a wise move.  The first thing I came across was a side room full of people throwing plates of shaving foam at a giant poster of our Minister.  There was foam nearly to the ceiling and in a wide arc around the poster but not much on the face – until a silly adult came along and cheated by stepping over the line and splatting the plate of foam right in the middle of the target ( and it wasn’t me).  Then I noticed a man outside with a barbecue.  There were clouds of smoke and flames rising but he assured me that everything was under control.  (Not too sure about that!)  It rather looked like it was a competition to see who could eat the most food.  In no time at all there was just a table of empty plates and a trail of tomato ketchup on the floor.  Next a parachute appeared (not from the sky) and the greatest fun seemed to be when everyone disappeared underneath it.  “Get knotted”, outdoor dominoes and outdoor noughts and crosses were available but the adults seemed to prefer the skipping rope.  I think it was because they could pretend to be taking part when all they were doing was holding the rope.  The grand finale was when the children were taken outside and given a row of buckets of water and sponges to throw at the poor adults who had been so good all evening.  The children soon worked out that it was much better to throw the whole bucket rather than just a sponge so it is fair to say that the poor adults were thoroughly soaked by the end, but so were most of the children.  I think that, ignoring the opinions of the adults who got wet, a good time was had by all.  It was really great to have so many adults helping and sharing in the fun and I hope we can do something like that again before too long.  Make sure you all come to the Holiday Bible Club!

Adults being silly !   Perhaps it’s an alternative form of baptism.

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Sniffer dogs

Muslims travelling on trains from Brighton have objected to sniffer dogs being used to search them for drugs and bombs.

The trial by the British Transport Police  on all rail passengers travelling through the station prompted complaints from some Muslims who said their religion did not allow direct contact with dogs.

Should the law be applied equally to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, disability, age, etc.
If we allow the law to be challenged because it offends someone, where will that lead.  Is it not a little odd that The Islamic Republic of Iran has purchased sniffer dogs from France.

The Shariah Council has lifted any ban on guide dogs used by the disabled.

It ruled that guide dogs can accompany disabled people into restaurants or taxis managed or driven by Muslims.

The council also decided that disabled Muslims can use guide dogs because such highly trained animals are essential to the independence of a disabled person.

In Islam dogs are considered to be unclean animals and Muslims are not allowed to keep them as pets. Traditionally many Muslims would not allow dogs onto their premises and would often turn people with dogs away.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Muslim spokesman in the House of Lords said: “Islam is a religion that cares for people. Although it is not encouraged to keep a dog in the house, if the dog is owned for reasons of safety then it is permitted. When a disabled person is accompanied by a trained dog, such a dog becomes a blind person’s eyes, and therefore, such a dog should not be stopped from entering with a blind person.”

That seems to cover it then!!!   Sniffer dogs are owned for reasons of safety so they are permitted.

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I have just been tidying up at home and throwing out piles of papers which have accumulated over a couple of weeks on the sideboard.  What is noticeable is that items which seem important at the time soon loose their significance and become so much clutter.  Could I not have determined the real value of the items at the time and saved myself the job of sorting them out at a later date? 

Life can be like that sometimes.  We fill our days with concerns and worries which, had we really thought them through at the time could have been dismissed as not worth worrying about. 

Matthew 6:34  “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

 The parable of the 10 virgins puts, perhaps, a different slant on things.  It could be argued that the foolish virgins did not worry about tomorrow but there is a great difference between being worried about tomorrow and being prepared for tomorrow.   There is a saying – prepare for the worst and expect the best and you won’t be disappointed.  If we believe that God has everything under control we needn’t worry about anything – but that is much easier said than done!

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The following article gives cause for concern.  Could it happen here?

Newcastle High School in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, is a Christian-majority school.  It has over 1000 pupils of whom only a few dozen are Muslim.  It has become the centre of a nationwide religious debate because a group of Muslim parents has seized control of the School Governing Body (SGB).  In South Africa the curriculum of the school is established by the government, but almost all other management issues are decided by the governing body.  This includes decisions on the headteacher, staff, sport, culture and ethos.

By law, meetings must be held to elect members of the SGB.  Apathy among Christian parents in this sleepy town meant 60 motivated Muslim parents attended an electoral meeting at which hardly any Christian parents showed up.  The Muslims voted as a bloc to seize control of the school’s governing body by winning six of the seven elected positions.

The new SGB then instructed the long-serving principal to stop the traditional praise and worship at the morning assemblies and replace it with a minute of silence.  The principal refused and was soon forced to resign.  He was then replaced by a Muslim who has stopped all Christian publications in the school.  The Christian parents and pupils took the matter to court.  However as the SGB was legally and constitutionally elected, the court has found in favour of the Muslim SGB.

Alec Hogg, a former pupil, now a leading economist, commented: “In any democracy, mass apathy opens the door to small and motivated splinter groups.  They often carry resentments which strongly motivate them to grab control and, once in the driving seat, to force their own narrow interests on the majority”.

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My parents were both born in Garstang and my mother tells of the time when a local youth, Jerome Grayson brought his dog along the street.  He was noted for sending his dog after the cats with the command – “cats Rover”.  My mother had a cat and was concerned for its safety but her father reassured her that “Rover” would get more than it bargained for.  Along came young Mr Grayson with Rover who ran towards the cat.  Before it knew what was happening the cat leaped into the air and landed on Rovers head and began scratching at it.  Rover ran all the way home along High Street with the cat still on it’s head.  Needless to say Rover wouldn’t pass my mother’s house after that.  Some time later a rather fancy lady called Mrs Clarkson was coming along with several miniature poodles when the cat decided to do the same thing.  She held one of the dogs above her head but the cat ran up her back and along her arm.  She threatened to take my grandfather to court for having a dangerous cat but nothing more was heard of it.

My father had a sister, Mary, who died at the age of 12 of pneumonia and, because she had not been baptised she was not allowed to be buried in the Parish Churchyard.  My grandfather had to go out late one night and bury her in a field nearby.  I don’t think my father ever quite forgave the Church of England for that.  I don’t know whether the same thing could happen these days.

All this happened nearly 80 years ago.

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