Friday, 6 May 2011


For Tania: especially today.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

SOS! Village fete music required...

Our village (Weston Longville) is holding a Spring Frolic this coming Saturday as a fund-raiser for our large group of tiny local churches. (Click here for more details.) We've stalls, tombola, bouncy castle, face painting, cakes... all the ingredients of a good old-fashioned village get-together.

But no music.

At the last minute, our musicians have dropped out. Music really makes the afternoon - the band we had last year created a great atmosphere - and we're desperate for a replacement. It doesn't have to be a full scale band, just anyone who can perform some kind of amplified live music and is happy to be background for our visitors as they wander, chat, buy and eat? A couple of half-hour spots would be wonderful.

As it's a fundraiser, we're afraid there's no money involved: just kudos and our undying gratitude.

Can anybody help? If so, please email me urgently: Thank you!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The pain of loss

This is turning into a reflective day.

It was an uncharacteristically glorious and sunny bank holiday weekend (and the sky remains halcyon as I write this). The seemingly endless sequence of days off (not that they tend to mean much if one is self-employed, but we were at least on holiday at the time); a triumphant Royal PR exercise, with the British doing the pageantry as only they know how; locally to me, Norwich FC make their way into premier league.

Some might include the death of a murderer in this list of 'reasons to be cheerful'. I don't. I've already written about that this morning.

I am, however, brought up short by the death and illness that's been brought to my notice in the last couple of days. I know none of these people personally, but they are all dear to friends of mine.

I arrived home from our post-Easter holiday to be told, within the last 48 hours, of
  • ... the death, one year ago tomorrow, of the daughter of a family-history contact. It was her forty-fifth birthday; she died of Sudden Death in Epilepsy; she left two children, aged 8 and 10.
  • ... the death, just last week, of the daughter-in-law of a friend from my local drama group. She was 37; she had a sudden brain aneurism; she leaves three children, the oldest of whom is five years old.
  • ... the illness of a dear friend of an old school-friend of mine, who has phoned and asked for my prayers for him: he is seldom conscious now, and had effectively to be woken up to be told that he was dying.
These are the events that leave us all shaken and afraid, indignant and searching for reasons, dumb and desperate for words. Our prayers and thoughts and wishes seem insufficient, but in the end, they are all we have in the tool-kit. Beyond that, all we can do is to give even greater thanks for our own lives, and for those things that make us happy: for sunshine, for an English spring, for opportunity and inspiration and courage, for friends and happy times while we have them.

For these people, and all who care for them and their families, please direct your prayers - or your positive thoughts, if you prefer - to their comfort; and to our own rejoicing in the time we have and the facilities we can use to the best of our ability.

And for my favourite reflection on our time on earth, no matter how long or short, please have a look at a posting I made a few days ago.

One hoax that I can live with

My friends know that I get very hot under the collar about fakes and hoaxes on the internet. So it's with some embarrassment that I realise that the quote I published this morning turns out to be, in essence, a fake - at least, in its attribution to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.

(If it's a quote about peace, attribute it to MLK; if it's pithy and witty, make it Mark Twain.)

However, the rest of the quote that's doing the rounds (when not limited to 140 characters), in the wake of the 'celebrations' for the death of Osama bin Laden, does in fact come from MLK:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

And you know what? For once, I really don't mind that I've forwarded something that's not quite as implied. The fact is that somebody said it, and it seems to be summing up the mood of a huge number of people. It doesn't matter whether or not it was said by a 'famous person'; it was said. That's all that matters.

There is nothing to celebrate about a death. There is plenty to celebrate about a life well lived - that's what the best funerals are there for - but the murder of a murderer? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? I don't think so. The wonderful Fr Paul Butler (@RedRector, a parish priest in Deptford, SE London) hit the nail on the head as we awoke to the news yesterday:

I awake to my 44th Birthday to discover that the USA has murdered a mass murderer whom they trained in killing. The spiral of violence. :(

And finally, a timely quote from my friend Sam:

'I can only think of one death that brought the world peace, and we celebrated that a week ago.' - from an American friend of mine.