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May 31, 2004

Pretty as a picture ....

"Don't cast a clout 'til the Mey is out" runs an old country saying. Most townies assume this means the "Merry Month of ..." but that is not the case. No, I did not misspell the month either; I am talking about a plant, a tree shrub, in fact, which flowers in our hedgerows in early spring.

Mey flowering in a hedge near the village of Condicote. Some of these hedges have been growing here for almost 600 years and many that were almost lost are now being restored.

The fact is that the Mey flowers once the warm weather starts - in the Cotswolds this year it began to flower in late April and has been giving a magnificent show ever since. It was popular as a hedging plant because it stands up well to being "laid" - the stems cut partially through and laid flat and interwoven to create a living "fence". It has another feature which makes it popular for this purpose - animals don't eat it!

Anyway, I thought you might like to see the countryside I cross each day to and from work. This is perhaps not the most picturesque bit - but it was the easiest place to take a shot of the Mey in bloom.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:31 AM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2004

Sunday thought �.

Today is Pentecost Sunday (also known as Whitsun by those of an earlier churching – or an anti-Catholic persuasion!). This is the day on which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples hiding out in the upper room in Jerusalem. The story is to be found in The Acts of the Apostles as recorded by Luke, Chapter 2 and it begins “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, the were all together in one place.”

Interestingly, there is no mention of how many were present or of who; it is just assumed that it was the remaining eleven. Even the place is not identified, although we can assume with much more authority that it would have been the same room in which they had eaten the last supper. This at least can be based on the fact that the family of John Mark (Mark the Gospeller, who also appears as a young man in the Acts traveling with Paul and Barnabas) were the most likely providers of food, shelter and the upper room of the last supper – making their home the most likely place for the remaining disciples to congregate. Equally interesting is the fact that other versions of this story place several other followers and not just the disciples in the room at Pentecost.

The Lord Abbot was this morning's preacher at the Sung Eucharist and gave an excellent sermon on the Holy Spirit, leaving us all with plenty to think about. The problem that we all have in thinking of the Holy Spirit (if we do so at all) is that he guides, he leads, he assists, and supports us – but we cannot identify him in the same way that we can Jesus, or, for that matter, God the Father speaking to Moses through the burning bush or the mountain of fire and thunder. Yet, the impact that the Holy Spirit can and does make upon us is no less powerful. As Fr Paul said this morning, what descended on the group gathered in that upper room, burst upon them with almost the same force as a parcel of dynamite. It burst into their lives, spilled over, and drove them out into the world to spread the Gospel and show the world that there was a new force in town – one that had to be reckoned with at a personal level for each and every individual.

The original Greek text of this passage uses the Greek word that provides us with the root for “dynamic” and “dynamite” – and means “spirited”, “lively”, or “enthusiastic”. Small wonder that many of their original hearers could scarcely believe their eyes as this group of cowering and leaderless individuals suddenly burst out of their hopelessness and begin a ministry that will transform the world it confronts. Luke tells us that those who heard them were bewildered by the fact that they could all hear the speakers in their own tongue – another indicator of the presence of the spirit – and some, perhaps less susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit, accused them of being drunk. It is this last group that should concern us most, because they are in all likelihood the nearest to our own probable response if this happened “at a place near you!”

If we are really honest with ourselves, we would admit that if this happened in our own street or even the High Street, we would probably respond with embarrassment, annoyance, or even cynicism. “What are they on? Haven’t they got any shame at all?”

Those of us who have encountered the Holy Spirit (or perhaps allowed ourselves to admit that we have done so) have found it a very dramatic and challenging experience. You cannot not be changed by it, yet, for every one of us it will be different. We may not give it much thought as we journey through life, but the Holy Spirit is with us all the way. He is with us at the start and He is there at the finish. If we allow Him to He can make changes in our lives beyond comprehension in real spiritual terms. He can make us the instruments of His gospel or He can bring us understanding, peace, and the ability to rise above our own limitations to truly serve others as He would have us do. Once encountered, never forgotten, never again the same.

Give it a try – you have nothing to lose but your own limitations and fears.

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.”

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:03 PM

May 29, 2004

Madam would like to contribute ...


Having had a busy day with people painting and laying floor tiles - and the dreaded vacuum cleaner at work - Madam has decided she wants to be part of the rest time - so she has taken up residence on the desk and purrs loudly everytime I stop to stroke her. I keep getting little chirrups to remind me that she is here and waiting for me. I have even had to move some things so she can get more comfortable.

Isn't it nice to know you're wanted?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:43 PM

A new Bishop enthroned.

Today the new Bishop of Gloucester was enthroned with all the pomp and ceremony that has come to be part of the ritual that attends these ceremonies. The service itself was prayerful and filled with beautiful music and singing, and the congregation of near enough 800 certainly joined in both the responses and the singing with gusto. The Bishop was duly enthroned and welcomed and gave us, and the city and county, his blessing in return.

The ceremonial commenced with the reading of the Charge issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, duly charging the Archdeacon of Canterbury to act on his behalf and install the new Bishop in his “Cathedra” – the proper name for the Bishop’s throne or chair. It is from this word that we get the title Cathedral – the place in which the Bishop’s Chair is kept.

The Bishop was welcomed, as is the tradition, at the great West Door by the Dean and his Chapter, attended by all the visiting Bishops, clergy from his previous Diocese and from the Church of South India, with which this Diocese has strong links. Here the Bishop knelt and used a prayer of St Benedict’s authorship to pray for guidance in his charge as the Diocesan Bishop. The Suffragan Bishop, whose title is Bishop of Tewkesbury, then anointed the bishop on the forehead with the oil of Chrisom, reminding him of his baptismal vows. The Archdeacons of Gloucester and Cheltenham then each anointed one of his hands reminding him of his vows as a Deacon and as a Priest, before the Dean reminded him of his charge of consecration.

A choral rendition of the 84th Psalm followed while the processions moved back to their places in the Choir and around the Nave Altar. There followed two readings from Scripture, one from Haggai and the other, a Gospel proclamation by a Deacon of the John 21 15 – 19 reading in which Christ asks Peter three times – do you love me, and finishes with the charge to take care of the flock. A period of prayer followed this reading, each section led by a different representative of sections of the church.

At this point the legalities of the Church of England (a drawback to being “established” if ever there was one) took over and we had the legal issues to hear and witness before the Archdeacon of Canterbury could carry out the Charge and enthrone the Bishop. The Bishop took the Oath of Office with his hand resting on the Chapter Library’s copy of the Coverdale Bible – the first full English Translation of the entire Bible. A group of children from the Cathedral Parish then presented the Bishop with the Diocesan Pastoral Staff.

The Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor, The Chancellor of the Diocese, The Diocesan Registrar, the County Councilors, the City Councilors, the Principle of Gloucestershire University, more Bishops than you can normally muster, and representatives from every walk of life were present and seemed to have processions going to and fro. It seemed that every Verger from every large Parish who has them was roped in to lead something. I spotted two of Tewkesbury Abbey’s three Vergers, one from Cirencester, one from Winchcombe, and the Cathedral’s own team of four. The Chapter of Derby, Bishop Michael’s former abode as Dean, brought their own Verger.

Also present were representatives from all the faiths present in Gloucestershire – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist. All the Christian Leaders made a joint declaration with the Bishop to uphold and work together for the Faith.

From his sermon and from the manner in which he has conducted himself during this service, I think it is safe to say that Gloucester has a Diocesan Bishop who will bring some new and interesting ideas to his charge. And I think he will make a his presence felt in the pastoral ministry as well.

“Feed my sheep.”

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:12 PM

May 28, 2004

A service to be proud of!

A trawl for news on the web has turned up some interesting items, but I have decided to talk about the fire service. A visit to the website of one of the "local" Brigades turned up their fleet data and some readers may find this an interesting site to visit. Our vehicles are a very specialised area - far removed from what is required for the bin lorry or a bus, or, for that matter, any ordinary commercial application. For one thing, it will spend almost its entire life fully laden - and be expected to start immediately and go rapidly up to an emeregncy speed from cold. The cab design is ergonomic because the crew have to arrive safe and fully rigged at their destination. It is also designed to ensure that the driver does not have to use his hands for much beyond steering it. The controls are all arranged around him to minimise distraction as he drives. The cab itself is braced and reinforced to ensure that it does not crumple or crush in the event of an accident.

Few people these days realise just how wide a remit the Fire Service covers. The list of services we deliver is extensive and growing, yet, and this is in part at the root of the dispute, there is at present no statutory duty for us to do most of it. Nor is there funding provided for a great deal of what we do.

Existing legislation says we are established to: -

protect life and property from fire,
give advice on fire prevention,
gather information in respect of certain high risk premises for the purposes of fire fighting, and
conduct inspections of buildings for fire safety,

Nothing there about rescuing people from quarries, wrecked motor cars, train crashes, air crashes, collapsed structures, cats from trees, animals from mud banks, pits, or other traps, and so on. Yet this probably constitutes around 60% of our emergency work today. Added to this we conduct a wide range of inspections both for enforcement and in an advisory role to other enforcers. Public education (now called grandly Community Fire Safety) has long been one of our remits, but it was always a "goodwill" exercise, never properly supported although everyone knew the value.

In the last hundred years or so there have been huge advances in the technology we use and in our own understanding of the mechanism that is fire. Thus we are today a highly skilled and technically engaged profession - a far cry even from where the service was 30 years ago. Our personal protective clothing, our breathing apparatus, and our training have all advanced by huge technological leaps in that time. So have the incidents we have to deal with. Sadly, every advance in materials has brought with it a concommitant change in fire behaviour, development, growth, and heat output. Alongside that have come changes to the way buildings are constructed, so the fire fighter has to understand exactly what the effect of both the fire and his fire fighting tactics are likely to do to the structure he is attempting to save.

Then there are the contents of the buildings, which decompose in the fire and give off a wide range of extremely toxic products in the smoke plume - which can travel hundreds of miles. Chernobyl was bad - some of the stuff in warehouses (unprotected thanks to the Civil Service and Politicians' reluctance to make sprinklers compulsory) has the potential to be just as damaging to the environment and to peoples health - but it will be much more difficult to prove! We are talking about a variety of heavy metal oxides here, such as Beryllium, Antimony, and a few others including, Mercury. Some buildings have such potentially harmful contents that the Environment Agency has issued the Fire Service with notices saying that no fire fighting is to occur in case the water used washes the toxic contents into the ground water and the food chain.

Needless to say, the fire service finds this difficult to do, but we have to be equally aware of the potential exposure risks to our people and take measures to protect them from contamination.

New legislation currently before parliament will formalise much of this and give us new powers to investigate fires more thoroughly. They also require us to work with other interested agencies such as the Police, Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency, and others to reduce fire losses, pollution, and risks to life and property. A visit to this site will allow you to look at the Bill currently in the Lords in "Grand Committee" and which will become law in the Autumn.

Throughout the 30+ years I have been associated with the service, I have been proud of the way the service has embraced new technology, new ways of doing things, and its unswerving service to the community it serves. Sadly our political masters have decreed that it is not "representative", not "inclusive", and are seeking to reduce it to the same status as the Waste Disposal services and other "unskilled" local government tasks. The professional edge, developed and honed to meet the demands of our technology-laden age are now seen as a barrier to "disadvantaged" groups, and so it is decreed that we must be under the control of "managers" - not "officers" - and the discipline must be removed in order to include those who find taking orders threatening or draconian.

It is to be hoped that those now rising in the ranks will be able to moderate the worst excesses of those stupid enough to think that the service can still deliver the quality of service it does under these "dumbing down" strictures. If they cannot, the service you, the public, have relied on for the last century or so will soon be unable to attend the bulk of the incidents it currently deals with safely, because it will no longer have the expertise.

Spare a thought for the people who man the big red lorries - and take a look at what they have to know in order to do their work safely, effectively and efficiently. They are the ones who, despite the continual interference of the arrogant cretins who inhabit Whitehall and the town halls, manage to limit the damage whenever you and your neighbours need their services. They can only do that if they continue to be selected on ability and intelligence, and are given an environment wherein they continue to feel proud, positive, and professional about their role and the service they offer.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:58 AM

May 27, 2004

So we may end up having to keep this scum?

The arrest yesterday of Abu Hamza, the vile murderer who masquerades as a Muslim Cleric and preaches outside the Mosque in North London from which its own council barred him, was at first an event for which I felt some relief. At last the Home Secretary was moving against this viper in our midst whose sole agenda is to poison the hearts and minds of young people with his twisted and warped vision of Holy war and Martyrdom.

Then reality and my cynicism bit. I wondered how long it would take his equally twisted legal team to get into a court to argue that because the US has the death penalty for his crimes, he cannot be extradited under the Human Rights Act as this would constitute a "cruel and unusual punishment".

Well, it didn't take them long. They were in court defending the scum by lunchtime. Apparently his activities against his long suffering hosts do not constitute anything "cruel and unusual" - its OK for him to advocate murder - as long as it's not committed here. Its OK for him to incite religious and racial hatred - as long as it isn't here. Its OK for him to want to impose upon the UK the Sharia Law - which includes a wide range of "cruel and unusual" punishments including being beheaded, amputation of limbs, organs, and stoning to death. Even a death penalty for daring to leave the faith or to disobey the Mullah.

That's OK, the English Taxpayer can pick up the bills for his defence, for his housing, feeding, and for his continued campaigns of hatred. But we can't send him to someone who might actually try him and, if they find him guilty, punish him. Oh no. That is "cruel and unusual".

Nice one. But I'll probably get a visit from the Thought Police for even daring to write this.

Got to go - there's someone breaking down the door.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 04:12 PM | Comments (2)

Yes Minister?

Today several papers have highlighted probably the major reason why our economy is stagnating and taxes rising. Our Illustrious Leader and his buddies have been expanding the legions of bureaucrats exponentially. No wonder the armed forces are being slowly destroyed and nothing ever actually gets done - most of the additional 500,000 posts created (444 per day last year!) have been for back room paper shufflers such as "Gender Awareness Officers" and "Target Monitoring Officers".

Yes, 500,000 of them. This takes the Civil Service to a record high of 5,454,000 - up since 1998 from 4,945,000 - and now accounts for 20% of the total workforce. As the Telegraph writer says - hardly jobs that make the economy grow, or which contribute to any growth. In the same period private sector jobs have fallen significantly, suggesting that Mr Blair and Mr Brown are "creating" jobs in the Public Sector - at the taxpayers expense - to disguise the fact that the real economy, not the Walter Mitty economy of the Whitehall Wallahs, is actually shrinking.

With this kind of "growth" is it any wonder that we are having the fleet cut to nothing, the armed forces must share body armour, ammunition is rationed, and most of the airforce is grounded? Is it any wonder the delivery end of almost all public services are being squeezed with stupid "targets" set by morons in Whitehall and used selectively to show "improvement" no matter how bad the delivery actually is?

We laughed at Sir Humphrey and his antics, but this has gone beyond a joke.

I am in the process of filling in my tax return, a complicated and unnecessary process since they have already got the money - Pay As You Earn sees to that - and the form is stupidly complex to boot. The realisation that I have paid this bunch of layabouts slightly more than 26% of my earnings in DIRECT taxation (Income Tax plus "National Insurance") and have had to pay an average of a further 17.5% in Value Added Tax on almost everything I buy makes my blood boil!

I see precious little in return - the roads I use are badly maintained, the NHS fails to deliver any meaningful "health care", the Emergency Service is being destroyed, businesses are being driven to the wall, and the wastage in Whitehall just increases in an ever growing spiral!

Parkinson's Law - published in the 1960's as a little joke - has come home to roost. Parkinson showed in his original "Law" that "Every Civil Servant acquires two assistants." Think about it. There is currently one Civil Servant for every four people in the work force - and that is without counting all those in Local Government - another 5 million or so! How long before the only people in employment in this counrty are the Civil Servants and their chums in Local Government.

At this rate of growth it won't be long at all.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 03:34 PM | Comments (2)

Death in the islands

The growing tragedy in Haiti seems almost unbelievable and an appalling thing to afflict an already deprived and impoverished population. These "Acts of God", as they are so inappropriately termed, often seem to some whose faith is founded on fluffy images of a benign and gentle grandfatherly image to be a sign that God is punishing wrongdoing - or worse - that He simply doesn't care.

The truth is that He does care. He cares very deeply about all of His creation, but He has also given to humankind the free will of choice and if we choose to do things that destroy the balance of nature and destroy our own ability to live within the natural infrastructure then these things become inevitable. No, I am not advocating a return to the watery eyed vision of living in some sort of "harmony" with the birds, the bees, and up to my knees in mud and horse droppings either, what I am saying is that we do have to get a handle on human population numbers. And no, I am not advocating some sort of cull either!

Travelling around for work, I have several times been witness to major tragedies of the sort now afflicting Haiti. The last time was in the Philippines when a super typhoon swept across Luzon and parts of Northern Manila took a real beating. Flash floods along the Pasig River and other tributaries swept hundreds of squatter houses out of their way and dumped the debris, people, and a whole lot more into Manila Bay. I don't think there was ever a full body count, I seem to recall the official figure was around 500. But the problem has not gone away, the houses were rebuilding almost as soon as the storm passed, and a new lot of squatters were taking the place of those who had been killed. Why? Because there are simply more people than there are houses for. Land price is one part of the problem, but the far bigger problem is the corruption and the lack of any sort of effort to provide suitable, convenient, and decent housing to meet the demand. Given the overall economic problems of these countries, perhaps this is not so surprising.

So what should the wealthy West do about it? Give more Aid? Change the way we work and live - which means reducing our standards of living in order to do without a raft of things we currently buy from these nations - in order to provide "fair and equitable" distribution of wealth? Both courses will simply compound the problem that already exists. More money to these places simply means that the corrupt officials and politicians get even richer (Note that Mr Mugabe says that the West is "dumping" food on Zimbabwe as we try to feed the millions he is starving! What he really wants is money so that it can be deposited in his bloated Swiss Bank account.) It also encourages further population growth because it relieves the poor from the cycle of "natural" wastage that is the normal mechanism for population control.

What a nightmare! On the one hand we find ourselves as Christians under an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves. On the other we must also recognise that this "help" is making a bad situation even worse!

Let's look at the problem more closely. Why do the poorest of the poor always end up building their homes in places as unsuitable or as vulnerable as those in Haiti of the Philippines? For several reasons - it places them close to where they can actually find work, or can beg, or can find some other means of supporting themselves. Brazil has this problem as well and I could name a lot of places in Africa where the same sort of situation can be found. They build homes in creeks, along watercourses, or on hillsides where at least one amenity can be found - usually a water supply - and as the settlement grows so do come the other problems, crime, abuse of drugs, alcohol, and disease. Rat populations increase dramatically, soil erosion becomes a problem, as with no laid roads and no drainage, the footpaths become water courses in the rain or open sewers when it's dry. The original families possibly had an option to farm a small piece of ground which provided at least some food; later settlers seldom have that option.

Eventually the combination of runoff, erosion, and the stripping of vegetation from the slopes of a hill or the blocking of a runoff creek results in a situation where the slope is unstable or the creek ripe for a major flood and then a so-called "flash" runoff.

Bad land management is, however, only one element; the major and underlying cause of all of this is the ever-growing population. The land in many of these places is simply unable to sustain the population now living off it. No amount of Aid, however well meant or targetted, can ever correct this. Most animal populations cease to breed once the population reaches critical levels and the resultant reduction allows the land and the food supply to recover. In times of drought, the grazing animal population falls, the predators cease breeding, and when the land recovers as the cycle changes, so do the animal populations. Not so the human chain. We have arrogantly broken the link and the result is a population level that is unsustainable. Unless we find a way to manage our population levels soon we could find ourselves in very deep trouble everywhere.

No I do not have an answer, and no I do not think it should be down to Government, the UN, or any other body to decide who does and who does not continue to breed. Perhaps the big bogeyman of genetic engineering will provide some answers, perhaps it won't, I do know that each time we extend the natural life span, each time we "conquer" another child killer or natural selector, we make the problem worse.

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that God will provide us with the wisdom to find an answer sooner rather than later.

Perhaps the answer may already be in the making. The New Scientist carried an item last week on global extinctions, which scientists now say is looking more and more likely to have been caused by our own planet's blowing a fuse than by a strike from space. It seems that some of the "meteor" craters have turned out to be "blowout" craters caused by the buildup in the deep crust of a range of very nasty gases generated in the mantle beneath our feet.

Apparently these build up in thicker parts of the crust as huge upwellings of the molten mantle force themselves against the underside of the crust and penetrate weaknesses. Eventually the weaker area will begin to thin and form a rift valley (See the one in East Africa for an example) and this starts to tear the continental plate apart. When it reaches a point at which the strain is too great, the plate fractures and a massive lava flow occurs at the fracture. Simultaneously the disruption allows the high pressure hot gas stored in faults in the crust to burst out in a blowout the scientists have named a "Verneshot" after the Jules Verne cannon used to send a spaceship to the moon.

A big chunk of the crust is ejected as a missile and the gases erupt into the atmosphere, poisoning it and causing a "Nuclear" winter of debris shielding out the sun. They estimate that the last time this happened was 65 million years ago. Ninety percent of all sea life dissappeared and roughly the same numbers of plant and animal numbers. The earth itself killed off the dinosaurs - not a space rock.

Guess what? There is a new "rift" valley forming in the Kamchatka/Mongolia region. Perhaps our dilemma over population numbers will be solved for us.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:57 AM

May 26, 2004

The disenchantment of the electorate?

The big European Project seems to be getting less and less popular every day. The latest sign of disquiet is manifesting itself in the waining support for the pro-EU parties and the growth in this area for the anti-EU or at least luke warm EU parties. Thus we have the spectacle of the Conservative Unionist Party making a comeback in Scotland to the extent that the polls show they now have over 30% support among the 39% of the Scottish voters who say they will vote.

South of the border we have the UK Independence Party which the polls put in third place at 18% behind the Conservatives (31%) and Labour (25%), but ahead of the Lib Dems (Labour in Disguise Party), down to fourth(13%). The UKIP boasts a surge and we have another two weeks of campaiging (ho hum!) before the big polling day on 10th June. OK, so these are only for that wonderful hot air generating station in Strasbourg (Cue the music as the 30 odd pantechnicons of paperwork and reference material roll back and forth between Brussels [Technically the Admninistrative "Capital" of the EU] and Strasbourg [the Parliamentary "Capital"] in order to keep the MEP's from actually getting their noses into matters the bureaucrats would rather they didn't, and to maintain the French illusion that it is really Strasbourg which is the hub of Europe.

Just to complete the amusement in all of this, I came across a Bill before Parliament yesterday which sets out a very simple and classically effective means of derailing the entire EU agenda. It states simply that the UK Parliament may, if it chooses, and irrespective of any treaty, enact any statute which may be deliberately in conflict with an EU Directive. I like it. I certainly hope it passes!

As if the EU co-operative myth weren't in enough trouble, the news has now emerged that the new multi-million pound Euro-fighter - the exhorbitant cost of which has contributed to the massive and painful cuts to our fleet and to the RAF itself, cannot operate in cloud or undertake "dynamic manoevres" because its computers aren't up to the job. Such is the price of "economies of scale". I note with interest that the French and German airforces are not subject to the same swinging "economies" and have not cut back and scrapped their existing aircraft and have even dared to buy alternatives. Perhaps we should sack our present bunch of civil servants and politicians and import some from across the channel. The dictum put forward by Pliny, Caesar, and Tacitus - "Si vis pacem, para bellum"(He who seeks peace, prepares for war) seems to have been lost on most of them recently.

Overall, the British public seem to be even less likely to back the EU now than they were when the government was desperately trying to sell us the single currency a couple of years back. Ah well, a week is a long time in politics - and a couple more years may see this monstrous socialist experiment in centralisation and "internationalisation" consigned to the place it belongs - the dustbin.

Funnily enough, this trend is repeated across Europe where even in those countries where voting is compulsory; the voters are simply refusing to back the mainstream pro-EU parties and are instead "spoiling" by voting for single issue and lunatic fringe parties in EU elections. Wonder if the so-called leaders are getting the message, yet?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:21 AM

May 25, 2004

These old stones

Near Tewkesbury is the small village of Deerhurst, a very ancient settlement, and one of historic interest, not least its ancient Saxon Abbey Church, which, although added to in the 12th and 13th Centuries and much knocked about by the "reformers" of the 16th and 17th Centuries, retains many of its original features.

Deerhurst Church.JPG
The old Saxon Church at Deerhurst - the central part and tower date from around 900 AD.

At a little distance from it stands Odda's Chapel, dedicated in 1056 to the memory of Aelfric, brother of Odda, a local Prince of the Saxon Royal House, who died at Deerhurst. The chapel survives in a largely unaltered form thanks to its having become a barn and being incorporated into the house built for the Abbot of Westminster Abbey, of which establishment the Deerhurst Abbey had become a Priory.

The simple austerity of both places is in itself inspiring, and the setting is so peaceful that it is a nice place to go and explore one's thoughts. I first discovered both quite a few years ago, but only recently discovered that the Church at Deerhurst is the final resting place of quite a large number of my forebears who enjoyed the Lordship of the Manors of Apperley, Deerhurst, and Ashchurch in this area. As families do, they seem to have declined into the background and other families now enjoy these honours.

The old Deerhurst church was established on this site in 715, and the present building still incorporates elements from that original. In fact, the nave, flanked by its 13th Century "Aisles", is still the tall narrow Saxon building from around 900AD. Sadly, the "reformers" destroyed the original Saxon Apsed Sanctuary, the foundations of which can still be seen in the abutting farmyard. The farmhouse and many of its surrounding buildings are the original early Norman "Priory" buildings. One remarkable survivor of the centuries since it was first carved is the great stone font, now situated in the North West corner of the North Aisle. Internally, the West Wall of the church, which supports the Saxon Tower, has a pair of original Saxon windows looking into the nave and several other features, including door "guards" of carved stone wolf heads on either side of the door.

The West Wall of the Saxon nave.

A remarkable indicator of the 17th Century view of the Eucharist survives here, with the "Communion Table" placed forward and in front of the chancel gates, with seating arranged on the North, East and South walls of the chancel. This accords with the Rubric contained in the 1662 Prayer Book that says, ".. The Minister shall cause the Table to be placed in the midst of the Chancel longwise, and after that he has admitted those whom he shall examine and have found fit to receive the grace of the communion, he shall stand upon the North side and commence the commemoration of our Lord's Last Supper ..." .

The "Table" now stands in the more conventional "crosswise" position, the Eucharist is no longer exclusive (Thank the Lord!), and the Priest now stands on the East side to celebrate the Eucharist facing West, but the 17th Century layout survives. It is this format which (thankfully!) was abandoned by the majority of the Church of England in the 19th Century, but still survives in some corners of the Anglican Communion, most notably in the Sydney Diocese, where the "North End Crouch" is still the "approved" stance for the Priest celebrating the Eucharist. In my usual fashion I put my foot in it when I was last there by asking why, if they insisted on adhering to a position which has no theological or liturgical authority but is an expression of 17th Century politics, they did not place the "Table" correctly in the lengthwise position? OK, I will do a penance for that one, but the guy had annoyed me with a stupid sermon which was all about how evil the Roman Catholics were. He should maybe get out a bit more and grow up.

A copy of the original "dedication stone" found during work carried out in 1675 at Odda's Chapel.

My love for these old stones rests as much in the years of use they have had in providing a place to worship as in the link they provide with our ancestors and their small triumphs and disasters. Here at Deerhurst stands a monument to the history of the people and the church stretching back over 1300 years. Truly a testimony to the faith and the faithfullness of the succeeding generations who have worshipped here and now lie in the tranquil ground around it.

One of the pair of Wolf's head Door guards.

Long may it continue to provide a haven of tranquility in the lives of those it serves.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:45 AM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2004

In the line of duty

Today we commemorate the death of a colleague and fellow fire fighter, this time in South Wales Fire and Rescue Services area. The fire he was attending was deliberately set, and his death now transforms this to murder, small consolation to his family and his friends.

He will be remembered in the traditional way. Let us now hope that the person or persons responsible for this needless death are brought swiftly to justice and that the courts deal with them appropriately. No doubt there will be questions for his officers and for the Brigade to answer in due course for their obligations under health and safety legislation, but I do not think these need necessarily lead to any change of safety policy. It is a dangerous vocation; we all accept certain risks and certain dangers in serving the public, but this is not helped by criminals whose objective is to prevent intervention and make the job even harder.

The fallen Firefighter, Richard Jenkins, was 28, married and had two small children. He had been a fire fighter for nine years and was killed when something exploded during the fire fighting. A criminal investigation has now been started.

Pray for his family and his colleagues.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:52 AM

May 23, 2004

The work progresses

The Monk's new study area is small and functional - a landing next to the stairs.

At least my study is now becoming functional, but most of the books I use for reference are still in boxes because they will go into bookshelves in what will be my diningroom/guest room. It is taking quite a while to settle things and sort things, because I am having a combination boiler and central heating system installed. Drilling to put in the pipe runs is messy and dusty and means I cannot put some things into their places because it would be difficult to move them so the workman can get behind them to do his bits when he needs to.

I dare say that it would be quite a bit quicker to do this if I had someone who does this full time - but I have a friend and colleague who is doing it for me at less than half the full cost. It's worth putting up with the delay for that price.

Still, it will be nice when it is all finished, I can put things away permanently and get on with life. Only problem - once the heating is installed, I will have to get another guy in to install shelves in the cupboard where the geyser used to be! That will be my linen cupboard in future - complete with its own mini-radiator to ensure the linen stays dry and aired!

That is, of course, the next problem - I have to get in a carpenter to build some proper linen shelves (I am the pupil whose woodwork master wrote "please do not let this boy destroy any more wood in attempts at carpentry" in my end of year report.). This cannot be done until the massive electric watertank and its reservoir are removed. While we're at it, I will need some more shelves built in another cupboard which has had the gas pipes stripped out and can now be more usefully used as a grocery storage unit, so then I can also sort out some of my other storage arrangements more efficiently.

For now - I have the radiators on the walls! No pipework yet, but the boiler is in its position, the flue is installed, the gas pipes ready for connection! Progress! Once that is done I can start putting away the stuff that could not be unpacked untill all that wiork was complete - and then it's just a case of getting the place arranged comfortably.

It may not yet be the end, nor is it the beginning of the end - but it is the end of the beginning - to misappropriate the words of a much more famous author!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:34 PM

May 22, 2004

The Tyranny of D-I-Y.

Most of us Do It Yourself because the job is too small or too expensive to get an artisan in to do it for us. The problem, of course, is that as we are not artisans (and most DIYers aren’t!), we rarely have the skill or the know how to do it a) efficiently, or b) within a reasonable timescale. Speaking for myself, I find that any DIY project I tackle invariably turns out to take around four times as long as I allowed for it, and usually has to have at least one bit of “corrective reinstallation”.

Perhaps I should stick to the day job. I am good at putting out fires, cutting open cars, and telling people how to avoid the fire, but not good at fixing or repairing things, unless it is equipment directly related to putting out fires or cutting open cars, etc.

Today’s “little” task is a good example. How difficult is it to put up a Venetian blind? Well, it seems the manufacturers build these things with some pretty small clearances on the controlling bits. So if you put the brackets where they are in contact with these bits….. .

OK, so I should have measured more carefully; I thought I had. I thought I had followed the instructions to the letter. The brackets still wound up in contact. Solution? Move the brackets about half an inch (Alright! Alright! 12.25 mm! – There, I do know my metric!) It still doubles the time I allowed for this job. At least I now have a working blind in the kitchen window – important, since it faces West and gets pretty hot in the late afternoon.

Painting the tiles (I will replace them later, but can’t stand the green tile paint the previous owner used any longer and haven’t time to undertake a major tiling job just now!) will now have to wait until another night.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh !!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:05 PM | Comments (2)

May 21, 2004

Some snippets from here and there ...

A trawl through some of my favourite reads found me enjoying some of Tim's (An Englishman's Castle)contributions to the further education of English speakers in the subtleties of the German language. Do pay this post a visit.

A visit to Kathy's site at On The Third Hand had me grinning as well with her take on the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders dealing with their al Mehdi attackers.

Still on the UK and British kick, the Metropolitan Police this week foiled an attempted heist at Heathrow. Paul of "All agitprop; all the time" comments on how you threaten people with a lump of wood. Well, it's like this, Paul, I have a large piece of 4x4 and a suitable grip fashioned in one end. You have your bare hands. I rush in and threaten to beat you over the head, or any other part of the anatomy, and for show probably do it to one of your mates - in a loving and friendly way, of course! Just to show I mean well. Now, in a place like the US or maybe parts of Canada, where it is legal for you to carry a weapon to defend yourself, you'd probably blow my head off. In the UK, you're supposed to let me hit you. Clear? Yup, the lunatics are in charge again.

Seriously, the Met did a very good job on this one; they had them all bagged and tagged before anyone could get seriously hurt, and even the two that did do a runner got caught after a brief chase. Now, of course, there are loads of lawyers lining up to unload yet more cash from the Legal Aid Fund while defending the gang, probably on the grounds that it is a breach of their human rights to have stopped them from stealing the bullion.

One up to the Police, now let's see how they get off on all the technicalities the lawyers will throw at the court.

Finally, there have been a few problems over the last 24 hours or so with access to this site. Rather than write a whole lot about something I know little about - please go to Ozguru's site G'day Mate and read what he has posted. I may have some Viking ancestry - but this has nothing to do with whatever that popup was about!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:06 AM | Comments (2)

May 20, 2004

Ascension Day

The Gospel of St Luke, Chapter 24 verse 51 says, "While He was blessing them, He left them, and was taken up into heaven."

So Luke records the last time Jesus appeared to His disciples after His crucifixion and resurrection. It is a strange way to put it and suggests that the ascension as we now call it, was less dramatic and more a sort of "fade out", perhaps a transfer from one state of being to another, or even the full affirmation of the new state of being.

I find it personally difficult to subscribe to such fundamentalist concepts as "the Rapture" and a Heaven filled with waving grass, houses (or mansions), fountains, floating angels strumming harps, and the rest. I am not certain what heaven is like - nor can I be until I, hopefully, get translated to that state of being where I am able to enter it. Of one thing I am certain, I do not think it is so much a place in finite terms but rather a totally different "state".

Today we mark Christ's going ahead of us into that state and must rely on His promise that we, too, will one day follow.

May peace and joy be with you all.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

Trouble at Mill?

"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."

I seem to recall that that quote is from one of Mark Twain's books, but I am willing to concede that I may be wrong. The last few days have been frenetic at work and having the gasman (cue Flanders and Swann - "The Gasman cometh") beavering away in my flat installing a central heating system hasn't exactly helped.

So, my mood over my morning coffee (shortage of sleep and serious case of the "Buggerems") is hardly sweetness and light at the moment. Thus, it was almost a nuclear event when the news announcer declared that the fire services are now "working to rule" over large tracts of the country.

There are always three sides to any story - theirs, mine, and the truth - and I am willing to concede that I am seeing this from the side being hit by "change fatigue", mismanagement, and the crass arrogance and monumental ignorance of both the politicians driving things and the civil servants who do their bidding. But this latest one is a prime example of what happens when trust is destroyed. The pay deal hammered out late last year - and the first phase of which was implemented with dragging feet and grudging acceptance by the employers - has now been further upset by the employers trying to get smart and delay implementing the second phase. This despite the National Audit Office reporting that all save two brigades had implemented the modernisation process.

Now it would appear that some have been pushed just that little bit too far - ironically in Manchester, where ther attempts to implement promotion based on the "new" role maps and the idiotically bureaucratic "evidence of competence" system has resulted in Application Forms which have resulted in submissions of more than 9,000 words "proving" compliance with 57 different "essential" and "desirable" competencies. These are taken directly from the National Occupational Standards and make a complete nonsense of the supposed process which is supposed to be in place - to whit, that everyone is assessed through an Assessment Centre for selection. GMC is one Brigade that claims to have an "Assessment Centre" but the fact is that their view of such a centre is not that of the professions who operate these. Result, massive dissatisfaction among those who see their promotion being wrecked by unfair selection processes.

Further disturbing news comes from the Shires, where several Services have had their budgets "capped". This means that, like it or not, there will be a reduction in the number of frontline fire fighters and therefore in the service to the public. One Brigade affected is already trying to identify how they will manage with fewer fire fighters and how they will go about shedding jobs in a way that will not cost more in terms of compensation packages than it would to simply keep the people in post.

No wonder the troops are disillusioned.

It is made worse by the fact that the middle managers in charge of all this "modernisation" have their own agenda - making sure that they stay in post - and have shown that they are not to be trusted, either. So, we have a situation in which Senior Management is under the thrall of politicians, Middle Management is taking care of itself and looking to move up the tree, and the troops are under the hammer. This entire "modernisation" agenda is rapidly becoming a cost cutting, service downgrading exercise which will result in a third world service, at third world price under the management of incompetent managers whose knowledge of the service will have come from Hollywood movies, newspapers, and the annual balance sheet.

One Brigade has just, at a stroke, rendered its Station Officers, Assistant Divisional Officers, and many of its Divisional Officers redundant. Of course they now have a problem of what to do with them, but effectively they have no jobs. Why? Because their Chief has decided to appoint (and he can under our Illustrious Leaders "modernising" legislation) Area Managers who are just "Managers", civilian, and with no operational role. They will manage groups of fire stations and the fire crews and resources - but have no background and no knowledge of fire fighting, fire equipment, or fire fighters. The first has been appointed. She is a former Call Centre manager and will manage three of the Brigade's stations. The former Station Commanders (Station Officers and Assistant Divisional Officers) have been re-assigned to dead end posts and told that they will have to make application to be considered to join an "Incident Management Team" which is a group of Station Officers, ADO's, and a DO, who will respond from a central location to take charge of any incident requiring someone more senior that a Watch Manager (formerly called a Sub Officer) in attendance.

Still wondering why the fire fighters are fed up and disillusioned? I'm glad I have less than three years left before I can take my pension (and it won't be as large as the media would like you to think) and turn my back on this mess.

I wonder how much it will cost me to sprinkler-protect my house? It will certainly be safer than relying on Mr Blair's "modernised" fire service in a couple of years time!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:42 AM | Comments (4)

May 19, 2004

A dusty response?

Good to see our Illustrious Leader get the pelting he so richly deserves. Almost as good was the expression of real fear on the faces of his surrounding poodles as the dust cloud spread.

Just as well it was only purple coloured flour, or their fear might have been warranted.

One aside, I suppose - the House cleared faster than it would even if the barman had called "Last orders". Had it been anything really harmful, the overpaid and overly self-indulgent morons who rushed from the House would have spread it all over and ensured it got to the widest possible audience. Good stuff, really.

And just to add insult to injury - they called the fire service to come and deal with it. Considering that only minutes before he had been castigating the very same service for its refusal to lie back and enjoy being raped by him and his gang. Pretty rich really - especially coming from a middle class twit who spent his years at university - along with all the rest of his frontbench - digging up cricket pitches, smoking pot, and staging protests.

Fully qualified politician then. Anyone know where I can lay my hands on a well rotten ostrich egg? I have a certain specific target in mind and they certainly won't be able to brush that off in a hurry!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:09 PM | Comments (3)

A Good News Day........

Your intrepid reporter, CM, felt particularly adventuresome this morning, so she ventured out in the daylight to scamper about the Blogdom. She found some Good News [ thanks to InstaPundit ] that puts those 'screaming headlines of doom and gloom' right in the dustbin where they belong. Both UK and US civilians are quietly enabling democracy in the vast areas of Iraq which are never heard from because there's almost only good things happening there.

This page, full of multiple examples of great progress, needs to be trumpeted all over, not because it would be a mild form of bragging according to those miserable people who run 'big media', but because it shows the triumph of the Iraqis finding their way into the light of self-governance and progress out of the dark chasm of despair and fear that was their lot for so long under the late despical regime which held them in captivity.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:53 PM

May 18, 2004

Albert and the Lion?

The famous poem from the Music Halls about "our Albert" and the results of his teasing a lion at the zoo springs to mind as I read the papers today. Twenty soldiers of the Argyll and Sutherland Regiment, on patrol in Iraq, were attacked recently by a vastly larger force of al-Sadr's "al Mehdi" militia men. The troops dug in and put up a spirited defence, radioing for support - which arrived in the form of more trrops supplied by the Princess of Wales Own Regiment.

A fierce fire fight developed, and the al Mehdi goons discovered that, if you kick the supposedly aged and infirm Lion that the British Troops represent, it can turn very nasty indeed. Due to ammunition shortages (thanks, Mr Blair, Mr Brown, and the civil service!) and the need to get in close and personal when clearing entrenched positions, the British units resorted to their bayonets. The result will give many at home and in Iraq pause for some serious thought.

In a battle which lasted just over 3 hours, two soldiers were slightly wounded on the British Forces side. The al Mehdi lost 35 known dead, 15 wounded seriously and taken into custody, 9 captured and an unknown number of other dead whose bodies could not be recovered from the river. The Iraqi Police are now "interviewing" the captives, a spokesman for whom said, "it shows how good the British are at defending themselves. It was a total disaster for al Mehdi."

An old African proverb says that you should not taunt a sleeping lion - it might have a mate in the long grass and they will combine to avenge the insult.

The British Troops may be under equipped, ill supported, and poorly served by the self serving politicians and civil servants who manage them, but they can still make us as proud as hell to be British. It's on a par with the Colonel of the Royal Irish Regiment (an armoured Regiment) who said after a battle against Republican Guard T-72's which engaged his Challenger II's - "Thirteen of theirs came in to bat against twelve of ours. The score was 13-0 in our favour."

Sadly, I do not think it will be long before we start to hear the howls of "atrocity", "brutality", and "war crime" from the contemptible likes of Amnesty International, the ICRC, and members of the British Labour Party and their "freedom fighter" comrades who seem to think that the troops should line up neatly and allow themselves to be killed or captured in the name of peace.

Treat that ilk with the contempt they deserve.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:02 AM | Comments (3)

May 17, 2004

Greater Love Hath No Man.........

Wow! That's it, just wow!

He's got that right, spot on! BlackFive found this example of what's the best in mankind. The Armed Forces of the United States are better demonstrated by this small individual act than the monstorous overemphasis on the acts of a very few individuals getting out of hand in Iraq.

But, will the media admit their bias; not at all. They deliberately stifle anything that might allow the States to look anything but evil.

A pox on all their 'media houses'...may they crumble to dust !!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:08 AM | Comments (4)

May 16, 2004

Resistance is futile

Another excellent essay from Melanie Phillips needs reading. This concerns (and should really worry every last one of us) the decision to allow the Islamic apologists to brainwash children in Manchester's schools with the concept of jihad and suicide bombing as a "counter to negative media reporting".

Excuse me? I know that I have a problem with the medias bias - but I would have said that they go out of their way to excuse and apologise for the excesses of Islamic fundamentalism, while denigrating everyone else! If Islam has a negative image it is purely and simply because they refuse to leave the 8th Century! The view that Jews and Christians are "dhimmi" - allowed to practice their religions but must show their "inferiority" is not only insupportable but is frankly insulting.

The sop offered by the perpetrators of this garbage "that Jesus is an important prophet to Muslims" and that this should be acceptable to Christians is insulting and displays the massive ignorance about Christianity characteristic of the self-righteous and insidious fifth columnists of the Islamic Jihad movement. To Christians Jesus Christ is no mere Prophet. He is the one and only Son of the Most High God, the Word made flesh as St John puts it in his Gospel.

Once again we see the left leaning over backwards to appease these supporters of murder and terrorism when they should be bringing to bear the weapon they would be so quick to use against any Christian or Jew who made similarly insulting remarks about the man they call the ultimate prophet. Why have we not seen the new Act rushed through parliament last year to make it an offence to stir up religious discord used to charge this woman and the Muslim Council for insulting my religion, and worse, teaching this slewed and twisted garbage to children who are not Muslim?

Were I to demand the right to teach in the same classes the counter arguments and to show the far from sacred origins of some of the Koran, the same authorities who are pandering to this claptrap would have me before the magistrates on a charge before I had even finished making the suggestion!

If the left are allowed to continue in this twisted and biased fashion, pandering to Islam and denigrating any Christian beliefs and views, then prepare to either become a Muslim and live under Sharia Law or accept that you and your view will not be permitted to show itself in public unless in a subservient and inferior manner. Either way, this immoral crew and their equally immoral supporters will have won. Freedom of speech and of religion has been proscribed and is now limited to those who are practioners of Islam and restrict themselves to anti-Christian and anti-Jewish and other Politically Correct utterances.

At the present rate of progress the Borg battle cry will apply to this country very soon now. I hope Mr Blair and his cronies are satisfied.

"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 15, 2004

Quotable quote

Today's quaint quote is to be found at Tim's An Englishman's Castle site. I'm still chortling.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:11 AM

May 14, 2004

Anti-Semitic Britain?

My thanks must go to Andrew of Dodgeblogium for pointing me to an article by Melanie Phillips. This should be read by everyone - particularly in the light of the vile murder of Nicolas Berg in Iraq by the "poor downtrodden victims of Jewish inspired oppression" as our media would have us believe.

Miss Phillips asks if Britain is a society in which anti-semitiscm is increasiong, and she is right to ask. Our media is loaded with anti-semitic drivel. The Palestinians are painted as down-trodden victims when they are the architects of their own misfortune. Let a Jew criticise or voice a view at odds with the anti-Judaic and anti-Christian left wing mantras on multiculturalism and the full weight of the law (a new one specially brought in to strangle debate which might offend our Palestinian and Muslim friends) would be brought swiftly to bear. Yet Friday after Friday Muslim clerics pour forth lies, anti-semitism, and anti-Christian garbage and never a word is raised in protest.

Britain is anti-Semitic, and it starts at the top of the Labour Party and it pervades the media and the intelligentsia who populate our universities and the Aid agencies they support. They simply despise Jews. Not openly of course, but covertly. Insidiously they chip away at the legitimacy of the Israeli State, they denigrate the holocaust and make snide remarks about Jewish businessmen, Jewish values, and Jewish institutions. They paint the Israeli State as a tyranical oppressor of the Palestinians and their endless jihads and intifadas and ignore the fact that there are "Palestinians" sitting in the Knesset, elected by Israeli voters and representing Israeli constituents. The truth is, and make no mistake the intellectual left absolutely hate the Jews for this, that Israel is the ONLY democratic state in the Middle East. That's right - the ONLY one.

The press, the evangelical wing of the Church of England, many of the mainstream Protestant Churches, and that entire media circus are all anti-semitic in their espousal of "revisionist" and "replacement" theology and their biased reporting and twisted history. Archbishop Rowan is right to be concerned and Lord Carey is equally right to continue his theme of criticising both fundamentalist Muslims and Christians for holding back the process of reconciliation by their stupid and bigotted interpretation of the tenets of faith. A prime example of the anti-semitism at the very heart of Labour is the highly personal attack on the Conservative Party leader - a Jew. Strange, I would not have even thought of that if they hadn't taken the trouble to remind me.

Yes, in the 1930's the Zionist movement was actively involved in terrorism, but that became a fight for the survival of the Jewish people in the then Palestine. On the one hand the Palestinians were actively dispossessing Jews of their homes and destroying their goods, on the other, the British Administration was busy doing deals with the Arabs. Baldwin had promised the creation of a Jewish State in 1919 - then reneged. Why? Because the Arab lovers of his party and the others all wanted to curry favour with their new found Arab buddies - who had the oil. In 1947, despite warnings that the Arabs were planning to ethnically cleanse palestine of Jews, the British (Labour Party Government again!) handed over the arsenals to the Arab palestinians. The Jews had no choice but to take the country by force - or die in the ethnic cleansing the Arabs had stated they planned.

Let's face it - the liberal left are a bunch of closet racists who are not only immoral but are actively anti-semitic and downright dishonest. Read Melanie Phillips' post and weep. As long as this bunch are allowed to get away with their lies and warped morals we will have to endure more of the sickening events such as the murder of Nicolas Berg and other hostages whose only crime was to fall foul of a bunch of totally dishonest politicians and an equally disgraceful bunch of murderous fanatics so ably encouraged by their supporters - the idiots in Whitehall, Amnesty International, the ICRC and the rest.

Wake up! This perverted and twisted "moralism" has been built on a complete fabrication and is in danger of succeeding where Hitler and Stalin failed - and it's being done right under our noses!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:51 AM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2004

Reminder that life is a dangerous business

My colleagues and I are watching with interest the efforts in Glasgow to rescue the remaining victims friom the pile of rubble that was once their workplace. It is too early to speculate on the cause but several possibilities will no doubt feature in the investigation. The process involved the use of powders for coating. So a dust explosion is one aspect, the powder coating required firing in an oven, so the gas supply to the ovens will need looking at, and then there is the possibility of a chemical reaction going wrong.

We tend to forget in this age of technology and "safety cultures" that life is a hazardous business. As our reliance on technology increases it is becoming increasingly difficult for the operator of a variety of manufacturing plants and equipment to actually monitor what the machine is doing. Some safety systems actively prevent physical checks and the operator is forced to rely on what the machine itself is saying about its "health". Which is fine - until the monitoring computer malfunctions. Sometimes our safety fetish backfires. I sincerely hope that this does not turn out to be one of those occasions.

This incident puts me in mind of several others recently which have taken lives and of the fact that it is often the fire fighters who are taken for granted when all the shouting and tumult is over. I had a sharp reminder yesterday while hosting visitors from Serbia - two of whom are serving fire fighters in oil refineries near Belgrade. They were at their posts fighting fire while we were bombing them and their refineries. That is their job and that is mine. There are 3,500 names on the fire fighters memorial in London of fire fighters who did that through the years 1939 - 1945 in the UK and no doubt there will be fire fighters in Baghdad who have stood at their posts and fought the fires ignited by our bombs as we blitzed Saddam and no doubt even now as the lunatics try to bomb and shoot their way to power.

Life is not cheap anywhere; it is a dangerous pastime, however, and if the food, the water, the bugs don't get you, the gunman, the dangerous driver, the drunk or some other "accident" might. It is the fire fighter's job to try to save as many as possible in most dangerous situations, wherever they are and whatever nationality they are. Spare a thought for them all in your prayers; many will be working with inadequate equipment, inadequate protective clothing, and on pitiful pay. Some may be dying in the service of their community as I type this, but they will all do their duty come what may.

Perhaps this is what our employers have forgotten as they try to evade and change agreements over pay and conditions for the UK's service. Perhaps it is time they stopped chanting their mantra of "modernisation" and took a look at what they are taking for granted. Today one told me to my face that they knew they could do as they pleased with the service and force through cuts and changes because they could rely on us "not to let the public down and to make it work."

He's lucky I could restrain the sudden impulse to kick him where it would make sure he could never breed again. I am not a "Union" man, but much more of this sort of arrogant ignorance and I will become one.

Life is a dangerous game; those who choose to serve their communities in the fire service live with the knowledge that they may not return from a shift one day. I am proud to have given 33 years to this service and to the communities I have served, and I am proud of the service we have created. Those rescued from the collapsed factory in Glasgow will, I hope, be grateful for the care of the fire fighters there, just as those helped by the fire fighters in Belgrade or Baghdad will be grateful for the help they received.

Please hold the rescuers and the victims of the Glasgow blast in your prayers; this is a traumatic time for the victims; I can assure you that it is equally so for the rescue teams who know that there are people under the pile, yet are constrained to work "safely" as much for their own safety as for the survivors trapped beneath it. They will need your support and prayers for as long as possible.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:43 PM

May 12, 2004

Murder most foul.

What does one say about the ghastly atrocity perpetrated in cold blood and now proudly displayed on a website in full graphic detail. Better still, what do the oh so peaceful, oh so holy Muslim clerics say to it? What indeed do the ICRC or Amnesty International say? And what of the oh so spotless media circus? They, after all have incited and goaded this with their blatant disregard of the potential harm they could and have done by their hew and cry after Presidents, Ministers, and soldiers over the scandal of abused prisoners?

In my view they are all accessories to the fact of this murder.

Like all terrorists, these murderers are cowards, hiding behind their scarves and ski masks; they deserve no shelter and no mercy, yet, even if they are ever caught, there will be no justice for the murdered man and his family. Our liberal wimp brigade will see to that. What they deserve is the punishment that would be meted out to them under the very law they claim to wish to live by – public beheading for premeditated and unmitigated murder. No extenuating circumstances, and no plea for mercy should even be considered. Yet already you can hear the mutterings from the liberal left, of “provocation”, “we shouldn’t be there,” “our presence is inciting rebellion”, and so on ad nauseum.

If ever there was an argument for turning that entire region into a nuclear desert you have it now, yet, we have to keep reminding ourselves that the five murderers in the video and the however many behind the camera do not represent the majority of ordinary Iraqis, Iranians, or even Saudis. That majority are as much the victims as we are – cowed by lunatic Mullahs desperate to cling to power, threatened with execution, and worse by the anonymous street thugs hiding behind their masks; they too are afraid of the knife, the bomb, and the gun. That is why we must, at all cost and with whatever means it requires, expunge this foul cancer in every society that thinks it can burn, bomb, shoot, and stab its way to power from the face of the earth.

There should be special internationally selected courts to try these murderous swine as they are caught, and the death penalty applied. They should also be denied burial, their remains cremated and scattered at sea where there can be neither memorial nor shrine to their memory.

The court case now in process bringing a claim for unlawful killing against the British troops in Basra on behalf of Iraqi claimants should be halted immediately, the lawyer who brought it struck from the Rolls, and the law changed to bar any future attempts of this sort. Ozguru at G’day mate is right – they should get no more than they would have had from Saddam – one bullet each.

Let this so called “Human Rights” lawyer and all his cronies go to Baghdad and live with the people who hide behind their families, venture out to throw hand grenades and stones, wield knives and guns with their faces shrouded in their headscarves. Let them then decide on who is and who is not an “immediate and present threat”. They’re so damned smart sitting in their London Offices and their expensive London homes – if they’re that smart, the task of peacekeeping should be a real doddle for them and we can bring the troops home and leave the lawyers to it.

We have a choice – shut the bleeding hearts up and deal with the violent minority in all nations and in all societies, or allow ourselves to be driven into history as a society that had lost the will to defend itself against barbarism. We are dealing with fanatics who don’t care about anything other than the imposition of their twisted and murderous vision of Utopia. You will not defeat them with soft words, bribes, and negotiations. They understand only one thing – massive and terrifying retribution which denies them even the right to continue in existence in any shape or form.

Maybe the Russians have a point in their dealings with the Chechen Muslim rebels – captured or killed rebels are wrapped in pigskin, coated in pig fat and buried. The body having been defiled in this way, the rebels believe it denies them entry to heaven. It might give a few a pause for thought.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:35 PM

May 11, 2004

Providing aid and comfort to the enemy?

A recent comment left on my post "Public interest reporting", ties in very well with something I was pondering as I drove to work this morning. The news in these last few days has been full of yet more distressing pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused, each paper and TV newscast seemingly vying with all the others to see who can put the most shocking spin to it. Inevitably we now have those classic bleeding hearts at Amnesty International trying to pin a case against the entire UK military contingent.

How al Qaeda and its many vicious surrogates must be enjoying this. The best recruiting agents they now have are not the radical Mullahs, but our own media circus and the likes of Amnesty International's grim faced little hobgoblins who always seem to be promoting the cause of vicious and murderous organisations against civilised society. I find it absolutely incredible that it can be seriously suggested that these well meaning but sadly blinkered people can honestly believe that only the soldiers and "bad guys" get shot, killed or injured in a war zone. Even more incredibly they seem to think it is appropriate to rush into these trouble spots armed only with their zeal for "justice" and "peace" and to determinedly set about undermining the efforts of everyone concerned to bring about just that, by promoting the cause of every murderous gunman they can find.

Yes, there has been a disgraceful breech of the rules of common decency in the treatment of these prisoners, and yes, it must be dealt with. But will somebody please round up all the bleeding hearts and charge them with aiding and abetting lawlessness, disorder, and the promotion of terrorism! Every new photograph merely further inflames the situation and makes the peaceful conclusion even more difficult. They have made their point; it is now for the authorities to deal with it swiftly and effectively. This process will not be helped by the publication of further pictures; these should now be turned in to the custody of the Investigation Teams in all involved countries and the due process of law applied. Trial by the media is what is now taking place, and worse, the self-appointed jury seems to have become the highly political International Committee of the Red Cross and equally politically active Amnesty International.

Not political you say? Think again; both make poiltical decisions, and there is a long record of their refusing to aid countries where refugees had taken shelter from regimes these organisations chose to see as "just" while condemning the country the refugees felt safer in. Rwanda is one such example.

Much is made these days of something called "international law" - a nebulous concept which is resorted to every time an organisation like Amnesty International finds itself up against world opinion that doesn't sit in accord with their rose tinted view of murder and terrorism applied against the people or supporters of governments they disapprove of. International law is a complete misnomer since it has its foundations not in any recognised government but in a series of treaties and UN decisions which neither bind non-signatories nor any signatory who chooses to ignore them. It is argued, however, that it sets a guideline for legal opinion in subscriber countries - and this is what unrepresentative bodies like the International Court in the Hague and certain other bodies rely on. Frankly, if told to shove off by some sensible government, the whole sham would collapse.

The subject of legal precedence does, however, raise another interesting point, also tied to the point made in the comment to my post. What is treason, and when is it treasonous to do something?

In my dictionary it is defined as violation of allegiance by a subject by plotting to kill the Sovereign, overthrow the Authority of the State (and more besides which encompasses the concept of citizens of other forms of government). Arising from this in legal terms, there is a serious, if lower charge, that of "comforting" an enemy of the State - in other words providing assistance to anyone who is defined as a person who is a citizen, soldier, agent, of a nation or state against whom war has been declared or with whom a war is in progress. This charge was last used in the UK in 1939 - 1945 against those supporters of Moseley's Blackshirts who wanted a Britain under Hitler.

It seems to me that Amnesty International and one or two other supposedly "impartial" organisations are walking a very fine line between promoting their stated aim of peace and justice for all, while abusing their hosts by providing "comfort" to the enemies of the nations they choose to operate from. Perhaps it is time to dust off the law on this issue and examine their methods, their funding, and above all their objectives in so blatantly undermining any attempt at getting to the truth in this issue, let alone presuming to "try" the allegedly involved soldiers in the media.

It is one thing to protect the victims of oppression from totalitarian regimes, it is another entirely to undermine the nations and governments who are attempting to bring an end to the violent and vicious abuses of governments like Saddam's, the Taliban, and the world visions of al Qaeda. I suggest that everyone who considers putting any money into anything for Amnesty International reconsider - and let them submit to public scrutiny and judgement as well.

I do not support the abuse of prisoners, I do not support the killing of innocent bystanders in a "fire fight". But, we must recognise that it is the likes of the al Mehdi, al Qaeda and other "irregular" forces to use bystanders as shields and to fire on patrols from a crowd - in the full knowledge that the return fire is likely to cause "collateral damage" and death to the innocent. These cowards do not deserve sympathy, support, or the protection of the likes of Amnesty International - they deserve public execution for their crimes of murder and violence. Only when it is seen by everyone very clearly that there is no hiding place for these murderers and cowards will there be an end to terrorism. As long as they can rely on Amnesty International and other bleeding heart sympathisers for "succour" and "comfort" when the heat is on, we will have no chance of eradicating this plague.

I suggest that the media and Amnesty should consider very, very carefully their promotion of the terrorists causes in their campaign to expose "injustice". Treason is a word with ugly connotations, serious consequences, and very damaging implications. It is perhaps time all those who think that "jaw jaw is better than war war" looked carefully at who and what their constant sniping is supporting. They may want to think about it very carefully indeed.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)

May 10, 2004

Sorting ourselves out �

A little over a week in the new home and Madam and I are settling in slowly. It is taking a while to sort out the various boxes and decide what goes where, and Madam has not been well for the last few days. She caught a cold. A real one. One with bells on!


Madam Paddy is unwell, and like a small child, she is wanting even more attention and comforting. This isn't helping the sorting operations at all!

She wheezes and sneezes pathetically and gives one that pleading look of “what is happening to me.” A couple of days off her feed and she is already losing weight, something I will have to watch, as she is no youngster and really needs to stay in condition. We have just had the battle of the pills – the vet in his wisdom having decided that she should have two tablets twice daily. Madam and I discuss this fully on each occasion – and then I have to use a special applicator to shoot it down her throat at high speed. Yesterday I could not find the applicator in the muddle – and managed without it – but now I have a punctured finger for my pains. It is a constant source of amazement as to just how far she can spit it from the back of her tongue! “Ptooie!” Just doesn’t say it fully. It needs the ricochet sound effect to go with it!

One really should not laugh at the afflicted, but a talkative cat with a bunged up nose really is a bit amusing. Especially as she has turned into a real little baby and just wants to be comforted all the time. Still, she is getting better, now food is back on her agenda, and having had a bit of loving, she has retired to her blanket on my bed. Pills consumed, fish supper partaken, and nice safe, warm place to doze. Hey, life doesn’t get much better – apart from the cold of course.

As for the settling in – well, the number of boxes is steadily diminishing, the mess is getting more organized, and the bathroom now looks habitable after a fresh coat of paint and some good cleaning. For this I must thank my youngest daughter who came up for the weekend with a determined gleam in her eye and got stuck in. The Living room is almost there, the main bedroom likewise – now for the biggy – the dining/guest bed room. First attempts at temporary alterations to the Winnie the Pooh frieze have failed – now it's time to bite the bullet, remove the lot, and try my hand at redecoration of the walls. Time constraints (work!) and other demands such as trying to keep up with the laundry and the ironing mean that this will be a pretty tough one to tackle in the available time. So be it!

First task – reduce the quantity of stuff in there by
a) removing all the things that don’t belong in the finished room,
b) will get in the way if left there, and,
c) need to remain but can be moved to the centre for now.

C'est la vie! No doubt the effort will bring the reward – I could do without it right now, though!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:59 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2004

Pretty Polly?

According to the Expat.Telegraph, a large flock of Peacocks (and presumably Peahens!) has descended on the village of Cookley and are terrorising the inhabitants. It may sound funny today, but our forebears kept the infernal birds for two reasons - they make darned good eating if you have an oven big enough - and they are even better than a watchdog for guarding your property.

They may look very pretty, but they also have the equipment to be damned dangerous if they are defending themselves, and are certainly big enough not to scare easily. A few years ago I was living in a small house with a very small garden and one landed in this. The garden was so small and the fence so high he could not get out again as he could not get airborn. The local tomcat who was a pretty cocky blighter, took one look and decamped. The Peacock eventually found a gap and got out, flew up onto our roof and spent several hours yelling raucously from there. Calls to several parks and estates all drew the same response - "Peacock sir? Not ours! No, we don't want one either, thank you for calling ...."

I note from the report that a Fransican Monastery near me has indicated that they would take them - but someone else please catch them - and an Arboretum has made a similar offer.

I think Cookley will find they have two choices. Get in the catchers, or get in the guns and have a feast.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)

May 08, 2004

The day job

As you may have guessed, I have a day job from Monday to Friday. It involves teaching/training/developing - or whatever the current "buzz" word is - mature students in the police and emergency services.


The job includes teaching people to do proper fire investigations, and this, in turn, involves turning the scene above into something more like this ...


and then into this ....


This is what I spent time on in the last couple of weeks doing to four similar units - it's amazing how much frustration you can unload on this. I have an assistant who is becoming a real artist at setting up these scenes - we do nine of these courses every year - and share them with the police, so there's plenty of evidence to generate as well.

The students have a real challenge, but, I am very proud to say, that, after a week of listening to leading experts in forensic investigation, joint agency work and forensic pathology, chemistry, and explosion scene examination, with lots of hands on exercises - which keep the staff even busier than the students - they have a very good success rate in the scenes.

The proof of the pudding is always in the result in the field - and the feedback is that the detection rates are going up.

The best bit is that I learn something new each and every time we burn - but, I better not let the managers in on that - it might be construed as a benefit!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:14 AM | Comments (1)

May 07, 2004

Constitutional Freedoms

Tim, of An Englishman's Castle has been having problems with his local 'job's worths', and has provided them with an interesting argument based on Magna Carta. Like Tim I have an intense dislike of people who see it as their business to report their neighbours to the authorities while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, even though I accept that in some circumstances this is necessary. But now I know the remedy! I like Tim's style - and I definitely like his plans for future bonfires!

His use of Magna Carta raises a few interesting points about our "rights" and "freedoms" under the existing "unwritten" constitution of this ancient realm. Many people think that the Human Rights Act has given them something they didn't have before. Wrong! It has actually taken away from them rights they and their forebears had enjoyed ever since 1215. What a pity Mr Blair and his cronies have no understanding of anything, least of all history.

Take a look at the Great Charter, signed into law and history on the 15th June 1215. It is the foundation of all rights and freedoms and still stands as a model, but sadly, one that is being steadily eroded by the nannying and centralising tendencies of our incompetent civil servants and politicians. I suppose it says everything you need to know about the state of this Kingdom that this is taken from the website of the Welsh Assembly. You certainly won't find it on any Whitehall run site - God forbid that any English person should have access to it!

Come back, King John, so we can have another go at establishing our freedom from politicians and bureaucrats!

The Magna Carta

John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciars, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his bailiffs and faithful subjects, greeting. Know that we, out of reverence for God and for the salvation of our soul and those of all our ancestors and heirs, for the honour of God and the exaltation of holy church, and for the reform of our realm, on the advice of our venerable fathers, Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England and cardinal of the holy Roman church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William of London, Peter of Winchester, Jocelyn of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry and Benedict of Rochester, bishops, of master Pandulf, subdeacon and member of the household of the lord pope, of brother Aymeric, master of the order of Knights Templar in England, and of the noble men William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warenne, William earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin fitz Gerold, Peter fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip de Aubeney, Robert of Ropsley, John Marshal, John fitz Hugh, and others, our faithful subjects: [1] In the first place have granted to God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs for ever that the English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired; and it is our will that it be thus observed; which is evident from the fact that, before the quarrel between us and our barons began, we willingly and spontaneously granted and by our charter confirmed the freedom of elections which is reckoned most important and very essential to the English church, and obtained confirmation of it from the lord pope Innocent III; the which we will observe and we wish our heirs to observe it in good faith for ever. We have also granted to all free men of our kingdom, for ourselves and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written below, to be had and held by them and their heirs of us and our heirs.

[2] If any of our earls or barons or others holding of us in chief by knight service dies, and at his death his heir be of full age and owe relief he shall have his inheritance on payment of the old relief, namely the heir or heirs of an earl £ 100 for a whole earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a baron £100 for a whole barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s, at most, for a whole knight's fee; and he who owes less shall give less according to the ancient usage of fiefs.

[3] If, however, the heir of any such be under age and a ward, he shall have his inheritance when he comes of age without paying relief and without making fine.

[4] The guardian of the land of such an heir who is under age shall take from the land of the heir no more than reasonable revenues, reasonable customary dues and reasonable services and that without destruction and waste of men or goods; and if we commit the wardship of the land of any such to a sheriff, or to any other who is answerable to us for its revenues, and he destroys or wastes what he has wardship of, we will take compensation from him and the land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fief, who shall be answerable for the revenues to us or to him to whom we have assigned them; and if we give or sell to anyone the wardship of any such land and he causes destruction or waste therein, he shall lose that wardship, and it shall be transferred to two lawful and discreet men of that fief, who shall similarly be answerable to us as is aforesaid.

[5] Moreover, so long as he has the wardship of the land, the guardian shall keep in repair the houses, parks, preserves, ponds, mills and other things pertaining to the land out of the revenues from it; and he shall restore to the heir when he comes of age his land fully stocked with ploughs and the means of husbandry according to what the season of husbandry requires and the revenues of the land can reasonably bear.

[6] Heirs shall be married without disparagement, yet so that before the marriage is contracted those nearest in blood to the heir shall have notice.

[7] A widow shall have her marriage portion and inheritance forthwith and without difficulty after the death of her husband; nor shall she pay anything to have her dower or her marriage portion or the inheritance which she and her husband held on the day of her husband's death; and she may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned to her.

[8] No widow shall be forced to marry so long as she wishes to live without a husband, provided that she gives security not to marry without our consent if she holds of us, or without the consent of her lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.

[9] Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize for any debt any land or rent, so long as the chattels of the debtor are sufficient to repay the debt; nor will those who have gone surety for the debtor be distrained so long as the principal debtor is himself able to pay the debt; and if the principal debtor fails to pay the debt, having nothing wherewith to pay it, then shall the sureties answer for the debt; and they shall, if they wish, have the lands and rents of the debtor until they are reimbursed for the debt which they have paid for him, unless the principal debtor can show that he has discharged his obligation in the matter to the said sureties.

[10] If anyone who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, dies before it is repaid, the debt shall not bear interest as long as the heir is under age, of whomsoever he holds; and if the debt falls into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal mentioned in the bond.

[11] And if anyone dies indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if the dead man leaves children who are under age, they shall be provided with necessaries befitting the holding of the deceased; and the debt shall be paid out of the residue, reserving, however, service due to lords of the land; debts owing to others than Jews shall be dealt with in like manner.

[12] No scutage or aid shall be imposed in our kingdom unless by common counsel of our kingdom, except for ransoming our person, for making our eldest son a knight, and for once marrying our eldest daughter, and for these only a reasonable aid shall be levied. Be it done in like manner concerning aids from the city of London.

[13] And the city of London shall have all its ancient liberties and free customs as well by land as by water. Furthermore, we will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall have all their liberties and free customs.

[14] And to obtain the common counsel of the kingdom about the assessing of an aid (except in the three cases aforesaid) or of a scutage, we will cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls and greater barons, individually by our letters--and, in addition, we will cause to be summoned generally through our sheriffs and bailiffs all those holding of us in chief--for a fixed date, namely, after the expiry of at least forty days, and to a fixed place; and in all letters of such summons we will specify the reason for the summons. And when the summons has thus been made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according to the counsel of those present, though not all have come who were summoned.

[15] We will not in future grant any one the right to take an aid from his free men, except for ransoming his person, for making his eldest son a knight and for once marrying his eldest daughter, and for these only a reasonable aid shall be levied.

[16] No one shall be compelled to do greater service for a knight's fee or for any other free holding than is due from it.

[17] Common pleas shall not follow our court, but shall be held in some fixed place.

[18] Recognitions of novel disseisin, of mort d'ancester, and of darrein presentment, shall not be held elsewhere than in the counties to which they relate, and in this manner--we, or, if we should be out of the realm, our chief justiciar, will send two justices through each county four times a year, who, with four knights of each county chosen by the county, shall hold the said assizes in the county and on the day and in the place of meeting of the county court.

[19] And if the said assizes cannot all be held on the day of the county court, there shall stay behind as many of the knights and freeholders who were present at the county court on that day as are necessary for the sufficient making of judgments, according to the amount of business to be done.

[20] A free man shall not be amerced for a trivial offence except in accordance with the degree of the offence, and for a grave offence he shall be amerced in accordance with its gravity, yet saving his way of living; and a merchant in the same way, saving his stock-in-trade; and a villein shall be amerced in the same way, saving his means of livelihood--if they have fallen into our mercy: and none of the aforesaid amercements shall be imposed except by the oath of good men of the neighbourhood.

[21] Earls and barons shall not be amerced except by their peers, and only in accordance with the degree of the offence.

[22] No clerk shall be amerced in respect of his lay holding except after the manner of the others aforesaid and not according to the amount of his ecclesiastical benefice.

[23] No vill or individual shall be compelled to make bridges at river banks, except those who from of old are legally bound to do so.

[24] No sheriff, constable, coroners, or others of our bailiffs, shall hold pleas of our crown.

[25] All counties, hundreds, wapentakes and trithings shall be at the old rents without any additional payment, exept our demesne manors.

[26] If anyone holding a lay fief of us dies and our sheriff or bailiff shows our letters patent of summons for a debt that the deceased owed us, it shall be lawful for our sheriff or bailiff to attach and make a list of chattels of the deceased found upon the lay fief to the value of that debt under the supervision of law-worthy men, provided that none of the chattels shall be removed until the debt which is manifest has been paid to us in full; and the residue shall be left to the executors for carrying out the will of the deceased. And if nothing is owing to us from him, all the chattels shall accrue to the deceased, saving to his wife and children their reasonable shares.

[27] If any free man dies without leaving a will, his chattels shall be distributed by his nearest kinsfolk and friends under the supervision of the church, saving to every one the debts which the deceased owed him.

[28] No constable or other bailiff of ours shall take anyone's corn or other chattels unless he pays on the spot in cash for them or can delay payment by arrangement with the seller.

[29] No constable shall compel any knight to give money instead of castle-guard if he is willing to do the guard himself or through another good man, if for some good reason he cannot do it himself; and if we lead or send him on military service, he shall be excused guard in proportion to the time that because of us he has been on service.

[30] No sheriff, or bailiff of ours, or anyone else shall take the horses or carts of any free man for transport work save with the agreement of that freeman.

[31] Neither we nor our bailiffs will take, for castles or other works of ours, timber which is not ours, except with the agreement of him whose timber it is.

[32] We will not hold for more than a year and a day the lands of those convicted of felony, and then the lands shall be handed over to the lords of the fiefs.

[33] Henceforth all fish-weirs shall be cleared completely from the Thames and the Medway and throughout all England, except along the sea coast.

[34] The writ called Praecipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding whereby a free man may lose his court.

[35] Let there be one measure for wine throughout our kingdom, and one measure for ale, and one measure for corn, namely "the London quarter"; and one width for cloths whether dyed, russet or halberget, namely two ells within the selvedges. Let it be the same with weights as with measures.

[36] Nothing shall be given or taken in future for the writ of inquisition of life or limbs: instead it shall be granted free of charge and not refused.

[37] If anyone holds of us by fee-farm, by socage, or by burgage, and holds land of another by knight service, we will not, by reason of that fee-farm, socage, or burgage, have the wardship of his heir or of land of his that is of the fief of the other; nor will we have custody of the fee-farm, socage, or burgage, unless such fee-farm owes knight service. We will not have custody of anyone's heir or land which he holds of another by knight service by reason of any petty serjeanty which he holds of us by the service of rendering to us knives or arrows or the like.

[38] No bailiff shall in future put anyone to trial upon his own bare word, without reliable witnesses produced for this purpose.

[39] No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised, neither will we attack him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

[40] To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.

[41] All merchants shall be able to go out of and come into England safely and securely and stay and travel throughout England, as well by land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and right customs free from all evil tolls, except in time of war and if they are of the land that is at war with us. And if such are found in our land at the beginning of a war, they shall be attached, without injury to their persons or goods, until we, or our chief justiciar, know how merchants of our land are treated who were found in the land at war with us when war broke out, and if ours are safe there, the others shall be safe in our land.

[42] It shall be lawful in future for anyone, without prejudicing the allegiance due to us, to leave our kingdom and return safely and securely by land and water, save, in the public interest, for a short period in time of war--except for those imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the kingdom and natives of a land that is at war with us and merchants (who shall be treated as aforesaid).

[43] If anyone who holds of some escheat such as the honour of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other escheats which are in our hands and are baronies dies, his heir shall give no other relief and do no other service to us than he would have done to the baron if that barony had been in the baron's hands; and we will hold it in the same manner in which the baron held it.

[44] Men who live outside the forest need not henceforth come before our justices of the forest upon a general summons, unless they are impleaded or are sureties for any person or persons who are attached for forest offences.

[45] We will not make justices, constables, sheriffs or bailiffs save of such as know the law of the kingdom and mean to observe it well.

[46] All barons who have founded abbeys for which they have charters of the kings of England or ancient tenure shall have the custody of them during vacancies, as they ought to have.

[47] All forests that have been made forest in our time shall be immediately disafforested; and so be it done with riverbanks that have been made preserves by us in our time.

[48] All evil customs connected with forests and warrens, foresters and warreners, sheriffs and their officials, riverbanks and their wardens shall immediately be inquired into in each county by twelve sworn knights of the same county who are to be chosen by good men of the same county, and within forty days of the completion of the inquiry shall be utterly abolished by them so as never to be restored, provided that we, or our justiciar if we are not in England, know of it first.

[49] We will immediately return all hostages and charters given to us by Englishmen, as security for peace or faithful service.

[50] We will remove completely from office the relations of Gerard de Athée so that in future they shall have no office in England, namely Engelard de Cigogné, Peter and Guy and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers and his nephew Geoffrey, and all their following.

[51] As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all foreign knights, cross-bowmen, serjeants, and mercenaries, who have come with horses and arms to the detriment of the kingdom.

[52] If anyone has been disseised of or kept out of his lands, castles, franchises or his right by us without the legal judgment of his peers, we will immediately restore them to him: and if a dispute arises over this, then let it be decided by the judgment of the twenty-five barons who are mentioned below in the clause for securing the peace: for all the things, however, which anyone has been disseised or kept out of without the lawful judgment of his peers by king Henry, our father, or by king Richard, our brother, which we have in our hand or are held by others, to whom we are bound to warrant them, we will have the usual period of respite of crusaders, excepting those things about which a plea was started or an inquest made by our command before we took the cross; when however we return from our pilgrimage, or if by any chance we do not go on it, we will at once do full justice therein.

[53] We will have the same respite, and in the same manner, in the doing of justice in the matter of the disafforesting or retaining of the forests which Henry our father or Richard our brother afforested, and in the matter of the wardship of lands which are of the fief of another, wardships of which sort we have hitherto had by reason of a fief which anyone held of us by knight service, and in the matter of abbeys founded on the fief of another, not on a fief of our own, in which the lord of the fief claims he has a right; and when we have returned, or if we do not set out on our pilgrimage, we will at once do full justice to those who complain of these things.

[54] No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman for the death of anyone except her husband.

[55] All fines made with us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all amercements imposed unjustly and against the law of the land, shall be entirely remitted, or else let them be settled by the judgment of the twenty-five barons who are mentioned below in the clause for securing the peace, or by the judgment of the majority of the same, along with the aforesaid Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he may wish to associate with himself for this purpose, and if he cannot be present the business shall nevertheless proceed without him, provided that if any one or more of the aforesaid twenty-five barons are in a like suit, they shall be removed from the judgment of the case in question, and others chosen, sworn and put in their place by the rest of the same twenty-five for this case only.

[56] If we have disseised or kept out Welshmen from lands or liberties or other things without the legal judgment of their peers in England or in Wales, they shall be immediately restored to them; and if a dispute arises over this, then let it be decided in the March by the judgment of their peers--for holdings in England according to the law of England, for holdings in Wales according to the law of Wales, and for holdings in the March according to the law of the March. Welshmen shall do the same to us and ours.

[57] For all the things, however, which any Welshman was disseised of or kept out of without the lawful judgment of his peers by king Henry, our father, or king Richard, our brother, which we have in our hand or which are held by others, to whom we are bound to warrant them, we will have the usual period of respite of crusaders, excepting those things about which a plea was started or an inquest made by our command before we took the cross; when however we return, or if by any chance we do not set out on our pilgrimage, we will at once do full justice to them in accordance with the laws of the Welsh and the foresaid regions.

[58] We will give back at once the son of Llywelyn and all the hostages from Wales and the charters that were handed over to us as security for peace.

[59] We will act toward Alexander, king of the Scots, concerning the return of his sisters and hostages and concerning his franchises and his right in the same manner in which we act towards our other barons of England, unless it ought to be otherwise by the charters which we have from William his father, formerly king of the Scots, and this shall be determined by the judgment of his peers in our court.

[60] All these aforesaid customs and liberties which we have granted to be observed in our kingdom as far as it pertains to us towards our men, all of our kingdom, clerks as well as laymen, shall observe as far as it pertains to them towards their men.

[61] Since, moreover, for God and the betterment of our kingdom and for the better allaying of the discord that has arisen between us and our barons we have granted all these things aforesaid, wishing them to enjoy the use of them unimpaired and unshaken for ever, we give and grant them the under-written security, namely, that the barons shall choose any twenty-five barons of the kingdom they wish, who must with all their might observe, hold and cause to be observed, the peace and liberties which we have granted and confirmed to them by this present charter of ours, so that if we, or our justiciar, or our bailiffs or any one of our servants offend in any way against anyone or transgress any of the articles of the peace or the security and the offence be notified to four of the aforesaid twenty-five barons, those four barons shall come to us, or to our justiciar if we are out of the kingdom, and, laying the transgression before us, shall petition us to have that transgression corrected without delay. And if we do not correct the transgression, or if we are out of the kingdom, if our justiciar does not correct it, within forty days, reckoning from the time it was brought to our notice or to that of our justiciar if we were out of the kingdom, the aforesaid four barons shall refer that case to the rest of the twenty-five barons and those twenty-five barons together with the community of the whole land shall distrain and distress us in every way they can, namely, by seizing castles, lands, possessions, and in such other ways as they can, saving our person and the persons of our queen and our children, until, in their opinion, amends have been made; and when amends have been made, they shall obey us as they did before. And let anyone in the land who wishes take an oath to obey the orders of the said twenty-five barons for the execution of all the aforesaid matters, and with them to distress us as much as he can, and we publicly and freely give anyone leave to take the oath who wishes to take it and we will never prohibit anyone from taking it. Indeed, all those in the land who are unwilling of themselves and of their own accord to take an oath to the twenty-five barons to help them to distrain and distress us, we will make them take the oath as aforesaid at our command. And if any of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country or is in any other way prevented from carrying out the things aforesaid, the rest of the aforesaid twenty-five barons shall choose as they think fit another one in his place, and he shall take the oath like the rest. In all matters the execution of which is committed to these twenty-five barons, if it should happen that these twenty-five are present yet disagree among themselves about anything, or if some of those summoned will not or cannot be present, that shall be held as fixed and established which the majority of those present ordained or commanded, exactly as if all the twenty-five had consented to it; and the said twenty-five shall swear that they will faithfully observe all the things aforesaid and will do all they can to get them observed. And we will procure nothing from anyone, either personally or through anyone else, whereby any of these concessions and liberties might be revoked or diminished; and if any such thing is procured, let it be void and null, and we will never use it either personally or through another.

[62] And we have fully remitted and pardoned to everyone all the ill-will, indignation and rancour that have arisen between us and our men, clergy and laity, from the time of the quarrel. Furthermore, we have fully remitted to all, clergy and laity, and as far as pertains to us have completely forgiven, all trespasses occasioned by the same quarrel between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign and the restoration of peace. And, besides, we have caused to be made for them letters testimonial patent of the lord Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, of the lord Henry archbishop of Dublin and of the aforementioned bishops and of master Pandulf about this security and the aforementioned concessions.

[63] Wherefore we wish and firmly enjoin that the English church shall be free, and that the men in our kingdom shall have and hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights and concessions well and peacefully, freely and quietly, fully and completely, for themselves and their heirs from us and our heirs, in all matters and in all places for ever, as is aforesaid. An oath, moreover, has been taken, as well on our part as on the part of the barons, that all these things aforesaid shall be observed in good faith and without evil disposition. Witness the above-mentioned and many others. Given by our hand in the meadow which is called Runnymede between Windsor and Staines on the fifteenth day of June, in the seventeenth year of our reign

This document has been copied produced and published by The Welsh Assembly.

To acquant the people of These United Kingdoms of their Rights and Freedoms as delineated under the terms of ‘The Magna Carta’.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:59 PM | Comments (3)

May 06, 2004

Deft definition

Stress: The confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some dim twit who desperately needs it!

And a saying for today ...

"I have single-handedly fought my way into this hopeless mess."

Perhaps Mr Blair and Mr Bush would do well to ponder that one?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:27 PM

A management question?

Some one has just handed me a copy of one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons. It depicts the Boss writing a "safety tip of the day" for his staff. The message is "Always bend your knees when banging your head against the wall."

The final frame shows him pondering whether management is a science or an art.

Enough said. It seems to sum up perfectly the state of management all over the UK these days.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:22 PM

Lightbulb moments

Reading Ozguru on G'day Mate is always interesting for me, not only because he is a great brother-in-law, but because he often provides me with ideas to pursue. This is one of them.

In a post of the same name as this one, he points out that these moments - typically depicted in cartoons with an illuminated light bulb - are actually real. As a Tutor/Teacher/Facilitator (or as one wonderful typo on a draft job description had it - Faciliator), myself, I can identify with this phenomenon, too. It is always a wonderful moment as the student/delegate/whatever suddenly finds that all the information you have been so painstakingly attempting to explain, makes sense! Bingo! The lights come on, and suddenly they are fired with the zeal of the convert. I wonder if this is what happened to St Paul on the Damascus road? His lightbulb must have had a huge wattage!

As a teacher it really is rewarding when you are working hard with a semi-bored class who are there because they have to be, and suddenly something clicks - it transforms any session and is really fun for the teacher - you suddenly find yourself having to field ideas, questions, discussions, and the learning really starts.

Oz cited a post on USS Clueless by Stephen den Beste , which, in itself, provided me with even more to ponder. The main thrust of his post is in regard to the way in which people think, sort, or deal with things. Like him I probably fall into the "holistic" thinker category, but unlike him, I do speed through the e-mails and discard very rapidly any that are unimportant. It frustrates me hugely when I have to deal with people who simply get so bogged down in details that they cannot move forward. This is one reason I detest some of the managers I have to deal with. Instead of being able to take the essential information and make a decision, they interminably delay the decision while they explore the minutiae and loose the moment for action. Let's face it, this is not good management if you're dealing with a situation which could drop a building on your troops at any moment! I certainly feel a lightbulb or three as I read on through this particular posting and do visit his blog from time to time - always finding something thought provoking when I do.

Perhaps this is why those "Lightbulb moments" are so valuable to teachers. They are often swamped by the minutiae thinkers whose objective in being in the class is to pass the exam - not to seek to broaden their understanding.

I feel a further post coming on from some of that in the not too distant future!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)

May 05, 2004

Sic transit.....

The Monk has moved. At least, he is now in a new domicile. The cat is convinced that if she can just persuade him to open the front door and let her show him the way, she (and presumably he!) can return to their proper home and leave all these cardboard cartons and all the concomitant mess behind.

As ever, I have discovered that there is about half the cupboard space I had thought there was, and less than a third of the wardrobe space. As for a linen cupboard - well, we better not go there. Still, with some ruthless weeding out and some even more ruthless packing and sorting, it is starting to look less like a disaster area and more like a home again. There will still have to be some major reconstruction of certain things and the installation of central heating is definitely one expense to come, but it is getting closer to the desired state by the minute.

Between now and the next move (if there is ever another!) there is going to be some fairly dramatic downsizing in a number of areas. Rule one as of now is - if it is going into the loft …. It ain't! It's heading for the Abbey Fete bric-a-brac stall or a notice on the local supermarket "For Sale" board! If I can't use it - I am not keeping it!

Church Mouse has been having to look after the blog in my absence, what with having to vacate my previous home three days before I could occupy the new one and then having no landline at all, it has been interesting. Reassembling the computer has had its moments as well - this is when you discover that there are dead sockets in one or two places! Still, I now have a computer that seems to function, BT have provided a landline (or you wouldn't be reading this!), and the tide of debris is starting to recede.

Another six months or so and all this will be but a distant memory …….

Until next time.....

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:27 PM | Comments (5)

Legalism run riot?

Today the High Court starts to hear a case being brought by a group of Iraqi families who claim their relatives have been unlawfully killed by British Troops in Iraq. Given that one of our learned Lord Justices recently awarded £200k compensation to two Kosovan Albanians shot by UK troops struggling to keep the peace in that benighted neck of the woods and we have a legal precedent which the High Court in its usual inversion of common sense is bound to adopt.

In the Kosovan case the Learned Judge decreed that the two gun toting Albanians had not, despite numerous warnings to lay down their weapons, posed an immediate threat to the safety of the troops who shot them. A nice judgement when he himself has probable never been closer to a firing line on a battlefield than the annual grouse shoot in Scotland. Grouse might be bad tempered and unpredictable, but last time I looked they didn't shoot back!

This latest lot is brought by the usual bleeding heart (or is that avaricious?) lawyers of the Human Rights Act gravy train (on UK tax payer funded legal aid naturally!) who will attempt to argue that the war was illegal, the shot Iraqis had never thrown a stone, handgrenade, mortar round, or any other munitions in their lives and should have been allowed to continue doing their "resistance" to the Western "enemies" or whatever they claimed it was. No one in this country who has not been shot at, stoned, petrol bombed, or targeted by a mob can ever judge what it was like, nor should they presume to pass judgement on those who were in such situations.

If there really was any justice, it would not be the troops on trial, but the cretin who presides over a cabinet of thoroughly disreputable power junkies in No. 10. The charge? Imposing legislation which brings the legal system into abuse, the appointment of judges who are completely out of touch with reality, and the undermining of the Nation and State for their own ends.

Like the reporters, pack them and the judges who make a mockery of the concept of justice into uniform, and send them off to do what they demand of our troops. With any luck we'd be rid of them within 10 seconds, and the rest of us could rebuild what they have destroyed so effectively.

Compensation for the victims of a war? Where will it end?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:10 PM | Comments (2)

Public Interest reporting?

When is a newspaper (or a TV Station, Radio Station or any other public information medium) acting in the interests of the public in reporting something, and when is it not? This is a very tricky and possibly explosive question.

Undoubtedly the torture, killing, or mutilation of prisoners is not acceptable. We even put the leaders of Nazi Germany on trial for it in 1945 - 48. But, does a newspaper serve the public interest by publishing, in graphic detail, stories and photographs of such allegations serve the public interest, or merely gratify their need to promote their paper? Is inflaming already strained relations and fanning the flames of an already dangerous situation justified by pointing to the papers anti-war credentials and anti-military stance? I do not think so. The proper course of action in my view would have been to bring these photographs and allegations to the attention of the appropriate legal agencies and let them deal with it as quickly and efficiently as possible - without inflaming the already overheated passions both in the Middle East and at home.

I think the editorial decision of the Daily Mirror to "publish and be damned" is short sighted, stupidly narrow minded, and likely to bring down upon our servicemen an entirely undeserved response. It is always unacceptable when even a small group of renegades acts illegally or unacceptably, yet it should not be seen as a reflection on all the troops. Our forces are the best in the world, yet there is a small group in this country who are, to put it mildly, utterly unable to fight their way out of a wet paper sack, completely devoid of any appreciation of what it is like to be stood in the firing line and taking flak from an often invisible enemy who doesn't hesitate to hide behind children and women, but have have all the answers to everything on the battlefield itself. I would dearly like to see the whole damned lot of them put into uniform and sent out to go and take their chances on the battlefield.

Unfortunately, they wouldn't last 10 seconds and worse, they would endanger the lads who do this professionally so that the media warriors can hide behind their desktop publishing systems and exercise the freedoms our troops defend - in spite of their constant carping denigration. I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who finds it totally disgusting that TV crews regularly film murders being committed (the deaths of the American aid workers in Iraq filmed by a TV crew is merely the latest in a long chain of such events) and then argue that they acted "in the public interest" to show the world what was happening.

Several times in my former career I had occasion to be present when the TV crews arrived at scenes which were tense, but calm. As soon as the camera was set up, all hell busted loose! Why! What's the point of having a riot in protest at your oppression if no one else can see it! My fellow officers and I developed the habit of calling for support as soon as we saw the BBC, ABC, CNN or any other "media" car drawing up at an incident. It was a given that there would be a riot as soon as they got their equipment set up.

The Mirror has highlighted a problem. It is to be hoped that the Army deals with it swiftly and effectively, and I have every confidence that they will. The damage the Mirror has done to the fragile relations in the Middle East will be entirely another matter. They will undoubtedly hide behind the argument that THEY merely reported the unacceptable actions of a small group. I, for one, do not accept that because, in the longer term, they will have been responsible for the suicide attack on the tube, or the nail bomb in a bus station, or even the next car bomb in a city centre. It will be their "public interest" publication which will inspire the next moron who thinks he can bomb his way into heaven for the cause of his twisted view of Islam.

Something we all seem to have lost sight of here is that "Freedom of the Press" presumes that they will act responsibly and wisely at all times. Unfortunately the Daily Mirror has not been guided by that concept for far too long. We would probably do very well to remember that these same editors and reporters would be quick to bemoan their plight if the position were reversed and we were now living under the heel of someone like Saddam and his henchmen. There would be precious little "public interest" reporting then!

Mind you, what does one call a newspaper that highlights key words in the text so those who read it can scan the highlights without having to move a finger along the page while they mouth the words. Responsible? No!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

May 04, 2004

The Enemy Within, Without, and Everywhere.....

These mediaeval instruments of torture are still lurking about. Someone has finally exposed the truth about them.

They're everywhere, just biding their time. Don't believe me? What's underneath your bottom right now? A chair, poised and ready to strike. You never even noticed it, did you? And now there it is, ready to captalise on your vulnerabilities.

Even a Church Mouse is not immune to the dreadful effects, for she has one or two of them in her wee abode. As good as she is at defending and protecting against all manner of evil, even she has found no way to banish even a one of them from the world she strives to keep safe.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:09 AM

May 03, 2004

Pass The Kindness Along !!

Has someone ever lent you a hand or done you a kindness? Church Mouse sees a friend's friend in need and would like to help out by letting you all know about a genuine need out there in the Blogdom.

MommaBear is a frequent commenter here, and her blogmate, Kathy, is in dire need at the moment. She's not looking for charity [although a donation would not go amiss]; she's already done kindnesses all over the place, so it's her turn to receive a helping hand. If you need any kind of assistance with your blogging, do consider hiring her on, or even looking into her Blog House for hosting.

You will be doing the right thing, no matter which way you find to help, and doing the right thing is what we are meant to do.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:04 AM

Ubique !!

Church Mouse loves her Abbey, particularly because it is a most beautiful place of worship, but purpose of place is far more important than the surroundings of worship. This post and its links at Donald Sensing's One Hand Clapping give proof of that statement far better than CM's mere words.

God is indeed everywhere!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:01 AM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2004

Well said, Sirs!

Whilst the Monk and that persnickety Madam le Cat are away in transit, the Church Mouse decided to play here on the blog. She has her very own wee computer, but, up to now, has been quite content to stay behind the scenes, tidying up and such. She regularly scampers up and down the Blogdom, though, enjoying the varied fare to be found, and just could not resist telling you all about two little goodies she found in her perigrinations.

CM does NOT like anything that smacks of 'state control'. She is quite capable of taking care of things, herself, thank you very much. Now comes "the state" marking up the 'serfs' for identification! And promising to punish those who, for all the right reasons, do not wish to be tagged, tattooed, labeled, imprinted, stamped, or otherwise designated as 'owned by'.

More of the same from this fine gentleman, who has a knowledgeable imagination of future usages.

Fie on 'the state' and all who pretend to work for it !!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 01, 2004

Peeking round the column.....

The Abbey is such a wonderful place to live...so full of love and caring...and history, too. Yours Truly, Church Mouse, feels welcome there. She's never seen by most, but she goes about her appointed rounds at night when all is still, defending her Abbey from those who would bring harm or discord to the sanctuary and peace found there.

For the most part, CM will be content to do her assigned tasks for this blog behind the scenes, as it were, but she may, from time to time, have a wee bit of her own wisdom to share, too. Since the Monk is off-line for several days due to his moving, it appears that may well be happening in short order. CM will endeavour to keep you informed and entertained and enlightened as best she can when called upon to "appear in print".

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:03 AM | Comments (2)