Saturday, 9 May 2009

Mother's Day

May 10th is observed as Mother’s Day in these United States.

Mother’s Day is not to be confused with “Mothering Sunday”, which is observed on the Fourth Sunday of Lent in most countries of the former British Empire.

“Mothering Sunday” has a quasi-religious origin (Google”Mothering Sunday” for more information), though, at least in the United Kingdom, it is nowadays referred to as “Mother’s Day” – yet still observed on Lent IV - which means that it is on a different date each year.

The American “Mother’s Day” is rooted in a proclamation by Julia Ward Howe the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

It was a plea for peace after the carnage of the American Civil War. (I have included it below).

Julia Ward Howe’s plea for peace has been all but forgotten. So it is that our stores are filled with Mother’s Day kitsch, and the restaurants will be filled on May 10th.

I suppose that the sentiment is alright in its own way, but “Mother’s Day” can be a less than great time for those:

whose mothers have died.
whose mothers were cruel and abusive.
whose mothers were strict and unyielding.
whose mothers were themselves abused by their fathers or husbands.

It is also a brutal day for mothers whose children have died. And for those mothers whose children are utterly neglectful, spiteful or mean.

Perhaps the day could be redeemed by a solemn re-commitment to Julia Ward Howe’s plea for peace.

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!Arise, all women who have hearts,Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another countryTo allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.It says: "Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace,Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient. And at the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote

The alliance of the different nationalities,

The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.


That was Julia Ward Howe's vision for Mother's Day.

Sadly, it is not ours.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Same sex marriage. A most courageous speech

Thank you to my friend D. in Maine for forwarding the following to me.

It is a speech made by Patrick Flood, a Republican Representative in the Maine Legislature.

I attach it not only because I am in favour of same sex marriage.

But also because I see this speech and decision by Rep. Flood as a most fabulous and exemplary instance of why we elect Representatives.

We do so in order that they will vote, not from a narrow and ideological base; but from a deep conviction as to what is best for our States, and for the United States.

Kudos to Rep. Flood. I have written him to express my gratitude. I hope that you will also do so.

His e-mail address is at the foot of this entry.

When you write him, do be sure to use the subject line to indicate that yours is a friendly e-mail.



His Floor Speech in Maine on LD 1020 (Gay Marriage Bill) May 5, 2009

"Thank you Madam Speaker. Ladies and Gentlemen of the House.

"I have been quiet and non-committal and some would say conspicuously invisible on this topic leading to this vote, but that was purposeful, so that I wouldn't get distracted and de-railed from the essential budget work at hand during these past four months...but naturally as this day drew closer, it became necessary to think this issue through quite deeply.

"And honestly that was difficult at times because most of my closest friends and co-workers at this Great House were vocally expressing opinions different than my own. And I admire many of these people.

And now that the day is at hand, I can say that I would much rather work on ten $569 million budget shortfalls....nights and weekends....than to have to make a decision on one gay marriage bill. I am however lifted up by the decent, respectful, and patient way the gay and lesbian community has approached this issue during the session and the similar way that thoughtful legislators, both Democrat and Republican, and citizens throughout the state have voiced their disagreements.

"I haven't slept very well for the last two weeks dreading the inevitable disapproval of my caucus co-workers, many friends, and neighbors. But a few days ago when I was selfishly feeling a little too sorry for myself for having to make this decision, and selfishly feeling a little too concerned about how my friends here and at home would feel about my decision, I finally came to the realization that it is not about my problems, and it's not about me, and it's not about my traditions, or my values, or the many respectful and decent differences of opinion that will be voiced in today's debate. It's about gay people who would like the freedom to get married; and the fact that they, like it or not, have to receive the permission of others...our legislators...and our governor...before they can do that.

"I am hopeful that we in the House grant this permission on this day. The more we can do to celebrate our differences the stronger this state and this country will become.

"And the more we can do to assure equal freedoms for all our minority groups, and especially the freedoms to encourage and express love and commitment; the better. I would not wish to withhold this expression or this celebration from anyone. I could not bear that. But rather, I would be proud to be a part of granting it.

"When I got married 38 years ago, the only person I needed permission from was my girlfriend Marjorie. It should be that way for everyone.

"It is awkward being a legislator at times, especially days like this. But like all of you in this great chamber, I asked for this duty and knew full-well there would be days like this. We all sought the honor of representing the People, and perhaps we feel that honor the greatest on the miserable days like this. I know that there won't be many pleasant phone messages on the machine when I get home late tonight. But as I said, it's not about me. It's about gay people seeking the right to marry. My job is to represent them like I would represent all others, the very same way I would want that they represent me.

"I appreciate the privilege of speaking before you, regardless of your good beliefs.

"Thank you Madam Speaker and thank you ladies and gentlemen of the House."

Patrick Flood May 5, 2009 Maine State House of Representatives

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Thank you, and here is more

Thanks Pals

I am grateful for your responses. It is good to know that I have faithful readers. I will persist in my “all over the map” blog.

I will NOT major in religion or politics since so many other blogs do this so well.

But I WILL continue to be quirky.



When I was a baby, my twin and I were hauled around in a perambulator – a.k.a. “pram”: (see yesterday’s blog).

No-one perambulates these days. But it is a decent enough activity.

I also love to “peregrinate”.

The cool thing is that consenting adults can peregrinate together in public. (Please do not tell Repuglicans about this. I know that they would instinctively be against public and mutual peregrination.)

(When you are bored, check into the connection between “peregrinate” and “pilgrim”)

And, unless you are saving the world, wonder with me why the words “gubernatorial” and “solon” have disappeared from newspaper headlines.

Giggles! jmp

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Enough all ready

My realisation that my new printer is also a scanner has led to an “all too many” inclusion of old photo’s on Povey Prattle

So I’ll end my current “memories” series today, with a few more photo’s.


But I also wish that I knew whether or not “anyone out there” reads my blog.

If you do so, please use the comments feature on the blog, so that I will know that I have some readers.

PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE use the comments feature on my blog: - (i.e. do not send messages directly to me).

(You can, if you must, use the comments feature without revealing your personal identity.)

A (probably 1944) photo.

L- R

Great Aunt Maud;

My Uncle Albert's girlfriend (name not remembered) - Albert was killed in Normandy in August 1944;

Great Aunt Ada;

Unrecognised person;

Maternal Grandmother Kate Finch;

Maternal Grandfather Francis "Jack" Finch.

My twin and I in a "perambulator" (pram). Mum is second from right. My maternal Grandfather Francis "Jack" Finch is in the centre.

Aged 18 - with my friends Jeff, Richard and Eric. We styled ourselves "The Bristol Gospel Quartette", and sang evangelical Gospel hymns - a capella. By this time I was already preaching in fundamentalist/evangelical Churches. In those days I had a ton of hair!

When I was thin, and had hair. This photo' was taken at Dover Castle in 1986 or 1987.

Monday, 4 May 2009

My maternal Great Aunts


I knew but two of my mother’s aunts – Great Aunt Ada and Great Aunt Maud.

I first met Ada when I was eleven years old. Mum took me from Bristol where we lived to Lowestoft in Suffolk, where she had been born, and where Ada yet lived.

We went by coach (‘bus) from Bristol via London, and the journey of some 240 miles took over 12 hours. There were no motorways in 1955.

As we drove out of London a gentleman on the coach began to point out places of interest. I was determined not to like them, (after I was a Bristol boy, and what was London to me!) and I all but ignored this kind man. Mum was rightly vexed with me!

We arrived in Lowestoft to be met by Great Aunt Ada and her husband Uncle Jim. We walked to their little terraced cottage at # 13 Gun Lane. It was a very modest home, little changed since the Victorian age in which it had been built.

By now I was entranced, for after all, Mum had filled me with tales about Lowestoft, the nirvana of her childhood.

I loved the North Beach with its dunes, and a stream which could be dammed with sand.
I thought that Oulton Broad was marvellous: see

I was intrigued with Lowestoft Town buses which were painted chocolate brown and cream, not a bit like our green Bristol buses.

One Sunday evening we walked through a field of peas towards St. Margaret’s Church. We plucked (i,e, stole!) peas from the vines, and ate them there and then. Such sweet peas, the like of which I have never since tasted!)

I awoke one morning to the rich smell of bloaters (a herring that has been salted in brine, smoked, and cured) being fried on the old fashioned coal range in Ada’s kitchen.
We ate them for breakfast with bread and butter - and never since then have I had such a memorable breakfast.

Aunt Ada was the matriarch of my mother’s side of the family, and I visited her on many other occasions.

(Once, when I was 21, I hitch-hiking from Bristol to Lowestoft, and back home again. It was then that I met an African American for the first time – a US Air Force man heading back to base at Mildenhall in his big assed American car. He gave me a ride and to my shame, I was terrified – simply because he was Black).

Great Aunt Maud had disappeared from my mother’s family circle in 1946 due to a family scandal of which I know, but over which I will draw a veil of secrecy.

She had moved to Birmingham and married a man named Bill Spencer. My Mum obsessed about being reunited with her Aunt Maud. This became possible (in about 1967 – here my memory fails me as to the exact year).

By then Aunt Maud had been widowed, and she was lovingly embraced into our family circle.

She lived in a small City Council owned flat out near the old Birmingham Airport.

She was a simple soul in the best sense of those words.

She was convinced that the T.V. newscaster could see her, and she would always reply when he ended his report with “Good Night”.

My brothers and I would lovingly tease her, and she would respond with “you dick”, much to our amusement.

When I was in seminary in Nottingham (1972 -1976) I would sometimes stop by to see Aunt Maud on my journeys to and from Bristol.

She gave me the Gold Watch which her husband had received after 40 years of service at the Birmingham Small Arms Company ( - remember B.S.A. motor-cycles anyone?) and I still own it.

It's odd, come to think of it. These women were born in the 19th Century, and I remember them in the 21st Century. 'Tis one of the advantages of being born, as I was, in mid-Century.



Sunday, 3 May 2009

More about my mother's family.

Follow up from yesterday.

The first photo’ is of my maternal grandparents, Francis and Kate Finch.
Grandmother Kate died six months after my birth. Grandfather Francis died when I was between two and three years old. I have a very shadowy memory of being taken to see him when he lay in bed a-dying.

The second photo’ was taken in Sep 1946 when my mother’s brother Wally married Irene Parsons.

It is the only remaining picture of my mother’s family.

You’ll see me aged 27th months on my Mum’s lap, and my twin Elizabeth on the Bride’s lap.

Immediately to my left is my Aunt Phyll (married to my mother’s brother Fred). On her lap is my cousin Rosemary, who died in her early 20’s.

Right behind me and my Mum is my cousin Sheila, daughter to my mother’s brother Harold, and his wife Doll. In her adulthood Sheila, (after the death of her parents, and her divorce) became very close to my Mum and to me and my siblings.

Sheila also died, all too soon, from cancer when she was in her 50’s.

To the bride’s right is Aunt Lily Tubby. I heard her name many times but I am not sure where she “fits in”. I suspect (from her look) that she was my Grandfather’s sister.

The adult immediately behind Aunt Lily Tubby is Aunt Lily Clark. Again, I do not remember her, but I suspect (again from her look) that she was a sister of my Grandmother Kate.

(They were Aunts Lily Tubby and Clark to distinguish the two Aunt Lilys).

To the right of Aunt Lily Tubby is Aunt Ada, a sister of my grandmother. I got to know Aunt Ada very well after my Mum took me to her home in Lowestoft, Suffolk for my first “holiday” in 1955.

Behind and between Lily Tubby and Aunt Ada is my sister Maureen. To her right (with her face partly obscured) is my sister Jean.

The third photo’ is of the bride, Aunt Irene – the only surviving adult from all the adults at her wedding. It was taken two years ago when she was 81 years old!

Irene has always been my favourite Aunt. She lived in Bristol, UK and has visited me three or four times in these United States.

She plans to be at my birthday celebration in May - the last living member of my parents’ generation.