Saturday, 17 October 2009

Racism, bread and libraries, the universe, and gratitude

1. Racism

Be very suspicious when any person says “I am not racist”.

Firstly: statements such as that often follow a racially dubious statement.

Secondly: it’s probably true that many or most of us have racist ideas, thoughts or sentiments.

The “big issue” is how we deal with those thoughts, ideas and sentiments.

2. Bread and libraries

Sarasota has great bread (see yesterday’s blog).

It also has a fabulous Library system. I am using it more and more.

The main Library (the Selby Library in downtown SRQ) has this note on the entrance doors:

“Please enjoy your food and beverage before entering the library. Bottled water is permitted. Thank you for helping us keep the library materials, computers and carpets clean.”

What a nice way of expressing things!

3. The Universe

I washed my ceramic tiled kitchen floor today.
I mean, really washed it.
First I swept.
Nest I dry mopped to pick up pet hairs.
Finally I washed it.

Later in the day I dropped a bottle of olive oil on said floor.

I spent the next hour muttering “the Universe is malevolent”.

4. Gratitude

The Rector of All Angels on Longboat Key FL, David D-nner, and his wife Wafa D-nner invited me for dinner last evening.

Also at the table were friends of the Danner’s, Lazlo and Elaine D-me.

I am English by birth.
David is American.
Wafa is Palestinian by birth.
Lazlo is Hungarian - he was one of those who escaped after the failed 1956 Hungarian uprising. Elaine is of Lebanese descent - from a Druze background.

We had great food (thank you Wafa), and the most energizing, lively and interesting conversation.

What a blast – an Englishman, an American, a Palestinian, a Hungarian, and a Lebanese – each bringing memory, heritage and life experience to the table.

For Druze see

(being appropriately cautious of Wiki entries)

For Salmagundi see

Friday, 16 October 2009


There is a fabulous German bakery here in Sarasota, where good bread is baked daily. You have to be there early in case they sell out.

This multi-seed bread is so good that it has to be eaten without butter! (And it makes for the best toast).

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Canterbury - Rome, A secret love letter

Dear Benny
November 23rd 2006 is a day that will live in my heart. When I met you that day in Rome, it was love at first sight.
I dared to hope and believe that you too would love me and that one day we would be able to enter into a holy union of Rome and Canterbury.
I also hoped that on that future day you would give me one of those lovely red hats. (No, I am not a red-hat lady, but I do value Cardinal principles). I would be happy to be another New-man.
Darling Benny, I am so excited that you will soon visit us in England. I am, as you have read, the Primate of All England, so I will be at the airport to greet you and to kiss your ring (off-camera of course).
And, sweetie-pie, do try to develop an hiraeth for Wales. You may not know this, but Wales is my home, and it is not a part of England.
Maybe we could spend ten minutes in Monmouth where at one time I was the Bishop. The nice thing about Monmouth is that it has never known whether it is Welsh or English. That reminds me of the Anglican Church - we have never known whether we are catholic or protestant. I know that YOU alone can resolve that question.
And now my darling Benny, you need to know something about my family.
I have grandchildren in Africa. Many of them are so happy that you are sticking by an old family tradition and will view gays and Muslims as “beyond the pale”.
My cousins in Australia are not so clear about our intended marriage. Many of them would love to see you as the biblical “head of the house”. But Sydney is a trouble-maker. He will rebel at every turn. He is pissed off that I am not dating Genevieve – oops- I meant Geneva.
My English family is mostly enthusiastic about our love.
“Forward in Faith” is looking forward to your Firm and Fatherly hand.
“Reform” thinks that you are right about excluding gays and women in the Church, but wishes that you would be kinder to Genevieve/Geneva.
Sadly, my oldest Child - the American “Episcopal Church” is almost totally opposed to our marriage. She believes that both women and men should be Priests. She also believes that many lesbian and gay Christians are called to the Priesthood and the Episcopate. Try as I might I cannot cajole her into line.
(But do not fear! Another American -Robert - a grand-child of mine who moved to Pittsburgh – is all in favour of our marriage. He is a bit wobbly on women as Priests, but he is as sure as you and I are that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered. .
All things being equal my dearest Benny, even if you and I cannot marry, let’s work together so that my son, your dear friend Robert, is firstly Archbishop in Canterbury; then Cardinal in Rome; and then, as I dare to dream, Robert Duncan, the first American Pontiff.
That would put the queers in their place!
[ Oops === did really I say that? ]
++ Rowan Cantuar

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cats and God/Love


My cats look as though they are sisters. Each is jet black with nary a spot of white. Each has those charming yellow green eyes.

They are not from the same litter. Ada, the “Senior Cat” as I call her, is a couple of years older that Adelaide, the “Junior Cat”.

I am learning from them.

Adelaide is a prowler. She is always on the move, looking for something – I know not what.

When I try to pick her up she runs away from me, and we have great fun as I follow her around the house. If I manage to grab her she is more than amenable to a dose of TLC.

Ada is a sleeper. She spends most of her day perched on the back of the sofa. Every now and then she will venture forth to eat, or to use her litter box. But mostly she hangs around, hoping that I will caress or stroke her as I pass her perch.

‘Tis a bit like me and God, or Love, or whatever you call it.

If God/Love chases after me a la Adelaide then I will run and hide. “Leave me alone” is my song.

But sometimes when I am simply hanging around a la Ada, God/Love will caress/hug/stroke me in passing

That’s why I go to Church.

Oft times Church is boring, ridiculous, dull or silly.

But once in a while when I simply hang around in Church, I am aware of God/Love.

Of course that can happen in other places.

But I have found out what Ada already knows. It is when she hangs around on her favourite perch that she is most likely to be caressed. It is when I hang around with God’s people in Church that I am most likely to receive the caress of God’s love.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cars, beds, mattresses and liberal Democrats.

There are two purchases I have to make which fill me with dread.

One is to get a new or pre-owned car.

The other is to buy furniture – especially a mattress.

My style of shopping for large items is to browse, and graze. I like to visit four or five showrooms, and to wander around each of them, making mental or written notes of possibilities and prices.

That’s impossible when looking for a car or an item of furniture. No sooner has one’s toe crossed the threshold of car lots or furniture stores, than some salesperson or another wants to become one’s best friend.

Each such person has an “angle” - which is always “trust me, I am your friend, I will get you the best bargain possible”.

I suppose this is because the salespeople work on commission. That tells me something about the nature of car and furniture sales, and the owners of such businesses. It smells of sleaze.

It would smell much sweeter to me if salespersons worked for a good salary, (with bonuses for extra-ordinary performance) - and why not? Would not economic justice lead to better service?

Fortunately such “big-ticket” purchases are infrequent. But they are inevitable from time to time. It is such a time as this for me. I need a new bed.

So in recent days I have visited a couple of those deadly outfits which advertise “Beds, Beds, Beds”, or “Mattresses at Factory prices”, (what the hell IS a “Factory Price”?)

In their print and web advertising these folks offer incredible bargains. Upon visiting the showroom one finds that the bargain bed or mattress is hidden in a corner. And the salesperson is sure in her or his pure heart that one is in fact looking for a much more expensive product.

Today, in one emporium, the salesman tried to sell me a bed with all the trimmings based on a catalogue, as the showroom “unfortunately did not have a floor model”.

When I asserted firmly that I would not purchase a bed and mattress without first trying it out, he dismissed me with a curt “good luck”.

I am more in favour of good business practice than good luck.

But then again, don’t listen to me. I am just an old fashioned liberal Democrat.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Brand identity

38 years ago when I worked for the National Westminster Bank at their staff training college at Heythrop Hall in Oxfordshire I said something about “Worcester Sauce”. Fellow-tutor David R. Poole immediately corrected me. “It’s Worcestershire Sauce”. He, being from Worcestershire knew what he was talking about!

The very name “Worcestershire Sauce” is eponymous with “Lea and Perrins”.

I opened a new bottle of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce this evening to add a bit of zest to some stir-fry. Of course the bottle was clad in that familiar brown paper wrapper.

I read the fine print. The product was created in Worcester U.K. in 1835. It was being exported by 1837. In New York City it became the special ingredient in “Bloody Mary” drinks.

The Lea and Perrins firm is now owned by H.J. Heinz. There are two varieties.

American made sauce uses high fructose corn syrup and white vinegar.

English made sauce uses sugar and malt vinegar.

(Send me some English made immediately. It’s available in Canada.)

Both versions use anchovies.

Lea and Perrins claim that their sauce is healthier than soy sauce.

There is an urban myth in England that former Premier Harold Wilson loved “H.P.” sauce. The “H.P.” sauce people made much of this in their advertising. It transpires that in fact his favourite sauce was “Worcestershire”.

Back to Heythrop Hall.

It was completed circa 1718 for Charles Talbot, the first Duke of Shrewsbury.

After a later fire it was rebuilt and acquired by the Brassey family in 1871.

From 1926-1969 it was a Jesuit College.

The National Westminster Bank bought it from the Jesuits in 1969 and it became the Bank’s staff training college. (That’s why I worked there as a residential staff tutor).

Nat West sold Heythrop Hall in 1969 and it is now a very fancy Hotel and Country Club.

Here is a photo' of Heythrop Hall. Just to think - I lived and worked there!

Sunday, 11 October 2009



St. Boniface on Siesta Key, FL is my home parish.

But I have another “once a month” parish which I attended this morning – All Angels on Longboat Key, FL.

The very good Rector at All Angels was away, and the Eucharist was led by a retired colleague, The Revd.Bill McLean.

The Director of Music, Dale Hooey dragooned me into singing in the Choir. I was more than willing to be press-ganged!

At Coffee Hour I chatted with a couple who I thought to be new to the parish. It turned out they are related to the Revd. Bill McLean.

They are each a school teacher at Sarasota’s “Booker Middle School”. My conversation with them led me to muse. My thoughts led me this way.

“We often honour those who ‘serve their country’, and in doing so we mostly think of the fine women and men in our Armed Forces. But ‘they also serve’ who are school teachers. They are honourable men and women who serve us so well in oft-times difficult circumstances.

They are answerable to politicians, to voters, to school administrators, to parents, and to children.

They serve in the face of incredible odds with crowded classrooms, low pay, and long hours. (Yes, long hours - their creation of teaching plans and their assessments of homework mean that they work for much longer than the school day).

So, let’s hear it for the wonderful women and men who serve in our schools. Our nation utterly depends on them.

When I was Rector in Pittsfield I organised an annual “Educators Appreciation Day” at St. Stephen’s.

Now that I am no longer a Rector I use this blog to “Appreciate Educators”. They are irreplaceable and invaluable. Our Democracies depend upon them.”


Here are the links: