Saturday, 7 November 2009

Wolseley: down memory lane

On looking through some old photo’ albums today I came across a poor quality picture of a car.  (see below)      
It is the second car I owned, a Wolseley 1500.  I bought it circa 1970 from a dear friend, Geraldine R Humpidge, who died in 1991 aged 94.  I would have been 47 years old in the year she died, so our friendship was indeed inter-generational.        
Wolseley was never a major British car manufacturer.  It made “nice cars for the middle classes”, and for a long time it was the preferred car for Police use.  (Old British films with a police theme will often show a Wolseley police car.) 
Wolesley  was eventually absorbed by the “Nuffield Group” (Morris, M.G., Riley etc).        
The blue Wolseley 1500 which I owned  (registration 403 ABX) was a winner.  Despite its boxy and un-aerodynamic shape it could move.  I once drove it at 100 mph on the M4 Motorway.  It had a nifty enough engine (1500 cc, hence the unimaginative name of the car)  and a very responsive shift-stick, 4 speed gear box.    
Best of all, the fascia was trimmed with real walnut!
I sold it to one of my brothers when I was in my freshman year in seminary, in order to finance a trip to Kenya and Tanzania.         
Then it was sold again and again.   But the “cool” thing is that the three subsequent owners were my brothers: Andrew Povey, Stephen Povey, and Martyn Povey.    
Memory lane is about a funny old car which four Povey brothers owned and enjoyed.      
The scanned photo' is of the very Wolseley 1500 which I and three of my brothers owned.  The photo' dates to 1971/72.
Here is a better picture of a Wolseley 1500 ( though it's not the one which I owned)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Evil in the Supermarket

A few years ago when I lived in Medford, MA, I realised that I was being assailed with unwelcome noise at my local drug store. It was that loud “muzak” noise. I asked the counter clerk if it bothered her, and she replied that she was so used to it that she hardly noticed it.

Just last week I was at the neighbourhood dry cleaners. As I walked from my car to the store I noticed “the sound of silence”.

Right next door to the dry cleaners there was one of those “rent to own” furniture and appliance businesses. (Those are the businesses which rip off the poor by charging such exorbitant monthly rental amounts that the person who “rents to own” ends up by paying two to three times the cost of (say) a dining room set).

Most of the rent to own firms have outdoor sound systems which blare very loud music and company propaganda 24/7/52.

Last week, mercy me, there was no noise pollution at the store next to the dry cleaners. That rent to own business had gone out of business. I commented on the welcome change to the owner of the dry cleaning store. He responded that he and his staff had endured this for 20 years, and he’d often awakened in the middle of the night with the “sound” blaring in his mind. He had made many complaints, all to no avail.

He now rejoiced that the neighbouring store had closed.

I live in a very quiet home. I never listen to the radio, and I watch about 30 minutes worth of TV each week. I often enjoy the gentle sound of a ticking clock. So maybe I am a bit too sensitive to noise.

Nonetheless I get angry at the very loud “muzak” which is played in just about every store. I think that it is designed to make customers think less and buy more.

The other week I was being deeply irritated at the music at my favourite supermarket. I happened to encounter some corporate types, down from Jacksonville. I protested the noise to them. They promised to refer my complaint back to headquarters. Fat chance.

I was in that self same store on November 4th and got almost apoplectic as I endured “Christmas” music.

I wanted to scream “hands off my music”. I am at the point that I do not wish to trade in that store, (where, by the way, I think of myself as a “customer”, and not as a “guest”!) I will complain to corporate offices.

In the Episcopal Church Prayer book the baptismal service asks parents and godparents of younger children to make a promise on behalf of the child to be baptised. Adults who are to be baptised are asked the same question. It is “Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?”

Those evil powers are manifold, and include militarism, racism and nationalism to name but a few. I also include consumerism - that evil which tries to deceive us into thinking that we shall gain satisfaction and happiness through the things we we buy, whether or not we need them.

I believe that retail store “muzak” is intended to change us from being thoughtful customers to being mindless consumers. And that is evil.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Food and Shelter

I wrote a piece earlier in the week which reflected on my sense that I live a very privileged life. I truly hope that I will never take this for granted.

Part of my privilege is in having a pleasant retirement at aged 65.   

My dad never got to retire; he died when he was 63 years old.  

 For billions of the world’s citizens the word “retirement” has no context and therefore no meaning.

So I am called to be grateful.  But gratitude without subsequent action is hollow.  That’s why the Church places such emphasis in her teaching to Christians regarding stewardship and justice.

As a good old prayer from the Book of Common Prayer puts it, we ask that we shall show forth God’s praise (gratitude) not only with our lips, but in our lives (stewardship and justice).

I’ve had a wonderful time today.  Using the privilege of free time in retirement I drove two friends to the excellent Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg.  After our enjoyment of the Museum the three of us ate an excellent restaurant lunch.

The food was good. And we were seated outside, enjoying the lovely balmy weather which is our lot in South- West Florida at this time of year. 

It has indeed been a day of privilege. I am happy and grateful.

Years ago I heard of a monk who, whenever prayer was offered, would give thanks for “food and shelter”.  I’ve tried to do the same when the prayers in Church have allowed for extempore petitions.

I believe that just about every person who reads this blog is one who lives with abundant food, and good shelter.  We did not earn this.  It was the “luck of the draw” of our place of birth and family life which meant that we never went hungry or homeless.  We are grateful.

I pray that our gratitude will lead us to good stewardship, and that our good stewardship will move us to a passion for justice for all people.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Republican premature ejaculators - Democratic long term lovers.

‘Twas about a year ago that Barack Obama was elected to be our President.

It is less than a year since he assumed the Presidency.

But already the dumbdits (dumb pundits) are telling us that his presidency has failed.

The dumbdits have no sense of history, no sense that the “change we need” cannot be achieved overnight.

We must understand that the ultra right wing wise-asses - Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly et al are (politically speaking) “fast food junkies”, as was President George W Bush, who declared “mission accomplished” before it ever truly began.

I prefer the slow cooking of my President, as exemplified by his careful and long marinating of our next steps in Afghanistan.

To change the metaphor:-

Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Beck, and Bush are political premature ejaculators.

Barack Obama is a long term lover!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Modern times

When I left my home yesterday morning to go to Church it was to discover that my car’s engine would not start.

My pal Ben lives very nearby, so I was able to wander over to his home, and borrow his car for my trip to and from Church.

Just as soon as I arrived home I called “Triple A”. Their mechanic arrived promptly, and jump-started my car. I ran the engine for about 20 minutes. And two hours later the car was good to go.

This was not the case when I tried to use the car this morning. The engine would not start. It was then that I remembered that my Hyundai extended warranty plan allowed for free towing to the dealership, so I made a 'phone call and arranged a tow for later in the day.

In the meantime I walked to a stop to take a ‘bus to my Dentist’s Office for an 11:00 a.m. appointment. ‘Bus fares for seniors in Sarasota are all of 35 cents.

I never mind taking a ‘bus, just so long as I remember the cardinal rule which is “avoid eye contact with other passengers”. Failure to observe the rule can lead to unwanted and long conversations.

(There is an exception. It is perfectly safe to greet Mennonite women [identifiable by their bonnets]. They will greet you politely, but never attempt a conversation. Mennonites are a beautifully reserved people!).

I was in the Dentist’s chair for two hours, for the first leg of some extensive and expensive work. I’d been prepared for such a stint. But I’d neglected to bring along one or two friends who’d have been astonished to encounter a jmp who did not talk for two whole hours!

We have a more or less decent ‘bus service here, known by the unfortunate acronym “SCAT” (Sarasota County Area Transit).  I was pleased to leave the Dentist’s Office just in time to catch a 1:20 p.m. ‘bus home.

Failure to have done this would have led to a thirty minute wait. I got home by 1:45 p.m. in time for a late lunch.

Back at home, the tow truck arrived at the promised time to take my car to the dealership.

Next the air-conditioning engineer arrived at the time which his firm had promised, for a semi-annual preventative maintenance inspection.

I have a house. I have a car: with roadside service available through triple A, or through Hyundai’s extended warranty programme. I have decent medical and dental insurance, and I live in a town with any abundance of excellent dentists and doctors. With careful planning I can use the ’bus for necessary errands. My town also has excellent supply of first class contractors – I have been well served by a local plumber, electrician, painter, and tiler. There are three supermarkets, three banks, two post offices and two pharmacies within a mile of my home.

All this leads me to believe that I am in the top 1% of the most fortunate people in world, in terms of the goods and services which are at my disposal.

I want to stop whining. I pray to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I pray for an end to my sense of entitlement. I pray that I will practice a more just and joyful stewardship.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Maturity. A splendid statement from the family of a 15 years old woman who was brutally gang-raped.

Statement from Richmond High School rape victim's family:

"STOP THE VIOLENCE! Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain. We have had enough violence already in this place. If you need to express your outrage, please channel your anger into positive action. Volunteer at a school. Go help a neighbor. Be courageous in speaking the truth and in holding people accountable. Work toward changing the atmosphere in our schools and in this community so that this kind of thing never happens again.

Please do not let this happen again!"

Newtown Churches See also Oct 31st '09 posting