Saturday, 4 August 2012

A semi-scam?

It arrives in the mail a couple of times each year in an “official” looking envelope.

“It” is an offer to test the water from my tap – free of charge.

“Free of charge” – now that’s a bargain!

Except that:

1. I do not believe that my tap water needs testing.

2. I am as certain as I can be that the proffered test would find grievous deficiencies in my tap water.

3. The test would be free – but the “testers” would try to convince me that I am at risk of a thousand and one illnesses, unless and until I install their “water purification system” (at a huge cost).

Sadly enough there is a sucker born every minute.

I am not one of them, but this tantalising direct mail solicitation probably pays on the fears of many folks, and then entices them to fork up many dollars for water purification systems which they do not need.

That’s my opinion!

Friday, 3 August 2012

A fallen man

At 6:41 and 25 seconds (U.S. Eastern Time) this morning (3rd August 2012) as I was walking my dog,  I slipped and fell in my neighbouring  community "Glen Oaks Manor"

I slipped on some sand which had been washed out on a side walk during or recent tropical storm.

I “suffered” minor abrasions to my left knee and to my left arm.  I broke the fall on the fleshy part of my right hand. It is now a bit swollen.

The greater injury was to my dignity.

My fall was observed by two other early morning dog walkers.

They were appropriately concerned, but entirely relieved when I told them that all was well.   They were able to smile when I assured that that I was cold sober at 6:41 and 25 seconds a.m.

It’s comforting to know that had I broken or sprained my wrist these other dog walkers would have been there to assist me.

My good dog Penne stayed by my side even though I had dropped her leash.


 For the next ten minutes of our walk Penne looked up at me frequently as if to ask “Are you O.K?”.

And in those ten minutes I had to stop walking from time to time so that I could tickle Penne’s chin and assure her that “Daddy” was O.K

I choose to think that Penne is deeply protective of her “Papa”.

My fall was indubitably at 6:41 and 25 seconds a.m. (U.S. Eastern Time). For when I fell the “jolt” caused my wrist watch to stop at that particular time.

Later in the morning I was able to re-start my watch.

And for most of this day I have lavished praise on Penne.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dancing down Memory Avenue

So --  you’ve  discovered those old films or videos - - the ones you took at a party, or on vacation, or when your children were cuter than they are now.  You watched them once or twice, put them away in your junk drawer or closets, and then forgot all about them.

Having discovered them hidden in some dark storage box you do the right thing.  You have them converted to be played on a DVD.

Which is exactly what my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy did with their old videos (old being fifteen years ago!).  And they mailed copies of the DVDs to me.

I spent a hour or more yesterday afternoon dancing down Memory Avenue.

The DVD I watched yesterday (and I have another yet to view) was mostly of family scenes in 1997/98.

There was my nephew Sam, then just able to walk - now aged sixteen, grinning as he ran up a footpath.  That made me giggle.

There was my neice Laura, now aged twenty-three then aged eight.  

She was and is a fearless adventurer. Laura on horse-back  (with another neice – Beth), Laura up a tree, Laura zipping around like a pro in a go-cart, Laura being very solicitous of her little brother.

My lovely sister-in-law Wendy was to be seen, but hardly heard.  Her husband is like I -  a non-stop talker!

And that husband, my good brother was the mean bastard who zoomed past me when we were also go-carting down in Wales.

I especially enjoyed some footage of a family visit to my home in Pittsfield in 1997.  Martyn, Wendy, Laura and Sam visited, together with my oldest sister Maureen and our dear mother.

I saw video of Gwen Sears, Madge Buerger and Ginny Karis when they visited my home.  

There was a brief bit of our visit to the late Michael Thornburg with his wife Joyce and their gorgeous golden retriever “Chelsea”.

Some more of when Barbara Hanger visited with my family with her daughter Phoenix. 

After that visit Laura, with her usual spirit of adventure did an overnight with Phoenix.

Bill Hydon stopped by -  it was an unusually snowy day for April, but nothing could stop the fearless Laura riding pillion on Bill’s Honda motorbike. 

 Later that day the family went to visit with Bill and his wife Betty Dean -  and Laura sledded for the first time in her life.

Pittsfield parishioner Teddy  (Theodora) Carter invited us to her home in Worthington, MA – and Laura once again went horseback riding after she had receive full instructions as to grooming the horse  (good training there Teddy!).  There was a nice bit with Laura riding the horse, and Sam sitting in front of her.  It wasn’t clear if he was enjoying himself!

And I giggled at the bit where young Sam is in the back of the rental mini-van -  and fighting sleep even as he played with his Grandma’s walking stick.

I was NOT charmed with the appearances of jmp.  In  one I am telling a hoary old joke at the dinner table, and looking like the typical party bore. In other I am being almost pompous as I explain the mysteries of the internet to Ginny, Gwen and Madge.

(I was waxing eloquent because I had just purchased my first computer and therefore I knew everything about the web).  I used the name LYCOS  -  does anyone remember that?

And there was Mum in a big arm chair in my living room. She looked so sad.

Indeed she was sad -  her beloved second husband, our step-father Len had died suddenly the year before. 

The holiday was planned to help her live through her grief.  Instead the trip reminded Mum of just how sad she was, for the previous time she had been in my home her darling Len had been there with her.

But I am still glad to have a nice video reminder of Mum.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Why I miss Boston (and Massachusetts)


The geographical center of Boston is in Roxbury. Due north of the center we find the South End.
This is not to be confused with South Boston which lies directly east from the South End.
North of the South End is East Boston and southwest of East Boston is the North End.

Boston Mariners call the shore "down east" even if it is south like the Islands & the Cape or North like Gloucester.

Same for Rhode Islanders.

Harvard Bridge

The bridge connecting Boston and Cambridge via Massachusetts Avenue is commonly known
as the Harvard Bridge . When it was built, the state offered to name the bridge for the Cambridge
school that could present the best claim for the honor. Harvard submitted an essay detailing its
contributions to education in America , concluding that it deserved the honor of having a bridge
leading into Cambridge named for the institution. MIT did a structural analysis of the bridge and
found it so full of defects that they agreed that it should be named for Harvard.

This is all true

Information on Boston and the Surrounding Areas:

There is no school on School Street , no court on Court Street, no dock on Dock Square , and no
water on Water Street .

Back Bay Boston streets are in alphabetical awddah: Arlington , Berkeley ,
Clarendon, Dartmouth , etc.
So are South Boston streets: A, B, C, D, etc.
If the streets are named
after trees (e.g Walnut, Chestnut, Cedar), you are on Beacon Hill .

If they are named after poets, you are in Wellesley .

Massachusetts Avenue is Mass Ave.

 Commonwealth Avenue is Comm Ave.

South Boston is Southie.

The South End is the South End.

East Boston is Eastie.

The North End is east of the former West End .

The West End and Scully Square are no more; a guy named Rappaport got rid of
them one night.

 Jamaica Plain is J.P.

How to say these Massachusetts city names correctly (Say it wrong and be shunned).

Worcester : Wuhsta (or Wistah)
Gloucester : Glawsta
Leicester : Lesta
Woburn : Woobun
Dedham : Dead-um
Revere : Re -vee-ah
Quincy : Quinzee
Tewksbury : Tooks ber ry
Leominster : Le-min-sta
Peabody : Pee-ba-dee
Waltham : Walth-ham
Chatham : Chaddum
Samoset: Sam-oh-set or Sum-aw-set, but nevah Summerset!


Frappes are made with ice cream; milkshakes are not.

If it is carbonated and flavored, it is tonic.

Soda means CLUB SODA.

Pop refers to DAD.

When we want Tonic WATER, we will ask for TONIC WATER.

The smallest beer is a pint.

Scrod is whatever they tell you it is, usually fish.

If you paid more than $7/pound, you got scrod.

It is not a water fountain; it is a bubblah.

It is not a trashcan; it is a barrel.

It is not a spucky, a hero, or a grinder; it is a sub.

It is not a shopping caht; it is a carriage

It is not a purse; it is a pockabook.

They are not franks; they are haht dahgs; franks are money used Switzahland.

Police do not drive patrol units or black and whites; they drive a crewza.

 It is not a rubber band; it is an elastic.

It is not a traffic circle, it is a rotary.

"Going to the islands" means going to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket .

The Sox = The Red Sox
The Cs = The Celtics
The Bs = The Bruins
The Pats =The Patriots

Things not to do:

Do not pahk your cah in Hahvid Yahd. They will tow it to Meffa ( Medford ) or Summahville (Somerville) .

Do not sleep on the Common. ( Boston Common)

Do not wear orange in Southie on St. Patrick's Day.

Things you should know:

There are two State Houses, two City Halls, two courthouses, and two Hancock buildings (one is very old;
one is relatively new).

The colored lights on top the old Hancock tell the weatha:
"Solid blue, clear view."
"Flashing blue, clouds due."
"Solid red, rain ahead."
"Flashing red, snow instead." (except in summer, flashing red means the Red Sox game was rained out!

Most people live here all their life and still do not know what the hell is going on with this one.
Route 128 South is I-95 south. It is also I-93 north.

The underground train is not a subway. It is the T, and it does not run all night (fah chrysakes,
this ain't Noo Yawk).

Order the cold tea in China Town after 2:00 am; you will get a kettle full of beer.

Bostonians: think that it is their God-given right to cut off someone in traffic.
Bostonians: think that there are only 25 letters in the alphabet (no Rs, except in idear.
Bostonians: think that three straight days of 90+ temperatures is a heat wave.
Bostonians: refer to six inches of snow as a dusting.
Bostonians: always bang a left as soon as the light turns green, and oncoming traffic always expects it..
Bostonians: believe that using your turn signal is a sign of weakness.
Bostonians: think that 63 degree ocean water is warm.
Bostonians: think Land of the Swamp Yankee & Eye Talians, Rhode Island, accents are annoying.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Once when Frederick II, an 18th-century king of Prussia, went on an inspection tour of a Berlin prison, he was greeted with the cries of prisoners, who fell on their knees and protested their unjust imprisonment.

While listening to these pleas of innocence, Frederick’s eye was caught by a solitary figure in the corner, a prisoner seemingly unconcerned with all the commotion.

"Why are you here?" Frederick asked him.
"Armed robbery, Your Majesty."

"Were you guilty?" the king asked.

"Oh yes, indeed, Your Majesty. I entirely deserve my punishment."

At that Frederick summoned the jailer. "Release this guilty man at once," he said. "I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it."

(By Lloyd Steffen in the Christian Century   April 29th 1987)

(I have not been able to check the veracity of this story about Frederick II ) jmp

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sermon for 29th July 2012

2 Samuel 11:1-15

11In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. 5The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

6So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” 11Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.” 12Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, 13David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”


There is nothing new under the sun.

In 1998 a scandal erupted in these United States which led to the impeachment of the President.

It was a particularly scuzzy affair. Our Chief Executive was behaving like an out of control frat-house boy.

Awful as that was, former President Clinton compounded his sins by obfuscating and lying.

I was then of the opinion that he should resign, not because of the sexual indiscretions (he was not the first President to have engaged in illicit sex), but because of his lies, and mostly because he took advantage of his position of power and used a young woman to satisfy his lust. I do not know to this day if he has admitted his wrong-doing.


In 1963 a scandal erupted in my native United Kingdom. The Secretary of State for War, one John Profumo, had in 1961 consorted with a young prostitute named Christine Keeler. That unfortunate woman was also having sex with the senior Soviet Naval attaché in London, one Yevgeny Ivanov.  There was an implied threat to national security.

John Profumo lied to the House of Common in March 1963, denying that he had had sex with Miss Keeler.  Three months later he again stood before the Commons and confessed his lie.  He resigned, not because of the sex, but because of the lie.

For the next forty years John Profumo served the poor as a volunteer at Toynbee Hall in East London. (Toynbee Hall is a “settlement” – it in fact became the inspiration for Jane Adam’s “Hull House” in Chicago).   John Profumo picked up a mop and began his years of service by cleaning toilets.

His wife, an actress named Valerie Hobson stood by and with him.  If ever a man had a faithful wife it was John Profumo.

If ever a man redeemed his sin it was John Profumo. He took full responsibility for his lie.


In January 1995 the Bishop of Massachusetts took his own life.  He had been Bishop since 1986.  Prior to that, he had been the Rector of a large parish not far from here.

Two weeks later his immediate successor in Massachusetts Bishop Shaw, and the Presiding Bishop issued a press release.

It said that soon after the Bishop’s suicide a number of women had disclosed that he had engaged in extra-marital sex with them, when he was a Rector and also when he was a Bishop.

Bishop Shaw (with the full consent of the late Bishop’s widow) did the Church and society a great favour by being frank and truthful with the press.  There was no attempt at a cover-up.  The wider public was reassured that the Episcopal Diocese could be counted on to tell the truth.


Some one thousand years before Christ, a King took his rest on the flat roof of his cedar-wood house.  He should not have been there.  He should have been out with his army as they engaged in the almost ritualised spring battles.

But he was at home, and he was a voyeur. What he saw was a woman bathing, and he wanted her.  What the King wants the King gets. The woman is brought to his house, and to use the biblical language “he lay with her”.

That King, David is his name was committing adultery.  What’s more he was a rapist.  There is no indication that the woman, Bathsheba, gave consent. In truth the only words she uses in the whole tale are “I am pregnant”.

David brings the woman’s husband, Uriah, home from battle. He then encourages him to make love to Bathsheba, perhaps with the hope that Uriah would then believe that the child to be born was his own. “Go down to your house, and wash your feet”, is an euphemism!

But Uriah has consecrated himself for battle and he will not break his vow to abstain from sexual intercourse whilst at war.  Uriah – a foreigner – is a man of honour.

David then compounds his adultery and rape with murder. He arranges for this good man Uriah to be placed in the front lines where he would become an obvious target for the enemy.  He is, in fact killed in battle.  Doubtless David breathes a sigh of relief. The relief is temporary.


For the prophet Nathan gets in on the act,  in a part of the story which continues in a section which we did not read this morning. It’s one of the most dramatic confrontations in Holy Scripture, from 2 Samuel 12 verses 1-7.

“The Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

“You are the man”, or as many of us remember it “Thou art the man”.

The prophet Nathan hoists David on his own petard in that dramatic bit of truth telling. The man of God speaks truth to power.


Pat Hunt was a feisty septuagenarian, a member of St. Stephen’s Parish, Pittsfield, MA, when I was the Rector. She spoke her mind.  It was always for the good of the parish.

I asked Pat to serve on the Vestry. “Me?”, she asked, “you know that I always speak my mind”.  I replied “Pat, I could hardly have missed that. And that’s precisely why I want you to serve on the Vestry.
Serve she did, and serve very well.  She knew exactly what questions to ask. She saw when the Emperor had no new clothes.  She was the truth teller which every vestry needs.


Sam Doak was my very first Senior Warden, back in 1976. Early in my ministry I set up a nominating committee for vestry membership. I gave them a strong hint that I wanted a certain woman to be nominated.  That committee exercised its best judgment and declined to nominate her.

In a state of medium rather than high dudgeon I wrote to the committee members and told them that they were wrong.

Sam Doak came to see me.  He firmly and gently took me to the wood-shed. “You can’t”, he said, “set up a committee and then immediately undermine its work”.  I became very grateful for that paddling.  Like every Rector I needed a warden who would be wise and gracious enough to tell me that I was wrong.


I believe that All Angels is an essentially healthy parish. As one of your leaders once said to me you are remarkably free of “lay popes”.

Yet we all know that this congregation is in a slow numerical decline. 

 You are not alone.

 What I am saying here could also be said in the other five congregations here in south west Florida where I have been privileged to serve.

I do not know if this parish can grow.  The demographics are against you.


But I know two things:

First: any diocese or congregation can only get stronger if it is deeply honest about its failings.  We need the John Profumo and Bishop Shaw spirit – so that we can stop making excuses about how and why things went wrong or did not succeed.

Second:  Any diocese or congregations can only get healthier if has open ears for “Nathan the Prophet, Pat Hunt, and Sam Doak like people” who will tell the truth.