Saturday, 27 February 2016

ASLEF at 11:00 p.m.

I awoke at 11:00 p,m.on Friday night, feeling utterly restless. For reasons which I cannot understand the acronym "ASLEF"  was in my mind.

In my restless state I decided to wander into the kitchen to eat a few spoon fulls of Youghurt,  Before I got to the kitchen, Penne came rushing to the front all, all vibrant and excited.

She was telling me that she wanted to walk.  I threw on a coat, leashed her, and ventured outside -   just in time!

My dear dog pulled me to the grass across the street, there to evacuate her bowels.  She had a severe attack of diarrhea.  (Penne has always had a sensitive digestive system).How glad I was that my arising from bed was synchronized with her need to poop. GOOD GIRL!


Meanwhile I mused on ASLEF.  What did this acronym stand for?  The answer came.  It is one of the important and noble Trades Unions in the U.K. The "Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen", founded in 1880.

The Union's first rule book printed the following, by Robert Burns.

If I'm yon haughty lordling's slave
By Nature's law designed,
Why was an independent wish

E'er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty or scorn?
Or why has man the will and pow'r

To make his fellow mourn?
AND THAT MY FRIENDS  explains why Trades Unions were vitally necessary in 1880, and why they are utterly essential now.
I fully understand that that Capitalism is the name of the game. Only a fool would pretend otherwise. It is the most efficient means by which humankind has devised to organise economic life in which wealth is created, efficiency is promoted, and innovation is rewarded,.(Even the Soviet Union was organised on a Capitalistic basis: (it was "Command and Control" STATE CAPITALISM  -  not genuine  Communism or Socialism!).
Tragically, the predominate (not sole) Capitalistic impulse has been to create and control wealth at any price.
One of those prices is to control labour, so that the rights of workers are utterly diminished, violated, and controlled by the will and power of the Capitalists in their pursuit of wealth for wealth's sake. 
Workers become the "haughty lordling's slaves" (or indentured servants).
Please do your own research into "Zero Hours Contracts" to see where this leads.
The founders of ASLEF  and other noble unions understood that a "combination of workers" was the only proper response to their "independent wishes" which had been  "planted in their minds" (by the Creator?).
They knew that only the combination of workers (i.e. the Trades Unions) would have enough muscle to resists the predatory instincts of their capitalistic overlords.

TRAGICALLY AND SADLY Margaret Thatcher in the U.K., and Ronald Reagan in the U.S.A. were able to persuade the voters that Trades Unions were the sole and exclusive sources for the failure of "Business" (as if the Business Owners had no responsibility for their own bad decisions!).
Thus Reagan and Thatcher (each an unprincipled opportunist) sought and succeeded to demonise Union Membership in the U.S. and U,K.  The result has been nothing less than tragic for "the workers" who are the true creators of wealth, efficiency and innovation.

LORD ABOVE knows why I awoke last night thinking about ASLEF.

Penne is grateful for she needed to poop;

I am grateful because my "ear worm" about ASLEF  brought to my mind the utter value and necessity of Trades Unions, 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

"Daisy Turner's Kin" - a fine new book.

Sarasota County has a fine Library system which I use frequently.

I live more or less equidistantly from three of the libraries:  Selby  (The central downtown library); North (in Newtown); and Fruitville.

I rarely go to Selby.  Following a recent re-modeling I find that that the first/ground floor area is aesthetically barren and dreary.  (Public spaces are important -  and this particular one does not say "welcome".

I like to go to North.    It is a fine modern building, though sadly under-utilized, (maybe because it's in the African-American section of town where even so-called white "Liberals" fear to tread. In  truth North is on a pleasant Campus where people of all economic and  racial backgrounds gather to further their learning. Shame on my liberal friends who are scared to venture into Newtown. 

I often go to Fruitville mostly because it has a splendid "NEW BOOKS" section/

It was there that I saw and borrowed a book titled "Daisy Turner's Kin".

It is a finely researched and and nicely written history of a freed Slave (Alec Turner) who fought with the Union Army, and against all obstacles moved to Vermont.  There he gained the confidence, admiration and respect of the 99.9% white population (with a bit of racist kick-back now and then).

His story and history has been gleaned from the oral history which his daughter Daisy Turner. kept alive

"Daisy Turner's Kin" is published by the University of Illinois Press.

I urge you to buy, download, or borrow this splendid book. ( I have purchased two copies as gifts for my dear friends Grace, Derrick and Michelle. 


Here is the "blurb" from the University of Illinois Press.

Cover for Beck: Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga. Click for larger image
Ebook Information10

Daisy Turner's Kin

An African American Family Saga
The oral history of an American family from Africa to the twentieth century

A daughter of freed African American slaves, Daisy Turner became a living repository of history. The family narrative entrusted to her--"a well-polished artifact, an heirloom that had been carefully preserved"--began among the Yoruba in West Africa and continued with her own long lifetime.

In 1983, folklorist Jane Beck began to interview Turner, then one hundred years old and still relating four generations of oral history. Beck uses Turner's storytelling to build the Turner family saga, using at its foundation the oft-repeated touchstone stories at the heart of their experiences: the abduction into slavery of Turner’s African ancestors; Daisy's father learning to read; his return as a soldier to his former plantation to kill the overseer; Daisy's childhood stand against racism; and her family's life in Vermont. Beck weaves in historical research and offers a folklorist's perspective on oral history and the hazards and uses of memory.


"Folklorist Beck's story of the Turner family's transition from freedom to slavery to freedom again is a marvel of scholarly storytelling. . . . An engrossing American tale."--Publisher's Weekly 

"Turner's recollections are interwoven with Beck's research to provide an astonishing saga of a single African American family, an example of the oral history tradition across two continents, and an amazing woman who bridges generations of her family."--Booklist 

"This book belongs in every academic and public library. Essential."--Choice 

"A deeply, patiently researched journey into the unusual English-African roots of a long-lived Grafton, Vermont, storyteller. . . . A well-excavated biography of a 'custodian of a multigenerational American family saga.'"--Kirkus Reviews

"I met and filmed Daisy Turner for my Civil War series and was struck by her vibrancy and the power of her voice. How fortunate we are that Jane Beck was able to both record and authenticate her family narrative. It allows us new insights into the experience of four generations of a family who maintained their identity and self-respect in spite of the dehumanizing circumstances they lived through. What an engaging and powerful story!"--Ken Burns, filmmaker 

"This amazing true story should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand American history. Jane Beck's seminal book, built upon decades of rare historical research combined with rich oral narratives, reads like a vivid novel. The central narrative portrays three generations of Turner men and women whose . . . creativity, resilience, and spiritual strength are at the root of their survival. Drawing upon letters, photos, local records, and oral recollection, the author has woven this compelling, necessary tale that in praise of Daisy Turner's determined truth-telling, encourages a reconsideration of traditional African American histories."--Ronne Hartfield, author of Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family

"Beck has done an impeccable job of verifying the memories of Daisy Turner, clarifying what in her oral history is simply part of family lore and what is historically significant and accurate."--W. Ralph Eubanks, author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South

"A powerful vindication and thoughtful explication of the power and persistence of an oral tradition. Anchoring her work in long-term relationships and stellar research both in the library and in the field, Jane Beck shows how folk traditions, and the past, live on and shape our lives."--Debora Kodish, founder and former director of the Philadelphia Folklore Project.


Publication of this book is supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.

Jane C. Beck is Executive Director Emeritus and Founder of the Vermont Folklife Center. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Vermont Research at the University of Vermont in 2011.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Photo's from my Pittsfield MA days

Beverly Blaisdell a dear parishioner and friend at St. Stephen's Parish in Pittsfield, MA died on 2nd February 2016.

About six months before she died Bev collated her photo's.  She set some aside in an envelope with my name on it.  Her son George gave them to me last Friday.

What a delight it is to see them.  I thank God for Bev and for her thoughtfulness.

Christmas 1985. a skinny and very red-headed jmp

Undated.  L- R  Gloria Koch, Beverly Blaisdell, jmp, Al Koch. (The Koch's were beloved parishioners in Pittsfield, and great friend of George and Beverly Blaisdell. 
1986 My step-father Len and my mother Evelyn on their "second honeymoon"

Getting ready for the Eucharist of Blessing for Mum and Len's marriage. PITTSFIELDERS will recognize the Revd Gwen W Sears behind the lectern, and I do believe that the remarkable Ethelynd Hapgood is the woman standing next to the piano

Crawling around with my niece Leah (visiting from England) 1st January 1987

Undated.  Most likely the Blaisdells  had me at their home to celebrate my birthday

George Blaisdell and Al Koch "helping" to set the table.
jmp, my niece Leah, George Blaisdell, my sister Ruth - 1st January 1987

1986.  My Mum and my Step-Dad Len were married in Bristol, U.K/  Here they are in Pittsfield, MA. all ready for a Eucharist of Thanksgiving which we celebrated for all their American friends.

A wonderful weekend in Raleigh and Cary. North Carolina.

Twenty five years ago I officiated at the wedding of Keith and Annette at a Lutheran Church in Providence, R.I.

We have "more or less" stayed in touch in the intervening years.

A month or so ago they urged me to visit them at their home in Cary, N.C. (I was last there about seven or eight years ago).

I accepted their gracious invitation, even as I remembered  that I had other friends in that part of North Carolina.

So it was that I flew from TPA to RDU  last Friday.


On Friday evening I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with George Blaisdell Jr and his fiancée Deborah at the Nantucket Grill in Raleigh.

The Blaisdell family have been my friends since 1984.  George Junior's Dad (also George) died quite a few years ago.

George's  Mom (Beverly)  passed from this life about three weeks ago,

Some six months before her death,  Beverly took it into her mind to sort her extensive collection of photo's.  She placed many of them in envelopes marked with first names, including some for me. George gave me "my envelope" which contained a dozen or so photo's of various events at the Blaisdell home in Pittsfield, including the visit of my youngest sister Ruth and her daughter Leah, and of my Mom and Step-father on their "second honeymoon".

What a treasure!  Thank you Beverly.  (I'll be posting some of these photo's soon).

As well as enjoying good food, I had a splendid and rich conversation with George and Deb  He returned to Church a few years ago, and attend the Church of the Holy Comforter in Burlington, N.C  Guess what?   I knew the Rector, Adam Shoemaker, when he was a seminarian in Cambridge, MA>


Saturday saw me in Cary at Annette and Keith's home.

Keith's parents, Doris and Al Williams grew up in Bristol, U.K (my home City). I got to know them when I was the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fitchburg MA>

As it happened Doris, Al and Keith were visiting family in Bristol in June 1976.  I had just been ordained Deacon, and was getting ready to move to Fitchburg.

The Williams's stopped by my home to have a cup of tea with my Mum and me.  Keith was then fifteen years old, and I took pleasure in reminding him that he had met me before I became his Rector.

Soon after my arrival at Keith and Annette's home in Cary I went with them to watch their son Garrett  (aged 15 - exactly the same age as Keith was when we met in Bristol), in a recreational league basketball game.  Annika, their daughter, is a freshman at the University of Georgia, so I did not get to see her.

We three adults went to a Saturday 4:00 p.m. service at their family Church, Hope Community Church.

Hope is a mega-Church, with services on four campuses.  Mega-Church is not my style, but I suspended judgment, relaxed, prayed and worshiped.

It's a good spiritual home for the Williams family, and I was glad to be there with them.

Back at their home we of course enjoyed rich conversations, laughter, memory sharing, and faith sharing.

Annette is a splendid cook too!

I made a new friend - their pointer "Hampton".

Hampton won my heart (but please do not tell Penne!).


On Sunday morning I drove from Cary to Raleigh to meet with another dear and old friend Kadi Kool.  We got to know each other when I was the Rector at St. Stephen's, Pittsfield, MA.

It was such a joy to be together again and to get to know Kadi's sons Mikhael and Kristofer.   They are now late teenagers.  I had not seen them since they were toddlers.

Sunday morning Church for me was at Kadi's parish Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Raleigh (across the street from Peace University)

The Liturgy was seamless and dignified.  The sermon was first class  -  it certainly fed my soul.

Kristofer was with us in Church.  Mikhael joined us for lunch afterwards at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar.

There you can eat Sushi, you can eat Burgers, or you can eat Sushi.Burger Fusion plates.

I opted for Seared Sesame Tuna Nicoise Salad:  

Sesame encrusted (Seared yellowfin tuna, baby greens, green beans, asparagus, hard-boiled egg, snow peas, 
kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes with herb viniagrette)

The great thing about Mikhael, Kristofer (and Garrett( is that they are so well able to enter into adult conversations.  
That made their company a pleasure.
And Kadi, oh Kadi.   I love her dearly and couldn't have been happier as we shared again in Christian fellowship
Then it was back to Cary for a cuppa with Matt and Liz Thompson.  (Matt is the son of my very dear 
Sarasota friends Ron and Charlotte Thompson).
I'd met Matt and their son Joshua in SRQ, but this was a first time visit with Liz and their daughter Hannah. 
 (Middle child Julia could not be with us). My terrific visit with the Cary Thompsons rang down the curtain 
on an utterly fabulous weekend,

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Old and new friends in Raleigh and Cary N.C.

With Kadi Kool. in Raleigh. We've known each other for years, but had not seen each other since about 1999

Hampton, who is a family member of my friends Keith and Annette Williams in Cary N.C.