Friday, 21 July 2017

Hamilton Academical

My friend and former colleague the Revd Manny Faria (Rector since 1999 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Beverly, MA) is in Hamilton, Scotland with his wife LouAnn.

They are there for a wedding.  The bride is the daughter of a Scottish Episcopal Church Rector and his wife.

The Scottish Rector will walk his daughter down the aisle.  Manny will officiate at the marriage service.

Manny and LouAnn's presence in Hamilton brought back 60 year old memories.

Back then, in the days before T.V. in the U.K., and with the BBC having a virtual monopoly on radio, we would, on Saturday evenings, listen to the Football results. Most football games were played on Saturday afternoons.

They were announced in solemn tones by a BBC announcer.

First, the English League (including two teams in Wales) with its four divisions - with the first division being the top clubs, and the fourth division being the less successful clubs.  At the end of the season promotion or relegation was possible between the bottom and top teams in the four divisions.

Then came the Scottish league, with its two divisions.  The names of some Scottish teams seemed to be positively exotic to Sassenach ears, viz

"Heart of Midlothian"; "Partick Thistle" (Partick had been an independent burgh which was absorbed into Glasgow); and "Queen of the South".

Most exotic to English ears  was "Hamilton Academical".

My good friends Manny and LouAnn are in Hamilton! The team still exists.  My word to them is "Go Accies"!


Back in those days, long before corporate sponsorship and the "celebrification" of football players. football in England and Scotland was a working man's sport (and yes, we were mostly men),

We stood on terraces (only the effete middle classes sat in grandstands).

We wore overcoats, scarves and cloth caps. Most men smoked.  We stomped our feet to keep them warm.

Teams played on "grounds" (e.,g. in my home city "the Rovers Ground" in Eastville, and "the City Ground' in Southville", not in stadiums.

Perverse as I am I gave my loyalty not to the east Bristol Rovers F.C  (I grew up in east Bristol), but to the south Bristol City.F.C.

My best moment at the City Ground was when our goalie took a goal kick.  It was a powerful kick.  It bounced just over midfield, and went directly into the opposing team's goal.  Our goalie had scored a goal.

We could scarcely believe what we had seen. We BCFC fans went crazy with delight!


Incidentally for Europeans and Central/South Americans "football" is not be confused with that dreary  "Theatre of the Absurd" known as AMERICAN FOOTBALL.

The real game is known in these parts as soccer, a word derived from the U.K.'s "Association  Football, in order to distinguish from that other game "Rugby Football"  a.k.a "Rugger"

Thursday, 20 July 2017

More thoughts on my Hotel in Durham, N.C.and the "Negro Motorist Green-Book".

If you read my Blog or Face book posting yesterday you will recall that I had a great experience with some of the staff at the Hilton Durham (near Duke University).

The front desk, shuttle'bus, maintenance and housekeeping staff were terrific. They know the blessing of hospitality, that's because with one exception they were all black. The black American response to white American racism is often disarming and radical hospitality.

You will be surprised to know that the management staff were all white 😬😩

What a shocker  (tongue in cheek).


A goodly proportion of this particular Hilton's guests were black.  This caused my mind to go back in history.

It is within my life time that black Americans would have been hard pressed to find a Hotel in Durham, in all of the southern States, and in many places in the north,

There was de jure segregation in the former confederate states, and de facto segregation in most other states.

That led to the publication of

a gazetteer of safe places for Negro (the word black Americans used) travelers.

Did you know that such a publication existed?

Have you ever thought why it was vital and necessary?

Read more about it here

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

I am a nekked Episcopalian (or To North Carolina and back - my adventures and observations)

I left SRQ on the first flight of the day at 6:00 a.m.  Delta to ATL, and then Delta again from ATL to RDU.

If I have to travel via ATL  (which is almost  unavoidable when flying from SRQ) (everyone goes to heaven or to hell but we all change in Atlanta) I prefer an early flight before the skies around ATL get too busy.

Both flights left on time and arrived on time.  I've had good luck with Delta and I usually pay a wee bit extra to use "Delta Comfort".  The seats are wider, the leg room is better, one's first bag is checked free, and the seats are near the front or the aircraft which makes for a speedy exit.

Once in Raleigh  I picked up my rental car from

I chose a Nissan Altima

I have never owned or driven a Nissan.  I was extremely pleased with the comfort and ride of the Altima (once I figured out that with key-less entry and ignition you have to press down the brake before the engine will start.

I decided at the last minute to rent a GPS/SatNav which was just as well.  My carefully printed directions located the Hotel at 3800 Hillsborough St, Raleigh.  I got there easily enough, but there was nairy a hotel in sight. It's the location of

Meredith College

I'd never heard of this College, but being there gave me the opportunity to think about my good Massachusetts friend, Meredith Wirtz.

My Hotel was in fact at 3800 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, which is 25 miles away. I'd have been hard pressed to find it without the GPS/SatNav.

I was staying at the Hilton, Durham near Duke University.

It was a good choice. I arrived at Noon three hours before check in time but the extremely pleasant young man at the desk found out that my room had already been prepped so I was all set to go. More about the Hilton later.

There was a 

nearby  I'd never before eaten at a Cracker Barrel  (it's a bit of a Southern institution, having been founded in Tennessee). 

I'll not be in a hurry to go back.  The menu is biased in favour of high calorie, high fat content southern comfort food.  I was able to find a salad with grilled chicken which was good.

At the risk of offending I have to say that never before have I seen so many (apparently morbid) obese people in one place.  (O.K., O.K., I am an Anglo-Yankee snob!)

I'll try to redeem myself to my southern friends by telling you that at dinner that day (with my friend George Blaisdell Jr.- we knew each other in Pittsfield) I ate catfish and grits!

Back to the Hotel.  The front desk and shuttle 'bus staff were as helpful and friendly as you can imagine. (I made this clear in my Expedia review of the Hotel). I asked "are you trained to be super-friendly?"  "Yes", said one, "but we probably got our jobs because most of us are friendly by nature. We love our work".

It turned out that there were three of us who were heading to Sam Rodman's consecration the next day. We got to chat to the staff (none of them had ever heard of the Episcopal Church!)

One of them asked "are you Catholics or are you Christians?", and "do you believe in Jesus or in Mary?"

We explained that we are Christians, but that some Episcopalians also claim to be Catholic.  We said that we love Jesus, and that some Episcopalians are devoted to Mary.

I said "We are a very broad Church.  You could be in an Episcopal Church and think that you are in an evangelical "thank you Jesus" Church.  You could be in another, and think that you were in a Roman Catholic Church".

"But I" I continued, "I am a nekkid Episcopalian".  The young woman asked "what does that mean?". I countered "you'll see when I leave for the consecration tomorrow".

She looked puzzled, and then said "that's a joke isn't it?"  Laughter all around!

There was a bonus.  The hotel shuttle 'bus drove us to within sight of the Duke Chapel, and met us after the service.

I've written before about the Consecration itself and my visit to Church and lunch with my pal Kadi.

The return journey was a bit hairy.  Once again it was on Delta.

The first leg from RDU-ATL was greatly delayed.  Kudos to the Gate staff member who gave us frequent and timely updates.   He was great.

I was sweating, lest I missed my connection from ATL-SRQ. I took my seat, only to find out that I was in the wrong row, such an embarrassment to this fairly frequent flyer.  I apologized to the passengers and promised that I would go back to school to learn the difference between 12 and 11. That relieved the tension.

Then my heart sank.  The man in the seat next to me (in a two seat) row, was super sized. I inwardly groaned.  But then he asked me the time of my next flight, and using his hand-held  he checked my departure time and gate from ATL- SRQ.  And when we got to the gate at ATL he stepped aside so that I could depart the plane before him.  Helpful guy!

I ran down the long concourse in Terminal B, raced down the elevator, jumped on the under ground railway to Terminal E, rushed up two escalators and got to my gate just as the announcement "this is the final boarding call" was being made.

All hot, bothered, and out of breath I apologized to the cabin crew.  They were not fazed. "Welcome aboard" said one "would you like some water?"  Oh yes indeed, I wanted some water. 

This morning I got an e-mail from Delta apologizing for the RDU-ATL delay, and asking for my comments. This I did and lauded to high heaven the work of the gate agent in RDU and the Cabin staff at ATL..  I hope that my praise and thanks is relayed to them.

On the ATL-SRQ leg I was in a window seat in a three seat row.

In the row in front of me was a Mum and Dad with a wee child who was in a special child  seat which was secured by the seat belts in the middle seat, but had her flying backwards, so I could see her lovely face.

I was intrigued to watch her.   Her Mum gave her a small stuffed toy in a transparent and hinged plastic box.  She figured out how to open the box, chuckling as she did so.

Her Dad gave her a cookie, one of those sandwich cookies with peanut butter in the middle.  The little girl worked determinedly to separate one half from the other.  When she succeeded she did what you or I would do:  she licked off the peanut butter before chomping the two halves down.

What a joy to see her as she experimented and learned.

As we descended into SRQ (I knew that we were near because I could see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge), this sweet baby had a melt down. She sobbed and screamed  I decided to ignore it..

We landed, and a woman in front of this family made a patronising comment to the Mum and added "my ears are still hurting". (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)

I leaned over to the Mum and said "don't worry.  She's a little child and little children cry and scream, it's not a big deal".

As I arose from my seat, the man to my right said "any parent knows that if your child is screaming you give it a bottle".

I was out of patience.  I responded with 'I am single and I have never had a child.  But I know that wee children sometimes melt down and get into a crying/screaming jag and that's O.K . with me".

He did not respond.

I wanted to add "if that bothers you, think about all the hungry little children in refugee camps, whose screams we cannot hear".

But I kept my counsel and zipped my lips.  It was nearly midnight and we were very tired

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

So grateful for the G.O.P.

For once I am grateful for the G.O.P. Senators.

There is good ole Mitch

He is very good at getting G.O.P Senators to say NO.  (what a destructive force he is), but he cannot get those Senators to say YES. (The politics of NO is the easy bit).

And I am a wee bit grateful for the few G.O.P. Senators who will not allow the Tea Party Tail to wag the entire G.O.P Senatorial Dog.


The Poodle

Vice-President Poodle (Pence) was allowed to speak today.

He was brilliant.  He said that Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has failed.  But he failed to give any explanation as to why he thinks this is so.

(Agreed that the Affordable Care Act needs improvement [most Acts do!]) but the G.O.P. has no vision, no plan for improvements)

For the Just Say NO G.O.P.  is hell bent on undoing any of President Obama's successes,  simply because he was President Obama.

I wonder why this is so!

Monday, 17 July 2017

An Estonian Woman and an English Man go out for lunch in Raleigh, N.C.

The Estonian woman is Kadi Kool.  I am the Englishman.

Here we are in 2016

Here we are in 2016, but our most recent lunch date was on Sunday 16th July 2017.

After Church at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Kadi and I went out for lunch.

So, where would a woman of Estonian heritage and and English man choose to eat in Raleigh, N.C.?

At a Lebanese Restaurant of course you silly people!

Here we feasted.  My mind took me back to my visit to Lebanon where I stayed with the wonderful Asfour family some years ago.

Of course I thought of the food, and especially of the best tabbouleh I have ever eaten, made by Rula Asfours mother.

Tabbouleh (stock photo')

No wonder that Kadi and I enjoyed the food at Neomonde in Raleigh.

After we had eaten I took myself to the restaurants' store in search of Lebanese delicacies.

There I encountered an employee named Abdullah who helped me to find what I was looking for.  It transpired that he is from Damascus Syria, and I told him of my visit to Lebanon when I could have made a day trip to Damascus but for the fact that the Asfour family had planned a great feast for me that evening.

Abdullah understood why I had chosen to bask in Lebanese hospitality rather than taking a day trip to Damascus  (in the safe days).

So this Englishman and his Estonian friend had Sunday lunch at a Lebanese restaurant in Raleigh, N.C.

Such a mix of cultures!

And we are all the better for it!

Consecration of Sam Rodman as 12th Bishop of North Carolina

I had an excellent three day/two night visit to the Raleigh/Durham area.

I was able to see and eat with my friends from Pittsfield days, Kadi Kool and George Blaisdell, Jr ( I saw them in Feb 2016 too).

The chief reason for my visit was the consecration of Sam Rodman III  as Bishop of North Carolina.

The service in the Duke Chapel was spectacular.

I saw old Massachusetts friends Bishops Mark Hollingsworth, Gayle Harris and Barbara Harris; Karen Coleman, Jeff Mello. Debby Phillips et al.

Aside from the consecration itself (and the powerful sermon by Bishop Gayle Harris (she wuoted Bishop Barbara Harris who at Gayle's own consecration said "there will be days when being a Bishop will be richly rewarding, and there will be other days when it will be like trying to put panty-hose on an octopus!"

------------------------Aside from that it was a deep joy to see Sam's mother Mary Jane for the first time in at least twenty years, and his sisters Mikey (Mary Kate) and Annie for the first time in more years than that.

Mary Jane, Mikey, Annie and I had that sort of time when you grin from ear to ear, and at the same time have tears on your eyes.  Oh joy!

(More observations about my trip later today, or tomorrow.)

The newly minted Bishop and his wife Debbie in font of the Altar at Duke Chapel -  not my photo'.

Debbie Rodman, Sam Rodman and one of their daughters (whose nae I forget) at the reception.

Mikey Rodman, Mary Jane Rodman, (Annie's husband) Annie Rodman, (Annie's Daughter Addy)