Saturday, 8 June 2019

When there is good news from a troubled land -and singing breaks down barriers

Koolulam: singing to  challenge the status quo.


They met in a warehouse at the port of Haifa in Israel.

They learned the music and rehearsed it for just one hour.

And then they sang  -  Christians, Jews, Muslims - they sang together.  

They sang in Arabic, English, and Hebrew,  - they sang together.  

Oh yes, music can be so utterly subversive.



They sang in Haifa.

Here is what they sang.  Let your knees tremble, your eyes get teary, and your heart be filled with hope.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Well lookee here St. James's Cambridge, MA parishioners (and other people of goodwill)

I took myself over to Lakeland FL  (75 - 80 miles away) on 6th June to have dinner with an old friend, Dana L Robert.

Cambridge folks know her best as a Professor at B.U.; as  member of Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church;  and as the mother of Sam and John Massie (who were at St. James's most Sundays, but occasionally also at Harvard -Epworth).

The wider international Church knows, values and respects  her as the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and history of mission at Boston University. 



Dana was in Lakeland to address the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Of course we wanted to see and and enjoy each other (after many years) hence our gathering for dinner.   What a joy, what a pleasure, what a Spirit-given blessing to be together.

I have enough of a Methodist heritage (I was baptised at Eastville Methodist Church, Bristol, U.K.) to know the hymn which is sung at the beginning of Methodist Conferences throughout the world. 

So I printed copies of the words (see below) so that she and I could read it aloud as our grace before dinner.

"And are we yet alive and see each other's face? Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his Almighty grace"  

Amen and alleluia from Dana and from me!


1. And are we yet alive,
and see each other's face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!

2. Preserved by power divine
to full salvation here,
again in Jesus' praise we join,
and in his sight appear.

3. What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within,
since we assembled last!

4. Yet out of all the Lord
hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.

Here it is, sung by a solo voice

As Dana pointed out, in the days of Methodist Circuit Riders in the
U.K. and the U.S.A.  there was no guarantee that the preachers would still be alive from year to year.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Down at the Bay, and in the Park 6th June 2019

When education is richer than teaching to the test

Tee Hee

Good to know that it's there if you need it

Provided there is not too much chop or swell

I do not like this 

Forest of masts

I met the owner

And yes, he is a Blue Heeler fan. His most recent died at the age of 14, and he is longing to get another.  Strong and strong-willed dogs.

Sarasotans love their Dolphin Fountain

Early sun reflecting from cloud to bay

For tourists of course. The evening "cruise" is cool.

At the Park

Muscovy Ducks - Insouciant fuss-pots

Natural Avenue in the early light

Oh whoopee, it's my friend again

Good morning Zion's friend.

Dammit Daddy.  I will not move until the rabbit moves.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

D Day and the Buffalo Soldier I knew.

At St. James's Cambridge, June 2004


Of course the focus of June 5th has been on D-Day, that audacious, risky and costly landing of (mostly) Canadian British, and American soldiers on the beaches of Normandy.

But later in 1944 there was another allied invasion, through Sicily and Italy.  It was equally costly. It's all but been forgotten as D Day has become the focus of commemorations.

In that Sicilian/Italian invasion,  battling second to none, and better than many, the 92nd Infantry (the Buffalo Regiment) played a pivotal role. 

An "all coloured" (to use the language of the day) regiment fought with immense courage and immense distinction.

I wonder if there will be a commemoration later this year of their entry into the conflict and the sacrifices they made.  (Don't hold your breath).

92nd infantry men in La Spezia, Italy

Take time to read about it here


I had the great honour and privilege of knowing one of the surviving Buffalo Regiment soldiers, Kenneth D Holmes.

He died earlier this year.   His photo'  hangs on the wall by my desk

What a great man!

He had faith, dignity, wisdom, courage and humility which was beyond my grasp.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

This and That on a hotter than Hades day!

Indoors a lot, but with some good dog walks in the (relative) cool of the morning.

95f daytime.  73f night time.  Slightly humid.  Lawns look like hay fields after they have been mowed.

A wee bit of excitement today!   Visit to my Podiatrist.  Visit to my Dermatologist.   
Does it get better than this for a septuagenarian?

It did today. Lunch with my good friend Ann A  at "Shore"  (St. Armand Circle)

Shore restaurant is good.   Ann A. is great!


And here is a bit of This and That with which I amused myself on this hot day.

Lunch yesterday.  Not as wonderful as gazpacho, but a good substitute (eaten cold) on a hot day.

All out of the blue, a neighbour gave me this outdoor teak bench which he no longer needed.  A bit of Lemon oil restored it well.

Yesterday, in a moment of weak stupidity (or stupid weakness),  I bought "flavoured water".  Such a mistake.  After one swig of this foul tasting liquid I used the rest as a toilet bowl cleaner.

Wearing a big 'at (a gift from my Staten Island cuz "Kippy") to keep the relentless sun off my balding pate.

Finally - a word of advice. Just as you get your cheese home from the market, liberate it from plastic, and wrap it in cheese cloth or parchment paper.  The cheese will thank you.

Monday, 3 June 2019

The U.K. Guardian newspaper discovers Sarasota's Amish

For the Guardian this is exotic Sarasota.


The Guardian article above is the "best bit".  

What follows is my observation.

Pinecraft is not exotic, it is everyday/ordinary for me since I drive through the area at least four times each day, on my way to and from Arlington Park, and shop, eat and bank there.

I estimate  that of the City of Sarasota population (57,000) or the County population (436,000) no more than 5% have stopped to enjoy Pinecraft with its:

Big Olaf's Ice Cream;  

The three Yoder's places: ( 1. Restaurant,  2. Deli, and  3. Fruit and Vegetable Market);

The Mennonite owned Credit Union where I have an account (Everence);

A few more may have feasted at the Der Dutchman restaurant.

Many more will have driven by or through Pinecraft on Beneva Rd, a busy north/south route, or Bahia Vista St (a busy east/west route) without stopping.

Yoder's Deli

Pinecraft also has an Amish/Mennonite rooted Hotel.  (No Bar!)

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Brexit and "The Bloody Germans"

Since this cartoon was made she has decided to parachute from the plane  (or she has been pushed).

I listened to BBC radio programme last week which did some predictable and inevitable analysis regarding the relative success of the Brexit party in the European Parliament elections.

One woman  (a High Tory from the Shires?) voiced her anti-German sentiments as a reason for voting BREXIT.

She stated (in tones which suggested a quotation from some kind of Holy Writ) "As my grandfather always said, you can bolt the front door to the Germans, but they'll always get in by the back door".

Despite this my brother Martyn tells me that anti-German sentiment is not a strong factor for the Brexiteers.   

What is true is that the European Union  (which is not a Union!) is more than heavy handed in its bureaucratic impulses, regulations and rulings.

Above and beyond that, there is a widespread belief in the ranks of the working classes that the E.U. has not delivered for them. (c.f the election of Donald J. Trump).

The frustration of the working classes is real, but their plight has more to do with the miserable austerity programmes of successive Tory Governments than with the Eurocrats.

The Brexiteers: right wing Tory opportunists, and the newly formed Brexit Party (led by the odious Nigel Farage) have seized the Brexit Day.


And nearly seventy five years on there has been a puerile and whiny British unofficial plea to the E.U.  "we stood alone and delivered Europe from cruel tyranny, therefore you owe us a break"

Standing alone?  

Britain certainly had some breathing space between 1940 and 1944

There was the amazing evacuation of the British Expeditionary force and others  from Dunkirk in May 1940 by which 338,000 British and French soldiers were transported in boats large and small to England. (Why did the Fuehrer order his troops to pause their advance?)

The so-called Battle of Britain provided more breathing space.  In truth it was a draw- but it caused the German High Command to revise their aerial combat strategy  

What is little known even to this day it was the skill of Polish pilots flying at first with the RAF and later as part of the RAF which enabled that "victory". (For a while the success of Polish airmen was hidden by the censors from the British public, until the leaders of the RAF protested.  They recognised the skill of the Polish.

Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, who once was so reluctant to allow Polish pilots into battle, summarised their contribution in probably the most telling way: 'Had it not been for the magnificent work of the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same'.  

Standing alone?  Well at best creating a breathing space until the entry of the U.S.A. into the War;  and of course, by providing a bridge-head for the D-Day invasion.

Of course the E.U. does not owe Britain a favour because of the liberation of Europe,  That's romanticism, not the hard hearted reality of international agreements.

Nevertheless the Brexiteers tie themselves to the Churchillian myth that "this was their finest hour".   The Polish airmen too?

See this from the London Observer/Guardian

The Brexiters ask us to “believe in Britain” but not the real Britain, with its flaws and contradictions and a history full of inglorious chapters as well as achievement. The Britain we must believe in is an unreal land of distorted memories and colonial amnesia. The Britain that was simultaneously the biggest empire on Earth and the tiny underdog that “stood alone” in 1940, going on to defeat the Nazis with only bit-part assistance from the US and USSR.
This week’s D-day commemorations will, I fear, help reinforce the idea that it was we “wot won it”, further marginalising the history of the Russians on the Eastern Front, who faced the bulk of Hitler’s forces; that fantasy that Britain built an empire yet showed nothing but paternal care to the people whose lands it invaded and bodies it harvested. And by dint of that history, they suggest, we are a demonstrably exceptional people, not subject to the political and economic realities that limit the options of other, more ordinary, nations.


And see this