You are here . on the pale blue dot


'Anonymous' comments are not published.
Comments for publication should be 'on topic' and not involve third parties please.
If pseudonyms are linked to commercial sites the comments will be removed as spam.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Catholic revival?

Well perhaps not but welcome news indeed.

Breaking News from Forward in Faith.

Next Bishop of Fulham announced
Oct 30, 2012



It has been announced this morning from 10 Downing Street that the Chairman of Forward in Faith, Bishop Jonathan Baker, is to be the next suffragan Bishop of Fulham in the Diocese of London. He will be translated from the suffragan See of Ebbsfleet, which he has held since his episcopal ordination in June 2011.


Bishop Jonathan said, ‘I am delighted to be taking up this new post, though of course very sorry to be leaving the priests and people of the Ebbsfleet parishes after such a relatively short time as their bishop. I am looking forward enormously to leading the Fulham parishes and to playing my part in the mission of the church in London across the Diocese.

I am assured that the process of appointing a new Bishop of Ebbsfleet is already underway, and so in due course I am confident that my move will lead to a strengthening of the team of catholic bishops in the Church of England at this critical time.

After having spent the whole of my ministry thus far in the Diocese of Oxford, it will be very good to be living and working in the heart of London for, having grown up in the capital, it will represent something of a homecoming for me.

I will, of course, continue to serve as Chairman of Forward in Faith.’

FiF Secretary Fr Ross Northing, who also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Ebbsfleet Council of Priests, added:  ‘Whilst we are naturally sad to be losing Bishop Jonathan from the Ebbsfleet area so soon, we nevertheless rejoice that he has been given this wonderful opportunity to minister to our brothers and sisters in the Fulham area.  He will leave Oxford with our prayers and very best wishes.’

Monday, 29 October 2012

Misogyny





Thanks to Alan's Angle for his report here on Tackling Sharia Misogyny. The graphic descriptions of the way women are treated under Sharia law in this country serve to highlight the absurdity of the charge of misogyny thrown at those of us who oppose the ordination of women on theological grounds.
  
A clue to this phenomenon may be found in the recent blog by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes who previously compared the Church of England to an abusive husband. She claims that at the heart of Christian Feminism is liberation theology. Liberation theology is defined as a political movement in Christian theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. I do not see the link between the suffering of the poor and the demand for the ordination of women but we can be sure of one thing. There is no need to 'interpret' the teachings of Jesus Christ with regard to the ministry of women in the church. Like it or not, he left us His example.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fight the Good Fight



There are those who have given up the fight, there are many who are weary of the fight, but there are others who will continue to fight the good fight to save the Church they love.

It is now clear that Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals in the Church of England
have been betrayed. In good faith they believed the promise of an honoured place in their church if the measure to allow women to be ordained went through. Since then every glimmer of hope of living together from the prospect of a 'Third Province' to a statutory 'Code of Practice' has been dashed. It has been made abundantly clear that we are not wanted in the new Anglican church. All that remains is a vague promise; this time the promise of a voluntary Code of Practice which ultimately will be unworkable because anyone not in favour of the ordination of women will be gradually weeded out. This final compromise is summed up in an offer of 'Respect' but what value can be placed on respect after years of false accusations of bigotry, misogyny and everything else the women's movement has chosen to hurl at us in pursuit of their cause while their opponents turned the other cheek. The brazen campaign by WATCH and their like to exclude opponents from the church as though they are cleansing the Temple has been over-egged to such an extent that many of their supporters have become uncomfortable at the lack of love and respect shown to their neighbours, many of whom have worshipped in Anglican churches long before the Church of England was infiltrated by these feminists in pursuit of their secular cause

The hoped for live and let live stance has become so one-sided that if women are ordained bishops there will no longer be a place in the church for dissenters. Their objective is based on lies. This cannot be right in any circumstances let alone a religious environment. The last ditch face-saving campaign to encourage opponents to abstain rather than vote against the measure is offensive to those whose sole objective has been to act in a way they believe to be the mind of Christ. Since WATCH and their fellow travellers are the authors of their own misfortune it is now time for their supporters to turn the other cheek. If the women's movement had shown any sign of respect or understanding for their fellow worshippers whom they seek to crush through the legislative process they would have been guaranteed success. Now it is too late, their thirst for power has served no-one but themselves. They deserve defeat.
 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Rowan buckles under feminist pressure


Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters


No price is too high it seems to satisfy Rowan's longing to see women bishops in the Church of England. His 'unfinished business' of making satisfactory provision for all has been gradually whittled down in the House of Bishops to one word, respect.
With all due respect’ to Archbishop Rowan I think he deludes himself. The word 'respect' may have legal content in the Archbishop's book but Oxford Dictionaries has "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements".
  
There is no evidence whatsoever that women lobbyists in WATCH, GRAS or DARC have respect for the views, let alone the abilities, qualities or achievements, of anyone but themselves in the advancement of their feminist cause. If there were, how is it that opponents are left with nothing but a vague notion based on a word that will be ignored in the same way that the pleas of opponents have been ignored thus far? To date every suggestion of a concession has been met with howls of anger and resentment claiming that the proposals are insulting to women and would make them second-class bishops. Rowan's grovelling apology [position 6.25] illustrates how successful their tactics have been while more traditional views of women in the church have been overlooked.

Archbishop Rowan said at the July 2012 General Synod in York: “I also long for there to be the kind of provision for those who continue to have theological reservations on this subject, for their position to be secured in such a way that they can feel grateful for the outcome. That is the essence of what I believe Synod at large still thinks despite the unfinished business of sorting out what that means in practice.” His statement gave some hope that reason might prevail but that hope proved to be unfounded in the face of the petition organised by WATCH for the withdrawal of Clause 5(1)(c) on the grounds that it would “entrench permanent division in the Church” and “feed a deeply damaging ambivalence towards women as made in the image of God.” Many more women in the church are also 'made in the image of God' and they profoundly disagree with the claims of WATCH but their views have been ignored in a campaign which has been based on false accusations of discrimination and misogyny showing a complete lack of respect for opponents.

The campaign launched by Archbishop Rowan to persuade General Synod members to back the new women-bishops legislation next month makes sorry reading. It would be presumptuous of me to argue against Rowan on theological grounds but however skillfully he weaves his justification for the ordination of women on the basis of their 'baptismal relationship with Jesus Christ', what he presents as an anomaly is anomalous only because the Church of England has departed unilaterally from the faith and tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. With all due respect, the majority of Christians, East and West do not believe that women should have been ordained into the priesthood. If Synod had first considered whether or not women should be ordained as bishops in the Church of England there could be no anomaly.

It cannot be right to vote in favour of the proposal simply to avoid public embarrassment or internal conflict. That would be the worst possible reason for supporting the legislation. What the church needs to do is to take a step back and think about what Synod is being asked to do in the name of every member of the Church of England. It is no coincidence that Synod is being asked to correct an 'anomaly' now that the 'equality' argument has been turned on its head since the true effects of the feminisation of the church are becoming apparent. If this legislation is allowed to go through there will be a seismic shift in the church resulting in her domination by women clergy. The ordination of women has not halted the decline in church attendance and voting in favour of women bishops will result in the inequality proponents of women's ordination complained about. That is the true anomaly.


Postscript
Two appeals supporting Archbishop Rowan's plea have appeared on The Archbishop of Canterbury website. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, urges those who cannot support the legislation for conscientious reasons to abstain because we are all ‘one person in Jesus Christ’ while Rebecca Swinson provides a gender reversal justification based on Give me a child until he is seven and I'll give you the man having spent her formative years under predominately female influences.

Like the Archbishop of Wales before him the Bishop of Chelmsford picks out what he regards as a scriptural justification for choosing a pattern of ministry contrary to Christ's example. He quotes Galatians 3:28* as one of the ‘climatic’ passages in the Bible – ‘the one through which we then interpret many others’. Although the church interpreted the reference to Jew and Gentile within 20 years, we have had to wait 2,000 years for the Bishop of Chelmsford to decode the reference to male and female. If he had read John 14:6 instead - “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" - he would have had the key passage without the need to re-interpret what has been understood by most Christians for two millennia. Bishop Cottrell says: “…I hope that we in the Church of England will say yes to women bishops at our General Synod in November. I even dare to hope that those who disagree may choose to abstain. That those who aren’t sure will see that if we don’t pass this it would look terrible in the eyes of the world, would hold back our mission, and would also plunge us into years more debate on this issue. But, most of all, I’m going to be voting yes because I believe this is of the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit leading us into the truth of that text whereby in Christ we are one humanity.” - Ah yes, the Holy Spirit, but only if it is a yes vote of course; otherwise, try again later!

Bishop Cottrell also says: "I know that there are some people who conscientiously disagree with this, and I respect them and I want them to be part of the Church along with everyone else. But I believe the Measure, as we have it, gives people that provision." - That word respect again. He 'respects' them but not with "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements", just, I'll decide what provision is adequate so accept it. Does he understand what he is asking? Vote for the legislation to avoid losing face and if you can't agree, then abstain with all the consequences of inadequate provision. This is not about saving face. There is no question of abstaining; those who do not agree with the legislation must vote against it or risk losing everything they believe in.

Adding her message in the Archbishop’s campaign, Rebecca Swinson - the youngest-ever member of Archbishops’ Council – outlines why she wants to see the legislation for women bishops passed at this November’s Synod. Basically Rebecca thinks we have waited long enough and the danger is that too much time will be spent in the coming years discussing the issue when there are much more important things to debate such as the healthcare system and benefits. - Not if the decision is accepted as the work of the Holy Spirit. If the church had not embarked on this divisive scheme which has resulted in churches emptying in the UK and is seeing the ruin of TEC in the United States there would have been ample time to talk about things that 'really matter to people'. Rebecca claims that it is really important for the mission of the Church of England that we are able to show that women are an accepted and valued part of our ministry. Women already are an accepted and valued part of ministry. Ask the women who are indispensable in the work of Church. They don't feel the need to be ordained to prove it.

* Read a full explanation here

Friday, 19 October 2012

Relentless self-publicist fuelled by personal ambition





"Relentless self-publicist fuelled by personal ambition" was the description of Gerald of Wales used by the Archbishop of Wales in a 'withering critique' of one of the nation’s most renowned historical figures in a lecture at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in August, 2012. Dr Morgan claimed that the 12th century cleric was an “ambitious spin doctor”.  He said: “One can never get away from the impression that everything Gerald did, and said, was ultimately for the greater glory of Gerald. Gerald was never short of an opinion on anything. Gerald died embittered and estranged from the people of Wales whom he regarded as ‘simple, uneducated and uncultured’. He blamed everyone else for his tribulations, claiming to be misunderstood and maligned. He totally failed to realise that, for the most part, he was the author of his own misfortunes.”

To the surprise of many, a Church in Wales press release on Friday 12 October not only resurrected the idea of churches and chapels joining together but quoted the Archbishop as starting another passionate campaign saying: “This is the largest ecumenical gathering in Wales for many years. Our lack of unity does not help our message of reconciliation. I hope that we can find a way forward together as Churches in Wales.” 

Still reciting a credal belief in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church while taking unilateral action to distance the Church in Wales from the rest of the Apostolic Church, the Archbishop is now leaning strongly in favour of nonconformity in a bid to inflate the number of worshipers under his control
if he becomes the first in a new line of Presiding Bishops of the planned United Church of Wales. If he fails he had better not blame everyone else for his tribulations, claiming to be misunderstood and maligned.
 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Church in Wales looks to Nonconformists in survival plan


In concert: Tabernacle Chapel, Morriston - 'The Cathedral of Welsh Non-Conformity'

Wales has effectively been a Nonconformist country since the mid nineteenth century but the Church in Wales has maintained a parish system for the hundred years since disestablishment - until now. The 'independent' Review led by the Archbishop's old friend Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, recently came up with a plan to abandon parishes in favour of ministry areas. On Saturday came news that Churches and chapels in Wales are being asked to discuss radical proposals which could result in closer unity. Proposals on the agenda include a new kind of bishop and a single "United Church for Wales" in which there would be an interchange of ordained ministries by those with church or chapel backgrounds. Five denominations - including the Church in Wales, Presbyterians and Methodists - could ultimately share bishops, ministers and buildings. If given the go-ahead, a new breed of bishops would be created and be interchangeable between all denominations in the united group. Ordained ministers would also be free to serve in all churches and chapels in the Church Uniting in Wales.

Now one might be forgiven for concluding that this plan may have been uppermost in the mind of the Archbishop while using the convenient conclusions of the Harries Review to nudge unsuspecting congregations in a predetermined direction. Concerns have been expressed about an indecent haste in trying to implement the recommendations of the Harries Review before they have been properly considered. Forward in Faith (Wales) reports: "The reaction to the Church in Wales Review leaves plenty of us with great concerns. At one meeting recently an Archdeacon reminded those present that at this stage the question should be: do we agree that ministry areas need to be created? and then how do we do it? Not vice versa. In some areas of the Review suggestions are quoted as giving permission for a new development without the necessary agreement of those involved. Some dioceses also seem to be moving ahead in a piecemeal fashion. This cannot be good for the unity of the church."

Unity as he sees it is close to the heart of the Archbishop of Wales. He has refused to secure a future for members belonging to the catholic tradition who would value the prospect of unity with the wider Apostolic Church of East and West on the grounds that the unity of the Church in Wales would be threatened! He argues that to appoint a bishop or bishops with jurisdiction for those opposed to the ordination of women would "alter irreparably the Church in Wales as we know it. It would be to sanction schism and for these theological reasons the bishops, as guardians of unity, could not give their support for such a measure." - Excuse me?


There have already been calls for the Church of England to decide whether it is a Catholic or Protestant body. The latest move by the Church in Wales makes their position abundantly clear. No wonder Anglo-Catholics have constantly to struggle against the tide of liberalism which has overtaken their church. Like headless chickens Dr Morgan and his bishops have tried everything to reverse the decline of the Church in Wales except the blindingly obvious, neatly summed up by Damian Thompson here. Over the years I have encountered many Nonconformists who have been brought to the Anglican faith through the awe of sacramental worship, perhaps no more important a figure than the present Archbishop of Canterbury who, according to Rupert Shortt's biography Rowan's Rule, changed his allegiance from the Presbyterian Church after visiting All Saints, Oystermouth: All Saints' provided the classic, moderately high church diet known as Prayer Book Catholicism. Preaching and musical standards were high; incense would make its appearance on major feast days. This was far richer than Park End Chapel [in Cardiff]. John Walters, Rowan's oldest friend, later quipped that the Williamses were like the Russian envoys in medieval Constantinople who felt transported to heaven by the splendours of Byzantine worship and quickly decided that Christianity should become the new faith of the Slavs [p.32].


All that has changed. As Anglo-Catholics continue to be marginalised much of the mystery of Anglican worship has ebbed away. So have congregations. As costs escalate, maintaining the 'parish share' with declining numbers becomes increasingly difficult as is the cost of maintaining a top-heavy structure. With no parish ties in the future and Anglican services becoming increasingly reminiscent of politically correct school assemblies, local self-supporting chapels will have an increasing appeal for those who are left. As one adherent with a liking for good Welsh hymn singing put it to me, "Rousing hymns with a good gossip afterwards; there's nothing like it".


Readers with access to BBC Wales will be able to watch the latest reality show this evening at 10.35pm, Vicar Academy. The mind boggles.

Friday, 12 October 2012

An emasculate conception





In 2005 a new version of the Gospels invited readers to believe that Jesus Christ was a woman known as Judith:

 "And Joseph went to Bethlehem, To be enrolled with Mary, his wife, who was then pregnant,  And she brought forth her firstborn child, And her name was chosen to be Judith.” Later, "She bearing her cross went forth, There they crucified Judith.... Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb, But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Judith who was crucified. She is not here; for She is risen.” 

In July this year role reversal and substitution in the guise of equality reached its climax in the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Mecca of religious liberalism. They voted overwhelmingly in favour of transgender ordination, the latest in a series of departures from the male priesthood of faith and tradition in the Apostolic Church. 

In 2008 the Presiding Bishop's arch disciple, the Archbishop of Wales, wrote for the Guardian that refusing to ordain women bishops was at odds with the gospel. Quoting St Paul he wrote: "At the heart of the Christian gospel are values of integrity, justice, wholeness and inclusion: In Christ there is no bond or free, male or female, Jew or Greek". Too often in this feminist inspired campaign, equality is preached out of context for the benefit of a secular audience while demeaning the views of those who share a different integrity. Yes, in Christ there is no "bond or free", no "Jew or Greek" but that does not mean that they are the same any more than "male and female" are the same; they are complementary. Interpreting the Bible in the context of social development becomes not a matter of faith but simply a question of geography using a false definition of equality contrary to Christ's vision of the church. The gospel values of integrity, justice, wholeness and inclusion are now being denied to opponents of the ordination of women on the absurd pretext that affording them the protection they need would make women bishops second class.

In 2002 the results of a survey carried out by Christian Research disclosed a decline in core beliefs and widespread scepticism among liberal clergy, particularly in organisations such as Affirming Catholicism and Modern Church (formerly the Modern Churchpeople's Union). The sample of women clergy in the survey showed that just over half said they believed in the bodily Resurrection. The figure fell to exactly a third when it came to the Virgin birth. This is a worrying development given the prediction: "It's obvious that over time the priesthood will become increasingly a female profession. As far as the church has a future it will include a predominant ministry of women and they will get to the top."- David Martin, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.

Women rightly have much higher expectations today, demanding equality of opportunity in society and in employment but the church is not a secular marketplace. The ordained ministry is a vocation which already shows itself to be incapable of achieving the objective of parity in employment as envisaged by Women and the Church (WATCH). The  church is being increasingly feminised with every indication that the end result will not be parity but female domination. As the testosterone deficit in congregations spreads through choir and chancel to the sanctuarysupporters of the ordination of women outdo one another in liberality with the predicted result of gender reversal in the priesthood leaving the church dominated by women as in pagan churches at the time of Christ when His Apostolic Church stood apart. 
  
Back in 2007 Clerical Whispers blogged: "For the first time, the Church of England reports that more women than men were ordained in 2006. Last year 244 women and 234 men were ordained in the Church of England. 
In June 2012 the Church of England published these statistics:
The number of women clergy, paid and unpaid, continues to rise. In 2011 there were 1,763 women in full-time paid parochial appointments compared with 1,140 in 2000, an increase of 50 per cent over the decade. Women make up over one in five (22 per cent) of paid parish clergy. Women in 2011 made up more than half of both those in self-supporting ministry (54 per cent) and of licensed readers (51 per cent).

Constantly capitulating, trendy liberals in the House of Bishops have demonstrated that they are ill-equipped to defend traditional teaching from attack, particularly by Women and the Church who campaign for equality but demand an ordained women's ministry solely on their terms, a ministry that in a period of reception has shown every indication that the result will be predominately (perhaps solely) a female ministry according to evidence already available. Synod can no longer in good conscience vote for a measure that will result in the inequality it strives to avoid. The proposals for the ordination of women to the episcopate must be rejected in order to reverse the process of gender substitution in the priesthood which will turn the Church of England into a feminised organisation no longer recognisable as part of Christ's Apostolic Church.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Welsh Primate abandons twin integrity




News from Llandaff Cathedral insiders:

 In his newly created role of Acting Dean of his own Cathedral, the dictatorial Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff, Dr Barry Morgan, has decreed that the Cathedral Office is not to publish the names of officiants at each of the Cathedral services. The intention is to put a further barrier in the way of those who, for theological reasons, are uncomfortable with a woman presiding at the altar. Rather than being able to plan ahead to avoid unfortunate pastoral situations, it would appear that the only way of knowing who is celebrating the Eucharist at Llandaff is to see who appears at the entrance procession. 

This action again illustrates that there is nothing so intolerant as an arch-liberal. If this is the level of pastoral care shown by the Archbishop in his own Cathedral for those who are told they still have an honoured place in his Church, what hope is there for the rest of us? 

So much for a Code of Practice - it's probably not worth the paper is written on.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Death by Care


NHS and Care Home DEATHS in 2011      

132  Thirst
      117  Bedsores
     51  Starved

Contributory factors

      650  Bedsores
                         558  Severe dehydration
               287  Malnourished

When patient care was the primary objective of nursing, 'turning' patients to avoid bedsores was commonplace. According to the latest statistics, last year 117 patients died of their bedsores with 650 being contributory factors to the cause of death.
Humorously but in a point well made, this clip shows how observation is the first rule of diagnosis yet in British Hospitals and Care Homes last year, 51 people starved to death and another 132 people died of thirst. In July, an inquest heard that a young man who died of dehydration at a leading hospital rang 999 for police because he was so thirsty. 
Years ago just one death from a cause listed above would have been considered outrageous; now there is hardly a murmur. Read here how no-one acted when they should have in response to pleas of a retired  maxillofacial surgeon. What hope is there for the rest of us?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Stuffed!


  "This stinking fish has been a long time on the slab. Back in 1992, the church voted to admit women to the priesthood, but this was only agreed upon the intervention of the then Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, who insisted that there were “two integrities” within the church: the one that could accept women priests and the other that could not. Room must be made for both. If Dr Habgood’s agreeable compromise had not been accepted then there would not have been a majority in favour of the ordination of women".- The Rev Peter Mullin, The Telegraph, 06 Feb 2012 

Living with two integrities is now unacceptable to the cause of Women and the Church. According to most reports, being seen to be on the wrong side of the fence has been a clear impediment to the chances of the Bishop of London's name appearing on the Crown Nominations Committee list of two possible candidates to succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Brief profiles of the 16 people selecting Rowan's successor indicate that all but two members are in favour of women bishops. It is not clear what protection for opponents would be favoured by some but of the 'Canterbury six' only one conservative amongst the modernisers wants concessions for traditionalists. Of the two 'Canterbury' women, one wants 'only minimal protection for opponents' while the other is 'opposed to measures which would make them inferior to male counterparts', ie, no concessions. 

There is a more balanced representation between conservatives and modernisers among the remainder of the panel, all but two are in favour of women bishops. Again it is not clear how some of them feel about opponents but one who is completely out-of-step with the Anglican Communion while supposedly representing them has already withdrawn provision for opponents in the Church in Wales. Also highlighted is the fact that the chair of the London branch of Women and the Church is said to be 'frustrated at the Bishop of London’s opposition to the ordination of women'. No surprise there given the record of WATCH but is it acceptable that a commanding figure such as the Rt Rev Richard Chartres is considered beyond the pail because of his opposition to women priests regardless of his ability or suitability when the church has “two integrities”, or was their acceptance simply a cynical act of duplicity for political ends?

But does it really matter? Not if these estimates are correct because the Church of England will be dead in 20 years time. Killed by politically correct, self-interested groups who have tinkered with other people's faith to such an extent that many have already given up attending formal worship - other than in the Diocese of London, that is where the church is still growing!

The stench is overwhelming.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Rule Britannia!



At last Abu Hamza is to stand before a judge in the USA to defend his record of hate after years of looking on by the law in this country, the tax-payer paying for his keep and our courts protecting his rights.

An article here written when John Reid was Home Secretary puts into perspective the problem of radical Islam in Britain but many still find it bizarre that while the most radical Islamists appear able to preach hate at will, Christians at work in their own country are not allowed to wear a symbol of love and forgiveness.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Three cheers for Sir Richard Branson




If Virgin Rail had not moved for a judicial review into the award to First Group of the West Coast Main Line franchise the public would probably have remained unaware that the Department for Transport badly miscalculated after the assurances of the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, and his predecessor, the recently shunted to International Development, Justine Greening, that the procedure was 'robust'. So three cheers for Sir Richard Branson.

Sir Richard's first brush (pun intended) with the Tory Party was when Mrs Thatcher appointed him Litter Tsar charged with keeping Britain tidy, presumably on the assumption that he was 'one of us'. To be 'wet' in a Thatcher government was not looked upon kindly, a situation not lost on civil servants who would have avoided giving ministers advice they did not want to hear, a habit that appears to have lingered on. But if things went wrong the minister carried the can. No longer. Patrick McLoughlin said "he was angry" because the fault lay "only and squarely within the Department for Transport". - Three civil servants have been suspended, the politicians carry on regardless, in Ms Greening's case now using her accountancy skills for the benefit of the poor in the Third World, or not!


My days of business travel are long gone but how easy it was in those bygone days to decide what time I needed to arrive at my destination and simply buy a ticket at the station ticket office. Hearing of people's current experiences, I tried looking on-line to see how I would go about
booking a return ticket from Manchester to London this coming Friday. Perhaps it is my age but I might as well have been buying an air-line ticket. Eventually I discovered that prices varied between £74.20 and £296 for a Second Class return with a whopping £423 for First Class travel. Traveling a greater distance of 346km from Paris to London compared with the 267km from Manchester by Eurostar would cost between 117 and 217 Euros (between £94 and £174 and a flexible business rate of £249. Traveling a similar distance of 270km from Paris to Brugge and back on a Friday would cost between 87 Euros and  just 169 Euros for flexible First Class travel (between £70 and £136). Ah, the joys of rail privatisation!