Day 4: Sissinghurst to Hook Green

Off to another early walk with Cromwell’s prayer:
“Please God  this day remember me even if I forget thee,”
a prayer I have to say rather often these days!

The B-Word

Momentum is doing all its can to create vast civil unrest for it assesses that the more the chaos, the higher the chances of a Corbyn Government.

Without getting too involved in the Brexit row, I reckon the next major hiatus for Monentum  to highlight will be a vast row between Boris and Bercow.

I cannot be the only person who rather resents the fact the the Speaker, who constitutionally is meant to  be impartial, compromised himself three years ago with a car sticker saying “Bollocks to Brexit” and he has compounded this since then.  Today he seems to indicate that he wants to skew the system in Parliament to bring “no deal” to a halt. I suspect he is preparing to tread roughshod over conventions to do so. I am sure, if so, that the government will do the same and I will be able to hear the rows in darkest Kent.

I also read that  Archbishop Welby has kindly offered  his services to broker a deal amongst the fractured people over Brexit. Unfortunately, three years ago, very unwisely, he announced he was a “Remainer” and, as such, of course his impartiality is thereby hopelessly compromised.

Dog’s Gratitude

It is bleakly depressing how divided and intolerant our churches can be. For example, some vicars are against vestments; they bridle at the sight of gowns and processions, or choir members in bibs and tuckers – and claim that all this is unbiblical and divides them from the people. That may be true to some degree. However, what about those parishioners who dislike the sight of vicars dressed in jeans, jerseys and T-shirts looking like shelf stackers at Aldi? Some churchgoers dislike praise songs and tambourines; others seem to loathe plainsong and anthems. A balance has to be struck.

I dislike this intolerance: why on earth does it matter provided Christ is at the centre? Some people want to go to cathedral-style services and be taken out of themselves so they can sit at the back and listen, think and pray in their own time and solitude. They may dislike being sandbagged by displays of enthusiasm and Alpha courses, or the sense of being “got at.” Other worshippers want exactly this!

I recall the late Michael Mayne, Dean of Westminster, saying that he thought services should appeal to all the senses. There should be drama, a pleasing use of space, beautiful music, the sight of lovely vestments, soaring choir voices and the scent of incense to create a sense of awe. He told me how he loathed the scruffiness and informality that plague other churches so that they too closely represent the secular world. 

When all’s said and done, we are all different – and it’s important we remember this!   

Good Grief

We read that a precocious Swedish child called Greta Thunberg has made a speech berating politicians for failing to “even mention” climate change. This child encouraged a vast number of kids in the UK to take a day off school and bleat the same nonsense to us all.

The result was that teachers had to “catch up” the children who were absent – the whole exercise was a total nuisance. In spite of this, the head teacher’s union (NAHT) apparently gave this nonsense their blessing by announcing, “A day of activity like this could be an important life experience.”

Was this wise? It wasn’t just a single day of activity, it was one of many planned by the organisers. What will happen when this crowd of spotty adolescents all start to campaign for other issues, for example to lower the age of voting to, say, 16? No one wants to discourage the little darlings. Well I do for starters.

Thunberg’s message is always the same: “Adults are doing nothing to combat climate change.” She is not saying they are not doing enough, she claims they are not doing anything. This is a wild exaggeration. This child must have been brought up on planet ZARB. What she is parroting is false. Every nation in the world signed up for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and 174 states signed the Paris Agreement in 2016. As a result, numerous government initiatives have been taken to reduce emissions including the Climate Change Levy in the UK, which is set to increase in July. And in Oxford – where I live – they seem to talk of little else.

It’s manifestly obvious that the mass of blinkered children are being fed “fake news” by this infant activist. Shouldn’t NAHT be encouraging members to teach children the difference between exaggeration and real news?

If teenage tots have time to spare, they might pick up litter or read some improving literature. They might also learn that they would do us all a favour simply by shutting up.  The Victorian command that children should be “seen and not heard” wasn’t altogether without merit.

The fact that so many people have been taken in by Thunberg makes me want to raise the voting age to 21.

Biting the Hand…

Some time ago, when I was at a party at a country club, I heard a splash and saw an elderly Second World War veteran I knew leap into the water fully clothed. At first I thought he was drunk until I saw that he had a little boy in his arms. The lad had been drowning quietly just outside his depth until someone had shouted for help: this old boy was the speediest person to act.

I recall two things about the incident. One was the veteran’s attitude: “No fuss; anyone could have done it!” to those who sought to congratulate him on his action. That was absolutely in character. The second thing was the glare of undiluted rage and hatred from the little boy’s father who should have been paying attention and who had instead been boozing and joking with his friends. That look says a lot about human nature.

More recently, when I was involved in the Lloyd’s market, I learned that a young man had been imprisoned for some fracas in a pub. I was outraged at the attitude of the authorities that had him instantly dismissed from his job. I hired the man to work for a small business I was involved in. He was highly intelligent with great ability. I did everything in my power to get his sentence quashed and to rehabilitate him as far as it was possible to do so.

The business flourished and it took only a couple of years before the man demanded to be allowed to go it alone. Fast forward another year, and he had decided that he was being exploited. And then, to my astonishment, he sought every opportunity he could find to damage me in every way possible.

It was not until I saw a Spanish proverb that I understood: “Why do you dislike me so much? What favours have I ever done you!”

It’s best summed up by former US president, Harry Truman: “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.”      


    • John Sunderland on September 1, 2019 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply

    Tom. We are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. I have just read Day 4…..could’nt agree more. I hope we have time to put the world to rights! Happy and healthy walking. John Sunderland

    • David Stewart on September 2, 2019 at 11:56 am
    • Reply

    Tom, we were just sharing tales after the evening service yesterday under the heading: ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ – so sad.

    Ps. Loving your pearls of wisdom again this year

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