Day 10: Reading to Henley

Queen Elizabeth is dead: Long live King Charles 111

Sad day and a great loss of a magnificent woman.

The only time I met her was unfortunate.

As a Scots Guards officer, I was asked to go to Dane in Holyrood to dance with Edinburgh maidens,

Highland reels are a sort of war, not a dance.

I found to my astonishment that I was dancing with the Queen. To my horror, I kicked her sharply, and she was forced to hobble off the floor.
Years later, I mustered the courage to write and apologise. I received a delightful reply saying that I had long since been forgiven!

Our ten-year-old granddaughter Annabelle Benyon wrote a prayer that seems to sum it all up:

Lord Jesus, we are so sad that the Queen died today.
As I speak to you right now, you are likely to be speaking to her as you welcome her into heaven. Please would you make her feel very welcome. Would you tell her what an incredible job she did and that everyone in the world is crying and missing her.

Who Packed my Parachute?

Charles Plumb was a US Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam veteran. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy territory. Captured, he spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived and went on to lecture on the lessons he learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table approached him.

“You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How on earth did you know about that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man vigorously shook his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Assuring him it had, Plumb reflected, “If the shute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be sitting here today!”

Unsung Heroes

That night, Plumb couldn’t sleep. “I kept wondering what the sailor looked like in a navy uniform: a white hat, a bib at the back and bell-bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I must have seen him, but never bothered to say, “Hello, how are you?” or anything, because I was a self-important fighter pilot, and he was just a lowly sailor.”

He thought of the hours the man must have spent in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silk of every shute. Each time, he held in his hands the fate of someone he didn’t even know.

Plumb went on to give many inspirational lessons to people. He would point out that he had needed many different kinds of parachute when he had been shot down in enemy territory: his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute and his spiritual parachute. He had called on all those supports before reaching safety.

Having read about Plumb, I ask myself how often do I fail to appreciate the help I am given? How often do I fail to say hello or thank you, to congratulate someone when something wonderful has happened to them, to pay a compliment to someone, or just do something kind for no reason at all? How many crucial jobs by kind workers go unnoticed by me? Or what about the people who work so hard behind the scenes, yet get so little reward for their efforts?

I look back at my childhood: my old teachers (one in particular), or an aunt who read to me when I was unhappy and lonely. Fast forward to now – what about the people who have tolerated me, supported me and prayed for me?

There are a good number of people who have been packing my parachute. And, of course, there are the people who have been packing ZANE’s parachute.

Many have worked hard for ZANE, both in the UK and in Zimbabwe, to make this charity a success. It would be invidious to name names – they know who they are, and so thank you!

And our supporters must be thanked too, for without their great generosity and financial parachute packing, ZANE would have been in free fall long since.

The unsung kindness of so many is overwhelming.

Thou Shalt Not Eat Meat

I thought I’d seen it all. However, now I see that the Liberal /Green / Labour majority of Oxfordshire County Council is imposing veganism by diktat. Meat is banned at the council’s official events and only plant-based food will be on the menu. This is on grounds that it will do us all the power of good and benefit future generations. I am all for vegans eating whatever they want, but this is daft gesture politics, a tedious lesson in how not to promote a cause to voters.

Oxfordshire is crowded with farms crammed full of cattle. Such suffocating moral certainties arise from the tyranny of a tiny minority. When did consuming dairy products and steak imply that you are not a good person, or that you don’t want to leave the planet a better place for future generations? Politicians of all stripes need to keep their noses out of other people’s food choices.

Left-Wing Social

Author Robert Conquest has a famous law of politics. If you add the world “social” to any noun, it both demeans the word and at the same time politicises it in a “left-wing” way.

We all revere justice – but what about “social justice”, a lefty degenerate that usually leads to the exact opposite of true justice?

If you remove the word “social”, you get a far more honest (and less left-wing) noun. Try removing “social” from “social market”, “social enterprise”, “social policy”, “social care”, “social housing”, “social media”, and so on.

See what I mean?


    • Nigel P on September 14, 2022 at 12:17 pm
    • Reply

    What a beautiful, beautiful poem and how lucky you are having such a lovely granddaughter.

    • Sarah Brockwell on September 21, 2022 at 6:51 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Tom, I also mentally thank the aunt who bought us books (second hand as she didn’t have much money) and taking the time to read to us, instilling in me a massive love of books and a library of books that I am sentimentally unable to give away. Any time I was ill, she would bring me a book – God Bless her.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.