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Category: Memoir

Holiday reading – part two!

Holiday reading – part two!

This is my favourite holiday reads this August picked up quite by accident when I was trying to spend a book token in waterstones – taking advantage of their three for two offer! You remember the feeling – you land your hands on two books you think you want and cannot find a third! I wonder how shopping on line could replicate that wonderful feeling of falling over something by accident? Here is how the plot goes…… Whilst pursuing a…

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Holiday reading…..

Holiday reading…..

Part One – I hardly dare admit that I purchased this book but it proved a stimulating read….. as I continue to struggle what it is that makes for a respected politician of first rank. For those believers in the present paradise of coalition politics there will be much more of this legacy writing! And for those quick to dismiss beware – we all want to be remembered for something. Having just spent four weeks reading a daily newspaper I…

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And now …… for a well deserved break

And now …… for a well deserved break

It is August and time for a break….. which means? and thats laughter just in case you forgot! and a little bit of good food and the sea……. (secret Im off to Wales! Do you know where this is?)  and castles … different from this home from home! rest….. See you in September xxxxx James

The skill of Piper

The skill of Piper

This is a wonderful book – the first comprehensive account of the life and work of John Piper, including many of the overlooked tributaries into which his creativity overflowed. It contains in-depth research into all the major commissions within John Piper’s lengthy career, plus much new information on his work in print-making, stained glass, illustration, theatre design – and fireworks. In patricular it sensitively uncovers the life and work of Myfanwy Piper; her collaborations with the composers Benjamin Britten and…

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Durham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala

 Last weekend I travelled north to Durham for the Miners Gala ( or better known in those parts as the Big Meeting) – here is my sermon for the day and some pictures taken by Trevor Smith – for which many thanks! The Davy Lamp Kelloe and the Banner being processed down the Village The Hundredth and First Miners’ Festival Service Saturday 10 July 2010  Durham Cathedral  Luke 10.25-37 And who is my neighbour? Who do you think you are?…

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HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

I take some pride in the fairly challenging task of having read all 1100 page of this seven year research project! Good to learn more about Windsor from a slightly different perspective…. In 2002, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s coffin lay in state in Westminster Hall after her death at the age of 101: for three days, 200,000 Britons – people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds – queued to pay their respects.  She was not born royal nor, on…

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A New decade – New (or perhaps not!) Resolutions?!

A New decade – New (or perhaps not!) Resolutions?!

  I have never found it terribly easy getting back into the swing of work after a break and this post Christmas one is no exception. I have caught up on e mails and essential elements of administration before going into town to replenish the empty fridge. Thank God for Marks and Spencers….. and their ever full shelves of low fat food. As I write it is snowing in Windosr and from the sight of the skies from my study…

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Craigie Aitchison

Craigie Aitchison

One of my favourite artists died this week – a painter who was an outstanding colourist. Here is his obituary from the Times: Craigie Aitchison was one of those visionary individualists whom Britain throws up from time to time. The first sight of a picture by him might suggest a dangerous naivety, an outrageously childlike religiosity, a decorative triviality, even technical incompetence; but not for long. His paintings soon reveal a spontaneity of response followed into supremely calculated form and effect;…

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On the Road

On the Road

I travel upto Durham today to see my parents and catch up before Christmas – the card drop will save a fortune and Christmas isnt Christmas without on of my mothers cakes! this is a special year for them – on Christmas eve they celebrate 50 years of marriage. The north feels so much part of me – even though I havnt lived there since 1979. I love the cold wind that blows in from the north sea – the…

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My favourite politician!

My favourite politician!

Climbing the Bookshelves: The Autobiography by Shirley Williams 432pp, Virago, £20 Few politicians are loved or even liked.Shirley Williams was and is an exception. The warmth of her mellifluous voice can unfreeze the frostiest public meeting. Rumpled, unbrushed and late, she brings intensity and informality into any room.  Likability, affability, apparent normality, sounding as if they mean what they say – this is political gold dust. Politics is littered with might-have-beens, victims of the multiple accidents and upsets that set unlikely winners…

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Is anything private anymore??

Is anything private anymore??

  This is a kind of kiss and tell book that both attracts (for the gossip I confess but also the sheer wonder at how on earth he managed to get away with so much) and also repells. Is anything private – what of the seal of the confessional? We find him rubbing shoulders with a dazzling range of celebs – Cynthia Payne appears on the same page as the Duchess of Kent; Peter Stringfellow jostles for position with Lord Longford,…

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Its not what you know but who??

Its not what you know but who??

  When John Rae became headmaster of Westminster School in the early Seventies the IRA was regularly setting off devices around Parliament, 200 yards from the school. Neither he nor his 479 pupils seemed unduly concerned: “A housemaster tells me that a boarder returned to his house carrying a piece of exploded car,” he wrote on March 8, 1973, “and was sent round to Scotland Yard to hand it in.” The boy wouldn’t have been gone long. With Scotland Yard…

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Ashdown and his Diaries

Ashdown and his Diaries

    The Ashdown Diaries Volume One 1988-1997 (Allen Lane 2000 £20 642pages) I have been meaning to read this for some time and finally discovered a copy at the bargain price of £4 in a second hand bookshop in Oswestry covered market. Waiting can yield great results for the patient! I confess that I did not read every word of the mammoth tome – but is was revealing and illuminating for a number of reasons. It begins with Ashdown’s…

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Hugo Young

Hugo Young

  Curiosity, Hugo Young argues, is the essential ingredient of the best journalism. The only way to understand any world, especially the ever complex, always churning, often deceiving world of politics, is to craft the right questions and then go in search of the answers.   It was when he moved from the Sunday Times to the Guardian that he found the full power of his voice, and it was from his twice-weekly platform there that he became the outstanding commentator of…

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If not Now, When?

If not Now, When?

 Oh No ! Not another book on OldAge? Yes and a good one….. Self-appointed ambassador for the baby-boomer generation, Esther is a professionally incautious 68, shouldering her way into what she calls the Third Age with the energy, self-belief and studio gloss of the That’s Life! BBC television presenter she once was. “Don’t put a sell-by date on my forehead because I won’t accept it,” she says. These days, she lives alone in her lofty Hampstead home. It is eight…

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Rowan’s Rule and the impossible job!

Rowan’s Rule and the impossible job!

  This is a dense book of over 400 carefully chosen pages of words. The writer demonstrates his intelligence and insight with balanced  judgements. Imagine having your life poured over in this way. Family, failed relationships, marriage, political views, children, job applications that failed and almost every word uttered and written. The task has been intrusted to a writer who is sympathetic to the Archbishop – though ready to highlight mistakes and weaknesses. What emerges is an extraordinary and remarkable man whose…

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Who would be a Vicar these days??

Who would be a Vicar these days??

   I had reason to write to a friend who has recently celebrated twenty years in the ministry.  It has given me the opportunity to reflect upon some of the questions and convictions that surround the nature and exercise of priesthood in today’s complex and confusing world.   It was Bob Runcie, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, who would often comment that he hoped he would be remembered as a decent human being before people made any judgment about the…

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Saint or Sinner??

Saint or Sinner??

      During this November time we have been remembering – and as a colleague of mine said in church recently – we Christians are particularly good and skilled at remembering.  All Saints’ celebrates those men and women who have inspired us and been faithful to discipleship.  Many of us gather to remember on All Souls’ Day those people who had so shaped our lives and the nation gathers, as it does every year, over the second weekend of…

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Human Restlessness?

Human Restlessness?

I had a fascinating conversation with a friend last night about the whole business of staying and moving.  This is, I think, related to the restlessness which we all share in to some greater or lesser degree.  I have friends who are constantly restless – who are almost incapable of staying in one place for any length of time.  They want to move on.  Their face is always looking forwards and towards something else.  They are never plagued with looking…

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