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Remembrance Sunday

10 Nov


Today, I Am Ashamed To Be British

10 Apr


From The Mail & Guardian, South Africa

By now, everyone knows that Margaret Thatcher died on Monday.  It has been headline news everywhere.

The BBC managed a Freudian typo – accidentally, I hope:  

Margaret Thatcher dies after a strike.

I wonder if the British reaction has been headline news around the world?  I hope not.

In Britain, many mourn; many…rejoice.  Champagne was sprayed; happy chants thought up; in Glasgow, people who are too young to remember her time in office threw a street party to celebrate.  It was not the only ‘death party’.   Signs appeared saying, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!  Facebookers – people I know – spewed vitriol.  

While I don’t deny that her policies caused hurt to many, I have been appalled and saddened at the awfulness of the public reaction in some quarters.  The weltschmerz I feel is compounded with shame.  Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a mass-murderer, a torturer, a genocidal maniac who kept heads in the refrigerator.  She was a strong woman, convinced she was right, and unafraid to act on her beliefs.  She was our first and, so far, only, female Prime Minister; for three terms.  No small achievement.  She was respected and sometimes feared on the world stage.

But all of that happened more than twenty years ago.  When she died, she was just a frail old lady.

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatche...

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in October 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is wrong with a country in which people can show such scant respect for the dead?  In which it is okay to dance on the grave of a pensioner?

All politics aside, today, I am ashamed to be British.


Remembrance Sunday

11 Nov

English: Remembrance day poppy icon and slogan


Read This

7 Apr

Read This, Please. 

Please Read This.

If you never read anything I write ever again, please read this:

I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

I didn’t write it, Single Dad Laughing did, five months ago.  I just read it now.  Everybody should read it.  And share it.

There were many responses, but this one made me cry:

A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”

Read it.



Send A Christmas Card Into Space

6 Dec

I did something fun the other day: I sent the people on the International Space Station a cyberpostcard for Christmas.

It’s free, it’s easy, it’s a nice thing to do, so why don’t you have a go?

Click on the link:

One thing puzzles me – I’m sending it through cyberspace, which, technically, doesn’t exist; into outer space, which is, I suppose, nothing.  Does that mean it will end up in the same place as the post that comes through my local sorting office i.e. nowhere?

And Then A Hero Comes Along…250 Heroes, To Be Precise

2 Jun
Trinity explosion - July 1945

Image by The Official CTBTO Photostream via Flickr

I read the following story over on Cubik’s Rube.  He and I agree on very little – so little, in fact, that he hardly ever bothers to answer my rare comments on his posts.  I assume he feels, like I do, that we’d both be wasting our time.  But this case is different: we both agree that Japan’s senior citizens are incredible.

A group called the Skilled Veterans Corps are working to fix the problems at Fukushima.  From CNN:

…three retirees sit in a cramped room, hunched over their computers and mobile phones. They look like the planning committee for a neighborhood senior breakfast, not the leaders of a 250-member team attempting to defuse one of the worst nuclear meltdowns in history.

But that’s exactly what 72-year-old Yasuteru Yamada hopes his seniors group, the Skilled Veterans Corps, will do: help end the crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The group, consisting only of retirees age 60 and up, says it is uniquely poised to work at the radiation-contaminated plant, as the cells of an older person’s body divide more slowly than a younger individual.

This post is short because there are no words to express how much admiration I feel at their selflessness.

The Greatest Quilt Ever Made

31 Jan

For one reason and another we’ve had a bad start to the year (no change there then), but one lovely thing did happen: I got a quilt. 

This is no ordinary quilt, however: every inch of it has been handmade by my dear friend Viv of vivinfrance fame. 

In December I received the following email from her:

I’d like to make you a lap quilt or cuddly as we in the trade call it.  They’re usually about 1.50 metres square, but I’ll make it any size or shape you like (within reason!) It will be a multicoloured scrap top, backed with fleece, and you can have the backing in your choice of these colours:  sky blue, apricot,brick, camel or dark blue.

Who could refuse an offer like that?  Certainly not me, the coldest woman west of the east. 

Viv’s first update:

First two blocks made in an experiment in randomness.  I hope it works!  My sewing machine is misbehaving, though – the twiddly-bit underneath that holds the bobbin keeps falling out.  Air is blue here.

I think that last bit was talking about how cold it was in France just then, because she’s too much of a lady for it to be anything else.

On 23 December, when sensible people were running around centrally heated shops, below-zero streets and sitting in car parks for an hour-and-a-half, awaiting a space and fighting strangers to the death for it, I received this:

Four blocks made, 11 to go!  It’s looking quite exciting.

In early January there was a complaint about the number of email addresses I have, so I think Viv was tired from the Nike-factory-worker-impersonation making my quilt had become; but she did say this:

Progress report:  12 blocks done, 3 or 4 left to do, depending on whether I make it 4 x 4 or 3 x 5.  It’s turning into a trip down memory lane for me – leftovers from favourite dresses I made entirely by hand in Seychelles, fabrics from my very early days as a quilter, one or two snippets from some cottons that my daughter brought back for me from the Hindu Kush in 1994, from which I made her a kimono – the first of many.  There are also pieces from two huge bags of samples given to me by my friend who’s gone back to UK to live, and another friend who used to be a textile and dress designer.
I also have the backing, which is bright red fleece, unless you have a rooted objection, in which case I need to think fast.

[small edits for privacy]

I had no objections, not being one to complain at cheerful colours.  I was chuffed at the knowledge that Viv’s gift to me was not only all her own work, but made of her happy memories.  How wonderful to own something made in and from happiness.  And from such a wonderful phrase, too: Hindu Kush – I have always loved saying it.

This was an exciting one because it had a photo as well:

I thought you might enjoy the state of my work-table in the last stages of making the blocks.  The machine’s playing silly buggers and I’m tearing my hair out in handfuls, but am I having fun?  I am?  Who’da thought it!


Viv made that gorgeous pincushion, you might like to know.

Then I discovered Miss Vivienne is not quite the lady I first thought her:

Well then, it’s all gone together – not without a great deal of swearing – and the red fleece backing is now being quilted with the top.  I must warn you that I’m not the world’s greatest machine quilter, but if I’d waited to hand quilt it you wouldn’t get it until April!  I think another week to finish it.  It is anything but an heirloom quilt – more a rough and tumble everyday job.

Viv got something wrong here: it is an heirloom quilt.  I shall give it to whichever of my eventual grandchildren visits me most and brings the best presents.

She included a photo:


On January 18th I got a message to say it was on its way, ‘fast post’:

Tis anything but a masterpiece, but I can vouch for it being nice and warm – it was covering me knees all the time I was hemstitching down the binding and the label, and I was jolly hot!

And on the twentieth Viv emailed the tracking details in case there was a problem; to which I was able to reply:

I’m sitting snug under it even as I type!  It has just arrived and I put the computer on to thank you and there was your email.

Not me at my most eloquent but I was too thrilled for niceties.  Viv also sent me her process notes, as I requested.  So kind of her to keep a record of her gift so that I can keep a record of her gift.

I have used the quilt every day since it arrived and I LOVE it.  It is the greatest quilt ever made because it is made of and with good feelings; given with good feelings; and received with good feelings. 

And you know what the best part is?  As good friends as we are, we have never met.

Thank you, dearest Viv.






Where is the heart of Stockport?

The Jog

notices and reflections in ministry

The Cvillean

The adventures of little read writing Hood

Guernsey Evacuees Oral History

An Overlooked British Evacuation

Janie's Place

Welcome to the Great White North....


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