Sunday, 24 January 2010

Visiting Charles and Mandy

I enjoyed yesterday.  We were invited to Charles' (see 'My Donkeybody', the book) 70th birthday party.  That was nice - only they live in a former watermill and their main room is upstairs.  Not a broad gently sweeping staircase, but quite narrow steep spiral stairs....  When it was a working mill there was a sack-hoist outside, but for some reason it was ruled out.  I think there are some vital parts missing.  So needs must.  Ben, their son, used to work with the disabled.  So I linked my hands (not to pray, I'm afraid), Ben seized me from behind, Richard, their son-in-law, look my legs - and up, up and away, I was flying, soon to be dumped in an armchair upstairs!  Easy, when you know how.  Going down when I could see the drop I felt a bit less nonchalant, but they managed that manoeuvre with equal aplomb.  No doubt, health and safety would have had the heeby-jeebies, but I knew I was in good hands.

In between the two operations, I did a lot of listening and, for me, a lot of talking.  Many of the people there knew us and so could interpret my gobbledygook.  So what with friends, good food and companionship, we spent a very happy afternoon.  We didn't need any more food when we got home.
So Jane honed some of her newly acquired computer skills, while I wrote yesterday's blog.  Then we watched 'Millions', which is a fun film.  And so, as Pepys would say, to bed.

There are some thought-provoking comments on my blog yesterday.  I do like being challenged about my thoughts.  So thanks.

Perhaps this observation may provoke some reaction... but I did think David Cameron was plain wrong to cite the sadistic attack by two youngsters in the Doncaster area as evidence of the 'broken society'.  It shouldn't be too difficult to work out that the incident is news because it is so UNTYPICAL.  It may well be that we are witnessing a break-down of family life and societal values - but this isn't evidence for it, any more than the Jamie Bulger case, quoted years ago by Tony Blair, was.  Our society isn't awash with damaged sadistic young people.  I suspect most families make a reasonable fist of things.  Not that there aren't many that need help.  But rather than make too easy political points, we really need to address the issues Michael Sandel addressed in his Reith lectures about establishing a new citizenship based on agreed values.


  1. I have no quarrel with David Cameron over the terrible event in Doncaster - it was only untypical in its intensity. Everywhere you look you see bullying, disrespect, unkindness. I look back fondly on my childhood in the twenties and thirties, when the police, teachers, doctors - even bank managers - were respected and relied upon by everyone. We cannot put the clock back, of course, and no-one would want to reverse the many good things that have happened since: but we do live in a broken society and the front runner in the renewal has got to be THE CHURCH (not the building - us).

  2. In a way you make my point, Brian, with your examples. It's just bad logic to say the Jean Charles de Menenez shooting proves the police can't be relied on, or Harold Shipman shows you can't trust doctors anymore, or that Sir Fred Goodwin proves all bankers are out to line their pockets. That's why I think Mr Cameron was wrong to make that connection. It seemed like cashing in on a tragedy. I was more impressed by Iain Duncan-Smith's report on 'Breakdown Britain' which was more research than sensation based.

    I too think our society has lost its moral moorings, and hardly surprisingly youngsters are adrift. BUT I am wary of swallowing the media's version of reality. I don't agree that 'everywhere' you see bullying, disrespect and unkindness - anymore than in Dickens' day. Think of Dotheboys Hall - or Tom Brown's Schooldays. The young people I met in Stanford and meet in Grove are rather congenial and caring. I think of how they wanted to create a memorial for a friend who'd taken his life. And did you read about the 7-year old boy, Charlie Simpson, who wanted to raise something for Haiti? 'Charlie launched his efforts with a simple message: "My name is Charlie Simpson, I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives. I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti."' Last time I saw he'd raised £100,000 and still rising. But that's not typical, you may say.... I actually think he's far more typical than the Yorkshire sadists.