Friday, 21 December 2012

Skyfall-ing in

The most spectacular and the most impossible to nod off Bond film ever.  In the process, perhaps, the film with the world's worst driving!

'Skyfall' underlines the status quo, so that the next generation is brought up 'right'.  It passes on our society's established values, attitudes and beliefs, over recent centuries, that are not the most worthy - of getting our way by coercion, force and, astonishingly, the slaughter of the innocents (this latter is not in the Bond films).

I think the films reinforce our Western predilection for such things that has been at the heart of too much European life for centuries of going out to conquer and dominate other countries.  All this, even after the Europeans' world wars that finally brought them up short to unite in peace between themselves.  Such a pity that the European's non-violence between themselves did not spread to leaving other countries well alone, too.

We had twenty children killed in Connecticut a few days ago;
twenty thousand children in our 13 years War of Terrorism;
even, many more than that, in the War on Communism in SE Asia between 1945 and 1975.
The Bond films nurture our Western ways for such things, to ensure they are passed on to the next and succeeding generations.  The general media message is: enemies are essential but, making and keeping friends with those who do things differently from us - other cultures, religious beliefs, political systems and traditions - is not so essential.

The film glorifies and promotes behaviour that we are not meant to indulge in - from speeding over roof tops breaking every imaginable speed limit, even sending old ladies flying on pedestrian crossings, to blowing up a beautiful old and isolated Scottish mansion.  It also continues the silent, imperceptible, so easily absorbed indoctrination of us all that we have very dangerous enemies of the State and that attack, aggression and violence is the only way - to get them before they get us.  Therefore, we cannot possibly abandon our love affair with guns and grenades, rifles and bombs - even when the sky falls in on the New England families of the latest killings.  We are subconsciously inculcated with this drivel via entertainment, of which fifty years of Bond is the most popular.

 It is totally incomprehensible for us that our invading, attacking and occupying of other countries might make them so ungrateful that they turn into our enemies and try and hit back.  Indeed, quite outrageous for them wanting to harm us.  We can't have them defending their lands and resources from us.  Or, of letting them be so un-Christian (or un-Muslim) as to show revenge on us.

Never mind - "Man is God's greatest work."  (Sister Wendy Beckett on Desert Island Discs 16.12.2012.)  She could not possibly have meant the nation's greatest role model.  Could she?  What does Sister Wendy make of 007?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Uncomfortable home truths?


It is widely considered, it is universal, orthodox thinking, that we can go on expanding our numbers and activities on a planet that is not expanding.

We are living infinitely on a finite planet.

We are living unnaturally on a natural planet.

We are living for economic growth and population growth.

We are living beyond our means, our limits and our boundaries.

We have a live it up today and to hell with tomorrow mentality.

We are living today to come a cropper tomorrow!

What we take today, we don't have tomorrow.

We are liquidising our assets; living off capital as if its income.

Expansion economics from a diminishing capital resource base!

Economic growth is ecological retraction as the chickens eventually come home to roost.

Wealth creation is actually poverty creation.

There's no material gain without pain - eventually!

What goes up must come down - never ending wealth from economic and population growth must be living in cloud cuckoo land.  It must, eventually, lead to economic bust and population crash.

What takes an age for us, goes in the twinkling of an eye in the geological time scale of the earth.

Never before has the poor planet seen such an unnatural explosion of greenhouse gases, as the lot of us burn up the fossil fuels in 300 years that the earth took 300 million years to form.  Thus, the Lady must be right with this:

"We are embarked on a massive experiment with the very life support systems of the earth itself."  Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher (the most honourable thing she ever said!)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Wild, White, Western Powers!

The West's world wars, after centuries of the European countries dominating everyone else, was the (not so grand) climax of centuries of warfare by and between these Christian, white, European nations.  The 2nd World War was the zenith, the high point (actually, of course, nadir or low point) of centuries of discrimination, persecution and hatred of the Jews, not by Muslims but by the Christian, white, European nations.

Questions for author and speaker, Kevin who was much taken by our victory in the battle of El Alamein as what prevented the Nazis from invading occupying what was then Palestine:-
From Christ's temptations, how would you conclude was His teaching on dominating other countries? From the Sermon on the Mount, how would you conclude was His teaching on warfare?

For President George Bush Jnr, the prophet Mohammed's teaching was "good and peaceful". What a pity that the President's actions, for all the many years after the 7 October 2001 when he launched his War of Terrorism, was the exact opposite of being "good and peaceful".

The exact opposite of "good and peaceful" was the hallmark of the first half of the 20th century and the second half was not much better - thanks to a string of American Presidents and European Prime Ministers, voted in by us!  A century of bloodshed and of white inspired conflicts.  It saw our wars (directly armed or in direct engagement), continuing on (almost immediately from 1945) in SE Asia and the Middle East.  It also very nearly saw a nuclear exchange between the two white, super powers over missiles both had installed - first, the Americans in Turkey on the Russian's doorstep and then, the Russians followed in Cuba on America's doorstep.

Monday, 26 November 2012

For Israel, attack is the best form of defence

Israel only ever tries violence, terrorism and targeted assassination as the best forms of defence.

The nation was born in 1948 out of Israeli violence and terrorism against the British.  Terrorism was rewarded and its attacks and aggression on its neighbouring countries since then hardly endeared it to those nations.  An Israeli promotional film, I recently saw at church, actually admitted it was surrounded by enemies, as if this was something to be proud of rather than ashamed of, as a sign of failure.

After 64 years, I would have thought Israel would have tried a different 
strategy to win friends and influence people - even if this was only out of sheer self-interest to improve its security and future prospects.  But, then, it is an outpost of what the Palestinians see as the loathed USA/West in the very heart of the Arab/Muslim Middle East.  So, what more can one expect from Israel/USA/UK than continued warfare to ratchet up the hatred, to never bring peace with justice for either Israel or Palestine?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

We must always remember our dead and never ...

... those they killed for democracy, freedom and prosperity.
For me, the wearing of the red poppy is a mark that the wearer supports the shedding of innocent blood in far off lands AND by our military, too.  All this is done to maintain OUR freedom, our wealth and democracy.  Done to maintain the defence of the realm; the defence of OUR  realm!  Instead, give the poor beggars who are denied our democracy and decency, better housing, warmth and clothing - NOT drone attacks and the provocative presence of foreign soldiers!
Remembrance should be about reflecting on the continuing popularity for war to get our way around the world.  Why are we such a leading exponent of violence on other nations' soils?  Only those who themselves get killed in the process are honoured as having made the ultimate sacrifice, as having truly served their nation and been the real heroes.  What about the rest of us who advocate non-violence and abiding by international law and UN resolutions?
We only honour those who died fighting for our country, not those who died at our hands defending their country from us, their invaders and occupiers.

The poppy to mark all the blood we have shed.
The poppy is a symbol of how precious war is to us.
The poppy is the mark of how the wearer does as he is told and gladly supports the shedding of blood when their unrighteous government tells them to do so.

Monday, 5 November 2012

"But its OUR land, not yours!"

OPEN LETTER TO RUTH JACOB, who showed the film on Israel at our church in September.

So say both the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Both are wrong and both are right.  Both can't compromise.  "The Israeli/Palestinian congflict is not black and white.  "Both are the good guys and the bad guys ... (this is) a clash between wrong and wrong ... a tragic clash between right and right ... (neither) pro Palestine nor pro Isarel but pro peace." said Amos Oz on 'Start the Week' on 5 November 2012.  Both will not share with the other, so both suffer and have less than the best - especially the Palestinians who are under the cosh, dominated and controlled.

Do you believe that the greater boundary of the Promised Land (Joshua 1 v 4) is a legitimate ambition for Israel once all of Judea and Samaria falls into its hands?

Why do you think Israel is surrounded by enemies?  Is this really something to be seen as a badge of honour, as the film seemed to think?  For many evangelical Christians, Israel is likened to God.  Israel is hated by the surrounding countries because as Jesus said,  "As they hated me, so they will hate you."  The very hatred for Israel by all its surrounding countries shows how Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled and is proof that God is slowly but surely working His purposes out in the Middle East for His greater glory.

Self defence against intermittent/interminable rockets coming over the border turns out, from time to time, to be an all out, large-scale military attack, invasion and re-occupation of Gaza, as we saw in Dec 2008 to January 2009.  Is that fair enough?

Do you want a state for Palestine, provided it is Gaza and it is Judea and Samaria that officially become part of Israel, along with East Jerusalem?

It seems to me, that evangelical Christians, like those who saw the film on Israel at Hasbury Christian Fellowship in September, back Israel every step of the way.  They do so as part of their work to help God give all the land, promised to only Israel and not to the Arabs, from the cedars of Lebanon in the north to the deserts of Sinai in the south and, from the great river Euphrates in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west (Joshua 1 v 4).  Evangelical Christians do so to make sure that Bible prophecy is fulfilled.  Only in this way is Armageddon (the end of the world) and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus hastened.

In other words, the solid Christian support for Jews and Israel, come what may, has an ulterior motive - to boost their own cause, to hasten the end of the world and, to turn Jews and Israelis into born again Christians, like themselves!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Hurricane Sandy - stereotypical thoughts

The planet and its life support have never before seen such an onslaught from humans and their greenhouse gases upsetting the natural order of things.  Thus, I think, we get our come uppance as payback time gets ever nearer.  It creeps up on us as we determinedly carry on regardless, in our mad mad world, with our fingers crossed.  We think we can get away with it for ever.  Living infinitely on a finite planet.  Living unnaturally on a natural planet.  Pretty foolish - and damn stupid, actually!

Alternative way of putting the same thoughts:

The planet and its life support systems have never before had humans on its surface in such an enormous and ever increasing number; AND, so resolutely and so enthusiastically  pouring out ever rising quantities of greenhouse gases - so dangerously; and, eventually, to screw up what is meant to be the protective and life giving greenhouse blanket round the planet.  The planet has never before seen human emissions of greenhouse gases.  What a terrible shock for the system!  The planet will carry on serenely.  We humans will not.

No wonder Nature is hitting back and giving us our come uppance!

Whatever the actual rise in temperature, what seems obvious is that our unprecedented burning up of every ton of fossil fuel we can lay our hands on is bound to have an effect.  It's called the enhanced greenhouse effect - not quite what we want!
"Either, we get our numbers and our activities in harmony with the powers of the earth to support life or, collapsing eco-systems will do the job for us."    Green Party manifesto from many years ago.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The problem of Israel - an outpost of the loathed USA

The problems that I have with Israel are these:

As last night's film showed, it is a mirror copy of the West, in particular the USA from whom it gets so much funding and enthusiastic support from the powerful Israeli lobby in the corridors of power.  There are many US companies in tiny Israel.  I feel the UK is the 51st state of the US and Israel is the 52nd.  Both countries are swift to carry out the wishes of
the USA in the Middle East.  As a result, both the UK and Israel incur the wrath of the vast majority of the populations of the Middle East who are horrified by the West's and Israel's attack, invasion and occupation of first Afghanistan from 7 October 2001 and then Iraq from the 19 March 2003.  I include Israel with the West and NATO because, as I say, it looks and feels like a very powerful Western nation.  They even speak the most impeccable English, too!

While Israel continues, by its own tragic admission in last night's film, to be "surrounded by enemies", it is a failed state.  It can make the desert bloom but it cannot turn enemies into friends.  It cannot turn the victim mentality of the Palestinians into bosom buddies.  "It is more blessed to give than to receive" is beyond its comprehension.  It simply takes yet more land in the West Bank for itself, feeling that is fair enough when it gave up Gaza.  But that was without the agreement of any Palestinian.  And what was left behind was razed to the ground to prevent the hated Palestinians from benefiting in any way!

In addition, the abysmal track record of who does the most killings puts Israel at the top of the league.  Its might is right, shoot first ask questions later tactic means it simply ratchets up the loathing.  The occasional extra-judicial killings by Mosad don't exactly help, either.  Those of us who want to be proud of Israel, continue to observe their answer of aggression to every problem, in utter amazement at such a foolish and counter-productive policy.  For them, it is always war, war and never jaw, jaw.  Lots of military aggression against the Lebanese and Palestinians but not lots of talking or acts of sacrificial giving or sharing of the land.  Now, threats against Iran to wipe their nuclear installations off the face of the earth.  No balance of terror is allowed by Israel; only they are allowed to place Iran and Syria under the threat of nuclear annihilation, with the blessing of the USA.  All their wars have got them absolutely nowhere.  It has not given them the peace and security that other Western nations enjoy.  Israel and the West are not respected by so many in the Arab world.

Yet, knowing all of this, many evangelical Christians look upon Israel as the apple of God's eye.  It doesn't say much for God!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

"I'm glad I'm not a woman or a homosexual in a Muslim country!"

Such was the comment of one pro-Israel Christian and friend of mine in a church meeting.  

It sounded as though he was pitying women who have the misfortune to be born a Muslim.  Unfortunately, I think that leads to some trying to improve their lot by bringing our own Western culture and true religion to them in their darkness.  They don't know any better but, rejoice - good news - we do!  We can help them on the road to enlightenment and freedom and appreciation of how the West does all things best.

Was he not overlooking how we each regard our own way of life as superior and the best.  Muslims regard the Christian West as being decadent and degenerate.  They don't want to be pitied or looked down on.  Just left alone, I think.

I do find it ironic (to put it gently) that a Western Christian should be so sorry for Muslim women when, for most of its life, women have been very much second class citizens in and out of the Church.  Only in more recent years, after 2,000 years, have women finally been allowed to take some leadership roles but, only in the Protestant churches.  Only since the Second World War were women awarded degrees in the UK!

Only in 1967, did we decriminalise homosexuality and it was no longer lawful to imprison them for homosexual acts.  The evangelical Church did nothing to bring about this reform.  At least, the churches followed secular society by welcoming the homosexual but, not what they see as the homosexual sin, nor allowing them into any influential position in their fellowships.

Islam and Christianity are similar in some of their beliefs - especially on women and homosexuality.  Both Muslims and Christians are children of Abraham, have Jesus Christ as a major prophet (Islam) or as fully divine and fully human (Christianity) and, both are very strong on having the one, true God.  Both faiths are patriarchal, are obstacles to championing women's rights and, certainly (but not my church), remain obstacles to women equality in church leadership roles.

All this yet, my friend and Christian is so glad that he is not a woman or a homosexual in a Muslim country.  He should be mighty glad he is not a woman or a homosexual in the UK!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Israel or the USA or the Church?

Is it Israel or the USA that is the apple of God's eye?

How can you have a God of justice and equality having one Chosen Nation, Israel, only and, then putting that nation on a pedestal above all others as the apple of His eye?

Is he not meant to be the God of all the nations? Or, perhaps, he is the God of none of them.
And, supposedly, along with Israel, He is God of one of the most military powerful and economically one of the strongest nations in the world - the USA. This is the exact opposite of what the Founder of this most Christian of all nations intended, from what we know of His life and teachings. Therefore, it is not Israel, the Chosen Nation that is the top dog amongst all the nations of the world but the USA that is. In addition, it claims that it is the City set on a hill, to give a light to all the Jews and gentiles and is the salt of the earth. It is called manifest destiny. It is the USA that claims to be especially blessed of the Lord and has a special place in God's heart. Yet, it is these same Christians who so highly regard Israel as especially favoured of God.

Is Israel the Lord's Chosen Nation or is it the USA or, as in replacement theology, is it the Christian Church?
God must have two or even three Chosen Nations on whom he heaps all His favours and blessings - at the expense of the rest.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Delicious Poetic Justice

"Our empire was an amazing thing" Daily Telegraph headline, quoting from a piece, under the title, written by Jeremy Paxman (16 Feb 2012)

The article begins,
"The history of the British empire is full of amazing stories of adventure, of war, of greed and plunder, cruelty and courage, heroism and low cunning."  I think, this is exactly, what our unethical foreign policy has resulted in since we reluctantly found our empire was declining and enthusiastically threw in our lot with the USA empire!  Paxman's sentence must still apply to us when one 'Today' programme 'Thought for the Day' contributor announced that our nation had bombed or invaded 23 nations since 1945; Libya being the 23rd.

The very people who were and are most vocal in support for our glorious and mighty empire, are the very people who are most distressed at seeing foreigners on our streets.  One was my Uncle Robin who worked for Barclays in Durban, South Africa in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  He was surprised (and appeared to disapprove) at the increasing number of black people he saw in the UK whenever he returned to the homeland.

In other words, we can colonise and populate and exploit their lands but we don't like it one little bit when they legally and peacefully (unlike us!) come and live in our land.  The boot is now on the other foot.

"Grab and brag; occupy and fortify."  A common Victorian sentiment, quoted by Paxman, about our 19th century pre-occupation of Britannia for ever ruling the waves - not just for a thousand years, like one western European nation once wanted.  So we have our so morally upright, virtuous and Christian nation gladly bowing down and worshipping the devil when the Founder of their religion roundly rejected that same temptation.

'Perfidious Albion' as someone described the UK.  Along with our foreign policy remaining hypocritical and profoundly unethical.  Robin Cook MP was the first Foreign Secretary, when he was in that position, to state that he was working towards a more ethical foreign policy.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Only Half Responsible!!

Linda and I would like to welcome you all to the reception and to thank you
for coming.

We would like to welcome Tim to my family, even though he nearly finished
Becky and me off for good with a fancy piece of footwork on one occasion.
We were in the Cuillin Hills ...
That was on our very first day climbing in the Cuillin.  Later, in the
week, he redeemed himself by belaying the three of us as we abseiled off
the Inn Pin.
He is a great outdoors man, like me.  His mum and dad must have named him
after me!!  My love of the great outdoors has rubbed off onto Becky and my
son, Jonathan.
Becky, like husband Tim is a great rock climber and mountaineer but is even
more of a cyclist than young Tim.  She hasn't worked her magic on this Tim
fully as regards cyclo-sportive events but, did on me without wanting to
got me into long distance cycling events that bridesmaid, Charlie got her

So Becky and Tim are well matched.  But, one or two warnings for Tim about
what this young lady gets up to - if he hasn't already sussed her out.

  as a small girl, she had a mischievous streak - my black corduroy cap
  she hid and I never saw it again.  The watch she also smuggled away to
  some hiding place or other she did find, again and so I got that back.
  She would tie grandad's laces together when he was having forty winks.
  So watch out , Tim in your old age!  She would regularly hide her shoes
  to get out of coming home from grandmas.  So if things go missing Tim,
  you know why.  She would hide in the kitchen cupboard with the tins when
  she heard me come home from work.
  Becky was a great explorer - not just hiding but climbing trees, making
  dens and with the other girls of Hunnington Cres banding together into
  the Explorers Club.
  Thanks to Becky's heart for exploration and going on holiday to central
  America, the medical profession in Aber is now much wiser on tropical
  diseases, due to her becoming the unwitting host for a Bot fly larva and
  the resulting baby Bot fly.
  Part of her exploring was to find out why certain ingredients were
  needed in cake making by missing them out.   She missed out eggs and
  they came out like biscuits.  She experimented with food colouring to
  make them look much, much more interesting.  A creative streak, indeed.
  As a result, she is an excellent cook and cake maker.   Good move,
  Such was her exploring tendencies, she found the tiny pond in thick
  cloud below the summit on my favourite mountain in Wales, rather than
  the massive lake fifty feet below the summit that I wanted her to take
  me to.
  On Boxing Day 2010, Becky and I attempted to summit a major 900 metre
  hill in Snowdonia NP.  Despite the deep, soft snow she gallantly, took
  the lead, in trail blazing or, rather floundering on and up through the
  all too rare but truly magical conditions.

Anyway, I am only half responsible for my dghtr turning out like she has.
So only half an apology is due to you, Tim!!  In fact, you are totally
responsible for her now, Tim jnr.  I have finally got her married off to a
truly wonderful, practical, helpful son in law of mine - and a superb
mountaineer.  What an achievement!!!

Longest ford ever; broken bikes, and sea spewing spray, foam and froth

We loved the way you are modernising the flat, although it seemed fine the way you now have it.  The first floor gives you great views from the lounge window without too many stairs to climb.  It was fascinating to watch the crashing seas, the explosion as water hit rock, the mass of white water shooting up and the plume of spray like smoke then being blown way over the headland to the right.  A few years ago, I sat in the car, for ages, watching a similar scene on the glorious coast road near Durness.  This is the very furthest northern road on mainland Scotland.  I was waiting for the gale force N wind to abate - again one April - to climb the nearby Foinaven, a very high and very long Corbett, with four summits and one of the very best Scottish mountains.

We cycled every day except Wednesday, after my front brake cable broke on the way back on the Camel Trail.  On Friday, cycling near Trerice, Linda's rear axle broke and I had to get the car to execute a smart cycle rescue and recovery!  The first time I have ever had an axle break with any of my bikes.

You were certainly right about Carnewas.  Excellent food and a main course £2 cheaper than what we paid the next day on our way home at the Huntsman's Inn in the village of Ide, three miles from Exeter.  Ide has the longest ford I have ever seen that is signed as a ford but where cars and motorbikes are prohibited!  So what is the point of the thing?  The ford is a great length of river in front of the footway and a row of cottages.  I suppose it is meant for farm tractors only.  It is deep at one point.  Do you know it, Gordon?

Eating at Carnewas needs cash only and lunches stop at 3pm.  I very neatly penned that on your Explorer map, without obscuring anything important, for future borrowers of the map.  I hope you don't mind!  Linda and I rustled up £12 in coins for two main courses, with only 20p left and the lovely lady serving us very kindly gave us two big mugs of coffee for free.  For that Saturday trip, Linda hired a brand new Claud Butler mountain bike that was too small for her from the House of Fun in Fore Street, Newquay!  The bike, on the return trip, behaved so badly that we thought we should return it to the House of Horrors.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dan Woolnough's best man speech

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman I hope that you are enjoying what has been a brilliant wedding and celebration today......and many congratulations to Becky and Tim on this very special day.

Thank you to everyone for attending and on behalf of everyone here thank you to both Tims and Linda for excellent speeches and thank you to the bridesmaids Caroline, Charlie, Ella and Emily for all their hard work today. I must say that the bridesmaids look amazing and are only outshone by the beautiful bride who looks absolutely stunning in her wedding dress. [-mentioned 'beautiful' Ushers John and Rob-]

Please now join me in a round of applause. --CLAP--

I have met most of you already but for those of you who do not know me, I'm Dan and have the honour of being Best Man. I met Tim whilst at Aberystwyth University and we became great friends with our shared interest in outdoor pursuits. We lived in the same flat and have spent a considerable amount of time climbing together.

Having known Tim for almost a decade and from the bits I can remember I can definitely say that Tim has a strong-willed and kind character with a positive genuine outlook on life.

Tim also has many hidden talents, he has both musical and poetic sides playing the harmonica and fiddle, and has been known to write the odd poem when the occasion demands.

Tim is often a vital ingredient to a good occasion and partial to fancy dress on a night out. The costumes you may be interested to know have included a robot, a Red Indian, a lion and sparkling pink Lycra amongst others.

I could talk for some considerable time about what Tim got up to at university and in the intervening years.

However there is one memorable event that springs to mind prior to graduation in 2007. Tim, his brother Basil and I purchased a beach dingy and we attempted to paddle in one afternoon 20 miles along the River Ystwyth back to Aberystwyth. Little did we realise the epic the trip would become. We braved rapids without life jackets, narrowly avoided a huge waterfall only by hanging onto a rotten tree branch and later returned home in the dark and soaking wet. We never actually reached the end of the river despite our greatest endeavours but it was a thoroughly exciting and enjoyable adventure and a typical Tim Willson idea.

Now to Tim and Becky. It was of course at Aberystwyth University that they first met in March 2006. As you all know one of Tim's passions is the outdoors, this includes climbing, walking, running, mountain marathons and cycling. At Aberystwyth Tim was a member of both the AMC [-Aberystwyth Mountaineering Club-] and the AWC [-Aberystwyth Walking Club-]. He regularly led walking groups on the weekends. I am told from some of the victims that these walks were long and arduous and after Tim's Stag Do walk I can confirm this to be the case. [-mentioned Greg-]

But something certainly went right and Tim and Becky's relationship proceeded to blossom. This has arguably led to Tim's greatest achievement to date....marrying Becky.

I asked Tim what he thought Becky saw in him when they first met and rather modestly he said she was no doubt “entranced by his clothing, his riches, his wit and his intelligence”. I will let you all decide whether this is the case amongst yourselves.

As I'm sure you are aware Tim and Becky prior to becoming engaged had been an 'item' for some years and the question of when they would become engaged had been hanging around. As some of you will know proposals are a dangerous business and can hang by a thread. I am reliably informed that Tim proposed whilst rock you may ask whether Becky could doubt positioned at the end of a rope and dangling over a huge precipice somewhere in North Wales.

Having known Tim and Becky for so long I am sure of their love for one another and the lengths each will go to, to make the other happy. It only takes a moment to see that Tim and Becky are sweet and affectionate to one another and that these qualities will remain throughout the rest of their lives as they embark on their marriage.

I wish a happy marriage, a successful move into their new home and a fantastic Honeymoon trekking in Nepal, which starts on Friday.

Now Ladies and Gentlemen I am sure you will all agree this has been a brilliant wedding and a wonderful occasion......please ensure you have full glasses and raise your glasses for a toast, to our hosts Tim and Linda for putting so much hard work into Tim and Linda.

Finally please now raise your glasses for a toast to the new Mr and Mrs Willson and their happy Tim and Becky.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

30th Falklands anniversay

Falklands War: A war that Argentina should easily have won had General Galteiri been more ruthless and competent and determined to keep the islands. His exocets might have been used to sink the troop carrying 'Canberra' before our troops disembarked. Our unlawful sinking of the 'Belgrano' led to over 400 sailors drowning and freezing to death. And, then,we rejoiced at our mighty victory and gave thanks to God, in St Paul's Cathedral, for his help! We were actually very, very lucky at having a military government in Argentina that was such an incompetent and corrupt bunch.

Our UK history and politics for centuries has had the Bible at its heart with every Monarch at their Coronation, vowing to abide by its strictures. One such is, "It is more blessed to give than to receive". In fact, like the Falkland Islands, for many centuries we just took and claimed for our own whatever piece of the planet we discovered. And, we fought other European powers over theirs and our territories and dependencies. Most notably, in the 1st World War that was the grand climax of centuries of Western European empire building, piracy and warfare around the globe.

The Christian thing would have been to have admitted we were out-manoeuvred, out-smarted and outplayed in every sphere of intelligence gathering and politics and, so allowed Argentina to keep the islands. Our intelligence services failed to be intelligent and to read the writings in the Argentine newspapers that showed how things were building up to the occupation. The islanders who did not wish to stay could have been re-settled in any part of the UK they wished, such as the islands off Scotland that are similar to the Falklands. Revenge is sweet, however, for every nation and President or Prime Minister. Especially for the Iron Fisted Lady of Downing Street.

Really, I suppose, it was her feelings of outrage that got the better of her. The instinct to hit back overcame the advisers' caution as to what the exocets could do to bring victory to Argentina. Recklessness was the watchword for Mrs Thatcher. She got away with it. She should, but most certainly does not, have on her conscience the deaths of nearly one thousand young people to allow three thousand Falklanders to stay where they should never have been put in the first place.

In early 1982, we let our guard down, withdrew our vessel, had talks at the UN to settle Argentina's claims on the islands and, we failed to read the writing on the wall. Therefore, we were sending a clear message to Galteiri that we would not send a task force to reclaim the islands that natural justice indicates should belong to Argentina - certainly not the UK! Even the US government was, at first, astonished at what Mrs Thatcher decided to do. However, they soon came round to support us against Argentina.

Mrs Thatcher should have done the decent thing and resigned and not sent 908 young men and women, from both nations, to a very early grave. Such is human nature, that Mrs Thatchers poll rating shot up as we Brits honoured a victorious war leader. The following year she was re-elected. Nature, of which we are part is, indeed, red in tooth and claw.

Those in power always use the dishonourable option of coercion, might is right and the sword to get their way - everytime. Things never change, whether we have elected dictatorships or unelected military dictatorships. They are all the same.

Paparazzi, knees up and a Rolls Royce wedding!

The Weller/Willson/Verduyn women presented the stunningly beautiful bride and the most spectacular, seemingly no expense spared wedding and reception I have ever been to. Even the mother of the bride in her new outfit was outshone and groom, best man and bride's father were decked out in new suits, waist coats and cravats. My suit tails had to be snipped loose at the last minute when an eagle-eyed bridesmaid, just before entering the church, noticed the cotton still in place.

Ivory was the colour of Becky's sweeping dress and train; grape and clover for the four bridesmaids' dresses.

From the outset, the paparazzi were out in force in the shape of Linda's youngest brother's wife, Anna Verduyn whose camera work definitely outshone Duncan's and his official photos. Her 153 photos were on Facebook and disc in a matter of hours!

The photo on the wedding invitation of the two youngsters made me laugh out loud when I opened our invitation to "Mum and Dad! (seems silly writing your names in!)". It was far and away the funniest, the most original and best invitation card I have ever had.

Gordon Willetts rolled out his meticulously maintained 1923 Rolls Royce and was the most perfect chauffeur in his cap, with starting handle to hand. He even provided his own homemade, smoked salmon sandwiches and champagne in the hefty picnic hamper for the happy couple as the Rolls easily purred up the steep Hagley Wood Lane to take them from one photo shoot location to the next. Smoke bombs added to the photos atmosphere in the woods of the Clent Hills that, this time, our in-house, home-grown, very own, paparazzi photographer was just unable to match!

The service was conducted by our much loved pastor of 84, Leslie Hardwick, whose perfect message was a reminder to all of us, not just to love one another but to tell our spouses and partners just that - and frequently. It was the first wedding in the new building, that was packed out with guests and friends. Only now has it dawned on us that we should have asked Brian Gastinger to film the whole service rather than the snippets that he did do, without being asked, so well.

I thought that the sudoku on the wedding order of service would be so easy that it could be done by some bright spark while the register was being signed. Little did I know. Only three people have told me they have done it and I am still persevering! It was quite wicked of Becky and Tim to tax my brain like that!

Entrance of the bride was to 'Butterfly Waltz' - Brian Crain. Recessional 'Beautiful Day' - U2.

The reception was in the early 17th century tithe barn that is now the church hall in the village of Belbroughton at the other side of the Clent Hills from Halesowen. A hog roast and numerous cakes and desserts to pig out on - many prepared and cooked by Becky - were part of the celebration.

Outside the entrance, guests were offered free ices from an ice cream tricycle vendor ( a surprise known only to Becky and Tim), before entering to receive a welcome glass of Bucks fizz or orange juice. As we entered we were greeted with long tables resplendant with a huge variety of spring flowers in colours to match the theme of purple, green, white, ivory etc and a host of lit tea lights to add sparkle to the ivy and beads which adorned the length of each table runner. The room was decorated with fairy lights, bunting created by Becky and Linda and, a room for leaving a written or 'dress yourself up' photo memory/message for the bride and groom. Music from a harp and violin completed the setting.

Becky and Tim were toasted to successfully climb many more summits not to be conquered but, rather, fleetingly visited at the mountains' behest. Outside the barn, Becky threw her bouquet a great distance over her shoulder to be caught by a lucky guest who now expects to be the next bride. A barn dance, with a live band of Becky's friends, rounded off the day. Sparklers for all were also lit at the very end, to create an archway for Becky and Tim to walk through as they were driven off to Brockencote Hall for their first night.

Becky and Tim departed six days later for their Exodus Expedition honeymoon to Manaslu in the Nepalese Himalaya.

Speeches from the groom and best man will be on this blog, in due course.