Friday, 21 January 2011


There are a couple of things I have to rage about right now. I don't know whether I am right to rage about them, but I want to. And this seems like quite a good place to have a shout. And perhaps open a debate. And for me to learn from others.

So, rage number one. There's been in the news again the issue of Bankers and City bonuses. Now, don't get me wrong, the numbers being kicked around are enormous. Life changing for most of us if we were to receive that sort of money. And life changing if a charity were to receive those sorts of amounts of money.

Now, I also have to come clean. I work in the City of London. And I'm paid a good salary. A very good salary in comparison to many. I also receive a bonus. My bonus is not, however anywhere near the amounts being given to bankers.

I am not condoning the amounts these people are allegedly being paid. No. They are obscene amounts. I understand the 'business need' in paying these. There is of course the usual argument that these are the 'norm' and if bank XYZ doesn't pay them, then the good employees will go to bank ABC for more. And companies will work out ways of paying these obscene amounts.

And as for the banks that were bailed out by the government (aka the UK Taxpayer); well there has to be responsibility and recognition that they would have gone bust had the government not bailed them out and those who would ordinarily received a bonus need to consider that if the bank had gone bust they would, I reckon, have received diddly squat.

But. Here's my rant. Not so long ago there was all the press around Wayne Rooney. There was lots of speculation in the press but the figure being touted around was that he was able to negotiate a new contact worth £200,000 a week. That amounts to just a little over £10million. No doubting that he has skill. But what he does for that money is kick a ball around a bit of grass for 90 minutes. I won't mention the swearing, being a role model for lots of children etc etc...but in the cold light of day that's what he does.

Where is the questioning of what footballers earn? Or anyone for that matter earning that sort of money. It is just not right that we seem to pick on one industry of people that are paid £x amount because we think it's wrong; I am sure that there are plenty of footballers (a team game, of course) who's team is relegated and they either move to another team or don't have their wages reduced. And there are, I am sure, plenty of actors who 'demand' or who are paid millions of pounds per film. Likewise for pop stars.

My second rant, and this will be brief. This week has seen the 'launch' I think of the housing development that is One Hyde Park. One bedroom flats start at £6.5m and rise to over £100m. There is no other way for this development to be described but as obscene. When developers build and sell property at this level there should be an obligation, a law, to force them to invest in housing for the homeless and the poor; to put something back into the community as opposed to just wads of cash into their back pockets.

I don't care about whether Prince Charles doesn't like the architecture. Prince Charles should be speaking out about the obscene nature of the development in sociological terms. I can well imagine that only a stone's throw from the (well guarded) front doors of this development one would be able to find someone homeless. Where's the justice in today's society for this? It is just wrong on so many levels.

I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I like earning what I earn and I like spending. I do try to give back. And that's a work in progress. But I get angry at some of the obscene levels of wealth and the fact that the press 'decide' who is a target for abuse and who isn't.

Personally, I don't think any of these sums of money are right. It is wrong. So so wrong that we have homeless, destitute, poor, people living below the poverty line. We live in a country where there are areas of deprivation and we are paying people sums that could do so much to improve other people's lives. All I hope and pray is that those who receive such sums think about what a difference they can make and do so.

Friday, 14 January 2011


This week I've been collating and getting ready to send off the final report from my Tutor and Training Minister. It's a combined effort from them and follows not that far behind (it seems) my Interim Report, although in reality it was probably about this time last year that they wrote their pieces for that report! With this I also have to submit my own self assessment, commenting on their Final Report and the report from my Placement Supervisor.

I find the whole assessment process painful. It's a struggle. This is due to a very bad experience I had about 15 or so years ago when I was reported on as part of a course. The reporting was very secretive and the results of the final report came out of the blue and as a result prevented me from going on to further studies. The scars still have not healed and once in a while the wound opens causing more pain.

The reporting for STETS is a completely different kettle of fish. It is open, and it's a collaborative process with me being a part of it all of the way. And all those involved are willing and wanting me to succeed. But that doesn't stop the worry or the anxiety. The reports from my PLacement Supervisor and Tutor/Training Minister are good, and there's really not much I feel I can comment on; I find it very difficult reflecting on the complimentary comments!

During the process I pray. And reflect. And part of that process is (no surprise to anyone) listening and enveloping myself in music. One of the pieces that is on the playlist for my more meditative moods is a piece that I first heard during a Mass last October (Portsmouth Diocese 24 Hours or Worship) that was celebrated by the Bishop and organised by Blessed ( It is John Tavener's 'Prayer of the Heart' sung by the unique voice of Bjork. A very haunting peace, but one that I can close my eyes to, relax, breath in time with the rhythm and allow myself to meditate. It also lasts a decent length of time. Here it is:


I'm at the first stage of my final report that leads towards my ordination. It begins a process that in reality ends with my ordination in July (although the assessment/reporting process continues after that!). I suspect this piece of music will be played many times before then!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Reflect; forward and back.....

Apologies in advance. This might be quite a ramble, but I had the urge to do a bit of reflecting, both on the last year and also what is to come.

There's still a lot of stuff that I can't put into print just yet, but looking back on 2010 and what a year that was. Completed my second year of Theological studies at STETS and started my third and final one. I reckon that there were 7 residential weekends and an Easter School in that time. It was a time of maturing for me in many ways, clarifying where I think God is taking me and also feeling more comfortable (if that's the right word) that this calling is for real. I got a decent Interim Report - and it didn't contain a 'but'.

There were tears along the way (and they probably won't stop). My emotions became more 'out there'. It's not that I wasn't ever an emotional person, but I became more comfortable in expressing them; both in tears and laughter. In addition to all of this there was the cementing and grounding of some wonderful friendships within STETS that I am sure will stay in place and develop over the next months, years and decades and between us will be a support network that I am sure we will all need in the times to come.

My horizons continue to be broadened in terms of my experiences with Church. Over the course of 2010 I experienced the familiar in Anglo-Catholic worship, but also a very good share of Evangelical worship and felt that I connected with God across the spectrum of worship that I experienced. I don't want to be confined to any boxes either in my future ministry but in general. What's important to me is ensuring and enabling us all to be able to connect with God. I struggle with those who refuse point blank to even contemplate experiencing differing styles or traditions of worship.

Over the course of the year I have gradually acquired various items of clerical wear and even tried on and ordered my clerical shirts (black, of course). And I have my mother and mother-in-law supplying stoles. My Mother-in-Law lovingly made and gave to me for Christmas what will be my ordination stole. It's a work of art and of love. Quite something. I don't think the pictures necessarily do it justice....but here's a flavour.

The end of the year was spent with college friend, Angi and her family. Aside from the wonderful company of Angi, Tim and children, we were able to look forward with a bit of fear and trepidation, but also excitement to 2011 as the clock struck midnight. With the knowledge that we will be being ordained in Winchester Cathedral on July 3rd at 10am. With our families and friends around us as we take the next step..............

Ordination is really THIS YEAR. I am scared. I'm in the throes of ensuring that my Training Minister and Tutor get their (final) report on me done for STETS (I get very twitchy at report time due to past experiences). I'm also back at work and have had a tricky week emotionally. Having signed up to the 365Project where I endeavour to post a picture every day, Wednesday's picture summed up my emotions at the time. Feeling as if I was struggling to get through to God. In my heart I know he's there listening; I think the problem was more with me not listening back. Here's the picture anyway.......

There seems so so much to do. I have my academic work to continue with; currently John's Gospel, as well as the 'practical' stuff; writing up sermon reflections and trying to find a funeral to go to to complete another part of the module and fitting a study day in somewhere. A lot of juggling, but I'm not in any worse position than anyone else on the course.

And fast forward.....less than 6 months. Processing up what is, apparently, one of the longest Naves in Europe! I know God will carry me through to that point. I just need to ensure that I try to listen and continue to talking to Him. All shall be well. It won't necessarily be easy. I'm not expecting an easy ride. No. I just pray that my heart is open to hear what He says to me and to respond accordingly. To be brave. To take courage in my hands knowing he is with me. And to Hope. Life, surely, is all about hope. Hope is in the Christ child, Hope in the Death and Resurrection of Christ and the life that he blesses me with.

And to finish...this from Brother Roger.....

'Gather everything that happens, trivialities included, with reservation, regret or nostalgia, in inexhaustible wonder. Set out, going forward one step at a time, from doubt towards faith, not worrying about the impossible ahead. Light fire, even with the thorns that tear you.

Friday, 7 January 2011

More music

My latest purchase on the musical front (to take my itunes library up to 13,908 songs) was James Blunt's latest album. It's quite mellow and I'm quite surprised how much I liked it. The one song, though, that really struck me, was this one; No Tears. There are a couple of the lyrics that have stood out for me - not for any particular reason, but just 'because'!

Here are the full lyrics with the ones that struck me highlighted.

Don’t I know it? Nobody has to say

I’ve been lucky. Guess I was born that way.

I thank my father, his absence has made me strong.

And I love my mother but she had troubles with God.


No tears for the life that you've led

You've had angels in your head

Did you hear them singing in the end

All the things that you’ve seen

All the things that could have been

Well I've been everything I want to be

So, no tears, no tears for me

Yeah, I’ve bathed in sunshine but cherished the fading light

And I heard my heartbeat faulter on a winter’s night

I loved a woman but she didn’t hear my prayers

So Lord, oh Lord, I’m yours

No tears


Cause someone somewhere's going home tonight

Trying to understand the sacrifice

So save your tears for those left behind


And here's the song:

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Trying to get through......

Just been one of those days.......not a lot to say. This picture I think says enough. I probably need to listen more......

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year

It's been ages since I've blogged. Many reasons, but the main one is that I've been just so busy and trying to keep up with study, work, family etc etc. My challenges are no greater than anyone else's, but the blogging had to give and whilst there is still a lot I have to say, much can't be said in the public domain and so have been reserved for family and close friends only.

And so here I am. Exactly 6 months away from ordination. 3rd July 2011. Winchester Cathedral. 10.00am. In my own personal journey I've waited many years for this time to come. Huge ups and downs to bring me to this point in time. And right now, there is a mix of emotions; in one sense wanting the time to come as soon as possible and in the other for it not to come. I'm trying not to look back too much at 2010 as there seemed to have been so much crammed into it, yet at the same time it seemed to fly by.

In all of this, I have learnt so much and will, no doubt, continue to do so. I don't really 'do' New Years resolutions, but I am going to try to pray more and find more time for God in the busy-ness of my days. My emotions are out there; I hold back less these days and so suspect the next 6 months will be even more of an emotional rollercoaster. Through this all, both now and in the past and in the future, I hang on to the oh so simple words of Julian of Norwich; 'All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well'.

Although I will say that throughout the last year I've been sustained and kept sane by family and close friends and I thank and praise God for them - you know who you are!