Category Archives: Uncategorized

Prime Minister

For a democratic nation our current process of selecting a new PM is abhorrent. To give the selection to a small number of paying party members hands them an exclusive privilege. It should be open to everyone in the country who is eligible to vote.

Can I suggest two viable alternatives. Members of Parliament are democratically elected (you may want to argue about how democratic our first past the post system is, but let’s stick with what we have for now). So as our elected representatives they could choose the next PM. Perhaps we could let them all have a vote, regardless of party.

Alternatively the vote could go to the country. Let everyone play a part rather than the paying few.

Either of my options may force the separation of the role of PM and party leader. Let each party elect its leader by whatever means suits them, but let’s be democratic in the selection of the PM.

I think either of these election processes would be infinitely fairer than what is happening at the moment, where the favoured few look likely to choose the most unlikely MP as PM on behalf of the rest of us.

A letter from Lockdown



How are you? These are difficult times aren’t they.


How am I?

I am under pressure. The virus gives me anxiety. The lockdown confines me. My voluntary work is all remote. My faith is getting more attention in the abstract, less exercise in the real world, and I am missing my family and the normal routine of life with which I was content.


Anxiety took me by surprise. I wasn’t aware of how much I suppress my anxiety until it burst out from under the threat of catching the virus. My throat dries up, my digestion rebels, my head fizzes, sleep is interrupted by distorted thoughts, until dawn restores my perspective.


Action is needed.  Less news. The radio, normally on all day, is off. I watch just one TV news broadcast at 6pm. Reading online news for too long makes me nauseous so I stop doing it.


I’m helped by meditation on the goodness of God, who shares my anxiety and feels my weakness. I have found a daily prayer app called Lectio365 that enables me to focus on good things, to pray out how I feel and to yield to the peace of God in my life.


Exercise. Running, walking and cycling. I take the full allowance of permitted daily exercise and sometimes more. Those endorphins certainly know how to restore well being.

There’s some singing too. Breathlessly to the tunes playing in my head whilst I run – a personal praise party or a good times song from one of my playlists. At other times when my memory is jogged by an earworm replaying something from the online service from church, I’ll whistle the tune or burst into song.


Its counterintuitive for me not to rush off to help someone, with something, somewhere. Any help I now offer is online or on the phone. When tempted to step out of the house in response to a simple request I remember #stayathome – home is the only place I feel truly safe from this virus.


This week I will have three video conference meetings – some may be fruitful; some frustrating and others possibly inconclusive. In this time of lockdown they feel like an intrusion into my home because they would normally be conducted somewhere else. There’s no excuse not to attend, no variety of location, concentration is, at times, difficult and the strain of no proper eye contact makes them less engaging. I have no way of measuring the response in the room to my contributions. It’s quite sterile.


Holidays are now located in Never Never Land, while refreshing and inspiring trips into the lovely surrounding Yorkshire dales and moors are denied.


Add all of this together with lockdown and it is like inhabiting another world; of being ‘away from home at home’, with a constant question, “When can I get back to normal?” A question that has no answer. Life is on hold, but it hasn’t stopped. My grandchildren continue to grow and develop without me. This is especially true of our youngest, Rowan, born just days before the restrictions. I have to be content with seeing his smiles on a screen.


On the positive side, I am at home with Joan and we enjoy each other’s company and generally work well together. Our frustrations with the lockdown are shared. There’s good cooking, some long delayed chores receive attention, the sun is shining and the buds of spring are bursting open in our small garden. Our house is pleasant and especially the garden room.


So I use my frustration to remember those who are confined in less pleasant places, alone and anxious. I use my anxiety to pray for those suffering, serving on the front line of health and social care and parents working from home alongside home schooling in cramped spaces. At times my prayers range wider to the refugee camps and warzones across the world where the pandemic adds more fear and death to those already frail and broken.


I could say ‘who am I to be anxious and concerned about my plight’ when so many suffer infinitely more than me. But it’s right to deal with anxiety and not to ignore it simply because others have greater needs. If I address my needs alongside theirs, I am better equipped to serve – even if action is confined to prayer and other things that can be done remotely. Left to run riot, anxiety will consume all my strength and distract me from ever caring about others.


This is a writing exercise but also a real letter. It’s part of my treatment. Writing allows me to leave the house and imagine better things. It’s a longer letter than I had anticipated, but writing it is helping me to rise above the circumstances. I’ll let you judge its value to you.


Let me know how you are coping in these strange days.


All the best





Let’s get out of this BREXIT stalemate

I’m weary of the continued and mindless negotiations for a BREXIT plan. They appear to be going nowhere. Our Prime Minister Teresa May has dug her heels in and is making no progress with the European Union, Parliament and even her own party. She has clearly lost the support of her back benchers and she seems to have lost the plot. Nothing magical will happen by simply repeating her monotonous mantra. Without imagination there will not be a miraculous change of mind either in Brussels or Westminster. Imagination is something Mrs May seems to lack.

So how do we proceed? May I humbly suggest.

Parliament takes back the process – snatching it out of the hands of the PM and the government. And then put the various options to the vote.

  1. No deal – if that fails then …
  2. The negotiated position from the EU complete with backstop (because that’s all we’re going to get) – if that fails …
  3. Remain – if that fails Parliament has to concede it is unable to reach a decision and asks for …
  4. A People’s Vote offering the above three options on the ballot paper – let the people decide. The two leave votes would be added together – if the total exceeds the remain vote then leave wins and the option with the largest support is accepted as the winning option.

It may appear long winded but it won’t be as drawn out as the stalemate we have at the moment. It would deliver a result based on where we are now – a result is something the PM will never achieve. The parliamentary vote could happen immediately. A new people’s referendum would obviously take time to organise.

I commend my process to anyone who will listen.

May I also recommend regular listening to the BBC Brexitcast. The four contributors have opened the windows on this otherwise stifling process. Thank you Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler, Adam Fleming and Chris Mason for your wit and insight. No imagination lacking there.

No more bishops?

I’ve had time to think about this one – since the vote on intorducing women bishops is now a couple of weeks behind us. I’ve read a load of articles, opinions and summaries of the events that led up to and followed the vote that by a very slim (some woud say undemocratic) margin threw out the measure that would have allowed the church to consecrate women as bishops.

The decision that it was alright in principle to have women bishops was made some time ago. This vote was about how to do it.

So here we are looking down a dark five year tunnel that may lead to the next vote. Five more years of women in the clergy ducking under the ‘stained glass ceiling’ as one newspaper columnist put it. Five years of the church appearing to be struck in a bygone age. Five years of negative headlines where those outside the church appear to know more about what we’re doing than we do.

These voices will distract and deter some people looking for their place in Christ’s kingdom. But if it hadn’t been this issue those voices would have found another one to put off the seekers from looking for the truth in Christianity. 

Thankfully, the Church of England is not the only Christian denomination. Others have women in senior positions of leadership as do other parts of the Anglican communion. So it’s possible that another tradition would help those seekers to sign up to a local christian community.

For some though the long wait for the next round of debates and voting will be too long. They will never, in the duration of their working life, fully answer the calling they feel they have received. In the cold light of day there must be many callings that are never completely fulfilled, but in this case, to miss out because such a small number of people witheld their approval seems unjust. Rightly there were tears of disappointment at synod and probably some words of anger in private too. 

So perhaps this would be a good time to call a moratorium on the appointment of any more bishops until this issue is resolved. The church has agonised for years over the number of diocese and bishops with their palaces, staff and retinue. Here is an opportunity to cut the numbers. Impose the same stained glass ceiling on all clergy until men and women can be treated equally. It may just focus a few minds in all three houses of Synod and who knows – speed things up a touch.

Election Dilemma – vote or abstain?

I’m having problems with this Police and Crime Commissioners election.
Here in North Yorkshire it’s a 70 grand a year job – there’s no interview – no competencies or personality profiles are being checked – previous experience seems to be irrelevant – it’s just the popular vote that decides on the basis of what the candidates are saying about themselves.
Normally politicians (councillors and MPs) only share power with any number of other politicians. The PCCs are essentially on their own. All the power of the office is vested in one person.
So should I vote or abstain in the hope that low turn out will lead to a proper selection process in future.
I have never abstained from voting before – but I am in a genuine dilemma. I think the process is deeply flawed.

Virgin TV Anywhere iOS app revealed, ideal companion to your TiVo box – Pocket-lint

This is a preview piece about VirginTVAnywhere. After reading this perhaps the app should be renamed VirginTiVoCompanion. later piece says the app will deliver Video On Demand – but I’ve searched through the app and there’s no sign of this function.

Virgin Tv Anywhere – my initial review

Review of iOS App VirginTvAnywhere (after hands on use for a week)

What is this app for and how will it improve my enjoyment of consuming Virgin Media TV using TiVo?

The ‘about’ and ‘help’ sections in the app are noticeably devoid of an over arching vision of its purpose. The help files are mainly about how the app functions technically – with little about why I may want to use those functions or how it’s better than using the standard remote control. I had to spend sometime with the app to discover what it would and wouldn’t do before I could think about how I might use it.


I asked myself three questions 
  1. Is this just a bigger remote control for TiVo?
  2. How does this app deliver TV Anywhere?
  3. How might I use it?
  1. On the first question – it certainly is a bigger remote control. It’s also smarter most of the time. It delivers improved content management. Shows can be scheduled, deleted and previewed without interrupting the family viewing on the TV screen (except for the odd slip when I press a button that I didn’t realise would affect the TV screen in real time). The app also gives access to many of these functions away from home – via WiFi. 
  2. I have to admit that my expectation of the app when I was recruited for this trial was that at the very least I would be ableto watch live streaming of my Virgin TV package on the same WiFi network. At best I would also be able to watch shows recorded on my TiVo anywhere at home or away – a sort of Slingbox for Virgin. In the event only a handful of mainly obscure channels are available for live streaming and there is no access to recorded programmes. So I am puzzled by the name of the service because it doesn’t deliver TV anywhere. Shouldn’t it be called TV Remote Control Anywhere? It would be a truer, if rather long winded, title.
  3. There’s a novelty value – O look I can control my TiVo from my iPad! (I tried this once before using a long lead to connect the TiVo to my Router. I downloaded an App called Peanut. I wasn’t impressed and decided it was wasn’t worth persuing it as I would have to find a more practical way of making the network connection permanent – The app was fine but so was the dedicated TiVo Remote.)

    So how will I use it? 

  • I will occasionally use VirginTVAnywhere to browse the guide.
  • I will probably use it extensively to manage recordings. The TiVo interface on TV is somewhat ‘clunky’ and slow; the app is faster. 
  • Network required
    My final comment is about connecting the TiVo to the router. Mine are in different rooms so I have attached a WiFi adaptor to the TiVo. Isn’t it time TiVo was fitted with an integral WiFi card – after all it would add little to the cost of the box and apps like TVAnywhere could connect without substantial extra cost to the customer.
    Manage Expectations
    I assume that when the app is launched it will be free. If so then Virgin Media has a lot to gain by good marketing. Without it, the title raises expectations above it’s function. 

    So what do I like about VirginTVAnywhere?

    • Ability to browse the programme guide without interrupting the programme being viewed by others in the room.
    • Being able to manage recordings
    • Limited TV streaming – although there are better apps in the App Store.
    • Greater control of the TiVo box using the app

    But I won’t be taking the batteries out of my TiVo remote just yet. For basic use it’s still quicker to pick it up to select a show or a channel.

    I also think I may have found a bug.
    1. Select a folder in My Shows
    2. Delete the series link.
    3. Delete the shows one by one using the swipe- delete method
    4. When the last show is deleted (leaving an empty folder) the app loses connection with the TiVo – presumably because it’s trying to connect to a folder that no longer exists.


    So BBC Local Radio is safe ….. The DG says so

    In an article in this week’s New Statesman, Mark Thompson says that merging or closing local radio stations is not the way forward for the BBC ……We’re in the middle of an open debate inside the BBC about its future. One idea was whether you could merge local radio with Radio 5 Live or reduce local radio in some way. Although local radio is relatively cheap to run, when you run 40 radio stations in England, you have to multiply the cost. The point of local radio is that if it’s not local, it’s not doing its job. It’s reasonable for people to have a debate about merging or shutting local radio but that’s not the way forward for the BBC.

    Have you booked for the Riding Lights Summer Theatre School yet?


    If you haven’t:

    a) Why not?

    b) It’s not too late to apply

    I’ve been planning, with Bridgett Forman, for the workshops that we’ll be running through the week of the summer school, which this year is at Queen Margaret’s School in Escrick near York.

    Tall Stories is brand new this year. It will combine digital storytelling with stage production to put on a show that combines multimedia production and performance. It looking very exciting and innovative.

    So don’t miss out – book it in your diary for July 23rd – 30th, book, pay up and travel to York to join in. See you there.