30 November 2006

Naomi Campbell's palate

Did you happen to see recent reports about model Naomi Campbell and her court case? Here is The Independent's report:

Naomi Campbell to negotiate "palatable" community service

"Lawyers for Naomi Campbell, the model accused of assaulting a former maid with a mobile phone, are negotiating with prosecutors in New York in an effort to avoid a trial - and the possibility of a long prison term - in exchange for agreeing to community service.

"But her lawyer insisted that any such task would have to be 'palatable', fund-raising for Aids or cancer research rather than sweeping the streets, as Boy George recently did.

"Were [Ms Campbell] to be found guilty of the allegations made against her, she could technically serve up to seven years in prison and then be deported.

"[Her lawyer] declined to offer any details on how the negotiations were going. He did, however, indicate that he was setting conditions on the kind of community service his client would be prepared to do. Sweeping the streets, for example, would be out of the question."

Is it just me?? Setting conditions?!?!

Perhaps such a statement doesn't sound as outrageous in legal circles as it does to me, but my immediate reaction - not tempered a great deal by the opportunity for mature consideration - is that the authorities should break off any further negotiations and let matters take their course!

I suspect that after a little while in prison, even Ms Campbell's discerning palate might acquire a taste for a little community service!

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23 November 2006

Mixed weekend - and a refresher course!

A very mixed weekend was last weekend! Some discouragements at church - about which probably the less said the better - but one of the high points was the Service of Admission and Licensing of Readers at the Minster.

Archbishop Sentamu battled laryngitis (if that's how you spell it) to preside and preach. The sermon and the service were both encouraging and challenging - which is as it should be! There's a report here - scroll down to the bottom to read Sentamu's sermon.

I always find such services a good reminder of what I "signed up to" - a kind of "refresher course." It's exactly the same when I attend weddings!! How about this, from the Admission and Licensing:

"Readers have the privilege and responsibility of participating in a ministry whose form reflects the richness of God's gifts to them, affirmed and celebrated by the Church. They are called to care, in public and private ministry, for God's people. They should share, with the clergy alongside whom they serve, a ministry of mutual upbuilding, encouragement and support."

Wow! I need to reflect on that regularly!!

The trouble is that it takes an awful lot of affirmation, mutual upbuilding, encouragement and support to overcome some of the other stuff which we receive from time to time!

But hey, that's just my personality type coming out - and my thin skin!

I think the point is that, (rather than checking for specks of dust in other people's eyes), I need to concentrate on fulfilling my calling: my "privilege and responsibility."

"By the help of God, I will."

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16 November 2006

Archbishop Rowan, women priests and a good story

I thought I heard a report on BBC Radio 4 this morning that the Archbishop of Canterbury was being equivocal about women's ordination. Well, it turns out I needn't have worried. Once again I am reminded of the question:

"Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?"

Archbishop Rowan says he has been the victim of "wilful misinterpretation" - it's not entirely clear by whom. (Text of his press release here).

To her great credit, Maggi Dawn never doubted him for a moment - as she reveals here. She says it's just that he is a natural academic rather than a natural politician! Sadly our media do not understand (or choose not to understand) people who "say thoughtful things out loud in public".

Even Ruth Gledhill of The Times was apparently wrongfooted - but she recovers her footing here. She explains that

"[Archbishop Rowan] is a victim of his own fairmindedness. What we have here is a fair and lovely man who is a terrible polemecist."

and that

"We should still remind ourselves when coming across such statements that Dr Williams is a poet. Balance and ambiguity are just a few of the devices to which he is drawn by both inclination and practice. "

May we deduce from this that balance and fairmindedness are alien to our modern media? Or am I being unduly polemical?

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13 November 2006

Bizarre is one word for it!

Firstly, I have to declare an interest: I am a Nottinghamshire Cricket fan, and have been all my life. Readers therefore need to be aware that Chris Read plays for Nottinghamshire!

Secondly, it is a while since I have had a really good rant! So ...

England Cricket coach Duncan Fletcher has announced that Geraint Jones will again be England’s wicket-keeper for the first Ashes test, replacing Chris Read. Fletcher states, somewhat enigmatically, that in his view Jones is “the better package”.

Once again we are being fed the line that Jones is the better batsman of the two. This is still in the realms of theory – in practice Jones has proved himself little better than Read, despite having ample and extended opportunity. No-one (except Jones’ county coach) seriously contends that Jones is the better 'keeper.

What price equality of opportunity? When Jones controversially replaced Read, Fletcher generously guaranteed him an extended run in the team – a run which in fact extended to 31 Tests. The coach kept his protégé in the team until it was absolutely impossible to defend his mediocrity (with gloves or bat) any longer.

Commenting at the time, the BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew expressed a desire for even-handedness:

“It is to be hoped that [Read’s] return comes with the similarly generous guarantee of an extended run that Jones was given in Antigua. “ (Agnew’s article in full is here)

A vain hope!! Chris Read has played 2 (yes, two) Tests before finding himself out of favour with the England hierarchy again – during which he has kept impeccably and scored 38, 55 and 33. Yes, that’s 31 Tests against 2.

Whenever the two players are compared, it is apparent that Fletcher is prepared to excuse any number of wicket-keeping errors by Jones, and yet any minor blemish on the part of Read is magnified as if he were expected to be infallible. Conversely with the bat, Jones can do no wrong – even whilst in reality doing very little of note at all – whilst Read can score as many runs as he likes and still be stigmatised as “unable to bat”.

Anyone watching Chris Read’s performances for Notts, and his 2 Test return to the England team, can see just how ridiculous this jaded assessment of his batting now is!

And yet Mr Fletcher continues to extol his favourite – the “better package”!

Mick Newell, Read’s county coach says that the latest decision to eject Read and re-instate Jones after so little time and with so little evidence is “very bizarre”. [Newell's views reported here]. His restraint (and Chris Read’s, to date) is to be admired. Personally, I have always felt that there is more to it than that.

The truth is that whatever Chris Read does – and he has done remarkably well by any standard over the past 2 years and more – Fletcher will never give him credit.

Whilst Duncan Fletcher is the England coach, Geraint Jones is anointed as the favoured son. However badly he keeps wicket, he is always “working hard”, always “improving”, and he only has to get a few runs, very occasionally, to have his England place guaranteed. I’m sure Fletcher always intended to pick Jones for the Ashes Tests – whatever Chris Read did with his token 2 Tests in the interval.

Bizarre is one word for it.

The BBC's Martin Gough manages a more balanced assessment than I can here. His explanation of the "intriguing" selection process, and of Fletcher's role in it, is particularly informative.

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07 November 2006

Vicarage wildlife?!

Making my way round a local supermarket this afternoon, I rang the Vicar, my wife, to check up on my shopping list - no reply. A few minutes later she rang back with a confusing tale.

She hadn't been able to answer because the postman wanted her to see the beaver cubs!

Now, I'm a duffer on all matters relating to wildlife - so this one really confused me! We have beaver cubs at the Vicarage?!?

Well, not exactly ...! It seems the postman who came while I was out is also a Cub Leader, and the Beavers are a junior branch of the Scouting movement! I guess the visit is now in the diary.

Now, of course, I should have known that - but that's not what I heard!!


06 November 2006

Blogging from India!

No, not me!! I'm way too much of a wimp!

But Kathryn - Good in Parts - is managing to keep up her wonderful blog during her visit to India. Now that's what I call a curacy placement!

Read her latest here.


03 November 2006

A revisionist view of Suez

Anyone who has been following the analysis of the Suez Crisis 50 years on might be interested in Andrew Roberts' re-assessment here.

It is clear from this that Mr Roberts is no champion of "high-minded liberal internationalism", but it's intersting to read a view so radically different from the one I grew up with.

For example, Mr Roberts contends that "[US President] Eisenhower himself years later admitted that not supporting [British PM] Eden over Suez had been his greatest foreign policy mistake."

He also states:

"On the eve of victory, just as General Hugh Stockwell telegraphed Downing Street to say that within 48 hours the entire Canal Zone would be in British hands, Eden was stabbed in the back by a cabal of unscrupulous Cabinet colleagues, short-sighted allies and a small and unrepresentative group of Tory liberal internationalists.

"It is undoubtedly true that Suez tragically proved that Britain was no longer a Great Power, but this was their fault, not Eden's. "

I enjoy reading Andrew Roberts' "counterfactual" history - it might be a little harsh to place this in the same category!

Andrew Roberts' full Suez article
Andrew Roberts' website
BBC's "Remembering Suez" section - a more conventional viewpoint

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