Sunday, 25 May 2014


Ah, Victoria sponge by the sea. Not everything Victorian is bad.

Bank holiday in Norfolk.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Careful unreasonableness

It's over 40 years since I first read My utmost for his highest, by Oswald Chambers. It's a daily devotional based upon Chambers' extensive teaching at theological college in the early part of the 20th century.

I infrequently dip into it now but generally find that his thinking is stimulating and creative. So for today, May 18th reflecting upon Matthew 6.26, 28
"Behold the fowls of the air." . . . "Consider the lilies of the field." Matthew 6:26, 28

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they simply are!.....

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould us.

If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He wil make you of use unconsciously every minute you live,
Like much stimulating teaching, Chambers is here reacting to an exteme, of trying too hard at living as a Christian,  and you have to be careful not to catapult to the other end. Thus he is not teaching, 'let go and let God' and a sort of Christan nihilism that simply gives no thought to growing as a believer, nor makes an effort (note Peter says, 'make every effort'  in 2 Peter 1.5), and does not live intentionally. No, he is reacting to the tendency to forget that we are (unequal) partners together with God, co-workers with him. We may plant etc, but it is always God who gives the fruit.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Two good books

Like most of us, I do enjoy a good story. So two recent novels have been very worthwhile.

Landfall by Nevil Shute.

Nevil Shute is such a good story teller. His books are easy reads and in some ways quaint by contemporary standards (but then certain aspects of life were quaint in the 1940s!),  with several fairly innocent non-pc comments about the role of women and the class structure which pertained then. The book centers around the activities of a young pilot in the first year of the second world war  (indeed the book was written in 1940). As usual with Shute there is interesting technical detail, but also at its heart the willingness of young men to serve our country. There's fascinating touches on the inter-relations between the Royal Navy and the RAF,  a rather gentle romance, and a good angle on one of the many little stories which would have been easily lost within the grand larger theme of the war.

The man from Bejing by Henning Mankell

A much heftier and punchier  book by one of my favourite authors. For those who have enjoyed the Wallender series this is another great read. It is typically atmospheric with a stunning and disturbing opening. The characters are as ever, memorable and the story line somewhat complex but ties together brilliantly. At times it is perhaps a little more discursive than it needs to be, but Mankell's grasp of history and international relations is excellent and there is a genuine page-turning quality to the book..
There are a good few stories within the over-arching story, but I didn't get lost and I enjoyed the movement thought history and across continents.
 Its nearly 550 pages, but worth the effort.


Frank Sinatra, David Gower and Michael Macintyre. It's all in the timing.

So when a patent tells me that she was phoned at 8.30pm one Friday evening to be told that her scan was abnormal, I despair. The scanning department had taken it upon themselves to ring her and advise that in view of a suspicious abnormality, they would like to book her for a further, more sophisticated scan.

Friday evening? Surely just a moment's thought would have prevented them making the call then. For many people (but of course far from all) it is wind down time towards the weekend. And the weekend  is not a good time to anxiously wait and worry. Of course no interval is good between news of abnormality and more definitive confirmation one way or the other. But it's just the thoughtlessness of it all. Sadly one outcome of the 24 hour Tesco-ization of society is the failure to realise that such things as significant accidents are more likely when society just runs and runs with no natural rthythm of work and rest (see The 24 hour society- the risks and challenges of a world that never stops). And perhaps more subtly,  this ever expanding working day or week, can make us insensitive to others whose 'moment' in the day or week may well be different from ours.

Timing is vital for the doctor. How often have I thought I knew the answer to a patient's presenting problem within seconds, only to be proved wrong as I have resisted the temptation to interrupt and let the patient finish. And even when my instinct was correct, it's nearly always best to wait. Reassurance given too early in a consultation seldom helps. I'm not sure that timing in sport is learnt or innate, but in medicine it has been be learnt through long practice and close human observation.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Thursday, 8 May 2014


'We've done it'
What a lovely day we enjoyed last Saturday May 3rd. The sun shone on our beautiful daughter Sarah as she married Owen. We had looked forward to the day for so long, and finally it was here. The service was simple and traditional, but with some lovely touches, such as the variety of musical styles, from Bach to the Proclaimers. And a very helpful short message based on the Four Loves of C S Lewis (4 'Fs'...Family, 'Fysical', Friends and Forgiving love), excellently presented by the pastor of our church (Grace Community Church), Ray Evans.

Hannah enjoying the signing
It was a joy that our other daughter Hannah was maid of honour and looked so lovely with her fellow bridesmaids, Beth and Althea. The morning at home had been such fun with Sarah and the bridesmaids plus my wife Biddy getting ready with the help of hairdressers, a make up 'artist' and the photographer Sam. I was just a spare penny wandering around doing odd jobs. We were naturally anxious about the weather, especially as the reception was held in a marquee beside the River Ouse in the grounds of Bromhall Hall. As it happened the weather was perfect and it was a truly wonderful time.

There is no guarantee of good weather on May 3rd. In 1979, the day of Maggie Thatcher's election victory, Tony Been wrote,
'For eleven hours Caroline and I drove around the constituency, in cold weather which turned to hail and snow.I sat on the roof of the car in a blanket with rubber overtrousers, wearing a woolly cap and anorak. It was freezing'

So for early summer loveliness, the joy of the day, and the radiance of our dear Sarah, I give thanks.  With George Herbert I pray,

Thou who hast given so much to me. Give one thing more, a grateful heart. For Christ's sake.

A message from the other side

No, not that side! But thank God got through surgery ok yesterday. And thanks to all for love support and prayer.