Sunday, 30 September 2007

Great North run

That's it, my arse is not moving off this couch for the rest of the night. I've my feet up on the foot stool, a belly full of roast beef, and an open can of Stella Artois to soothe me. The feet aren't so bad either after the half marathon. No blisters or chaffs, just a dull throbbing that goes up to my knee caps.

I would have smashed my target time of 1:45 - 1:50 if it wasn't for my wobbly 9th mile. For some unfathomable reason my legs just stopped working. I could have no more ran than licked my elbow. So I walked for about half a mile until the blood seeped back into my quads.

I never regained my previous pace, though managed to run the rest of the way at about 9:30 minute miles, which brought me in just under 1:55. Not bad.

Anyway, if you'll excuse me, I have some slobbing to do.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

It's a miracle!

Shamelessly purloined from here.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Father of a genius

There's nothing worse than a smug, middle class parent.

[plummy English accent] "Oh, my Tristan is so the little genius. He's only seven you know, but he can play Pagganini's Concerto for violin in E major. Isn't he a dahrling?"[/]

Megan has her first official spelling test tomorrow. If she gets 10/10 we'll break open her piggy bank and go spend the contents at Toys-r-us on Saturday morning.

She got the words on Monday and by Tuesday she'd written this.

I fully expect a novel from her by the age of nine.

Isn't she a darling?

A dropped bollock

You know, I find the god question boring. There isn't much worthy of debate in arguing his existence. What fascinates me is why people are motivated to believe in deities.

So, my actions yesterday were a bit off. I was as bad as any southern baptist, blasting his congregation with dogmatic nonsense. It was out of character, I assure you. Usually I'm a bit more tolerant of beliefs that I disagree with. For what it's worth, I apologised to my co-worker for being a dick.

Metalkpretty summed this notion up way better than I could in her comment. It has therefore been promoted to a blog post.

"Quantum physics blows my mind in a jaw-dropping-this-just-can't-be-true way, yet I acquiesce to the mathematical proofs. If someone could prove the existence of Godly, ghostly beings through maths, I think I might believe.
That said, logic is all well and good, but to be human is to temper that ability to reason with mercy. People need to believe in a higher power, faith or transient spirts for reasons too numerous to mention. To argue empirical evidence otherwise is usually moot to such people. But to empathetically raise the question of why they need to believe, reveals the root problem of why they take comfort in such notions. Underlying issues that when raised, have the ability to be further examined and maybe resolved. Friends don't beat friends over the head with logic or dogma, it's pointless. But perhaps in listening we uncover their trigger and in some way effect a change."

Words of wisdom indeed. Thanks ;)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Grabbed by the ghoulies

The view from my office desk is stunning. The doorway, coat stand and laser printer lift me up each day, above and beyond my existential futility.

So I've filled the walls around me with photos. Today an associate spots the newest addition to my portfolio and says "Ooh, I like that picture, what is it?"

"Thanks! It's a photoshopped image of the local church yard."

"Hmn, it's a shame, I don't see any orbs." She mused.

"Orbs? What do you mean?"

"Well, you know, spirits. Ghosts."

"Are you taking the piss?"

"No, I've seen them before. They hover over gravestones sometimes."

"Ahh come on, surely not! You're telling me wee ghosties hang around at night ready to be snapped? There's no such thing."

"You can't see them. I can, because I believe in them. They don't show themselves to people without faith."

I lost the will to live after this point.

"Fuck off! Each time I say I don't believe in orbs, does one of them die like?"

"Don't be daft Scott."

Ohh, the irony.

"They're our life energy - it's got to go somewhere after we die."

"Eh? Energy? The energy is dissipated through decomposition surely?"

"No, not that kind of energy. It's like..."

"You mean the soul, don't you?"

Honestly, I could feel my blood beginning to boil. I've always struggled to keep my counsel in the face of flannel like this.

"Yes I suppose. Spiritual energy. Sometimes it gets stuck in this world."

"Come off it. That's utterly ludicrous. Listen, I can provide you with masses of scientific evidence to disprove this crap." I spun around back to the laptop, ready to fire up google.

"You probably could, but my faith is important to me," she said to my back, "it's what I believe."

"But what if you're wrong?" I asked whilst typing scepticism into the search box.

"Don't get me wrong Scott, I'm not a religious nut. I don't go to church, but we all need something right? I've no idea the stuff I'd end up doing if I didn't have my faith."

"So, you'd rather feel safe and secure with your faith than explore the truth."

"That's about the sum of it."

Honestly, sometimes I despair. I really do. I know I shouldn't have gone off on one like I did. But for fuck's sake...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


Thousands of Burmese citizens, led by Buddhist monks, have took to the streets right this very moment to demonstrate against their despicable military dictatorship. Since 1962 this country has been ravaged by its government. Torture, systematic rape, use of child soldiers and forced marriages are common daily occurrences in Burma.

It seems the populace has had its fill. The demonstrations were triggered by the government doubling the price of fuel which hit the poor and vulnerable the most. The demo has rapidly gained momentum and has spread across the country.

The government is scared. Last night it announced on state controlled media that it was ready to "take action" against the monks. It takes little imagination to hear the dripping threat of violence. The junta viciously repressed the last demonstrations in 1988, killing some 3,000 people.

I hope the political pressure that the UN, US, China e.t.c are applying will encourage the government to exercise restraint. Mind, these demonstrations feel like an unstoppable force from where I'm sat. I hope the Burmese have the mettle to see this one through and take back the freedom which is rightfully theirs.

Now, if Bush and his cronies had given as much effort to Burma as they have in their faux campaign against the "axis of evil" then perhaps the world would be a better place right now.

Monday, 24 September 2007

A beginning of the end

Bedtimes with my children are precious. I savour each evening's descent from madness into cosseted, thumbsucking babyhood in the same way I savour the weight being took off my feet and curtains being closed on our day.

We have a binary agreement, Miche & I - Megan gets her mother's undivided attention one night whilst Dominic gets to be a bloke with his dad. The next night Dominic's sensitivity is nurtured whilst Megan gets to be with her father to practice 1st grade philosophy. So it goes night after night.

Mornings follow a similar routine. We need this regimentation you see, as our progeny wake at 5:30 on the dot, regardless of weather or season.

And I for one, need my sleep.

So tonight I have my daughter - Meg wants to talk about death. Which took me aback, I must say. It's not a topic we've broached in any depth with either of them yet.

"I'm not going to die until I'm eighty four" she said to me.

"Well Meg, that's a great age to die. How do you know?"

"Great Granny died when she was eighty four, didn't she?"

I nearly broke down in front of the poor girl as I never expected her to remember this. Her Great Grandma died when she was three; I held her hand as she passed away and wiped my tears off her thumb.

"You remember her?"

"Yep, she lived in a hotel." Meg told me.

I guess the nursing home would look like a hotel to a four year old girl. You see, Gran had dementia and lived out her last three years in care. Prior to this she'd been fiercely independent and a stalwart influence over our entire family.

I gave my tearful eulogy at her humanist funeral. Like the rest of us, she had no time for God and his ilk. (If you're interested, I posted my tribute to her in my first week of blogging.)

So I said to Meg, "there's nothing to be scared of in dying you know."

"I know Dad, you just go to sleep forever."

"So what happens after that then?" I asked.

"I don't know. Do you?"

"No, my sweet" I said, kissing her on the forehead, "Let's take our time in finding out, eh?"

"I love you", she mumbled, almost asleep.

"Me too, me too..."

And that was that.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Over egging the pudding

As a teenager learning the guitar, I tried to get as many notes into a bar as possible; 'widdly, widdly, widdly, wee...". Once I gained some measure of ability, I discovered that more beauty could be found in simplicity and what was implied rather than blasted out.

At the age of thirty five I discover HDR photography and start widdlying all over the place again. Bear with me.

On being boys

"Shit!" I barked after being woken by Dom breaking wind on my arm.

"Shit!" He repeated with glee.

"Bollocks, Dom that's a naughty word. We shouldn't have said that."


It could have gone on for a while.

We were supposed to be back from the tip having emptied the garage of its detritus and busy preparing tea for the women. They've been out at a kids party all afternoon.

I figured we could get some boy stuff done before our chores, so I hoovered out the car whilst Dom pretended to be a racing driver. We then watched the rugby for a bit. I obliged when Dom asked for some boyporn on the telly and settled us down with kettle chips and milk.

Twenty minutes ago we woke up.


Friday, 21 September 2007

The camera lies

I'm lacking the energy to disentangle an ordered thought from the mire which is my mind right now. It's been a frantic week. I'm even considering watching the TV - perhaps I'm coming down with something...

I tried going for a brisk ride in the fresh air - but just got mud up my legs and a headache behind my left eye. Bah. I did take this picture mind you;

Actually, I didn't. I took these pictures,

and merged them automagically as a High Dynamic Range photograph. That way, I can use trickery to compensate for my lack of skill. The over exposed shot picked up the fore ground and fields nicely and the under exposed shot the sunset. Put them together and hey presto! A semi decent shot. It's far from perfect, as I used three separate shots (not a single RAW), so the leaves moved a bit and hence look blurry. However, I'm pleased with my first HDR effort.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Playing with light

Finally I've worked out how to take a photo with more than four seconds exposure. Unfortunately I'm housebound tonight, as Miche is away out gallivanting. So playing with my toy is confined to the back garden.

I was a bit narked to see clouds mounting in the sky, as I'd wanted to try out some more star snapping. However, I'm reasonably pleased with this shot of the slow moving clouds which were lit eerily by our street lights. The camera picked them up nicely with a 30s exposure I think.

Learning a little more each day...

Not good at accents

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Rama and Adam meet on the bridge

Rama, our original king, ruled all of us for eleven thousand years. He presided over an era of perfect happiness, peace and prosperity. How I the miss the Rama Rajya.

Before Rama became the seventh avatar of Vishnu, he built a bridge between India and Sri Lanka where his wife was being held in exile by the evil king Ravana.

Monkeys helped him build it. They were known for their engineering aptitude in those times. He then rescued his wife and returned to India to take his rightful place as our lord.

It was quite a feat. Thirty miles of sandbank, rock and coral reef had to be constructed to bridge the gap between these two great countries. They don't build stuff like that these days. It's lasted thousands, perhaps millions of years right up until today.

Now Adam, not long after he was chucked out of Eden, used this very same bridge to get to the mountain Sri Pada to stand atop of it for a thousand years. He felt a bit guilty for eating the apple, according to the Koran.

Adam and Rama most probably met whilst crossing the bridge. They would have been struck by their similarities. Perhaps they were cut from the same cloth...

So, how dare these modern, capitalist pigs even consider cutting a channel through Rama's and Adam's bridge. How dare they!

The heathen Archaeological Survey of India submitted a report to the Indian supreme court that deigned to suggest that Rama's bridge is just mythology! Now I for one, am behind those that demonstrated against this blasphemy and am delighted that they have withdrawn this outrageous report from the hearing.

The truth will out. Vishnu will be reborn and monkeys will rebuild the world.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Marlborough nights

Fifteen years ago I convinced a drunken Miche to lie down in a field with me in the dark. Temptation aside, I had no intention of taking advantage of the poor girl. It was after all the perfect night for a stargazing geek.

It was a bitter November night I remember, well after closing time, and well after the grass had grown crystalline with frost. I dropped my coat on the ground for her to lay comfortably whilst I showed her our universe.

"No" I said, "I just want to show you the stars."

So we shivered whilst we lay down on a rock hard football pitch, as I pointed out Ursa Major.

We smoked a joint that I'd ripped with a Marlborough light.

Fifteen years later, I show Miche Google Sky; the most amazing extension to Google Earth there is. Click a button and with the right orientation, the sky above you is replicated. Our north facing garden is perfect for orientating against the Big Dipper.

Imagine my joy then, when Miche suggests that we get out into our back garden and look at the stars with Google Sky.

At this very moment, we're sat together in our garden watching it. The wonders of technology never cease. I'm writing this post, having taken this picture of the big dipper above our garden, on our laptop's wireless connection to the Internet. (click on the pic to see the constellation).

Miche also produced an elderly packet of smokes, which I am partaking of right now. Marlborough Lights are indeed magic. Mmnn...


Saturday, 15 September 2007

Morning, noon & night

With the dog early this morning at a time considered unnatural to many.

A spoach in the river in which we found two tiny leeches, a blood worm, numerous fresh water shrimp and a minnow. That, and wellies full of water.

Half an hour ago at the church. My first attempt at long exposure photography. I have much still to learn...

Friday, 14 September 2007

An eye for the finer things

Do you think you're special? Well of course you are, my dear reader.

But do you look at the world, in all its detail, and see things in ways that only you can see? Don't you wish that everyone else could understand this reality?

You do? Well then, welcome to the world of the creative.

Perhaps you've made an arse of yourself, like I have numerous times, because of your temperament. I was the annoying twat at your party rewinding the tape to play you that "sublime chord change". I was the same git that didn't get shagged that night incidentally.

Like you, I've always been curiously attracted to small things. Things like wardrobe corners, hidden smiles, briefcase handles and elbows.

And so I wonder - is there an absolute quality to beauty? A qualia perhaps, or some irreducible experience of the sublime?

The skeptic in me tells me not, as beauty cannot not exist outwith its own context. Yet there is some commonality to what we find lovely. In this sense we understand beauty as art;

Expertise: The artist or artisan has some skill that we don't have. We admire how she creates a work that makes us feel things.

Pleasure: The object of our interest is viewed as a source of pleasure in and of itself. It can exists simply for this purpose.

Style: Perhaps this is relativistic, as styles do change. However, ideas of beauty evolve. The fittest ideas survive, whilst non profitable notions of beauty wither. And so we enter the realms of calendars and pornography...

Imitation: We are monkeys. We learn through imitation. The very essence of humanity is our ability to copy. Yet our ability is imperfect; we copy self consciously and therefore adapt techniques to meet our own individual needs. We synthesise, and in doing so, make things new and sometimes beautiful.

Metaphor: We have a wonderful linguistic ability to ascribe meaning to abstract constructs. This to me, is the root of art, and what we find beautiful.

Now, if meaning can be transmitted, then it has every chance of being perceived as being beautiful.

And yes, I've had a drink tonight. I've squeezed out this rambling missive under the influence of numerous beers. Friday evenings can be interesting in our office ;)

So, all I've got to do now is convince Miche that I find her beautiful, despite my beer goggles, and that I've been drunkenly contemplating aesthetic philosophy.

Something tells me I won't be getting a shag...


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

This is my love

We have a night and a morning to ourselves sans children. These occurrences we savor, for they are rare. Right now Miche is enjoying her bath whilst I close and lock down our connection to the outside world.

By her request I don't share images of my love with you. I struggle to see why frankly, as she's the most beautiful thing of things to me and I want to show her off. Her wishes come first however, beyond anything else.

But I can cheat, yes? What if I found her double on the Internet and posted it? That would be OK, surely?

And bugger me, here she is; My wife epitomised in a Four Tet video...

Quite right n'all

Probably the most reliable and statistically sound psychometric test I've come across. Of course, I'm 95% adorable.

You scored as Adorable,











Murph's First Challenge
created with

Hat tip to Murph

Sunday, 9 September 2007

My local church

Miche & I were married in this church. At the time we didn't live in the village, though aspired to. We now have a little house no more than three hundred yards up the road from it. We can hear the bells ring clearly on a Sunday morning. Unlike for John Donne though, they do not toll for us. I told you why a pair of atheists would choose to have a church wedding in number one of my top ten.

Christy asked to see more of it having watched my blurry scarper through the graveyard yesterday morning. She has my admiration for lasting the whole 10 minutes through to the end of that most dullest of videos. So, always one to oblige, I took Meg along to explore the place for half an hour before tea tonight.

There's been a church on this site since before the time of William the Conqueror (1066). The old Anglo-Saxon building is no longer visible unfortunately as the current church was built on its site in the 11th century. For the next two hundred years, the church was extended into what it is today.

There used to be a castle next to the church, however it was destroyed during a Scottish raid in 1388. A manor house was built soon after, which is now our local pub. There's a persistent rumour that a tunnel still exists connecting the church to the pub. Micheal the vicar, has been known to turn up unexpectedly at the bar.

We should allow, nay, celebrate the withering of our congregation. However, places like these should be preserved. If I could donate without the underwritten theological clauses, I would gladly do so to help keep this treasure in good order.

There are at least five gravestones bearing this insignia in the grounds. I've no idea what they signify. Perhaps someone can help?

The power of the elements...

This was the oldest gravestone we could find from 1769. I'm sure there's older, though their inscriptions will no doubt be eroded away. They sure knew how to do Gothic back then.

The inscription on the elderly stone.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

A lack of self awareness

When I showed Miche the video diary I planned to post of this morning's ten mile run in training for the half marathon she winced. Visibly.

"What?" I asked.

"Well, don't you think it makes you look a little, umm, narcissistic?"

"Narcissistic?" I said in full girly-strop, "Come on, you know I'm not!"

"I know that," she said with not enough sincerity, "but anyone watching it will think your a right twat."

"Seriously? Is it that bad?"

"Scott, you winked at the bloody camera. And you never shut up. What possessed you to think that this was in any way interesting?"

"Well it interests me pet" I retorted, whilst secretly doubting my blogger instincts.

After Miche went out for the day with her friends I showed it to the kids. Nonplussed is perhaps the best word...

So, I've spent the day inwardly debating whether or not to post. To be a twat or not to be? That was my question. In the end I've thought bollocks to it.

I'd made the video on my cell phone to see if it was good enough to make a video blog of the GNR proper. As it is, the quality's crap so I won't be doing so. I'm now left with an unused video.

What's the worst that can happen? At least my small but esteemed readership will get to see what this big nosed, narcissistic, geeky twat looks like. And if Murph can post this picture, then I'm duty bound I suppose. ;-)

Be nice...

What do you want to hear?

Another convenient magic test to tell you what you want. Not a bad waste of 2 minutes.









Cultural Creative








What is Your World View?
created with

Friday, 7 September 2007

Indian summer

It seems my seasonal radar needs a bit of re-calibration. Summer is back with a vengeance. So what better way to mark the end of my first week back at work than an evening's trip to the beach.

Denmark directly ahead.

I've always felt Dominic has something of the Messiah about him. Today I caught him walking on water. Now all he needs to learn is the wine trick. Mmnn.

The summer sun reflecting off the dune grass.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Demons in the Diocese

There's an article in this month's Open Mind magazine about attitudes to mental health problems within UK faith communities. Hardly an academic piece, it's essentially a hospital chaplain's reflections on a survey he completed of 70 Anglican and Catholic church ministers.

Now, I've heard of the author before - he is one of the good guys. Apparently his "heart's in the right place" - in between his lungs I'd guess. That said, I'm not about to draw any firm conclusions from his 'research'.

There was one statistic that made me sit up however. Let me quote;

"...half the number [of respondents] thought that Deliverance Ministry might be a positive thing for people in mental distress, providing all the right processes and alternatives were in place."

For those of you unfamiliar with the term Deliverance Ministry let me fill you in. It's exorcism; the removal of evil spirits, demons or jinn through prayer and ritual. And yes, this survey was completed in 2007 not 1607.

Fifty percent of responding clergy felt that exorcism may be of use to treat people with 'mental health problems'!

Now, I can imagine some of the caveats respondents made to this. The article alludes similar;

"Respondents wrote more on this subject than any other question. It is still an issue that evokes quite a strong and, in the main, a very careful response."

I imagine responses were as carefully worded as the Diocese of Worcester statement of Deliverance Ministry - "The purpose of deliverance ministry is to make real to those who feel possessed, oppressed or afraid, the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over all that is evil, so that his living presence may bring peace. "

Notice the clever wording - to make real to those who feel possessed...the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, let me get this straight. Jesus Christ (God) is real and right to believe in, yet demons are not? Yet another example of linguistic gymnastics to validate magical thinking methinks.

Oh, and did you know that every Diocese in the UK has an official exorcist?

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Oh Christ

Only 25 days now until the Great North Run half marathon. I'm going to have to pull my socks up if I'm going to reach my target of 1:45 - 1:50. Right now I feel about ten years off it. Ten years in the past to be frank. When I was 25 it would have been a piece of cake. Now I'm not so sure.

The last time I ran it - in 2005, I creaked in at 2:20. The week previously I'd pulled my medial collateral ligament in my left knee. Like the stubborn toss pot I am though, I was buggered if I'd waste all the training I'd done.

So I dosed myself up on 1G Paracetamol and 800MG Ibuprofen and set off. I felt nothing until the last four miles when my knee cap nearly exploded out of my leg. I limped past the finish post half an hour after the target time.

Stoopid I know, because I was off my feet for three days and endured three months of physio just to get up to a half mile jog. A sage lesson - never run when injured.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Sticky Willy

A six hour work group defining measurable outcomes for tertiary mental health services isn't particularly good for one's non existent soul. Neither was the limp buffet of cheese sandwiches and corned beef pie, with which I compensated for the lack of quality with volume. Consequently the afternoon was a blur of soporific nonsense.

So, to blow the gunk from between the synapses I decided to take Meg & McLeod for a walk in the park. We discovered that autumn is now upon us. The wind was up and there was a distinct nip in the air. We could smell the damp rotting of vegetation.

Perhaps this sensitivity to the seasons is felt only by those in the extremes of the temperate zones. I have some pity for those for who's weather is invariably hot.

You see, I like these changes as they keep me in touch with the passage of time and the ebb and flow of life...

McLeod with "Sticky Willies" in his hair. This is an old Scottish term for the rough burrs of plants that cling to animals' coats to distribute themselves. I don't know which model of seed these are unfortunately. They took some combing out. Mind, I don't advise a Google image search for Sticky Willies without safe search turned on. Definitely NSFW!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Flip the grindstone

246 emails awaited my return to work this morning. Ordinarily I'd have been chipping away at them on holiday as I'm not a man to deliminate the boundaries between work and leisure. However, our new uber firewalls have balked at my VPN requests so I've been under strict radio silence for a fortnight.

246 emails, and only four of them spam. Our uber firewalls are also good at killing them mercilessly. It's took me until 14:00 today to sift them and sort out the mini-dramas and quandaries that I now need to solve. However, the world is still turning, nowhere has burned down and only one person has died. Things have been quiet since I've been gone.

My good wife phoned me in a kerfuffle on the way home in the car.

"I've lost the bloody tablets the vet's given McLeod. Thirty quid's worth!"

"Ok Miche, what do you want me to do about it? I'm driving right now." I say this with due regard for the law of course - I've got one of those tosspot earpieces.

"You're going to have a look in the bins outside the newsagents. I think I've thrown them away by accident."

"What! Oh for Christ's sake, you want me to root around in bins?"

"You're gonna have to pet, unless you want to shell out another thirty quid."

Typically the shop was busy, half the village seemed to be going to it. A cunt of teenagers were also loitering around. Which is now my collective noun for them as they mocked me mercilessly as I rooted in the three mangy bins around the shop. Despite getting my hands thoroughly greased with chip fat and snot, I found no tablets.

My phone rang again as I had my head in the final bin.

"YES?" I barked, not in the best of fettles.

"Erm, Scott," a sheepish Miche says, "the vet's just rang and I'd left the tablets there. Sorry hon."

"Sorry hon! Do you realise what I'm doing? Why didn't you think of that possibility before subjecting your husband to this depravity?" I asked this rhetorically, as I hung up and drove to the vets.


So, as I was already minging with bin juice, I decided to do a bit of rock flipping with the kids in the back garden. According to Weeta, we've missed the International Rock Flipping Day by 24 hours, but hey ho.

In the absence of any really big rocks we decided to flip the frog ornament off an old tree stump. We found a whole colony of woodlouse. They looked pretty shifty and scuttled off before I could catch all of them on camera. I think the little buggers were planning something. I shall be keeping an eye on them...

Sunday, 2 September 2007

God is with us

Despite the sword of Damocles hanging over the family right now we've managed to have rather a nice fortnight off. There is news to share of course, but the need to censor remains. Perhaps this is good, as the facts to be shared are not. So the following could be thought of as our brave face glaring into the eyes of adversity.

Fuck it, I say. Fuck it and all that it brings, for we are a strong family. This is what will get us through. Yet there are those amongst us who turn to God in these moments, he gives them strength they say.

Both Miche & I have said that our strength comes from them and not their god; we need no witness to see the extent of our love. They know this in truth, despite their faith. So let no reward be given to us in heaven, for our love gives lives right now and is right amongst us.

Despite this, there have been a pair occurrences in these past two weeks that would make some question their doubt;

I bought a bike on ebay a while back to complete the family set. I was ripped off frankly, as it's brakes are faulty and its front bearings worn. Ninety quid's worth of shite.

Yet recently, we indulged in some faux altruism and gave away a box full of toys via freecycle. As I watched for request mails I noticed a post offering a mens' mountain bike with 21 shimano gears and suspension. A quick mail secured the offer.

So I now have a nearly new mountain bike, given for free and in near perfect condition. God was with me this day for sure.

And no more than an hour ago Miche hammered me on the shoulder. She had the look of a lottery winner about her. A quick glance up at the telly told me why; the monkey broach her grandma had given her some 20 years ago was right there on the screen.

She's now the owner of some £12,000 worth of heirloom! We'll be amending our contents insurance tomorrow.

So I take from this - god hates ill people, yet loves middle aged men wanting bikes and beautiful women with old broaches. Do you need any more proof?

So here's some more photos from our holiday full of the lord's love;

Me, the dog, some wind and a woman in red...

The science fiction lift of the Discovery Museum.

Hell on earth - infinite children.

Skin cultures in the cyborg exhibition - quite amazing.

Camping is greatest under the hottest of suns.

A cooler leg than mine...

Closing the door on my holiday.

Grenville Christian College

And so another religious educational establishment pops up on the radar. This time from Ontario, Canada.

The Grenville Christian College has recently closed amidst allegations of abuse and malpractice. Whilst its headmaster toes the official line and states in a press release that "changing demographics, declining enrolment, and increasing operating costs" forced the closure, another senior staff member comes out with this - "What was done to people at GCC was very wrong, I was very wrong. And I am so sorry for all the hurt that was caused to each of you by me and by all of us in positions of leadership.” (Joan Childs)

According to the article "former students have described a bizarre environment where they were hauled from their beds in the middle of the night to be harangued for hours by staff at so-called light sessions about being sinners."

Now, I'm cautious when I read this kind of stuff, as my gut tells me to be outraged and I've learned not to trust it over the years. This could simply be one or two bitter students and a harangued ex-staff member.

I came across this message board however populated by 'survivors' of the GCC. Given the volume of posts about the college, it seems the story is bang on. So, I'll let my outrage run unfettered then...

An ex-student / survivor posted this message about his experience of Ms Joan Childs within his 1st 24 hours there;

"We had been at Grenville for not even 24 hours when my [father] and I were walking with Joan to the compulsory evening chapel.

I was walking in the middle of Joan and my Dad (so I could be watched), when Joan happened to find me in the unfortunate circumstance of having gum in my mouth. (still hadn't gotten the hang of things and was in the throes of adolescence).

Well, Joan turned and with anger demanded that I SPIT my gum into my father's hand. I said, "Spit?" (thinking with alarm ... Wouldn't you rather I remove the gum with my fingers and place it into his hand? I mean, aren't I supposed to be learning to show respect to my "rightful authorities" here?)

So I made mistake number two, and asked "Why spit?" And she got furious and stepped in front of me, had my Dad hold his hand out, and demanded I spit the gum into his hand. So, well, I did.

Well, my Dad, not really ever having caught an airborne piece of gum before (and not really wanting to), dropped it accidentally. He knew and I knew at that instant that it was an accident.

But as I lifted my head up, after watching it fall, Joan threw her arm back and slapped me VERY HARD across my face! It was all I could do to keep the pejoratives in my head ... and I replied angrily, "It was an accident!!!"

And, my dad meekly (and too quietly) followed up with, "it was an accident."

This did not deter Joan and she escorted us, with accompanying lecture about my "sin" (uh-huh, you got me convinced, lady), to the chapel.

(Sorry for the irreverent tone of this post, don't mean to offend anyone, but it had a touch of comedy even then ... of course being both angry at the injustice and humored by it got me in more trouble ... too bad it shaped my opinion of her so dramatically ... and ticked me off for years!)"
I guess Joan Childs has got her apology in before the court cases start to come. Mind, I've noticed that many of the posters on this board apologise, like the above, when even a vaguely critical comment has been made. It seems guilt will always be with them. Perhaps no one will sue, as it must be their fault they're going to hell.

I do have some sympathy for Joan. Her public apology has took some mettle. It's also very likely that she was under pressure from an authoritative system and probably abused psychologically herself.

And after all, what can be more abusive than man's notion of God eh?

So, lets join with Joan as we sing the GCC's favourite hymn;

“You are wrong, you are wrong,

“No matter what you say or do,

“You'll always be wrong.”