An explanation

Having read last week’s blog post, a few people have asked why I have not taken the matter further. Why did I not stick out for a pay-out?  Why did I not go public?  Have I not let them get away with it?

Well firstly, they may look as if they have got away with it now, but as I said last week, there will be a judgement Day,.

I did not have the strength to go for a pay-out.  There were times I did not have the strength to get on the first train in the morning let alone get confrontational.  And there too is why I did not go public.

There is no ‘statute of limitations’ on my calling those that I could, to account. But what happens?  Money gets spent that should be spent on the betterment of those who should be served.  I could, as I have been told, win easily and then return any money.  And a win would be easy with recordings and transcripts of conversations and emails judged as hectoring and harassing, screenshot and kept safe.

But money would still be diverted from its just cause.  When we are entrusted with public money we have a responsibility to see the public are served appropriately.  There is no point in complaining the government waste money and then engage in similar activities, be they defending your case or having your mates in as consultants so they can earn a bit of bunce and be nice to you when you need payback.

My integrity just would not allow it.


Recent developments

Well, it’s been over a year, but I thought I must share this.  With all that has been said and done in the recent past, with all the words that have been bandied about, and all the accusations that have been made, something has been quietly happening in the background.

I have been preparing parents to have their children baptised for fifteen years.  In the second of three sessions we speak about passing on the faith to our children, how was the faith passed on to us, or how did you come to faith.

In that session, we ask cradle Catholics ‘who was the greatest influence on your faith as a child, and who is it now?’  To those who have come to the faith as adults, we ask the latter part of the question.

Generally, the answer will be a parent or grandparent, sometimes a priest or teacher for the early days.  In most cases, the same answer was given for both parts of the question.  You would get the occasional friend or priest, only once was it a deacon, and it wasn’t me, but for ten to twelve years, the replies were fairly standard.

But of late the same name keeps coming up as a reply to the latter part of the question, the same person who has been equally influential in renewing people’s faith or bringing them to the faith.

Pope Francis.

What did I miss?

I’ve been off Twitter for Lent.  I did sneak back in to send a message to someone on their graduation day, and on another occasion  I retrieved a message from another after it was mentioned, but I managed to resist the temptation to look at my feed, or to post.  And resisting temptation is what Lenten fasting is all about.

There were a few events I’d have loved to Tweeted about, such as

  • Shelagh Fogarty’s   caller Phil, who wants to be helped by an assisted suicide facility.  Shelagh handled him perfectly.
  • Katie Boyle dying. I met her three times, each time I was star struck (but I was a teenager)
  • The prisons’ minister saying we send people to prison as a punishment, we don’t add to the punishment when we are there.  Well said sir.
  •  The ‘A Thousand Years‘ video to mark World Down’s Syndrome day.  We used it in assembly to great effect.
  • Going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child over two nights.  A Christmas present from our eldest daughter.  It was magic!
  • Having a ticket to see Scott Hahn at The Holy Rosary Shrine in Belsize Park.  I could not use it as I was at Harry Potter.  I had seen him before at Farm Street on 31 October 2008 (He made an impression as you can tell) and I’m delighted the talk can be seen on EWTN‘s Youtube channel.
  • Taking sixty Year Eight pupils to Mass in the school’s local parish a part of the parish mission and some of them repeating Fr Elias’ message “We do what we have to so we can do what we want to”
  • Saying Happy St Joseph’s Day to St Joseph’s College
  • William from The Cedars School winning the first ever Young Croydon Mayor election
  • Stephen Hawking dying
  • Congratulating St James the Great in getting to the final (football)
  • A prospective Head Boy saying at the hustings “A community without unity is not a community”
  • Nick Hewer being on The Great British Bake-Off.  This was one of the funniest programmes I have seen in ages.  Nick’s comic timing when saying “I’ll never do it again” and “You try filling a biscuit” still make me smile.

Finally, a cryptic message.  Professor, if you had not known what my letter was about you would have got in touch.  Thank you for your own personal confirmation of who you are.

Happy Easter!



You can’t please ’em all

The story was reported this week of a Bradford primary school banning  sausage rolls, pork pies and other foods they school deems unhealthy.  Some laud this initiative others don’t, one parent told the BBC schools should ‘stick to teaching kids.

I completely agree with the schools motivation but if my children’s primary or secondary schools had issued such an edict I would not be happy.  But how many conversations have I had about poor packed lunches, not only as a member of school staff but as a parent hearing anecdotal stories on the same matter.

On my first ever school trip as a parent helper another parent tutted at the crisps and Penguin one of the children had to enhance a cheese sandwich and apple.  The same parent was unhappy that another child’s apple was not sliced and a third child had Jelly Tots in a pot of plain fromage frais.  For myself, I saw it as none of my business, but relaying this jolly tale would  prompt stories of other, much more unusual, packed lunches and breakfasts.

I heard of the child who came into infants school with a McDonald’s hamburger for breakfast each day.  Another child was suddenly late for school regularly, chats with mum found out they were getting a bus to Greggs for the child’s breakfast, and the times of the buses from the shops to school had changed, hence the lateness.  When the idea of breakfast at home was suggested mum felt she ‘didn’t have time and coco pops are very unhealthy.’

I also heard of the school that had a rule of no chocolate in packed lunches for trips, but these were replaced by Haribo and worse!  When I started working in schools I was taken aback by the packed lunch that consisted of a family pack of Doritos and a small box of Ferrero Rocher.  

Most school staff will tell you of the post lunch rise in sugar levels when you are on a trip (it’s a fact, believe me) and I think it’s right to say “don’t bring…..”  but a blanket ban on various things, can they do that?  Well, yes, if they feel they have to.

All school rules have to apply to everyone, be it walk on the left, stand when a member of staff enters the room, ‘do up that top button’, or telling parents not to drive into the school (as we saw this week).  Obviously extreme cases will bring exceptions, but you have to be hard pushed not to find anyone, parent or child who will not understand.

The other option would be to single out parents “Dear Mr & Mrs Jones, your children packed lunches could be better, have you considered humous and crudite? Or wholemeal bread?”  You can’t ask selected parents to watch what is put in lunchboxes, this would simply be divisive, so the action taken by the school this week is the safest way of heading towards educating their children in the benefits of a healthy diet.

Such news is not a new departure, just google “school tells parents about packed lunches” there is a plethora of stories.  There is also a plethora of people who would say schools should be telling parents about healthy diet. As we know, you can’t please everyone so the school has to do what the senior leadership team identifies as  appropriate for their intake.

There have been similar conversations about homework.  Primary school homework is often mentioned as a major source of stress for some.  But as some will be stressed by the very idea of sitting down with their nine year old and working on integers or compound nouns, others will relish it.

One of my early Twitter claims to fame was Kirsty Allsop responding to me when she was unhappy about the homework her son was bringing home from his reception class. I’d known reception class homework to be an idea of what to speak to your children about, or what to read to them, or with them.  In a thread on the matter I I tweeted that schools often have to give guidance, Ms Allsop responded to me “so give guidance, not homework”.  The next response was from a lady saying her son did not realise that colouring a sheet  with shoes, shops, sheep etc was homework, neither was showing her what he could read.

If primary school homework is not done, there is nothing that can be done about it, parents get the choice of doing it or not.  Ultimately it’s the same with packed lunches. You will not find any school with a homogenised intake, nor will you find a school issuing edict for the laughs

Silly memories

About 40 years ago an exchange between two of my colleagues had the whole office giggling like idiots for too long.  When David asked a question, Pat, who was the quietest of people responded in a way that took us all by surprise and made us all snigger like naughty school children, to the point where we had to stop answering outside calls for over an hour.

Wanting to know what day of the week it would be David asked “what’s June the third”, to which the never say boo to a goose Pat replied, in an Australian accent “The queen of Bloody Australia.”

I know, you had to be there, and to know how out of character this was for Pat, but all these years later I still cherish the memory.

Holding one’s counsel

This week Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow chose to avail us of his opinion on President Trump’s possible invitation to address the House during his proposed State Visit to the UK.

While I agree with what The Speaker said, I also agree with those who say he had absolutely no right to say it.

Why do I agree with Mr Bercow?  President Trump is new to political life, he has no great insights to impart on political life, or social justice as shared by Pope Benedict in Westminster Hall in 2010.  If he was to address them as a business man, then we have a plethora of our own successful business people who could impart great wisdom of the same ilk.

But Mr Bercow has chosen to accept a position that requires political neutrality, even if he was elected as a Conservative MP.  When one accepts a position and the authority it behoves one to abide by the restrictions and responsibilities, and Mr Bercow has not observed this. I am scandalised by Mr Bercow’s actions, but I accept, that’ just me.

It’s no different with clergy being public in their disagreements with their bishop and even worse, sharing public derision of Pope Francis.  Equally as bad in one case I have noted is a clergyman who works for his diocese joining in with those who deride The Pope and his bishop not correcting him; therefore facilitating this divisive behaviour.

I have also seen parishioners (not mine, wind your necks in St A’s)  who are close friends of their parish priest, so close that they have moved parish with him, deriding the local Ordinary, and again, the priest saying nothing.

It’s interesting to note that any priest who does engage, or allow such behaviour has the title of ‘Father’.  I’m told that any of the priests in question expected to be a bishop, a chapter Canon or even a monsignor by now, but alas the balances have found them wanting and they have reacted bitterly.

When finding one at odds with their Church’ teaching many brave Anglicans cast themselves, and their families, into the hands of the Holy Spirit and waited with patience for ‘the Roman Rubberstamp’ or the ‘Vatican Verification’ (two terms I heard) and this, is the action a gentleman will take.  He will not sit in a corner drumming up support via his toadying cronies and his blog’s ‘donate’ button, he would understand that he is at odd with the Holy Spirit and he would move on.

But then perhaps they are not as brave as our former Anglican brothers.

Through the office he accepted Mr Bercow’s comments were inappropriate, he should either accept what comes with the Speaker’s Shilling or move on.  It’s the same with those who owe allegiance to Holy Mother Church and the succour she provides.