Wednesday 18 September 2019

The more life stays the same, the more it changes

I have 10min before leaving for a meeting off-site, and little concentration for other things.

I have become aware that the aging process - and other quirks of genetics & susceptibility - are affecting those I know of a similar age. A good friend has had prostate cancer and is now developing parkinsons: he is suffering the slings and arrows of hormone therapy for the first and trying to come to terms with the changes the second is making. Another good friend has an inherited respiratory condition that's causing his lungs to get gradually chewed away.

My voice seems to be changing - becoming sometimes husky, sometimes a bit squeaky. It's not a bad deal compared to either of my friends above, but it makes me even more reluctant to speak up at a time when personal confidence is not high.

It feels like I've been living the same way for a long time: same house, same wife, same career, same hobbies, same personal weaknesses and strengths. Yet despite my consistence things are changing gradually, yet irresistably.

Monday 16 September 2019

What's wrong?

The sky has been a dull and unbroken grey all day, I've drunk little and been weeing loads. At least I'm not sweaty and sticky all the time.


Nice to be back in a country where you can throw paper down the loo, water from the tap is drinkable and the shower works predictably. Looking forward to a good steak and baked potatoes for dinner - tagine is off the menu.

Thursday 12 September 2019

Down to our last couple of days.

Morocco is - not what I expected.

I reminds a lot of Moghul India, but interpreted through European culture. Certainly the culture feels much less different than India did, even though it's extremely different to the UK.

We've had the stink and crowds of the city, torrential rain in the Sahara desert, blistering sunshine while viewing roman ruins and a beautifully cool morning today in Essaouira. People have generally been extremely polite, friendly, kind, but also a little deceptive and today we saw a couple of English tourists with another man who spoke the local language assaulted by a shop keeper and his friends in the street (no idea what that was about). There was also a protest through the streets last night that we think was about local jobs and tourists causing problems, but can't be certain.

It's been a good trip.

I'd like to come back some time to do a photographic trip, but I'm just not sure. There's a tension bubbling away below the surface. Roadblocks with police checks are common, and on a journey of several hours it's not unusual to pass 4 or 5 - reminded us of Zimbabwe. There are some incredibly wealthy individuals and every restaurant and shop had a picture of the king hanging, yet many people are apparently extremely poor, possibly made worse by tourists attracting beggars.


This will also be a lasting memory of Morocco.

In polite circles it's referred to as adobe when used for buildings, but there have been times when buildings and countryside appeared to blend seamlessly. Roads sometimes disappeared under it. Streets were covered in it. Mud seemed to be everywhere. It's made images of villages being swept away by mudslides very real.

There's a lot to absorb and assimilate.

Saturday 7 September 2019

1 week in.

OK, Morocco is fascinating, blending African and Arab cultures. For a photographer, there's a picture round every corner and the people seem friendly this far (we were given warnings in our welcome meeting about those who are not).

Each area and hotel has its own flaws and idiosyncrasies: in this one the taps drip, last one had no hot water & toilet didn't work in our room etc etc. Also you can't flush loo paper.

Having an interesting time.

Sunday 1 September 2019

Keep taking the tablets

A couple of months back I bought a cheap refurbished windows tablet - about £90 - to use as a digital music storage device for church. 12" HD screen, detachable keyboard/screen cover, SD memory card slot to supplement the 64GB of internal storage. It's not exactly a fast performer, being pretty much on a par with the late 2008 Macbook, but it's about half the weight and the screen is really crisp.

Battery life is brilliant.

When new, the macbook would do 4 hours of word processing, or 2 1/2 hours with wifi on for internet. The Dell XPS was similar, although wifi use made almost no difference, but image processing drops life to 2 hours.

This thing gives me >10 hours of internet use.

Would the passengers of Easy Jet flight XYZ

Please go to Gate 5 for Decontrolling.

The unhappy sound of the airport moving passengers from a secure departure lounge back to the outside world. Gatwick North terminal hall is full of people and there is a queue that runs almost the length of the hall, presumably of cancelled Easy Jet passengers.

I'm grateful that at present our flight only appears to be 3 1/2 hours late.

Normally I would not post 'live' on holiday, but we've got friends living in the cottage while we are away, and it will be as secure as if we were there.

I suppose one of my biggest disappointments is

That there is no answer.

Everyone seems to have lots of answers when you're searching for faith: lots of scriptures that can point you in the right direction, encourage you to believe, re-assure you about how wonderful it all is.

What happens when you start to look a bit harder and become concerned it's a house of cards?

What happens when you start to look at a card and realise it's possibly not standing on anything?

I get that we need to use eyes of faith, I really do, but you need more than a wish to base that faith on. We know that 'reality' will let us down, and as Christians we live on the basis that the world is broken and failing. At the same time, the more I read the bible the more I read things that look like they have been made up, possibly for all the best reasons, but still made up.

And the thing that ticks me off most is that there is no answer.

Someone I knew a little - pastor of a church in Abingdon - had a heart attack and died the day I started writing this post.

A good friend's wife died of cancer a couple of years back, leaving a young family.

We may have some experience of this kind of thing too.

I'm fed up with the thinking that it's more important to reach out than to understand what we're offering.

Yesterday I bumped into the people who I now realise helped start me on this path of thought and theology. They had a thing about the people of Israel and the rock that went through the desert with them as described in 1 Cor 10 v3-4 - they believed that there was a physical rock that followed the Israelites through the desert, and that rock was Jesus in some other form.

I think it was that point that stopped me being a fundamentalist and instead started me searching to know what was true and what was just made up.

People like to make up stuff, not from malicious intent, but because they just want to have something to believe in that helps explain why the world is like it is and provides them something to believe in and bring hope and comfort. I'm NOT saying that Christianity is all a fiction, but that it has absorbed various peoples made up stuff along the way. At one time I would be cross about this corruption, but at the moment I'm just accepting it for the reasons above. Disappointing, frustrating, but nothing to burn someone at the stake over.

How do you know something is a fiction? It's hard to tell, but if people feel the need to defend their god by force of arms, anger and violence then that's a pretty strong clue they know it's not true. If god is really God, why would He need people to fight for him?

I've tried to stay quiet

About the bizarre 'buggers-muddle' to borrow an old English phrase, that has been Brexit.

For those who've not read the blurb that way & I'm an Austrian who has lived in the UK since 1 was 1 year old, so more than 57 years. Although I wish otherwise, my feeling is that Britain as a country will probably be socially stronger separate from EU, although it will likely hit people in their pockets and cause some severe hardship to the poorest. That's not the point though, and it would be much 'easier' for Britain to remain.

What is the point?

It's been a really odd journey to get to the point the british government is at today.

The first bit of stupidity was the referendum (not legally binding) that was set up with a poor set of choices and a failure to create a sensibly high threshold above which a popular vote to leave must reach in order for the vote to be meaningful. At least the PM who was responsible for such a situation 'fell on his sword', though I wonder if he should have been forced to stay in office until the whole mess was sorted out.

Perhaps such an obvious device as a threshold was ignored because the vote wasn't binding, except that it has been made so in political circles. The nature of politics is that those who fight through its mire are seeking any kind of weapon they can use, and this presented such a thing with a good sharp edge and a strong handle to swing it by.

The next bit of stupidity is what happened immediately afterwards.

In time of crisis political parties have often pulled together to work things out, thus I expected the 2 main parties to settle down and try to figure out the best way through. Not a bit of it. Apparently everyone in parliament decided they should do their own thing, and if not part of the presently ruling party then attempt to pull that party down, not helped by the newly selected PM deciding that she should call a general election, neatly losing most of the previous majority her party had.

So 3 years on Theresa May (probably a genuinely well intentioned woman, but apparently slightly inept politician) has been replaced by the less honest and distinctly wily Boris Johnson. He saw what had happened and decided enough silly-buggers had been played in parliament, therefore arranged things so that the UK would almost certainly be able to leave the EU with a no-deal hard Brexit - where we find ourselves now. I don't especially like what he's done, but admire the skill with which he's circumvented the efforts of those who were determined to just keep spinning out the who process with no possible chance of resolution.

I wrote the majority of this post a couple of days back.

We are presently sat in Gatport Airwick waiting for a plane.

Why mention this?

Our flight is delayed due, apparently, to industrial action* on the part of French air traffic control. The airport was relatively quiet when we got here at 9am, but at 11.35 it's full of people whose flights have been delayed. If you want a reason why Britain wants to leave the EU, never mind all the stories about darkies or polish plumbers taking jobs away, this is it. The British are different. The disease that allows people to sod-up the lives of others in arbitrary fashion has infected the UK a little, but it's still not really taken hold. In France it's the national pastime, and has been for generations. The Brits don't do corruption or green stuff like the Germans, graft and anarchy like the Italians and Greeks, laid-back lifestyle like the Spanish. On they whole they just try to mostly follow the rules without putting people out too much.

I can shrug my shoulders gallic style about the strike & delays, but this is the kind of thing that they see their European neighbours doing that hacks them off and makes them back Boris.

Is Brexit a good thing? I REALLY don't know, though I expect everyone will be a bit poorer as a result, at least in the short-medium term. I can see good reasons for both remaining and leaving, both come with a price and simply deciding to remain after all will come with a high price, not necessarily monetary, too.

Hope we don't have ANOTHER war here.

*Correction - apparently it was a computer failure, but my point remains and striking Frenchmen is sufficiently common, even normal, that it doesn't matter they were apparently working as usual on this occasion.