Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fleeting Moments

I'm still enjoying playing with my new toy - this time it's bumble bees and butterflies that go fluttering by!

Sunday, July 26, 2009



Just an ordinary day; you can’t get much more extraordinary than that! ‘Ordinary’ suggests some kind of stasis, whereas life is dynamic; I fail to understand why I ever think of any day that way. Yet, that is and just was the case; of that terrific disservice to the value of each moment I plead guilty!

Each new day we enter is a day of opportunity, a time to appreciate or a time to waste; all too frequently I spend a generous portion of the morning in bed, catching up on the sleep and, strangely, obtaining a quality of rest which the preceding hours never quite managed to attain. I do not, any longer, make this into a source of guilt but rather, take it as a necessary preparation for the full appreciation of the remainder of these twenty-four hours.

Upon emergence, and consequent merging into the stream of daylight hours, an ambling stroll up the garden, observing the minimal changes, to plant growth and decay, in both the cultivated and the more natural areas of our mini-estate, seems an essential prerequisite to my enjoyment of the day. It’s difficult to imagine how I possibly coped with living in a second floor (third floor in stateside terminology) apartment; perhaps I quite simply existed rather than “lived”. On the other hand, I do realize that what you’ve never had you can’t really miss!

There are inevitably occasions when my, Marxian inspired, political nature leaves me feeling rather at odds with this “spiritual” passive acceptance of my lot but, campaigning burn-out occurred many years ago. Social sympathies remain unchanged, despite my decrease in physical and emotional stamina; capitalism continues to eat itself, greed rules and, as a result, much of the world is quite simply a bloody mess. Pharmaceutical companies continue to leak laboratory strains of virus only to cash in on the need for an antidote; those prepared to stamp anyone down succeed in business; Palestinian Arabs are turned into homeless helpless victims on the very lands which are their birthright, as the persecuted have become the persecutor and, it seems as if morality is just another word for unenlightened self-interest.

The utilitarian ethos of the greatest good for the greatest number has been turned into an excuse for trampling on the rights and freedoms of all those who deign to challenge the status quo!

Sorry, I’m rambling again – I’ve almost lost the original thread – what was it? Oh yes, I remember, the extraordinariness of the everyday. These days, I’m overwhelmed by the simple occurrences of nature, the exhilaration I find in hearing the schnuffling - schnaffling sound of a hedgehog emanating from the vicinity of the birds’ ground feeder, the moths flying out from the long grasses as I take a twilight stroll up the garden, the sheer richness of life’s tapestry.

I can’t ignore the suffering that goes on all around us and, in spite of an accompanying sense of helplessness, I attempt to bear up in thought, prayer and occasional action, those who are in need and pain. In the words of a song by one of my favourite contemporary singer songwriters – Danelle Harvey – I’m ONLY HUMAN.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Testing the tiger: Reflecting on military chaplaincy – article on Ekklesia

Testing the tiger: Reflecting on military chaplaincy

“Caesar, the state, the organisation, the institution, is symbolically the holder of power in any community or the defender of the status quo. The military operates at one extreme end of that continuum of power where their job is to apply the maximum amount of force on the enemy. Anything else, marching bands, flood relief and I daresay, peacekeeping, is a distraction for when there is no enemy.

A clergy person’s calling is different; to sit at the opposite end of that continuum of violence, where vulnerability, woundedness and the beauty of brokenness are valued. Our hero is grounded in his tradition but counter-cultural, questioning institutional violence with the ultimate challenge of non-violent vulnerability.”

- Sande Ramage

A wonderful sense of irony pervades this article; what else could we expect?

“On the day I closed my study door and walked away from the military, I smiled as I noticed again one of the many posters saying "no to inter-personal violence", which plaster the public noticeboards around Linton Camp.”

- Sande Ramage

Testing the tiger: Reflecting on military chaplaincy

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Special Privilege

Some events quite simply serve to put one’s life, with all its privileges and setbacks, into a more realistic perspective. Some people, though still young, brighten the lives of all those they encounter; without these people the world will be much poorer but, at the same time we can count it a real blessing that our paths have crossed.

Today, my younger step-daughter, Cathy, received the news from a friend (one who has been a friend, confidant, travelling companion right through from childhood) that the friend has been given 9 – 12 months to live. The friend, Kate, a remarkable and radiant young lady, is 28 years of age and, 21 weeks pregnant; it seems as if the pregnancy, and its accompanying hormonal imbalance, may have hastened the growth of a brainstem glioma.

It’s only a couple of years ago, after much humming and hawing by the medical profession, that a tumour was removed. In spite of the loss of peripheral vision, epileptic seizures, chronic migraines, Kate always has a ready warm smile for all whom she meets. Having been given the “all clear”, she was assured that the best course of action was to get on with life as normal and, yes, it would be alright to start a family. (The latter advice, in retrospect, seems to have been more than a little suspect).

Last year Cathy had the privilege of attending Kate’s wedding, when Kate married Luke, a young man from Essex she had met during her travels in Australia with Cathy. Cathy has always been determined that Kate would be her bridesmaid when she marries!

The news has been devastating to all of us and, as Cathy says, it’s impossible to imagine a world without Kate. Certainly the world will be much the poorer when the inevitable happens.

The only time we have is now
, and whilst our thoughts and prayers go out to and for Kate, her family and all her friends, we must always remember the privilege of sharing / having shared the same planet!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weakened Weekends and Travail Aids

Saturday evening is usually my major cooking time, when I prepare the meal for Sunday lunch-time, which usually also suffices for our needs on the Monday and, in variant form provides the main component of a further meal later in the week. This Saturday proved an exception, to the normal routine, as I was too achingly exhausted to attend to such matters.

Even Sunday morning found me too de-energised to make amends so, a frozen Sainsbury’s Chicken Tikka Masala for two served to fill the gap (admittedly it was more on the scale of an appetizer) accompanied by my specially prepared rice. As I usually prepare curries from scratch, this make do meal proved less than satisfying; it was rather like having a ketchup infused chip shop curry sauce with one or two thumbnail size pieces of meat (which could have almost passed for lumps in the gravy) by way of texture.

I’ll definitely try not to repeat this mistake but, I’m pleased I did not forego the BBQ on Saturday afternoon, held at a farmhouse on the Helperby Estate, the home of one of the doctors from the practice where Helen works. This minimal bit of socializing was the reason for my shattered-ness, and subsequent lack of culinary endeavour.

Apart from excellent company, and host provided musical entertainment, I also managed (with a little perseverance) to take some video footage of the House Martins paying fleeting visits to their eaves supported nests. In fact the video camera was frequently utilized in my attempt to catch the flavour of the occasion and, my SLR also came into its own for this purpose.


Having partaken of our (excuse for) a Sunday lunch we ventured out to the retailer who had supplied the RAC satnav, which I bought back in May for Helen’s birthday, highly dissatisfied with it’s very limited database and the temperamental software which made it nigh impossible to succesfully download and install an essential update.

The assistant manager initially argued that the model we had purchased was “fit for purpose” providing it could get you to a destination, regardless of the fact that several long established addresses were beyond the scope of its database; it seemed to me a bit like saying if you bought a car and it made one journey successfully, after which it broke down, it was fit for purpose as you’d been able to get in and drive for that one journey! Despite my initial frustration with this explanation, he did demonstrate alternative means of searching its limited database and proved most helpful in our quest. The store manager admitted to the limitations of this particular model (other than for finding a city centre) and, allowed us to do an upgrade exchange for a better equipped ‘Tom-Tom’ model; I’d sooner pay the extra for something which more satisfactorily fulfils its intended purpose. As an easily un-nerved and discomforted / disgruntled traveller, the ‘Help Me’ function of the new device, clearly demonstrated by the assistant manager, should prove a great boon!

Downloading recommended updates this morning proved a doddle!


On our return home, the contents of a pot of Fair-Trade filter coffee were eagerly consumed by ma belle et moi whilst sat beside the garden pond, a necessary pick-me-up! By this time I felt sufficiently energized to tackle a little maintenance work at the wildlife friendly end of the garden. Our hope and intention is that the whole of the garden is wildlife friendly but, I refer to the area of more rampant wildflower and shrub growth! I’m increasingly of the view that these “natural” areas of one’s estate take far more management than the cultivated ones! Ma belle busied herself tidying up elsewhere in the garden, managing to demonstrate her special gift for losing the implements which she has just been using on several occasions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mobile Double Dis-Service

From early next week all UK mobile numbers will be in a directory; anyone will be able to call you!

To unsubscribe before the beginning of next week go to: and click on 'Ex Directory' at top right hand side of page. A code will be texted to your mobile to enable you to go Ex-Directory.

Unfortunately if you go to the site at present the Service has been suspended: message reads -

"Service suspended whilst we make improvements

'The 118 800 service for mobile phone connections is currently
unavailable - from this website and by phone - whilst we undertake major
developments to our 'Beta Service' to improve the experience for our
customers. We'll be back as soon as possible with the new improved

All ex-directory requests made by people in our directory to date are
being processed. There will be no need to resend these requests. And we
will take further ex-directory requests when the service resumes. We
will not be taking ex-directory requests by phone or text whilst the
service is not operational.

Please do not call us on 118 800 for anything other than landline
directory enquiry requests as you will be charged for the call.

For other enquiries email us at or write to us at 118 800, PO Box 2747, Reading RG30 4ZQ

Sorry for any inconvenience caused."

I have tried e-mailing them at the contact address - in the hope that we can avoid yet another unwelcome dis-service.

As infrequent mobile users, strictly for emergencies, we are already subjected to unsolicited texts from 'Orange' our Service (?) Provider, I can only imagine the amount of "spam" we will be subjected to when the directory goes 'live'.

The Lightning Process Didn't Work For me

I really recommend this blog posting:

The Lightning Process Didn't Work For me

A refreshing account from a moderate ME sufferer of the methods employed by Lightning Process practitioners. Perhaps the process could help someone suffering from a depression related fatigue but not a real ME sufferer.

Prior to my current remission, as a moderate ME sufferer, my concentration span was frequently limited to a few minutes and, unless the room was darkened and a bed supplied for me to rest on, a few minutes of this positivity gobbledegook would have seen an immediate deterioration in my condition.

Negativity is not the cause of this neurological condition (M.E.) hence the whole premise of the process is invalid so far as ME is concerned.

Another Thread

A short posting, under the 'Commerce' category, A THREAD OF INCOMPETENCE, can be found on my 'Mals Murmurings' blog!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Scandal of Privacy

So now we have a hacking scandal; the mobile ‘phones of celebrities and politicians have evidently been hacked by private investigators employed by staff of ‘The News of The World’. I don’t understand what’s so outrageous when, here in North Yorkshire, on our own doorstep at Menwith Hill we have a government condoned American spy base allowed to intercept all forms of telecommunication.

An occupation force is evidently allowed much greater freedoms than the so-called free press.

On Parole

Over the course of the past few weeks, great steps forward have been achieved! What I would have considered minute shuffles, in pre-illness times, now seem like immense strides in terms of progress. Increased activity levels have been only moderately counterbalanced by achingly exhausted collapses; the all too familiar roller coaster experience has been transformed into little more than a kiddies replica of the real thing.

Perhaps the greatest advance was a walk into town, the first time I’ve been able to manage that in almost six years and, more importantly, being able to cope with all the audio-visual experiences a town centre throws at one. This comes in the wake of throwing off a chemical lifebelt of anti-depressants, which were supposedly easing my anxiety / panic attacks!

An early morning dose of tramadol hydrochloride (initially prescribed on a more intensive basis to cope with the pain caused by a herniated disc) serves to alleviate the muscular stiffness and spasms which have long been my faithful companions. As a result I have been able to manage more short walks, on top of carrying out various tasks in the garden and my regular culinary activities.

Somehow, the advent of my full pensionable status seems to have coincided with an upturn in my general sense of wellbeing. Perhaps part of it is the newly found freedom from guilt on my better days; the thought that I should attempt a return to gainful employment is no longer part of my agenda. The expectation that I could have done so was totally unrealistic on account of the unpredictability of this condition. Even the re-invigorated Malcolm is still subject to the whims of an achingly exhausted body and, it would be foolish to ignore the more insistent corporeal demands for rest (unless a sense of masochism longed for a painful relapse).

Meantime, I simply give thanks for being paroled from the ME – CFS prison.