Rain, Rain, Go Away

There is really only one news story today. The Shire is surrounded by disaster areas. While we are not as badly affected here, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire have seen the worst flooding in at least 150 years – and it’s getting worse. The River Severn hasn’t just breached its banks. In places it is five or six times wider than it was last week.

Over 150,000 of homes are without water because the water treatment plant has been flooded. An electrical substation has been shut down, cutting off power to 43,000 homes. The military has been called in stop another substation from flooding, as it would cut off as many as a further 500,000 homes.

The eastern part of the the Shire has been similarly affected, with a pumping station flooded and water cut off since midday yesterday. There is more water coming down the Wye and the rain continues. The worst affected may be the soft fruit farmers, with the polytunnels flooded it could ruin the late summer crops. Parts of Hooterville that have never flooded in living memory have been covered with water. Even though we live much closer to the river, we have not been affected so far.

Forcing the Profane on the Holy

The local Anglican bishop was taken to an employment tribunal recently for turning down a gay man for a job as a youth worker.

Reaney was not denied the job because he is gay. Rather, the bishop made it clear to him during the interview that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would be turned down for the role. This seems to be a rather conservative view for Anglicans, especially in a diocese that has led the way in the ordination of women.

Nonetheless, the employment tribunal said Reaney was discriminated against “on the grounds of sexual orientation”. This has massive ramifications. First, it means churches must hire people whose sexual orientation they may believe is incompatable with a particular position. Second, it equates orientation with activity. This means church must hire people openly engaged in immoral behaviour (whether homosexual or heterosexual), even as youth workers. Third, this will logically and necessarily include those who have been hired while demonstrating good moral character but who susequently make different behavioural decisions. The Church in this country effectively has no way of preserving and living out its teachings about living holy lives.

Family History

It’s not the summer holidays yet, but Mrs H got a hold of information about all the things in the local area to do with kids for free. Today is archaeology day at the museum.

The kids got to dig through a sandbox looking for artefacts. They found bones and pottery shards and even a Roman coin. Abby then smoothed all the sand level and even, which had less to do with archaeology and more with the tidying up gene she didn’t inherent from me.

After the dig, we all made Roman wax tablets using Roman handwriting. They didn’t have wax, so we used plasticine instead.

Aidan wrote his name:

roman-tablets-003.jpg

I wrote in Latin. Can you read it?

roman-tablets-002.jpg

There were displays there about archaeological sites around the Shire. I noticed that they didn’t have anything up about the Rotherwas Ribbon. I suppose it’s best not to let the kids know about that. Don’t want to get their hopes up that they will ever see it, of course.

Likewise, I suppose they wouldn’t understand a display that said, “Here’s the dig at a site that was around 2,000 years before the Romans. Now, here’s what it will look like when it is covered over by a road.”

Rotherwas Ribbon E-Petition

If you are a UK citizen or resident, you can sign the 10 Downing Street E-Petition to save the Rotherwas Ribbon.

Go on then!

Summer Saturday

It was starting to look a lot like there would be no summer in Britain this year. The last time I was out on a bright and sunny Saturday, I was watching parachutists jump onto the fields outside Sainte-Mère-Église at the beginning of June.

I enjoy going to the city centre on sunny summer Saturdays. We used to always eat sandwiches out in front of Marks and Spencer until Subway arrived and then that became a tradition for awhile. Today we ate at Subway again.

In WH Smith I found the sequel to the book I’m reading. I almost bought it since I haven’t been able to find it at Tesco, but I decided to look on Amazon. I can get the hardcover for £5.15 (including postage) or the paperback for £5.14. That’s nearly £2 cheaper than in the store and I don’t have to go back into town to get it.

After we got back from visiting friends in a nearby village, and the kids had their dinner, bath, and were off to bed, I sat outside in the waning sunlight to read more of my book. I looked up from time to time to see over the river to the cathedral, where the scaffolding has finally been removed. The newly cleaned spires on the four corners of the tower glowed in the evening light. Groups of teenagers sat on the playing fields and a dad was kicking the ball around with a couple of boys who would be too old for that sort of thing too soon.

There are worse places in the world.

I tried not to look at the chain linked fencing that cuts across the ancient meadow, blocking off a large portion occupied on the weekdays by workmen as they prepare to destroy the beauty with unnecessary flood defences. But Asda gave them money build concrete walls and huge earthen mounds to push the water downstream into the houses that have never flooded before and that’s what they are going to do. This is probably the last summer I’ll have the view that came with my mortgage.

Summer or not, being Britain after sunset, the chill in the air got me before the light faded. I found my bookmark and put Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862 on hold. Now that I’ve made a cheesecake (from a box, of course) and I’m waiting for that to set, I’ll get back to the story.

I’ll pick up from the line: “I’ll stay sober, sir, I promise,” for he had a whore to bury and general to see.

One day I’ll write stuff like that.

More on Rotherwas

Apologies to anyone who commented on or linked to yesterday’s post about the Rotherwas Ribbon. It was rather hastily deleted rather than edited, as my tagline says, I don’t change things nisi sponsa dissentit.

I can still update things and whilst not mentioning some sensitive things, there is more information in the public domain. As usual we find the local council talking out of both sides of their mouth.

They had announced that there would be special viewing today of the heretofore secret location, but it would limited to 200 people. This was in the local paper which comes out on the Thursday, but which we didn’t get until Friday. By then all the tickets were gone.

Despite news of the Rotherwas Ribbon even reaching my parents’ local newspaper, they have tried to keep this extraordinary discovery very low key. They have been determined not to let this stand in the way of the Rotherwas relief road, a £12 million spur to the local industrial estate that has been built against the wishes of, and without any funding from, central government. The council are already being sued in the High Court because they are building through one of the villages.

Our local paper carried the full front page headline “Rotherwas find as old as Stonehenge – but . . . The road will go on”. The county archaeologist, who clearly knows who writes his cheque supported the covering it over with sand and a membrane before the tarmac is poured and hundreds of heavy goods vehicles drive over it daily for the foreseeable future. The person who just days ago said this was an extraordinary find unique in all of Europe modified his views saying, “We live on a crowded island, with and extraordinarily rich and lengthy history and the landscape is littered with these remains, but we cannot move everything around to avoid them.”

English Heritage, who advise the Government on scheduling monuments, are to view the site Monday. I have no doubt the local council will be with them every step of the way, lobbying against it.

Last night, the Council issued a press release indicating that due to public pressure they will be allowing for more viewings, to be booked through a special hotline number that will be announced next week. They are still determined, however, to “preserve” it in such a way that nobody alive today will be able to see it again.

It is true that the Rotherwas Ribbon might not have been discovered but for the relief road construction. However, the Council have have been just a little disingenuous about the value of their “preservation” plan: “In many ways we’re lucky to discover this before the bulldozers moved in – it was not far below the surface and had we not uncovered it as part of the archaeological work associated with the new access road, the strong possibility is that at least part of it might have been destroyed through ongoing farming practices.” The farming practices have been ongoing for just about all of the several thousand years this thing has previously been covered.

What is also clear now is that the original 60 metres uncovered is only an indeterminate portion of the overall serpent. At least 75 metres has been uncovered extending beyond the original roadway area and there is no indication of where it might end on either side.

There is now a website for the local campaign to properly save the this ancient landmark.

Destroying the Past

When I saw it on the news tonight I couldn’t believe it.

Excavation in the Shire have revealed an archaeological find of significance that can only be compared with Stonehenge, similarly dating from the early Bronze Age. It is unique in Europe. According to the county archaeologist, “It is of international significance.”

You would think it is the next great tourist attraction. Surely it is the stuff of brown road signs and interpretive centres. If all the pseudo-druids go to the Henge for the solstice, surely they would visit the Rotherwas Ribbon at the equinox. Ching ching chingaling go the tills with tourist pounds.

Well, no. It’s being covered over. With a road. Yes, that’s right. An archaeological find of international significance is being tarmacked. They’ll take a few pictures first, but history cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

Putting Beliefs into Action

“We were shopping in Tescos, right, and these foreigners, right, got the last Cokes and put ’em in their trolley. My mum, right, took ’em out of their trolley and put ’em in ours. Why should they get everything? It should be English people first and then foreigners can have whatever’s left.”

There was not a single voice of disapproval in the classroom this morning, other than my own.

The Truth About Migrant Workers

For all of it’s wonderful rural positives, the Shire is a very ethnist (what the papers and the Government would erroneous call “racist”) place. Whenever the subject arises in lessons (and it often does, even when we are not particularly studying racism) large numbers of pupils have been programmed from home to say nasty things about migrant workers.

The other day, one of them said, “My dad said we shouldn’t buy local produce, because that just brings in more illegal immigrants.” When I said, “What illegal immigrants?” She didn’t know what to say. I noted that the Russians and Urkrainians work here under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and the Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks are free to live and work here like any citizen of any EU country. In fact, because they are from the new A8 countries, they have to work. The French, Spaniards, Germans, and Belgians can show up and loaf about if they want, yet still enjoy all the benefits of the socialist state.

A 2005 study showed that the per capita revenue to the Government generated by immigrants (£7,203) was higher than that for the UK born (£6,861). The study went on to show that government expenditure per capita on immigrants was lower (£7,277) than for the UK born (£7,753). So the pay more taxes and they use fewer services.

According to the Treasury, whilst foreign-born migrants make up 8% of the population, they generate 10% of our Gross Domestic Product. So they produce more that’s worth more. Where exactly is the problem?

They have substantially lowered the age profile in the Shire and in the country, because most migrants are between the ages of 18 and 34. This means there are more workers to pays the taxes that pay the pensions of all the UK born over 34s who will soon become over 65s.

If you go into the Hooterville city centre, you here lots of Russian, Polish, and various other Slavic-sounding languages. Why? Because they are spending money. They are investing in the local economy (or the economy of Tesco, M&S, Woolworths, and other national chains).

People complain because they nick stuff from shops. All the shops have shoplifting warning signs in multiple languages. A third of the shoplifting is reported to be by Eastern Europeans. This means that two-thirds is by UK born people. Of the proportion of prime shoplifting-aged people, this is probably fairly representative of the population. The difference is that of they are Russians or Ukrainians they can be deported. We’re stuck with the locally bred riff raff.

But despite all the positives migrant workers have brought to the community, you don’t have to ask around very much to find plenty of people more than happy to slag them off.

Singing, Sermons, and Saints

We had liturgy this morning. It was the bi-monthly visit from the priest (and a number of parishioners) from the Greek church in the adjoining shire.

Our family was a bit late, because Aidan had a mid-morning swimming lesson that had already be paid for before we remember that it was the appointed day for the service. I missed the chance to read the Epistle. We got there about just before the Great Entrance.

We had quite a crowd by our standards. Twenty-five that can definitely remember, fit into a very tiny space. We were packed in like sardines in the little oratory chapel kindly loaned to us by the local Catholic abbey.

Unprompted Abigail sang “Christ is Risen from the Dead” all the way from the house to the abbey. Non-stop. Over and over. Christ is risen from the dead / trampling down death by death / and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. We sing it three times before our meals and in place of “Oh Heavenly King” at bedtime prayers from Easter to Pentecost, so she hears it a lot. She sings it around the house all the time. When we sang it at the end of the Liturgy, she was disappointed that we only did it once. She tried to start singing it again until she noticed that no one else had joined in.

I just wish she had been a little more settled during the sermon as Fr Stephen spoke about “trampling down death by death” so I could have paid attention to the whole thing. He made an excellent observation about Christ as the new Adam, explaining that when Mary Magdalene saw Him immediately after the Resurrection she correctly identified Him as the gardener.

After the service I was also commissioned to assist in coming up with the name of our new community that is emerging. I have made a good case for the most important saint in the history of the Shire, St Dyfrig. As one of the founders of Christianity in the area and as a teacher and father to 2,000 missionaries sent to evangelise that part of this island that would eventually be called Wales, I am confident in his desire to intercede on our behalf. We’ll see how it all works out.

As this group will be affiliated with the Archdiocese of Thyateira, it is apparently customary to also attach a Greek patron. I’m not familiar with a lot of Greek saints, but I’m happy enough if one wants to tag along. We can use all the help we can get.

Anti-climax

I just find it hard to get exicted about the election results across the country. Here in the Shire, there were some welcomed wins and losses, but our joy is based on local issues and not on party affiliation.

The Tories gained control with 32 out of 58 seats, but it’s never been a fight with Labour here. We are one of the battlegrounds between the Tories and the Lib-Dems. Lib-Dem losses meant the Tories no longer have to coalition with Independents. We are represented by the only two Labour councillors in the county. Before last night there were four.

Everyone was a expecting a Labour meltdown across the country. Though I wasn’t particularly excited at the prospect of a Tory landslide, I did want to see Labour lose. In most places, the Labour losses were not terribly significant. In the Welsh Assembly, they lost four seats, with leftwing Plaid Cymru gaining three of those and the Tories one.

In Scotand, the SNP, which was just a fringe party not too many years ago, gained the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament. But don’t expect Scotland to declare independence just yet. The Nationalists have one more seat than Labour, but no majority. Labour have run Scotland in coalition with the Lib-Dems. The SNP have no natural coalition partners. They may very well find themselves a plurality party in Opposition. We won’t know for a few days.

We will never know what the Scottish electorate wanted. 100,000 votes were lost due to either invalid ballots because people didn’t understand how many boxes they could tick in a complicated multi-tiered system or because the electronic voting machines experienced major failures in their first outing.

In other parts of the country the electorate simply didn’t want anything. In our ward, less than 20% over the registered voters cast a ballot. People just couldn’t be bothered.

They probably realise that for the most part, even with a few more Conservative councils, it will be political business as usual.

St Cawdraf

Today is the feast of the Right-believing Cawdraf of Fferreg. His kingdom included part of this Shire, though he appears to have exerted influence perhaps as far north as the Severn.

He was a probably a contemporary of our family patron, the greatest of all our Fathers among the Welsh saints, Dyfrig. He was the son of King Caradog.

Cawdraf was a holy man who eventually had enough of ruling his band of Celts and retired to a monastery, most likely under the direction of St Illtud.

Troparion of St Cawrdaf Tone 8
O Father Cawrdaf, spurning the transitory glory of temporal power,
thou didst flee from the world to serve God in monastic seclusion.
Wherefore, O righteous one, pray that we, following thy example by serving God rather than self,
may be found worthy of eternal salvation.

Surprise Inside

I found this in the local paper this week. It’s too bad for the man that it didn’t happen in the US. If this had happened in one of their Wal-mart stores, the home office in Bentonville might have been a bit more concerned and lawyers would have been scrambled to arrange a pay-off.

A Hooterville man claims to have found a sandwich filling with a difference when his mother cut open a bun brought from the new Asda store in Hooterville.

Liam Bunce, aged 26, of Hinton Avenue, says that when the bun, which had been bought from the store a few days earlier and frozen, was cut a bloodied blue plaster was found inside.

He took it back and says he was given another pack of buns and a £2 gift voucher.

But he added: “I shall not be buying any bakery products from the store again.”

Rebecca Liburd, from Asda, said: “We take our food safety and hygiene very seriously and we have strict procedures in place at our store.

“Anyone wearing a blue plaster would have to wear plastic gloves.”

She added: “We are at a loss to explain how this could have happened and are in the process of completing a full investigation.”

I’m curious about Asda policy on this. Do they not have to wear gloves if the plaster is a different colour?