Wednesday, 31 July 2013

SOTS Summer Meeting 2013

I promised SOTS members that there would be a blog post today, as long as nothing happened in the foothills of the Pennines to distract me; one has to allow for this possibility, as it seems that one such happening may have occurred in 1957, and here is a link to some information about it: The Wardle Incident of 1957 . However, this afternoon, so far so good, and I can only hope that anything exciting happens only this evening when I will be returning to my flat from Mother's at about 11 pm after watching the TV programme I have recommended about Thomas Heatherwick on BBC2 at 10pm. I have sat in one of his chairs in the V & A, and this is in itself an experience to be recommended: Heatherwick chair youtube . There is much more to Mr. Heatherwick than this, of course.

Oh dear, I will be accused of digressing, though I don't think I am, I am only expanding on a few things mentioned earlier.

We are fortunate in having James Patrick as hospitality secretary, and here he is in full flow directing operations. I'm sorry I chopped his hand off in this picture, but I will include the pic as it shows how he has
James, Eryl and David
readily, and rightly confidently, taken to his new role. Long before he was appointed, I privately thought he was just the man to take over from Elizabeth Harper - a hard act to follow - and I think my hunch has proved correct. I have a private idea about who would make a good president for 2017, our centenary year, but I will keep this very secret, though I am gaining confidence in my own ability to be quite a reasonable judge of these things. James is seen here with President Eryl Davies, and David Tollerton also of Bangor University, who gave a thought-provoking paper about the holocaust and OT theology. During this, I was reminded of something I heard recently from the lips of Trevor Dennis (who used to be a member of SOTS - a sad loss) that 'if we did not know that the OT had been written by Jews, we would say that it is anti-semitic', which seemed to me to sum up very concisely (and without my meaning to be at all flippant) some aspects of the issues involved. David's book on the subject is: David Tollerton, The Book of Job in Post-Holocaust Thought
John Barton

But this is supposed to be a collection of pictures, and already I have lapsed into becoming too talkative as usual, so without further ado I will try to provide only the minimum of blurb around the pictures.

Here is John Barton, alerting us to the existence of pithy ethical advice in the OT and what might be thought about its origin and more. John Goldingay paid us a rare and welcome visit, and we were glad of his thoughts on memory in the OT; always asking questions that
John Goldingay and Cloth Q
provoke discussion and a 'Hmmm' posture in his listeners, though behind him 'Cloth Q' (who allowed me to use his name for this blog) is standing up and looks as if he might be about to set off on his windsurfing board, but I am sure he is listening very intently, and saying things in his heart.

Summing up papers is not my strong point, and we await the abstracts in the next Bulletin with interest, and are pleased that SOTS members' papers are usually presenting a small part of an issue which the giver explores in much depth and detail in their published or yet-to-be-published work, and of course there were many more than I can mention here.

"Always carry a camera, always"
You may know that I gave a paper myself, or a cloth, 'But is it in the text Viv?...' about my way of using textile work to think through OT things. It never really did become a paper, although I did try before breakfast on the day to sit up in bed and write down a few of the thoughts I had had while preparing it in case I was attacked by 'Scared Rabbit Phenomenon' while delivering it, which is a bit of a risk in the case of an intentionally unscripted paper; but I was interrupted by the bleeping of the fire alarm in my room, and clearly I am not at my best before breakfast because I can now see the idiocy of the thoughts that went through my mind at that point. I had tried to tune into Radio 4 on my Walkman (this sounds such an old-fashioned device now, and I only bought it the other week mainly because of a buyer's recommendation on Amazon that it had proved a success with an elderly gardener neighbour), but seemed only to get Welsh language stations, and wondered whether twiddling the dials had created some lethal spark. Then I got out of bed and tried to stop the thing bleeping by wafting it with a wad of paper much as though I had burnt some toast at home, which of course failed to stop the noise. After a little while, I remembered that the idea of these things was to tell us that we were to exit the building asap, and so I did, but I forgot to take my camera with me (probably a good thing), thus going against the advice I gave in my
Brian Mastin and Chris Thomson
presentation (and followed at the time) which you can see on the screen in the pic of smiling members here. (Scared Rabbit Phenomenon did not seem affect me, probably because the fire alarm event put me in just the right mood for delivering a paper. Highly recommended; see James Patrick if you think it would help you in future.)

The outing was a great success, as it seems that an interest in the Bible often goes with an interest in steam trains; it's certainly almost de rigeur for Anglican clergymen to have such an interest, and it seems to extend further than this as the evidence from SOTS shows, and one or two of my pics show members fingers pointing at I-know-not-what parts of the machinery involved. So here are a couple of pics which seem to sum up some of the delights for us.

So I end with a pic of myself and my teddy bear 'Bear Aloft', who owes his name to the kindness of friends, especially SOTS friends, who have helped me get through some difficult times lately, for which many thanks, and I can assure you that I am on the up and soon to move into a little house where I am planning a garden (in tandem with a proposed textile effort) influenced by the Song of Songs. If you have any advice or thoughts to offer me about this, then please do send it to me at as usual. The idea came from the fact that the book is high in mentions of species of plants, and so I felt that its author was possibly a gardener (but certainly did not have a Sony Walkman) or knowledgeable about plants, as well as a writer.

I shall now flee to an evening at the nearby Littleborough Townswomen's Guild, and hope that this blog entry does not contain too many errors about anyone else's work. It was certainly a superb Meeting, and we look forward to many more, God willing as I say.
Bear Aloft with memsec Viv

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Looking after the castle

To my reader, if I have one... sorry I have been away for so long. Life has been a bit eventful, and I don't yet have internet access where I live, and this rather precludes sitting down writing in the usual manner from my couch or bed. I can get it on the stairs up to my flat, but in rainy weather that is not a good place to be sitting with a laptop.

So there isn't much new on this blog yet, but when I arrive in my new house, then hopefully I'll get back to writing, even write regularly on particular days! (But life isn't like that is it? So it will very likely be as sporadic as ever.)

My reader knows I like taking photographs when I am out and about, and perhaps this one above is the one I most love from recent days. It's of the good people of SOTS at the Summer Meeting in Bangor. It's about all I can manage to do just now, as getting to SOTS at all, with a 'paper' written (it never was 'written', but was carefully planned as a succession of images of and about my textile exegesis work; OK, 'written' like an icon is said to be then) was quite a challenge given that I have had more bedrooms in a single spring than I ever have done before except in 2010 while doing the camino to Santiago de Compostela, which can never be the same again, oh the horror of that recent terrible happening on the eve of St. James' day.
Mine's the one next to the fence

Just now I'm exhausted, yes really, in every way, and am trying to get through each day and achieve something; but my aims are modest, so it is 'get all the washing-up done', 'open the window and get rid of that musty smell', that kind of thing.

I have not forgotten my blog, or its reader, and I hope that there will be readers in the future, but really even that doesn't matter as I just write for the pleasure of it. "More anon" then!

I'm at my sister's just now for the internet access, and need to be trekking home soon. Tonight I will go to bed dreaming of what colour I'm going to paint the pebbledash exterior of my garage. That such a prospect brings me so much pleasure is perhaps the best thing about being me now. But a colour is more than a colour: it can evoke the British seaside, the Russian steppe, or the Spanish wharrever can't it, a chance to dream? (Only two of these are things you might want to do in this situation, I think, but wait - I give myself new ideas all the time, don't rule anything out!

No really, it is a gorgeous little house, (the back is actually a friendly place where all the gardens meet), and the current owners are going to live in a castle, as he is a handyman of high order and that's what he'll be doing there, looking after a castle. So I'm looking forward to looking after mine.
Home sweet home (soon I hope). I would like a proper wooden front door though.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Hidden Perspectives launch.

'Hidden Perspectives'.... in words from the Sheffield Dept of Biblical studies (because I can't begin to describe it myself):

"Posted on by | 1 Comment
…is a new project at Sheffield and the brainchild of Katie Edwards. It is so modern, it has a Facebook page. And there is a blog too which is run by Emily Foster-Brown. It is a ‘very pink’ blog. Here is the ‘About’ blurb:
Hidden Perspectives is a large-scale pioneering public engagement project that aims to open up interpretations of biblical narratives to underrepresented groups. The project is a jointly organised by Dr Katie Edwards at The University of Sheffield and LaDIYfest Sheffield.
Hidden Perspectives encourages inclusive discussion on dominant interpretations of biblical texts and narratives found in scholarship and mainstream culture. Working with groups and individuals from range of faith and non-faith backgrounds, this ambitious project aims to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity and diversity in which biblical texts can be interpreted.
In 2013 the project will focus on sexuality, gender and the Bible and intersecting issues relating to identity, diversity and representation."
Sheff bib studies blog

As it says above, it is so modern! Because of the involvement of SOTS members, it means I can say with confidence that 'SOTS' does not stand for 'Sounds Of The Sixties'.

So here are a few pics, some are my own, and some (the ones with me in) from the Hidden Perspectives blog, taken by the official photographer who attended the launch on April 11th. That was a thoroughly wonderful occasion which cheered me up enormously. Katie Edwards is clearly much loved by the many students who know her in Sheffield; she is a great ambassador for all things biblical, with public relations skills second to none. Chris Meredith is a talented young member whose PhD thesis on the Song of Songs will be published soon; those who heard his recent paper will know what an engaging speaker he is. There is to be a festival launch on 1st June, for which see:

The lovely Katie

Chris 'Song of Songs' Meredith with Memsec.

Chris again, slightly hidden too.

Sheffield Department of Biblical Studies.

Cheerful Memsec with empty glass (but it was re-filled).

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The things she took with her (1)

Oooh dearrr, I haven't been here in ages, so I might be my only reader unless I alert a few kind friends to my re-start. Things have changed, as friends know, and I'm in a new place on the SW Pennines.
New friends

The sheep here looked up and started to follow me in hopeful lines when I appeared with my stick, so I beat a hasty retreat as I didn't want their eager little faces to turn to diasppointment. In the distance is Watergrove Reservoir, and the hill is Brown Wardle which I mean to walk this week.

 I have quite a bit of time available for thinking now, and I've been mulling over the carload of things I brought with me. Just one carload had to be selected to last a few weeks and make it possible to work, so I went round each room identifying the things that I thought would serve some purpose in a new and reduced-size 'lair', which I call 'the Perch'. My hand reached for and packed two sewing machines and several books on Hebrew grammar and vocabulary, so this gave me  a good idea of what my 'body, mind, spirit' combination (thankyou, Waterstones etc!) was wanting to get on with. (As Qoheleth knows, the hand is a pretty good guide to the thing that really interests you if you find it hard to choose with your brain: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might..." Eccles. 9:10). Then there were a few little things that crept in because they were objects with a story attached to them, important stories. Take the collapsed-looking little object here; this looks like a shadow of its former self, as though it has had the stuffing knocked out of it, and of course it has (and it was stuffed with sheeps' wool collected from barbed-wire fences). It was once a pincushion, and not just any old pincushion, but one made out of the fabric that I used to make my
'going away dress' in 1976, when brides 'went away' and didn't collapse in a heap after far too long a day with two noisy parties behind them.

With hindsight, it might have seemed better not to make a pincushion out of the fabric, but then I don't believe in magic so I'm not seriously worried about that. The human mind, though, seems to find that it makes meaning to fit the material facts, and so having had to take the thing to pieces and remove the stuffing and all the needles that had disappeared into its insides, I have now turned my thoughts to what I can make out of it, since I never throw such things away. I made a new pincushion, a super-duper thing weighted down with a lead fishing weight so it doesn't knock off chair arms, and so this old one needs to be made into something else.

One saying that had stuck in my mind was that a marriage can be described as a container for a family, and mine certainly has been this; I'm sure marriages can be other things too, but this is a good start. So I thought that I must find some use for this little scrap of cloth, something that sums up the kind of hopeful thoughts that don't come easily at a time like this, and the words 'little house' come to mind, and of course I am now myself in a little house. So thought I might pad the sides of it, but leave it hollow for putting things in that need to be kept safe, and maybe not specify just now what I think will be put in it. I feel sure that it will contain something though, in the fulness of time, not meaning of course that time now is merely empty.

I've been greatly comforted in my "severe depression" as the doc* calls it (and thankyou, fluoxetine! "Prozac") by my own rendering of Psalm 88 (the gloomiest one) in the form of an 18th C-style tie-on pocket. It isn't at all evident from the pic here that the pocket has a soft velvet grey lining into which to slip the hand; it seemed to me when I made it that people in this state needed comfort, as they needed to linger in their gloom a little while until properly ready to leave it, and now I have found it to be true from experience. So perhaps the pincushion will become something new when the time is right. We people who sew things about the Bible and life know that it isn't a one-way process, but rather the slow process of sewing actually feeds in new thoughts to the interpretative enterprise. Thus, I am hoping that when I find the right thing to do with the deflated little ex-pincushion, that it will start me off on some new thoughts that will help us all in this rather sad state that obtains now.

*See  the good doc's own writing .

Sunday, 23 December 2012

...from the East Riding, on camels

This is the time of year when bishops do things like sleep under the stars on bales of hay in order to... in order to... well, they have their reasons, best expressed by themselves. I didn't intend to go down that path, (and I'm not a bishop nor likely to become one in my lifetime), but somehow ended up feeling I'd strayed in that direction when I set off for Hull on the bike during the current wet wet windy weather. The real reason I'd gone was because of that line beloved of nativity plays which goes something like 'And there came wise men from the East riding on camels*'. You only have to make the 'r' in 'riding' into 'R' to see the joke round here, so when it was rumoured that there might be wise men and real camels on the streets of Hull, I thought it an unmissable event, and somehow going over on the bus didn't seem to give the event the required solemnity (and my bike IS my 'cycle of prayer').

*I know, I know - the camels have somehow strayed from the book of Isaiah 60:6 into the nativity story.

Vanessa & Kier
I suppose I'd been unconsciously looking for a pilgrim route to fill some kind of void left by doing the camino to Santiago de Compostella in 2010, but little by little the road to Hull has somehow become that without trying. My trip over to see the drawings by Leonardo last Tuesday was quite eclipsed by the appearance of a star in a window in Gordon Street; several stars, all of them paper, and I had to go and take a pic of them. The makers, Vanessa and Kier, kindly came out to tell me , a complete stranger, how I could make my own, and I'll explain that fully in a separate blog entry. These originals are made from A4, and the miniature one in the jar above was made from little squares 4.5 cm across. 

This story could be very long, or very short, so since I am as tired as I got at the end of a real camino-day, I'd better make it short. I set off early on the day of the nativity performance, and was able to see the first camel unloaded onto the street outside Hull City Hall. By then I'd ridden 7 miles across from Barton, and was feeling a bit wet and soggy myself, and getting colder by the minute. Striding through BHS I sqeezed out the wet from my 'waterproof' gloves and was told off by the staff, at which point I realised I had made some kind of transition from looking like 'nice lady in discomfort' ("How can I help, madam?") to having a bit of a bag-lady look, and began to know just a little bit of how it might feel to be actually booted out as an undesirable. Didn't they know my hands were seizing up with wet and cold and I wanted to find a radiator to dry my gloves on? Of course, I was able to retreat to Cafe Nero and get a hot choc and bowl of porridge, so I didn't really get a taste of being in proper distress. (I was somewhat feather-bedded in my 'bale of hay'-type experience.)

Camel-stop for fish & chips
Anyway, waiting for this very special nativity play to begin, it was as though something had come and grabbed me when I felt a wave of camino-ness wash over me, and real tears started to flow as the an air of anticipation grew among the crowd, many of whom had had no idea that there was to be a major event staged in Hull that day. It was catching. It's best if you have a look at this: Nativity Live rather than me posting endless pics, though I can't resist the one of the moment when one of the camels decided it liked the smell of fish and chips, and poked its majestic head into the shop before being persuaded to carry on. Poor thing had only a couple of hours' standing outside in the rain to look forward to, so I congratulate the handlers on their powers of persuasion. But those stately creatures really made the day. (And see THIS! Surprise!)

I reconnected with that feeling of being part of a crowd - a rabble even - that can be so enjoyable, and we made our way along the narrow streets to Holy Trinity church, where the play continued in 'Bethlehem' after its start in 'Nazareth'. The church choir sang carols, punctuating the narrated story, and this perhaps was where there was disappointment - the crowd did not join in en masse; but this is why we need such a performance anyway, to re-ignite the faith in some way, to help them catch the excitement again. But why should they?

Oh look, I completely forgot to say that on the way over the bridge, there were these strange orange beads lining the path, 'just like the camino' with its yellow arrows. Did I pick any up? A few; and then on the way back, I scooped up great strings of them, since no-one else had: they had their chance! (Mind you I only met one person on the bridge in total today). A bit of a bio-hazard really, but somehow enchanting, and set me off thinking camino thoughts unexpectedly.

So 'at the end of the day' what came of it all?

Just one thing really; the day of the paper stars, I thought 'we are squandering the kindness of strangers'. There is so much goodness in people, that we have made a real mess of this world in organising it so that it isn't getting a proper outing. There's something wrong, many things, and don't expect me to list all of what it is - make your own list. One thing I'm really concerned about is how we don't share out work and its rewards fairly. I don't see that the move towards a more secular society is making anything any better. There was the sense that the world is crying out for some good news, and might the Christian gospel actually have something to say?
The journey back towards the Humber bridge was grey, grey, grey, wet, wet, wet; and the windows of the well-to-do houses in Hessle displayed their nicely-trimmed trees in a long and impressive line-up. I don't think I know what to make of any of it, yet; but I had to read T S Eliot's poem again: The Journey of the Magi and start all over again. I'd regretted leaving my star-in-a-jar at home, but somehow in the end it seemed right, and I was glad to come home to it. T'owd man was Jospeh-like and carpentering a ladder for a bunk bed in preparation for little people arriving, and I was tired and grumpy once the exhilaration of the ride had worn off. I'd called in at a big Sainsbury's where a seemingly alien people were indeed clutching their gods, but wasn't I clutching them too? ("Can you see if they have any DRY Madeira, love?)

Maybe I should end with a pic of a woman in the camel-gawping crowd; but she is turned the other way, and has just seen the young couple who are to play Mary and Joseph. She's got it, hasn't she?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

"Rowett does not flinch" + fruit loaf recipe

Are we what we are, or are we what other people make us make ourselves? A complicated-sounding question in need of unpacking, and unpacking is what I will soon be doing, as I have to go to London soon to retrieve my exhibits from Southwark cathedral refectory. It's been a great experience for me to have to work steadily for a year (and I did it without too many ridiculously late nights!) in order to mount the exhibition, including working out solutions to problems like how best to display the work, given it has to be portable, and how much explanation to provide so that the work doesn't just drop down a 'Can't see what she is getting at; oooh this chocolate cake is lovely!' hole (which it might have done anyway, since a 'refectory' setting could never be the most meditative space, unless it were a silent one in a monastery or whatever; see below).
Slightly disappointing colour reproduction though

 Putting work 'out there' for public viewing and getting reactions to it takes a certain amount of steeliness too. Its genre was initially produced with the full intention of the work staying in my hands, or perhaps held on opposite sides by me and someone interested in the text to which it refers, with the pieces being a way of helping some thoughts to bubble up from the depths of our minds on the text's possibilities. (I quickly scrubbed the word 'meaning' there, because 'possibilities' was much more what I wanted to say.)

So who was making me make myself into something other than what I am? It was the review in the Church Times wot did it. It's become a bit of a mantra with me, whatever the to-do list tells me to do, I now take the phrase from the review, 'Rowett does not flinch!' and am also happy that 'domesticated' and 'homely' are the adjectives combined with this phrase. (Yessss! At last it's OK for me to be these things, now we've arrived in this post-post-modern age! 1980s, you have nothing to lose but your shoulder-pads!) I see myself in my apron, with mouth set in a grim line as I sally forth to clean out the garage or whatever other task I have to do in the absence of a man to till the ground (though he's great at bringing me beer in the bath, which tendency I regard as a fair swap).

So this description of my ways is pleasing to me, and actually helps me get through the day! I might have been lily-livered before but now I see myself as another sees me, and the not-flinching aspect, which might have been hidden or even non-existing, is brought into play a bit more than it might have been; 'cos now I have the little saying, 'Rowett does not flinch' to reach for. So is it maybe making me flinch a lot less than I might have done, and thus is not merely a description of me, but also has an effect in shaping me? If the latter is true, then there is a great lesson there if you live with someone of whom you think 'It would be good if he were just a bit more......'

I know; t'owd man is going to be very suspicious if he reads this. 'Darling, you are SUCH a whizzo at polishing my shoes'. (OK, OK he does the beer bit, and sometimes there are mussels in their shells in white wine sauce, or some other bath-friendly snack with it too, yes, you're right, that ought to be enough).

And what of the 'domesticated and homely' aspect? Well I did make some cakes the other day, and here is the recipe, given to me by a good friend, and it is one handed down in her family, so is an old Lincolnshire one. The cake is sooooo good, t'owd man says it ought to be locked up.

Win's Nana's Fruit Loaf. 

1 1/2 lb SR flour
3/4 lb butter (add a pinch of salt if your butter is unsalted)
3/4 lb sugar
1 1/2 lb mixed dried fruit, inc. cherries if liked
1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
1/4 pt milk
6 eggs

Warm the milk and dissolve the golden syrup in it.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, like when making pastry.
Add sugar and dried fruit, then stir in the eggs, milk + golden syrup. Mix well.
Spread between 3 2lb loaf tins, greased or lined with paper cases.

Bake on gas 3/ 160C for half an hour on the centre shelf, then turn down to 150C for 1 hour.
(Keep testing with a skewer or cake thermometer - a great invention by the way; I found I didn't need to bake them for quite as long as this; it depends on individual ovens).

It's more crumbly than the Victoria sponge kind of cake, since it has a lot more flour, and the butter is rubbed in, not whisked with the sugar first. I also added a dash of almond essence, the genuine stuff, to the milk in mine, 'cos I like almond flavour. Win says it would be OK to replace some of the flour with ground almond too.

Serve buttered. Yummmmm!


And here is some of the text of that Church Times review, the bit that applied to my work, with my comments boldly in square brackets:

"Last year, Southwark Cathedral, where Bishop Lancelot Andrewes was buried in 1926, hosted an art competition to mark his work as one of the translators of the King James Bible in 1611, writes Nicholas Cranfield.  The competition was won by a photographer, a printmaker, and a "textile exegete" [I know, I know - quotation marks are necessary for this title I have invented for myself] (Features, 23 September 2011).  The same three artists [I'm flattered! I'm an artist now, after a lifetime of 'What do you do?' 'Er.... I'm not sure really... I stay at home and....'] have been invited back again this year and offered the unsatisfactory space [I'm glad he said this, as I thought I might just sound to be whinging when I said people couldn't get up close to them] of the refectory walls to display their latest work. The little exhibition, however, is a delight [I must hang onto this phrase, to encourage me when I need it], even though it was wholly ignored [I had noticed this too] when I visited...... Vivienne Rowett last year made a dress for Sarah [and Hagar as well]. Here she has picked "Lucy Locket lost her pocket" to inform her making of patchwork pockets [it's actually applique looking like patchwork] that deliberately copy earlier (18th-century) peg bags [Pegs! When did I mention pegs?!] or burses [surely a misprint for 'purses'; OK then so I'm wrong: burse]. Each contains the text of a psalm. "A pocket, like a psalm, can be made of well-loved old materials... both carrying memories and being a repository for new things, new meanings," we are told. Each is intended to tell us something about the psalm, and Rowett ["Rowett"! Love it! I've made it!] does not flinch [You know I love this too!] from trying [I tried very hard] to explore the hard sayings of Psalm 137 in a domesticated, homely way. Tony Kenyon is an illustrator. His work, which I found the most satisfying...... [Oh well then 2nd or 3rd prize for me here then]"


So has all of this made me a changed person? I'd better ask t'owd man. I plan to be more unflinching, more homely and domesticated, and to make to-do lists and ignore them and go off on my bike whenever I want to, especially to catch the sunset. Here's an idea for today: Leonardo in Hull , and for fuel for this project I think I'm going to make a porridge milk-shake for lunch, a delicacy I discovered in the Lake District. Just whizz up some left-over porridge with some milk and a dash of nutmeg, maple syrup.... whatever. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Outside is good

What's a girl to do the day after such an adrenalin rush as the start of an exhibition of one's year's work? Go to the woods of course, and start a new campaign. It was in defiance of the rules on adults not being allowed on the equipment that I went on this ride (and it was a day when children are at school); it seems to me that a) children are bigger these days b) we ought not to allow such ageism, and I hereby campaign for the setting up of adult adventure playgrounds; much better than gyms. Outside is good.  The Barton-upon-Humber youth centre has closed down, and with it, the indoor skateboarding park. I repeat, outside is good. When will we learn?

My manifesto for a better Britain would therefore include the building of adult adventure playgrounds, all free of course; slow food; bigger gardens; and the setting aside of a day when activities will  be scaled down, a quiet sort of day when we do sport rather than spectating it.

It's not a manifesto for turning the clock back, but for acting on the information that tells us that such moves would be good for us all. What's stopping us? Why aren't we doing the things we know would be good for us? I know, economics, economics, economics; but very short-sighted economics. It would be possible to do things differently. If we replaced the word 'the economy' with 'the church' every time the word was used to explain why something good could not happen, some beneficial change made, then we would very rightly be a despised institution.

And no, I didn't fall over off screen.