Did you ever watch the 1960’s BBC crime drama Maigret? Created by Georges Simenon, the pipe smoking Chief Inspector Jules Maigret is one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. From Montmartre to the remote French countryside, in 12 episodes, shot in black and white, Maigret encounters the dark side of the human psyche. Yet, somehow he manages to maintain both compassion and a sense of humour as he explores the complex motives that lie behind every crime. The popular 1960’s series with Rupert Davies as Inspector Maigret, was adapted once again in 1992 with Michael Gambon in the lead role. More recently the drama was adapted a third time in 2016. What made the new series stand out from previous ones, however, was the choice of lead character. The role of Maigret was played by Rowan Atkinson. Rowan portrayed Maigret very well indeed, but I kept expecting him to turn to the camera, open his eyes wide and grin like Mr Bean. That is the challenge for an actor portraying a serious role when he is already associated with a very funny one. Rowan is in fact a very good hypocrite.Continue reading
Are you old enough to remember life before Sat Nav? Remember when you relied on using a road map lying precariously on the passenger seat beside you. If you were like me, you got lost frequently. Now you simply type in a postcode or a road name on your phone or sat nav and you’ll be guided all the way to your destination. But do you know how GPS works? You turn it on and type in the post code. No, that is not what I mean.
The Global Positioning System(GPS) is a constellation of 30+ Earth-orbiting satellites. Weighing around 3,000 to 4,000 pound each solar-powered satellite circles the globe at about 12,000 miles (19,300 km), making two complete rotations every day. The orbits are arranged so that at anytime, anywhere on earth, there are at least four satellites “visible” in the sky. Your GPS receiver in your sat nav locates four or more of these satellites, figure out the distance to each, and uses this information to deduce its own location. This operation is based on a simple mathematical principle called trilateration. In order to make this simple calculation, then, the Sat Nav or GPS receiver has to know two things: The location of at least three satellites above you and the distance between you and each of those satellites.Continue reading
One of the most memorable scenes in Palestine is the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. This road cuts a giant gash through the Judean Wilderness. The hillsides are covered with open fields, bare, dry and parched, dotted with herds of sheep and goats, and lonely shepherds leading their flocks. As the road descends with dozens of hairpin bends from 1000 feet above sea level to nearly 1000 feet below you catch a glimpse of many Bedouin encampments just off the main road on the hill sides.Continue reading
Its confession time. I didn’t mean to do it. I know I should not have done it. Every week I carefully avoid looking but this Friday I did. I don’t know what possessed me. I put it down to mid-life crisis. My eyes just wandered and there it was, the most enticing, the most tantalizing, the most tempting job offer I have ever read in the Church of England Newspaper.
“It’s True Adelaide is a great place… No doubt you’ve read about Adelaide’s fine weather, fine beaches, fine food and fine wine. Its all true! South Australia wants people who see their future in its progressive climate. The archbishop of Adelaide welcomes enquiries from clergy wishing to minister in parishes and schools. Find out more about South Australia at www.southaustralia.com. Send your expressions of interest to…” and then it gave the address.Continue reading
“To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!” I’m sure you know these are the opening lines from the iconic TV series Star Trek. At the beginning of every episode, Captain James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise says “Space: The final frontier”
Most of us will never get to test that frontier but there is another frontier we all face with a 100% certainty. Death is usually the last thing we want to talk about and yet it comes to us all, sometimes prematurely. And too many people are ill-prepared. When a loved one in mid-life is diagnosed with inoperable cancer, your world is turned upside down. Your faith is tested. Your priorities and hopes for the future are changed, instantly, radically, irrevocably. And so by the way does your circle of friends. Invariably it gets smaller, but I’m thankful for those who have stuck with us over the past five years, who have encouraged us to persevere.Continue reading
This week we celebrated International Women’s Day. The same day the UK government announced they would be funding more football sessions in schools for girls to improve gender equality in sport. I remember when our daughter wanted to play football at school she found it difficult to get picked for the team. The assumption then was that boys played football, while girls played netball.
But as you know sexism on the playing field is tame compared to the gender discrimination women face in career opportunities, in promotion prospects, in pay differentials, in the stereotype roles expected of men and women, even within such a liberated and enlightened society as ours.
One female executive put it like this, “To get anywhere in the corporate world a woman has to do the same work a man would do in the same job, but she must do it twice as well.” Then she added, “Fortunately, that is not difficult.” Another said, “We deserve more pay than men. After all, anything Fred Astaire could do, Ginger Rogers could do backwards and on high heels.”Continue reading
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…” (Genesis 1:2). That pretty much sums up the news this week doesn’t it? Formless, empty and with lots of darkness. Although we are two weeks away from the end of European Summer Time, it seems the sun went away a long time ago. The nights are drawing in and the days shorter. But its not shorter days that has made this week seem particularly dark. Robert Peston, the BBC’s business analyst summed up the decision of the government on Wednesday to invest a cool £500 billion in the UK banking sector, with the understated heading, “Armageddon Avoided”.
In his words, “there’s been a co-ordinated global attempt to prop up the financial system and save individual economies from a deep dark recession.” It will take a while before we know whether we have avoided a ‘deep dark recession’ or just a short grey one. £500 billion is a lot of money. Considerably more than even the US government has provided for its own banking sector. On Wednesday, the US treasury secretary Henry Paulson warned that some US banks will still fail despite the $700bn government rescue package to shore up the financial system. Talking to some of you who work in the City, it seems there will be a few more sleepless nights ahead. What I find surprising is how few analysts predicted the global impact of the failure of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. One might say, in the words of Genesis 1:2, “darkness was over the surface of the…” city. But the verse goes on to say, “…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3). It was on a similarly dark day that Jesus stood up in the Temple in Jerusalem and cried out, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).