Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year

Many years ago when he was a child I told my eldest son that if the day came that he could beat me in a 100 meters race, I would concede that I am old. We talked together today about the comment as we kicked a rugby ball together on Cilfynydd RFC's pitch.

The years have put on too much weight on me and I now have a slightly doggy hip after bouncing badly on a child's trampoline a couple of years ago. That will teach me.

I live in the hope however that if I could lose a couple of stone and run some more I could at least take him on.

I'm just looking forward to yet another year and hope that 2008 will be a happy year. Happy new year everyone!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Gwaelod y Garth

Today was really relaxing and it was good to take the service in Gwaelod y Garth Chapel. I looked forward to the new year through the eyes of the Transfiguration.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

I am Legend

Tonight, I went to see "I am Legend", the latest Will Smith film. It was very good and kept me captivated. The dog was very good.

It all sort of made up for Manchester United losing and Arsenal winning. Such is life!

Benazir Bhutto

The most significant event over the past three days was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. She was murdered while campaigning last Thursday.

My thoughts and prayers are not only with her family and her country but with many Welsh people who have their roots in Pakistan. They are troubled.

I have also been troubled by a computer bug called Junk-NavQuar. I have just installed Norton 360 to deal with it. I won't tell you what I would like to do with people who design such things. It isn't very Christian and I do have to forgive.

The other great highlight for me over the past three days was seeing Manchester United going to the top of the premiership again. That's where we belong!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Explosive Christmas

Late last night my youngest son called to say he had run out of petrol on the way home. Poor thing isn't very well. I've only done that once and as sins of omission go it's OK.

Just outside Pontypridd I found a garage that could fill my little can of mercy with petrol. Everything was OK and everyone got home safely for Christmas.

I smelt a bit of petrol though and on reflection it probably wasn't a good idea to light all the votive candles in church before the Christmas Eve service.

Today however - now that I have arrived safely - is all about getting up late, family, eating and sleeping and finding something else to do when the Queen's on TV. It's just a family ritual that goes back a long way in Trawsfynydd!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

All the children in our street are getting excited and so am I.

This morning, I went to act as Santa Clause and delivered some presents to my friends in Crickhowell. That was fun.

At lunchtime the BBC wanted a piece on the two young men from Pakistan with a family in Swansea who were claiming asylum. The interview on Radio Cymru's Taro'r Post went well. At the time of the interview the two young men were waiting to be deported from Heathrow because of difficulties concerning their visas.

They were granted a short reprieve shortly afterwards. That's good for Christmas Eve.

Tonight, I'll be celebrating the Eucharist in Pontypridd. That's also good for Christmas Eve.

Sunday, 23 December 2007


It was a real joy just to be able to go to church for communion today in Saint Catherine's Church, Pontypridd.

They all forgive me for being a prodigal son. I have promised to be there a little more next year.

We went to sing carols with two other churches in Pontypridd market. Christmas has now really begun for me - that is the bit I love most.

I thought a great deal this morning about forgiveness - the theme of the day. I'm not very good at it but I ask for grace every day.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

What's the Difference?

Today was very much a family day. My sister came down with her husband Rhodri to pick up Awen from Cardiff. It was good to see them all.

The day started with a quick visit to the BBC to do a Welsh language message for Christmas on Radio Cymru. I asked people to respect difference. Uniformity isn't the answer to the world's challenges - its plurality!

The answer to someone telling a suicide bomber that there is no other option is - please dare to think of more than one idea and to offer every question more than one answer.

Friday, 21 December 2007

The Teddy Bear

Just before doing a piece on being kind at Christmas on BBC Radio Wales' Richard Evans Show I was introduced to a teddy bear with a robust laugh.

I was encouraged by its former owner to tickle it's right foot. Apparently, in the middle of all the laughter the bear uttered a word it shouldn't have. Richard asked me on air if I had heard the 'F' word. I hadn't the first time round!

It just goes to show. It's not what you say that matters but how you hear it.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Christmas Party

The office Christmas party was a pleasant experience. We don't go wild in our place of work.

It was just good to be amongst friends. I pray for all my colleagues.

I also met up with Leona and Themba from DPIA. They are very special friends. I pray for them too and the countries they come from.

All in all this day was a blessing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Its' OK to Call Christmas: Christmas!

I really enjoyed this morning at the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay talking through the possibility of producing the Welsh Bible in braille. I really hope it comes about.

I got called in to the BBC's Good Evening Wales tonight to talk about the Bishop of Saint David's comments on how being PC has deprived us all of Christmas. I was pitched against a gentleman from the Secular Society. He was OK and I agreed with some of the things he said.

I just wish people would stop blaming other faith groups for changing our Christmas. It just isn't so. The problem rests with people who have had the needle of their old records stuck in the early sixties where equalities are concerned. They haven't moved on in the diversity world.

It's not OK to use language to abuse people because of their gender, race, faith, disability, sexual orientation or age but it's blooming OK to call Christmas: Christmas!

Just put Winter Festivals in the bin. Who wants to celebrate being cold, dark and miserable?

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I Like Herod

I cleared a lot of stuff at the office today and suffered a bout of pre-Christmas depression. Perhaps the grumpy old man is beginning to be more strident in me.

This week,I made the mistake of telling someone in the Children's Commissioner's Office that I like Herod. He's my favourite character in the nativity story. Probably that wasn't a good idea.

Coincidentally, somebody from the Western Mail rang for a quote about what the new Commissioner for older people should do. I don't know why he asked me - I'm only 52.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Sunday..Monday..Rowan Williams...

I cooked on Sunday and went to Saint Margaret's Church Roath for the Lord Mayor of Cardiff's Carol service. I really enjoyed it and got a chance to put on my brand new overcoat. It's warm.

On Monday I went to the office before being interviewed by Gwilym Owen of BBC Radio Cymru about faith in Wales during 2007. He's a robust journalist.

He once wrote in his corner piece in a Welsh magazine that I was like an ostrich with my head in the sand with my back side farting in the wind. For some reason I remember the quote. At least one part of my anatomy was in the right place!!!

I went to London then for the launch of Communities and Local Government's own interfaith consultation "Face too Face and Side by Side". They forgot about Wales and Scotland and pretended once again that England is Britain.

It was really good to talk, however briefly, with Rowan Williams again. We just got to wish each other a Nadolig Llawen (Happy Christmas). I continue to pray for him.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

X Factor

Congratulations Leon but I really wanted Rhydian to win. I think he should have as well.

I enjoyed the BBC Carol Service in Saint David's Hall, Cardiff in the morning.

Friday, 14 December 2007

BBC and

I had to get up early this morning to do a piece for BBC Radio Cymru on destitute asylum seekers and do a short clip for the evening news Newyddion at lunchtime.

It went well and it was good to see my friend Anna from the Welsh Refugee Council doing the English language side of things in the morning.

My friend Arfon asked me on Facebook to read two chapters of the Bible on I chose Luke 1-2. Guess why?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

More to Life

Today was all about staff meetings, budgets and catching up with emails and phone calls. There must be more to life!

I am so looking forward to Christmas.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Keith Towler

It was announced today that Keith Towler from Save the Children would be the new Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Well done Keith and many congratulations.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

I Had a Dream

Last night, because I went to sleep afraid that I would not wake up at 5.00 a.m. in time to do the morning papers for Good Morning Wales for the BBC, I had a really strange nightmare.

I dreamt that I had woken up too late to go to Llandaff to do the papers.

It took me ages to wake up from the nightmare that I had already woken up in. Thank God for alarms on mobile phones I say!!!

Doing the papers with Bethan and Rhun is always fun and I had a good day with some friends and colleagues to follow.

All in all - waking up is better than dreaming.

I was once asked if I dreamt in Welsh. No, I just have nightmares in English! I certainly did last night.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Race Equality First

Being asked to chair Race Equality First's conference on "Economic Migrants - Responding to Local Needs" in County Hall, Cardiff was brilliant.

All the speakers were good but some were really good. It was noted that migrants help the economy, fill gaps in the employment market and create jobs. We also discussed some of the problems and perceived problems.

I was very impressed with the contribution of Chris Burns from Carmarthenshire County Council. His local authority have done some brilliant work in monitoring developments in places such as Llanelli and Carmarthen.

Today made me more aware of some challenges. It made me more aware of how good Wales can be where it comes to migrants. Well done Wales!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Being Tired

I will probably never learn. Today was one of my first free Sundays for several weeks.

I spent it doing a work report. Tomorrow I'll be starting another week tired.

It's not good and I'm once again reminded of the good warning a doctor once gave me - "You are generally OK from the neck downwards." That was kind of him.

I was really thrilled, being a Manchester United fan, that Arsenal lost.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Rhydian Day

I used today to write a report for work, go to Tesco's with my wife and to vote for Rhydian on the X Factor. I'm pleased he got through but didn't want to see Niki get thrown out.

The strange guy, John Darwin, who everyone thought had died five years ago was charged by the police today. I really feel sorry for him. I couldn't go for five years without being noticed. That would be really hard.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Jesse James

I went to see the latest Jesse James film. The last ten minutes was really good but it took a long, long time to get there...

Thursday, 6 December 2007

BBC Reception

At work, today was just a grinding email driven slog. It had to be done and I needed a break afterwards. What did people do before emails? They used to have things called lives!

Going to the BBC's Christmas reception was nice at the end of a busy admin day.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

My Bug

I felt ill during work on Monday. I vomited for the world on Tuesday and I'm getting better now.

No one needs to know any more. Information overload and all that......

Sunday, 2 December 2007


It was a rude awakening. All I could hear was water pouring.

This morning, the whole of the back garden was flooded. The water absolutely poured into the garden and almost reached the level of our kitchen door. That would have been serious bad news. I don't think I have ever seen so much rain.

It was at that stage that my genius of a neighbour got the idea that I should lift the cover off our manhole. It did the trick. It was like seeing the plug being taken off a giant sink.

I preached locally in the morning and went all the way to Rock Baptist Church near Llandrindod Wells in the evening. I was the guest speaker at their joint Advent service. God has a sense of humour!

Oh yes. Just one more little thing. Putin won the Russian election in a landslide.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

World Aids Day

After spending most of Friday doing tedious office work from home, today was a pleasant change. I attended a deeply moving event in Cardiff.

This afternoon's World Aids Day service at the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay was indeed deeply moving. Christian Aid had done the churches proud. It was very well led by Aled Pickard and his colleagues.

All the speakers, readers and contributors were on form: Rosemary Butler AM; Jack Davies; Wyn Davies; Geraint Lewis; Fatima Koshokova; Monica Mills; J.P.Heath (video) and Sue - a HIV positive person. She was heard!

Dafydd Frayling from Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru spoke eloquently both in English and Welsh. His words had a deep effect on me.

It was just a personal thing for me this afternoon. Dafydd's contribution had the greatest effect on me simply because he reminded everyone, and me in particular, how appallingly some early HIV victims were treated during the eighties in north Wales. I was there and caught some of the early irrational fear. I remember one of the lay preachers in my own church describing AIDS as God's punishment on homosexuals. He said so from my church's pulpit.

If that were ever the case with God, I dread to think what sort of illness he has in store for a sinner such as me. God isn't like that - thank God!. It was significant today that the biblical interpretations had changed so much with a clear and piercing reading of Matthew 25: 31-46: "I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

I didn't know before that Terrence Higgins had Welsh roots. I know now! Thanks Dafydd and every blessing with your good work.

Thursday, 29 November 2007


Returning to Trawsfynydd was sad today. I went home to bury my cousin, Glyn. I gave the eulogy

He was very much a local man and very much an old soldier. Some of his old friends came to the funeral today. That was good. Years ago he had served in places such as Aden. He knew something about Muslims that he never shared with people like me.

I noticed that a lot of the old 'paras' now used sticks to help them walk. Perhaps jumping out of aeroplanes isn't a good idea after all.

I had meant to go straight home but had to go to Coleg y Bala to do a piece for tonight's Welsh News, Newyddion. At four o'clock I did a clip on the case of the poor teacher from Liverpool who had called a teddy 'Mohamed'. Its wasn't really wise to do that in Sudan of all places.

I was horrified to hear later on in the day that she would be imprisoned for fifteen days for it. That's bad but that awful Sudanese government is doing far worse things than that to millions of Muslims in Darfur!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Human Resources or Personnel

Today was a really heavy day at work. We had our Human Resources Committee. I couldn't remember whether it was a personnel or human resouces committeee. I played safe and put both down.

In the afternoon, we had a really good interfaith meeting with some key stakeholders. Nigel and Alan from Swansea are taking this line of work on apace.

For that, I am really grateful for the good work of colleagues. I think that we have good days ahead of us.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Efail Isaf, Bishops and Lambeth Palace

Sunday was great. I always enjoy preaching in Efail Isaf. The church was almost full and the sermon on Daniel in the lion's den came in handy.

Monday was a day full of visiting Cytun church leaders especially the Archbishop of Wales and the Vicar General.

Before going home I had a tricky refugee issue to handle. The dividing line between being effective and enabling is sometimes difficult.

Today, I had yet another long journey to London. Lambeth Palace is a 'tidy' place but Rowan wasn't in. At least, I didn't see him.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Wales 12: South Africa 34

Really enjoyed the game. I would have enjoyed it more if Wales had won - but there it is!

There are more important things in life than beating the world champions at the Millennium Stadium. It's just that I can't think of any at the moment!!

Belfast Contrasts

I enjoyed visiting Belfast with my colleagues from England and Scotland as well as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. We talked, did business and prayed together.

When visiting Belfast, people of my generation will always remember how ordinary men and women went about their lives despite the troubles. The contrasts that were there are now a little less stark.

Belfast, of course, has still acquired everyone's modern contrasts. I noticed that a housing association has its small offices directly opposite the Europa Hotel. Social challenge and opulence occupy the same space but in mutually excluding bubbles.

That's the way the modern world is.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Cytun Women and Englishmen (and Germany 0 Wales 0)

This morning I rushed over to the Methodist Church in Llanidloes. Last night, I did ask one of my female colleagues if I should go. I would, after all, be the only man there.

The group was good but I felt it wise to retreat quickly. Anyway, I had to be back in good time to catch my flight from Cardiff to Belfast tonight.

On the way back from Llanidloes I discovered two things. My new car can go all the way from Brecon to Merthyr while the empty warning light is flashing on the petrol indicator. I also discovered, through listening to my new car radio, that English football fans are terrible at losing.

England weren't good enough. Just be generous and get over it! Wales did have a really fantastic 0:0 draw with Germany last night though!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Park and Ride and Presbyterians

Today, I went to Aberystwyth to see some of my Presbyterian friends. The Park and Ride was really handy. A lot of pensioners with bus passess told me where to go.

We had a really good meeting on how we should work together in the future. I didn't mind, but one of the committee members drew a sketch of me during the meeting. I can't blame the man when such things help him get through Presbyterian meetings. The sketch was flattering as well.

This meeting, to be fair, wasn't eternal in length. In some meetings I sometimes use my MP3 player and pretend that I'm listening to the Welsh translator. It really helps with getting through property reports in particular.

I think that God understands these things.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Terry Grange

Beyond the issues of our monthly staff meeting and a conversation with Rhodri Glyn Thomas at the Welsh Assembly Government concerning the Welsh language what caught my eye today was the retirement of the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police, Terry Grange.

The politicians aren't happy apparently that an officer who would perhaps otherwise be under investigation was allowed to retire. I had every respect for Terry Grange but didn't always agree with some of his remarks.

I'll now have to dwell with the idea that people are innocent until they are proven guilty - or perhaps - until they retire. Regardless, I wish him well.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Methodists and Scrapping Cars

Today, I scrapped my old car and had a really good afternoon with some Methodist friends. There's no link between the two events.

Saturday and Sunday

I couldn't get to a computer this weekend so I missed my blog. Saturday was fun. I joined the Methodist Youth Conference on Saturday and than saw Beowulf and an American Gangster as well as seeing a really good 2:2 international football match between Wales and Ireland. It was good.

I did a BBC interview on Sunday as well as take two services in my old church in Dewi Sant. I really enjoyed the evening session.

Then I had a fantastic time debating whether tolerance should be tolerated with some Christian friends in Dempsey's in Cardiff. My West Wing DVD on Ishmael and Isaac helped. I met the clubbing chaplain, Wendy, for the first time. The people there do their Christian work really well.

Friday, 16 November 2007

My New Car

Tonight, after discovering why not many people use public transport I got a different car. The journey from Cilfynydd to Risca wasn't fun.

This time round I brought a smaller car which should get me to places cheaper. That will be better for the environment and it will stop me speeding. After the events of the past few days I really don't need to drive me or my cars to death.

So there it is. I now have a humble Daewoo Matiz with as much power as my old moped. It has a tidy mileage though at 32,225. That won't last long.

Because I was in a good mood after having a new car, I gave Children in Need £200.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

My Poor Car

I got back very early this morning after being towed all the way back from Dolgellau by two AA trucks. I arrived home in Cilfynydd at about 2 a.m.

All my plans for today fell apart. I meant to go to Ray Gravell's funeral but couldn't.
The train wouldn't get me there on time.

I went to Trustworthy Motors in Risca to get another car. By train and bus that took most of the day. I'll get my nice green car tomorrow.

I met with my good friend Ibrahim in the Millennium Centre this evening. He has done some fantastic work with the Somali community in Cardiff. I'd like to help him some more.

The day ended with a bit of work with a meeting of the Glamorgan Industrial Mission. That went well but I'm so tired. A new friend gave me a lift home

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The AA

I am now in the Little Chef car park in Dolgellau I should be speaking at a meeting of the Porthmadog Parochial Church Council but I'm not.

I'd rather be there than here waiting for the AA man to come and fix my car. I like AA men. They are always nice to me when my cars break down. My cars break down often.

To date, I've never been assisted by an AA lady.That is except for the AA lady that took my call.

I'm amusing myself now by calculating whether it takes the AA man as long to get here as it took me to pronounce "DOLGELLAU" with sufficient clarity to indicate where I am.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Faith Communities Forum

After sorting one or two things in the office this morning I took a couple of trains from Cathays to Paddington.

I joined my new colleague Alan Bayes at the UK's Faith Communities Forum. It went well and it's good to have Alan as part of our Cytun team.

I think that most of us were appalled today that Sarika Singh had once again not been allowed to go back to school in Aberdare because she was wearing a kara bracelet.

BBC Wales asked me to do a couple of TV interviews for tonight. It's always fun to go over to the Millbank studios in Westminster It's far more palatial than the Llandaff studios but not as important to someone like me.

Life did not begin in that Westminster pond that thinks quite mistakenly that it's an ocean.

Monday, 12 November 2007

At The Office

Beyond getting my ticket for the Wales v South Africa match I spent all day today at the office. I love my job but I'd rather be on a beach in South Africa.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Salem Canton

Today, I preached twice in Salem Chapel Canton.

It's one of those Cardiff Welsh language churches that's growing quickly. I preached on Joseph in the morning and the Transfiguration in the evening. It was Remembrance Sunday. I love going to Salem. It's always welcoming and full of children

I also saw Scarlets lose badly to another French team but Manchester United did OK and we are tonight the premiership leaders. I can't have it all my own way I suppose. That would be greedy.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Billericay 1-2 Swansea

What a relief.

This afternoon, Guillem Bauza rescued Swansea from an FA Cup giant-killing as the League One side came from a goal down to beat Ryman Premier hosts Billericay.

Wayne Semanshia, according to reports, gave Billericay a half-time lead when he pounced on Swans goalkeeper David Knight's slip. Bauza scored the equaliser from 25 yards after collecting a long ball then poked home a winner from three yards.

That avoids another Welsh sporting embarrassment I think.

Friday, 9 November 2007

At the Dentist

My dentist in Pontypridd was jovial this morning and didn't want to do anything to my mouth. I was pleased.

I have always wanted to know why dentists (who should know better) are of the view that sensible people like me can hold a conversation with them while having somebody or something in our mouths.

I'm pleased that dentists are there but I can't imagine a job I'd like to do less - with the exception perhaps of a chiropodists.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Today was all about finance but my first day at work was made easier by a meeting with the Welsh language churches in Cardiff.

I was suppose to talk with them about where we were all going but it didn't start well. I went to the wrong church.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


For several weeks I had been looking forward to the new film on the golden years of Elizabeth I's reign. Just to relax after such a long journey I decided that I would treat myself to a cinema visit.

What gush! It's a poor film with poor history and nonsensical battle scenes. This will be one DVD that I won't be buying.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


My blog has now missed a day. That's a first.

This is because I had a bad Monday in South Africa. I lost my wallet. Whoever now has it is welcome to my overdraft.

On top of that I also dropped my Triton mobile device in the hotel swimming pool. That was not a good idea. It didn't like being that wet.

I also spent most of the day and night in a plane. Its not easy to blog on a plane.

My holiday is over alas and now I'm on my way home.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Yet Another Trek

This was really the last full day of our holiday and we spent it well visiting some falls and the third largest canyon in the world. For a while we followed the pioneers of the great trek.

It was a good experience but the heat was a bit much.

The highlight of the day for me was a brief conversation with Christopher our driver over lunch. We spoke about polygamy, the cost of education and health care. I also explained why the people of Wales didn't have to pay for prescriptions.

I now have the easy impressions of a two week tourist. Many, if not the majority in this country are poor. Many work exceedingly hard to give themselves and their children a better life.

Over a fortnight I have been impressed by many things in South Africa. Above all, I have been impressed by its greatest asset - it's people.

This country has a long way to go. I got the impression that it's getting there.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Kruger Park

Early this morning we were driven to Kruger Park. Driving through the park for several hours we were given the aspiration of seeing the 'big five': lion; leopard; buffalo, rhino and an elephant.

We saw all of them and much more. It was such a thrill to see these fantastic creatures free in their natural environment. It would be a total disaster if they ever became extinct. Since 1983 Kruger National Park has sought to provide these animals with sanctuary from everyone except each other.

The day closed with a visit to the Shangana Cultural Village. The dancing, the singing and the food were all brilliant. The whole evening was much more than I expected.

Above all we were given a chance to enjoy the story and the experience of the Shangaan nation.

The village felt a little like a Kruger Park for people. That's OK though. There is a difference between parking things safely and preserving them as in aspic.

Just a brilliant day!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Bungy Jump

On the way to Port Elizabeth, ready for a couple of flights to Nelspruit today, some of us cracked jokes about having a SAGA bungy jumping excursion. We just don't like being stereotyped as being old Most of us on this trip aren't.

Sadly, on the very bridge that people do the jumping from there was a fatal motor accident just before we arrived on the scene. It was foggy first thing in the morning as we were travelling through.

We had to stay a while as the South African services tried their best to save lives. They succeeded with some.

Sadly, someone lost their life where others willingly risk theirs for fun. It's a strange world.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Plettenberg Bay

If anyone in the UK is thinking of somewhere to spend a cold November day I would thoroughly recommend Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Dipping my feet into the warm Indian Ocean this afternoon was just brilliant.

Ray Gravell

Ray Gravell was more than a Rugby hero.

For the wider world he will be remembered as one of the heroes of three triple crown wins and two grand slams. He was courageous beyond belief on the rugby pitch. Nothing other than an gentle man but fierce in play.

For Welsh speakers in particular he will always be more than a great rugby player. Back in the summer Ray Gravell used his broadcasting skills to act as host for the Dafydd Iwan and Ar Log concert at the National Eisteddfod. At the end of the brilliant show he was given a standing ovation. Following his illness and the subsequent loss of a limb he was welcomed on stage as a national hero.

He used to run among us as a hero. He'll always stand among us as a giant.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Everything is Different but Just the Same

This hotel is good but it doesn't have a gym. I therefore went on an early brisk walk through Knysna to burn off some calories.

Walking down the high street I noticed a man foraging through the bins. That happens on Queen Street in Cardiff as well. Here the man is black: in Cardiff he's white.

Knysna is tidy and booming. We spent the afternoon on a boat having a fantastic sea food lunch. In the distance, literally on top of one of the hills, I observed a township through my wife's binoculars.

The guide on the boat stood in the right place to receive our tips. It's the custom here. The youngster on the street corner later during the day stood in the right place to beg for money. Apparently, it too is the custom here.

This place has it's own Penrhys estate on its hilltop. Through binoculars I observed a community impoverished but proud. Getting there wasn't on any of the information centre's brochures.

The day ended with a brilliant thunder storm. The little boy in me likes such things - even on a SAGA holiday. It light up the sky above the hilltop with its sheer energy.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Bread Basket

I thought a lot about my friends from Zimbabwe today as we took a long bus ride from Cape Town to Knysna through South Africa's bread basket. We saw mile after mile of prosperous wheat fields.

Zimbabwe used to be called the bread basket of Africa. That's what they called Zimbabwe before Robert Mugabe ruined it.

On the way our guide gave us all her life story. It was really interesting hearing a narrative from the perspective of a South African "coloured" both in terms of fears and hopes. I learnt a great that I did not know today.

I did know something about their Zimbabwean refugees however. They must be desparate to leave anywhere for a South African township.

Monday, 29 October 2007

On His Mother's Shoulders

My affections for whales didn't last that long. Cape Town was the place to be today.

The Bokke came to town to celebrate their well deserved victory. What a fantastic day! My more than understanding wife agreed to me staying in Cape Town while she went to see some whales. I had the time of my life enjoying another nation's joy in front of the place Nelson Mandela spoke to the crowds shortly after his release in 1990.

Cape Town's Parade was jam packed today as well. Being magnanimous in defeat I thought I would honour our guests by wearing my Bokke T-shirt.

The taxi driver outside the players' hotel knew that the team would be playing Wales in a month. He was fairly confident that South Africa would win. So am I.

My lasting memory of the day was being able to hold a small South African boy on my shoulders so that he could see the team. Both he and his mother appreciated the offer. On such a day it was a considerable honour.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Cheetah's and Sharks

Tonight the Springbok team is staying in the hotel next to ours in Cape Town. They will be honoured in the city tomorrow.

I have brought a special T-shirt with "Thank You Bokke" written on it. I just thought that I would mark the event and join in. I upset an England fan who saw me buying it.

During today I stroked a cheetah and stood inches away from a shark in an aquarium. I didn't want to get any closer. That was really brilliant.

Saturday, 27 October 2007


Look out, I may have acquired a new passion. I really want to save the whale.

Today, off the South African coast I saw several whales swimming in the sea. They were absolutely awesome.

Leaving a bay off Cape Town we sailed within a few feet of one whale. I have not felt so close to God for a long while.

I also saw some penguins and visited a botanical garden. Hmm...

Friday, 26 October 2007

Table Top Mountain

Although the long flight took it's toll, I couldn't resist going up Table Top Mountain in Cape Town straight away. It was well worth the effort. The place is truly awesome.

I was later told that they had a brush fire on the mountain recently. A Welsh person has thrown a cigarette stub on to the dry grass with fatal consequences. Fool!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Travelling to South Africa

Today was all about travelling by car, bus and plane. That's after trying my very best not to forget anything important. In my case, that's difficult but I did OK. It was also about waiting a long time in Heathrow.

I did promise to go and speak at a church in Caerphilly while I'm in South Africa. That was not a good idea, but my friend Themba came to my rescue and the minister was very understanding. He knows me.

I don't know why but a polite lady wanted to go through my "Race Convention 2006" bag at Heathrow. She even tested it for doggy chemicals.

It may have been all the electrical equipment that I took ready for the 12 hour flight.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Good to Be a Priest

It's been a long day. It's 10.20 p.m. and I'm still working in the office. Tomorrow I'll be on holiday. "Oh Yes!!"

Today, I conducted a funeral for a couple of friends and missed the company of some of my old parishioners from Dewi Sant Church in Cardiff. Sometimes, I think that I wasn't all that bad at being a parish priest after all.

I also got an invitation to conduct another wedding. If my memory serves me right it will take place on 28th December 2009. I'll be there if there isn't a game on. There won't be.

I was also blessed by the willingness of two colleagues from Swansea to help Cytun deliver its Inter-faith work. That was also a blessing. Many thanks Nigel and Alan! Today I enjoyed the work company of people of good faith and energy.

It's a great honour and privilege to be asked to be with families and colleagues in their greatest moments of joy and sorrow. Today reminded me that a priest is always a priest and it's good to be a priest.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Sir Emyr Jones Parry

I'm pleased that Sir Emyr Jones Parry has been appointed to consider the date of the referendum on granting the Assembly more legislative powers. It's a very good appointment and I wish him well in his deliberations.

I would very much want to see the Assembly's powers being strengthened but I would strongly advise that all concerned should make haste slowly. That's a theologian talking by the way.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Stationery or Stationary

Some days I'm reminded that English is not my first language.

Today, while writing a new set of financial regulations for Cytun I noticed, with my colleague Sasha's help, that I wanted all my envelopes and letterheads (stationery) to be still (stationary).

Some long days at the office are just like that!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Lewis Hamilton

Today I took advantage of a rare Sunday off to have a really good clear out of old papers at home. It did me and our study a lot of good.

I also watched Lewis Hamilton go for the World Championship in motor racing. Sadly, he didn't make it due to early problems with his car. That was tough and a disappointment. I really wanted him to win.

I haven't finished my tax forms yet but I am getting there. I am really, really looking forward to that break in South Africa.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Congratulations South Africa!

Tonight's game was close and England did well to get there but the better team won. I can now go to South Africa next week prepared to enjoy vicariously a victory well won.

England, as much as some will debate the issue, didn't score a try.

Here's looking forward to Wales welcoming the new world champions in a few weeks time. It's time to start being hopeful once again in that distinctive masochistic Welsh way.

Friday, 19 October 2007


I like Edinburgh. Back in September 1997 I took a flight to Edinburgh the day after the referendum result that led to the creation of the National Assembly for Wales.

Totally exhausted after the campaign and the count that night and the most memorable low point of doing an early morning interview with a TV reporter who had a greater interest in her hair than in the difference between devolution and independence, I found myself celebrating the victory with two clergy friends on Princes Street in Edinburgh. That day I couldn't sit through the conference sessions I was supposed to attend. I just had to sleep.

Today, I kept awake all day during some supportive conversations with my colleague Bob Fyffe from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. He lives in Scotland.

Two bits of news saddened me today. One was all the job losses at the BBC. I dread to think what would happen to democracy in these islands if all our media outlets in the UK are owned by an Australian who lives in north America.

I was also saddened to hear that Deborah Kerr had died. She gave me a certain warped view of nuns. Real ones were bound to be a disappointment.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Different Faiths

Today was spent on different faiths.

In the morning, the National Assembly's Faith Communities Forum met with the First Minister and other party leaders. It was a good meeting. So was the subsequent meeting of the Interfaith Council. That's when the faith leaders meet without the politicians.

I was given a chance to speak about religion and new Equalities and Human Rights Commission. I also had a chance to offer a comment on the place of the Welsh language as a strand. I enjoyed that.

With a close friend from the Muslim community I fulfilled a longstanding commitment to offer some training to Welsh Assembly Government officials on Christianity. My friend presented a history of Islam. It was good.

I closed the day on my exercise bike watching the Great Escape on DVD. I don't know how many times I have watched the film.

One of these days Steve McQueen as "Hilts" will actually make it over that barbed wire on his stolen motor bike. I wish!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


This morning I found some deep seated ecumenical feelings coming to the surface at a meeting in Abergavenny of the Commission of the Covenanted Churches. I share their conviction that churches should work far more closely together.

Alas, I think Christians will have to wait until heaven for Christians to be together - presuming that they get there.

Wales beat San Marino 2:1. Wow!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Like Reading My Own Obituary

Today was the day I sat down by my work computer to go through my emails. They are self generating little "so and so.." In the old days, sending over sixty different letters out in one afternoon would be good going. It's now become the electronic norm.

I also eventually got to read my own profile in Golwg, the Welsh language weekly magazine. They rang me last week to say that they wanted to put me in the frame.

It was a little bit like reading your own obituary before you die. I appreciated the nice comments though and I'll live with the remark that I have a loud laugh. I don't know how to laugh any other way. A quiet laugh is nothing more than a giggle.

Monday, 15 October 2007


Following a good staff meeting in the morning and a mad chase to complete a Big Lottery form for DPIA, I had my first Equalities and Human Rights Commission Wales Committee meeting. I was impressed by my new colleagues.

I enjoy public service and being on this particular statutory body will do me a lot of good. I hope that we will deliver on people's aspirations rather than their fears. Today was a good start.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Park End

I enjoy preaching at Park End Presbyterian Church in Cardiff. The congregation is large and warm. I preached on the transfiguration in the morning and on God's glory in the evening.

The other thing on my mind today was the South Africa and Argentina match. It will now be a South Africa v England final.

One member of the congregation asked If I would be supporting England. I couldn't possibly comment.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

South Africa

Lots of things happened in the sporting world today. Wales, sadly, lost 3:1 to Cyprus at football. That will make life very difficult for us in future tournaments.

Perhaps more dramatically England beat France to go through to the world rugby cup final. My prediction that they would not be world champions for too long may have to be revised next week. We'll see.

The other thing I did today was get ready for my South African holiday. All in all, I'd prefer to go there to greet them as world rugby champions. Again. I'll now have to wait and see.

Friday, 12 October 2007


After a day at the office I went with a couple of friends to Starbucks in Cardiff. Because I was in urgent need of fresh air we had our tea outside.

I suddenly realised that fresh air outside cafés is in short supply because of smokers. That's irony I suppose.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Bricks and Angels

I enjoyed visiting Buckley in north Wales this morning. I remember this community mainly for the production of bricks. From now on I'll remember it for something else.

On the way to the Catholic Church I forgot the post code for the GPS. About two miles away from my destination I asked a lovely lady the way. She gave me clear directions which almost got me there. I got lost and had to turn back. That was my fault.

When I got to the Church I was surprised to see the lady who had given me directions.

There is only one problem with coincidences being God's way of keeping angels anonymous: you might miss them!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Today I had a Cytun Board meeting all day in Abergavenny. The Priory is a really good place to hold meetings.

My colleague did a fantastic job making a totally incomprehensible constitution passable. It was also good to present what the staff team had completed over the last 18 months.

Recalling is good for the soul.

All Work

Tuesday was all work. Didn't have time to blog.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Today started very early with a paper review for BBC's Good Morning Wales. It was followed by a morning at the office planning the Cytun board meeting

Sunday, 7 October 2007


If Wales had gone through to the quarter final I would have been in Marseilles today. I had to be content with supporting Fiji at a distance. It didn't do them much good.

I was also able to preach in Carmel, Penrhiwceiber as originally marked in my little red book. I have some preaching bookings as far ahead as 2011.

The saints were few and mature of age but the service was a real blessing. I'm looking forward to being back with them in December.

After tonight's match I feel really sorry for Scotland. Argentina are a joy to watch. I'm at that stage now where I am just enjoying the rugby and some chapels.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Australia 10: England 12

Today I sort of caught up with my family and my birthday getting a DVD player as a gift. It was just what I wanted for all those long train journeys that I go on and those away nights in church accommodation without Sky TV.

During the evening I went to see Atonement with my wife and daughter. It was really brilliant and I didn't anticipate the ending.

England did really well against Australia and they got, it must be said, through with style.

I have to say well done but
it's just asking too much for an avid Welsh fan to support the current world champions who are still in the game. That's the least that can be said tonight for Australia or the poor Old Blacks.


The opinion polls have changed all of a sudden after the Conservative Conference. The Guardian has the two leading parties both at 38 per cent.

Tonight I went to Tretower to preach. There were some 90 there. I felt a deep sense of blessing.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Happy Birthday

My twin sister remembered my birthday this year. I remembered hers but bought an inappropriate (but not rude) card. I'll have to get something more discrete and a nice present for her.

It was just another day at the office otherwise except for the lecture by Professor Christine Trevett on "Women's Voices and Jewish Christian Relations".

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Conwy Cytun and War

Had another long trip to north Wales today to the Conwy Cytun. It was a huge encouragement.

Because I arrived a little early I went to see the new film, War. I wish I hadn't.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Many Thanks

This morning on the way to work I received a phone call that meant a great deal to me. One of the veterans who was involved in Sunday's service phoned to say thank you on behalf of himself and his friends.

When arranging national events you can't please everyone. On Sunday, the veterans were the people I wished to please most. To know that a liturgy helped them to remember those friends they had lost in conflict was a huge encouragement.

I will remember these very special men in my prayers with thanksgiving. It was good to work with them on a very special day.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Johnny Delaney

I slept late this morning. I blame the long journey back to north Wales last night and the comfort of my twin sister's spare bed.

My left hip hurt all the way up last night. My sister's hip has also hurt of late. Weird again!

Today was my sort of good day off. I gave a brief talk about my CRE work in the context of the killing of the Irish traveller Johnny Delaney in 2003. Cwmni'r Fran Wen are doing some fantastic theatre in schools work around his story.

I was introduced warmly in Caernarfon for the first time as Wales' former Commissioner for racial equality. That title will stick for a while. It was good to be back north.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Harriers in the Sky

The fantastic team from the Welsh Assembly Government and Cardiff City Council who put national events together know that I have a thing about the timing of fly pasts.

The timing of the two harriers that flew over Cardiff today was perfect. They came at a really good point in the service as we all remembered those who died in the Falklands Conflict.

The veterans had done Wales proud in putting today's commemoration together

Wales 34: Fiji 38

Just terrible.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Closing the CRE in Wales

My first contact with the Commission for Racial Equality was as someone who could not understand why they were supporting a case against Gwynedd County Council for asking that one of their employees in a care environment should be able to speak Welsh. That was years ago. For most of my adult life I felt that the Commission could be anti Welsh language.

Tonight, as the CRE's last Wales Commissioner, in partnership with the Welsh Language Board, I issued a press release that Thomas Cook had passed a new policy on the Welsh language. It was a good way to bring this commission's life to an end in Wales. I was deeply delighted.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


CRE Wales was much in the news today concerning possible legal action over a petition not to allow a caravan site for "travellers" in Swansea. We were even mentioned in the Daily Mail. People are at liberty to petition against caravans: what they can't do is petition against what sort of people live in them.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Yesterday I said that faith people take for ever to take decisions. When they do however, they can change a nation and indeed the world.

Today I prayed for the monks of Burma that they may change the world without paying for it with their lives.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

A Whole Bar

I got my priorities right this morning. I got up first thing to get my Eurostar tickets for the quarter final in the south of France. That set up the day well.

Then I spent all day in the offices of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland in a trustees meeting. I enjoy being with ecumenical friends but the thing I miss most about being in politics is the speed of decision making. Church meetings go on for ever, and ever and ever and ever and ever before they make decisions.

During one of the evers today somebody had a bright idea of distributing some chocolate bars. It said on the bucket that they only contained 90 calories per bite. With that in mind, I ate a whole one in one bite.

Yes, it was that sort of day.

Monday, 24 September 2007

A Lesson in Patriotism

In-between dashing around Swansea, Cardiff and London on church business an article by Carol Sarler in 'The Times' caught my eye. She focused on the patriotism of Smalltown, Georgia.

I think that the British do patriotism very differently to the Americans. I would much rather offer something more substantive to veterans than patriotism. Especially where they have suffered!

I also hope that our understanding of the world will always give us a questioning view in Britain of what our politicians ask our soldiers to do. The greatest gift to patriotism is a thinking nation.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Presbyterian and Hindu

Today started off well with a preaching engagement in Hope Presbyterian Church in Pont y Clun. It's a small but appreciative congregation who always find a kind word to say. I love going there.

The afternoon was spent in Grangetown in the Hindu Temple. The welcome was fantastic and I had a fascinating trip around the bay in a boat with some Hindu "saints".

I must admit, I'd never thought that I would one day be spending a Sunday afternoon with some Hindu "saints" on a boat. God is taking me to all sorts of interesting places. Of that, I am very glad.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

He Gave His Seat to Rosa Parks

Today started with a BBC Radio Cymru interview about celebrating 25 years of Cardiff's Hindu community. It will probably be one of the last times for me to wear my Wales CRE Commissioner hat.

The rest of the day was spent helping my niece to settle in her student flat in Cardiff. She's starting her medicine course. I didn't do much though.

I also welcomed some UN harmony runners to the temple of peace during the late afternoon. They had taken part in a harmony run from Carmarthen.

For a while, I watched England beat Samoa in a Cardiff pub. That's OK. Honestly!

The most memorable moment of the day was bumping into a couple of friends in Cardiff's shopping centre. Tom and his wife were shopping. As usual Tom and I talked about public life and politics.

Thinking of good race relations work, Tom described how he had, on one occasion in the US, offered his seat to Rosa Parks during a function. That is awesome.

I closed the day with a really nice visit to the Hindu Temple. Some 8,000 people has called by for the festivities today. I'm looking forward to the boat trip tomorrow.

Friday, 21 September 2007

The Falklands Wales Memorial Stone

My work frequently takes me to some special places.

Today, I spent time with colleagues from Cardiff City Council, the Welsh Assembly Government and the military in Wales discussing the finer details of the service to be held a week on Sunday to commemorate the men who lost their lives during the Falklands War. It will be a deeply moving occasion.

During the afternoon I spent some time with the veterans who were placing the memorial stone in its place. I saw the names written on that stone and held them, as much as I could, in prayer.

Many within my own faith community were opposed to the Falklands War. Many are opposed to all sorts of violence and warfare. Others believe that some wars are just.

We all, however, can offer comfort in that place called grief, when very ordinary men and women simply remember loved ones they have lost. Offering that comfort has a great deal to do with war but it doesn't, of itself, justify it.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Wales 72 : Japan 18

This morning was busy at work with Cytun's Racial Justice Committee meeting in Cardiff. We made progress concerning a number of issues including a proposed Equality Bill.

On these issues I have become an anorak. I enjoy being an anorak concerning these things.

The stadium tonight was far from full (about 42,000) and I had a good seat close to the pitch. I really enjoyed the try feast. It was a joy to watch

Japan had a really good try during the first half and another during the second half. They are always a good team to watch.

The rest of the story is on the score board. Wales are getting there - slowly. Tonight was good.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Rowan Williams

I brought The Guardian for two reason's today: the opinion poll putting Labour on 40%, the Conservatives on 32% and Lib Dems on 20% and a telling article by Stephen Bates on the crisis facing Anglicanism over homosexuality.

Rowan Williams stands as a bridge between two warring parties who are set on not embracing normal Anglican compromise Normally, churches take for ever to make decisions. Time, however, is running out concerning this issue.

Like most Anglicans, I believe that Rowan Williams is the best bridge that can be offered.

The day he left the Governing Body of the Church in Wales he said: "Oh, perhaps I'll stay then." We'll have him back any time.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Even More Convinced

Ten years ago I went nervously to the national count in Cardiff on behalf of the 'Yes For Wales' campaign. The devolution count was close then. It wouldn't be any more.

Devolution now expresses the settled will of the Welsh people. Some 83% are now in favour of some sort of devolution. (My friend Daran tells me its only 71% because independence is not a form of devolution).I was convinced of the cause then: I'm even more convinced now. I'm also convinced that Wales should have a proper Parliament along the Scottish model.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make the celebrations in Cardiff tonight. I had work to do for the churches with the Home Office today and I'm all alone in a hotel in London.

Monday, 17 September 2007

CEHR Wales Committee - Press Release

Neil Wooding, Wales Commissioner for the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), today announced the appointments of the first seven committee members to the Wales Committee of the CEHR.

The new Commission, set up to champion equality and human rights issues and eliminate discrimination across Britain, takes on the functions of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), with new responsibilities for sexual orientation, age, religion and belief, and human rights from October 2007.

The Wales Committee is a statutory, decision-making committee of the new Commission and will be responsible for overseeing the work of the CEHR in Wales.

Appointed to the Committee are:

Barry Clarke: Barry is a lawyer experienced in discrimination and equalities law. He sits as an Immigration Judge, is a Trustee of Cardiff Law Centre and national Chairman of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Rhian Davies: Rhian is Chief Executive of Disability Wales. Recently Rhian sat on an Advisory Group reporting to the UK Government Minister for Disabled People.

Reverend Aled Edwards: Aled is Chief Executive of CYTUN (Churches Together in Wales). Aled is currently Wales Commissioner for the Commission for Racial Equality.

Clifton Robinson: Clifton is Chair of the North Wales Probation Board and an Inspector with the Health Inspectorate Wales. He is a founder member of Cymru Equality and Diversity Consortium.

Eleanor Williams: Eleanor is a discrimination and employment lawyer. Eleanor is a Director of the Discrimination Law Association and a Committee Member for Barnardo's Cymru.

Dr Olwen Williams: Olwen is a medical consultant working in the field of sexual health. In 2000 Olwen was 'Welsh Woman of the Year'. She is a member of the Broadcasting Council for Wales.

Elizabeth Withers: Elizabeth is a Policy Officer at the National Autistic Society. She previously worked at MEWN Cymru - an ethnic minority women's organisation.

Announcing the first seven Committee members Neil Wooding said:

“I am delighted to welcome such an excellent range of talented and experienced people to the Wales Committee of the CEHR. We have an ambitious mission – to create a society built on fairness and respect, to establish a Wales at ease with itself, a nation comfortable with all aspects of its diversity.

Together and individually the Wales Committee members bring a vast amount of knowledge and reflect the rich social and cultural diversity of Wales. They know the key issues and challenges from across the equalities and human rights spectrum. This will ensure the new Commission delivers in Wales and for Wales.

They are committed to creating a fairer society and I look forward to working with them as we embark on our task of making Wales a better place to live.”

Sunday, 16 September 2007


I preached here twice today and enjoyed the experience. The welcome of this large congregation was warm and appreciative. I like preaching here.

Because I had not been to preach at this chapel for over a year my favourite 2007 sermon came in handy.

I encountered two downers today: the long journey home and the fact that Canada lost to Fiji in the world cup. We will now have to beat Japan and Fiji

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Australia 32 : Wales 20

I can't remember his name but the BBC's paper reviewer highlighted a painful quote from one newspaper this morning when the McCann's were described as the "Beckhams of Grief".

Everyone in the studio and my home went quiet as a really perceptive reviewer caught the mood of a deeply tragic moment.

This afternoon, every inch of the Millennium Stadium was full. On the way in somebody offered me a free spare ticket. I just wondered who painted it.

Only fools judge other people by the group. However, women have this uncanny habit of being right. The first thing my daughter said to me this morning was: "You know that we are going to lose don't you." She was right.

The game was really good though and we won the second half once again. We'll now have to face South Africa in the quarter final if we beat Japan and Fiji which we should do.

After the game I was on the road once again to my sister's house in north Wales. Tomorrow I'll be preaching in that place that has the longest name in Wales - Llanfair PG.

Friday, 14 September 2007

What a Price

During my lunch hour today I walked down to Cardiff Bay. There were two men there playing rugby with a small boy. I caught his ball.

We speculated about who would win tomorrow and dared to believe that Wales could win against Australia.

I said that I would be there at the match. It was said that tickets were going for a small fortune On e-bay apparently they are going for almost £200 each.

Priorities however have to come to play. I could never sell such a valuable ticket

On the way back home a friend who used to work in the Assembly asked if I could do my 'Del Boy' trick and get tickets. Alas, I failed!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Morning After

The papers were full this morning of the success of the home footballing nations. Wales at 5:2 did brilliantly in Slovakia and England did well too.

The biggest cheer has to go to Scotland who went to France and beat them 1:0 on their home turf. I know now who I will be gunning for in the finals.

Wales are now playing well but we have left it far too late. A mathematical miracle could see us going through but that miracle won't happen.

The day closed well. I represented Cytun at an event arranged by BT in Caerphilly Castle. The dinner was fantastic in the great hall.

We celebrated BT's scheme to provide laptops for looked after children. Some 90 laptops have been distributed in Caerphilly. That scheme clearly deserves a cheer.

My good friend from the Yes for Wales days, Kevin Brenan MP gave a moving speech on children in care. It's good to know that he now has ministerial brief for children in the UK It beats being a Government whip.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Back to Work

Today was back to work with a vengeance.

The morning was spent in the Mansion House planning Wales' service to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Falklands Campaign. The service will take place the end of this month.

Christians will always be divided concerning the relative justifications that are given for going to war. Many will say that war can, in the face of the Christian Gospel, never be justified. That is a position that I understand and respect. All Christians will offer prayers for those who have lost loved ones.

The afternoon was just spent on office things such as arrangements for the Cytun AGM. I quite enjoy such things really but they aren't as much fun as rugby.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

A Day in London

Having a little time to spare in London was nice today. I took advantage of the break to pop into Eurostar in Waterloo to see if I could arrange travel tickets for the weekend of the quarter finals in Marseilles the first week of October. I'm still working on that courtesy of a longstanding preaching engagement.

In the background everywhere today there was the memory of "9:11". That fateful day the world changed. It hasn't been the same since.

A taxi driver took me from Paddington to near the Barbican where the CRE's Croeso team were giving an account of their project to an awards panel. They were good on their race relations work in schools.

It's a pity they couldn't enlighten the taxi driver. Because he had been given a parking ticket just before picking me up he found a need to blame Ken Livingstone's plot to disenfranchise hard working white men of their rights.

Who said the CRE isn't needed?

Commission For Racial Equality

This was a very long day. It started with a nice long walk on the Brittany coast. It ended in a nice hotel room in London following a CRE farewell dinner.

Tonight I felt a great sense of pride to belong to this organisation. I feel a great pride particularly in the Welsh team. I'll be spending some time with them tomorrow in London before returning home after a great long weekend.

I'll really miss the CRE. Being the CRE's Wales Commissioner has been a fantastic experience.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Canada 17 Wales 42

Honestly, I did try to go to church first thing this morning but they were all closed or wouldn't let me in. I gave up and joined the gathering clans of Welsh fans travelling on the TGV to Nantes.

The nice lady behind the counter on the TGV from Paris yesterday, who helped me manoeuvre my way around ordering a three course meal without any French, was on my train again this morning.

She remembered me. Those close to me say that it isn't a good thing that strangers remember me. Yesterday, she just seemed relieved that I wanted crème brulee for pudding.

The atmosphere just before the game was good. The French security bods gave up frisking every one of us as we tried to get into the stadium. I think they thought they were in a football match.

When Wales found themselves trailing during the first half, many of us weren't in the mood to do the Mexican wave. The French behind me thought that the good Canadian performance made for a good game. I was pleased for them.

A Frenchman wanted me to sing for him. I told him that I would if Wales won and he and his friend made a tidy queue to listen. We won but he and his mate couldn't queue so I didn't sing.

After the match I wanted to offer a really big thanks for a brilliant weekend so I found a cathedral in which to do it in. I lit a candle in a side chapel then got a bit worried after seeing a painting of the cathedral roof with its roof being burnt down.

Then I went down to the centre of Nantes to join the rest of the Welsh fans to watch Scotland beat Portugal. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Not Lost in France

Once again, I got up at 5 a.m.. Today (as in all of it) was spent on getting to Nantes.

The long bus trip from Cardiff to London was made much better by meeting two old friends. One, a Baptist minister from west Wales, was on his way to preach in London.

He used to live in Llanelli but never went to watch Scarlets play. He readily confessed that that sort of serious negligence ran close to heresy.

The second friend used to live in the same street as us in Cardiff and sent his two daughters to the same school as our children, Ysgol Glan Taf. He still goes back to see Llanelli Scarlets play. That's faithfulness.

Until we got to Waterloo, it wasn't at all obvious that anyone knew that the World Cup was on in England. That's in the capital of the reigning champions. Never mind, they won't be champions for much longer!

I met a large Englishmen on the Eurostar train. He was trying to drink beer and some of it got into his mouth. He, strangely, thought I was drunk because I walked into a train door. I wish that trains with Star Trek doors had Star Trek style opening!

Eurostar placed me next to a nice young man with a Japanese passport who wanted to have my window seat so that he could video the train going on his mobile. Since it was obviously important to him, I let him have my seat.

I won't go to much into detail but I got from Paris Nord to Montparnasse without too much trouble in the company of a couple of really nice Welsh women and a couple of gay English guys from Kent who had decided to support Wales. Bless them.

Two years ago I made the terrible mistake of swapping my Welsh scarf out of courtesy with a Rangers football fan somewhere outside Glasgow in exchange for his Rangers tie. Since then, I have taken great care who I swap things with on rugby trips. I can't wear that blasted tie anywhere.

The TGV to Nantes was fantastic. I wonder if it could find its way between Cardiff and Paddington? I had a plastic cup full of red wine to celebrate my first TGV trip.

The final short TGV trip from Nantes to La Baule-Escoublanc left me exhausted and pleased to reach my hotel.

Of all the faces I saw today on a long day's journey, one lingerd. The Independent's front page showed the rather haunted face of Kate McCann looking decidedly lost in Portimao, Portugal above the headline 'From Anguished Parent, To Grieving Mother, To Suspect'.

There are things going on in the world other than rugby.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Good Morning Wales

I got up very early this morning to do the paper reviews for BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales. They gave me a late call yesterday afternoon because somebody had dropped out. As usual, it was fun but difficult concerning some issues.

Not that I can remember that much about the 6.30 a.m. slot, I highlighted: the issue of the McCann's being regarded as suspects in their own daughter's death; Gordon Brown not liking the re branding of the Scottish Government and The Sun's cruel cartoon of Pavarotti being given extra large wings before going into heaven. I'd just widen the gates for him.

Usually, by the 7.35 a.m. slot I have woken up or consumed enough 'Es' in my Diet Coke to speed me up a little.

I was really concerned with a report in The Independent about the anti immigration policies of one of the leading parties in Switzerland. The Swiss should know better than to threaten whole families with deportation because of one individual's criminality.

Leading NGO's threatening to withdraw from the Government's consultation on nuclear energy was another story. The story caught my wayward eye as someone who was brought up next door to a nuclear power station. I used to swim in Trawsfynydd lake because it was warm.

The very last story was from the Western Mail and huge fun. Wales' captain for Sunday's game against Canada is the Llanelli Scarlets scrum half, Dwayne Peel. They couldn't resist the imposed photograph of Captain Scarlet and I couldn't resist the story. My mind was already focused on Nantes and the Rugby World Cup.

The day closed really well with Diversity Awards Wales giving their awards. DPIA had been nominated for a diversity award but didn't get it. Never mind.

To make up a little for the disappointment I went down to the Bay to get a Cadwalader's ice cream As far as I can discern, coming from north Wales, it is the best ice cream in the world.

To see Wales in all its fantastic diversity was however, brilliant. On the issue of diversity, Wales has a lot still to do but we are seeing a new post devolution dawning. Good morning Wales.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Jac Codi Baw and Pavarotti

It was sad to wake up this morning to the news that Pavarotti had died. I remembered him and his operatic singing fondly - as did many throughout the world.

Many a kind word has been said today and that's very appropriate. I prayed for his family.

The evangelical in me still doesn't rest easy praying for the dead. People are justified by faith rather than words or works.

On a sad day a friend told me that I had reached a certain place of distinction in Welsh life. The really funny writer of the satirical Jac Codi Baw (as in a picking up dirt sort of 'JCB' machine) corner of the Welsh language weekly had made fun out of my having to miss a game in the World Cup.

He suggested that my not going to the Fiji game in Nantes had something to do with a lack of faith rather than having a prior church engagement.

The piece in Golwg was funny and I appreciated the humorous words. I'll stick with faith though - as little as some people think I have.

It'll get me (and the Wales team) further that way I hope!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Sent to Coventry With Human Rights

It was a bit of a job today to decide whether I spent all day working or not. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the 6.55 a.m. train from Cardiff Central to Coventry.

My destination was the Hilton Hotel in Coventry for a meeting arranged by the new CEHR (Commission for Equalities and Human Rights).

It was basically an opportunity for Trevor Philips (Chair) and Nicola Brewer (CEO) to provide stakeholders with an update. Nicola Brewer, in particular, is very impressive. From my point of view, it's good that she knows Wales well.

I had to leave a little early to address a church meeting in Cardiff on the new CEHR and the proposed Single Equality Act. That was quite clearly work. Work I could not really do if I were not well informed.

As my year as Wales' Commission for Racial Equality Commissioner comes to an end, I wish CEHR and all those involved with it well.

They already know that they will have their work cut out to serve the communities formerly served by three commissions covering, race, gender and disability. They will, from October onwards, have to handle faith, sexual orientation and age as well.

There are very good reasons for placing all equality and human rights issues within the remit of a single body. I'm of the view that the rights of Welsh speakers to speak Welsh in the place of work should be placed within future legislation

I'm hopeful for the future but if we all get this wrong, many may be sent to Coventry to rethink issues.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

AGM's and Awards

DPIA (Displaced People in Action) had two AGM's last night. Both were held in the Council Chamber of the Temple of Peace in Cathays Park, Cardiff. Today, I had a proper chance to go through our Annual Report.

We formally killed off the old DPIA and started a brand new one ending with the three little words 'Ltd'. That means that if we as directors make a terrible job our liabilities are limited. We aren't going to do a terrible job of it though.

The team gave a fantastic account of their work. DPIA has helped 23 Refugee Community Organisations, helped 98 clients with training schemes and worked with some 550 children through our current project.

Sian, our Co-ordinator, sent an email today saying that we had been nominated for a diversity award for our IT project with Swansea University. This DPIA team is nothing other than brilliant.

Once again, the directors asked me to carry on as Chair and Leona as Secretary. The time will come for us both to move on especially as we now have new directors. But, that time hasn't come just yet. DPIA is just good to be part of.

Monday, 3 September 2007

France 2007 World Cup Picks

At the end of a really busy day at the office trying to get lots of administrative things sorted out, including my expenses, I decided to end the day by thinking about really important things.

I have my train tickets ready for the journey to Nantes on Saturday and have registered my France 2007 World Cup Picks on Facebook. You have to pick game winners and the scale of a win. I don't think that picking the winners of the first set of matches was that difficult. On the whole they are all whale matches against minnows but Canada could give Wales a good run on Sunday.

I'll be gutted if we lose or do badly. I won't be able to retreat back to Wales this time next week. I have two days in London of all places!!!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Crickhowell and Cwm Du

This morning I returned to my Anglican roots covering for my friend Barry who is the Vicar of Crickhowell and Cwm Du as well as Tre Tower.

The fact that I don't cover for him very often indicates that he, as an active Church in Wales parish priest, doesn't have an abundance of holidays. Don't believe that old tale that vicars only work one day a week: they only get paid for one.

It's fun going into other people's parishes, creating havoc, and then return back home. The other advantage is that a peripatetic preacher like me can polish up an old sermon and use it repeatidly. I couldn't do that today because I was under strict instructions to preach on Joseph at the 10.45 Family Eucharist.

The saints in my friend's parish are very kind about my sermons and it is really appreciated. Since being ordained in 1979, for the first time ever this morning, something quite extraordinary happened. Just as I thought that I had lost the listeners and had decided to bring my thoughts to an end, some in the congregation applauded the sermon. I was reliably informed that they weren't clapping because I had brought the sermon to an end.

It was one of those rare occasions when I was totally gobsmacked!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

A One Job Day

Today, which was spent entirely on Leah and Eilir's wedding, was a total joy.

The service went brilliantly thanks to all the hard work of the families, their friends and the Cathedral staff. CF1 and Godre'r Garth sung fantastically. They are brilliant choirs.

It was such a joy to be with so many young people who are driven by their aspirations and talents. Spending a day marrying two of them was such a blessing. There's nothing else to sat really.

Friday, 31 August 2007

The Wedding Practice

Now that I no longer have a parish it's always fun to do weddings. That's because it's only people who really want you to do their wedding who will invite you to marry them (so to speak). That's nice. It's one of those ultimate compliments and it's really appreciated.

This afternoon, I spent an hour or so in the middle of a fairly busy day helping Leah and Eilir practice their wedding in Llandaff Cathedral. Eilir is brilliant at leading choirs - especially the famous Welsh choir CF1. Our two families met years ago on a holiday at a caravan park in Scotland for "spent vicars". We've remained friends ever since.

It was during one of those holidays that the owner of the caravan park taught me how to fly fish in the middle of a field. Don't worry I didn't catch anything when I fished by water either. Eilir's dad, who was another spent vicar (or minister in his Presbyterian case) was good at golf - that is, if beating me is a measure of being good.

Leah is just brilliant but had the misfortune of being one of my parishoners for eight years. She and her family survived the experience and have been so kind in their friendship that they now want me to do tomorrow's wedding.

I'm really looking forward to it. There is no greater honour than being asked to share people's special moments. So here's a big thank you. Tomorrow will be brilliant and fun!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Women Connect First

I knew that I would enjoy today. After spending a couple of hours with my colleagues at the Cytun office I spent most of the day enjoying an inter-faith tour day arranged by Women Connect First in Cardiff.

With a number of Welsh Assembly Officials I went from an Indian Centre to a Synagogue to a Gurudwara. I gave the Mosque a miss because I ran out of time.

It was a really good time but I was reminded that secular society has watches and faith communities have time. That's why faith communities have their focus on eternity I suppose.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Back to Work Gadgets

Today was my first day back to work, and to be honest, I wasn't looking forward to my holiday coming to an end. It went OK though and I worked hard to get rid of what seemed like hundreds of emails.

Just before the break I had got myself a fantastic O2 Triton which does everything except breath. My colleague Sion did me a huge favour by putting all my work emails on Microsoft Outlook which means that I can now get rid of my emails on trains and at meetings where the word eternal seems inadequate. I won't have to come back to them at the end of already busy days.

The truth of it is, I really enjoy gadgets. Some people think that I play with them all day. I don't. I work on them all day and make sure that I enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Twin Torture

I had huge fun today talking for three quarter of an hour with Sian Thomas on Radio Cymru. She's a joy as a presenter and good fun when doing interviews.

Sian wanted me to talk about me. I can do that without really trying.

Towards the end of last week the producers of the show thought that it might be a good idea if I got my twin sister to appear with me. Thankfully, she would rather be buried several times over.

When I say she is unlike me that's what I mean!

As children, however, we used to suffer sympathy pains. Thankfully, that habit stopped long before she had children. I couldn't cope with having phantom giving birth pains.

I still torture her however when I go public about things like how old I am. It's tough on twins if you are not that keen on people knowing how old you are.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Anniversary Mat

I did remember today that, tomorrow, Marie and I will have been married for thirty one years. A long time. That's good for a man I'm told. Remembering that is!

We've always had a pragmatic approach to gifts. One Christmas I brought her half a dish washer. She brought me the other half.

For our anniversary this year I wanted a book on criminals (I just can't read novels) and she wanted a pair of binoculars for our South Africa trip in October. We got neither after spending several hours in Cardiff shops.

Marie did buy a door mat though. It wasn't an anniversary treat.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Rugby Shirt Sabbath

Eating my low calorie lunch today in KFC in Queen's Street, Cardiff I suddenly remembered yesterday's repeat of the Vicar of Dibley.

It was the disapproving comments on the street of someone I used to know concerning my wearing of a Welsh rugby shirt on a Sunday with its Brains Beer advert that made me think about the hit TV show.

I like my Wales rugby shirt because that's just what most men who go to see Wales on an international day do. I also like my rugby shirt because my son and his fiancee, my almost a daughter in law, brought it for me as a Christmas present.

Poor Geraldine in the Vicar of Dibley had acquired a certain media profile after appearing on the Terry Wogan show. She was thrilled to bits but David Horton, the pompous Chair of the Parish Council, chastised her for apparently putting herself above the community she had come to serve.

She was damned by the terse words: "That's not why you came here." She then went on a guilt trip and abandoned her widely commended media work.

Much to the annoyance of some over the years, I don't do church guilt trips. They flow usually from actions that are really just bullying or harassment by another name - even the gentler form.

It's just exercising power over others to get them to do what they otherwise wouldn't do. It's not at all like asking someone not to do what is genuinely offensive or hurtful.

When I went to church this morning for communion, I noticed that all the readings were about what to do on the Sabbath. Jesus upset the religious types of his day by daring to make people better on a Sunday (Saturday for him of course). Man was not made for the Sabbath, it was the other way round.

Telling anyone else to take an article of clothing off is just rude. Telling middle aged men to take their shirts off in a public place is not really a good idea. Sabbaths are generally not made for such sights.

I'm posting today's blog defiantly from the Millennium Stadium with my shirt on as Wales come to the end of their game with France. I'm in the good company of some 30,000 other fans who haven't taken their shirts off - thank God!

Good game. Pity about the result though. The French will be a team to watch. We are getting there though however slowly - as in very slowly.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The X Factor

The early morning interview with Radio Wales went OK. On the way in I shared a studio with a fit looking young man in a Welsh rugby shirt.

His interview was good and funny. Everyone in the studio took an instant like to him. So did I. The producer allowed his interview to overrun. I'm pleased it did.

He looked fit because he has to be fit as a soldier. But he was there by his own admission to talk about a far more frightening experience than soldiering - appearing on the X Factor.

I must admit I have grown a little tired of this expression of humiliation TV but I'll still watch it especially as they get to the really talented stage. Whatever happened to Leona though?

Ryan didn't tell us then whether he got through or not. He certainly did though with an unanimous vote. I watched him tonight.

He'll go far I think. He'll get lots of votes - especially Welsh ones.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Asylum Legacy Cases

With a view to doing an interview early tomorrow morning on Radio Wales as Chair of Displaced People in Action, I received some good news tonight. Apparently, the Home Office intends to allow some 70-80% of the asylum legacy cases to remain in the UK. It's not an amnesty however.

It's ages since I did an asylum issue interview. My friends have briefed me well and quickly. I'll be OK.

Local authorities are justifiably concerned, particularly over the issue of housing. People will have to move on from asylum based housing. The problems are however, not insurmountable with good planning. The process of making so many new refugees as opposed to asylum seekers should be phased in.

Human beings allowed to work and prosper are not a drain on any nation. The transition between being asylum seekers to being refugees with leave to remain will demand good planning and some flexibility for the immediate future.

If what I have been told tonight is true it will bless the lives of so many people I know. It will devastate others who will probably now be removed quickly.

I'll probably call by one of the families that I know tomorrow morning after the BBC interview. They come from Iran. I hope and pray that they are within the 80%. I'll be devastated if aren't.

I was quoted in the Western Mail today defending the status quo regarding school assemblies. Peter Black AM had started a debate about the issue in his blog.