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.