Monday, 31 March 2008


All through today one country more than any other has been in my thoughts and prayers, Zimbabwe.

Over the past six years I have come to know many refugees from Zimbabwe. Many have become close friends.

Many a long hour has now passed since the election and my fears are growing that the only real reason for a delay in announcing the result of the vote is because that vote is being rigged.

Robert Mugabe has done Zimbabwe unspeakable harm and I hope that this fantastic but impoverished country can now be rid of him. I really do hope so.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Second of Easter

One of my lasting memories of being on the Church in Wales' Liturgical Commission was finding different names for different Sundays. Inevitably, decisions were made elsewhere.

Today, for my part, I just enjoyed sitting in the pew being a 'normal' Christian receiving communion. As I prepare to go back to work this coming week, having three weeks off work was nice. It did my body and soul a lot of good.

I'm looking forward to next Tuesday and going back to a work routine. My guess is that it will feel a little strange for a while - whatever the days are called.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

End of an Era in Llanelli

S4C covered tonight's match in Llanelli. It will apparently be their last at Stradey Park because the season is now really over for the Scarlets. They have nothing else to play for with Leinster beating them today.

It will be strange moving to a new stadium but the decision was so right. The truth of it is I didn't want to go over to Llanelli today squeezed uncomfortably in an old stadium in the cold rain. I'm looking forward to the new season.

Manchester United continue to brighten up my footballing life beating Aston Villa 4:0.

Tara Bethan was on I'll Do Anything today and she will no doubt attract many Welsh votes. The result show will be on Sunday night. I'll be rooting for her.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Very Overweight

Today, I went to the Heath Hospital offering myself as a sample in a 'national' research project. Being as Welsh as I am I have a pathological dislike of anything that does not see Wales as being 'national'.

Everything about me was good except for the weight thing. My blood pressure was good as were my bones. I am apparently 'very overweight'. I dread to think what they describe really fat people. Having lost almost two stone since Christmas I am working hard on the 'very overweight' thing and I'll get there.

By now, I think losing a further stone and a half by my son's wedding in July, I will have done well. If I do it, I will be very pleased with myself and just 'very annoying'. That will make a change.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Welsh International Football

Above everything else Wednesday was about Wales winning twice at football. Everyone agreed that the 2:1 win over Bosnia Herzegovina for the Under 21 team was far more important than the rather boring 2:0 victory by the senior team over Luxembourg. The youngsters can actuallu win something.

All in all it was a good day. All days when Wales win are good days.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Monday, Monday.

I never used to like Bank Holidays. They were never part of the culture of my growing up and to this day I always feel it takes so much effort to know what to do with them.

My day off while being off sick was good. I went to Cardiff to do some shopping, went for a walk with my wife and my dog in Aberdare, and spent a couple of hours watching Eastenders in the gym.

Somebody put her nasty husband alive in a coffin and buried him. Then she regretted it and dug him up again. Strange!

Never mind, I burnt off some 450 calories while this was going on. I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow.

Baptismal Promises

On Easter morning I want to the eight o'clock service in Saint Catherine's. The sermon from Marcus was very good and brought new insights into familiar passages. That was a blessing.

Afterwards I went to the gym for a few hours. While on the cross trainer I watched Easter Mass from a Catholic church in Liverpool. I joined in with the reaffirming of my baptismal promises. I felt reassured.

Manchester United beat Liverpool 3:0 and that was very good. It was even better that Chelsea beat Arsenal. That's fine but I don't want them to win many more.

All the family came over for Easter tea. That was great but I was really tired afterwards. I like garlic but garlic doesn't like me. I ate some in mistake and thought I could get away with it.

Easter was very, very good and a time of faith.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Good Friday

Spending the last hour of the afternoon of Christ's passion in Catherine's was a blessing. It's good to have Marcus back. He is always encouraging.

We spent the evening with a lovely Iranian family in Cardiff. They were recently granted refugee status. They were so welcoming and the Iranian food was brilliant. The night was made all the better for Scarlets beating the Blues.

Today, Ospreys beat Saracens- Wales is on the crest of a wave!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Ronaldo Day

This Wednesday I went to Cardiff and brought myself a new MP3 Player. I like it because I can see the screen. It's a bit of an age thing.

I tried to find a frame for my Wales on Sunday front page from last weekend. The only place I can place my ticket is over Prince William. I'm sure he won't mind.

Manchester United played Bolton and Ronaldo scored one of his breathtaking free kicks. I just don't know how he get a ball to change direction twice in one shot. He is probably the best player in the world at the moment.

Sadly, before going to bed the BBC rang to say that Ama had died in Ghana. I couldn't do an interview because I'm off sick. I find the whole thing terribly sad.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Computer Day

Tuesday was all about spending time with my daughter making sure that all the computers in our house could receive broadband. I also spent hours sorting cables out.

It was a totally stress free day helped by a gentle session in the leisure club. I didn't think I'd get such good value for my money. I feel healthier and fitter.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Grand Slam Days

Saturday was just perfect. We were all really nervous before the game and were even more nervous when the score was 9:9. Then Shane Williams and Martyn Williams scored two fantastic tries. Mark Jones deserved a try as well - he was just a meter short. The noise in the stadium was awesome and I'll keep my ticket for ever.

Some in the crowd didn't take too kindly to Prince William giving us the cup. Personally, I think it's fantastic that such a job should have been given to such an ardent England fan. What a way give us the Grand Slam.

Sunday and Monday gave me a chance to relax some more and I'm being really good about not doing any work. I didn't behave on Saturday though. That would have been asking far too much.

Friday, 14 March 2008

The Third Day

I went to see 10,000 BC this afternoon and that was fun. I went to the optician who noticed that my left eye is wondering a bit. May have something to do with my politics!

Otherwise, I'm just getting excited about tomorrow - Grand Slam Day. I'll be there and I'll try to behave. I don't know which son will be using our second ticket. My eldest gave his ticket to his younger brother three weeks ago. That brother is now ill and doesn't know if he is up to a Grand Slam Day.

The eldest won't let the ticket go to waste!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Second Day

I got up late today after a fantastic night's sleep. I went to the Village Club just outside Cardiff where I am a member. It was really good just to be able to relax and do some exercises. That was fun.

On the way out I met with an old colleague at Cytun, Petra. She looked well and was about to enjoy a swim. I kidnapped her for a while.

Otherwise - all is well and I'm enjoying my enforced break.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

First Day Off Sick

I slept a lot today and went to see a pastor/friend in the afternoon. He did me a lot of good.

I really enjoyed reading the front page of The Times and was delighted that the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish may put a stop to all this oath, flags and queens business. Where are those guys in Whitehall coming from?

I went to see Rambo tonight and thought that I shouldn't really be watching all that violence. Then, I thought that watching a little vicarious Hollywood violence can be quite therapeutic. It all depends on how badly some people have annoyed you!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Off Sick

I'm off sick for a fortnight but I can go to the France match on Saturday if I behave. That will be hard

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Triple Crown

Thursday and Friday was all about getting nervous for the Irish trip. I didn't sleep much on Friday night and sped off to Bristol in good time. There, the Welsh rugby army was gathering.

The flight to Dublin was choppy. It was all about too much wind.

During the game I was able to help some friends from Cardiff with the singing. The Irish seemed to appreciate all the help that we gave with the anthems and the Fields of Athenry.

Towards the end of the game some of my friends let it be known that I was a minister of religion. I wasn't dressed like one and I certainly didn't behave like one. The only clue I was willing to give was a discernment: Shane Williams is really an angel but not many people are supposed to know.

On the way out of Corke Park the Welsh crowd in one tunnel began to sing I Bob Un Sy'n Ffyddlon. I explained to an Irish fan that the song was all about crowns in heaven. He took it well.

I arrived back home safe for church this morning. I didn't like to see Manchester United being knocked out of the cup but a Triple Crown made up for it.

Saturday was just brilliant and more brilliant. Next Saturday will be even better - I hope.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Fear, Democracy and Religion

Today, I attended a really good conference between Wales' Muslim communities and a number churches. Other friends were also there and made significant contributions. It was held in Tredegar House, Newport.

Congratulations to all those who arranged the conference.

It was really weird being asked to consider what I feared about the Muslim faith. Very little is the answer, but other people out there clearly do. Muslims were also asked to consider their fear of the Christian faith.

One Muslim delegate confessed her fear of Goths. That's understandable I suppose. Come to think of it, I don't fear Goths either. I have some Goth friends.

It's just people who fear Muslims that scare me. They really don't have to.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Sign of the Times - NHS Parking

Before a really good meeting between the churches to discuss the troubles of the Middle East, I got a copy of The Times and read an article by Nigel Hawkes and David Rose indicating that the NHS in England is heading for a surplus this year of £1.8bn.

What I can't understand is this. If the Health Minister in London, Ben Bradshaw, is so touchy about Wales removing most of the parking charges for hospitals by 2011 why doesn't he do likewise in England and create devo harmony once again? It seems that they have plenty of money to spare after cutting everything to the bone.

There is a good convention that should have been remembered - its not on for a government minister in England to have a go at a government minister in Wales or the other way round. Beyond that, Bradshaw forgot that the waiting times between the two nations aren't calculated in the same way. They aren't that different in terms of outcomes.

By the way. Wales has also been rather busy spending money on trying to make sure that people, in the long term, don't get ill in the first place. I don't want anyone to wait a long time for treatment but I'd rather we all had healthier life styles.

I don't think the spat was about health really but about the place of private service providers in the health sector and keeping them on board. London wants to keep them happy: Cardiff has better things to do with its time. Quite right in my view. The comments from London were not well received.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Free Parking and a Ticket

Today was just brilliant. It was announced this morning by the Welsh Assembly Government that almost all parking would be free around Welsh hospitals from 2011. I knew that it was right to do all that campaigning back in 1997. People shouldn't have to pay extra taxes for being ill.

I also got my ticket for the Ireland v Wales match on Saturday. That's really brilliant.

Work was all about the Christian Aid Board, clearing 44 emails and a Saint David's Day supper with my friends at Bethel Chapel in Rhiwbina. I really enjoyed the supper and the company.

What a great day!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Pontypridd and Photos

This morning I read the Gospel story of the blind man being healed. It was really strange. Because the print was so small I could hardly see the words. Sign of the times for me.

Tonight I gave a picture of myself to my old parish in Cardiff - Dewi Sant. It's almost a decade to0 late. It's Ok though - I got it to them before I'm dead. They can now put me on the wall.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Saint David's Day March

This afternoon I joined thousands of friends who came together in Cardiff to walk from City Hall to the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay to celebrate Saint David's Day. It was just brilliant to see so many from so many different background celebrate their Welshness in such a fantastic family friendly way. The organizers did a brilliant job.

Things have moved on so much in Wales. I can remember being on the second march some three years ago when a few hundred walked from Cathedral Road to City Hall.

I also got a mention in the Western Mail today for taking ICM to task. When responding to a poll last Sunday I was asked if I knew that Wales was governed by a Labour and a badly pronounced Plaid "Simroo" (Cymru) coalition. The apology was nice as was the commitment to take care with such things.