Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Diary Days

The EHRC day was encouraging today. All of us would like to live in a prejudice free country. I'll put that one down in my diary for some twenty years time - or even a little longer. I fear that a lot of prejudice is on the way.

The rest of the day was about travelling back on a really sticky day. I discovered on my return that I have two really,really important things to do on the same day. I'm going to pray that one of those things could be done on a different day.

The non prejudice thing could come any day though - I wish!

Monday, 29 June 2009


I'm in Birmingham enjoying the company of friends in the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It's been a good day and I'm looking forward to the work we have to do tomorrow.

I went back to the gym this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. I didn't want to risk inflaming a touch of whiplash after my little car accident. I think that was the right decision but I'm pleased to be back running and rowing.

All this exercise has now become part of my life and I'm enjoying it.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Crossing Boundaries

This has been a really good weekend despite the Lions losing the series.

I went with the Gorsedd of Bards to herald the coming of the Eisteddfod to Ebbw Vale in 2010. The people of the town did a fantastic job on welcoming us. Culturally and linguistically, some borders were crossed. In me, Wales will always be one.

Today was a blessing as I preached twice in Bridgend Welsh Independents Chapel. It was really good to see some old friends. I also had a fantastic lunch with some old friends in the area. I was beaten twice at Mastermind by a little boy who isn't yet ten. He's really bright and I can cope with the ignominy - I'm used to it. Many thanks for a great day.

This evening, I prayed a great deal before reflecting on Acts 11: 1-18. Peter got a tough time from members of the church in Jerusalem for taking the Gospel to a non Jewish home. I learnt that when God's people are given visions do do things that other Christians aren't comfortable with, that they have to go back to tell their story.

Thank God, this weekend, I have had many stories to tell.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson

I woke up early this morning to the news that Michael Jackson had died. It was all very sad. I don't really know what else to say. Everyone else seem to have said far too much already.

Betsan Powys did a good job on covering the All Wales Convention's last big public meeting in Cardiff City Hall last night in her BBC Blog. I was very tired after hearing evidence all day. But it was good evidence about something that really matters to me.

It was a good day before a sad day.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


I am now on a train travelling back from London Paddington to Cardiff. Today was a good working day thinking some things through with friends and colleagues from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Things are not easy for churches these days. Finances are a real issue.

I have thought a lot over the past few days about prayer. It's always a great encouragement for those who work for the churches if they are prayed for. My home church in Pontypridd is good at that. I'll pray some more for my friends and hope they will do the same for me. That would be good.

It was probably the heat in London, but I had the mother of all headaches this afternoon. I'm told that people who come to work saying that they had migraine don't really have a migraine - just a bad headache. So, I drank a lot of water and went to see the new Transformers film to kill some time while waiting for the much cheaper later train.

The film was brilliant and the headache went away for the most part.

Red Cliff

I never got to see Looking for Eric. I went to see Red Cliff instead. It has the most fantastic battle scenes you can begin to imagine. Well worth seeing.

I'm in London now though, enjoying the company of ecumenical friends. That's good.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


On Saturday I went to a birthday party in my sister's house in Ruthin. My brother was 60 years old.

We arrived on time for the Lions match which we enjoyed seeing in the Farmers Inn. I remain full of hope for the last two tests. With a Welsh front row we should be OK. In my objective view, it would also be good to have another look at James Hook and Shane Williams.

Sunday was for going to Saint Catherine's, writing an article and going to see Looking for Eric as a Father's day treat.

Friday, 19 June 2009

New Car and Prayer

Today I got a new car. Or, to be more accurate, I got a different car. It's a Vauxhall Astra and silver. Because I had a little accident with my little green car earlier this week, its days are now over.

I thought a lot today about a friend who isn't very well. He was on my mind all day and very much in my prayers.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Happy Birthday Open University

At the end of a busy day, last night, I thoroughly enjoyed a dinner to celebrate the 40th birthday of the Open University in the Millennium Centre. I was fortunate enough to make some new friends and enjoy the company of a modern Welsh hero, Tyrone O'Sullivan.

There were other heroes there as well - especially those who had achieved academic success.


The Lions did well with yet another victory. I can't wait until Saturday!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Windbags to Moneybags..and boyo

The other day, I fleetingly bumped into the Kinnocks in Queen Street, Cardiff. Both had been campaigning on the streets for the European elections. That was a tough job a couple of weeks ago. You couldn't pay me to do it - especially for somebody else.

Lady Kinnock , in her former role, was always strong on international issues and helped me on more than one occasion with some pretty tough and tragic refugee cases. For that, I thank her.

I don't know how much a human life is worth to the Daily Mail but it was clearly bothered today by the alleged £12 million the Kinnocks 'picked up' in 'pay and perks'.

As a democrat, I have no issue with a free press discussing the financial remuneration of leading politicians. Such things should be public - provided they are accurate and fair.

It's a smalll thing compared to a whacking £12 million issue I know but what I did object to is a fully grown up journalist, who should know better, using the 'boyo' word for a Welshman yet again.

Don't people like Geoffrey Wansell know that the only people who use the word 'boyo' are patronising and arrogant individuals who know absolutely nothing about Wales. No one in Wales now says 'boyo'!

So - dear Daily Mail, if you know so little about us - what do you really know about anything you write about?

Sunday, 14 June 2009


This weekend I watched the Lions, did some gardening and preached at Efail Isaf.

My method for doing gardening and DIY isn't orthodox. But, sometimes I do try hard. One of these days I'll get this 'nice day' in the garden thing. But, not just yet.

Friday, 12 June 2009


I treated myself to a day off today. I really must do it more often.

I went to London and spent some time in the American Embassy. It was all huge fun and of great interest. The welcome was also great. During the Obama campaign I warmed to the good people of Wisconsin. I'll go there one day if they'll let me in to the US again.

I'm still an Obama fan and rejoice in a lot of things that have happened since his Inauguration. It was good today to reflect a little more on Welsh politics.

I also went to see a film in Leicester Square later in the afternoon to kill some time. I wanted to see Looking for Eric now that Ronaldo has gone from my beloved Manchester United. They had this film on where a really bad guy, according to the Evening Standard, got his head blown up in a microwave right at the end.

I didn't know you could do that with a microwave. Regardless, I'm sure doing that is against some sort of clerical code of practice.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Today in Wales I struggled with two intolerances. One belonged to language. The other belonged to immigration status.

Something happened a week ago that made the aggressive expression of intolerance more rather than less likely in the UK. Somehow or other, we have changed and I don't like it.

Tonight, I feel a little afraid. A dark arm has been stretched out over Europe.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Just Depends on What You do Next...

This weekend was memorable. The Lions won - just. Our young football internationals also won against Azerbaijan - just.

The Conservatives beat Labour - just. Plaid Cymru improved a little - just. The UK Independence Party got a seat - just. The Liberal Democrats did well in their target seats - just.

The BNP got just 5% in Wales. That's a lot here for a party that doesn't allow black people to join it. I noted during the early hours of this morning some mainstream politicians suggesting that tactics concerning the BNP may now have to change. They may be right.

Labour, by its own admission, did badly - more than just. The view that Labour could never be beaten in Wales has now gone. Fortress Wales is no more. The psychology of that is significant.

So! What happens next? I believe that there is in the middle of all this one small comfort for Welsh Labour. What happens next in Wales, to a crucial extent, still rests in its hands. The next few hours and days will be crucial.

At a time of significant change I still dare to hope that Wales' mainstream parties will be wise and generous enough to be a little more than the geo-political tribes that have produced them. A great deal changed this weekend but Wales is still a place that warms, at different times and through different intensities, to governments that bring people together and take actions to ensure that no-one gets left behind.

In Wales, taking that rout is still a must for all the parties who wish to win. It also presents the best antidote to the BNP.

That just reminded me of something else. Yasmina won The Apprentice last night selling chocolate that was cheap, well packaged and tasted horrible. Alas, such things do happen.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Important Things...

Today, I voted and did lots of other less important things. I also really want those I voted for to win..

Tonight I played football ... scored a lucky goal...let in three while in the goal..and ran for Wales. It was fun and I didn't hurt anyone.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


The British and Irish Lions were brilliant tonight against the Golden Lions. The Welsh boys did really well. This is going to be a good tour.

Tonight, I also attended the launch of the Welsh language Internet news service Golwg 360. I hope it works...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The BNP and all that...

I have rarely felt so low about UK politics. I'm not alone in that feeling. Yet, I'm certain to vote on Thursday. Being able to vote, whatever I think about Westminster politics at the moment, is an activity I have no intention of compromising by not voting.

Some of us thought a great deal today about whether faith leaders in Wales should go public and seek to tell others not to vote for the BNP. Some very prominent Anglicans from England have already done so. They have that right to express their views.

I'd rather encourage everyone to vote and uphold an aspiration that Wales is a welcoming and diverse nation.

Szczeb said...

Good points Szczeb and thanks for pressing me further. I hear your concern. It's expressed very well.

Let me be provocative. Dare I suggest a different way forward to the paths offered by the two alternatives you suggest in your latest posting. In the background I discern, perhaps wrongly, the all too familiar traditional arguments that have flowed from a vulnerable culture not wanting to loosen its grip on an absolute principle because that very loosening may well lead to the thin edge of a terminal cultural wedge.

What I am seeking to contend with here is not the manning of the usual cultural barricades for defensive purposes by a set of absolutes but an approach more reflective of the dynamic allowed by the two buzz words of modern equality thinking - reasonable and proportionate. A dynamic that can look to a greater confidence and linguistic growth precisely because it is not so constrained by fear. The absolutism caused by fear is rarely reasonable or proportionate.

The removal of that fear may well demand the meeting on common ground of two dynamics. It may well demand, on the part of Wales' minority linguistic community, such confidence that it is far more able to go beyond the absolutes of the barricades and accept the vulnerability of reaching out. From the majority linguistic tradition there must be a growing recognition that it is clearly an unreasonable act to ask a culture to so dilute itself that it dies. It must meet the reaching out with a shared sense of belonging and a desire to promote a common good.

Wales desperately needs a shared set of narratives and transforming conversations that allow us, as a diverse and modern people, to imagine how our cultures and politics can be so much better than they are now - for all our sakes. For such aspirations to be more than a mere collusion with rhetoric there must be many more points of conversation around shared futures in the common space called Wales.

Forgive my aspirational ramblings...but this singular noun that is Wales must become far more of a shared plural experience. It is well within our means to hold shared identities in that singular noun.