Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tusk wounds

Apologies for my absence for the last few days - the elephant that we thought had been killed had left a little present behind.

If there is anything that I like less than being around hospitals, it;s being around ER or A&E rooms, depending on where in the world you sit. So, when I came back from going with my son to football lessons on Saturday and was told I needed to take my wife to A&E, it was the start of a fun-packed few days.


She had developed a slight infection around some of the stitches she had had, and after calling a local dressing clinic was told to go back to the A&E department of the hospital where she had the op. After a wait of only (only?) three hours, she was admitted at 8.30 Saturday night to receive what was then called "a 24 hour course of IV antibiotics."

They stopped the IV yesterday. They also removed the stitches, which may have been aggravating the problem in the first place. She's still under observation to make sure the problem does not flare up again.

So I've spent a lot of time these last few days travelling to and from the hospital - hence my absence.

We also discovered the implant she was given was a temporary one - something she wasn't told at the time.

On the plus side, her recovery otherwise continues better than expected.

More later.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

On days like these

There are days when everything seems to go well, things flow smoothly and there are no problems. Those are days to be thankful for.

And then there are days when no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, nothing goes right. You trip over your own feet, the work you tried so hard to do goes wrong, you cut the blue wire instead of the red one, that sort of thing.

Lately I've been having quite a few of those days. Mainly because, I suspect, with my wife home I'm trying to walk on eggshells in size 12 Doc Martens, but partly because she is feeling down as well, and needs someone to take out her frustration on.

When I was a younger man, I liked to think of myself as a teddy bear - able to soak up all the tears and tantrums of my friends, and still able to stand there when needed. As I get older, I sadly find that even teddy bears wear out over time, and need repair every so often.

Having said that, I have to realise as well that this is something that was going to happen, and if I'm being honest I have to accept that it's not my strength I need to rely on - it's Gods.

"Take my yoke upon you, for my work is easy and my burden is light." To understand that, you have to remember that a yoke at the time of the New Testament was designed to be worn by two cattle - sharing the burden and the workload. If I have a prayer for today, it is that I remember that when days like these occur.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

B5 Review: The Gathering

In which I start to make my way through the Babylon 5 box set and share my thoughts.....

In the set, The Gathering is a stand-alone movie, so it gives me a chance to view a few things and give a few thoughts. I need to preface this with the fact that this was NOT the first episode of B5 I saw - that was The Parliament of Dreams - and it was not until they started to repeat the series in the UK that I caught this one.

Plotwise, it set up the story and the concept of Babylon 5 fairly well, but like a lit of TV pilots it does tend to try and pull a little too much in. That's not the fault of the writer or director - it's the fault of the American television system where you have to try and sell the entire concept in one pilot program, and that can cause some problems as we will see later. As an example, if you ever see the pilot for Hill Street Blues, Hill and Renko (two of the more popular and complex characters) were shot and killed in the pilot - the first proper episode had to deal with that by finding them at the end near death.

The plot revolves essentially around an attempt to assassinate one of the alien ambassadors, Kosh of the Vorlon Empire, and also introduce the other major characters.

G'Kar of the Narn Regime and Mollari of the Centauri Empire are there in almost complete form, with their mutual enmity and hatred fully formed, but even in those early days the seeds are sown of the respect that will grow as the series develops.

Delenn of the Minbari is also present, but in a harsher and different from from the series character. I found both her look and voice a bit too grating, but this was one of the things that was addressed when the series proper began.

Also conspicuous by their absence in the pilot were the diplomatic aides - all of whom went on to be important characters in the series proper.

On the human side, Commander Sinclair and Chief of Security Garibaldi are also there, but we have a different head of MedLab (Doctor Kyle) and a different Second in Command (Lt Commander Takashima). There was also a different love interest for Sinclair, Carolyn Sykes. All were meant to be recurring characters - all were replaced fro various reasons. At least Dr Kyle and Carolyn were acknowledged later - I'm not sure yet if we ever found out what happened to Takashima, although some of the things planned for her did come around with another character later.

There was also Lyta Alexander, the assigned commercial telepath. She would come back in a major way in later stories.

As pilots and introductiosn go, it;s a good action film which sets up a number of mysteries picked up in the main series.

  1. What the heck are the Vorlons?
  2. Why are Sinclair and Delenn so friendly?
  3. What is the "hole in your mind" that Sinclair hears about?
  4. Just what did Lyta see?

I give it 4 out of 5 - now for the series proper....

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Apologies - lost looking for elephants

I did mean to come back and post every day, honestly and truly I did - but when it's an hour and a half each way from the home to hospital, twice a day, things kinda get drained away, such as energy and time to post.

After the operation on Tuesday, I saw Doreen lying there, pale and sweating, oxygen tube, morphine drip and fluids in place and four drains taking gung away from the incisions.

Today - she's up and walking around, there's only one drain in place still, and God willing she will be home on Monday.

The road ahead is still long - she may be bringing that tube home with her, and if so it need sot be checked every day - but she is recovering, and that is the main thing.

We also still do not know if the elephant is well and truly dead - the signs are it is no more, but until we hear from the specialist, it's still a remote possibility it will come back and try to trample us.

We both thank those reading this for the good thoughts and prayers you have all been saying - keep it up folks, it's working!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Elephant hunting

Well, that's an ..... interesting couple of days.

I finally took Doreen into hospital at 6 pm last night - the letter said five, but at about 12 she got a call from the Bed Manager at the hospital.

"Mrs Williams, you haven't called us."

"Was I meant to?"

"It states in the covering letter that you should call us on the date of admittance."

"What covering letter?"

"The one sent with your appointment letter."

"We didn't get a covering letter, we got two appointment letters"


So they say they'll call back between 4 and 5 that night with the ward to go to.

You can see it coming - 5.15 and no call. The next ten to fifteen minutes are spent trying to get through, and finally.....

"Oh - come in to the ward on your letter."


She had the operation today, and so far all looks like it is going well. Nothing to report that is bad - we await biopsy results now.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Clearing out

My wife and I - well, mostly me if truth be told - are inadvertent hoarders. Some unfortunate business with the taxman some years ago means that we have kept bank statements and books going back some twenty years - but we just ran out of room for them.

So over the last week or two we've been having a clean out, which has involved a lot of shredding of documents and disposal of same.

Sidebar - our local council will recycle waste paper, but not if it is shredded as it clogs the machinery up. So, rather than using all the old statements which we are told to shred for security reasons for recycling, I had to dump them all in the communal landfill site. Something not quite right there....

Where was I? Oh yes - the only problem is you can;t shred old chequebooks, and they have account details on so you can;t dump them. So guess what I've had to do for the last few nights?

Burn them - but they gave me a chance to read them and some memories came up. The first bike we bought Alastair. The cheque we wrote for the deposit on our current house. The pram we bought before Alastair arrived, that served well for both our boys. Memories that we carry for all our life, even if they have to go up in smoke.

I've also had to clear some things out of my personal life - all the anger and fear over the Elephant, things like that. Later today, I take Doreen to the hospital for her mastectomy. I'll let you know my feelings here over the next few days.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


In a previous post, which you can find at, I discussed the upcoming vote of the General Synod of the Church of England on women bishops.

Before I get to that, however, I want to talk about fudge. You know what fudge is - the soft toffee beloved of many children, that can be flavoured with many things, but at heart is basically the same in all its various forms. People like it, people hate it, I personally like a little but as I get older I can't eat as much as I may have been able to in the past.

Fudge has another meaning in the English language - to quote the Cambridge dictionary:-

to avoid making a decision or giving a clear answer about something:
The government continues to fudge the issue by refusing to give exact figures.

fudge noun [C usually singular]
She suspects that this compromise deal will be nothing more than a fudge.
It's a bit of a fudge but we could put the cost through on next year's budget.

The Synod, after an extremely long and by all accounts full-blooded debate, voted to allow the consecration of women bishops, but also to draw up guidelines for the way that they work that will, and I paraphrase, allow traditionalist priests who do not recognise women in positions of leadership to work with them.

In other words, a fudge.

It is sometimes a useful exercise, in situations like this, to think of that common phrase that kids wear on wristbands on their wrists "What would Jesus do?"

I think he would give a big sigh, stand up and remind them of a simple fact - it's not important who is in charge of your fellowship, so long as they are doing and teaching what he shared with us when he was here first time. He would remind us that there are people crying out to Him, and wanting our help as he helped us, but we're ignoring them to fight and argue over who is in charge. He'd then tell us to stop arguing and live the life He wants us to live, before turning and having a chat with the little old woman that no-one else sits with.

There is no argument - God is in charge. We're here to do his work, and if he says a woman should be in charge we chould not be arguing about it.

The Church today is like fudge - many flavours, but at heart it should be united in the same basis. More and more, I recognise that is not the case. Just as I can only tolerate so much of the sweet, so I get increasingly fed up with the continued arguments. I just want to shout "STOP!!" and point out the passage in I Corinthians 3

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each should be careful how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ

The other problem with fudge, by the way, is it satisfies for a little while, but doesn't stave off the real hunger for long. I think the General Synod, rather than solving a very real problem, has postponed their judgement day for a later date. The problem with that is the day is going to come far faster than they think.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

A point of debate

Trekkies. Love them or hate them, we can at least talk about them and their never-ending discussions.

In particular, what was the best Star Trek series of all time? Personally, I preferred Deep Space nine, but I have to say that there is one show that beat all of them into a hat and left the rest standing.

Babylon 5 - and I've just ordered the complete box set off Amazon.

That's everything - the five series, the six films, the Crusade collection AND the Lost Tales at 40% off. Forty two disks, and a whole summer of viewing.

I'll let you know how I get on over the weeks - once I work out again the correct viewing order for the films...

We now know how big it is

The Elephant that is.

An Indian calf.

Excuse me while I go and say a few words of thanks and scream in mild delight....

Monday, 7 July 2008

Eight things I liked about Linlithgow

I grew up in Linlithgow, and I probably don't think enough about what it was like growing up in that part of Scotland. So today, I offer my eight thoughts that come first into my head while thinking about what to me will always be the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow.

1) Linlithgow Palace

Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots no less, and dating back to the 12th Century. When the Black Death was in Edinburgh, the Royal Family decamped to Linlithgow and lived there for a couple of years. Ruined by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, I used to play in the ruins and spent much of my youth in Linlithgow Peel, the park that surrounds the Palace. In addition, my father was the Royal Park Constable for many years (the Peelie in local slang) so there is a family connection as well.

2) St Michael's Church

To get to the Palace, you go up a narrow hilled street, and climbing that hill you see St Michael's Church on the right. The spire is unique, and well known across the country, but in itself it is a fine example of the type of church that was built in Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. It's not that Church I went to as a kid, however - in fact, legend has it I single-handedly stopped my family going there, but that's another story.

3) St Ninian Craigmailen Church

That would be this one. I was in the Boys Brigade company here. I sang (before my voice didn't so much break as scatter into a million tiny pieces) in the choir. I my have some disagreements with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, but your first church always sticks with you.

4) Cockleroi

The highest point in West Lothian is Cockeroi, an extinct volcano about three miles north of Linlithgow. As a kid I sometimes took a day to walk up to the top, have a picnic lunch and look over my home town like this picture.

5) The Grand Union Canal

Another childhood haunt was to walk along this canal, which when I was a kid was disused and falling into disrepair. Now it's a burgeoning tourist attraction. If you're ever there, pay it a visit.

6) Merker Terrace

The street I grew up in, and across the road was my school, Linlithgow Academy. Whatever talent I posses was nurtured there, so if you're looking for someone or something to blame, there's your target. There are many things about my childhood I would never want to revisit ti, but it;s the street I grew up in and for that I am always grateful.

7) Linlithgow Rose

Also near where I lived was Linlithgow Rose's home ground - the team that beat the big boys in last year's Scottish FA cup. I'm not the world's greatest footie fan, but I used to sit on my veranda at home watching them over the stadium wall.

8) The Riding of The Marches

The first Tuesday after the Second Thursday of June is Marches day, an annual holiday when the town boundaries are marked by a procession, where much quaffing of ale and other liquid consumables is undertaken. I loved it as a kid, and wish I could go once more.

Friday, 4 July 2008

African or Indian?

It's been a quiet week, but not a lazy one as we approach the date for my wife's operation.

Monday she had what is called a Sentinel Node Biopsy - essentially, they inject a radioactive isotope into her, followed later by a blue dye to identify which lymph nodes are closest to the breast she will have an operation on. These are then removed and taken analysis to confirm that the cancer hasn't turned nasty and started to spread. It's a relatively new technique, as in the past they'd have simply harvested the lymph nodes at the time of the mastectomy.

So, when we see the doctor on Wednesday, we'll find out if the elephant in the room is an African bull or an Indian calf. If it's the Indian, we have a tough few weeks ahead but we can get through it. If it's the African - well, a few words may appear here that I will regret but need to say.

If you follow my meaning.

Which you probably don't.

As a result, Doreen has been resting all week while her mum and dad and I (but mainly them for the latter part of the week) get my younger son off to school. The one saving grace has been the absence of Alastair, my oldest lad, who has been on a school trip to Paris for the week. The fun part of that was when they set off on Tuesday - early.

Very early - 5.15 in the morning, which meant a 4 AM start so that he had everything he needed with him. Having visited Montmatre, Sacre Couer and the Eiffel Tower, as well as (most importantly in his view) Disneyland Paris, he gets back tonight at about 11 - which may mean 10, but most likely means midnight. Given I will be spending the weekend shifting furniture and stripping wallpaper, I fully expect to be one of the walking dead come Sunday.

And so the day draws closer.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The only way religion and politics mix

As I stated when I started this blog, I am a Christian and have been for nearly 26 years. When people hear this, their immediate reaction is to ask if I'm an Anglican or some other denomination.

Well, the short answer to that question is almost always "No". You see, I call myself an evangelical moderate Christian. Not an Anglican, or a Methodist, or a Calvinist - just a Christian. In my life, I have worshipped at a Presbyterian church, a Methodist Church, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland, an Anglican church, an Assembly of God, another Methodist Church, yet another Methodist church, and currently at a Baptist church. Each of these denominations have their own rules, regulations "do and don't" lists and approaches to even simple things like communion and who gets to take it when. If I had to believe in every single one of these rules and precepts - well, I'd be a bit like Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister.

I would have been for women priests and against women priests, for all receiving communion and for restricting communion to members only, kneeling for prayer and standing for prayer, sitting for singing and standing for singing, only recognising the King James Version and allowing all versions of the bible, vehemently against same-sex relationships and vehemently for them, condemning any form of trading or work on a Sunday or doing what needs to be done, etc etc etc.

Oh - and I'd be stark staring mad.

Better by far to go with what Jesus had to say on matters and worship where you feel (a) you are getting the teaching you need, (b) you feel welcome and part of the fellowship, and (c) you can test what the preacher is saying.

Why has this come to mind now? If you watch the news or read the newspaper, you may be aware of a schism which in truth has been in the Church of England for years threatening to blow wide open. It seems to be focused on a perceived "liberal bias" towards same sex relationships and homosexual church leaders, and the leadership of women as ordained priests.

I'm no expert on these matters, but I do have a view.

In the case of women priests, I challenge you to show me anywhere where Jesus says women are not allowed to be leaders. Yes, there are strictures in Mosaic law, and yes Paul did write in his letters of women misusing the role of leadership or speaking just to look important, but (a) Jesus came to fulfill and release us from Mosaic law, and (b) Paul was very supportive of women leaders who followed God's will (Priscilla and Aquilla, and Timothy's mother, come immediately to mind). It was women who misused that position of trust that were the issue. So I'm afraid I don't share their views on that one.

Homosexuality is a slightly more dodgy matter, and I hope I make this clear. I live by a simple doctrine - "Hate the sin, love the sinner". The Bible clearly teaches that this is a sinful practice - and I see no way of getting out of that one. But how can we condemn when there are things we do which are also sinful? Time and time again we are taught in the Gospels not to judge unless we are without sin - and believe me I do not fall into that category.

So while I try to accept all men as they are, I can see why the more conservative branches of the Church of England are upset. Is it enough for them to break off? I'm not sure, but then I'm not an Anglican - I'm a Christian, and Jesus accepted them as they weer while also challenging them. I hope and pray I have the openness to do the same.

Oh - and the only way religion and politics mix? There is no way unless it's in satire. Who was it who said "Christian Politics can be the most powerful force for good in the world, but a christian political party can be the most destructive?"