True Answers from Family Fortunes

If you have ever been lost, held in a morasse of doubt as to the veracity of your cranial capacity, or wondering whether you ever really learned anything at school, read these and remember what a great country we live in.  I find it helps if I imagine them being said with brummy accents, for some reason …

Q. Name something you take to the beach
A. Turkey sandwiches

Q. Name something a blind person might use
A. A sword

Q. Name a dangerous race
A. The Arabs*

Q. Name something that floats in the bath
A. Water

Q. Name a number you have to memorise
A. 7

Q. Name something in the garden that's green
A. Shed

Q. Name something that flies that doesn't have an engine
A. A bicycle with wings

Q. Name an animal you might see at the zoo
A. A dog

Q. Name something associated with the police
A. Pigs

Q. Name a food that can be brown or white
A. Potato

Q. Name a jacket potato topping
A. Jam

Q. Name something with a hole in it
A. Window

ps.  Why did we all watch it?

*that one's especially for Maria

The Cult of Youth

Written in my diary on Wednesday night:

Why does the world glorify Youth?  I now know.

People in general, pursuing pleasure, addict themselves to the thrill (and whatever activity or substance helps them feel it).  If they do, they will either end up in a junkiefied wreck, or as a mean old grumpy wotsit, reminiscing about the days when 'it' was still fun.

And hence the Cult of Youth – it is glorified because that was the era in which the thrill could still be felt, before the great pleasures had been dulled by empty, greedy repetition.  'Enjoy it while you can' is the cry.  'Live fast, die young'.

NO!!  Live well; live more.

CS Lewis, tonight, pointed out a simple thing to me: unless a grain of wheat dies, it cannot grow; it cannot multiply.  Unless we have the guts to let go of our security blanket happy places and morphine-lite thrill rides, they will just shrivel up and waste away.  We will squeeze every last drop out, then chew the rind, but it's barren and empty.

It's tough, but we have to let it go; to free ourselves from the need to be pleasured.

If we do, we'll find fruitfulness begin to bud unbidden: here, there and everywhere, thrills and joyfulnesses by the bunch, all to be enjoyed with thankfulness.  Our black and white TVs are cute and endearing, but they are not to be watched day and night, night and day.  If we'd only make room, not only are there are 16" flat-screen HD tellys, but also archery, novels, cooking, horse-riding, berry-picking, real ale, conjurors, mountainsides, toddlers, cricket, wood-chopping, bacon sandwiches, Maoris, poetry, siestas, Harry Hill, and a hundred other pleasures waiting to be discovered by you and your friends.

We should keep budding right into our old age.  We don't, and so we think that Youth is somehow special, because that was when we last felt special.  Alas.

Back in the Hood


How do you like that?!

I grew up on Robin Hood – making bows and arrows at every opportunity, watching the Errol Flynn version more than any other film (and isn't Basil Rathbone just ASTOUNDING in it?!  Nearly as good as Alan Rickman in Prince of Thieves!), loving Maid Marian & Her Merry Men, wanting to be Will Scarlet.  Any guesses as to what is my favourite Disney film?  Well, exactly.

I like this photo because it helped remind me of some of those things.  Plus it's Russell Crowe being directed by Ridley Scott, and I think we all know that a British-based Gladiator would be an absolute PLEASURE, if they get it right.

Will they have Nottinghamshire accents?

England, O England

I used to tell people that I had to leave Britain in order to realise that I absolutely love it, and I'm wondering if a similar thing has been happening concerning England since I've been living in Scotland.  I've just been 'down South' for my Easter holidays – in Luton, London, and the Westcountry – and my, it is a lovely land.

But more than that, it's an identificational thing.  Last week, I bought a polo-shirt with ENGLAND (and a number 7) on the back, and I'm pretty sure that this is the first time I have ever had an England shirt of any description.

[Even Maria has one – worn throughout the 6 Nations – which might be slightly questionable for an American, but she has been singing 'I'm England till I die…' since going to Wembley the other week, so maybe that's okay.]

So I'm wondering whether I'm finally getting comfortable with the fact that I'm English.  In the past, I've always described myself as British, and still would (though of course it's fine to be both), but maybe I'm now trying to learn what I particularly have to offer as an Englishman, and not merely a Briton.

What do we have to offer then?  Well – and I'm being honest here – the first thought that comes to mind is that the names we give to our food are truly outstanding (even when the food itself isn't).  Try reading these as if you didn't know what they actually refer to and see what images spring to mind:

Bubble & Squeak
Bangers & Mash
Spotted Dick
Knickerbocker Glory
Black Pudding
Toad in the Hole
Jam Roly-Poly

What a heritage!

But seriously, what is it that England can do for the world, apart from apologise to it?  What is in our makeup that isn't quite the same anywhere else?  What does God hope for when He thinks of the English?  Who are we, and why?

Answers on a postcard.  We invented the postal system, you know …

And we eat chocolate at Easter, because the colour of the chocolate, and the colour of the wood on the Cross …

A very tiny note:

Never again will I wonder why we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by indulging in confectionary.  If you have been doing without sweet things for all of Lent, there is NOTHING that expresses gratefulness for new life and sweetness coming back into the world quite like biting the head off a Lindt chocolate rabbit.

Amen.  He is risen indeed.


'The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.  He who vindicates me is near.'

[Isaiah 50:5-8]

Some thoughts as we approach Easter:

– The last few weeks have made themselves fuller and more busy than I'd anticipated, and I don't feel ready for Lent to end.
– I now realise why we eat chocolate at Easter – because we've been fasting, of course!  I am looking forward to keeping the Feast.
– Spring is here.  Things are growing.  Life is starting (see previous post).
– The world is far too complicated.  Jesus loves me.