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March 29, 2017

A grown-up goodbye

From the Prime Minister to President Tusk:

. . .Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.

. . . The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation.

To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened.

In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent. . . .

Let the work begin.

March 23, 2017

What do we do?

London defies terrorists.

Alfred the Great had a slightly different answer.

March 22, 2017

Well done!

The boy who corrected NASA's figures.

No sacrifice

James Blunt and Ed Sheeran cover Elton John's song Sacrifice.

March 20, 2017

Kind reader

We closed our Amazon seller site more than a year ago. Readers have entered the Amazon site and have somehow managed to order a copy of Share the Inheritance. We're thrilled, but we can't enter Amazon seller, discover your name and address and post your order to you.

PLEASE contact us directly at if you would like a copy of the book. Many thanks!

Dame Vera Lynn turns 100 -- She sang us to victory

blog_dame vera lynn at 100.png

The White Cliffs of Dover

Dame Vera, described by Wiki--

Dame Vera Margaret Lynn CH DBE OStJ (née Welch; born 20 March 1917), widely known as "the Forces' Sweetheart", is an English singer, songwriter and actress. Her musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during the Second World War.

During the war she toured Egypt, India, and Burma as part of ENSA, giving outdoor concerts for the troops. The songs most associated with her are "We'll Meet Again", "The White Cliffs of Dover", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "There'll Always Be an England".

She remained popular after the war, appearing on radio and television in the UK and the US . . . Her last single, "I Love This Land", was released to mark the end of the Falklands War. In 2009, at age 92, she became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart.

She has devoted much time and energy to charity work connected with ex-servicemen, disabled children, and breast cancer. She is held in great affection by veterans of the Second World War to this day and in 2000 was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.

Today Dame Vera celebrates her 100th birthday.

Thanks to Michael Clark for the photo and timely reminder.

March 17, 2017

Happy St Patrick

St Patrick was first a Briton then a Christian then an Irishman, and finally the middle-aged saint of second chances, love and freedom.


Celtic Cross in Northumbria

The patron saint of the Irish, Patrick was born in Britain and raised there until he was kidnapped.


Toward the end of the 4th century, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates. A teenage boy, he was taken west across the sea, to be sold into slavery in Ireland.

He was forced to tend sheep somewhere in the green glens of Antrim. He was cold and hungry and always at the mercy of those who owned him. In desperation he returned to his childhood faith in Christ. For six years he survived, and prayed. One night he heard the voice of God telling him it was time to leave.


Patrick began walking south. Miraculously no one stopped him or tried to seize him.

He reached Wexford, but couldn't find a ship that would take him to England. Then, sailors on a ship carrying wolfhounds to Gaul invited him on board. He was thrilled, but a bit surprised when the sailors offered him their nipples to be kissed - a sign of welcome.

They landed in Europe and discovered desolation. Tribes had recently crossed the frozen Rhine and devastated Gaul. Desperate for food, and despite the skepticism of the captain, Patrick prayed. To the amazed delight of the sailors a herd of pigs snuffled into view. . .

A sunny sanctuary

Still uncertain of his future, but following his inner voice, Patrick made his way across Gaul to a monastery on the sunny little island now called St. Honorat, which lay in the Mediterranean, not far from Cannes.

There he studied, prayed, and breathed in southern warmth and the scents of lavender and basil, lemon and roses. His six years of slavery in Ireland disappeared from his mind like a ship over the horizon.

At the monastery the monks held a civilised belief in books and the siesta. Patrick learned Latin, though not very well, and read the parables of Christ. He began to think he would be happy to live there the rest of his life.

Dream visions

But in his dreams that he saw the outstretched arms of the Irish imploring him to come back. He heard their voices calling to him from across the water. For a long time, fear kept him motionless.

He became a priest, and was approaching middle age when he had another visionary dream. He heard a voice say, “He who has given his own soul for you, He it is who speaks in you. Come back to Eire.”

Patrick made the free but frightening decision to return to the people who had kidnapped and enslaved him, and preach the love of God. He would face his own fears, church snobbery, betrayal and violence.

Return to Ireland

All too aware of the dangers and his own modest abilities, Patrick left the warm scents of the Mediterranean, the sun, and the sea, easy comradeship and the library of books, and crossed the mountains to the north. He sailed over turbulent northern waters, heading toward the green island where there was not one book and where, years earlier, he had spent six years as a hungry, naked slave boy.

Ireland rose on the horizon like the ship of captivity.

This was the place, Patrick would later write, where poverty and calamity were better for me than riches.

Faced with assault and assassination, Patrick made the daring decision to give himself to God. He decided to give his whole self sincerely, since God wasn't a fan of impersonations.

He sang a song as he walked through Ireland.

Faeth Fiadha, the Deer’s Cry

I arise today through the strength of heaven

light of sun,

radiance of moon,

splendour of fire,

speed of lightning

swiftness of wind,

depth of sea,

stability of earth,

firmness of rock.

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me. . .

Seeding community

With God’s strength behind him, Patrick founded communities of fellowship. He taught the Gospel by living it.

Despite local hostility, his first community grew as he healed the sick, gave pastoral care, and preached. When Patrick was sure the community could survive, he travelled on with his crook-shaped staff.

A few members from the first fellowship came with him to help him plant the second. As the second community grew, Patrick branched out and started several more. He was attacked and, at least once, held captive. That he was not killed was due, he wrote simply, to “the Lord.”

His communities were a stunning turnaround in a land where men and women had often waged bloody tribal wars over the ownership of cattle and slaves. The reason for their change of heart occurred because they

"became part of vibrant and loving Christian community; and the existence of such communities was the living evidence for the truth proclaimed" (Celtic Gifts, Robert Van de Weyer).

Defending freedom, attacking slavery

Patrick embodied love, fearlessness and generosity. He never hesitated to attack the accepted, profitable way of doing things if he thought it was wrong.

The Greek playwright Euripides is the first man in recorded history to denounce slavery--that thing of evil, by its nature evil, forcing a man to submit to what no man should submit to. Patrick was the second –

Patricide, fratricide! ravening wolves eating up the people of the Lord as if it were bread!. . .I beseech you earnestly, it is not right to pay court to such men nor to take food and drink in their company, nor is it right to accept their alms, until they by doing strict penance with shedding of tears make amends before God and free the servants of God. . .From Patrick's Confessions

Germans and Celts called their kinfolk ‘free,’ a word that meant they were ‘dear’ to them and so had personal rights and liberty of action not given to slaves. Patrick declared that everyone was dear to God, and therefore everyone should be free. He created communities that defended and nurtured freedom out of his undying belief that God wanted people to be free.

The Venerable Bede, writing in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, reported that the communities which Patrick founded in Ireland became havens of education for young English men. After Patrick's death, Colum Cille brought Christ's teachings of love and peace, promise-keeping and forgiveness to Iona; Aidan, who trained at Iona, brought them to strife-torn Northumbria.

Patrick laid down his crook-shaped staff at a time of year when the gray trees stand bare, throwing the shadows of their branches across the green-growing grass and the first wild flowers. After he was gone, he seemed to those who knew him to be the best part of themselves, the slave who had returned to the place of his servitude to free slaves, the middle aged man who had dared to let his life be transformed.

I arise today!

Republished every year.