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Pennies from Heaven

It’s strange how memories flood back with the smallest of provocations. One from childhood spirited itself up when I was trying to find a new idea to centre my Sunday worship’s children’s talk upon. One suggestion was to get the kids to play a real fruit machine. In other words they get handed a bag of mixed fruits and the have to draw out three lemons – or whatever.

In Britain fruit machines, or gaming machines as I suppose they are now called, are usually referred to as ‘one-armed bandits’. A reference to the very high profits these devices generate for their owners. Well, my first encounter with such contraptions was as a small boy going on holiday to Cornwall. In those days, the late 50’s, there were neither motorways or service areas (a possible blessing I hear you say). So the journey from the central belt of Scotland was a two day affair with stops wherever refreshments could be found. One morning, we had stopped at what was then called a ‘transport Cafe’ – not much more than a wartime hut – and I begged 1p to put in the inviting chromium monster in the corner. To my delight, I must have hit the jackpot for I remember laughing uncontrollably under a cascade of copper spewing from this most reluctant of payers.

 

Of course, a penny then was  but 1/240 of a pound. Not a king’s ransom I agree compared to bankers’ bonuses yet each one bought a trip to the loo!

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Le Gentleman

Bradley Wiggins is a winner. By that I am not daring to presume he will win the Tour de France. But yesterday when his arch rival Cadel Evans had his bike’s tyres sabotaged by tacks, he eased off the pace. The result was everyone had a sporting chance. No wonder the French press are labeling him ‘Le Gentleman’.

Now Britain at the moment needs gentlemen. And by that I don’t mean someone to hold up an umbrella for you in the continuous rain. Instead we desperately require ladies and gentlemen who are honest through all our corruption, selfless in our sea of self service and quietly able in all our incompetence. For the nation is reeling under a series of financial revelations and pay offs that is leaving ordinary folk mesmerized by both the amounts and the audacity of it all. Just as important, we are more and more surrounded by duffers in our national life who talk a good game.

Let then good and honest folk – ladies and gentlemen – emerge and bee applauded. For then we will all be winners!

Oh by the way, give the Armed Services who are saving the Olympics from being a shambles the same bonus as the London bus drivers, Tube Staff, Civil Servants……..

 
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Posted by on 16/07/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The scale of the problem

P5241432a On Saturday, I watched a Vulcan bomber zoom around the sky performing some pretty impressive aerobatics. Not I admit, the full sized bat winged warrior from the Cold War. Instead it was hugely impressive model. I say impressive as this replica of an iconic British aircraft had the wing span of a light aircraft and guzzled fuel at a more gluttonous rate.

However, as the model looped and spun about overhead, it was very easy to mistake it for the real thing. In particular, when high in the sky with nothing to give it scale you were sure that this off-stage spectre of the Cuban Missile Crisis drama had come to life literally with a roar.

But the point is anything without a sense of size – an indication of scale – grows to fill the mind’s open space. Certainly that’s true of our daily problems. Now that is not to trivialise the mountains people we constantly meet are labouring over. Yet most of have our normal niggles are genuinely set to nought, say,  against the scale of the drought in Niger; a looming catastrophe likely to cause the deaths of 400,000 children under age 5 alone.

The old adage then that you only solve your problems by looking at those of others is trite and doesn’t always work but, for many of us, it surely helps.

 

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Tweets of Wisdom

Over the next few weeks, new MP after callow MP will make their maiden speeches in the Commons. Yet how much will the world be changed? Precious little I’ll be bound! But it was not always so . For my continuing reading of Juliet Nicolson’s history of 1911, ‘The Perfect Summer’, has brought me to that infamous dandy, brilliant barrister and MP, FE Smith. Now when he made his hour long debut to the House in the early 1900’s, his own party were rolling in their pews and the scowling opposition were mattering ‘Who is this boy!” Indeed, his barnstorming performance even created quite a flutter in the Ladies Gallery with many invitations to dinner the outcome of his eloquence. So he at least changed his social circle and probably his girth. No wonder he quickly became a companion of the young Winston Churchill, then Home Secretary, whose own quick wit earned him the epithet – he thinks with his mouth. Well where are fine words to be found today? Not coming out of politicians if the General Election’s National Debates were their arena. Broadcasters too hardly rate much higher; tune in reluctantly to Talksport Radio if you don’t believe me . And certainly there are few great orators in pulpits these days; myself included. In truth, even the average ‘Thought for the Day’ is more likely to lull back to slumber than inspire the redeeming of the world. No, today’s greatest wordsmiths are found in the advertising profession. For if you have to get your message over in 30 seconds of exorbitant TV time then you do need to have your verbal wits about you. Maybe then, there is something to be said, or not, for the Twitter discipline of having only 140 characters. Since if we can only get one word in edge-ways, in this talkative globe, let it be the right one!

 

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