Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Winston Churchill - A Review


Winston Churchill
Christian Encounters Series
By John Perry
Published by Thomas Nelson

I like most things Churchillian. I thought this had the potential to be an extremely interesting book, given the traumatic times during which he lived, and the chance of finding more about how his religious beliefs influenced his life and behaviour was enough to pique my curiosity and request this book.

I have to say, I was desperately disappointed. I know it is only a slim volume and could barely skim the surface of this immensely complex man, but to spend such an inordinate amount of time talking about his childhood Nanny and her religious beliefs, was a wasted opportunity in my opinion. Churchill may have been very reticent about openly declaring and discussing his own religious beliefs, yet in his personal letters and especially during the War, in his speeches, he made many references to God and about religion. Very little of this was discussed by the author, yet was surely pertinent to the topic.
I was surprised that the author had absolutely nothing significant to say about Churchill’s lengthy and active involvement in rebutting anti-semitism in Britain and his active support of and involvement in the settlement of Israel , as this has been documented extensively by Sir Martin Gilbert in his books “Churchill and the Jews” and “Churchill : A Life.” This was surely a reflection of his underlying Faith, to see justice for the Jews.

I’m sorry, but I truly cannot recommend this book to anyone unless they are simply looking for a very brief and rather dry potted autobiographical introduction to a great man.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dr Who

Without wishing to give too much of the game away about last week's episode of Dr Who for those of you who may not have seen it yet, there is a rather nice themed poster available here
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No Reason

 ................for posting this, I just liked it !

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Friday, April 23, 2010

St George's Day

                 I did love the graphic in honour of St George, on Google's home page today :-)
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...would have been my beloved brother's 53rd birthday.

Memory eternal.

I am still struggling - and failing dismally, most days - to come to terms with his death.

I miss him so much. Sigh.
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Air News

Today, when I was walking the Dog of Doom, I saw three jet contrails in the sky - the first for a week, though we have heard some light aircraft and helicopters overhead since Wednesday.

Some RAF jets have been found to have volcanic ash in their engines in the last 24 hours, so they have been grounded for the time being.

I don't think I would risk going up in the sky over Britain at the moment, and that's a fact........
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Especially For Deb

I would agree that Sophy is a bit bumptious, as far as Heyer heroines go !
I have been pondering which Georgette Heyer book to recommend, to give you a better idea of the range of heroines which she portrayed.

I am currently reading "Sylvester", where Phoebe is the most unlikely heroine, but that is very slow until about page 100, though the plot is highly original.

I am thinking that perhaps you might enjoy "The Reluctant Widow" rather better, or possibly "Venetia".
"The Unknown Ajax" is also an excellent read.
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An Unexpected Intimacy

Last week, DD3 was performing in a concert at her school. It is a termly event, designed to showcase the talents of all those youngsters who play/learn instruments or who sing, at that school.

DD3 is in the Junior Choir, and they were performing first. DD3's choir sang their modern piece brilliantly, and indeed all the youngsters performed exceedingly well .

But one person stood out above all others performing that night.

One young woman in her final years at the school played Faure's Romance Opus 69 on her cello, with only a piano accompaniment. I had never heard that piece before, and it was lovely, but what struck me to the heart was how much that young lady loved that piece of music.

It was performed in a very small concert space and her facial expressions were very clearly visible. You could see her "feel" in her heart and soul every note she played. It was an amazing and astonishingly intimate sight, really almost too private to be seen by others, as she  showed on her face what she felt and meant and dreamt as she played that music.

It was a privilege to watch her perform, as she is an artist to her very fingertips. It obviously meant an enormous amount to her, and she was able to convey that to the audience.She had a rousing round of applause, and justifiably so.

I have to say, that even thinking about her performance brings tears to my eyes, and listening to that piece of music now makes me cry unashamedly.

I am providing a YouTube link in case you want to listen to another artist's fine performance of this piece.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Skies Are Quiet

..........except for the sounds of birds.

There is still no air traffic in the skies.

It is bizarre to see just blue, blue skies, with no contrails at all.

Normally, I see loads over our garden, as we are on a  flight path to the Welsh airport, as well as being on the main international flight route across the Pond.........................

Flights are not expected to resume till 1am BST Sunday morning. I feel so sorry for those affected by the delays, but I would rather wait and have a safe flight than risk flying and crash. DH was watching one of the Air Crash investigation TV documentaries, and they were interviewing a pilot and passengers who were in a plane that flew into an ash cloud, and all four engines failed due to the ash.......

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Recently Read

DD3 insisted I had to start reading her Doctor Who novels. Being a good obedient mother, I did and enjoyed this one.

Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances and Elsie Oxenham's "Abbey"  books - my literary equivalent of comfort food ! Love'em to bits.

There are many new Chalet school "fill-in" novels written by other writers; this one by Helen Barber was a particularly good one. 
Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bird had a interesting plot, though Holmes would not have addressed Dr Watson as "ole fellow",  I am sure.
Good Omens is a cross between a classic Terry Pratchett and parts of the film of The Omen, with enormous amounts of humour interjected. The exchanges between the Devil and the Chief Angel are particularly amusing......

Bill Bryson - I love all his books.  This is a particularly good one.

The Luberon garden was a very nice book, written by a British gardener who settled in the Luberon region of France and set about designing and planting  people's gardens for them.A fascinating and gentle book, with only occasional line drawings but much food for the imagination.

Necropolis made me feel rather hard done by, actually. I was so looking forward to reading it - from the library -  but there was not much in it that had not been covered in other books, both historical and fictional. 
It is a scholarly book about the various practices about burying London's dead throughout the ages, but it never really captured my enthusiasm because it never went into any real depth, if you'll pardon the pun.......

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Spring !

Yesterday, there were no flowers on my plum tree.
Today there are :-)

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for nothing is lacking in His universe and he created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees, to give mankind pleasure ........

(traditional Jewish blessing on seeing the first blossoming fruit tree in the year)

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Remembering The Titanic

The ever-watchful DoomHamster phoned me today to remind me to post about today being the anniversary  of the sinking of the Titanic, with its dreadful loss of life. On 14th April 1912, just before midnight, the great ship hit an iceberg, and in the early hours of the 15th April, Titanic foundered.

There are no longer any survivors of that dreadful tragedy still alive, and she and I both feel strongly that it is important to commemorate those who died on the ship and those who survived and have since died.

Memory Eternal !

O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to Thy world, do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy departed servants in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sighing, and sorrow have fled away.

 Pardon every transgression which they have committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For Thou art a good God and lovest mankind; because there is no man who lives yet does not sin, for Thou only art without sin, Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is truth.

For Thou are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.
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Sheep ? What Sheep ?

I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to photograph lambs for Ian in Oz.

Despite living between two nearby farms, both of whom have sheep, neither of them have this year put their pregnant ewes in fields accessible to the public, so I have not been able to get any photographs :-(

Last year, both farms had their ewes and new lambs in fields close to the main road.

Bother bother bother. But I did try, honest !
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UK Lockdown

Okay, perhaps that is a tad melodramatic, but all flights into and from the UK 's airports have been stopped until at least 7pm tonight, due to the drifting clouds of volcanic ash resulting from the recent eruptions of an Icelandic volcano.

Full details here

This is such an unusual development.

Photos of the eruption can be seen here

If you have a burning need to access the UK today, you can still do so by the Channel tunnel or by boat :-)
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Driving Me Mad

I did a quiz today.

 It drove me mad.

 I only managed to get 23/100 authors correct, though I must add that I had never heard of many of the books :-)

If you want to challenge your sanity, have a go .....

Please let me know how well you do !
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DD4  has dug up her dvd of Toy Story 2 and is watching it avidly in preparation for the release of the third film this summer. It took her a long time to work out why we all fell apart laughing when the evil Emperor Zurg tells Buzz Lightyear "Buzz, I am your father !"

                         I was delighted to find the original Darth Vader line in Latin :-)
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Made It !

We got to church today :-)

It is physically impossible to leave our small town by bus before 12 noon on a Sunday. So DH drove the children and I to nearby Blogtown to catch the train to go to our little community's new church home. It was a bare two minute walk from the train station to get to the redundant Church in Wales (Anglican) church which we have been invited to use.

It means we no longer have to set up and pull down the accoutrements for Liturgy each week, but will now be able to leave the interior set up for Orthodox worship on a permanent basis, which is wonderful and a great blessing.It was our first visit to the church; it is very sweet and very well adapted to our needs.

It was lovely to atend Thomas Sunday service there. I really do hope that we will be able to make it to Liturgy much more often now.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday Fun

Apart from the obvious joy of it being Bright Week, Friday was fun :-)

We went to the Big M's for a late breakfast, and I throughly enjoyed being able to have a totally guilt-free bacon and egg McMuffin :-)

Then we went to the cinema to take the young ones to see the film of "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief". I bought the book of this for DD3 some months ago, and she loved it.  It was very popular in her class.

As we were waiting to go in the cinema, we saw a whole bevy of delightful little girls, all aged about 5/6, dressed in their party best, celebrating a birthday party. We smiled at them, and wondered what film they were going to see. We had pre-booked our cinema seats, and we went straight in to take our places and made ourselves comfortable.

Imagine my dismay when these delightful little girls -at least a dozen of them, accompanied by a handful of adults - took their places in our screen. DH and I had checked out the film reviews and trailers very carefully, wondering whether the film might in fact be a tad too scary for our DD4 aged 8. It was graded a PG - parental guidance rating, and we had decided that she would most likely be fine with it and I would cover her eyes if there were any particularly scary bits. I would most definitely not have taken a 5/6 year old to see it. DH and I exchanged speaking glances, and  laid quiet bets on how long the little ones would cope with such a film.

There were lots of battles and some very scary monsters very quickly within the film. In fact, the first twenty minutes were the scariest, I think. Needless to say, after about 20 minutes of the film, the little girls and their accompanying adults all trooped out. I felt so very sorry for them, as they had obviously been looking forward to their treat.  With children of that age, I wouldn't dream of taking them to see anything that wasn't rated a "U" - suitable for all ages.

The four of us throughly enjoyed the film, including DD4 who loved the special effects, and we will definitely be getting it when it comes out on DVD later in the year. I loved the unusual premise that Percy having dyslexia /ADHD  marked him out as special, not having Special Needs; his dyslexia was described as simply being that he was hardwired to read Ancient Greek, not English, and his ADHD was because that as a demi-god with many enemies, he needed to be constantly on the move and in a state of heightened "battle awareness".

There were touches of humour that would have been obvious to the adults, but both of my children missed the double entendres completely; let us simply say that Persephone was very .... sultry.

I am currently reading the first book in the series, and will certainly be buying the rest in due course......
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

And Still It Comes.....

The bad news does not cease.

The 40 year old husband of one of my cousins has had a slight stroke, and is undergoing many investigations as a result.

My maternal uncle's fiancee has developed a blockage in one of her salivary glands, causing intense pain, much swelling and the prospect of an operation to resolve the problem. We are a close-knit family, and are all very anxious as a result.
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I have really enjoyed playing Scrabble on one of the girl's Nintendo DS. DD3 also enjoys playing it.
Imagine my dismay when I was playing on Monday night and a word describing to an adult sex toy  was submitted by my  virtual "opponent" on the game.

I am not overly prudish, but I did object to words like that appearing in a game which in the UK is very much marketed towards a young age group. DH went searching online, and found many other parents had amde similar complaints. Apparently, there is the potential to mark a non-offensive words tickbox in player profiles, though this is not mentioned in the product guidance.

Needless to say, I have now enabled the appropriate function button so I can let the children play it without being exposed to words unsuitable for their ages. And to be honest, I also prefer not to see words like that either :-)
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Monday, April 05, 2010

Sad News

I had news this afternoon that my cousin's son Barry died today. He was only in his thirties and leaves behind a widow, a very young son, a loving mother and a big family of relatives who mourn his passing.

Memory eternal.............
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Easter Day

We weren't able to get to Agape Vespers as DD3 was up most of the night before with a dreadful  chest infection and accompanying cough. If I just say "coughing until she was virtually sick" and "at least 17 times" and then draw a discreet veil over the rest of the night, you will get my drift..........

We could not get to Vespers, but her beloved Godmother drove out of her way to come and visit all of us on her way home, which was a delight and a blessing !

The lampada burnt brightly all day, and the words of the troparion were on my lips each time I walked past the icon corner.

It was a good day.  And, thank goodness, DD3 is very much improved today !
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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Cadbury's Creme Egg Madness

In honour of the prodigious numbers of creme eggs currently residing in our house, I simply had to post this "funny" :

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Chocolate Is Good For You !

I was delighted to find an academic study which purports to show a demonstrable benefit from eating Chocolate :-)

Chocolate Is Good !
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Pascha !

Christ is risen !
He is risen indeed, alleluia, alleluia,alleluia !

Christus resurrexit!
Resurrexit vere! Alleluia, alleluia,alleluia !

The Paschal Troparion in Latin:
Christus resurrexit a mortuis,
Morte mortem calcavit,
Et entibus in sepulchris
Vitam donavit.
Wishing you all joy and peace as we celebrate the Feast of Feasts !
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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Bother !

I went to the dentist this morning, ostensibly for a check-up but ended up with a nasty filling, which I was rather expecting to have - the niggling discomfort of the last week indicated there was something amiss.
It took four hours for my upper mouth and nose to regain feeling, LOL, and now they have, I wish they hadn't. Ouch, ouch and triple ouch. I feel as if I have been smacked in the face with a brick.

DH has an eyelid cyst infection, and has spent all afternoon in bed, resting his eye. Rest is the only thing which helps, until the lump gets big enough to be surgically removed, poor love.

The weather is vile - cold and wet. Yesterday, I went on a training course, and it was only ten miles further inland than our home is, but they had snow by the time we were leaving !

Because DH has been working, we did not get to any of the church services so far this week. Tonight certainly won't happen. Tomorrow, it will be impossible to get there by public transport due to times and restricted public holiday services, and DH *hates* driving to the city where this week's services are held.

 I am hoping DH will be well enough to drive us to Agape Vespers for Pascha..............  God willing.
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