Happy New Year 2016
But what became of 2015?
What’s it all about, Jesus?
This year I began my end of year blog in November, a month stuffed full of soulful memories:
You may think that sad outcomes are evenly distributed throughout the year.
But you’ll agree that November contains more than its fair share of sad anniversaries.
On Friday November 13 the IS state orchestrated many random killings in Paris.
Are the IS State Muslims?
No. They’re not Muslims.
You’ll agree that gangsters who value life so cheaply are worthless.
So why did the US Presidential candidate Donald Trump want a ban on Muslim immigration to the US?
And why oh why did Billy Graham’s son Franklin agree with him?
Both are an embarrassment to Christ’s philosophy.
So as a Christian I’m sad
Because the USA in its Declaration of Independence says that all are created equal.
And I believe it.
November has been a soulful month for many years.
In my early teens I remember that in November 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated.
And in November 1989 The Berlin Wall, an icon of the Cold War for 28 years was torn down.
And on the third Thursday of November each year the USA celebrates the safe landing of Pilgrims and the subsequent harvest at Thanksgiving in the eighteenth century, away from a religiously intolerant Europe.
But more than any of these November events I will forever remember that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918, the most destructive war the world has ever seen, which prematurely took 18 million lives, ended.
All are all soulful times.
So What’s it all about, Jesus?
As a boy I chanted “Remember, remember the 5th of November” in the days before bonfire night.
For me, and many English children 5th November 5 was after Christmas, the biggest event of the year.
November also reminds me of big brother Malcolm, born on the 20th November 1935, and died of cancer in the run up to Christmas last year following two years of misery.
An explosives expert, those who knew him only from a distance saw someone whose life revolved around Bonfire night.
But Malcolm wasn’t a one trick pony. A deeply religious youth he felt the call to Christian ministry until conscription took him into the army in 1953 and changed all that.
However this message isn’t only about my big brother!
As big a character as he was, it’s not.
It’s about eternal matters, as befits ramblings at this time of the year.
And it begs a few questions of Jesus and Mohammed, and Allah.
Some people do evil in the name of the Christian church, the Mosque, and the Synagogue, and have done so since God was a boy.
So What’s it all about, Jesus?
In 1605, 330 years before Malcolm was born, Guy Fawkes was part of the Gunpowder plot, a scheme to unnerve England’s ruling class by setting fire to Parliament.
36 year old Guy, a headstrong Yorkshire Roman Catholic, stool pigeon of the conspirators, was caught, tried and took his last breath seconds after he threw himself head first from a tall scaffold erected opposite the Houses of Parliament he’d planned to burn down.
So instead of being hanged to within an inch of his life Guy Fawkes died by breaking his neck, avoiding the agony of a part hanging, followed by castration and disembowelment which minutes before he’d seen fellow co-conspirators suffer.
And by the by the head of the Church of England, King James 1 (sponsor of the most widely read English language read Bible) witnessed it all through a peephole in the fence.
I don’t know about you, but this made me weak at the knees.
As a left footer, Guy’s Catholicism didn’t cut with the Protestant ruling class in England.
It was one of many incidents when religious intolerance leads to inhuman ends.
Just look at the conflicts between catholic and protestant “Christians” in Ireland
And between “Muslims” and “infidels” worldwide.
Truth is that thugs often use religion to excuse violence.
On November 13th thugs wearing the badge of Allah murdered +100 innocent souls in Paris.
Mohammed wasn’t there, for he was in tears with both Jesus and Buddha.
I think love is the cornerstone of Allah’s, Mohammed’s, Jesus’ and Buddha’s philosophies.
But unfortunately not all followers read the fine print of what they signed up to.
The importance of Kindness
Remember Mohammed’s endorsement that “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith”
Let me give you news of our 2015
Earlier in this piece I wrote that it’s been a year since a multi-millionaire brother died of cancer. His death preceded cousin Lydia’s by days.
She’d also succumbed to cancer in her journey to Glory.
So it’s a joy that a breakthrough in Leukaemia was announced in November. Research will surely continue until all cancer is eradicated.
But what then? After all everybody has to quit this mortal coil sometime!
It’s of course a one in one statistic.
Unlike beloved cousin Lydia, protected by a close caring family, gold diggers were attracted like bees round a honey pot to Malcolm’s wealth.
After his death his money should of course have been handed over to the NHS, to help eliminate cancer.
Instead the gold diggers have it…
It is of course shameful that with so much want in our world this happens.
At the risk of alienating you, I recommend that at the end of your days you pass your left over shekels to the NHS, as will I.
On an earlier leg of life’s journey, son Edward this year opened a classy bar-eatery Ninth Ward, London in central London.
He and his team hope to make a successful business of it, and if energy and creativity are any judge of success the venture Lynne and I saw when we were there in late October is a winner.
Lynne together with her daughters and granddaughters were there in October.
Do wish both ventures well.
They all jumped off the gravy train to get going.
My other beautiful son Jonathan is enjoying a third year in NYNY with his lovely bride Alice. They’ve now been married +18 months.
Lynne’s two other daughters, my step daughters, are resident locally:
Beautiful Claire in Chorley with Captain Den
And gorgeous Rachel in Accrington with my adorable granddaughters Verity and Harriette, as well as “a gud’n of a partner”, Brian.
…all are nearer the start of life’s journey than me.
At the other end of the spectrum those who ended their days on earth in 2015 and who meant something to my own growth, and possibly to yours included:
Name Age Known as/for Cause
Denis Healey 98 senior cabinet minister lampooned
by Mike Yarwood (“what a silly billy”) heart attack
Tom Graveney 88 English cricketer Parkinson’s disease
Geoffrey Howe 88 Cabinet minister who rid us of monster heart attack
Omar Sharif 83 actor heart attack/ Alzheimer’s
Leonard Nimoy 83 Vulcan cosmonaut Spok pulmonary disease
Colin Welland 81 Actor and screenwriter (Kes, Straw Dogs, Chariots of Fire)
Gordon Honeycombe 79 Newscaster, author Leukaemia
Michael Meacher 75 MP for Oldham West
Cynthia Lennon 75 first wife of John Lennon cancer
Percy Sledge 73 “When a Man Loves a Woman” cancer.
Cilla Black 72 Singer and TV presenter A fall during a stroke.
Mike Hill 70 A romantic revolutionary
And there’s been a couple of additions to the world who has overwhelmed me, as all infants do.
Athena Grace Wade in London, and Dotty next door. Both probably on earth till AD 3000.
But life is temporary.
The three score years and 10 are stretching out a tad.
But of course eventually we all die. So prepare to meet your maker, as you may read my 2016 message in Heaven’s Times.
In the last 12 months my brother and Cilla Black, both Tory supporters, died.
Neither had politics that in the long run are useful for the world.
I put it down to the fact that their good fortune masked the harsh reality of the world we choose to live in, where not everyone can survive without food-banks.
But both, I believe were at heart good’uns.
It’s a pity that many good’uns come to the wrong conclusions in life.
I end this newsletter based loosely on the words of a song written by Burt Bacharach and sung by Cilla Black, and others.
What’s it all about, Mohammed?
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Jesus
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Mohammed
Then I guess it’s wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Jesus
What will you lend on an old golden rule
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Mohammed
I know there’s something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Jesus
Without true love we just exist,
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Mohammed
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Jesus
A wonderful New Year to you