|At the end of the storm is a golden sky
The newsletter for 2016 begins with a reflection on my first Granddaughter’s Christian names, Verity (truth) and Hope.
Most of us have names that are less meaningful, like Jack, Jill, or Donald!
Many of us have names which recall people who’ve been memorable to our parents.
My own children’s second names were taken from a hero, John Lennon and from my brother Peter.
Peter’s plight will remind you of those close to you with a life limiting disease. In his case Multiple Sclerosis. What a waste of potential. Why did God allow it? It’s a question I want answered at the pearly gates.
Verity’s parents gave her names which are top of many people’s minds at Christmas.
My annual newsletter normally focuses on peace, hope and good-will, built on truth, and words like lies, discrimination andbullying don’t sit happily with it.
But 2016 has been full of lies, discrimination and bullying, so I just I hope 2017 will be better.
We’ve witnessed a man who abuses women win the election to be President of the most powerful nation on earth, the USA.
Abusing women is but one of Donald Trump’s complexities.
Another is that he was endorsed by the Klu-Klux-Klan!
As a failed academic he has little grasp of the problems in the world, but as a successful military cadet his marching practice gives this 70-year-old an excellent body posture.
Some who voted for him will share his values.
Many do not, but were angry with a system that Trump successfully claimed hadn’t delivered.
He’s a serial liar, promising instant solutions, and he becomes President on 20thJanuary 2017.
It’s a victory made possible by the support of white evangelical Christians.
I find it hard to understand why Christians can endorse a candidate who bullies and rapes.
Shame on you.
It’s a very unusual view of Christianity.
Abusers, whether Presidents or paupers, have no place in authority.
Today I read teenage footballers were abused in the UK.
Sexual abuse is nauseating.
Even worse, the ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Un executed 60 “traitors” this year…
Three years ago, he had his own uncle stripped and fed to the dogs.
And recently executed a colleague for yawning!
What a disgrace.
But he supported Trump’s run for office.
In June Brexit won the UK referendum.
Brexiteers claimed that leaving the EU meant £350 million per week would go to the NHS.
After their victory they accepted this claim was an exaggeration.
No, a barefaced lie.
Opinion polls now say that a majority in the UK now want to stay in Europe!
Evenso, the creater of this lie, Nigel Farage is last week swanned about with Trump.
Closer to home a local bully with the body of a small man but the mind of a child, when he didn’t get his own way, asked a junior police officer to reprimand my 72 year old wife because he claimed she’d bullied him!
In the short term liars can be persuasive.
But thankfully they will eventually be found out.
It took me five days to arrange a meeting with Accrington police management to expose this lad.
Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump, and some of my neighbour are bullies
Kim Jong Un has got away with it so far, because absolute power means you can get away with heinous crimes for years.
Trump will hopefully be impeached.
And my neighbours?
In time I pray they’ll grow up.
Much is reliant on Hope!
Because as bad as things are now, the future can be better.
Locally, nationally, and internationally.
Earlier this year the campaign to clear Liverpool supporters accused of killing nearly a 100 football supporters and injuring 750 in 1989 concluded that it was the South Yorkshire Police direction that led to that tragedy, which they subsequently tried to cover up.
The South Yorkshire police (to my shame because that’s where I was born and raised) were also guilty of the siege, battle, chase, rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalised state violence at Orgreave, Scunthorpe.
In time the Orgreave brutality will be exposed, as was the Hillsborough tragedy.
Reflect on the deaths of these famous figures in 2016, for they add to a background flavour 2016.
David Bowie, 69, cancer
An off the wall but gifted musician
Keith Emerson 72, suicide
A most gifted and theatrical keyboard player
Paul Daniels, 68, cancer.
Johan Cruyff, 68, cancer
The most talented footballer in the 20th Century
Jo Cox, 42, murdered by a lunatic fascist.
A talented and lovely MP
Dave Swarbrick, 75, emphysema
Lovely fiddle player
Muhammad Ali, 74, Parkinson’s.
A boxer without equal
Arnold Palmer, 87, heart surgery
A legend of a golfer
Shimon Peres, 93, stroke
Israeli politician – a peacemaker
Bobby Vee, 73, Alzheimer’s
Very good bubblegum musician
Carlos Alberto Torres, 72, heart attack
The captain of Brazil. What better is there?
Leonard Cohen, 82, cancer
Jewish Buddhist, a musical poet.
Sir Jimmy Young, 95
broadcaster BBC institution, DJ
Died peacefully at home on November 7 2016, with his wife Alicia by his side.
Fidel Castro, 90, Cuban leaderAndrew Sachs, 86, vascular dementiaA comedy actor, well known for his role in Fawlty Towers as Spanish wailer Manuel.
US President-elect Donald Trump celebrated Castro’s death, saying he was “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Castro had overseen a regime built on firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights”.
My experience of Castro’s Cuba was in my doctor’s office in Accrington last year.
I told the doctor that I was surprised the infant mortality rate in the US was 5.9 per 1,000, much higher than in much of the world.
My doctor responded by telling me that Cuba had an infant mortality rate of 4.6%.
Which means that if the US achieved the same kind of efficiency as Cuba in safe births, over 4 million infants would be saved there each year.
Ask these mothers whether they would rather have a country where a man can “enjoy” such an unbelievable lifestyle of gold leaved poster beds or whether they can give birth to a live baby.
Life goes on:
Our children Carolyn and Robert are now in their 3rdyear of living in the Pyrenees, running a bed and breakfast, http://www.elcaminodenajacin beautiful Najac.
Claire is the head-teacher at Sabden’s RC Primary, and partner Dennis’s consultancy takes him round the word.
Jonathan has just finished a two-year stint in NYNY with ad agency McCann’s, and is now back in the UK.
Rachel, Brian and their two young girls Verity andHarriette live in Accrington, growing day by day.
Harriette, the younger sister of Verity has a moniker meaning home-ruler – possibly the worthiest aspiration of any of us, male or female.
And Edward is in his second year managing ninthwardlondon.com, a bar eatery near St Paul’s.
2016 has not been without its ups, but it isn’t a year we’ll remember with affection.
Evenso, as the Monty Python team sang, always look on the bright side of life.
More importantly, despite the bullying, discrimination, and lies that surround us every day we should remember the words of that immortal song You’ll Never Walk Alone.
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
and don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm there’s a golden sky
and the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
For your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
We are now walking through a dark, windy and rainy spell.
But as the song says, there’ll be an end to it, and when it’s over
we’ll hear the sweet silver song of the lark.
The lies and bullying of Trump, Brexit, and the boys next door are being exposed on a daily basis.
Isn’t that good for the world?
I think so.
The lark is beginning to sing already
In 1990 at An International Tribute for a Free South Africa concert in London, the audience spontaneously broke into a mass rendition of the song You’ll Never Walk Alone
Special guest at the concert was Nelson Mandela, to my mind the second most important person ever to draw breath, after Jesus Christ and just ahead of my father in law, Walter Mesini.
Nelson Mandella turned to a friend and asked what the song was. She replied, “A football song”.
A football song Mr Mandela?
To call it a football song is rather like calling Bach’s Air on the G String incidental music for smoking cigars.
I finish this newsletter on Thanksgiving Day, the third Thursday in November 2016.
The first President of the United States, George Washington, proclaimed the 1789 celebration “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God”.
We know that the USA was created as a result of religious persecution in Europe. Many fled there when victimised by an intolerant Christian church.
North America is a vast continent, and in the 18th Century absorbed migrants from Europe, notably the UK, Ireland and Italy.
In addition, black slaves were shipped from Africa by the thousand, before being freed in State after State following the American Revolution (1775-83).
The migration of persecuted European Jews followed suit in the 1930’s and 40’s.
And from the 1960’s South Americans and Asians came in increasing numbers .
It’s a vast continent, but the racial tensions that were observed in the “old world” often crop up.
That’s the nature of the human being.
Imagine all these citizens in an aircraft with Donald Trump at the controls.
Irish Americans sat next to Italian Americans, and between them Jews and Muslims.
And Koreans, Vietnamese, and Russians too.
Not having piloted such a large aircraft before the question is only whether Donald will listening to people at ground control telling him what to do next.
We know he can talk.
But the measure of the man will be whether he will be able to listen.
If he doesn’t, he may screw up the world.