To worry or not to worry by Angela Caldin

Case numbers of Covid-19 are rising again in the UK, but many people are going about their daily lives as though this was not a cause for concern. There’s a recent photo of the Conservative benches in the UK House of Commons in which the MPs sit squashed together shoulder to shoulder while their leader speaks at the despatch box. They look rather bored by whatever it is he is saying and you can see this from their facial expressions which are visible because the great majority are not wearing a mask…. Read More

Being a good bloke by Susan Grimsdell

There’s a programme on BBC called the Kindness Test designed to show the level of kindness in the general population.  The questions are along the lines of “Would you go to someone’s aid if you could see they needed help?” or “Do you hold doors open for other people?” “Do you give to charity?” “Do you volunteer?” and so on.  Now I grant that kindness is a difficult thing to measure, but I contacted the researchers to suggest that superficial small acts of kindness are not really an indication of the underlying… Read More

Fishers of men by Trevor Plumbly

Ploughshares and swords I’ve always been reluctant to ‘do’ politics: there’s so little humour in it and social unrest seems to bring out the worst of the breed. If the old political adage ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ stands, leaders have never had it so good. With Afghanistan out of the way, the USA can get back to comparing penis sizes with the Chinese, leaving others with climate change and the pandemic to argue about. China doesn’t seem to worry us much down here; we have a ‘trade relationship’:… Read More

Power and corruption by Angela Caldin

‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Famous words from 19th Century historian and politician Lord Acton to Bishop Creighton. He also said, ‘I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as power increases.’ I was thinking about these wise words in the wake of the revelations this week in the Pandora Papers which show how the love… Read More

Scooters then and now by Susan Grimsdell

There was a wonderful photo in the Christchurch NZ newspaper a week ago.  It showed about a dozen 10-year-old boys in the year 1921 at a primary school in a small Canterbury town, lined up on their home-made wooden scooters, looking deadly serious, several of them with bare feet.  The picture tells a story about each of those boys and their scooters.  We can be almost certain they had help from a parent or sibling through everything it took to get to the finished scooter.  Planning and designing, scrounging timber from around… Read More