Oxford University has a lot to answer for

Theresa May         Train crash

Michael Gove        Collaborator

Jeremy Hunt         Mine!

Sajid Javid              Gate crasher (Exeter Uni.)

Boris Johnson       Buffoon

Jacob Rees Mogg  Poseur




Posted in photography, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Rich man/Poor man

A poor man has riches aplenty,
He sleeps without care for wealth
While a rich man, set on only ‘he’
May be robbed by stealth.

The poor man, dressed in old clothes
His boots, of cracked worn leather
May walk safe among villains and thieves
As it can be seen, his pockets light as a feather!

The rich man, in all his ostentation
May only mingle with others of wealth
Yet even they may partake, of his fixation
For they only care, singularly for self.

Should a rich man become poor
Loose his castle and velvet drapes
Wake to find himself at the poor man’s door
With only, cracked worn boots, to traipse.

Might he learn, charity was once in his gift
Even while now, in begging penury
Does he see the poor man’s simple treasury
For what it’s worth, society’s imposed thrift.

If the poor should attain the dream
Would fabulous wealth, satisfy his desires
Or, let loose the nightmare scream
Question why such folly to acquire.

For both, is not karma, their destinies fate?
Perhaps, the next life will alter their apposition
Before their next rebirth, the time to contemplate
To precisely plan details of their next condition.



Posted in Poetry, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A very helpful son

Harry lived alone in Ireland. His only son was in Long Kesh Prison. He didn’t know anyone who would turn over his potato plot so he wrote to his son asking if he knew anyone who could help. 

“For Heavens SAKES, don’t dig up the plot. That’s where I buried the GUNS!”

At 4 a.m. a dozen British soldiers showed up and dug up the entire garden. They didn’t find any guns.

Confused the man wrote to his son telling him what happened and asking him what to do next.

His son replied, “Plant your potatoes.”


Posted in Humour, War | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, 1556

Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury and the guiding hand behind Henry VIII’s religious Reformation. The Reformation was a process which continued throughout the 1530s and 40s. Edward VI died six years after succeeding Henry. His half sister, Mary, became queen in 1553 and reversed her father’s innovations. Those, like Cranmer, who were strongly identified with Henry’s policies were heretics in her eyes. Cranmer was a cynical careerist and, paradoxically, a devout Protestant. Nonetheless he had no compunction about lying and prevaricating in the three years prior to martyrdom in 1556. Only when facing the actuality of execution did Cranmer repudiate the Catholic faith. His martyrdom came on the 21st March 1556, in Oxford.

Cranmer provided a convoluted religious justification for Henry’s divorce from Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon, in 1533. This justification was exquisitely wounding for Mary as her mother’s marriage was declared to be ‘against the law of God’. Mary immediately became illegitimate. Cranmer was appointed Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury in the same year, which very much looked like a reward to Mary. Cranmer was appointed Archbishop, by the Pope, whilst already intellectually conflicted and veering towards evangelical Protestantism. This was made blatantly obvious by becoming Archbishop as a married man.

In marrying Margarete in Nuremberg, Cranmer defied four or five centuries of legislation in the Western Church extending celibacy from monks to secular priests: it was clearly a principled decision, which showed he had embraced evangelical reformation…2

Cranmer’s implementation of the Reformation was brutal. Many devout Catholics were executed (addendum one) if they didn’t accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England. Henry replaced the Pope with himself. The physical structure of the Catholic church was destroyed and looted. Monasteries, church lands, tombs, relics, abbeys were all obliterated. The dissolution of the monasteries provided Henry with the historic wealth of the Church. This capital was used to reward courtiers as well as making Henry wealthier so that he could pursue his foreign policy more effectively. There was therefore more than a simple religious motivation underlying the Reformation.

Cranmer’s Reformation authorised English in religious services and parish Bibles, which became available for the first time. Prior to Cranmer such Bibles were repressed with translators being executed. This attacked the fundamental traditions of Catholicism.

In the reigns of Henry and Edward, Cranmer’s Protestantism was mainstream. With royal support it was his opponents who were risking their lives leading to many executions. The accession of Mary brought a reversal to this state of affairs. Cranmer and his acolytes were now persecuted. Those persecuted included bishops and noblemen as well as those lower in the social scale. There were a large number of martyrdoms3 in Mary’s reign, which meant no-one could be in any doubt as to what was entailed. Martyrdom was excruciating.

Christianity is founded on martyrdom. There is a huge corpus of detailed martyrdom stories embedded in the Christian ethos. The Christian concept of Heaven incorporates the idea that dying for one’s faith guarantees entry to eternal happiness with God. All of this explains why many Christians felt that martyrdom was an endorsement of their faith and not a punishment. The devout were quite likely embrace martyrdom as an opportunity. This wasn’t Cranmer’s position. He repudiated his Protestantism in a vain attempt to escape the flames (addendum two: part one).

It was customary for those accused of heresy to be offered the opportunity to recant. If the recantation was deemed sincere they didn’t suffer execution. Cranmer’s recantations were not deemed to be sincere. Each of his four recantations were more comprehensive. If Queen Mary hadn’t personally loathed Cranmer he would have been freed from the burden of heresy. But she hadn’t forgotten his part in her mother’s humiliation and to his shock he was sentenced to death by burning. As he’d watched his friends die in exactly that way he was jolted into an authentic Christian response. He recanted his recantations (addendum two: part two).

Cranmer’s final statement of faith, two hours prior to his death, praised Protestantism as the only true religion. His sincerity was undeniable. From a Protestant point of view Cranmer’s martyrdom couldn’t have been better. It was witnessed by large numbers of people, who were keen reporters of this notable event. Cranmer’s forcing his hand into the flames burning it first,4 provided Protestants with a wonderful visual aid for their anti-Catholic propaganda.

Cranmer was expecting eternal life in Heaven. No matter how excruciating Cranmer’s pain was, he felt it was purely temporary and irrelevant in relation to an eternity with God. Cranmer met his ordeal with serenity and composure, defying Roman Catholic priests who were at his side. Cranmer belatedly became a perfect Protestant martyr.

Addendum one: historical bias

By using the concept ‘executed’ the claim is they should have accepted Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England. Using the concept ‘executed’ here is denying the Christian accolade of martyrdom for the avowal of faith. Queen Mary promptly put that ‘right’ when her own executions against Protestants began.

Addendum two: Cranmer’s attempt to save his life and final recantation

Cranmer realised that he would never get a pardon without submission to the Pope so he said

Part one

I, Thomas Cranmer, doctor in divinity, do submit myself to the catholic church of Christ, and to the pope, supreme head of the same church, and unto the king and the queen’s majesties, and unto all their laws and ordinances.


More recantations followed until the day of his execution when he retracted all of them as false:

Part two

… the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than nay other thing that ever I said or did in my life: and that is, the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth. Which here now I renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand, contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and to save my life, if it might be: and that is, all such bills, which I have written or signed with mine own hand since my degradation: wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished: for if I may come to the fire, it shall be first burned. And as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine.’
And here, being admonished of his recantation and dissembling, he said, ‘Alas, my lord, I have been a man that all my life loved plainness, and never dissembled till now against the truth; which I am most sorry for it.’ He added hereunto, that, for the sacrament, he believed as he had taught in his book against the bishop of Winchester. And here he was suffered to speak no more….


1 Mary, of course, declared them to be martyrs.

2 MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Thomas Cromwell p. 206. Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

3 During Queen Mary’s reign, 1553-8, 383 people burned at the stake at locations across England. Executions were deliberately spread round the country to increase fear.


4 He was going to his death by being burned at the stake but insisted that the hand that was guilty of such shameful sin must burn first. Jesus said “It is better to lose a limb than for your whole body to go to hell,” and Cranmer took him at his word.



Posted in History, Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Jazz Club poster in Kyoto

Japan 2018

(Did you notice there are no Japanese words on this poster? Just French and English.)

Richard M.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Albert Einstein goes to Heaven

The doorman at the Pearly Gates took Albert to his room. “Your first room mate has an IQ of 180.”

“That’s wonderful!” said Albert. “We’ll have fun discussing mathematics.”

“And your second room mate has an IQ of 150.”

“That’s wonderful!” said Albert. “We’ll have fun discussing physics.”

“And your third room mate has IQ of 100.”

“That’s wonderful. We’ll discuss great plays that we’ve seen.”

“Your last room mate has an IQ of 80.”

Albert smiled and said, “So, where do you think the stock market is heading?”


Posted in Humour | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The big wide world

A couple of years after I had completed my apprenticeship I was being sent all over the country. I was sent to Scotland to work on a power station. All in all it got me down so one Monday morning I gave in my notice. The head of personnel wasn’t pleased. He reminded me the company had spent thousands of pounds on my training paying for me to go to Day College and night school. I was resolute. I’d spent five years in an apprenticeship earning less than a plumbers mate. I felt I’d been paid them back and my skills were down to my own efforts.

A week later, I trawled through adverts in the paper.  It wasn’t  difficult finding employment. A London based firm was seeking a qualified plumber for regular work at good pay rates. I was interviewed at an office in Tottenham (London) and started work the next Monday morning. It was a shock.

There wasn’t any plant or machinery I could call upon and I soon realised it was a tin pot “bucket & bike” organisation.  I was working in Edmonton in a huge waste burning  establishment running a water supply to a sink in a back room. John, the foreman, turned up and said he wanted me to work in a restaurant kitchen through a Friday night. It had to be night as the restaurant was busy until midnight. I said I’d do it but asked what was needed and how much would I get? He offered £30 cash so I asked for £50. We settled on £40. I had to take out a steel hot water cylinder replacing it with a heavy duty copper emersion cylinder. I said I wanted to see the job before I started and was given the address in Edgware Road near Marble Arch.

It was a very up-market Indian restaurant and when I explained why I was there the maître d showed me to the kitchen. I was shocked at the heat and general conditions those men were working under, but said nothing. The steel cylinder was in fact a large commercial upright calorifier, tucked away in a small room all by itself, right at the back of the kitchen, there weren’t any windows in the room. It was huge. I estimated it at something like eight feet tall by three feet six wide. I rang John the next day and we had a row. When he finally calmed down I explained I could easily disconnect the primary and secondary feed and returns but the room must have been build round the calorifier as it was too big to get out through the door into the kitchen. That being so there was no room to install the new copper cylinder. Clearly, John was rattled by this news and arranged to be at the job about 1 am, on the Saturday morning.

I was at the restaurant at midnight that Friday and watched in bemusement as the staff cleared away washed up and replaced unused food back into containers. They were anxious to get home themselves. I asked the manager to leave the electric on for me.

I traced the water inlet valves back to the boiler but the valve was seized solid. I had to go through the upper rooms of the building before I located the massive water storage tank, in the loft, feeding the down services. By the time I’d isolated the right stop-cock and drained down, John turned up with his brother and I cut through the pipework to the old calorifier. That freed, John and his brother who just smashed down the door frame and breeze block wall forming the entrance to the room.

“That was easy shouted John to his brother, now you do your thing, the new one is outside on the van”! It was near to 7am before I completed the necessary pipe connections and I was knackered.

I have often wondered how much I could’ve got if I’d asked for more when we saw just how hard the job was.


Posted in Autobiography, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment