Am I not a man and a brother?

The inscription ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ became the catchphrase of British and American abolitionists. Medallions were even sent in 1788 to Benjamin Franklin who was then president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. The image was widely reproduced on domestic objects like crockery and also became popular on fashion accessories. Source

Let’s foster a better historical, cultural, and sensitive understanding of ‘taking the knee’. Think for yourself, don’t swallow the bigotry and propaganda. We all need to fight a culture war against bigotry and ignorance.

It’s Coming Home

The England football song Three Lions (1996) (sometimes known as It’s Coming Home) can come across as arrogant, and arrogance is something often attributed to England (and sometimes more widely to Great Britain). Sadly, with good reason considering our attitudes and history. Equally, this arrogance is also felt in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Unlike other football songs, the lyrics express the disappointment of being a football fan. It’s actually about dreaming, recognising that the result might go against us, but still believing and hoping.

I think it’s bad news for the English game
We’re not creative enough, and we’re not positive enough

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home (We’ll go on getting bad results)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before
They just know, they’re so sure
That England’s gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away
But I know they can play, ’cause I remember

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many sneers
But all those “Oh, so nears” wear you down through the years
But I still see that tackle by Moore and when Lineker scored
Bobby belting the ball, and Nobby dancing

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimet still gleaming
Thirty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

England have done it, in the last minute of extra time!
What a save, Gordon Banks!
Good old England, England that couldn’t play football!
England have got it in the bag!
I know that was then, but it could be again

It’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
(England have done it)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming
Football’s coming home

(It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Three lions on a shirt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Jules Rimet still gleaming
(Football’s coming home
It’s coming home) Thirty years of hurt
(It’s coming home, it’s coming) Never stopped me dreaming
(Football’s coming home)

Interpreting the Bible

As a Christian, my understanding is that the timeless truths of the Bible are greater than the cultural and historical contexts in which the actual words were written. God expects every generation to discover and apply these truths in their unique time and place. This is not to dilute our faith or disregard tradition, but simply to let these truths live and shine afresh in every age.

Equally, we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because something was true in a previous era and context, doesn’t mean it should be modified or abandoned now. Christian tradition has much to teach us, despite the fact that the church hasn’t always been the perfect guiding light to timeless truths. Humility must be shown, and (if necessary) repentance demonstrated.

This is the overall context for the often highly charged discussion of equal marriage and inclusion within Christian circles.

Norton Signal Box

Party political leaflets that drop through our letterbox usually have a short journey to the recycling bin, especially the Conservative ones – but the local ones are more likely to be read, even the Conservative ones!

One of these Conservative leaflets arrived a few days ago, and because it was about local issues I saved it. One item of interest concernes the fate of the Norton Signal Box on Station Road.

The above photo is one I took in July 2020 on a walk with Freddy to explore our new area, having recently moved into our new house.

The railway line that runs through Norton, a short distance from our home, was one of the oldest stretch of mechanical signalling in the UK. Because of modernisation, the signal box is now redundant and face potential demolition.

The local Conservatives have been working proactively with Network Rail to retain this important piece of local heritage by looking for groups and organisations who might put this signal box to good use. The mechanical signalling will be dismantled and gifted to a railway heritage organisation.

The signal box has space that could be used in a variety of ways, it also has kitchen and toilet facilities. Hopefully, it can be put to good use. If you live locally, do you have any ideas?

We will remember them!

Yesterday (29 June 2021) England beat Germany 2-0 in the delayed Euro2020 football tournament at Wembley Stadium.

Having experienced England win the World Cup in 1966 by defeating Germany aged 12, I’ve waited 55 years for England to beat them again in the knockout stage of a major tournament. It was glorious!

Having said that, I do worry for my country when some England fans boo the German national anthem, laugh at a crying German girl being consoled by her father, and give her despicable abuse online.

We were victorious over fascism in 1945, not Germany. The Second World War is NOT a justification for England fans to demonstrate the very attitudes our forefathers died to defeat. We will remember them!

See also: They think it’s all over!

They think it’s all over!

On the day (29 June 2021) that England play Germany in the knockout stage of Euro2020, I remember England beating West Germany to win the World Cup in 1966. Yes, I’m old enough to remember it!

Not only was the win memorable, so was the BBC television commentary.

“They think it’s all over” is a quote from Kenneth Wolstenholme’s BBC TV commentary in the closing moments of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, when England beat West Germany 4–2 after extra time to win the FIFA World Cup. In the final few seconds of the match, Wolstenholme said:

And here comes Hurst! He’s got…
(Wolstenholme is distracted by some of the crowd spilling onto the pitch)
Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over!
(Geoff Hurst scores to put England two goals ahead)
It is now, it’s four!

Soon after the 1966 victory, Wolstenholme’s quote became a widely used expression. Source

See also: We will remember them!

Windrush Day (1948)

The Empire Windrush that brought Jamaicans to Britain in 1948 actually began life as a German liner. Her passengers were indoctrinated with Nazism while cruising around the coast of Europe, later taking German troops to invade Norway, and Jews back across the North Sea to death camps. She was captured by the British in 1945 and carried British troops to the Far East via Suez.

When they landed in Tilbury, just east of London, today in 1948 they were taken to an air-raid shelter in Clapham, and many sought work at the nearby labour exchange in Brixton. Their arrival was electrifying. There were howls of outrage, one politician claiming ‘they won’t last one winter in England’. The new arrivals experienced overt racism. Some were beaten up for dating white girls and landlords displayed signs saying ‘No Blacks’. But many settled, stayed and thrived. Sam King became Mayor of Southwark. Source

Today, their families have benefitted and enriched our society beyond measure, but it’s a scandal that they have been treated appallingly by government (see here).

Racial Violence in Tulsa (1921)

History is vitally important, we need remember events from our past and learn from them.

On this day (31 May) in 1921, one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States occurred, one that for decades was rarely mentioned in classrooms or in history books.

A large white mob attacked both residents and businesses in the affluent black community of Greenwood in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The violence began when a black man was arrested and accused of raping a white woman. She didn’t press charges and there was little basis for the claim, but rumour and ignorance took over. A mob of white people descended on the police station to be met by a black crowd seeking to prevent a potential lynching, in a state where they were commonplace.

Thousands went on the rampage amid hysterical talk of a ‘negro uprising’. They destroyed properties, killed many people, and left as many as ten thousand black people homeless. Plausible eyewitnesses reported that the police were complicit in the violence.

Sometimes truth is uncomfortable. Even today, racial violence can be misrepresented in an warped attempt to distort truth and make events more palatable.

Remembering School House Teams

Do you remember your school house teams and colours?

Of course, the most well-known ones are probably from Harry Potter, but which team were you in?

Naomi’s house teams were castles and she was in Richmond: Alnwick (blue), Bamburgh (yellow), Raby (red), and Richmond (green).

Mine (going further back) were poets and I was in Shelley: Byron (blue), Chaucer (yellow), Milton (green), and Shelley (red).

What were yours, and which one were you in?

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover

A controversial reading choice perhaps, but a book that is far more than its infamous descriptions of sex, and one that is extremely well written. By comparison, I had to force myself to read page 2 of Fifty Shades of Grey before giving up, it was so badly written.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a novel by English author D. H. Lawrence that was first published privately in 1928 in Italy and in 1929 in France. An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books, which won the case and quickly sold three million copies. Source

The edition I read (above) had one section missing that is particularly explicit, but I only found out because I was occasionally reading from a different Kindle edition. It doesn’t really contribute much to the book, and it’s not for the easily offended.

Arguably, not his best novel, but a classic of modern literature nevertheless.

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