Durham does it in style

Durham University certainly knows how to celebrate the graduation of its students in style. For us, the celebration started with an excellent meal in hall at Van Mildert College on Thursday evening. This was followed by the formalities on Friday, a day we will always remember.

A memorable Congregation in the magnificent Cathedral first thing was a near perfect balance of formal ceremony with humour and a true sense of occasion. The University Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen,  was on particularly good form with a speech that combined an appropriately inspirational message with wit and anecdotes about Durham and its students. He coped well with the students who insisted on giving him a hug rather than the more appropriate hand-shake.

Then on to the Natural Sciences reception at St Chad’s, another highly enjoyable event, before returning to meet some of our son’s friends emerging from their congregations later in the day. A picnic lunch by the river, a rest back at Van Mildert, then a visit to the Anthropology party and back to Palace Green to enjoy the last of the band playing in the marquee.

Finally an excellent family meal at The Cellar Door Restaurant brought a marvellous day to a close. The time has flown by. Thank you Durham and your university for such a fitting climax to our son’s three years with you.

Thank you Cambridge

A privilege to attend the celebration event yesterday for PGCE students who’ve completed their year at Cambridge University.

For anyone involved in education it’s very encouraging to see another generation of very able, talented young people entering the teaching profession and benefitting from the excellent training provided by the Cambridge Faculty of Education.

I wish all of those completing the course every success as they move forward with their careers.

Thank you

Thank you to everybody who has purchased “The Purging” since the review in the Church Times last week.  I hope you enjoy reading it. The feedback I’ve received has been very helpful. I think readers who understand it’s intended to be “Midsomer Noir,” while also exploring a serious theme about religious extremism have generally been very positive.

I’ve also had the good news that my excellent local bookshop, Harts in Saffron Walden, will stock the book.

Thank you to everybody for your support.


Church Times reviews “The Purging”

Much to my surprise (and delight) a review of my first novel “The Purging” has appeared in the Church Times. Thank you to Fiona Hook for her positive review. Nothing encourages an aspiring author more than when somebody reviews your first novel and, even better, appears to have enjoyed reading it.

I have posted a link to the Church Times review here: http://bit.ly/1FktQoC

With a full time job and various voluntary roles I find it a challenge to make time for my writing. However, I still hope to publish the second of the “Bonhunt Chronicles” this summer. I take on board Fiona’s comments that Inspector Wendy Pepper’s personality has still to impress. She is very much work in progress.

Not everything European is bad!

If we really want to dislike something, then Europe always seems to be a good target.

Our Government currently has its sights on the European court of human rights and the European convention on human rights. Let’s be clear, these are not the same as the European Union (a distinction that our media often fail to make – everything with Europe in its name gets lumped together and is portrayed as being bad).

Because some of the judgements from the court aren’t ones that the Government wanted, it is being proposed that we should secure the right for our parliament to veto its judgments. We need to be very careful. I am sure Russia would welcome the idea that their parliament, the Duma, could set judgements against their country aside. And if we pull out of the European convention on human rights we turn our back on the convention that guarantees the right not to be tortured or enslaved; the right to liberty and security of the person; the right to marry; the right to a fair trial; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association.

These rights have been hard earned: we shouldn’t set aside the structures that guarantee them just because they are European and don’t always produce the outcomes that we want.

The first broken promise

So the prize for the first broken promise after the election goes to………..Nigel Farage. He’ll probably claim that, technically, he did resign as leader of UKIP having failed to get elected in Thanet, only to be “begged” not to quit by his party’s executive. But does this really honour his promise to quit if not elected?

What it confirms is that UKIP really is a one man band and is incapable of turning itself into a mature political party.


Essay crisis survived again

So David Cameron, the essay crisis Prime Minister, has once again got there by the skin of his teeth. An overall majority on just 36% of the vote.

First of all, congratulations are in order. But I cannot get enthused at the prospect of five more years, this time with an overall majority. No tempering this time by the sadly decimated Liberal Democrats, and so nobody else to blame. Already it seems legislation that affects our civil liberties is back on the agenda, and our future in Europe looks decidedly dodgy.

Cameron talks of “one Nation” conservatism. I fear all the pressure will be from the right wing of his party, and he can no longer use the Liberal Democrats as an excuse to resist their demands.

The final death of Fleet Street?

If we needed any confirmation about the sad state of our newspapers here in the UK, this morning’s editions surely provide the evidence that the once noble institution of Fleet Street has waved the white flag and surrendered.

Yes, I know they all moved out of Fleet Street years ago. That was probably the moment when the rot set in. The challenge of modern media and new methods of communication could have opened up new horizons and spurred investigative journalism on in its task of holding the establishment to account. Instead, most of our once great newspapers are now owned by proprietors who have little interest in real journalism and news reporting, preferring to instruct their poor staff to produce comics that peddle savage attacks on the politicians they don’t want us to vote for, while failing to hold the ones they support to account.

I used to care about the future of many of these newspapers. But why waste our money on this rubbish? Perhaps it is time to say good riddance.