Thursday, June 30, 2005

'Make Poverty History' vigil

Have just returned from a 'Make Poverty History' vigil from St Hugh's Roman Catholic Church in Letchworth, Herts..
All credit to them for doing something pro-active in helping to spread awareness on this issue, I went along after seeing a letter advertising the vigil in the local 'Comet'newspaper.
It was a quiet affair with prayers, candles, Taize songs and other things associated with Vigils, it barely lasted an hour and many of us went to the front, after being invited, and tore a strip off a banner saying 'Poverty' and pledged to do our bit to help end world poverty.
We were also shown slides of photos and film footage of the suffering in Africa, including images taken from the Ethiopian famine twenty years ago.
Maybe what was done here wasn't enough, I disagree, but I appreciate some will scoff at vigils.
But they do help increase awareness of the issues involved and encourage people to be more pro-active.
What are you doing to be more pro-active in helping to stop World Poverty.
There are six days left, you can e-mail No 10 Downing Street for one thing ( and lobby the PM to do his bit. Maybe you would feel foolish for doing that, maybe you think that you alone cannot do anything, but if we all felt like that nothing would be done.
Make your voice heard. You have a voice and you can use it.



Live 8 memories (friendly captions)

As part of our Live 8 celebrations on Saturday I have come across some photos of those who are performing and who also performed at Live Aid. Obviously the unique and brilliant Freddie Mercury is no longer with us (although Queen, as in Brian May and Roger Taylor, will be perfoming with Paul Rodgers), but Paul McCartney and Bono most certainly are performing, as stated earlier.
What I would like to see is a caption for the two photos here (take the mick, but be respectful please!) and if you do that I would humbly ask if you would take a look at any of the websites to do with 'Make Poverty History' and see where you can help where you haven't already. It doesn't have to be much, but a little goes a long way as the old saying says.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dick and Harry at it again!

According to the BBC News website (, in 1971 Henry Kissinger and the then US President, Richard Nixon discussed asking the Chinese to mobilise troops on the Indian border so as to intimidate India into stopping their war with Pakistan.
Aside from the ideological hypocricy (China was, and is in some respects, a communist country, and in 1971 a pretty isolated one at that), it just goes to show just how corrupt the Nixon administration was what with Watergate, the smearing of Daniel Ellisberg, helping to overthrow a democratically-elected government in Chile, just because it was very left-wing, etc..
Perhaps if, as many European countries wish to see, Henry Kissinger was brought before a court of law to answer for his alleged involvement in overseas war crimes. And perhaps if the americans helped instigate this (fat chance!), then a line would be drawn over the past, Kissinger would face justice and confidence in the US from overseas might be, at least partially, restored.

Zimbabwe crisis

It has been reported that the Government are still sending refugees back to Zimbabwe, although we are assured that each case is checked carefully and that they believe the people returned are not in danger. The Archbishop of Canterbury has called this 'deeply immoral!'
I am sure the Goverment are being sincere, but once in a while, speaking as a member of the Labour Party, I have to disagree with the Government and this is one of those times.
What Mugabe is doing to Zimbabwe is nothing short of replacing a democracy with a dictatorship and he has attacked and ruthlessly dealt with anyone who crosses him. We have seen this in the Mabeteland massacres, the attacks on white farmers, the attacks on members of opposition parties, in the squandering of aid to the country, in his forceable repatriation of those in the cities into the countryside under 'Operation Drive-Out Trash'.
We must, short of sending in troops, galvanise the International community, via the UN and particually South Africa and pressurise the Zimbabwe Government to change their course before things become too intolerable for the people of Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sgt Pepper

Apparently whilst Paul McCartney and U2 are opening the Live 8 event perfoming 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band', they will be doing so wearing Sgt Pepper outfits.
Hmm.. Ah well, if it gets the ratings in, but why the Sgt Pepper outfits?

Fellow bloggers

Have added three blog sites on the links section. So I suppose some explanation may be needed and a bit of plugging for them.

Radioleaflet is the blog of Liz Saul, a London-based journalist. She is an old friend from University is the blog of Annie Porthouse, a sophisticated writer and fellow Subwayian (see Annie has written a couple of best selling 'chick lit' books and has been credited as the Christian version of Bridget Jones (Go figure as the Americans say). She has also had the (in my view dubious, given my antipathy towards the paper) distinction of having had an article about her work in the 'Daily Mail', although the write-up in some people's view was not that good.
Would never have happened of course in more acceptable newspapers like 'The Independent' :)

Peculiar Times is the blog of Philip Purser-Hallard, another fellow Subwayan. Philip is a sci-fi writer and is the one man I have met (aside from my queing up at a booksigning by Tom Baker in Cambridge, if that counts) who has been involved in the world of Doctor Who. He is also one of the very few people I know who has an entry on wkipedia, so type in his name on and that should tell you more about him.
Good chap to have a drink and a chat with on a Saturday night, although when I had that honour with Philip it was by the Cheltenam race track during the Greenbelt festival last summer.

Finally 'Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left',. Kerron works for Andy Reed MP (Lab, Loughborough) and is a District Councillor in South Oxhey, Herts. At the last General Election he stood in the, as he put it 'ultra-safe seat of South West Hertfordshire'. Of course it was an ultra-safe Tory seat, not Labour. But he won the liking and admiration of many in the constituency and not only will he make a good MP one day, but he is also a good, honest, down-to-earth friend.

So why the links! Well Philip's blog helped give me an idea for this one, Kerron asked for help on his blog and asked for a link, and Annie was the first to post a comment on this blog. Seems like they are good enough reasons to me!

Well, must pop into town, things to do on this sunny morning



Monday, June 27, 2005

Crazy Frog no longer at No 1!

The annoying 'Crazy Frog' ringtone has been knocked off No 1 in the UK music charts by Tupac.
Well I am no fan of Tupac, but I am glad that annoying frog has gone. Those swedish teenagers who created this horrible thing said when they had started it: 'We laughed until we got tears!'
Oh for the gift of laughter! I will resist the temptation to imagine them locked in a cellar with the theme tune to Barney the Dinosaur on a tape-loop
I will admit though my lack of tolerance over what is in the UK Top Ten (A market my undergraduate sister says is controlled by sixteen year-old consumers), makes me wonder if I am going old

Live 8 (Make Poverty History)

Mars Hill on Saturday will be totally dedicated to Live 8, comments etc.. fully appreciated. I have also given a link to the official site, and I urge you to help wherever and whenever you can!
Remember a child in Africa dies every three seconds due to poverty, just click your fingers every three seconds for a short while and then you will realise (if you don't already) just how shocking that is.

According to the 'Sunday Times', the mammoth international conert will start with U2 and Paul McCartney performing 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band'. As it was with Status Quo and 'Rocking All Over the World' twenty years ago, if that doesn't give a mainstream rocking start I am not sure what will :)

I Read the News Today, oh boy!

Have just been leafing through 'The Independent' in the last hour or so.
First of all it's a shame about Richard Whiteley, my brother (a bit fan of Countdown) rang me up last night to tell me, and the paper does the usual stuff. Much missed etc.. but he did seem to be one of the few genuinely, no chip on shoulder, nice guys in the world of fame. I am sure 'Countdown' will continue but it won't feel the same without him and he will be a hard act to follow.
(NB For Americans and other overseas friends and other readers from overseas. 'Countdown' is a popular word/math(s) gameshow on Channel 4 television during the daytime. It has been going on, presented by the same people, since Channel 4 started in 1982. For more info see
The main headline however is about Zimbabwe, and the UN are investigating Mugabe's 'Operation Drive Out Trash' (Takes trash to know trash). It turns out thousands of people are dying in rural poverty at an epic last seen with Pol Pot in Cambodia. This is just the pits, seeing as we are 'Making Poverty History', maybe a strong sense of moral prodding by the UN towards Soutthern African countries in dealing with Mugabe is called for!
Below is an item I wrote on Saturday about the current Zimbabwe crisis, for the latest edition of IMPACT. (The CPF newsletter which I help edit, more on that later this week...):

The African Union, led by South Africa, have rejected calls by the US and UK to exert pressure on Zimbabwe to stop the demoliton of houses in urban areas. The reason Mugabe is doing this is to punish people in areas who did not vote for him in the recent presidential elections. Mugabe denies this, saying that the crackdown is on areas 'overrun with criminals'.
Well it takes one to know one! Let's not forget two children were killed during one crackdown this week.
One AU spokesman says that it is not their policy to interfere in other countries affairs and there is no way the AU will be seen appeasing western leaders at the forthcoming G 8 summit.
All I can say is that the current regime in South Africa is a disapointment compared to Mandela's inspiring leadership. If only some there were not small minded enough to realise that this is not about appeasment, colonialism, etc.. but rather calling for mutual respect, human dignity, and helping one's neighbour.
In twenty-five years Mugabe has succesfully turned one of the potentially wealthiest nations in Africa with a potential multi-party democracy, into one of the poorest, famine fuelled, dictatorships in Africa. He has turned his speech of reconcilliation on the day Zimbabwe gained independence from the UK in 1980 into a total joke!
And the future seemed so hopeful after the 1960s and 1970s when Rhodesia had a pseudo-apartheid regime and Ian Smith's confrontations with Britain and the rest of the international community.
The sooner Mugabe and Zanu PF are removed from power, the better.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Girl In the Cafe

I have just been watching 'The Girl In The Cafe' on BBC 1 this evening, and in consequence missed 'Murder in Suburbia' !
But it was absolutely worth it. I have to admit that when I first heard about this one off drama, as a piece written by Richard Curtis of Blackadder, Four Weddings, and Love Actually fame I groaned inwardly. First of all the words 'One-off drama' were not mentioned, but what was mentioned were the plot, a girl in a cafe (Kelly MacDonald) falling in love of a senior civil servant (Bill Nighy) under the backdrop of the G8 summit. I felt this was a comedy too far..
But no, Richard Curtis has put his writing skills to very good use (as always) and the humour never appears, except in one or two dry asides which work well.
There are improbabilities. He takes her to the summit in Reykjavik, Iceland (The actual G8 summit will take place in Edinburgh) and proceeds to embarras senior politicans and diplomats at just about every social event he takes her to by pointing out where they are failing to commit themselves to Global poverty and where they allow themselves to compromise.
But whilst this may not happen in real life (and I loved the bit where the Chancellor berates the civil servant afterwards: 'We have security cordons to keep those nutters out!'), the message of the story is the important thing. Next week will see the G8 summit and important discussions on world poverty will be on the agenda and the american government are dragging their heels on this issue.
Lets help make this the No 1 important global issue, even if it mean embarrasing ourselves.

First full day

This feels a bit like a new toy, hence three entries in twenty-four hours.
I don't know if any of you have checked the BBC News website lately but it might be the case that US forces are using napalm bombs on insurgents in Iraq. One hopes that the facts are wrong and this is not the case, but what shocked me was my own response, not moral outrage but a sense of resigned weariness, as if anything a neo-con led Government no longer shocked me!
Five years ago (to my shame) I part wanted Bush to win, even though I am rather social democratic in my politics. I thought that after the moral ambiguity on social issues under Clinton a bit of old fashioned Christian ethics would do the US no harm.
How wrong I was, I failed to properly reckon on the neo-cons, the hawks, and the profit-over-ethics businessmen. I should have realised that Bush was no FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, or Carter, or even Lincoln (who was a Republican). How naive can one be! And how stupid can the Bush administration be. After 9/11 there was much international goodwill, but instead of concentrating on Afghanistan they went into Iraq (And I appreciate what sort of a man Sadamn Hussein is, but to do things like that you need full international backing). I suppose that teaches us that gun-ho diplomacy isn't always right and doesn't always work.
But heigh ho, must dash, loads of housework to do



Okay so the photo on my main profile is not good, so I thought I would show you a better one!
Okay, I admit this one is also bad, but it is better than the other one ;)

Friday, June 24, 2005

First entry

Yes, well I have noticed others are having a blog, some friends have them, and I felt a bit behind the times. Besides I had something similar, with the same title (Mars Hill) on some years ago.
The object, as when I had my own website, is to basically use it as a public/private forum. It is where my interests in Christianity, politics, literature, my personal day-to-day life (If I feel it is worthwhile mentioning publicly and will not infringe on others privacy) will be mentioned etc.. It will also be used to shamelessly plug my interests as well :).
So, here goes.....