Monday, 28 September 2015

Low life (not the Low Light at North Shields)

At one point in the weekend's three church services (ordination and retirement, of a Baptist minister and an Anglican Cathedral Dean) and two church meals there was some consideration of Jesus being with the low life, tax collectors and prostitutes. It is to me a key question: I believe we are called to turn from sin, to turn from belittling others. But we might rapidly think that means no to tax collection and prostitution. Yet tax collectors are essential. One of my FB friends who I have actually met several times lobbies for sex worker rights and protection. Perhaps I am more low life than high life anyway and glad of it. I can be happy at the end of a railway platform. One person I follow on Twitter is Frejadottir. What would Jesus say if he encountered her? Would it be no big deal, lets chat, what you wear is none of my business? Would he be concerned lest the children were upset (think children's comics)? Could he be critical by simply saying this is an extreme end of fashion, personal vanity? Or might he think (as I tend) that dressing this way is a form of art with your body? We can be sure Jesus never met a rubberbeing, he did however meet with a lady of the street who shocked those around by covering him in Oil. and .

And if you follow the Bible link you will see that the different treatments of the event quickly take you to the challenges of the Historical Jesus. Yet the story is so extra-ordinary, so counter intuitive that I personally believe it. Some event like this happened. Focus as well on "belittling". Does that not actually go a long way. Were'nt the Hadj pilgrims belittled in the care shown for their safety? There is no doubt a proportion of pornography belittles but the religious person may judge that more belittles than actually happens. If you are brought into the country and forced to be a prostitute you have been belittled. But if you freely choose that path, is there any belittling going on?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Christianity

I will point out how simple my Christianity is. Relationship is central, that's about the Trinity. God is on the receiving end of everything, that's Incarnation and crucifixion. Love is the parent of justice, not the other way around. The exercise of power is about service and stewardship. I believe those four key thoughts could answer many of the challenges of the modern world.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn

Today it is very likely Jeremy Corbyn will become the new leader of the Labour Party. Listening in the last 30 minutes on R4 whilst I will wish him well, I remain uneasy. Simply because, and we shall see whether he distances himself from this, it looked as if it was being presented as a victory for the Working Class. Maybe it is that but to believe that is a basis for winning the country is so divisive. I am simply not interested in arguing whether I am Working Class, and for Fiona the same goes, although her railway worker parentage is impeccable. There is every difference between leading a group who think blue collar unionised workers are the most important bloc in society to whom all others are answerable and against that running your politics on the basis of appealing to EVERYONE concerned that we live in a land of equal opportunity, where the sick and vulnerable are properly cared for, which has decent public services, which works hard to eliminate poverty and is a serious player in world leadership. To do all of the last requires wealth and there should be no tension in not being a blue collar worker and in being able to support the Labour Party. And raw numbers will play out in any event, presumably the Corbynites will not know what to do with the self-employed? They (including both of us) who are 15% I believe of the workforce and growing and who if the Labour Party are ever to hold power again, they will have to persuade. And none of this even mentions the mountain facing Labour called the SNP.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Syria: Cameron will announce new moves. Broadly they make sense to me. BUT he is now on the defensive, forced to react. No leadership this summer. The sense a government has woken up from a holiday break. Along the line of travel, random reactions. Germany makes its "outstanding" offer, word spreads like wildfire. Does Germany send coaches to Hungary and says "load em up"? No, it leaves the individuals fumbling around on the concourse of Keleti station. A bit further back, people argue (on my wall) about whose fault it is. Western responsbiility for Syria's crisis is limited. Syrians are entitled to live in a decent country which at heart it is, with access to democracy which many want. But Syrians have to carry that responsibility first and foremost. Strong men leaderships create these chaotic states.

I think the West should refuse to take the blame for the ISIS phenomenon; that is rooted in its own culture (with some crass decisions on the fringes by the West). The one massive wrong decision lying in the frame was what happened in 1948 in Israel, that was the derailer.

But the blame game is not productive except insofar as it drives what happens now. Refugees/migrants in Europe will have to be dealt with: since Germany has made the offer, that country should send out the coaches and pick up (not leave people to struggle to get to). But the absolute effort - a massive one - needs to be to stop the traffickers. What happened to the Libyan trafficker destruction plan? 

Refuge should be offered to people directly in the Lebanon/ Turkey/Jordan camps. Partly to help those countries, partly to stop trafficking, UNHCR has just called for 200,000 to be accepted. That is not Germany's 800,000.

And OVERIDING all that reaction has to be pro-action. What was needed months ago. People in Syria need hope they can get home. A huge effort will be needed, safe havens within Syria, and probably a UN mandate to take the country by force from the terrorists (who include Assad).

And why should this be done? Not because it is our fault. But because first and foremost, if all along Europe's southern border is a line of chaos, Europe will be destabilised. All along that border should be peaceful trading partners, rich countries at peace within themselves. The Romans managed it! And if they are not, their chaos will mean this summer will be the new norm in the heart of Europe.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

My views on Demon Internet

 What I think of @Namesco @VodafoneUK and Demon Internet whose Twitter feed is defunct I think.

"Since Demon has ejected its customers, I have been caused no end of problems. What are YOU going to do to ensure that my webpage eg is SHUT? I cannot edit it, I don't want anything to do with Demon or Namesco after all the trouble you have caused. And I cannot even get a website showing wholly erroneous information deleted. I have made a lot of phone and email requests to Namesco, told it would be taken down, and it is live. Photos of my child are on the internet without my permission. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS MATTER and is causing a lot of distress. You must know how in the UK to show children on the internet without permission is a very serious issue. I insist something is done about this very soon and that I receive a full apology. A customer of Demon since 1996 I cannot comprehend the incredibly bad service we have been given in 2015". 

Robert Forsythe

NOTHING ELSE HAD WORKED: Within a few hours of this and some tweeting, I got an apology from Namesco and the site was finally removed 40 days after I had lost control of it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


My daughter is playing Billy Elliot the stage show on DVD. They are singing Solidarity and what with the Neo Con Budget in the offing that got me to think about...................Greece. I am sure most Brits think Tsipras is barking, I tend to. But it is worth trying to work out how he sees it. There was some chat about a legal challenge because no-one can be thrown out of the Euro. Tsipras might be technically right on that, no mechanism for exit was ever built in. I think Tsipras' game is this: I argue for a No vote on Sunday, I win and I have the mandate to stare all the other Euro leaders in the face and say "Solidarity". You in Europe are as much to blame as we the Greeks are, you should never have let us join, nor lent us all the money. You must shoulder some blame so you must arrange some serious debt relief because we ain't ever paying. And who thinks they ever can?  The problem for Tsipras is that the Greeks might vote Yes and presumably he is out of  a job. I am sure the other EU leaders are banking on this. Or the vote might be close. Only with a landslide No can Tsipras' plan possibly work. Enabling him to stare at the EU leaders and order them to bail Greece out or eject Greece with much grinding.  The problem with all this is that conventionally a group of very large lenders faced by a rather small barking dog of a debtor seeking to round them up tend to be able to squash the debtor.  It does seem to me (and mightly relieved I am to be in the UK) that this week Europe really is in a tight spot. You would think Greece could be dismissed to let everyone carry on. But dismissed into bankruptcy and with nothing like the financial acumen of the Icelanders, Greece will become a failed state en route to Syria or from..................  It is easy to find some humour, it really is a Greek farce but even from the relative isolation of the Tyne Valley, I think the events in Greece and Tunisia this week really are PROFOUNDLY disturbing. The Europe that really should be a beacon to so many nations is looking rather battered.

Do I have any answers? Solidarity is a profoundly Christian notion so perhaps Europe should amortise all its debts across the whole Continent? And for ISIS I can only return to the Western European Enlightenment and to the older doctrine that is the Christian Trinity, itself founded upon experiencing a God who suffers and allows Himself to be put to death. If Western Europeans and all peoples of Goodwill would once again reflect deeply upon the absolutely non violent life of Christ, there may yet be the mechanism to confront this mindless death cult. Tsipras I may disagree with but I can understand him. With ISIS sending out cocaine fuelled killers to prey on elderly sun worshippers, I have absolutely no understanding or comprehension of. Cameron's "existential" struggle is right although I guess we as a nation are still a long way from perceiving what that means.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Prudhoe's Parking Woes do have a Solution.

The Hexham Courant on Friday 12th June 2015 ran two stories on opposite pages. Allendale adopts its Neighbourhood Development Plan. Prudhoe has no current project to create one. The second story quoting several Prudhoe Councillors developed the parking challenges which are clearly the subject of some energised discussion in the town. Attention was given to the challenges at Highfield School. This has prompted me to write an open letter to the Mayor which I will clip in below. It must be obvious to everyone that with the depth of feeling being reported that doing NOTHING about Prudhoe's parking issues is not sustainable. But so much of this comes back to the need for Prudhoe to develop its own plan and for subjects like Transport which used to be a topic for a Prudhoe Community Partnership working group to be given more attention. The letter follows:

Dear Eileen
I am writing to you in your role as the Mayor of Prudhoe to offer some thoughts on your comments published in the Hexham Courant on Friday June 12th about parking in Prudhoe. I will publish this letter on Facebook as Taking Pride in Prudhoe and I will do the same with any reply.

You and other councillors are quite right to be concerned about car parking throughout Prudhoe and especially with schools. The subject could be one that a properly convened Transport Sub Committee of the Town Council could address. It is also one that should be the subject of a Neighbourhood Development Plan. Incidentally on the opposite page in the same Courant a story hails the adoption of Allendale’s one. Will Prudhoe Town Council (bearing in mind the advice of ALL candidates at the General Election Hustings) be moving to create one soon?

With regard to the specific school parking issues, I can think of some solutions.

At Highfield. Two existing public car parks are quite close. The one adjacent to Fair View and the one at Highfields Play Park. It would be possible to yellow line the roads outside the schools and insist no-one drops children or waits to pick them up adjacent to the school.

That is a solution although it will not be completely welcomed. There is another solution. The entire road layout at Highfields is poor. It is my understanding that the County owns the land on the inside of the bend opposite the school entrance? Without changing any existing demarcated boundaries, I would think a relatively minor road improvement scheme could re-arrange the road layout and create a new pick up and drop off point or lane, on the school side of the road. The road would be improved and the school gain some room for parents.

The same problem exists at Castle School. Here in my opinion, the solution which will also address the Eltingham Court access issue is to make parts of Castle Road (perhaps west of the postbox, to be considered in detail) a one way road with access onto the bypass. This would give the room to mark up outside Castle School a proper set down/pick up area. Safety might require a roundabout at Hammerite. Then get on and do that.

Prudhoe is in the midst of expansion which will see the population grow in thousands. These problems are not going to go away, they are only going to increase. Unless schemes of investment are campaigned for and monies found, the situations that have led to the outbursts recorded in the Courant will keep continuing. A similar situation affects the need for a new Tyne Bridge and a road north to Horsley Interchange and another improved route on existing public roads south to the Derwent Valley at Ebchester (out via Moor Road). Unless Prudhoe addresses its own strategic needs and insists they go on the agenda of the County Council, you can anticipate the community tied in knots as illustrated in the Courant and with 400+ more houses at the Hospital site, the need to tackle these planning issues is absolutely pressing.

Yours sincerely

Robert Forsythe