Showing posts from August, 2005

The most stupid questions are the ones people don't ask

How often have you been in a meeting when someone used an expression, or referred to something, which everyone else appeared to understand, but you didn’t have a clue what they were talking about? And in that situation, how easy did you find it to ask? I must confess that this happens to me quite regularly. Perhaps more than most because I’m a non-engineer working for a company where the majority of managers have an engineering background, and so I’ve had to evolve ways of dealing with it. But I think most people, if we are honest, would agree that it is a common occurrence, and if being very honest, that we don’t ask “what on earth are you talking about” often enough. For what it’s worth, in my experience, if you start with “Please forgive me if this is a stupid question, but can you explain to me …” then most of the time people will try to make you feel better with “That’s not a stupid question at all.” (Even if they think it is.) And quite often someone else who was trying to pluck

Another Modest Proposal

Over coffee this morning after church, one of the ladies mentioned that she and her family had just come back from the Isle of Man, where they had had a very good short holiday. This sparked off a thought I have had before: why not establish a ferry between Whitehaven and the Isle of Man ? If you want to get from West Cumbria to the Isle of Man there is not good direct route and you probably end up driving to Fleetwood to take the ferry. It’s equivalent to getting from the tread of a wheel to the hub by going 180 degrees round the rim before going up one of the spokes. There is a general consensus that one of the things we need to do to boost the economy of West Cumbria is to build up tourism. The wider the package we can offer, the easier this will be to acheive. The ability to take a quick trip to the Isle of Man could be used to provide an additional boost, certainly to tourism in West Cumbria and probably in the Central Lakes as well.

Are TV Replays fair to Umpires and Referees ?

I used to greatly enjoy watching first-class cricket, but the trouble with watching this sport is that most of us just can't spare three or five days at a time to watch a game. I have not managed to attend a match in person since that glorious morning at the Oval twenty years ago when England last won the Ashes. That's if you don't count about half an hour's play of a match against New Zealand which was otherwise rained off. However, so many of my work colleagues have been raving about how good the present test series is that I have been unable to resist the temptation to watch some of it for myself. Yesterday I was working in my office at home in Cumbria with an internet panel open with the scoreboard. When something really interesting like a wicket or Flintoff's century came up I nipped into the living room to catch the replay on the TV. I have been delighted to see England playing so well, but could not resist a degree of sympathy for the Umpires. They have to ma

Brother Roger R.I.P.

I spent most of the last week completing our house move to Cumbria - clearing the last of our things from the house in St Albans where my family have lived for 45 years was something of a major exercise. As we returned to Cumbria after leaving the old house for the last time, I was horrified to learn on the radio that Brother Roger, founder of the Taize community, had been murdered a few days previously. He was 90 years old, and was stabbed to death during a service in front of 2,500 worshippers by a mentally disturbed woman. Brother Roger founded the interdenominational Taize community in 1940 as a refuge from war. He was a protestant but worked to heal the divisions between churches of all denominations and was accepted by Catholics almost as one of themselves: at the funeral of Pope John Paul II he received communion in his wheelchair from the then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict.) A special tradition of prayer through singing which began at Taize has had a huge influence on m

Stand up for local hospitals

I wrote a week ago that I become increasingly concerned about the future of local health services in West Cumbria. Since then the problems have become more and more obvious. Now Labour politicians who during the election a couple of months ago were proclaiming loudly that there is no threat to local hospitals have realised that there is and are frantically trying to set up NHS managers and officials as scapegoats. It is time for Copeland's MP to make clear whether he still believes, as he said at the election debates and in the local press during the election, that there is no threat to West Cumberland Hospital. If he does still believes that, he may be the only person in West Cumbria who does, following the suggestion that some maternity services could move to Carlisle, the changes to Windermere ward, and two high-profile resignations of greatly respected doctors. If he doesn't, he should encourage his colleagues to work with the local NHS to save local services. Either way lo


Despite all the assurances I become increasingly concerned about the future of local health services in West Cumbria. This is not because I doubt the integrity or good intentions of the people who are running the Primary Care Trusts and the Acute Hospitals Trust, but because the right decisions will have to be taken to keep our local hospitals viable. In the run up the election I met many members of staff at West Cumberland and Millom hospitals and I was extremely concerned at the low level of morale amongst excellent doctors and nurses. Two recent high-profile resignations and the response to them do nothing to convince me that this has improved. The idea of a "Health park" was put forward and this would be one way to kick off a positive strategy for the future, but to date it has not had support at higher levels. And now there is a suggestion that some maternity services might move to Carlisle. I strongly support the need to retain full maternity services at West Cumberland

What Islam says about Terrorism

In the aftermath of the bombings in London, it has been fairly widely remarked that such acts of terrorism are not compatible with the Muslim religion. This statement has come both from Muslims themselves and leaders of other faiths. However, I continue to read or hear comments from people who question whether the Koran does in fact support acts of indiscriminate violence. Maybe the people who say such things missed the adverts in most papers placed by British Muslims saying "Not in our names." Maybe they also missed the fatwa issued by the British Muslim Forum, with the approval of more than 500 UK Muslim clerics, scholars and imams, on Monday 18 July. I found it very powerful, and worth repeating below. "We wish to express our sincere condolences to the families of all the victims of the London attacks. We pray for the swift recovery of all those who are recovering from injuries. There are many questions emerging from the London bombings. One of the most important ques