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When the crowd bays for blood

"Gutted to see Steve Smith breaking down,” tweeted Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar this morning. “And also the way people are treating him. It's sad, leave that poor chap alone now." Five days into the ball tampering scandal it was a wretched day for Australian cricket. Hard to watch. First, Cameron Bancroft’s press conference in Perth – just about holding it together. Then deposed captain Steve Smith’s in Sydney:, clearly a man overwhelmed by his suffering, in total despair and needing his father’s close support. On watching this interview coach Darren Lehmann, still in South Africa, decided to resign after all. He changed his mind when he saw Smith in tears. Upto then Lehmann

Are you a runner or a rower

Are you a rower or a runner? This week has been a succession of lasts – my final Annual Meeting on Sunday, my final Governing Body meeting on Tuesday, my final Luncheon Club on Wednesday, my final church leaders’ breakfast yesterday morning, my final Finance committee last night. And this morning, in about 45 minutes time, my final morning in our church school. Phew. And all this as I approach my final Sunday as vicar of Christ Church, on Sunday 8 April. One of the glories of the Church of England is the regular rhythms which undergird our varied ministries. There is the annual round of festivals and big events. Then at Christ Church we have our monthly along with a weekly pattern

Good listening bears fruit

It must have been particularly difficult having a conversation with Stephen Hawking, especially towards the end of his remarkable life. His colleague, Leonard Mlodinow says as much, as he wrote in yesterday’s New York Times. “Stephen could compose his sentences at a rate of only about six words a minute. At first I would sit impatiently, daydreaming on and off as I waited for him to finish his composition. “But then one day I was looking over his shoulder at his computer screen, where the sentence he was constructing was visible, and I started thinking about his evolving reply. By the time he had completed it, I had had several minutes to ponder the ideas he was expressing.” So Mlod

When it comes to immortality, sometimes you can try too hard

By any reckoning Qin Shi Huang was obsessed with his own mortality. Even at the age of 13, as soon as he assumed the throne in 246 BC, work began on preparing his mausoleum. No less than 720,000 people were involved in its construction which took place over some 37 years. You could say this underground burial site was somewhat over-the-top. Preparations included the manufacture of 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all in terracotta. As Jacqui commented as we walked through the exhibition on this first Chinese Emperor at the Liverpool World Museum: “What made him think that this terracotta army would be any use?” And such was the Emperor’s beli

The wisdom of the in-flight passenger safety briefing

“When the seat belt sign illuminates, you must fasten your seat belt . .” I’ve always been fascinated by the inflight passenger safety announcement given before take-off. No doubt years of experience and hours of committee work have gone into preparing this important briefing, what we should do should there be an emergency. And it’s a succinct summary of how to handle life. More to the point, it is often counter-intuitive. “In some cases, your nearest exit may be behind you.” In other words, don’t do the obvious thing - even if everyone is be moving forward, you may need to go back. Or should we land on water, you have a lifejacket underneath your seat. “To inflate the vest, pul

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