God, leave me alone so that I may have some happiness.

And it is also 50 years ago, again virtually to the day, when I first made contact with Joseph Heller’s eponymous novel, Catch 22. Phil was reading it during our athletics tour of Scandinavia and I was intrigued by the cover. Once he finished it, he gave it to me. Today it enjoys the status of my favourite book. There’s no other book quite like it and as it happens I am rereading it once again, this time on Kindle. You can pick it up anytime and start anywhere to enjoy the overwritten caricatures of the numerous characters who make up Heller’s disordered world of an American bomber squadron based on a small island off the Italian coast during WW2. The central character is the strang

The true story of my little Viking man

It was 50 years ago, almost to the day, when I took possession of my little Viking man. I won him in a 400m race in the university town of Uppsala, just north of Stockholm– the first race of our athletics tour of Scandinavia. It wasn’t an easy race: I started too slow. Nevertheless I eagerly anticipated an exciting prize; some of the team had already won some impressive stuff. So on the podium I fought back the tears when presented with my little pottery Viking man. I had been hoping for a Rolex. He came unboxed, I think, and back at the hotel I simply stuck him in the bottom of my blue Adidas bag until I unpacked him on my arrival back home some weeks later. Not having any use for him I p

Make someone's day, chat.

It’s summer 1970 and I’m doing North America by Greyhound. My longest journey is the 947 miles from Vancouver to San Francesco. As the bus leaves Vancouver crossing over the Granville Bridge, I turn to speak to the English student sitting next to me: “Nice view.” He grunted a cursory reply. And that was it. Not a single word exchanged between us over the next 22 hours. I recall this experience as today we mark, thanks to the BBC, public transport “chat day.” Today is the day we put our Englishness aside and speak to our fellow travellers. If you are fortunate enough to be travelling West Coast Virgin trains, you will notice that every coach C today is designated a “chat carriage

My colleague Harry was there

My friend Harry was there. I worked with Harry for three years in District H: we were both social workers with the Liverpool Social Services Department. In fact, it was Harry who wrote my colleague’s reference for the CofE when I applied for ordination in 1973. A typical Scouser Harry had a colourful background and had somehow found himself gainfully employed as a welfare officer, mainly working with old people – who were not much older than himself. Harry could make things happen. Harry had many stories to tell; I was fascinated and would probe him for more detail, especially concerning his experiences as a soldier in the War. Harry was there, on D-day, landing on Normandy on 6


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