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From the Rectory – January

While hunting for the deadly great white shark in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning masterpiece Jaws, the hero of the film, Police Chief Brody, gets his first look at exactly how massive the killer shark truly is. Standing on the deck of the small fishing vessel that has taken him out to sea, Brody turns to the ship’s captain, and completely off-script utters the now famous line ‘ You’re going to need a bigger boat’.

I read an article recently about how this, and a good number of the great lines in cinema history, was ad-libbed rather than following the original script. read more

From the Rectory – December

Christmas trees, presents, wrapping paper, candles, tinsel, carols, bells, snowmen, reindeer, stockings, turkey, mistletoe, mince pies & wise men. This season is jam packed full of tradition and history.

But no Christmas can ever be called complete without a novelty song.

If Aled Jones singing ‘Walking in the air’ is not your thing, then maybe Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ is more to your taste. Or if you’re wedded to the sounds of the 1970’s, then Boney M’s ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ could be the one that gets you in the Christmas mood. read more

From the Rectory – November

The British politician William Ewart is a man who the vast majority of the public have never heard of. Born in 1798, Ewart entered parliament in 1828. His wide ranging political career saw him serve as MP for Bletchingley in Surrey, Liverpool, Wigan and then finally for Dumfries Burghs in Scotland.

Ewart was instrumental in establishing free public libraries, for legalising the metric system of weights and measures, and he fought unsuccessfully for the abolition of capital punishment. Of all his achievements, the one he will be remembered for, was that he conceived the idea of a Blue plaque installed in a public place to commemorate a link between a famous person or event. read more

From the Rectory – October

Banksy is an anonymous English based graffiti artist based in Bristol. His work consists mostly of a distinctive stencil based technique, and can be found on streets, bridges and walls of cities round the world. Many of his painted pieces are of a ‘social commentary’ nature, although in 2015 he organised a temporary art project in Weston-super-Mare at a disused Lido. Titled ‘Dismaland’, it was an ironic twist on Disneyland.   

rage-flower-thrower-by-banksyArt is one of those things that can be incredibly subjective. One man’s graffiti art and installation is another man’s vandalism and waste of space. read more

From the Rectory – September

I wonder what wakes you up in the morning?

It might be the rising sun leaking round the edge of your curtains. It could be the bird song outside the windows. If you’re fortunate perhaps it’s someone bringing you a cup of coffee. Or maybe it’s the sound of some relentlessly joyful DJ extolling the virtues of the latest single from a band you’ve never heard of when your clock radio reaches the appointed time.

Time can seem to be the thing that rules our lives.

railI read recently how the rail companies in the UK were instrumental in introducing nationwide standardised time. As you move from East to West the sun sets later. If your clock is a sundial, you would have the middle of the day before someone living in a town further west from you. This wan’t much good for running trains. So in 1840, the Great Western Railway Company synchronised local times and applied a single standard. read more

From the Rectory – August

A Tale Of Three Proverbs

I wonder if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’?

This proverb has it’s origin in the Igbo and Yoruba peoples in Nigeria, although it exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that the upbringing of children is a communal effort, where the extended family, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even other non-relatives – neighbours and friends, participate.

The saying also sums up the African worldview that underlines the value of family. In these cultures, children are seen as a blessing from God to the whole community. read more

From the Rectory – July

If you ever have a chance to inspect a map of the USA, especially New England, you’ll quickly notice how familiar some of the place names are. Cambridge, Portsmouth, Manchester, York – I’m sure we could quite easily point these places out on a map of the U.K. A little bit more difficult when they’re in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.

Why did the early settlers in America name their towns after places in England? After all, wasn’t England the place where they were fleeing from? Wouldn’t it make more sense to name these places something entirely different? A new home with a new name. read more

From the Rectory – June

Of all the rather odd celebrations that take place around the globe, the month of June has several that ought to rank quite highly. The ever popular Canadian Rivers Day is on the second Sunday of June, and Singapore International Water Week starts this year on the 16th. If you’re looking for something that lasts for the full thirty days, there’s nothing more appealing than the Great Outdoors Month in America. Or if you don’t fancy the travel then stay closer to home. Dentists of the UK will be overjoyed if you send them a card, because June is National Smile Month. read more

From the Rectory – May

At more than 2300 episodes that have aired over the last 55 years, the BBC’s Songs of Praise is one of the most recognisable shows broadcast in the UK. Originally location specific, with hymns from a single church, the style of the programme has changed to being more of a magazine format. This reflects the wider Christian audience across the country. Now it would now not be unusual to hear a classic John Wesley hymn from a church in Wales, and then later in the same show a modern worship song from a central London setting. read more

From the Rectory – April

There is no shortage of places that songwriters can go to when they are looking for a subject to write about. Falling in love, being in love and falling back out of love again seem to be the main themes for a good number of lyricists. But nothing is off limits.

The Beatles successfully sang about life under the sea in Yellow Submarine, the garden of a Salvation Army children’s home in Strawberry Fields and loneliness & separation in Eleanor Rigby. Mind you, they also sang a great deal about love as well. read more