Tuesday, 12 December 2017


This is not my first trip to:

I came here three years ago with three dear people: Ray and two friends, Ursula and Jeanette. Appledore is quiet at this time of year. On the way to the delicatessen, I nodded and smiled to just a handful of people, but this is PERFECT.

You know when you book a holiday let, there are always a shelf of books?

Well, in 2014 I found ‘The Power if Quiet’ by Susan Cain, and it transformed my life. 

I am an introvert. I love my people in small groups. I am good at allowing others to take the limelight, I adore reading, gardening and solitary walks. I am absolutely at ease with my own company.

It’s not a question of disliking parties or noisy events or loud people - it’s just that I am exhausted by them. 

Susan Cain called me out, and here I am, taking time to do absolutely NOTHING! Except 

1. Shop

2. Eat 

3. Read:

4. Gaze out of the window 
4. Walk

All day. For  week! 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Shock! Horror! The Sausage Roll Scandal!

A.report published by the British Medical Journal exposes the sheer horror of the British Government's assault on the poor. Since 2010 there have been over 120,000 'unnecessary deaths' of sick, disabled and unemployed people.

Suicide. Starvation. Chronic diseases exacerbated by poverty. One hundred and twenty thousand.

A mother who can no longer care for her adult disabled son kills herself.

A former soldier dies because he can't keep his insulin at the correct temperature because his electricity has been cut off.

A woman dying of hypothermia in a home she can't afford to heat.

A homeless man freezing to death in a car park, because the night shelters have closed.

One hundred and twenty thousand.

Had these fellow-citizens died of influenza, it would be a public health emergency.

The Department of Work and Pensions, embarrassed by the statistics showing how many people have died within weeks of being declared, 'fit for work', no longer collects them.

Celebrities engaging in massive tax avoidance schemes go on television asking those of us without clever accountants to give to help children in need.

Does anyone believe this is right?

I tell you what gets me really, really, mad. The OUTRAGE by the right-wing media that Greggs the bakers replaced the infant Christ in a manger with a sausage roll. Not a WORD about the professor's report on the 'unnecessary deaths', mind you, forget them, here's a real issue ...

This is what I think, and it might shock you:

If your 'Christ' doesn't compel you to feed the hungry, tend the sick, help the vulnerable and shelter the homeless, you might as well worship a sausage roll.

I'm done.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Get Mad!

Yesterday at Gloucester Outdoor Church was a celebration and a sadness. Alex Cole, it's co-founder, is leaving. A dozen of us, congregants and trustees, sat under the bandstand in Gloucester Park and broke bread together. It was a moving ceremony. There was a party afterwards, with cake. 

We must look a funny old bunch to passers by. 

I shared a pew (read, 'folded blanket')  with a brand-new Christian, who we'll call Karen. 

She's late-thirties, struggling. 

I wonder, what does, "struggling" mean to you? To Karen, it's trying to live down a life of every type of abuse, it's trying to cope with severe depression, and it's coming to terms with limited access to her teenage children, who are in foster care. 

She's in tears. 

"I have to 'phone in every month to say if my circumstances have changed (to receive Universal Credit). The man I spoke to sounded distracted, I think he was talking to someone else. My call wasn't recorded, and I got sanctioned for not calling in." "Sanctioned". Read, "Punished with the threat of homelessness and starvation, for (in this case NOT) forgetting to make a 'phone call."

"They say it's to to teach me a lesson." 

Now I'm in tears.

Oh, Karen appealed, and her rent was reinstated, but for the rest, she's not believed. She's told she  can apply for a loan, which she would then have stopped from her benefits payment. 

When did we allow our politicians to use hunger to, "teach people a lesson?" I never voted for it. Did you? Is THIS what we have become?


If a pet-owner deliberately starved a dog, they'd be in court. We're doing this to PEOPLE, people, and IT MUST STOP! 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Living On The Edge

This cute little dog is homeless. Her name is Princess Elsa Louise, but we call her Elsa. Since 18th May when her owner, Carrie, left a violent partner, she has been living on the streets. 

I met Elsa at the Salvation Army Citadel in Gloucester last Monday. Carrie collapsed in the porch, suffering the onset of a diabetic episode. She was brought in, stabilised, and asked where she needed to go. 

So Elsa and I accompanied Carrie, who is sick, remember,  on a merry-go round of visits here and there to get some help. First stop, the Nelson Trust in Brunswick Square. A woman's charity, working hard to find Elsa a home. Carrie could be housed, but Elsa? Not proving easy. And as Elsa won't leave Carrie, that's a problem. So, no luck there. 

"Carrie's blood glucose level is over 30, I say, may we call an ambulance?"  No. "There's a walk-in clinic in Eastgate St. Take her there." OK, so Elsa and I drive Carrie to the clinic. There's a security guard on the door.

"Sorry. No dogs." Elsa rolls her eyes. Carrie  has a note from a doctor. Elsa is an alert dog. She will lick Carrie awake if she begins to slip into a coma. 

The man in uniform  can't take a doctor's word for it. "They'll send you a certificate" He says. "Well, that's not possible is it? " I ask, "Carrie has no address to send it to ..." 

"I'll ask."

"You can go in," says the security guard a few minutes later. I smile at him. He'd made an effort. "Thank you!" 

By now Carrie's blood -glucose level has been critical for more than twenty minutes. 

"I'm sorry," says the Receptionist. "You can't be seen here, you have to go to the Homeless Healthcare Team in Great Western Road."

So Elsa and I drive Carrie round to the Homeless Healthcare Team. I have known the staff who work there, for some time, as Gloucester City Mission, that I volunteer for, shares the building. These people are AMAZING.  It's lunchtime, and the clinic is closed, but Leslie checks Carrie's bloods and fetches the doctor straight away. 

"You should have sent for an ambulance immediately!" The doctor is very concerned. Next time, I'll know, I think. 

So the ambulance comes and Carrie is distraught. "Who will take Elsa??" 

And Elsa, the homeless chihuahua, comes  home with me. 

After a few more misadventures, Elsa returns to Carrie:they are  now in temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation in the city. 

"I even have a tv!" Carrie is ecstatic. 

When I ask Carrie if the owner knows she has her dog with her, she becomes a bit vague. I have my doubts, but, fingers-crossed. To be evicted for breaking rules renders you, 'intentionally homeless" and back on the streets indefinitely. 

Please, God, no.