Don’t throw the towel out the window

When Kelly got up in the morning, she knew she had to have a shower and put on her school uniform before she went downstairs to have breakfast. After breakfast, she needed to brush her teeth and then she could watch cartoons until it was time for her to put her shoes on and go to school.

Kelly ate her breakfast and then put the TV on.

‘Kelly,’ her mum said. ‘Have you brushed your teeth?’

Kelly sighed ‘No, mum. Can I just watch this first?’

‘No, Kelly, go and brush your teeth.’

Kelly went upstairs and went into the bathroom. Her brother had left his wet towel right in the middle of the floor. Kelly stepped on it and her sock got all wet.

‘Ewwww! Stephen! You’ve left your towel on the floor again and my sock is all wet! Why don’t you ever pick up your towel?’

Stephen came in the bathroom and picked up his towel

‘Sorry, Kelly.’ He said.

‘Don’t do it again!’

Kelly brushed her teeth and then went back downstairs to watch TV.


The next morning, Kelly got up and had her shower. She put on her school uniform, went downstairs and turned the TV on.

‘Kelly’ her mum said ‘Have you had your breakfast?’

‘No mum,’ Kelly sighed. ‘Can I watch TV while I eat?’

‘No Kelly. You watch TV after you’ve brushed your teeth.’

Kelly turned off the TV, got her breakfast and then went upstairs to brush her teeth. She stepped on Stephen’s wet towel and her sock got all wet.

‘Ewww! Stephen!’ She shouted. Kelly was super mad now because her sock was all wet again. ‘Stephen why don’t you ever do what you are meant to do! I am going to throw your towel out of the window!’

‘Don’t do that! I’m sorry, I just forget’

Kelly brushed her teeth and went downstairs to watch TV.


The next morning, Kelly got up and had her shower. She put on her school uniform, went downstairs and got her breakfast. While she was waiting for her toast to cook, she turned the TV on.

‘Kelly, your toast is going to burn! What are you doing?’

‘Sorry mum!’ Kelly said, running into the kitchen to rescue her toast.

‘Were you watching TV?’

‘Yes, I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t do it again, Kelly.’ Her mum said.

Kelly ate her breakfast and then went upstairs to brush her teeth. She looked at the floor and saw that Stephen’s towel was on the floor. She picked it up and stood on the side of the bath, she opened the window and then threw the towel out of the window.

Kelly brushed her teeth and then went downstairs to watch TV.

‘Where’s my towel? Mum, have you seen my towel?’ Stephen shouted from upstairs.

‘Where did you leave it?’

‘I think I left it in the bathroom, I was just going to put it away.’

‘You should have put it away before,’ shouted Kelly.

Stephen ran downstairs.

‘What have you done to my towel?’

‘I put it outside to dry.’

Kelly laughed as Stephen ran outside to get his towel.

‘That wasn’t very kind, Kelly.’

‘He should do what he is meant to do. It’s annoying me that I have to tell him every day.’

‘Kelly, when are you meant to watch TV?’

‘After I brush my teeth’

‘How often do I have to tell you to brush your teeth or to eat your breakfast while you’re watching TV?’

Kelly didn’t answer.

‘Should I stop you watching TV in the morning?’

‘No, I promise I’ll do better.’

‘You need to try to forgive your brother more. Like I forgive you.’


Perfect Justice

There was a girl called Beth who had a pen-pal who lived far away. Beth was excited because she would be going on a trip with her school. Everyone in Beth’s class would get to meet their pen-pals.

Beth’s pen-pal was a girl named Jade.

Eventually, the day of the trip arrived, and Beth and all her class travelled to where Jade lived.

It was a pretty long journey, and Beth was very tired when they arrived. Jade met her at the station, and both girls were thrilled to meet each other in person finally.

Jade led Beth through the station to where the cars were. Beth tried to listen to what Beth was saying, but she was too busy looking around her.

Many people were walking around in big bubbles. There was only enough space at the bottom for them to shuffle around. There were other holes where people could put their arms through when they were getting something. The people seemed really tired as they walked.

Beth was about to ask Jade about it when she bumped into one of the people in a bubble. They fell over. Unfortunately, they had their arm out of the bubble and when they fell they hurt their arm. It was badly bruised.

‘Oh no,’ Said Jade and the other person together.

Beth tried to apologise, but she only managed ‘I’m’ before two security guards ran over to them. One started taking photos of everything while the second guard asked the other person about their arm.

‘What’s going on?’ asked Beth.

‘They’ll work out how much justice is required and then the other person will administer it’ Jade sighed. ‘This is probably going to take all day’.

The guard gave the other person a card. They read it and then hit Beth on the arm.

‘Ow! Why did you do that?’

‘That’s the justice. You hurt them so now they’re going to hurt you the same amount.’

The security guard took some photos of Beth’s arm. He shook his head and gave the other person another card.

‘Not enough.’ He said.

The other person read the card and then hit Beth again.

‘This doesn’t feel like justice. It was an accident when I hit them.’

‘It doesn’t matter.’ Jade explained. ‘You hurt them.’

The security guard had taken more pictures and then handed Beth a card.

‘The last hit was too much. You have to administer this much justice. No more, no less.’

Beth looked at the card and then looked at the other person.

‘You want me to hit them?’

‘Yes. They caused you more pain than you caused them so now it’s your turn to administer justice.’

‘I don’t want to hurt them. It was an accident the first time!’

‘That’s how it works here. You hurt someone, and they hurt you until you both feel the same.’

‘How about I just forgive you?’ Beth asked. ‘You say ‘I’m sorry’ and I’ll say ‘That’s ok’, and then we’ll both go home. I’ll promise to be more careful in future.’

‘But the card!’ Said the guard.

Beth tore up the card.

‘What card?’ She asked.

The other person smiled and said ‘I’m sorry I hurt you too much.’

Beth said ‘It’s ok. I’m sorry I bumped into you. I’ll be more careful next time.’

‘No problems! Thank you!’


The types of racism

‘The FA has apologised to two players after new evidence showed sacked England’s women’s boss Mark Sampson made remarks which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race”.

An independent barrister ruled Sampson made unacceptable “ill-judged attempts at humour” on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

Katharine Newton said despite this, she did not believe he is racist.

There are three types of racists.

The first is your obvious racist. This is the guy who sees you’re not white and immediate starts calling you names and telling you to go back to your own country. These types of racists don’t care about where you actually come from, they just know you shouldn’t be here. There is no conversation about you can have with them which will change their mind. These racists know they are racist and want you to know as well.

The second is your ‘nice’ racists. These are the ones who say well-meaning things but are racist. They’re the ones who put their hands in your hair and say ‘oh your hair is so lovely, wow, it’s softer than I expected. Half-Caste people always have such pretty hair.’ They are the ones who may have some ill-judged attempts at jokes. However, they are ultimately well-meaning. So when you say to them, don’t touch my hair, it’s rude, also, don’t say ‘half-caste’ also, what you just said is a lil bit racist. They are horrified and modified their behaviour. Next time they say ‘half-caste, sorry! mixed race’ and they no longer touch people’s hair without explicit permission. These racists don’t mean to be racist and will try to be less racist.

Then there are the ‘hurt’ racists. At first, they seem like a ‘nice’ racist. They’ve said something a little bit racist, a little bit ‘ill-judged’ and you’ve responded in the way that you do to every ‘nice’ racist. And this is where you realise you have encountered a ‘hurt’ racist instead. This racist responds by being hurt that you have been offended by their racism. They react as if you have done something wrong by addressing their racism and they either become passive-aggressive or just aggressive. Their ‘jokes’ become more ill-judged and they ask you repeatedly if what they are saying is racist. At this point they know they are racist and they know they are being oppressive but they are hurt and you have hurt them. This isn’t racism as such, this is using racism to hurt someone they don’t like.

Mark Sampson was either racist or he was bullying.



When I was younger, maybe 13 or 14 years old. A group of missionaries came to the church I attended to lead youth groups and services and generally talk about their missionary work.

Some of the other girls in the group immediately fell in love with one of these missionaries. He was mid-20s, tall, I was reliably informed that he was good looking but I think the thing which set him apart most was that he was French.

You can tell I was not interested in this man, I can’t even remember his name.

However, I can remember Chris. Chris was short, probably early 30s and balding. He was Irish, which meant he had an accent to rival that of the French-one. However, Chris is who I remember.

Christ had this excellent testimony. He called himself Chris the Hippie and spoke about how on his conversion to Christianity he had cut off his long hair (I’m sure he was regretting that since he was now losing his hair). It was a dramatic testimony, one of life changes.

At the end of the week, they gave us all a book and while the other girls got their books signed by the French-one, I got Chris to sign mine.

There is a Christian musician called Paul Poulton who I was (and still am a little) obsessed with as a child. He had a song called ‘Strange People’. I am able to sing it almost word perfect even now.

This song is about a guy who is minding his own business when some strange people move into the house next door to him. They did weird things like dancing, hugging and saying ‘Hallelujah’. He assumed they were on drugs. One night, he follows them and finds they go to a church. They give him a bible and he reads it and becomes one of those peculiar people.

I used to go to church and listen to people give their testimonies. ‘I was born in difficult situations and then God found me’ or ‘I was raised in a Christian family and I went away from God as a teenager and I got involved with all the things that we’re told are good by the world -the drinking, the parties, the ‘relationships’ etc but then, at my lowest, like the prodigal son I returned!’

I heard Chris talk about his dramatic conversion, I listened to Strange People, I listened to the testimonies of others and I was glad. I thought look at all the miracles the God I serve is doing for all these other people. Look at the dramatic differences God is doing for others. The God who met Saul and turned him to Paul is still meeting people in the middle of their badness. The God who forgave Moses and David -murderers – and used them for excellence is still doing that with people who the world see as beyond redemption.

And I looked at these things God was doing for others and didn’t think that my story was so dramatic. I didn’t have a road to Damascus moment. There is no real point in my life that I can point to and say ‘there, that’s when I went off the rails’.

And that’s my miracle. That is the power of God at work in my life. I was called when I was young, I followed and God has kept me and provided for me. There have been difficult times, there have been setbacks, there has been joy and success. And God has remained faithful throughout it all.

The bible says that Jesus came to give us life, life in all its fullness. This is for everyone and this is dramatic and wonderful.

The numbers Labour did NOT want you to see on TV this morning – and why


This morning I had the privilege to be at the special conference for the announcement of the result of the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

As you will know by now, the result was emphatic, with Corbyn gaining a decisive 61.8% share (313,209/506,438/654,006) of the votes in spite of the efforts to weed out around 250,000 mostly Corbyn supporters by suspensions, expulsions and simply not sending them a ballot.

But there was a significant little passage of events that you will have missed. I was seated directly behind deputy leader Tom Watson and party General Secretary Iain McNicol, within easy touching distance (if I had wished:

wp_20160924_001Iain McNicol looking positively underwhelmed at Labour’s overwhelming democratic choice

As he prepared to read the results, NEC Chair Paddy Lillis said he would read out the overall result but would also show the results by voting constituency (full members, supporters…

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Child’s Talk

I had a conversation with a child recently. It started during a group conversation about favourite foods.
One of the children said: my family are becoming vegans actually.
And I said: awesome
(Because when talking to children it’s important to take an interest and to be enthusiastic about what they are sharing.)
Then I said: that means you won’t eat certain foods doesn’t it?
(Because when talking to children it’s important to be curious. To understand what that child understands.)
And the child said: yes, I won’t eat chicken or bacon
So I said: will you eat eggs or drink milk?
He shook his head. Then he said: did you know…
(Because children will continue a conversation once you have shown interest until they run out of things to say… Sometimes they will repeat the things they want to say because they just want to keep that conversation going. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking to you because you’re the first adult in a long time who has shown some sort of interest in what they are saying.)
He said: did you know that the eggs you get at a supermarket… You can hatch them into a chick.
And I said: no you can’t
(Because you can’t and it annoys me that people think they can. It also worries me that people base life choices on incorrect information.)
He said: yes you can. If you get a supermarket egg and crack it and put it in a warm place then it will become a chick.
I said: no you can’t
(Because that’s just not how eggs work.)
I said: if you get the right sort of eggs and keep it warm it might hatch but you don’t crack it and the eggs you get at the supermarket aren’t the right sort
And he said: that’s how you do it. Crack it and it will hatch. I’ve done it.
So why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because when you’re working with children they already know. Whatever it is, they already know and don’t need you to tell them. In fact they will need to teach you because you are old and don’t know anything.
I could have argued with that child for ages and never changed his mind. I would have needed to take him to meet some chickens. I would have needed to get some eggs and hatched them or watch them not hatch. Through experiment and experience that child would have learnt more about eggs than he could have wanted to know.
Maybe with diagrams and explanations about chicken reproduction (that I doubt his parents would have been happy about) I may have been able to explain why cracking supermarket eggs would not lead to the production of a chick.
Maybe a pokemon walk would have helped him to understand that pokemon stay in the egg until you walk them long enough for them to hatch and that’s the same with chickens….apart from the walking bit.
But this isn’t really about eggs. Google is your friend if you want to learn about eggs. Because learning, changing your mind about things, is about your experiences. If you have experience of one thing, if you have always believed something and it’s never failed you, why would someone else coming along telling you something different change your mind?

Call me

 The ability to see colours is socially defined. As children we are taught that the grass is green, that leaves are green, that frogs are green and so we learn that whatever colour we see grass, leaves and frogs is green. It is very likely that what I see when I see green is not the same as what others see when they see green.
When children draw pictures they will use the same colour for trees and grass and frogs because all of them are the same colour. All of them are the single colour green. However, that will not be true for all children in all cultures. Some children will be taught different words for different greens and they will know there is a green of a ripe apple and the green of an unripe banana. They won’t necessarily be the same colour.
The understanding of colour has changed. Blue is said to be the newest colour and an article I read this week suggested that before the word for blue was invented people probably didn’t see it. In Homer’s Odyssey, the sea is described as ‘Wine -dark’. And wine has never been described as blue. It is likely that blue and stormy waters reminded the author was red wine because it was dark. The article I read this week described an experiment where people from a tribe with no word for blue were showed squares of green and one square of blue and asked to pick out the different one – which they found difficult or impossible to do. However, when the blue was replaced with a slightly different shade of green they were able to pick it out whereas people from a western culture were more less likely to be able to differentiate between them.
There is a thought study about a child brought up in a black and white environment. What would she see when showed a rose? It is possible that she wouldn’t even understand the concept. Having no words for colours she may describe it as black, as dark in contrast to the white. There wouldn’t be any way of truly knowing what it was that she saw. Until someone told her it was red and then showed her other things that were red then she would have no idea that it was anything different.
People argue about colours often. I was recently involved in a discussion over the colour of someone’s bedroom walls. Was it cream? Yellow? Biscuit? Could it be described as all three? Six of us saw the same colour and six of us saw it differently.
If that is debate can be caused by something as simple as colour than how much more debate can there be over other things that we can call facts?
We may all see the same thing and we may all perceive it differently. Why? Is it all because of socialisation? Are the colour blind those who weren’t taught early enough to differentiate between colours? Is it genetic? Are there inherent differences which mean colours are seen differently or not seen as all?
What does that mean for faith? Are some people socialised to receive faith in someway? Are people genetically predisposed to be more accepting of faith? What about those people who grow up in a faith family but leave it when they are older? Wouldn’t they have the faith genetics and faith socialisation?
Do all within a faith see the faith in the same way? Do we all read the same texts and get the same meaning? When we say ‘amen’ are we all agreeing to the same thing?
Does faith mean conformity? Does divisions mean that God isn’t with one group? Is God big enough to cover fractions?