As a family, we’ve always said that this is the only time when clergy can be at home and on holiday. It’s also quite easy for the bishop to slip out of sight a bit [ssh!] as clergy get busy with the nativity plays, senior citizens Christmas Dinners, Carol Services … Nobody is all that interested in meeting the bishop to talk about diocesan policy, mission strategies and the like. They are all too busy doing it.

So I have some space … which is being filled in with family things and some other bits and pieces

I’m continuing to work on my involvement in Twitter. I’m not there yet but getting better. And I’m reorganising the household computer arrangements which have gradually been becoming more chaotic and less satisfactory. Then there are the photographs marooned on various digital cameras.

Beyond that I’m reading – lots of stuff but continuing to read Trollope’s Palliser novels. I started in July and the Kindle tells me that I am now at 35% and with 53 hours to go. It’s not as funny or – I think – as acutely observed as the Barchester Chronicles. But every time I think it has become a bit boring, he writes a cliff-hanger. And all done in long hand after he came home from his work at the Post Office. Amazing.


  1. I do not think that the phrase “stuck in the past” is ever entirely conducive to establishing a clear trajectory of thought. Indeed, it is only by examining the past can we make an objective assessment of our own age and how we interact with the mores of our lives.
    There is much in the Victorian world that is instructive in understanding our own age. Trollope is altogether illuminating in his descriptions of character and their matrix of understanding of the lifeworld in which they are situated and their response to the vicissitudes of human character.
    And what of the master of Victorian fiction; Henry James? James’s moral compass is vast: his analysis and understanding of the hermeneutics of dialogue is peerless: Portrait of a lady and The Golden Bowl are labyrinths exploring the ontology of meaning- such would surely assist us in deconstructing the specious and spurious ideologies of our age?
    I cannot comprehend how deep analysis of our past renders us glued and cemented to the norms and dialects of another age unless, of course one so chooses by an act of will.

    1. Does reading Trollope mean one is stuck in the past, Stuart? What would the cut-off date be? Agreed, some wonderful novels are being published now, but I’d be sorry to say goodbye to the 19th century, fiction-wise.

  2. HOW I agree about the Palliser novels; I took one down last year for old times’ sake, and immediately had to read all – six, is it? The politics a joy from start to finish, from the necessity of “sufficient audacity, a thick skin and power to bear for a few years the evil looks and cold shoulders of his comrades”, to the ability to say black on Friday and white on Tuesday, to the new brooms, “the gentleman at the Home Office who means to reform the police and put an end to malefactors” to the factitious fury of the opposition even to Bills they would have brought in themselves, to expenses scandals, to the bubble phenomenon, to Phineas when the government changes “resum[ing] the peculiar ministerial tone of voice just as though he had never allowed himself to use the free and indignant strains of opposition.” And a bit somewhere on canvassing which could have come from North Down any time in the last 30 years.

    I should tell you that The Sister and I – and some other friends – are currently working on lists of the 20 books (fiction) we would take from our shelves and keep if all others had to be got rid of. Feel free to join in.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks for the invitation Irene, I’ve added a contribution to your list. Happy New Year to you and Simon

  3. And when in Glasgow on Post Office work, he joined the priest of St Mary’s in visiting parishioners !

    1. Why did people in the past – Gladstone was another – seem to have the time to lead several lives at the same time. I keep flowing over the edges of the one I’ve got.

      Happy New Year!

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