I have started using the neglected Twitter account above.
I had not been arrested and neither was I being interviewed about nefarious deeds in the parish. I was there because I needed an ID card for when I turn up at Wandsworth Police Station for meetings of the Independent Advisory Panel. Getting through security was an enjoyable version of negotiating the similar systems at Heathrow- everyone was good humoured and friendly, partly no doubt because the security team considerably outnumbered its sole customer. I did need to convince them though that I really did have nothing on me apart from a passport and a set of keys and I really wasn’t trying to smuggle a minute mobile phone into the building!
The journalist Catherine Bennett likes to be challenging and often succeeds, but in an article in the Observer at the weekend she ventured into the territory of insult and slur. Her underlying theme was ‘ never mind any Trojan horses in Birmingham, the real problem is faith schools per se.’ But in making her case she slipped in a completely unwarranted suggestion that Prince Charles would probably be perfectly happy with an Islamic State, and implied that one of the capital’s most prominent church schools is teaching ‘ creationism.’
The irony is that she was only able to think she could get away with that by assuming the ignorance of her readers. She cited a section 48 report on the school which said that students at the school are ‘ able to identify the contribution of a number of scholars to the Design argument for the existence of God’, as an example of ‘ irreversible indoctrination.’
Bearing in mind that Charles Darwin was also well acquainted with such scholars before he made his own mind up, that Francis Bacon- the man with a good claim to being the inventor of the scientific method- was another of their ilk, and as was Isaac Newton, this is a very weak argument. If the school is indeed teaching about such scholars and , very correctly, reserving discussion of them for Religious Studies classes, surely it is fulfilling its role very well.
It makes me wonder if the writer has not inherited an unacknowledged stain from fundamentalism herself. The one that fears knowledge as a dangerous fruit, perilous to the picker!
Standing for the Labour party for the forthcoming elections has meant that I have been out canvassing for the first time and it has been a far more positive experience than collecting for charity. I have had quite a few good conversations with people who are not natural labour voters and one very robust discussion about the 20 mile an hour speed limit with someone who is. Off now to a meeting to discuss the future of the Southfields Business Forum.
A few people were disinterested or hostile, which always makes collecting a challenge. What surprises me most though is how despite its annual advertising campaign on TV and its huge impact of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which it led, so many people are unaware of the charity’s name or purpose. It is well worth soldiering on though as all the monies help to transform lives and I was gratified to notice that mentioning that Rowan Williams is at its helm did elicit a sense of recognition and delight. Thanks are due, as always, to Helen for organising everything.
What with the swift boxes being colonised by a typically aggressive pair of great tits and the incursion of a sparrow-hawk, trying to snatch a house sparrow from the roost in the hawthorn bush near to the door, there was much to notice this morning. Disturbing the marauding bird of prey I succumbed to sentimentality and threw a small pebble in its direction at its temporary station on the church roof. My lob had the desired effect, driving it back into the air, but also into the path of an angry pair of carrion crows, who then chased it off, making my gesture redundant.
Oh, yes first brimstone spotted yesterday!