This week my theme is service and duty, I talk about the challenges of volunteering, apps to help with packing for travel, my attending a D Day Service, taking part in a charity golf tournament, and my experience of watching a TV programme called Love Island.
Monday June 3 2019
This evening I met with the new Church Warden to discuss handing over my duties as volunteer Treasurer of my Church’s Parochial Church Council. I have been Treasurer for the past 4 years and have enjoyed much of the work. The concept of duty and service has always been very strong within me – embedded undoubtedly from spending 16 years as a military officer. However, it is increasingly difficult to be a volunteer these days.
Regulations which I am sure are designed with the best intent in mind are all too often barriers and lack a common sense approach. For example, I was recently advised I had to attend a ‘safeguarding’ course. This was because, as a volunteer in the Church, I needed to be trained to interact with people and know how to report any issues I may hear from them, or if they confide in me a story for which I feel I need to tell someone of any resultant suspicions I may have.
I was advised this was to protect me and the individual. My immediate reaction was decide not to place myself in such an exposed position. However, my duty as a Christian is to help others. Jesus, and his disciples, never attended a safeguarding course – they just had a natural inclination to help others (as do I). The fact I had to attend a course (in fact there are many courses of increasing levels to attend) seems to me to be yet another example of our fear of litigation rather than a genuine attempt to prepare to help others. Moreover, when I questioned who else needed ‘safeguarding’ training I was informed anyone who comes into contact with the public. Therefore, every member of our congregation! Crazy, you cannot now worship in our Church unless you have been trained in safeguarding.
So, I applied common sense, and refused to attend the course! My challenge is now to find a non-litigious, risk-friendly, volunteer opportunity.
Wednesday June 5 2019
Tonight I began packing for my upcoming business trip to Baltimore in America. I say packing, it has been developing my packing list. I love lists – check lists, to-do lists, bring them on. I have so many activities on the go I cannot cope unless I have much of my life on auto-pilot – lists help a lot. To that end the invention of smart phones and apps are a dream come true for me. For packing I use TripList.
It is designed not just to create categorized lists, but for each list to be saved (the Toiletries List, the Electronics List etc.) and re-used without having to re-think it (another example of autopilot). The following images show how it works. You should try it.
Thursday June 6 2019
As a member of the wonderful Royal British Legion I was invited to attend a D-Day remembrance service this morning. We paraded at 0715 hrs by our Cenotaph in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park. It was a stunningly beautiful morning – clear blue skies, a rising sun, green grass, full trees, and very quiet. At 0730 hrs the piper played a lament, followed by the bugler playing the last post. My fellow veterans (15 of us in our blazers, gilt buttons and medals) came to attention for the last post – the standards of the Legion were lowered by the bearers. For two minutes of silence I tried to imagine 75 years ago the sheer terror of being on a landing craft on the French beaches. Bravery beyond comprehension I suspect for most of today’s generation. We said a few prayers, and then the names of the 20 men from Ipswich who died on D Day were read out – the youngest was 18, the oldest 48.
I looked down at my humble single medal earned in my 16 years of service and said a silent prayer of thanks for my time in the military, for coming through that experience relatively unscathed, the opportunities it has since provided me, and for a life well lived – none of which would have been possible without the sacrifices made by others between 1939-1945.
Thursday June 6 2019.
By way of a complete contrast I went home from the Service, changed into my golfing attire and headed off to Ufford Park Golf Club to take part in a charity golf tournament. I love golf – it is to me the ultimate sport. You play it with friends, but one’s performance is entirely one’s own responsibility. You can blame no one but yourself for the end score. Golf requires self discipline, self control, honesty, integrity, dignity, a sense of calmness. Playing with others it requires comradeship, an ability to hold a conversation for up to 4 or 5 hours, to help each other. It is one of the best ways to discover someone’s character. You cannot fake your personality for 4+ hours on a golf course in close proximity to someone else.
I played in a three ball with my oldest friend (the CEO of the Charity) and his son (who is also my Godson). It was the first time the three of us had ever spent 5 hours on our own together.
What a wonderful afternoon. The beautiful morning weather held all day, we played some great golf, and we played some awful golf. But, we had great fun. I thought back to this morning’s D Day Service and wondered whether it was in someway disrespectful to being playing golf on such a day. I concluded it is exactly what those very brave young men would have wanted – our right to enjoy their hard won freedom.
Friday June 7 2019
As I head to Heathrow this morning for yet another flight abroad I am reflecting on a week dominated by thoughts of volunteerism, service, duty, sacrifice, self discipline, comradeship. What a shame then that I ruined those thoughts by deciding last night to watch a television programme called ‘Love island’. It is the complete opposite of my week’s experiences and thoughts.
I had heard much talk of the programme, but had no idea what it was. This came more to my attention recently when a past participant in the programme committed suicide. I decided, as an adventurous and endlessly curious individual, I needed to find out exactly what Love Island is. Unfortunately, I cannot really help you – after just 30 minutes of viewing it I decided I had better things to do in my life.
The basic premise seems to be a group of men and women, who have never met each other, are placed in a house in Majorca and are somehow expected to develop a meaningful relationship with each other. The couple who stay together win £50,000 – and I assume some form of celebrity status allowing them to feature on endless meaningless game shows on TV in the middle of the afternoon (and in the Daily Mail everytime they leave a bar or restaurant).
I watched the women arrive at the House. Of mixed ability, and somewhat limited intellect, the key characteristics to be on the programme seem to be the ability to say ‘whooo’ endlessly, wave their arms in the air, say “Oh my God” in reaction to everything that happens to them, and use the word “like” in every sentence (sometimes more than once). There was a lady from Newcastle, but I couldn’t understand a word she said. There appeared to be much ‘fakeness’ – fake eye lashes, fake extensions in hair, fake tans, fake lips, fake female bodily parts.
It was all too much for me. I lasted 30 minutes and gave up. How very sad, that these people are convinced this is a short cut to fame and fortune – and most importantly from the theme the way to find a lifelong partner! To quote the contestants “Oh my God”.
My driver is just arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5, ready for me to check in for my flight to Baltimore. It is time to finish this diary for the week. Hopefully next week I can report on my annual visit to our friends in the colonies.