Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So not everyone gave a heartfelt welcome to the Pope. Understandable with the likes of the Rev Ian Paisley and his kind who would shout “No Popery” at the drop of a hat, but on the Pope’s last day it is estimated that 20000 people complete with banners and placards that were anything but complimentary, in fact some quite virulent, marched through the streets of London in protest at his visit. I am still wondering if the church, a fabulously wealthy corporation, put anything towards the twelve million it cost. I use the word corporation deliberately.

Another quaint old religious custom akin to the chickens around the head, this one from England.
The grave of the last known "sin-eater" in England has been restored in a Shropshire village churchyard; that of Richard Munslow, who was buried in Ratlinghope in 1906. Sin-eaters were generally poor people paid to eat bread and drink beer or wine over a corpse, in the belief they would take on the sins of the deceased. Believers thought the sin-eater taking on the sins of a person who died suddenly without confessing their sins would allow the deceased's soul to go to heaven in peace. While most of the sin-eaters were poor people or beggars, Mr. Munslow was a well-established farmer in the area. The Reverend Norman Morris, the vicar of Ratlinghope said: "It was a very odd practice and would not have been approved of by the church but I suspect the vicar often turned a blind eye to it. It died out in the nineteenth century."
A strange aspect of this custom is that it was evidently prevalent in Wales where I am sure chapel goers definitely did not approve. That definitely smacked much too much of Rome.
I’m sure Mister Munslow enjoyed his beer and his vittles but I wonder who was around to eat his sins when he popped his clogs? Maybe he twirled one of his chickens around his head.
Two more little stories from little England - Southern Railways has been branded a "disgrace" by union chiefs after it emerged some of its new fleet will have no toilets on board. The company has opted to forgo the facilities on its latest trains running on the Portsmouth to Brighton service. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' union (RMT) said on a journey of that length it was "unacceptable". The firm said trains would run in areas with short journeys where most people travel for less than half an hour but a journey from Portsmouth to Brighton can take up to an hour-and-a-half.
Independent rail passenger watchdog Passenger Focus said the decision was a blow for passengers who were elderly, had medical conditions and travelled with children. One and a half hours without any toilet facilities on board is unacceptable”
Southern Railways said the trains, which are to be introduced in December, have been designed to create more space for passengers. (ie to make more money). A spokeswoman said the new trains would have a "refreshed interior" including new seats and flooring, a passenger information system and flexible spaces for wheelchairs and cycles. She added other trains in its fleet also did not have toilets on board." Quite a few other operators do not have toilets," she added, which of course makes it all right, dunnit?
The Department for Transport said there were no rules on whether or not toilets should be available on trains.
Well, all I can say is after our Italian trip, returning to Athens by train there didn’t seem to be a toilet on board. (Actually there was but we hadn’t noticed it) so by the time we reached the outskirts of Athens and disembarked at a brand new station built especially for The Olympics only to find there was no toilet on the station. (Actually there was but the station staff refused to open it “Toilet?” they said “What toilet?” ‘The one with WC on the door’ Douglas said. Made no difference. There was no toilet at this station and that was that) I was in a dire state and eventually almost demolished the loo in a nearby restaurant.
Second story - children at a school near Selby have had a play break cancelled and hard ball games banned after neighbours complained to the council about noise. Barlby Community Primary School has also put up a soundproof fence because it fears being served with a noise abatement order. The school said the decisions were "regrettable" but necessary to prevent the chance of a notice being served.
Some parents are unhappy about the move, which was also criticized by the organization Play England. The measures were put in place after some neighbours contacted environmental health officials. The school's afternoon outside break has now been cancelled and other breaks have been staggered so fewer children are in the playground at the same time.
When we lived in Ladbroke Grove the back windows of the flat overlooked a concrete jungle not fifty yards away and the noise during breaks was something alarming but we got used to it and lived with it so the moral of the story is, if you don’t want the sound of airplane engines don’t live under the Heathrow flight path, if you don’t like the sound of trains don’t live near the railways lines and if you object to the noise in a school playground don’t live next to the school. They’re kids for goodness sake. And if you object to litter don’t live next to a bus shelter but that is by the by.

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