I have a confession; it’s about a dog!

Image


Online Confession #1

Confessor

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s a long time since my last confession and the first one on this here web site. I hope you don’t mind but I just couldn’t be arsed to go down to church.”

Father Ted

“Why haven’t you accepted my Friend request? Anyway, please carry on…”

Confessor

“Oh yes; my confession. It’s a very grave matter altogether Father and one I fear may be beyond divine redemption. “

Father Ted

“I’m all ears.”

Confessor

“Well Father, I have indulged gratuitously on a certain cartoon character since, well, when I was a mere whippersnapper.  I’m sorry I haven’t mentioned this before but I’ve only just started to come to terms with this canine obsession, thanks to some therapy.”

Father Ted

“How was that?”

Confessor

“What, the exorbitant cost of therapy, or the matter of my obsession?”

Pregnant pause in the confessional proceedings.

“Are you there Father?    Father?”

Father Ted

“Did you get my friend request?” asks the slightly disgruntled confidant.

Confessor

“I did Father.”

Father Ted

“Continue my son.”

Confessor

“I love Scooby Doo. Actually.”

Father Ted

“Did you say Scooby Doo? That dopey but lovable sleuth from the 1970’s?”

Confessor

“Yes I did sir. From back in the day.”

Father Ted

Sharp intake of breath.

“That’s going to cost you at least one Our Father and two Hail Mary’s”.

Confessor

“Shite.”

Father Ted

“Make that three Hail Mary’s. ”

Confessor

“Where was I?”

Father Ted

“In the 1970’s.”

Confessor

“Oh yes. Scooby. Well Father, it’s like this. It’s not like I love Scooby the way I love my children, or my family, or my beloved Luton Town Football Club, or X Factor, blogging, stuff like that..”

Father Ted

“…and the Church.”

Confessor

“Of course Father. And the Holy Apostolic Church.”

Father Ted

“Ok, I’ve just downgraded your penance to One Our Father and two Hail Mary’s. Continue my son.”

Confessor

“It’s nothing weird Father. I mean it’s not like this other blogger I met recently. She confessed to meeting a man on a blind date who enjoyed sleeping with his dog in the buff. Because that is just wrong Father, on so many levels.”

Father Ted

“Have you met my dog, Francisco?”

Confessor

“Is that the Jack Russell Terrier Father? The one that once peed on Mrs Brady’s handbag.”

Father Ted

“We don’t talk about Mrs Brady. I’ll hear no mention of that woman’s name here. Not in this virtual confessional. Not in my parish!”

The atmosphere clears.

“Anyway, Francisco has now got his own Facebook page. He’s got more friends than me! Loads of muts from across the parish and some much further afield. Even His Holiness the Pope!”

Confessor

“Jeyz!! Christ on a bike!!!”

Father Ted

“Blasphemy boy! You’re up to one Our Father and five Hail Mary’s. Careful now.”

Confessor

“Where was I?”

Father Ted

“The serious matter of sleeping naked with dogs. Down with that sort of thing now.”

Confessor

“Oh yes Father. But that was just to show how innocent my love was for Scooby.”

Father Ted

“Go on boy.” In a lightly patronising sort of way.

Confessor

“No Father, it’s more than that. One of the great things about being a dad is you get to relive some of your childhood. And for me, one of the highlights of my school day was not just eating my friends unfinished lunches on the bus home, not just flirting with Tara (because I would be arrested if I tried to do that now) …but it was arriving home in time for the next episode. And you know what Father, I love seeing my children now huddled together on the sofa and gleefully watching Scooby Doo in the same way I used to. There’s something comforting about that. It’s like the meeting of generations sharing a common interest. Do you know what I mean Father.”

Father Ted

“Yes my son. That’s a surprisingly deep level of insight given the subject matter.  G’wan now.”

Confessor

“Sure, I know Scooby is not everyone’s mug of cappuccino with sprinkles on the top.”

Father Ted

“Mine’s a mug of PG tea. Which reminds me…..”

“Mrs Brady!!!!!! Can you put the fecking kettle on now.”

Confessor

“Like I was saying Father. There were the ridiculously predictable plots, Fred’s infatuation for Daphne…not to mention Velma’s shocking lack of dress sense.”

Father Ted

“Don’t get me started.” Nodding in sympathy.

Confessor

“And I guess if it were real life, there would be concerns about Shaggy’s unkempt appearance, his strange swagger. And some might say that Scooby sets a bad example to kids what with his overeating and all. I mean, Scooby snacks aren’t exactly very healthy. Some parents today might say that leads to obesity.”

Father Ted

“I think you might be taking it too seriously son. It’s a cartoon.”

Confessor

“But you know Father. That’s exactly why I do love Scooby and his friends. It’s the knowledge and comfort of a happy ending at a time when the media pursue the unhappy endings with their half empty glasses in tow. And the whole paranoia around stranger danger. When you were growing up, a stranger was a friend you had not yet met. Things have changed Father.”

Father Ted

“You may be onto something there. I’m thinking one Our Father will do you.”

Confessor

“But I’ll tell you something Father. I think it has helped me come to terms with those classic lines, like when the bad guy would say ‘And I would have done it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.’ Or when Shaggy says ‘Yikes!’ when he spots a very strangely attired monster. Or when Daphne shrieks ‘Jeepies!’.  And do you know what else gets inside you and kind of stays with you Father? It’s that light jolly music that accompanies the whole piece. I wish my life was as jolly and frivolous as that!”

Father Ted

“For sure.”

Confessor

“Every child needs a super hero. A super Scooby and a super mama and dadda. But who says that should end when you ‘grow up’? Who says, Father?”

Father Ted

“That’s surprisingly profound my son. But you now have kids of your own and I have my parish and my loyal friend, Francisco”.

“Mrs Brady!!!!! Is that tea ready yet?! I’m dying of thirst so I am!”

Confessor

“Well I didn’t have that many super heroes as a kid. I didn’t really like to idolise anything or anyone too much. But as a parent, it’s good to have these positive references to your childhood. Especially when you look back and see how hard life may have been for those who loved you.”

Father Ted

“Have you been on match.com son?”

Confessor

“Can’t say I have. Is that online dating Father?!”

Father Ted

“Well I recommend you get on there my son, a handsome fella like yourself with your beautiful daughters. What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy yourself!”

Confessor

“Maybe you’re right Father. But where does that leave me with my penance?”

Father Ted

“I’ve been giving that some thought. After some careful consideration…and seeing how much you love children and animals, real and imaginary; I’m going to waive that Our Father. You know, I sometimes wonder if any of the original voice actors are still with us son. Or whether they passed away into obscurity, or perhaps, eventually, into paradise…into Scooby heaven. You know something? Even if there is no God, or no heaven, just those simple jolly thoughts put a smile on an old man’s face and a Shaggy style swagger in my step. God bless you my son. Go in Scooby peace.”

Father Ted and the Confessor

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Confessor

He shuts down the Parish portal.

And he logs on to Facebook.

Friend Request from Fr Ted – ACCEPTED.

6th October, 2013

Ashridge

A place in my heart,
Where common land marks the start.
The lone beech tree almost hidden,
Around it, tracks have been ridden.
The bank of trees standing nearby,
And dappled light from the summer sky.
From the roadside to the field,
A good many memories does this track yield.
My dog’s musings still echo.
As do picnics, walks and other assorted capers.
I can still walk lightly through the glade,
From the dawn of spring
through mid winter and evening shade.

 

22nd February 1998

Bluebells in Ashridge Forest

The Pilgrimage

the-spirit-of-glendalough

Part I – Darkness

On the little shimmering lake,
I met my demons,
Not by mistake.
An echo of shattering calm,
As fresh water caressed my palm.
Cold on my face,
But new light I embrace.
Along the seeker’s green road,
Emotional baggage I sought to offload.
Encircling a Celtic shrine,
Somehow drawn towards the divine.

Summoned by the mountains’ spirits
During a dream of early summer,
I recall its peak and vibrant colour.
In the valley of the light,
Dreams flow out of the night.
The bitter wind pierces me,
Leaving me cold and exposed.
The winter chill snakes through the hills,
Taking the edge off a visual thrill.
Descending through the valley,
I count the crosses I must carry.
Against nature’s brute force,
I struggle for my own inner source.
A fountain of well-being,
What my dreams are seeing?
An angel to fall out of the sky,
How that would catch my romantic eye.

Up to the cell of Saint Kevin,
Eyes lifted up to heaven.
In this peaceful place,
I felt the presence of God’s grace.
The oak circle draws energy in,
Casting out my pain and sin.
The black lake I visited before,
But with guardians
Who kept me safe and secure.
The blackness left me disturbed,
Imagined depths that were absurd.
But from the Saint’s glade,
The dream’s message was played.
And of this irrational fear,
I now embrace the lake
Like the babe I hold so dear.

On the dark side of the lake,
There was a warmth, a welcome break.
A green enclosure and a cavern bed
For a saint; made to measure.
How the volumnous waters descend
They effortlessly glide down
Every crevice and bend.

Ancient rocks alter the flow.
In winter sun, the crystal waters glow.
In the forest, soft soil lies underfoot,
Autumn colours decorate the route.
Rustic reds, bronze and brown,
Warm the face and disperse a cold frown.
Shades enriched by a moist orange sky,
Colouring the carpet where fallen leaves lie.
On this hallowed ground,
Celtic treasures can be found.
Under this sky,
I keep the dream in my mind’s eye.

In a simple visualisation,
I can add to this creation.
In the darkness of the womb,
My own growth was given room.
A watery existence, one can assume.
In this cavernous domain,
I was warmed not in vain.
But upon the first light ray,
Comes the cold light of day!
This moment of birth,
We sub-consciously carry.
Until we revisit
Our own special valley.
Through the wisdom, this poetry sends,
A deeper message soon transcends.


Part II – Retreat House

As the sun crept across the window,
A ray of gentle light streaked across my page.
As if to animate
The beast in my cage!
That same light hugged the mountains,
Just as water filled up fountains.
The colours of earth illuminated,
Just as my dream illustrated.


Part III – Monastic City

On the mountain slopes, a rich carnival of colour.
Green, purple, yellow, red, orange and brown.
The spectrum of seasons
Project on its daunting incline.
How I will cherish this sweet moment of mine.

To the round tower, lofting skyward
Half dressed in shadow.
Its upper body exposed.
As the sun’s rays sweep across the holy city,
Protecting the graves that many so pity.
Celtic souls rest in its looming shadow.
At peace with themselves.
But of some, their lives I poise to ponder.
A thirty month old infant,
Buried with her elderly mother.
Barely a harvest did that babe grow,
But amongst so many,
Her little soul radiates a magnificent glow.

Part IV – Light

The sun’s rays bring out the blue,
And positive thoughts
That have been too few.
Upon the fast-flowing waters,
An explosion of light.
Winter’s mist shines so bright.
As I ascend the forest,
The Goddess moves through its shadows.
The tree spirits cheerfully whisper
To their descendants in stone.
Including those that children have thrown.
I sit aghast, as light pours on water,
And as water travels down the valley.
Down the old mountain,
To a well,
Or perhaps through a fountain.

At noon,
On the lower lake, blue meets green.
And the demons can now be seen!!

The elegant pines point majestically
Towards the blue sky.
A leafy green surface over which,
Birds only fly.
As I continue my ascent,
The forest’s light show
Luminates my lament.
Light trickles through,
Thoughts and colours imbue.

Back to the lower lake
And a rock for a perch.
Where I can admire
The ‘lady of the forest’, the silver birch.
A tree’s roots pierce the ground,
Like the veins of a wise old woman,
They hold a certain wisdom; profound.
Only when my energies flow,
Can my own spirit
Flourish and grow.

 

Glendalough,
Co. Wicklow,
Ireland.
14th-16th November 1998.

Doggy Wonder

Football’s the game at which she excels,
How this dog wonder weaves her canine spells.
Kick the ball so she can give chase,
Even with a head-start, she still wins the race.

Although a lady she still cocks her leg,
How they must wince when she raises her peg!
Pity the lamp post and the tree in the yard,
From countless gardens has this dog been barred.

And when you are sad, she lays down her head,
To offer you comfort from all of life’s dread.
She senses just when you’re feeling down,
She makes you feel loved and wipes away your frown.

How this dog ‘knows’ is beyond anyone I know,
Since her knowledge of English is limited and low.
She has a certain presence and lots of ESP,
Yes, this dog loves us boundlessly.

Cry of the Ocean

Do you remember the beach?
Exploring the shoreline for treasure.
You picked up a seashell
And through its cavernous opening,
You were invited to explore the ocean’s mystery.

Its dreams unravel a mythical journey,
Exciting the infant’s imagination.
This magical story unfolds in your palm
As you gazed out at its vastness.
At that moment;
There you are.

Have you ever listened to the voice of the ocean?
Today, her cries grow louder.
Tormented echoes are being sent
Through rising currents
And her aquatic kin;
The dolphin and the whale.
Their ancient and peaceful rhythms disturbed.

From the depths of the ocean
Comes a message,
Vociferous in emotion.
On those gallant white horses,
Rides a pseudo exclamation.

Toxicity slithers in the ether,
Poisoning the soul within her.
Carried by her majestic waves,
Sent to overpower prosperity’s slaves.

Trading madness for stillness,
We add to her illness.
In man’s haste to consume
Our homelands,
She will slowly subsume.

Humanity and insanity;
An approach we must trade,
Else the portent of Armageddon
Will be tragically played.

Deafened by greed,
Man is hurtling
Towards death and destruction.
Do not be deceived.
‘Prosperity’ wears a seductive dark cloak
Worn by the Devil himself.

Rising tide of danger.

Swollen by melting ice;
Extinction will be the price.

The planet is in pain,
Through drought and rain.
Let us pray
For her watery spirit.
And that those cries,
Do not grow too faint.

Should icy blood drip from her poles,
The ocean’s new chorus to the cosmos
Will resonate.
Please God,
Save all our souls.

When you cannot listen to the ocean;
You are not.

Written December, 2000.

Stadium Relocation and Luton Town Football Club

Stadium relocation and regeneration

This letter was e-mailed to the MD of Luton Town FC in the wake of their points deduction and subsequent relegation from the football league in 2009. Luton Town was founded in 1885 and is one of the oldest professional clubs in southern England. The letter is framed in the context of urban regeneration and footballing reform.

Dear Sir,

This issue stretches back over four decades. Luton may face relegation to the Blue Square Premier league but this issue is not going away anytime soon. In fact, the JPT final indicates considerable pent up demand for football amongst the Luton family. The urgency behind relocation must be maintained given the timescales involved and the contribution this can and must make to social and economic regeneration.

Furthermore, the stadium must…

  • Take into account the wider needs of the conurbation, not just the needs of LTFC;
  • Accommodate the diverse entertainment and sporting needs of the area;
  • Meet the aspirations of club and community;
  • Inspire club and community.

With regard to Kenilworth Road, LTFC has been unable to generate profit or sufficient income from that site, both as Owner occupier and Tenant. Consequently, I don’t believe stadium ownership is a critical success factor for the club. Having a multi-sport facility which is available to the whole community is the only way forward as it guarantees regular income.

In fact, it has been the greedy pursuit of profit that has undermined LTFC.  By linking the club’s future to public and private finance, i.e. through a Public Private Partnership, it is unlikely to attract the sort of business people who have previously administered LTFC.If funding is shared, then so should profits and losses. In effect, a hybrid entity that is part business, part social enterprise:

  • The business being responsible to the board of directors and trustees, its fan base and overall membership;
  • The social enterprise being responsible for the club’s contribution to community health, well being and social cohesion.

If the football authorities lack resources, expertise or inclination, the club in this form would be better equipped to manage any financial or operational challenges.

Greater Luton is one of the most multi-cultural cities in Britain and it’s time it started building on these strengths. Luton Borough Council, as the owner and local authority, should start to take a more active role in the club’s operations. History has taught us that planning permission will not be granted unless feasible plans are outlined and trust developed between club and community. If the club is constituted in the public realm, it is compelled to be transparent about its finances and operations under law.

The PPP model is financially sound and has been used increasingly here and overseas. The financial model is so strong in fact, that even the United States is using this approach to re-build its infrastructure. Even in uncertain times, this would help to guarantee the club’s future. A new stadium should provide a multi-sport offering for a multi-cultural area. A modern stadium could be configured for any sport, any time.

One of the problems with football’s financial model is that it largely relies on income from one or two matches a week. If you place football at the heart of the community, alongside other sports, you multiply income streams and you grow membership and participation. As Kenilworth Road is in a deprived ward, it is likely to attract Lottery awards not to mention grants from Central and EU Government. In that respect, it would tick the right boxes.

The Football Authorities
– Sanctions levied against Luton Town Football Club

Regrettably, I am not a lawyer and do not have a full grasp of the technicalities used to penalise LTFC so heavily. However, I do sense along with many others, that these sanctions were excessive, disproportionate and counter-productive, not only to LTFC but the wider footballing world.  In light of your representations made last year to the Sports Minister, I wonder if you could incorporate some of my questions, concerns and suggestions to the relevant stakeholders.

  • The “gagging order”. Can this be challenged in a court of law? If not, can it be escalated through the legal system and the wider European jurisdiction? This order suggests that the footballing authorities are beyond reproach. Is that really the case?
  • There is a sense also that the footballing authorities do not operate on a level playing field and silent rules are applied based on the perceived stature and importance of a football club. Surely, in this litigious age, a competent legal team could challenge (some of) these sanctions and return points (and monies) which are rightfully due to the LTFC and LTFC2020.
  • Can you please press the Information Commissioner to bring the Football League and the Football Associations under the auspices of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Ideally, this should be part of a wider review to ensure that the relevant footballing authorities develop a stronger sense of accountability and transparency. Clearly, this would expose them to legal challenges but given the effect of their decisions, I suspect this would be in the wider public interest.  I appreciate that football is not a statutory provision but there must be some means of making these so-called authorities accountable.
  • As part of the same review, all football clubs (or franchisees) also become subject to the same regime, in the same way Schools operate as autonomous authorities as far as Freedom of Information is concerned. This will help to dissuade rogue business people (re)entering football and engender greater trust between football fan and football club. If a football club and its parent organisation(s) are constituted in the public realm, their business, accounting and sporting practices are more transparent and cannot avoid or evade scrutiny. As LTFC and other football clubs have learned to their cost, malpractice is an expensive business.
  • The football authorities are mandated to provide a more active and supportive role for football clubs. Rather than meting out poorly executed sanctions, they should lead by example and develop mechanisms that enable clubs to advance best practice. In the 21st century, and in a major recession, clubs need to work harder in engaging local communities and set a good example, particularly to children and young people. Giving football a more public role will also enable it to attract funding through Public Private Partnerships, something that would help to provide more financial stability to community-based clubs. All too frequently, football club chairmen have acted purely in their own self-interest. This needs to change. Many people find the salaries of some footballers distasteful and their worlds seem very remote from the rest of society.
  • With regard to the various sanctions levied against league clubs there has been a deafening silence emanating from the Premiership club boardrooms. They are motivated by self interest and the preservation of their monopoly which guarantees the unequal distribution of wealth. In a different climate, this might sound like a party political broadcast for the Socialist Worker Party. However, we live in strange times. We live in an age when Governments are (re)asserting regulatory powers over the money markets. The huge bailouts give each tax payer a stake hold in a number or large financial institutions. The world of football should not be immune from these changes. We need to see more raw talent developed from our own shores, in a way that will inspire future generations. Britain and Ireland has a combined population in excess of 64 million; does football really need so much overseas talent? The English national team will continue to underachieve until this has been properly addressed.
  • The present system of football governance is not fit for the 21st century and years of tradition should not provide a bar to progress and modernisation. Given the massive contribution our national sport makes economically and socially, it frankly requires a ruling body that is fit for purpose. The manner in which these sanctions have been executed suggest that the present ruling body is dysfunctional and unaccountable.
  • In stark contrast, it is encouraging to see how quickly the LTFC2020 consortium has gained the trust and respect of Luton fans. This suggests that transparency works and I am of the view that this should be mandatory rather than desirable. The footballing authorities do not appear to espouse the same values. This may account for the savage nature of sanctions. In the real world, whisteblowers are protected but LTFC were made an example of. The sanctions are damaging in the wider sense because their deterrents are soft on the crooks and hard on those who have rescued the club and placed it on an even keel. This should be of concern to every football league club.

Yours faithfully etc.

Post script:

The MD was kind enough to repond and was very positive about my comments. However, he pointed out that there was limited scope for reform as the Football League, was and is, in effect, a private members club and members play by THEIR rules. The 2020 consortium does not follow a PPP model, though they do enjoy a very good relationship with the fans, who were instrumental in its founding.

Related links:

Luton to face 30-point deduction, BBC News, July 10, 2008.

Caroline Lucas MP calls for FOI to be extended to major corporations,
UK Freedom of Information blog, March 1, 2011
.

Lord Sugar Tackles Football, last broadcast on BBC2, May 10, 2011.

Two members of the FIFA Executive Committee provisionally suspended May 29, 2011.

The Software Generation

I was released into the wild during the summer of 1968, some 11 years after my predecessor. My world was and is based very much on software downloaded from my parents, who were born into a very different environment. I was marketed as the 2GI68, the fifth in a series of six diverse products. Alas, the 2GI68 has experienced a number of compatibility issues over disparate networks. However, its general performance has improved with the welcome addition of JO75. She is a nimble model and very well equipped. She benefits from extensive functionality and is quite adept at multi-tasking. The JO75 is also very aesthetically pleasing; a rare combination of elegance and performance.

Anyway, back to the 2GI68. Although he has benefitted from the interface with a younger model, he can still experience defective thought processes that sometimes stretch the wider network. He needs to recycle more and store less. When JO75 tried to re-install 2GI68, she was greeted with some very unwelcome messages, most of which failed the spell checker. In the end, it was suggested that she contact his maker. They have branches in many States and are renowned for excellent parts availability not to mention great after sales service. They recommended a multi-cultural service pack and this does seem to have stabilised 2GI68.

The convergence of 2GI68 with JO75 has yielded two very lively
new products. Their software is still being developed but they show plenty of promise and we keenly await future upgrades. They seem to interface seamlessly with comparably aged and sized products. One of the most pleasing features is the plug-and-play option. They do require frequent recharging, typically around Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner times. However, they occasionally require additional top ups between meals, especially when engaged in more rigorous activities. Failure to address this will invariably lead to a dramatic decline in performance and compliance generally. That said, they provide many hours of entertainment. Their sense-of-humour functionality works in credibly well and has exceeded all my expectations. It compares favourably against older models, possibly because they have not been exposed to excessive RSS media feeds and other sources of unwanted content.

The biggest problem is with the newer product ConLeche07. Occasionally, her batteries leak without warning and the device can overheat if corrective measures are applied too rigorously. Furthermore, the auto-sleep feature seems to be a bit temperamental and this has caused no end of problems, affecting other devices in the network. This has led to service outages during daylight hours and it has been difficult to keep the whole network online, especially during periods of high demand. We have consulted a networking specialist and he recommends that the auto-sleep feature be deactivated for a week or so, before being progressively reintroduced. This may warrant the reconfiguration of some address locations, until this process has been exhausted. Another difficulty relates to their tendency to process too many activities concurrently. This can make housekeeping and general systems management very challenging to say the least.

Despite these glitches, we have been overwhelmed by their degree of intelligence. This module is not included in the vanilla split
implementation and we hope and expect to see these benefits as both products reach maturity. The operation of this module is highly intuitive but one does have to be careful what Meta data you upload. Problems with association are notoriously difficult to debug.

It requires a skilled practitioner to master this feature so recommend its use with extreme caution. The RTF manual recommends that you program their settings so that they deploy activities in a linear manner. This will enable 2GI68 and JO75 to manage their resources more effectively. Failure to do so will compromise the main processor and potentially the whole network. When I researched this on the Internet, a few blogs recommended that the concurrent processing feature be configured before deploying the plug-and-play feature.

Overall, we are delighted with our new products. They have provided welcome additional capacity to what was an ageing network.

 Written January, 2010.

New adventure

This is the start of my adventure into the blogosphere. In my enthusiasm to find an original site and username, not to mention an attractive skin, I now feel too weary to write anything of note. So here is daring to be different. Let the journey begin.