Thursday, 15 October 2009

Some things....

Some things I just find easier than others.
Talking to crowds of people, crying at the end of High School Musical, trapping a football (sometimes), falling head over heels in love with the same woman each morning.

Some things are a bit harder.
Talking to new people, getting my hands on the Sky TV remote that I pay for, bending down to tie up my shoes without my head thumping.

Some things are just impossible.
Licking your own elbow, getting my kids to practise their instruments, staying in the room when any tunes from the world of musical theatre are playing, understanding the plot to any episode of NCIS & working out whether I've already seen it before the end credits.

Some things are just awkward.
Shopping in Sainsbury's. They want me to have a bag for life & I'm just not sure if I'm ready for that kind of commitment. That sort of pressure you can do without when you're heading down the chilled isle towards the checkout.

Some things are bitter sweet.
Heading off for the weekend to a monastery in the mountains above Rome to be with great people & to stir them to reach their city. At the same time, leaving behind the people that help me to get through each day without falling to pieces.
Bitter sweet is what makes life so exhilarating & excruciating all at the same time. As Del Boy would say, 'He who dares wins Rodney!'

Friday, 9 October 2009

Golf rant

Mark Twain was right when he said that golf spoils a perfectly good walk. Unfortunately, the news today confirms that golf is now also going to spoil the Olympics.

Golf at the Olympics - whatever next! Let all the other non sports that seem to get on TV these days join in too- Anyone for Olympic Darts? Snooker? Poker? Shopping?

I spat out my mouthful of tea listening to the spokesman for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club on the radio earlier. I quote, 'Our athletes are excited about taking part!' Athletes!

In what remote way can the morbidly obese Jon Daly, Colin Montgomery or Laura Davies be considered athletes? The only occasion Monty would beat Usain Bolt out of the blocks might be for the lunch queue at the Olympic Village.

And is there another sport steeped in such colonial history where your manservant carries around the only bit of heavy equipment for the full 4 hours? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Golfers, you can take your Rupert the bear trousers, your pastel jumpers, your golf sticks, your single slightly camp glove, your bogies & your manservants & leave the Olympics to the real sportsmen & women!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Dr Livingstone I presume?

Today I came face to face with two of my heroes. These men were old school adventurers, explorers, men who endured between them extremes of hot & cold, one in Southern Africa, the other the Southern Pole.

In our modern age of celebrity, where men are enobled with greatness for kicking a football or acting in movies, these two heroes of mine would pass unnoticed. Indeed, to find their statues in our capital city involves a degree of exploration which no doubt they would consider appropriate.

Robert Falcon Scott is hidden away on a side street in Westminster. More prominent are fallen Viceroys & Colonial Major Generals. Their tributes grand, their achievements less so,their names forgotton. Scott is clothed in his Polar gear & half submerged in hedgerow. His fading plaque tells briefly how he died in 1912 returning from the South Pole with his 4 companions.

In his own words, 'Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance & courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes & our dead bodies must tell the tale.'

I found Dr Livingstone by surprise, not unlike Stanley when he stumbled across the explorer in Ujiji. Back then, Livingstone had been gone 7 years, searching for the source of the Nile. Speculation as to his welfare was rife until Stanley found him alive & well in a native village.

Today I discovered him perched in a niche on the wall of the Royal Geographical Society, choked by traffic at the corner of Exhibition Road & Kensginton Gore. Standing larger than life, Livingstone leans hard on a stick in his right hand, a bible clutched firmly in his left & a coat draped over his arm. Looking out over the busy streets & modern day Hyde Park he seems restless for another mission, urgent & poised to reach these bustling, unfamiliar natives.

Captain Scott, Dr Livingstone, the heart of this Englishman is remains stirred by your exploits.

Friday, 2 October 2009

What makes a man? Part 3

The stark & disappointing message awaiting me on my doormat as I returned home read,'Commiserations, your ballot application to run the Virgin 2010 London Marathon has been unsuccessful.'

Every man needs a challenge, & my next big daring deed has just false started. Maybe my disappointment is compounded by the boys own adventure stories I've been reading this week.

In 'The Lost City of Z' David Grann tells the remarkable story of Amazon explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British man driven by courage & obsession into exotic danger & mystery. As Grann attempts to follow in Fawcetts considerable footsteps, he starts by visiting the Royal Geographical Society, that archaic British Institution, steeped in colonial history.

Fawcett had begun his journeys as a cartographer for the RGS. Listen to the remarkable scope of their original vision statement in 1830;'to collect, digest & print new interesting facts & a repository of the best books on geography & a complete collection of maps....assemble the most sophisticated & surveying equipment & help launch explorers on their travels..' All this in an age where maps of inland Africa & Latin America were simply left blank!

Their extraordinary mandate was to chart every nook & cranny of planet earth. A later President of the Society vowed, 'There is not a square foot of the planet's surface to which fellows of the Society should not at least try to go, that is our business, that is what we are out for.'

Many did go, many died horrible deaths from strange diseases, hostile natives, or were just never heard of again. Some emerged from the jungle as heroes to their generation.

I like these guys, something in their attitude makes me want to stand up & pull my boots on. They are the kind of men Jesus wanted in His church when He said, 'Go & make disciples in every nation on the planet, don't let anything stop you, shake the dust off your feet.' This is the original mission statement, & still the best. Paul followed it through shipwreck, beatings, riots, storms & imprisonment. Down through the generations there have been many outstanding Kingdom men who have followed these footsteps. These guys considered it worth losing everything for the sake of gaining the one thing worth having.

Percy Harrison Fawcett may have had more press coverage than most of my Kingdom heroes, but he never found what he was looking for. He eventually threw his life away for the sake of adventure alone, disappearing into the jungle with his tweed jacket & magnificent handlebar moustache. What an empty pursuit!

Percy never discovered what he was made for, who he was made for. If only his adventures had led him to truth. If only he'd discovered a man really worth giving his life for.