Trumpington Update

The Trumpington story that I commented on here and here continues to get press coverage.

Thanks to a link to my original posting from a discussion on the topic at Ship of Fools, I came across a posting by Etheldreda on the topic which links to another Cambridge Evening News article that includes a long statement by the Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell.

Interestingly, it does seem rather like the Bishop of Ely is attempting to combat the implied criticism of the potential waste of diocesan money that the current tribunal process will be by listing all the stages of the process up to this point. However Tom Ambrose, the priest at the centre doesn’t seem overly impressed:

“This has been going on for six years and in that time I have been treated abominably. I have asked the bishop again and again to talk about it, and have always been refused.�

He also adds:

“The people who want me out are no longer communicants at the church, they have removed themselves from the congregation, so I have not heard anything from them – nor has anyone else in the parish talked about it.â€?

Looking at the details in the statement from the Diocese however, back as far as 2003 the APCM voted by 58 to 7 against Rev Ambrose – a not insignificant vote. In 2004 the PCC passed a motion with a two-thirds majority to request an inquiry. After several attempts at mediation, in early 2005 the Archdeacon of Ely was asked to make a report to the Bishop as to whether an inquiry would be in the best interests of the incumbent and parishioners of Trumpington – something that he concluded was. Amazingly it has now taken more than two years to get from the decision to hold the tribunal to actually doing it.

To be frank, nobody seems to be coming out of this looking good, whether it’s the incumbent and parishioners of Trumpington, or the Diocese. Ultimately, the only way that a tribunal could be avoided would be for one side to back down. Rev Ambrose could resign – but then based on what he has said, and the increased support the press coverage has given him that would be unlikely. The PCC could back down, indeed four years is enough time for Ambrose supporters to have managed to get onto the committee given enough support at the APCM. The fact that this hasn’t happened does seem to imply that despite what has been said, Ambrose is fighting a loosing battle.

Whatever happens though, the congregation in Trumpington are the losers here. Lets be honest, what priest in their right mind would apply for a vacancy there after this?

The Delta Experience

Here is a sequence that demonstrates one of those occasions when having a video feature on your mobile is really useful. I came across this item on the Consumerist site – a video made by a poor passenger who was imprisoned on Delta flight 6499 whilst it sat on the tarmac for seven hours waiting to take off on a three hour flight to Dallas.

Particularly worth noting is that alongside not letting the passengers off the plane, they also didn’t provide any food either. They also at one point tell the passengers that a new captain is coming through the terminal when he’s actually coming from Newark, and Delta tell his wife that the plane is in the air when it hasn’t left the ground.

Enjoy…

Birthdays

There are a couple of significant computing anniversaries this year. Firstly, it is twenty years since version 1.0 of Powerpoint was released – initially only for the Apple Mac, the PC version came along a few years later once Microsoft bought out the original company. Presentation Zen not surprisingly has an article on the anniversary linking off to a Wall Street Journal interview with the original developers who ponder what their creation has become and the effects it has had on business. This quote from Robert Gaskins is particularly telling:

“A lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don’t like the intellectual rigour of actually doing the work.”

The other anniversary is that this week marks ten years since the Psion 5 was launched. The Register have done a great article telling the story of Psion and the people involved from the birth of the Psion 5 until the present day. What is amazing is how many ex-Psion staff have gone on to be part of market leading companies working on gadgets that Psion weren’t able to produce themselves. There is also a good deal of discussion as to the reasons that Psion ultimately withdrew from market, which in part seems to be blamed on existing customers who stuck with their Psion 3’s. Interestingly although Psion may be gone from the the PDA market, it is interesting to note that their belief in their operating system, Symbian was well founded. It does sort of leave you wondering how things might have been different if Psion had the finances to produce all the gadgets they had ideas for.

Official

So I’m now officially the Churchwarden for St James Finchampstead, and all the associated responsibilities that entails.

I was sworn in, along with my fellow Churchwarden at a service in St Mary Minster in Reading. Officially this wasn’t supposed to be our service, this was the service for Churchwardens in Bradfield, Newbury and Reading Deaneries – Sonning Deanery was allocated the Windsor service on Thursday, however quite apart from clashing with choir practice, Reading is a lot easier to get to after work than Windsor! We needn’t have worried though, as when they asked the Sonning Churchwardens to stand it seemed like a large number of other people had had the same idea. We spotted the wardens and clergy from California and Crowthorne, and were sat next to the group from Wargrave. Indeed we weren’t the only additions, there were wardens from Maidenhead, and we even had a lone representative from Witney Parish in the Oxford area. Interestingly the warden from Witney was Douglas Hurd – well Baron Hurd of Westwell now. He was MP for Witney until 1997 – a seat now held by David Cameron.

Anyway, the service itself was fairly straightforward consisting of two hymns, Taizé style prayers accompanied by the choir of St Mary’s Thatcham, and of course the admission of Churchwardens. The formal part of the admission consists of repeating an oath read out by the Diocesan Registrar, and then is followed by the Bishop of Oxford’s Charge, which is effectively the sermon. In this Bishop John spoke about his hopes for the Diocese, using Philippians 1, 3-11 as his text. Oh and despite having a broad range of churches represented we used the modern Lord’s Prayer (as was used at the inauguration service) rather than the old cop-out of defaulting to the modified-traditional version. After the service was a chance for everybody to meet Bishop John and our fellow Churchwardens.

Bishop John’s sermon was a good one, and he had a nice mix of serious points and laughs to get his ideas over. He challenged us to make our churches welcoming and open to all which pleased me. We got a chance to chat with him after the service too, as Rev Richard has actually managed to book him twice to come to St James already, and he’s only been in the post for a matter of weeks! Having said that we’ve had Bishop Stephen along twice in the past year, so it will be nice to welcome Bishop John along too. Bishop John certainly seemed to be making a conscious effort to try and talk to as many people as possible, and when I mentioned that we would be in Taizé at the same time as he and the Oxford Pilgrimage is there he said it would be good to see us at the service on the Sunday morning before they leave. All in all it was a great evening, now the hard work of being Churchwarden begins!

Can You Hear the Drums?

saxon_toclafane.jpg

When Doctor Who returned two years ago, outside the basics, the team behind the programme seemed to quite deliberately avoid too many references to the old series. Wind forward to the present series and the situation is almost the reverse. Following on from the sight of images of all the previous faces of the Doctor in Human Nature, to the voices heard by Professor Yana in Utopia last week, we get a positive overdose of fan pleasing moments in the first part of the finale, The Sound of Drums.

Taking the plot first of all, it is all a relatively straightforward affair. The Doctor repairs Captain Jack’s vortex manipulator allowing them to escape. Whilst the Doctor had been unable to stop the Master escaping at the end of Utopia, he had managed to jam the TARDIS controls causing it to return to the same place it left – twenty-first century Earth. However they quickly realise that the Master has returned somewhat earlier, and that the mysterious Mr Saxon is in fact the Master – the mysterious Mr Saxon who has just been elected Prime Minister.

The Master is working with a race of aliens that he calls the Toclafane – although the Doctor believes this to be a made up name. The Master has also prepared traps for the Doctor, and has arrested Martha’s family. He has managed to win the election through the mobile phone network – the same technique that he has used to hide from the Doctor over the preceding months.

The Doctor and his companions manage to sneak onto the secret UNIT airship where the Master is to reveal the Toclafane to the world. However they fail to stop the Master’s plan, indeed the Master uses technology created by Professor Lazarus to age the Doctor, and incapacitates Jack, with only Martha managing to escape. The Master uses the TARDIS – which he has significantly modified and cannibalised, to open a rift and let in the Toclafane – ordering them to immediately destroy one tenth of the population of the world.

Alongside the main plot, there were a lot of back story and references, some very definitely for the fans. Chief among them is an explanation of how the Master comes to be alive and able to regenerate in the first place. Back in the TV Movie the Master manages to escape extermination by the Daleks but has to take over a human ambulance driver to do so. With his new human body decaying, he tries to take over the Doctor, but in the final climactic battle is sucked into the Eye of Harmony at the heart of the TARDIS. During the course of tonight’s episode we find out that during the Time War the Time Lords resurrected him in order to fight, giving him a new life-cycle much as was promised to him for helping the Time Lords in the Five Doctors. However, having been present during a key battle he fled and hid, using the Chameleon Arch to hide his identity. This explanation throws up interesting questions about what involvement the Doctor had in the Time War as he was unaware of the Master being resurrected, perhaps implying that the Doctor only becomes involved later on, after the Master has fled.

There are also several moments that hark back to well remembered Master scenes – for example at one point the Master is seen watching the Teletubbies, harking back to a scene in the Sea Devils when the Master is seen watching The Clangers.

Perhaps the biggest moment from a fan point of view is the first appearance of Gallifrey and of the Time Lord’s themselves as the Doctor describes the origin of the Master. Thanks to modern CGI, we see a panning shot from snowy mountains towards the gleaming Time Lord citadel covered by it’s protective dome. We also see a young Master surrounded by Time Lords, staring into the abyss of the time vortex. There is a definite effort to ramp up the Time Lord mythology, with the sequence reminding me very much of the epic style of movies such as the Lord of the Rings. From comments made by Russell T in the subsequent Doctor Who Confidential the return of the Master was on his list to do, and he implies that there are other things still to do – a return for Gallifrey and the Time Lord’s? Next weeks episode is called The Last of the Time Lords – whether this is because the Doctor has to destroy the Master, or is ironic due to the Doctor rediscovering his people remains to be seen.

It wasn’t only Time Lord references. After the Master has announced to the world that he is going to make first contact, the President of the United States arrives to take over control with UNIT citing that thanks to an agreement in 1968 – a reference to the episode The Web of Fear. Amusingly, considering that the real United Nations has asked that it’s name not be used in reference to UNIT, there were a number of points in the episode where the two organisations were referred to closely together, without ever explicitly stating what the acronym stood for! Having said that, the big budget has also extended to UNIT, with their base of operations this time being The Valiant, a vast airborne aircraft carrier, designed in part by the Master.

However, I’m suspecting that maybe not all the changes will be so welcome. Probably chief amongst the complaints will be the character of the Master, who is even more insane than he has been on previous appearances. Whilst at times there are elements of the dark and brooding character of before, at others he is cracking jokes, and being almost comic, showing many of the traits of David Tennant’s interpretation of the Doctor that so infuriate elements of fandom. John Simm mentions in his Doctor Who Confidential interview that he played the part exactly as written, perhaps passing the buck somewhat in advance of criticisms from the long term fans. Having said that, whose to say that being resurrected and then being long term disguised as a human didn’t unhinge him significantly?

So what is coming up next week? The trailer implies that there is a resistance movement to the Toclafane – but really I’m expecting that that is only going to be a small part of what is going to happen. Return of the Time Lords? We’ll have to wait and see…