Last Sunday, once again listening to the god-slot early morning Radio 4. The programme “Something Understood” discusses inner contradictions and it has an interview with my godfather, Richard Holloway, formerly Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of Scotland. Well, I say godfather as that’s what he was when I was being brought up, and these days I still find that’s just the easiest label by which to refer to him.

I do keep an ear open for news of Richard as I was always fond of him, and listened with fascination to his spats with organised religion, including widely reported incident when post-Lambeth he threw his mitre in the Thames in disgust over the ongoing rejection of – I can’t remember whether it was the church’s opposition to women bishops or gay marriage. The more I hear of his activities, the more I think that his spats with organised religion have gone beyond just an opposition to the organisations associated with religion, and that his spat is with faith and belief.

In this programme he’s discussing the turmoil he has experienced through his life in the Scottish episcopal church, including describing himself as sometimes atheist and sometimes theist. He describes the theist view that the existence of god gives a purpose and a meaning to his life. He finds this countered by an atheist realisation that the universe has no ultimate meaning, and his sense of futility that life by extension has no purpose and is without meaning.

I too came to a realisation many years ago that the universe has no ultimate purpose, that there is no meaning to anything. Though the lack of an overall plan for the world, does not mean that we have our own purpose in life. I work in the health service, and – contrary to what you may read in the Daily Fail – am part of a workforce that is dedicated to providing optimum healthcare to patients. Helping others is my purpose in life, that is what gives my life meaning. My further purpose is always to become better at what I do. I’m probably pretty average in my profession, and I can always improve in the care I offer. I constantly study so that I am finding new ways to improve the service I provide. To become better at helping others is always my purpose in life.

There may not be any god-given, spiritual or other supernaturally-drive purpose to life, but that is not to say our lives are without purpose. We make our own purpose by cooperating as a species, by being the social animal we are. For humanity in general, I would describe “purpose” as “enjoy yourself, don’t stamp on others as you go through life, and see if you can help others”. Or, “do unto others etc, and have some fun along the way”.

Richard also has a piece in the New Statesman this week. He acknowledges that if there is no god then all “revelation theology” comes only from human imagination, the use of story-telling as a means of describing the human condition and origins. He then says atheists are wrong to dismiss the bible / quran as myths and fairy tales, but instead that we should ask if they still speak for the human condition.

So, godfather, I must disagree with you. The pentateuch / old testament / new testament / quran are just fairy tales made up by fallible humans. They are filled with misogyny, genocide, violence and hatred. Perhaps that describes the human condition, but if it does then it describes what we must turn away from, not what we must emulate. The bible does not describe the triumph of good over evil; it describes the evil in our nature.

Richard also dismisses our dismissal of the circular reasoning inherent in all religious argument. Perhaps he dismisses this as there is no way to defend the argument. How do they know that the bible is the word of god? because it says so in the bible. A ridiculous argument that if presented without supporting evidence can simply be dismissed without supporting evidence.


So how did a staunch atheist like me come to have the former head of the anglican church in Scotland as a godfather? My late father was a priest in the episcopal church, and was the incumbent of a church in Glasgow. At the time that I was born he had Richard as a deacon for the parish, and so Richard was asked to be my godfather.

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I keep standing around waiting for the Arriva bus to turn up, with the consolation at least that the service cannot get any worse.

And yet…

It always does. No matter how crap the service gets, Arriva always find a way to turn the crap into the absolutely f#$@ing horrendous.

Bunch of total incompetents.

I always forget to switch off the alarm at weekends, so instead of the Today Programme I wake to the farming news on Saturdays and the god-botherers news on Sundays. This morning there was a piece about Justin Welby, and his plans to go down the traditionalist path, in particular in his opposition to Marriage Equality. He has trotted out the tired old excuse of “always been between one man and one woman”. Tell that to the Athenians.

We don’t live in a Theocracy. The church does not rule the land. The church leaders are welcome to set rules and regulations for their own followers. If the followers and congregations choose of their own free will (such that we have free will…) then the accept the rules and regulations of that organisation. But as to the rest of us, they do not get to order us around, nor to tell us how we are to live our lives. The membership of the Anglican and Catholic churches is falling. Many more people in the UK are identifying themselves as religiously-unaffiliated. I do not believe in all their fairy tales and do not follow any of religion. Welby does not get to tell me that I have to live my life according to his doctrines.

In his opposition to Marriage Equality Welby shows himself to be just another bigot.

Back in Borough Market yesterday. A mob of local christians was doing some sort of presentation of their mumbo-jumbo, which involved a procession around the market. Now Borough Market is usually a very busy place and it can be a bit of a struggle making your way through – especially between Northfield Farm and Turnips. Yet this mob pshed their way through with no consideration for others around them. I was physically pushed out of the way by some priest. Nice example of christian behaviour there.

Food. More of the same. Got some more beef from the Wallace’s Hill Farm, and a couple of loaves from Oliver’s Bakery. At the Chegworth Valley stall I found some Pink Fir Apples which are one of my favourite of potatoes. They also had some Shetland Black, which has good flavour but a much more floury texture than I prefer.

Well done to Network Three, who finally managed to re-connect my mobile broadband after it has been down for fourteen days. They managed to keep me connected for a whole twelve hours before the network went down again.

What a fraking useless bunch of tossers, I will be switching to a different service provider at the first opportunity.

I was mistaken

Reports of the arrival of Spring may have been somewhat premature.

It’s f*$#ing freezing out there!

After two weeks, three finally restore mobile network coverage around my home. I can get back online

[Too late to make that phone call]

A walk along the Thames today with the mist and low cloud hanging ominously above. Ended up – where else – in Borough Market and spent too much money. What a surprise. A couple of sourdough Pave from my favourite baker. Couldn’t tell you the name of the stall, but it’s run by a french family and they always have a big stack of Chocolate Brownies front and centre. Which I resist. Anyway, best baker in the market, and I’ve tried them all.

Next to Wallace’s Hill Farm stall for some wild beef. Bought a half-kilo pack of casserole beef, half of which will go into another Hot Pot and the rest minced for Forfar Bridies. Also got some Smoked Streaky Bacon.

At one of the many mushroom stalls I got a £2.50 / 100g mixed bag which on quick glance includes a couple of Horse mushrooms, a girolle, a couple of grey chantarelles and miscellaneous oysters. Sadly no morels, but as they were going for £13 per 100g that’s not surprising!

Another tub of Pate Moi mushroom pate, something that I eat far too much of. Every time I go to Borough I have to get another tub (or two).

Today I stayed well clear of the Gorwydd Farm stall. It’s the diet you know. I’ve lost 8kg since the beginning of the year; if I buy another half wheel of their wonderfully rich and creamy Caerphilly then it’ll all go back on overnight.

On the down side was a disappointing lunch. Usually I have a tray of scallops as a mid morning snack, then a bowl of paella for lunch. Today as a change I decided to go for meat, and had a Boston Sausage in a bun. Now the sausage was made from good flavoursome meat, and well seasoned. Disappointing texture though. Quite flabbly and no bite to it. Bun was also lifeless. Not one I would buy again.

Right, home now and see what I can do with these ingredients.

Got home from London later than expected this evening. Didn’t want to have too much cooking, so rustled up a quick Lancashire Hot Pot.

Chopped some neck of lamb into cubes and fried off in a little oil. Chopped some onions and added them. Now this will probably annoy the Lancastrians – added some diced carrots and turnip, which I believe are not strictly traditional. Diced some black pudding, cored and quartered a couple of lamb’s kidneys and added these. Finally added a few sprigs of thyme, stripped. Topped up with a little beef stock (didn’t have any lamb stock) and simmered gently for about five minutes. Then into a pie dish and topped with a couple of potatoes, sliced – put through the new mandolin on the 6mm setting.

I am seriously pleased with that mandolin, one of the best bits of kitchen gadgetry I’ve purchased. Best thing about it is the way all the blades come out for ease of cleaning. A damn sight easier to clean that the cheap plastic gizmo I had previously. I have a food processor in a cupboard somewhere, but I always seem to use either the mandolin or the hand-cranked mincer for processing my food.

But I digress.

Into the oven for 45 minutes, until the spuds are brown and crispy.

Should have lasted me two meals, but I was a bit hungry after walking around London all day. Scoffed it in about five minutes. Gorgeous.

I’ve had no phone or internet connection at home for the last ten days.

Network 3 / three.co.uk are complete crap when it comes to customer service

Mothers’ Day tomorrow, and I am going to be in deep trouble if I do not make that phone call

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