Don’t worry – I’m not here in person at 00.01 on January the 1st. This post is posted by the Autoblogger, specially activated ahead of time using a pulley and a very long piece of string.
Anyway – Happy New Year!
We are back from going to and going fro. A splendid time was had by all. Well, most. The cats probably didn’t enjoy spending Christmas in a cattery cage but they haven’t really told us about it out of, one assumes, politeness.
OK, resolutions. Last year I set my sights too high I think. This year I plan to draw more, put things away when I have finished with them, join an environmental organisation, do the bins the night before, cut dilly dallying by 12-15% and generally be a marginally better person. How about you?
Update: From Diamond Geezer – The hell that is central London on New Year’s eve.
Has anyone gone to the bother of pointing out the position and orientation of the Queen’s Profile on the 2nd Class “Madonna & Child” Stamp?
Rather unusual (unique perhaps) to this stamp. The Queen’s profile is on the left facing right. This is not due to the available space — it could easily be on the right, facing left as is usual. Except that would entail the Queen looking at the back of Mary’s head as opposed to its current unusual position which is facing the Christ Child — as is fitting for He who is King of Kings perhaps?
Isn’t it odd — the Royal Mail is subtlely spreading the message of Christ at Christmas and many in the Church are busy spreading a bunker mentality more akin to the Daily Mail (sorry ;-> ). Perhaps the “Royal” in Royal Mail is more of David’s Line than Elizabeth’s.
£50 million won and we couldn’t have done it without you!
This is fantastic news, and thanks to everyone who voted for Sustrans’ Connect2 in the People’s £50 Million Lottery Giveaway, and for your help in winning £50 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund for Sustrans to invest in walking and cycling UK-wide. This really is an amazing achievement for our charity and the many local authority and other partners with whom we will work on Connect2. We simply couldn’t have done it without you and your votes.
We start work on delivering Connect2 in January 2008. Our local authority partners are poised ready to go, and will be adding matched funding from their own transport and other budgets to the £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund. This is a five year project, and in total we have already identified nearly £100 million of local authority funding to support Connect2, and we are working hard to bring even more funding to the project so that we can ensure as many people as possible benefit from Connect2.
We will continue to update you on progress during 2008. In the meantime can I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year and to thank you again for supporting Sustrans’ Connect2.
John Grimshaw MBE
Founder and Chief Executive Sustrans
This is the video for the Sustrans Connect2 project which tells you a bit more about it:
I’ve asked the Royal Mail to put something on their news releases page which would make life easier for us hoaxbusters.
Meanwhile the hoax continues to exist on various websites:
The Facebook group I mentioned has been edited to add the Post Office rebuttal, but another (very small it must be said) group still has the made-up information. This latter group claims that the Venerable Trevor Jones, Archdeacon of Hertford is the source of the e-mail, but I suspect he just pressed his Archdeaconly forward button.
I have written to Chris Sugden of the Anglican Main Stream to tell him that his post printing the hoax information is incorrect and should be abolished, [Update: post now removed] but he has not taken it down and issued a correction as of yet. Unfortunately this means that other people are still coming across the hoax – take this forum thread as an example (contains views some may find offensive). The untruths also go uncorrected on the Anglican Main Stream forum.
Let us be strong and not give up in the anti-hoaxing battle. Together we can convince Anglican Mainstream and various Archdeacons of the errors of their ways.
[Exits left as music plays: Who you gonna call? Hoaxbusters...]
The rumour that the Royal Mail may be encouraged to stop printing religious stamps at Christmas is completely unfounded; and the request to circulate it has been extraordinarily unhelpful. I and other colleagues involved with the Church have now received copies of the ‘offending para’ from outside of St Albans diocese; (I don’t know where it started from but it is doing the rounds). And it has probably taken the best part of the the last 48 hours to contain this – as the Mail on Sunday got hold of it too. ……
I think what concerns me most is that the email came from and was circulated to Christians/ ministerial colleagues – and until [names] got in touch, there was an assumption that the note was true. No-one in Royal Mail group gets up in the morning with the negative motivation implied – and certainly not the directors who take these decisions. You would not believe the contortions we go through to try to support and to please the particular community we are trying to serve – in this case the Christian one. (Many of us are Christians and our faith is critical to the way we do business.)
What follows below this note, is our response statement. We took a decision after last year, to have Christian stamps every year at Christmas (see below for a brief explanation). It is difficult to ensure that our external communications reach all audiences and so I would be happy to answer any queries on this; and time permitting, come along and speak to the diocese, if you feel people may like to know more about the Christmas/ postage or community impacts (Post Office closures, etc) of the Post Office/ Royal Mail Group.
But in the meantime, as we say below, any help you can give in restoring the balance would be much appreciated. I don’t have all the addresses of those who received [the] original mail …… Please could you pass on the statement below (and this note if it helps) to anyone you or they may have copied the original mail to.
Thank you in anticipation of your support and best wishes for a very Christian Christmas!
The Revd Paula Vennells, Network Director, The Post Office
(Incidentally, we were rather surprised at the suggestion that the angels were only “vaguely Christian”. I’m sending you a presentation pack of the stamps. Have a read inside and let me know what you think.)
Royal Mail statement:
‘We have become aware of an incorrect assertion being made about the motives behind the sales of our Christmas stamps. There is absolutely no intention on our part to suppress sales of the Madonna and Child stamps in order to be able to claim there is low demand for religious stamps in future years. Indeed, we have produced tens of millions of them, and we want to sell them!! We have given publicity to both types of Christmas stamps, and the availability of both has been widely covered in the national and local press. Furthermore we plan to have the Madonna and Child stamps available every Christmas in future, alongside each year’s “special” set, which will continue to alternate between religious and secular themes.
Any help you can give in restoring the balance would be much appreciated.
Jonathan Evans OBE, Company Secretary, Royal Mail Group
Important update: The e-mail referred to in this post has been confirmed as a hoax. Please don’t forward the message on if you receive it. Details below.
The following e-mail has been both circulating and doing the rounds:
‘Royal Mail has traditionally alternated between sacred and secular designs for their Christmas stamps and this year it is the turn for a religious image. Royal Mail has issued two sets of designs this year. The main set of designs, available in all the main denominations is of angels, which is vaguely Christian but not explicitly so and certainly not specifically Christmassy. They have also issued a ‘Madonna and Child’ design for first and second class only. Post Office staff have been instructed to only sell this design if people specifically request it, but obviously people can’t request it if they don’t know it exists! If people don’t buy these stamps, Royal Mail will claim there is no demand for religious Christmas stamps and not produce them in future. Please therefore ask for ‘Madonna and Child’ stamps when you do your Christmas posting and also tell your friends, contacts etc. to do the same. Thank You.’
I have seen it on a number of blogs, including Richard’s Connexions (here and here), David Faulkner’s (here and here), Anglican Main Stream (here and here) as well as a Facebook group which I joined because Ruth Gledhill joined it and I am easily led and I didn’t want to be missing out. The Ship of Foolsers are discussing it too. Some of these sources are sceptical, but some aren’t.
The BBC reported on a related story a month ago. To see these stamps in greater detail I’d recommend this site which has in-depth analysis, pictures and (if that wasn’t enough) some commemorative postmarks. As you will note the angel stamps commemorate the tercentenary of Charles Wesley, ‘Anglican priest, co-founder of the Methodist movement and hymn-writer’.
Well, I don’t know. I, like this blogger, think the e-mail is all a lot of nonsense. If you are a Royal Mail employee who has been instructed to hide the ‘Madonna and Child’ stamps behind the driving-licence-change-of-address forms, then please do write in. Please, I am willing to be proved wrong if there is evidence to the contrary. But until that happens we should do what we should do with all forwarded e-mails with no verifying source – ignore them. Unless you’d like the ‘Madonna and Child’ stamps of course, in which case feel free ask for them – just don’t take too long about it as I and all the other readers of this blog will be waiting in the queue behind you.
The rest of us will have to make do with the John Wesley series. We’ll just have to live with the fact that commemorating one of the best hymn writers in the world (ever) is ‘vaguely Christian but not explicitly so’.
Royal Mail has been pleased to clarify the situation which is that no such instruction has been made, but that with 14,000 post offices around the country practice might vary as to what customers are offered. They have made the following statement:
“There is absolutely no intention on our part to suppress sales of the Madonna and Child stamps in order to be able to claim there is low demand for religious stamps in future years. Indeed, we have produced tens of millions of them, and we want to sell them!! We have given publicity to both types of Christmas stamps, and the availability of both has been widely covered in the national and local press. Furthermore we plan to have the Madonna and Child stamps available every Christmas in future, alongside each year’s “special” set, which will continue to alternate between religious and secular themes.”
I’m waiting to hear whether this has been posted anywhere ‘official’ so we can squash this thing once and for all.
See also Nicthevic’s post in the comments below:
Revd Paula Vennells, who is a non-stipendiary minister in the Diocese of St Albans, and Network Director for the Post Office says this:
“The rumour that the Royal Mail may be encouraged to stop printing religious stamps at Christmas is completely unfounded; and the request to circulate it has been extraordinarily unhelpful…No-one in Royal Mail group gets up in the morning with the negative motivation implied.”
This e-mail is almost certainly a hoax. Let’s try to get the word out, but by contacting webmasters etc, not forwarding on e-mails.
Thefts of precious metals from church roofs is on the increase in a huge way, according to this report from the BBC in the East of England and this suspiciously similar report from the BBC in the West Midlands. The reports talk about a new kind of water, ‘Smartwater‘, which can be made to rain on the heads of unsuspecting criminals or used to coat precious roof metals with DNA.
One presumes it does not wash off like normal water. I’m sure they’ve thought of that. It seems like a good idea. It probably wouldn’t hurt though to sprinkle on a bit of Holy Water whilst you’re doing it.
The Oxford Diocese website explains it a bit more here, and the Ecclesiastical Insurance have posters like the one over to the left there here.
We can all do our bit to help. I think, for instance, that it would be a good idea to set up a rota so that someone is watching every single church roof in the country (and indeed the world) continually from now on for ever. If anyone would like to take responsibility for organising this rota please say so in the comments. You can put me down for a ten minute stint on Thursday.
I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t at a loose end. I was busy and needed as Vicar of St Paul’s Clapham Junction, Chaplain of St John’s Hospital Battersea, Staff Scriptwriter/Visualiser for Eagle and Girl strip cartoon magazines and Scientific and Astronautical Consultant to Dan Dare!
When I wasn’t running an ‘open’ youth club, or bawling prayers at geriatric patients, or teaching in my Church School, or cycling around giving Holy Communion to the sick, I was pounding my typewriter up to 2 or 3am earning my living, as my stipend was only enough to pay my secretary. There was no time to discover whether I was happy or not, and I’ve managed to keep it that way.
As I’m sure many of you are aware there is now a television channel called ‘Dave’. UKTV have renamed one of their channels in this way. If you have Freeview in the UK, you can find it on channel 19, which is actually channel 12. Don’t ask me to explain.
This of course comes after the news last year that there was to be a magazine called Dave. I sometimes see it in Basildon library.
This new channel will now give people the opportunity to say ‘oh so witty’ things like:
‘Let’s watch Dave for a bit.’
‘I wonder what is on Dave this evening.’
‘Did you see Dave last night? I’ve never laughed so much!’
…and so on and so forth.
I am concerned that our society is becoming more and more Davist. The name Dave is being treated as a figure of fun. Davism is rife.