Tuesday, March 25, 2008


And while I'm in the mood…

…did anyone read Giles Fraser's ridiculous piece in the Guardian a couple of weeks back, having a go at parents who use euphemisms when talking to their children about death? He takes issue with phrases such as 'gone away' and 'fallen asleep' while suggesting that it is only in church that children can expect to hear the truth about death — 'know that you are dust and to dust you shall return'.

Funny he didn't mention the euphemism most used to explain death — certainly while I was growing up — 'gone to heaven'.

It's sometimes difficult to believe that any of these loons are actually serious, and the whole thing isn't just a big spoof, no?


I know it's been a while…

…but if anything was going to shake me out of my torpor it was probably this. Is it just me, or was anyone else flabbergasted by this little snippet in Saturday's Guardian Family 'things to do with your family this week':

Follow an Easter trail

Explore the story of the first Easter: Lickey Church is holding an inspired Easter Experience on Easter Monday. Set in the beautiful Lickey Hills Country Park, the interactive "trail" promises to involve all the senses and allow participants a chance to reflect creatively on the Easter story. There will be art materials, a tomb, a large cross (to bang nails in) and surprises along the way, and Lickey Church will be open all day.

To bang nails in? As if the whole thing wasn't gruesome enough…

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Fancy dress?

Nothing to do with atheism, but on the annual trawl of the internet for Yuletide gift inspiration this absolutely cracked me up. Can you imagine the look on the face of the kid who gets a barrister fancy dress costume? And how on earth are you supposed to dress up as an architect? Tempted by the suffragette, but only if you end up looking like the mum in Mary Poppins. Sorry, Raising Kids, you’re a great website, but I reckon someone might be yanking your chain. And if it is for real, please, please, can we know how many barrister costumes actually get sold?

Friday, November 23, 2007


Just a thought…

I never miss Thought For The Day. Guaranteed to provoke outrage or mirth, usually a bit of both, it never fails to set me up for the day, and of course enhance my enjoyment of its witty counterpart Platitude Of The Day. This morning as I buttered my toast I found myself chuckling as the Reverend Roy Jenkins chuntered on, musing on how hysterically funny it is that a grown man can actually get on air to talk such absolute twaddle.

Then it occurred to me. The other thing I seem destined never to miss is I’m a sodding Celebrity, where I find myself chortling along with the rest of the nation at the bizarre New Age antics of PR guru and Ab Fab inspiration, Lynne Franks.

Now to me, the Rev and his mates and Ms Franks are as loopy as each other, but I bet there are a fair few among Lynne’s detractors who, at the very least, pay lip service to the invisible magic friend in the sky, if not buy the myth wholesale. Funny old world, eh?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


It's been a while…

I know. I'm afraid sorting out that boy of mine — my Aspie son — has been taking up all of my spare time and energy for a while now, so the blogging has taken a backseat while I get him sorted out. We've still a way to go on that score, but there's light at the end of the tunnel, and I thought I would dip my toe into cyberspace to celebrate the announcement that Mina Ahadi has been voted Secularist Of The Year. I saw her speak at an International Women's Day event last year, and was blown away. Read about her here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fascinating piece here by Brian Whitaker. A suitable rebuff to those who seek to blame the death of Banaz Mahmod on almost anything but the people actually responsible — the male members of her own family.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Get this…

…apparently poor Banaz Mahmod wouldn't have died if the British authorities hadn't been so 'culturally insensitive'. What a bloody nerve.


Who’s your dæmon?

Fans of Phillip Pullman will know doubt be aware of the fact that the movie version of The Northern Lights, irritatingly changed to 'The Golden Compass' so as not to confuse our American friends, is due out next month. I gather (though admittedly I haven't heard it from him) that Mr Pullman is said to be happy with the script, which will come as something of a comfort to those of us who were worried that the plot would be stripped of it's anti-religious subtext by the Hollywood machine.

Even more exciting — if you pop across to the official website for the film you can answer 20 quick questions and claim yourself a dæmon! I was delighted to find that mine is a tiger called Thalius, daughter was slightly bemused to find herself teamed up with a grey whippet with an unpronouncable name, and son was not at all pleased to get a goose — he didn't care what its name was. Still, neither of them have hit puberty yet, so there's still time for their dæmon to change. The best thing about it is that you can bring your dæmon with you into cyberspace — just got to work out how you do something technical like that…


Cultural excuses won't do

Excellent piece in today's Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, which illustrates once again why justifying archaic practices on the grounds that they are 'cultural' or religious is so very wrong. It's terrifying to think that this sort of crime is on the increase.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Honest to Richard, I've been busy!

As a rule I try hard not to do guilt, but I've been feeling the odd twinge lately about not contributing anything beyond a wistful thought or two to my blog, and when Chaucer's Bitch left a comment here the other day wondering what had happened to me, I thought perhaps I'd better find the time to share a few thoughts.

As luck would have it, there do happen to be a few things going on at the moment which are making me foam at the mouth.

Take the piece this morning on the Today programme about the grand opening of evangelical bampot Ken Ham's creationist 'museum' in Kentucky, complete with models of humans happily co-existing with dinosaurs and mock-ups of the grand canyon, which Ham claims appeared just 2,000 years ago in the wake of the great Biblical flood. Hmmm...

Of course it would just be funny were it not for the fact that — according to this morning's report — around 50 per cent of Americans actually believe that the account of the creation in Genesis is fact, and that Mr Ham has cunningly situated his monument to credulity within 'a day's drive of two thirds of the population of America'. And people wonder why Richard Dawkins and his pals get so upset.

Talking of whom, I went to the Hay Festival at the weekend to touch the hem of his robe, so to speak. My mum and my auntie Betty — living proof that there is a gene for atheism — came along too, and having limbered up with a very enjoyable talk from AC Grayling, we endured several hours of appalling weather — sideways rain and everything — as we killed time waiting for Dawkins and the main event to begin. As the rain beat down on the roof, threatening not only to drown out Mr Dawkin's replies to the gentle grilling he got from Rosie Boycott, but to bring the marquee down around our ears, it was hard not to muse on the fact that if there was a god, he might well have conjured up the weather specially.

And after all that stimulating, intellectual dialogue, what do you think my mum and my auntie had to say about their first real-life encounter with Darwin's rottweiler? "Oooh, isn't he dreamy!" I suppose I've only got myself to blame, encouraging them in the first place, and I rather think that they found the experience of being inside a large tent with almost a thousand gently steaming fellow non-believers a little over-exciting.

Later, having dinner in the excellent Old Black Lion Inn, and over-excited again because we'd had a couple of glasses of wine and Ian Rankin was at the next table, we had great fun musing on the fact that, godless though we are, we still insist on using phrases like 'honest to god', 'for god's sake', 'god almighty' as exclamations, and resolved instead to invoke the lovely Mr Dawkins. While 'honest to Dick' and 'for Dick's sake' had us howling with laughter, it didn't quite convey the dignified sincerity of our feelings (ha!), so once we had calmed down we decided it would be more respectful to use his full name.

Enough silly nonsense, and on to the much more serious issue of Cardinal Keith O'Brien's latest foray into politics. Furious at what he sees as the 'marginalisation of christian values in public life' he has now resorted to blackmail, declaring that pro-choice politicians should 'consider their stance on receiving communion'. No matter that MPs are elected to represent a constituency and that the people in that constituency might be overwhelmingly pro-choice, the hysterical cardinal is urging his fellow catholics to 'reject candidates who defend a social evil', equating abortions with the killing of children in the Dunblane massacre. The man really has no shame. And the Bishop of Paisley, invited onto Today to add his tuppence-worth, had the nerve to say that actually what the cardinal had said was a little more 'nuanced' than was being reported. Oh, really?

Finally, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the news that there is to be a theme park based on JK Rowling's creation, Harry Potter, but on balance I've decided to laugh. Not that I'm a big fan of the books (I don’t think I can be the only bedtime-reading parent who objects to the series simply on the grounds that the chapters are too bloody long), but I know that the news will get right up the noses of Ken Ham and Cardinal O'Brien.

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