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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – London 2012

Today, we give thanks to God for the life and Christian witness of Queen Elizabeth II. May God continue to bless her.  The UK and Commonwealth is fortunate indeed to have her as our Monarch.

God save the Queen. The Bible commands:

‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people’. I Timothy 2: 1-5

 

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Opinion – India’s population clock clicks inexorably towards 1.3bn

October 27, 2011 2 comments

I’m just back from a wonderful second visit to India – with its immense financial contradictions and severe social challenges; none more so than its population numbers. Estimates indicate that over 3,000 babies are born in India every hour!

On the teeming sub-continent, India’s already massive population continues to grow. It’s at 1.22 billion people and steadily rising. A Government initiative is designed to cap families at two children per family under the slogan ‘Small family = Happy family’, despite recent Roman Catholic opposition in states like Kerala countering with their own slogan of ‘Large family = Happy family’.

In July 2011, the BBC reported;

The good news is that India’s birth rate has dropped by more than half in 35 years – from 5.7 children per woman in the mid-1960s to 2.7 in 2010. Nearly a third of India’s people have lowered their fertility to replacement levels. The bad news is that India is still set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030’.

This week, the UN Population Fund announced that the world population is about to reach seven billion. Incredible; I remember when I got married (in the late 1970’s) that it then numbered just over 4 billion!

According to a BBC web-based calculator, when I was born in the 1950’s, I was the 2,876,874,081 person alive on Earth and the 76,381,725,732 person to have lived since history began! Not sure quite how these figures are arrived at, but all good fun anyway!

Opinion – the Flight Path to the World

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

This month I flew to Singapore once again. On a regular flight like this, you get to know the route pretty well. One’s routine on the flight is fixed in order to pass away the 12 or 13 hours at 39,000 feet as quickly as possible. Keeping a weather eye on the in-flight map display is just a part of that routine.

This time, it struck me forcibly that the route across these countries on the way down to the Far East represented a snapshot of the challenges and problems that face us all as members of the human race:

Europe = almost entirely secularised and experiencing massive economic turmoil.

Iran and Afghanistan = convulsed by war and civil unrest, impact of repressive regimes.

India = hugely complex, terrible poverty, rising wealth, frequent floods and earthquakes.

Malaysia and Indonesia = emerging Islamic powers.

This is a truly a big and complicated world, often hard to fully comprehend. I recognise that in being both British and Western in outlook, I bring a set of prejudices and preconceptions to my interpretation of the issues facing this planet which may or may not be right, depending on your own viewpoint. Culture clash is quite clearly inevitable!

There is a massive battle of ideas going on everywhere – Secularism versus Atheism versus Christianity versus Islam versus Hinduism versus Buddhism.

In this confusing context of the soup of competing big ideas; what is Truth? Who do you listen to and whom can you trust?  For me – and without wishing to be hopelessly simplistic – it only makes sense by my belief in God, a trust in Christ and dependence on the teachings found in God’s word, the Bible.  Don’t interpret that statement to equate to holding solely to an Evangelical Christian position. Faith is so much bigger than any one interpretation.

Psalm 24: ‘The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in It, the World and all who live in it’.

Opinion – Support your High Street – Local retailers and small shops

August 11, 2011 4 comments

Listening to Liz Pilgrim, a riot-hit small retailer from Ealing on BBC R4 tonight was an inspiration, providing a strident rallying call for support to the High Street.

Events of this past week have demonstrated that the UK High Street is hurting badly – in more ways than one. Shops in riot affected areas will have an uphill struggle to get their businesses back on track. Retailers everywhere are finding it hard work to make headway against strong and adverse economic headwinds.

If these local businesses are forced to leave their High Streets, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to open them again. Does that matter? Yes, I think it does. Those communities losing local traders are negatively impacted in a considerable way. We could all do much more to help – by stopping to think whether we can buy locally, by switching our purchasing from the internet to local shops (where possible) and from chain stores and supermarkets to the local trader. Yes, there’s often a price differential and I know that we all have time constraints but there is a positive social impact.

Some of you might say that it’s already too late. It’s not. You can make a real difference locally.

So much of retail in the UK is comprised of fairly small units and these outlets provide considerable levels of local employment in so many of our towns and cities. It cannot be all about Tesco’s and Debenhams.

Use local markets wherever possible as these too continue to help commercial life to thrive in our neighbourhoods and communities. Yes, it’s hard to do this but it’s also worthwhile. At the moment, any help for smaller retailers, and sole traders in particular, is very welcome.

 If you agree with this please ‘like’ it and post it elsewhere and let’s help bring more footfall to our High Streets. Do we really want to live in a homogenous world? Do we want all of retail life to move online? We all have to buy ‘stuff’. The only question is; where will we actually do our purchasing?

So go on – Support your own High Street. Support your local retailer. Support your small shops. Support your local Market. You might even enjoy yourself!

 

Update and postscript:

The key figures for UK retail. (Source: Dept for BIS)

• UK retail sales are around £300bn, the 3rd largest in the world, after the USA and Japan.
• The retail sector generates 8% of the GDP of the UK, and 5.2% of GVA.
• The retail industry employs around 3m people. One in ten of those in employment currently work in the retail sector – the highest proportion of UK private sector employment.
• Retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK with one in ten of the workforce working in retail.
• There are 450,000 shops in the UK owned by 300,000 enterprises, including 9% (190,000) of all VAT-registered businesses.
• Shops account for more than a third of consumer spending.
• Despite being the third biggest casualty of the recession with over 6,000 insolvencies, the sector continues to grow.
• The value of overseas shoppers in London is around £2bn p.a.
• Despite strong growth in recent years, internet sales currently account for only around 7.5% of total sales.

Opinion – Celebrating the first 12 months activity on this Blog!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the past twelve months. 

Here are the Top 10 blog posts as measured by Word Press. Interestingly, these represent a good resume of the content of this blog – Travel, Book Trade, Photography and Book Reviews.

Stick with me for the year ahead! Where shall we go?

Travel – The Infinity Pool; 57th Floor, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore    
Travel – Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games; Closing Ceremony in Marina Bay    
Book Trade; eBook sales v. Hardbacks – Hype or Tipping Point?    
Photography – Cunard’s Queen Mary 2; off Monte Carlo, Monaco    
Photography – Coastal view from Eze Village, Cote d’Azur, France    
Book Trade; ‘Celebrating 200 years of Christian Bookselling’ – Part 1    
Travel – By Eurostar and TGV to the French Riviera    
Review – The Circle of Love; Ann Persson (The Holy Trinity by Andre Rublev)    
Review – Operation World; 7th Edition (2010)    
Travel – A380; Flying from London Heathrow to Singapore Changi    

PS – yep, I too am puzzled by the success of the No 1 post; ‘The Infinity Pool, Marina Bay, Singapore’? It’s been by far and away THE most popular entry of the year!

Categories: Opinion

Opinion; 2010 in review – thanks everyone!

January 15, 2011 1 comment

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2010. That’s about 17 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 54 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 103 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 118mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 24th with 74 views. The most popular post that day was Book Trade; eBook sales v. Hardbacks – Hype or Tipping Point?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, digg.com, twitter.com, who-will-win-fifa-worldcup-2010.com, and healthfitnesstherapy.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cote d’azur, eze village, eze, marina bay sands, and queen mary 2.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Book Trade; eBook sales v. Hardbacks – Hype or Tipping Point? July 2010
13 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Travel – The Infinity Pool; 57th Floor, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore August 2010

3

Travel – Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games; Closing Ceremony in Marina Bay August 2010

4

Book Trade History; ‘Celebrating 200 years of Christian Bookselling’ – Part 1 April 2010
1 Like on WordPress.com,

5

Christian Book trade – 30th Anniversary; Good News Centre, Newent March 2010
3 comments

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Opinion; ‘Aiming 4 Excellence’ Conference 2010

December 2, 2010 1 comment

Attending this month’s Charity Leaders Conference, ‘Aiming 4 Excellence’ at Swanwick gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with conference tweeting!  Only you can give the true verdict, I just enjoyed it – although some might have thought I was welded throughout to my mobile!

For those of you who missed my twitter stream (Conference Hashtag #a4e10), here it is!  

Monday 29 November; at the UK Christian Charity Leaders conference in snowy Derbyshire; Aiming 4 Excellence. I’ll tweet a bit this week using #a4e10

1st Plenary with Bishop of Liverpool, Right Rev James Jones; Big society & nature of community

+James; ‘Aiming for excellence means excelling in creating a fairer society – creating a balance between need & abundance’

+James; ‘Wash one another’s feet (John 13) is the essence of true society – the big society – a mutuality of giving & receiving’

+James; ‘Big Society. Churches used to provide services from cradle to grave. Our time has come again, as the State can’t afford to’

+James; ‘Society is not bothered by a ‘fragmented’ church but whether the World religions can live together on this Planet without blowing it up’!

Evening seminar; the challenge of being a Christian employer, keeping up with employment law. Hopefully more answers than questions?

Wednesday 30 November; with 300 Christian Charity Leaders. Plenary sessions today; Prof Jim Saker, Sir Peter Vardy & Dame Suzi Leather; should be good?

Plenary 2 with Jim Slater (Professor of Retail Management) – ‘the changing socio-economic environment’

Whoops … Prof Jim Saker … Sorry!

Jim Saker; rapid overview of world-class brands. Nokia, Innocent Smoothies, Toyota, Apple, Red Bull, Obama

Jim Saker; ‘Organisations should build up social media, engage with influencers and embrace two-way online interaction’

Conference worship being led by Geraldine Latty; sensitive, worshipful, uplifting, spirit-filled

Snowing hard here in Derbyshire!

Plenary 3; Sir Peter Vardy & son Peter Vardy; values, distinctives & challenges – faith in practice

Sir Peter Vardy on Business; ‘Have right values, live by those values, set an example, do the right thing and pursue excellence’

Peter Vardy (son) on Leadership; ‘Combine a humble approach with a ferocious drive. Look on fast pace of change as a positive’

Sir Peter Vardy; ‘Having too many charities is an issue in itself. We have an opportunity and time is right for some to join forces’

Sir Peter Vardy; ‘I urge you (UK charities) to think about joining together. You are far stronger together than being apart’

It’s been snowing hard all day here at Swanwick in Derbyshire – still snowing now – tomorrows return home looks ‘interesting’!

Plenary 4 with Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission

This could get interesting! CC chair, Suzi Leather is snowbound in London so this Plenary will be via pre-recorded video link!

Sadly no speech by Dame Suzi – defeated by the weather and the technology. Instead, an interview with Geraldine Latty

Dame Suzi Leather’s Plenary Session – available here – very disappointing that the snowy weather intervened

Good night everyone – here’s hoping that we can dig out and get away in the morning. I like Swanwick but not enough to stay any longer!

Wednesday 1st December; Snow at Aiming 4 Excellence conference in Swanwick. Over a 1ft of the white-stuff this morning. What a week!

Phew; we’re out of Derbyshire. Over a foot of snow overnight. Our intrepid CEO dug out car before rest of us got up! Dedication indeed!

#a4e10 round-up; superb worship, quick-fire Saker, honest and incisive Vardy interview, disappointing Suzi Leather no-show, so much snow!

 

My post-tweet conference verdict?

Good overall, but not as engaging as in 2007 and badly affected by the Siberian weather.

You can view the Aiming 4 Excellence conference website here.

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