Wednesday 25 August 2010

STI's relentless march - and the inevitable jerking knees...

The BBC reports (both in the Today programme this morning and on its www site here) that STIs continue to rise, particularly among the young.

The usual knee-jerk responses were also available:
Dr Colm O'Mahony, a consultant physician in sexual health, told BBC Radio 5 live, that the safe sex message was still not getting through to young people.

"In general, most STIs occur in young people because they lack the knowledge and self-esteem to actually avoid getting sexually transmitted infections - and that's what we've been shouting about for years," he said.

"We really need proper sex and relationship education in schools, and it needs to be a statutory obligation or this relentless increase will just continue unabated."

Perhaps the most worrying thing, apart from the moral bankruptcy and sheer idiocy of reflected in the comments above ('the fire is still raging, no matter how much petrol we pour on it. We must pour some more!') is the following:
The HPA says the bacteria which cause gonorrhoea are becoming more resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics.
Professor Cathy Ison, from the agency's Centre for Infections, said: "We could see gonorrhoea becoming a very difficult infection to treat within the next five years.

So the inevitable is happening (see my previous posts tagged 'open systems') and the diseases are now becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Quick - pass the petrol!

Friday 20 August 2010

Bernie's results

AS Results yesterday. Bernie was hoping for four As plus a not-too-disgraceful result in General Studies...

She got three As, a B in General Studies, and then... Music. Her performance rated a strong A, her written paper a B (which we suspect may be a bit low and are considering having re-marked) but her composition was awarded a U - unclassified fail. Given that her school had seen is (it is a pre-prepared piece of work, not done under exam conditions) and they reckoned it was A standard, that seems odd. It brings her overall Music grade to a C, which rather took the gloss off her success in everything else.

We're pretty sure there's an error somewhere (I think they may have entered it in the four-part harmony category, when it was a variation on a theme), and we will have it re-marked.

But what has been very positive is Bernie's mature response to this, not least in the face of her many friends who are naturally delighted at their own 4 or 5 As.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Touched by Sevenfold Grace

I often say my morning prayers walking Goldie in the hills, and today, as the sun rose, I suddenly saw a fragment of a rainbow in the clouds. There was nobody else about, so it felt as though it was there just for me.

I tend to use ACTS (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication) as a structure for my morning prayers, and was at the thanksgiving stage: so the rainbow seemed very apposite.

And of course a rainbow is highly symbolic: firstly of the Old Covenant, and God's promise after the flood; the seven colours recall the seven days of creation - and up in the hills, creation is always one of the things for which I give thanks.

But for us of the New Covenant, seven is also the number of the Sacraments, of the primary virtues (three theological, four cardinal), and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: more for which to give thanks.

I am not normally very emotional in my practice of religion, but today I felt touched by Grace.

And then I noticed I'd lost the dog...

Monday 16 August 2010

Low Mass of the Assumption

As a treat, we went to the Cathedral for a Low Mass (Extraordinary Form) for the feast of the Assumption.

It's a long while since we've been to a Low Mass in the traditional form: the Cathedral Masses are generally sung. I was struck afresh by the prayerfulness, the focus, the silence, the dignity and the simplicity of the ceremonies.

I love Sung Masses (if they sing proper liturgical music - chant or sacred polyphony) but there is something special about the humility, almost the poverty of a Low Mass. The priest is almost invisible to us, just his back visible at the altar, as he leads us into the mystery, and in the Person of Christ, makes the Word-made-flesh present for us in the sacred sacrifice.

The children all love the Latin Mass, as well. We normally go to the English Mass locally, so the trip to the Cathedral (an hour away) could be a bit of a bore: but actually they respond to the beauty, the music, the silence, and the fact that they need to work a little harder, pay a little more attention.

Our Lady's statue was of course surrounded by flowers and candles for the Feast, so in many ways, she took centre stage, rather than the priest: surely an appropriate set of priorities: particularly as she always points us to her Son: 'Do whatever He tells you...'

Friday 13 August 2010

On Holiday

It's all go during the holidays.

Ant is working at a Sailing Centre, teaching sailing. It's like being paid to do your favourite hobby - in fact, it is being paid to do her favourite hobby.

Bernie is in Edinburgh, doing an Art Summer School as she considers her University choices - and awaits her AS results - and visiting the Fringe shows in the evenings...

Charlie and Dominique are at home at present, and we have Ant's boyfriend, Zadok, as a guest at present - so we've been doing lots of walks, a bit of sailing, a few visits to National Trust places. Charlie and Dominique have also been working on a project on Cardianl Newman, in preparation for his beatification by the Holy Father later in the year. They now take an avid interest every time his name is mentioned in the press etc.

Zadok and I have been working hard clearing out our outhouses and sheds. I now have a re-floored upstairs for storage, and a bike shed, a wood shed, a potting shed, a couple of general storage sheds and a tool shed all organised and tidy. (These were all full of the debris of the guy who lived here before us for many years; he never threw anything away, so we have given away or dumped a huge amount of stuff: a Victorian bath, old bicycles etc...)

And games in the evening: Zadok is a dab hand at card games, and managed to beat me at chess (though that was mainly carelessness on my part in the endgame...)

Monday 9 August 2010

A Classic!

A review of the late Monsignor Knox's classic The Creed in Slow Motion over at Catholic Book Reviews. If you have not yet read it, you should! (Knox that is, not Catholic Book Reviews...) The review seems to me to understate quite how good the book is...

Sunday 8 August 2010

Inside the Ethics Committee

On BBC Radio 4 there is a programme called Inside the Ethics Committee which tries to throw light on how ethical dilemmas in medicine are handled.

A recent programme focussed on the issue of how soon and how much you tell a child about a disease he or she is growing up with: clearly a difficult issue.

Much of the programme focused on a child born with HIV.

As the story unfolded it became clear that those responsible for her (she was being raised by the state) were colluding with:

her being sexually abused (sleeping around before reaching the age of 16, the age at which the law assumes she can first meaningfully give consent);

her risking infecting her boyfriends/abusers, as her ‘carers’ knew she was not telling them about her HIV status and did not have the skills to ‘negotiate’ her sexual encounters (ie they recognise the encounters were not consensual in a meaningful way);

her refusal to take the medication that would help her, not from any principled grounds, but on childish ones;

her life disintegrating into living in a chaotic and violent environment with a group of criminal young men addicted to various hard drugs.

And all because they assume that young girls of a certain social background will sleep around and be abused and there is nothing they can or should do about it.

That issue, of course, played no part in the ethical discussions...

And they call these people carers.

Friday 6 August 2010

The Holidays are Upon Us

Suddenly we are well into the holidays: so far more important things to do than blog regularly.

Have taken in several good walks, lots of games (frisbee is in at the moment, as the bruise and scab on my nose attest!), a bonfire, a major shed clearing project (in anticipation of being given a snooker table and needing space for it - cleared the shed, then offer of table withdrawn...), a bit of music-making, a movie or two...

Do I live for pleasure alone, you may wonder. But actually, spending time with the kids, doing the kind of things they want to do, is central to being a Father; and of course all sorts of moments arise where by example or word one influences, teaches or communicates values to the kids. And my theory is that if I am with them when they want me to be, they will find it easier to turn to me when it might become more difficult (if you see what I mean...)