Sunday, February 28, 2010

Confirmation Day

This morning for a change I preached briefly and directly to the three confirmation candidates present at the Parish Eucharist. The confirmation was at St Margaret's at the same time as our evening service. This proposed a dilemma for me as I was meant to deliver my second Lent Talk at that hour, but wanted to be with the candidates.

However, I had the idea last Sunday of asking Pauline to deliver it for me, and she agreed, so I was able to join the confirmands. Such a treat to present two children and one adult in the months just before I retire. That's three adults and two children altogether within four months. These are the first candidates since St John's and Cathays separated into two parishes, and they were well supported by family friends and members of the congregation.

The church was full. Bishop David delivered the third original confirmation sermon I have heard from him in three services. Andrew, looking after St John's, emailed me later to say how superbly Pauline had delivered my Lenten address.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tosca on match day

I had a funeral today, straight after the midday Eucharist, at Pidgeon's funeral chapel over on Cowbridge Road. A car was arranged to pick me up from church, but turned up late because the driver went to the Vicarage instead, and had to double back through the growing queue of traffic arriving in town for the evening's Rugby international. So I stood out on St Mary Street in the cold wind for twenty minutes, before the car arrived, and we managed to reach our destination and get started only a few minutes late.

After the service, I saw the widow sitting on her own in a large stretch limousine - all the friends and relations seemed to have come in their own cars - so rather than ride in the hearse I joined her and we chatted all the way to Thornhill. I don't think she wanted to be on her own. It just happened because nobody involved had given it much thought. It was cold and windy at the graveside for the brief commital ceremony, and I was pleased to see that a few friends and relations were alongside her when I left to return to church and finish tasks left off earlier in the day.

I was tired when I got home at tea time, but fortunately not chilled by the harsh wind. I perked up when Clare reminded me that we were due to be at the Millennium Centre for Puccini's 'Tosca' after an early supper. It's my favourite melodrama, and this time we arrived in good time to see all three acts. Last time it was on, we forgot we'd booked until half way through supper. We dashed down and caught the second and third act. It was basically the same production, different singers, so this time we got the full picture.

The end of the first act comes with the announcement of Bonaparte's victory over the Italians at Marengo, leading to a re-instatement of the old regime. There's a procession and Te Deum in the church of San Andrea in Valle, where the unfolding drama of the first act is set. In other productions, it's a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, with prelates in attendance. In this version, a papal procession was depicted - surely an error, as the church in question is well outside the Vatican walls, and not the sort of place a pope would appear in public within minutes of the death knell of a regime unsympathetic to the pope being announced. Annoying details - must check!

It took us half an hour to do a ten minute journey home, as the late rugby match crowds were hitting the road roughly the same time as we were crossing the city centre. Wales lost it seems.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Discarded memories

The builders have now started work preparing for the installation of our new kitchen in the house in Meadow Street which will be our home in retirement. As Tredegarville School has an INSET day there was no 'God on Mondays' this week. Tuesday we went up to Worcester to have lunch with old friends Mike and Gail, for a pleasant few hours escape from the mess and the decisions.

Having moved Owain into his tidy new abode, it's time to shuttle car loads of redundant stuff accumulated over the past eighteen years of house ownership to the nearest city dump. Carpets, an old filing cabinet, redundant ancient electrical bits and pieces. It's also been time to go through the remaining crates of old files, with some dating back forty and fifty years. Deciding what to keep and what to discard as part of downsizing is still hard. One gets glimpses of long disregarded memories, awakened by finding a batch of correspondence or an old magazine. How nice it would have been to go through everything, maybe digitize some material for future reference.

The reason for keeping so much was that one day I might write a memoir of church life from my experience during the period of my ministry. That was before I had the guts to scrutinise my own decision, asking: Who'd want to read it anyway? I've been in public ministry during interesting times and been fortunate to have such rich and varied experiences, but for the most part I've been a spectator in significant times rather than a participant. The privilege has been to preach the Gospel in this amazing era, and take the world to God in prayer. For this I am most grateful.

Tuesday night, there was a mountain of green recycling bags in between the bins, ready for collection, heavy with paper, half a dozen of them, taking away the fine print detail of a work life that acquired many documents and records for one purpose or another (not to mention teaching notes and sermons). These have been rarely consulted even for sentimental purposes down the years, perhaps because I tend to live too much in the present. All those papers represent an opportunity to re-insert myself into my past. Sometimes the past revisits me of its own accord, and that seems sufficient now that I am resigned to relying solely on stories capable of decent recollection. Anyway, the future is more interesting, and thankfully un-documented.

At the end of Monday afternoon I drove out to St Mellons with birth and marriage certificates to be verified by the staff member of Quantum Advisory, an agency which manages the Church in Wales Pension scheme on behalf of the Representative Body. In the post over the weekend came a similar verification request from the Church of England Pensions Board, with several forms to fill in, including one very strange one relating to tax allowance on pensions over the estimated lifetime of the pensioner. The entitlement is £1.75 million. If I live until I'm ninety, I may get to receive about a fifth of that sum in total. I wonder how many church pensioners with more lucrative careers behind them get anywhere near exhausting their entitlement?

Finally Wednesday evening, I completed the last of the podcasts. It's been my late evening project this past week, in between attacks on the crates of paper files. Internet files don't take up much space at home, that's for sure. There was a news item about recording inactive websites for posterity, such as those used by politicians who go out of office, or as campaign platforms - and all those news pages in their various edits as well, I guess. They may be out there, disused on a server, but over time because of growth of internet content and traffic, they become harder to access, to the point where it takes so long they've effectively disappeared and are lost. Concern is rising that a great deal of information about the Age of Information is more ephemeral than we imagine, and won't outlast us, as the paper records of the past half millennium have done. But like my old files on their way to recycling - material of any importance would have found more use than it actually did. So what's with this compulsion we have to hoard useless stuff?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The alternative to bi-location

After the morning services and lunch, I had the two junior confirmation candidates for an hour's session before we went together to St Margaret's for a rehearsal. There will be twentyone candidates from Roath and three from St John's. I really enjoyed sitting and listening to the Vicar Fr Stuart Lisk taking the candidates gently through the choreography of the occasion, nice not to have to think about it, but just soak in the atmosphere, reflectively, prayerfully.

Then, it was back to St John's for Compline and the first Lent Talk. I've been puzzling for a past week about what to do next Sunday night, when I have to be present for the Confirmation at the same time as Compline, and so will not be able to deliver it in person. Should I rig the church public address system to relay the podcast? Or get someone to read it for me? Then, it occurred to me to ask Pauline, who enjoys the spoken word as much as she enjoys singing. I was delighted that she graciously accepted the challenge - I hope the sentences I've strung together make sense for her as they do for me. Sometimes I have to re-read my own stuff several times to get the rhythm and punctuation correct. I hope it'll be an experience everyone enjoys.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Podcast time again

An overnight trip for us to Kenilworth this afternoon, to celebrate Rhiannon's sixth birthday. She has a family celebration tomorrow, then all her little school friends on Sunday afternoon. Having not seen her since Christmas, the changes in her over a couple of months are more obvious. Schooling agrees with her, and she produced a lovely welcome card for us, with carefully executed designs, showing dexterity and powers of concentration.

Anthony was fresh back from a London trade show where he'd been promoting his soundtrack music business, talking about the problems he'd been having with his re-vamped, stylish website. Although definitely more user friendly, its very size now means that consistency checking every one of several hundred links is a long laborious process. Been there, done that, I thought, now I'm recording and uploading new podcasts of my Lent Talks for this year, trying to get them all done uploaded to the web server and scheduled to display a new one for public download each week of Lent. The number of errors I can make in executing such a modest routine task is utterly bothersome. I should have learned to touchtype decades ago. By the way, the podcast link is here

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday outing

I met up with my two junior confirmation candidates for an hour in church before the midday Eucharist and Liturgy of penitence, and gave them an introduction to the traditional vocabulary of church architecture and liturgy. Real familiarisation with 'church' language takes a long time, but it has to begin somewhere, and should begin with confirmation if not before.

A journalism student came in and filmed the church before and during the service, to which I had consented by email, but was so busy with the kids I had not found time to welcome him and tell him what he could and couldn't do. As a result, he partially blocked the entrance to the chancel where the service was held, in the usual unselfconscious way that possesses people when they get behind a camera lens. But we survived without incident. In fact, he left after the Gospel, giving him plenty of film footage with which to convey a misleading impression of what really happens in the Ash Wednesday Liturgy. I was pleased that the chancel was full, however, with two dozen people present and twenty communicants.

Our outing then moved in somewhat rainy conditions to St Fagans Musem to see the completed St Teilo's church, transplanted from Pontarddulais. All its walls are now covered with frescos in the fifteenth century rustic manner - together with a reconstructed highly decorative rood screen, it's a brilliant exercise in creative restoration work. And, the paintings were done by Fleur Kelly, whom we've invited to work on paintings to enhance our font cover. The response of the children to all the decorative art was revelatory. I was astonished at how well versed they were in the wide range of biblical stories represented on the walls, a sign of not only good schooling, but Norma Thomas's influence on them in Sunday school for most of their lives. There were obscure images and symbols that needed decoding, but we had fun guessing who was who of the twelve apostles depicted on the rood screen. On such a damp day we benefited from the geothermal heating installed in the church too.

Last call was Llandaff Cathedral, already familiar to Matthew who is a Bishop of Llandaff High School Boy, but not to Bethan who is in top Juniors. It was a pleasure to have him introducing her to his favourite parts of the building. All in all we covered as much ground in our five hours together as we would have in three classes. In all of the preparation it's a matter of opening the door to an experience that will encourage further curiosity, as they grow up in the community of faith. That's as much as can be hoped for. What thrilled me was to see what a marvellous aid to catechism the ancient popular western iconographic tradition may have been in a society that had proportionally fewer literate people, and relied more on oral memory and visual cues. Far better than flash powerpoint presentations any day.

The rain continued in the evening, and there were only half the number at the Eucharist than had been present at lunchtime. Alex and Huw came. She's decided definitely 'yes' for confirmation, and her parents and coming down for the occasion. Brilliant.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

House moving

Half of Monday, plus Tuesday evening I spent ferrying car loads of Owain's belongings from our Meadow Street abode to his new shared house off City Road. Over a ton of vinyl records, at my estimate, plus his recording equipment. The house has to be cleared so that the builders can work on installing the new kitchen and sanding the floors we want to restore. There's lots of junk to clear out as well.

Amanda and James came over from Bristol to spend a couple of nights with us. It's nice having such a well mannered and polite teenager in the house, who is curious about many things. He and I went out for walks in Bute Park and across the barrage, while Clare and Amanda started to do some sorting of the remainder of stuff left by Owain, for chucking out or re-cycling via the charity shops.

In between times I had a go at recording the first of my Lent Talks to turn into a podcast. The equipment worked fine, but feeling a bit under pressure, keen to get something done before Ash Wednesday, ready for the weekend, I made hard going of simply delivering the text coherently into a microphone. This means it takes that much longer to edit. Well, I guess it's a year since I did the last lot, and I'm out of practice. It gets easier once there's one complete.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Transfigured

Tom and Marilyn came to the eight o'clock this morning before heading off after breakfast to visit their daughter in Porthcawl for lunch, so there were eight of us - a rarity these days.

At the Sung Eucharist, Andrew preached, managing to get St Valentine in, as well as addressing the Transfiguration theme in a useful way. Afterwards I chatted with a young couple preparing to wed during the summer. They've moved in locally and started attending church chez nous a couple of months ago. Huw comes from Crickhowell and remembers my contemporary Brian Bessant who was Vicar there for two periods either side of a spell in Cyprus back when he was young. Alex his fiancée is wondering about confirmation, so I made her an offer, to be our third parish candidate for 28th February. Having attended a convent school she has the kind of background which means she isn't coming to this from scratch. I don't think it will be too difficult to bring her forward confident that this is her right time and occasion. To see it as preparation for getting married is something special.

There's a lot of good things happening just now, despite the sadness of losing Margaret. This week another step towards re-paving the south churchyard entrance path was made with the arrival of an estimate for the work. It could be done before Easter, though not before the Lord Mayor's annual St David's day service. That's one job I will be glad to have closure on before I retire.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A sad shock

I was awakened at ten past seven this morning with the news of the sudden death of Margaret Kemp, St John's most recent nongenarian and Tea Room doyenne, whose birthday celebration was only a week last Saturday. She'd had the cast taken off her mended broken foot last Monday, and the long experience of waiting around in the hospital had left her feeling less buoyant than when she went in.

Yesterday, Pauline who'd visited her in the week said she was still looking unwell. Marion rang to tell me how she'd gone into hospital yesterday afternoon when she was admitted to E&R, and she'd been suffering back pain. They'd stayed together until nine, and left Margaret resting, but the hospital had rung to say she'd died earlier on. She was a youthful and vigorous ninety year old. It's going to be a terrible shock to everyone who knows her, as she was pretty fit and in good health, apart from having broken those bones in her foot.

Tom and Marilyn arrived just after lunch to accompany us to the opera tonight - Mozart's 'Seragio'. Having spent time in the morning phoning around the sad news, then making booklets of this year's Lent Talks, I was glad of the respite. I saw the opera many years ago, I didn't remember the music, so it was refreshing and delightful. It was Tom's first ever opera. I think he was smitten.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sack cloth fun

I stood in for Father Roy Doxsey at the 'class mass' and school assembly this morning, in order to allow him to get away for a few days respite. I improvised a brief introduction to the practice of Ash Wednesday, which will be next week during half term, using a green re-cycling sack, as a way into talking about 'sackcloth and ashes'. The sack, was draped over the shoulders to represent us feeling rubbish about ourselves. The bag wasn't big enough to climb into. Over the head in any way shape or form was absolutely out. It seemed to keep their attention and raise some smiles of recognition from the teachers. I enjoyed doing something I hadn't done before.

Half term will present both problems in taking two Saturday afternoons for Confirmation classes, when families may need to be getting away together, but also opportunities, if it's possible to find free time for a longer weekday seesion. Let's hope so anyway, as this weekend we have guests for the opera, and next week is Rhiannon's sixth birthday, and I'm the one that would like to be away. However, it looks as if the same is true for the others involved as well. We're working on a day that starts in church with a sanctuary and sacristy tour (laced with some history), followed by an outing to St Fagans and Llandaff Cathedral. Let's hope the weather is merciful.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Owain took a couple of days off work to recover from his business trip to Seville. Today, the second of them he devoted to moving his vinyl album collection into his new abode, and I took the afternoon and evening to ferry crates (newly liberated from my on archives) of records for him. He reckons that he has over eight thousand. We must have shifted the best part of 1500 kilos of vinyl across town - and there's more to go, plus his deejay equipment. When his move is all complete, we'll have the house empty for the builders to work on, and our own move to get ready for.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Unloading the past?

Today I made myself go up into the loft and tackle the half dozen or more crates of archived documents spanning more than half my life in ministry. Time to sort them out and thin them down to what I'll be able to store in my new half sized study. This was not an easy task, as so much of the material I came across evoked memories as strong as any set of photographs I have processed of late. Old documents publications and letters with a few exceptions had to go. The occasional travel journals and spiritual diaries continue to be hoarded, for quiet future review.

I admit to being a hoarder, but then I used to think that one day I might need all that stuff to write my memoirs. Then I got to the stage of thinking - who would be interested in anything had to say about the last forty years of clerical life? Then last year, I spent a couple of quiet days writing a 'spiritual' autobiography, in an effort to trace some of the key influences that have shaped my life and ministry. It was an act of gratitude more than anything else, not the stuff of an ecclesiastical best seller.

Yet, funnily enough, I always wanted to be a writer and to publish books. The one book I have written received sympathetic attention from a religious publisher who declared that there was no longer a market for the subject. It's only one person's opinion, but it made me think why waste time courting book publishers? Eventually I put a download link to the book files from this blog. A few people have found it there say they have read it. That'll have to do.

Together with a huge load of ancient school governor material and outdated City Council publications, I had a full car load to take for re-cycling. It's more than a year since my last throw out of old material. The fact that old documents arouse memories makes me wonder, does throwing them away mean that recollection will be that much harder? Is this where old age memory loss starts? I put it like that because those materials - papers, pamphlets, pictures, minutes, letters, newsprint, OHP slides, diagrams, teaching notes are more than just raw data. Feelings are attached to them. These are part of the memory, and can be the key to unlocking other buried memories - like the Proustian madeleine biscuit.

There were twenty at 'God on Monday' this afternoon. Next week it's half term. The following Monday is an INSET days, the Monday after that is St David's day and the beginning of the school OFSTED inspection. Then we re-start, and after four Lenten sessions, it'll be the end of term and Holy Week, and for me, the end of 'God on Mondays', a much valued occasion of my ministry in the school over the past four years. It'll end in its present form with my departure. Who knows what new creative impulse my successor will contribute to the school?

Times have changed and a fresh approach is needed. The school is a busier place these days, and I wonder if this means that associated informal worship activity hasn't been crowded out of the mainstream priorities in its life. It's changed beyond recognition since the closure of St James'. No doubt it will change again, with a fresh mind and pastoral heart applied to the situation. There's no shortage of good will, on the part of parents and staff, that's for sure. All things are possible.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I noticed a couple of days ago that somebody has started a Facebook group to recruit a million members before the end of June (and the Pope's visit) to declare their belief in Evolution. I guess this is part of the annoying 'social' fall out of the Pope criticising UK Equalities legislation on the grounds that it was contrary to Natural Law - well his version of it. There are, after all, different schools and theories of Natural Law - protestant, catholic, muslim, humanistic, etc.

As the lectionary theme for Sexagesima is 'Creation', I thought I'd have a go at talking about what belief in a divine Creator means, and raise the question of whether the notion of 'belief' in Evolution was a false contrast of categories. Belief in a divine creator is sui generis. Evolution is an observable process within the cosmic order, like gravity or entropy. These are contingent facts of existence, rather than the necessary fact of existence, and consideration of the source of being itself, if I recall the things we struggled to grasp in undergraduate philosophy classes. Some of that stuff is still unravelling itself to me forty five years later. I'm a slow learner in some things. It makes a change from harping on about the environment, as I often do on this Sunday and Harvest festival.

Keeping such things brief and simple is always the real challenge in preaching, and I am rarely certain I get it right. However today I had a small reward. I was thanked for my efforts by a post graduate pharmacologist, recently arrived and settling in. She too gets fed up with the popular presumption that scientific thinking and discipline compels rejection of faith in God, and was pleased to hear this expressed publicly.

I had intended to go out visiting after lunch, but found myself overtaken by tiredness., and dozed for much of the afternoon. Working more than a week without a break is something I find I'm less capable of these days, even though everything I do is more relaxed. There's no let up, with Lent and Easter to prepare for as well as the confirmations and a couple of baptisms - not to mention preparations to move house. If possible I'd like to face Lent fully prepared this year, and enjoy it, and not be under last minute pressure, as I often have been in the past.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I had to put on my thinking cap this morning. I've been asked to give a talk about climate change and the churches for an ecumenical Lent group in Ely. I know which direction I want to take the talk, but the challenge is concentrating the key information without it becoming too technical and abstract (and no Powerpoint presentation to hide behind either), in order to be able to raise the questions that are relevant.

Plans are now in place for an meeting on Climate Change and Faith Communities, sponsored by the United Nations Association on 26th March at the Friends Meeting House. I've been asked to chair this, which is a lot easier, unless you're not very comfortable controlling an open meeting - a very different skill from presiding over the liturgy.

I met again with the two Confirmation candidates at tea time, going through the PACTS basic guide to prayer, but also pre-empting some introductory work on how to read the bible. This was because Bethan has sent me a Powerpoint presentation in the week which expounded the awesomeness of the Bible (Revised King James Version), by showing a number of trivial statistics about the number of chapters, pointing to God being in the middle of it all. It was packaged with nice nature images and a chain letter style invitation to proflerate its content.

It was very American in its piety, also very misleading, as if RKJV wasn't one of many editions and translations of scripture into different languages, ignoring the Deuterocanonical books, as Protestant fundamentalism does to its own discredit. So, in acknowledging her contribution, I had to give a preliminary introduction to the idea that the Bible is a portable library of very different books, with a lot more to it than meets the eye. It's not easy for 11-12 year olds to grapple with, when there is so much casual literalism amongst adults as well as children.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Interesting times ahead

After the lunchtime Eucharist today, I went to a meeting in the Castle of the Transport, Public Realm and Wayfinding Focus Group. The Countdown 2009 process ended with the re-launch of St David's shopping centre, but is being brought back to life with 2020 as its focus. The meeting began with a presentation giving an overview of the continuing process of redeveloping part of the city centre and Bay areas that is envisaged to take place in the coming decade.

It's rather more than a sketch on the back of an envelope, but the complex and detailed planning and design process has to start by surveying the possibilities, and proposing some ideas that can form the backbone of a briefing for architects and infrastructure planners to work with. Various Focus Groups will be retained and asked to address themselves to giving feedback at an early stage throughout the decade as plans and proposals emerge. There are all sorts of organisations and people outside local and national government administration whose activities will be affected by changes to infrastructure, amenities and services contemplated by future developments. Getting them all to participate at an early stage rather than bringing them in late in the day, only to point out unforeseen snags nobody else had thought of, is a good idea. Something positive has been learned from the Countdown 2009 programme, even though it was a mixed success.

The area both sides of Central Station is one of the main targets for major building projects. By the time High Street and St Mary Street makeovers are complete, a new bus terminal on Wood Street may well be emerging, if plans now being formulated obtain the necessary approvals. The site of Marland House and its neighbouring car park is due for redevelopment. There is land on the south side of the station ripe for redevelopment, and a need for much closer integration of train and bus services, not to mention taxis. The central section of Callaghan Square (referred to disparagingly as "currently a skatepark") is also an area targetted for redevelopment, to make better use of the space, and improve traffic flows.

It was almost the end of the meeting before I managed to raise a discussion about the lack of use of the 'Free B' shuttle bus, although the most recent publicity flyer about it was spread in abundance around the conference table. A bemused and knowing smile spead around the table at the mention, as well it might, given that none of the transport professionals sitting around the table had been involved in setting up the service. The simple answer given to the question of why it wasn't being used was - "Nobody knows where it's going." It's one thing to look at a flyer containing a map of the shuttle service, but users want to know things like : Does it go to the Museum? Does it go past the Hilton or the Angel Hotels? Does it link with the Park & Ride buses? Nobody has yet considered programming the front and rear display panels with a stream of key destinations around the route of the shuttle. But then, the people who dreamed it up and bid for the funds, somewhere else in County Hall, didn't think to seek the advice of people who earn their livings from public transport.

It's all about missed opportunities in communication - indeed, we spent another five minutes debating how this might be remedied, when existing communications strategies don't seem to work as well as they need to for the city's success. Throughout the redevelopment, after a slow start, Land Securities and City Centre Management public relations teams worked energetically to retain public interest in what was happening, and persuade shoppers to stay loyal. The interest shown in launch week and run up to Christmas was a vindication of all their efforts. The Council's communications, team on the other hand, struggled throughout to establish any substantial role in engaging with and informing the public. It indicates the world of difference in between people doing the same job in local government and those driven by the demands of commercial enterprise. Let's not even begin to think about what really drives church efforts to put its message across!

Altogether an interesting meeting for once.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Education for life

I had a funeral to take this afternoon, for a former Chancellor of the Order of St John in Wales, Donald McDougall. I was asked to do this as one of the Headquarters Chaplains. The former Prior, Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards gave the tribute for one of his old colleagues, and it certainly gave me pause to ponder. Donald had left school at sixteen and joined the Post Office, rising through his career to a very senior national position within the organisation - trained on the job at every level, and then by developing the job itself in a position of leadership and responsibility in the sixties and seventies. Could that happen today? I wondered.

We have so many highly qualified and well trained people running the organisation today, but it seems to teeter in the direction of ruin. The staff aren't happy, although most are as devoted and loyal as ever. The finances aren't good, and the bosses seem to be at odds with the organisation they run. Perhaps because all they know is what they've imbibed thoeretically in management school and experimented with in a succession of businesses. There's a lot to be said for the old style of professional formation by apprenticeship and mentoring for leadership, coupled with loyalty to the same organisation and its people. Education for life by life itself where there's a relationship between work and community - something that sadly being lost in this era of high mobility. and excessive ambition. More's the pity.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bus stop saga - at last a map!

A meeting for Paul Hocking and myself this afternoon down the Bay at the offices of HANR, to discuss next steps for developing the Street Carers training programme. We came away with dates for basic training sessions and a couple of advance sessions that will see us through the rest of this year. It was good to hear that the Council's emergency cold weather provision for street people had worked to the satisfaction of those in charge.

I had an email from the Disability Access Focus group team requesting feedback on two current bus transport information publications. Finally, six months after the fateful re-location of all the bus stops entering and leaving the city centre, and three months after seeing the proposed format for a map locating bus stops using a destination index, the map itself is being published, and at the same time comment on its usability sought from disabled passengers and other interested parties. Having struggled to read existing bus stop information while standing at a distance in a shelter with people in it, it struck me that this cannot be easy from the vantage point of wheelchair users, and that the print size on the posters needed to be large. But with a good fifty or so places in the destination index, it would mean a huge poster for genuine readability. We'll see what the producers come up with.

A bundle of pocket bus stop maps arrived in church for general distibution today, plus some revised posters for the free circular shuttle bus, which continues to rattle around empty in its twenty minute orbit around the centre. What a waste of resources, and of a good idea, poorly delivered, with little though to the real needs of bus users whose new departure points had been re-located with information sufficient only to baffle and confuse.