Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 17/06/2018

It's Sunday so it's time for the Tweets of the week. Don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy.

There's a bit of a theme this week, can you spot it?

1. No comment needed


2. No comment needed again!


3. What can I possibly say about this one?


4. No comment needed here also.


5. No comment needed here either


6. We like to keep you updated with forthcoming events of interest, so maybe a comment here is sort of needed!


7. A picture is worth a 1,000 words!


8.  We really should mark these events


9. This is why we need strict planning laws!


10. Pleased to welcome some great young people to Mill Hill this week!



That's all folks!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The destruction of the National Institute for Medical research and the risks we need to consider

This week, we've been filming a video for our band around and about in the London Borough of Barnet. One of the locations we've chosen has been the former site of the National Institute for Medical Research. As I was editing up the video, I used some of the out takes and spare footage to put together a very short little video commemorating the sad demise of a well known landmark. I hope you enjoy it.


I happened to be up at Finchley Nurseries this morning and showed the video to Mr Laurence Bard who runs Pond Life, the onsite aquatic centre. Mr Bard told me that the demoliotion is a serious matter, he forwarded me several rather disturbing emails, that seem to suggest that a building that housed dangerous pathogens and radioactive Isotopes may not be a completely safe site.

Here is the text of an email sent by a safety officer working in Environmental Health at Barnet Council to Mr Bard

Mr Bard,
 
Thank you for your email.
I have every sympathy with you and your businesses situation. I would just like to clarify the LA  was not informed about the SBS exercise in late March. Unfortunately  there is not any enforcement activity I can take retrospectively that can recompense you for the damage to your business. You can consider private action against the Developer demolition company and the MOD.
 
 
Anna Cane has been asking the developers about their vibration monitoring and seen the results since the 18th May. The vibration levels are significantly  below the levels that cause damage to surrounding buildings, however there was one event that vibration levels were just above the British Standard  for nuisance.In my experience vibration can be experienced well below the British standard levels which understandably leads to complaints by residents, but LA have limited enforcement powers if this is the case. The vast majority of hazardous materials have been removed prior to demolition. Further to my recent email, during the drier weather an Officer visited on the 1st June and saw the 2 dust busters in operation, and water sprays from the JCB pecker see first 3 photos above. The road condition was good and largely free from dust. The weather was hot and sunny over the weekend so an officer visited yesterday morning and noticed there was good spraying on site and watering from a bowser, however there was a dust problems on the road as there was some mud turned into dusty earth near the access where lorries wheels were trundling through causing dust on the road.  The jet wash facility was being used but  not satisfactory as the lorries were going over dusty ground after their wheels were washed. See 4th photo attached.The 5th photo shows the dust suppression yesterday. The officer spoke to the site manager on site to rectify this and it was agreed there will be a dedicated wheel wash facility  installed in a couple of weeks when the access to the site changes. In the meantime the developer will be told to sweep the roads more than twice a day with their road sweeper and use the Jet wash closer to the exit to clean wheels if practicable. I understand your concerns about the dust levels when the site is closed on Sundays on Sundays, to be fair to the developers it is rare on any site when it is closed to be watered down and I note your concerns with effectiveness of the water suppression out of hours- we will ask the developer to use coagulants in the dust suppressors if it’s hot ,windy or prior to when the site closes as this takes 4 times longer than water to dry out.  Anna Cane visited the site in the afternoon and took more pictures of the site which show on site there was not a lot of dust from the demolition area but there was still dust on the roads from the materials being removed from lorries dusty wheels. we will monitor this for nuisance. The case law for statutory nuisance states that clouds of dust from sites have to visibly affect the habitable part of premises to be a formal nuisance, unfortunately dust on the road or cars is in itself does not constitute a nuisance. From the 3 recent visits officers did not witness dust clouds affecting habitable parts of neighbouring premises to have the power to take formal action. However Environmental Health completely understand residents’ concerns about dust and will continue to monitor site activities. Anna Cane has written to the site with our above concerns regarding the dust from lorries leaving the site, and has asked for the  records of the vibration monitoring prior to the 18th May, however the incident at the end of March was prior to the main demolition and monitoring may not have occurred.Please contact the case officer if you have further concerns.

Kind regardsRalph Haynes Group Manager Consultancy and Scientific Services, Environmental HealthDepartment of Development and Regulatory ServicesLondon Borough of Barnet, Barnet House, 1255 High Road Whetstone, N20 0EJTel: 020 8359 7448 Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk 

I worked at the Medical Research in the late 1970's. Among the diseases being studied at the time was "Green Monkey Fever" which is one of the most deadly pathogens on the planet. The protocol for entering and leaving labs where these pathogens were present were enormously stringent.

 When Mr Haynes says "The vast majority of hazardous materials have been removed prior to demolition" what exactly does he mean. Combined with the fact that dust is being spread out all over Mill Hill and their is a primary school within 100 yards of the site, I cannot understate my concerns.

In short, there is a potential for risk. Mr Haynes and Barnet Council need to urgently explain what hazardous materials remain and reassure residents that there is zero chance of any of these posing a risk to residents.

Mr Bard is extremely upset that there seems to be a less than serious regime of safety at the site and he is not at all reassurred by what he has seen.

If you look carefully at the above video, you will see that the "dust suppression spray rises no more than three floors high, which means that dust from the upper floors can be blown far and wide around Mill Hill.

I have seen many buildings in Central London which have been demolished, due to issues with Asbestos. For these buildings, the whole building is wrapped in a polythene cladding to ensure no dust escapes. I am not an expert in such matters, but I think it is only fair to ask whether this would be appropriate for a building such as the NIMR.

Friday, 15 June 2018

The Friday Joke - 15/06/2018 - Some Spiritual Advice!

Image result for rabbi jokes
 
A man goes to see the Rabbi. "Rabbi, something terrible is happening and I have to talk to you about it." 
The Rabbi asked, "What's wrong?" 
The man replied, "My wife is poisoning me." 
The Rabbi, very surprised by this, asks, "How can that be?" 
The man then pleads, "I'm telling you, I'm certain she's poisoning me. 
What should I do?" 
The Rabbi then offers, "Tell you what. Let me talk to her. I'll see what I can find out and I'll let you know." 
A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says. "I spoke to your wife...spoke to her on the phone for three hours. You want my advice?" 
The man said yes, and the Rabbi replied, "Take the poison!" 

-----
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

We remember Grenfell Tower

Today is the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. Today is a day to remember, to show solidarity with the families and friends of the victims and to mourn.

We all have our own ways of mourning.  Today there are marches all around the country to show solidarity - click the link below for details of ones near you.

One Year On: Solidarity Marches Nationwide – Justice4Grenfell





Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Wednesday Poem #47 - Grenfell Remembered

Last night, I had a dream.

I was on the stairs, engulfed in smoke,
I was scared confused and starting to choke,
Which way is up, which way is down?,
I only want to reach the ground.

Last night, I woke in a sweat.

I thought about what I'd just seen, 
I thanked the Lord it was just a dream,
What was the Good Lord telling me?
Justice for Grenfell, Solidarity!

Copyright 2018 Roger Tichborne

Image result for Solidarity with Grenfell
 
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the tragic disaster that was the Grenfell Tower fire. There is nothing I can do, except offer my thoughts and prayers for all of those who perished in the terrible fire.

I had a terrible dream, maybe because I was reading about it before I fell asleep. Maybe because the Good Lord wanted to just remind me of the terror those endured. It is clear that the residents were criminally failed. I have two hopes for the inquiry, the first is that this tragedy results in new laws that ensure this can never happen again. The second is that those who have lost people, those that are still suffering and those that have been scarred get justice and those responsible are held to account properly, sending a message to those who may make such terrible decisions in future.

After a string of disasters on our railways, Ralitrack was abolished and a new safety regime was brought in. We've now had ten years of no fatal accidents on the UK's railways. Safety is not a nice to have, it should be a first principle. Putting hundreds of people in a tall building and then covering it with highly flammable material is so self evidently dangerous that I do not see why there have not already been arrests and charges.

We all have our own beliefs. We all have our own ways of mourning.  Tomorrow there are marches all around the country -

One Year On: Solidarity Marches Nationwide – Justice4Grenfell


Please join one if you can. I have felt very disturbed all day. The poem printed above appeared in my head fully formed this morning, I take no credit for writing it, I hope that whoever put it there has found some peace. If I knew who it was I'd give them the credit. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The funding crisis at Barnet Council - How can the council plunge into crisis in six weeks?

At a meeting of the Barnet Council policy and resources committee last night, we heard how Barnet Council has been engulfed in a massive funding crisis and is facing a huge budget deficit. We heard how the Tories, having promised "lower taxes than Labour" are now planning to impose the maximum council tax rises they are allowed to. We heard a presentation from Barnet blogger John Dix, AKA Mr Reasonable explaining just how hard the crisis is going to hit our pockets and why the financial controls in Barnet cannot be working if this was not flagged up earlier.

John wrote a brilliant blog explaining in detail the crisis. I suggest you click here to read what John had to say.

The following paragraph in reports give some clue as to the scale of the crisis.
1.1.3 The council’s outturn position for 2017/18 reported a significant overspend of £7.9m. This outturn is stated after the net drawdown from specific and general
earmarked reserves totalling £5.6m. The gross overspend for the council before the use of reserves was therefore £13.5m. This overspend is also in addition to
the planned use of reserves for 2017/18 of £7.7m. Overall, the total call on revenue reserves and balances for 2017/18 has been £21.2m
1.1.4 Given the scale of the 2017/18 overspend and the challenges of delivering
some of the previously approved savings, the council now believes it has financial pressures which cannot be easily mitigated during 2018/19. Urgent action is already underway to resolve these in-year budget pressures, however the sum still requiring mitigation is £9.5m.

This diagram shows the huge deficit facing the council, which was not mentioned less than a month ago before the election


John asked these questions at last nights committee meeting

1. The MTFS indicates a budget gap for this year of £9.45 million and a gap next year of £19.27 million yet at this committee in February there was no forecast gap for this year and a gap of £6 million next year. What has happened in 4 months to have made such a huge difference to the budget shortfalls
2. At the end of Q 3 2017/18 the forecast outturn was a shortfall of £6.6 million yet by year end the shortfall had risen to £13.5 million. Did something dramatic happen in Q4 or is this a problem of poor/out of date financial reporting and if so who is to blame?

3. At 1.5.4 it proposes a new corporate plan for April 2019 reflecting the Conservative manifesto including keeping council tax low. Given that in the final year of this administration the budget shortfall is forecast at £42 million do you think keeping council tax low is prudent or denial of the financial reality 4. If the high level calculations for 2023/24 prove to be correct in forecasting a £62 million budget shortfall, who should I hold accountable for this financial apocalypse?5. By reallocating the NHB to support the revenue position it will cost an additional £1.3m per annum in capital financing. Is this simply storing up problems for later year

6. If the current S151 Officer believes that we should have a reserve of £15.1 million why did the previous S151 Officer allow it to fall to £9.6 million at the start of the last financial year. 

7. If this committee had been made aware of the seriousness of the financial situation in February do you think they would have still voted to freeze council tax (excluding the social care precept) for this financial year

8. These budget shortfalls do not include the impact of the additional cost of borrowing to complete the Brent Cross Thameslink station. When that is factored in what is overall forecast budget shortfall for 2019/20 and 2020/21

9. Who was responsible for making you aware of the additional borrowing requirement for the Brent Cross Thameslink station and why didn’t they do it sooner?

10. At 1.5.14 you identify managing demand as a way to reduce the budget gap. Given that you have been saying that for at least the last 6 years  since you published the graph of doom and that it is a policy that has repeated failed to deliver, do think you need to change the people who keep recycling this approach. 

11.The report talks about radical options for the future of local services but fails to mention any engagement with local residents at the early stages of this process to help develop these options. Please will you confirm that you will publish a resident engagement/involvement plan before the process commences.

12. Given the foregoing issues raised under agenda item 7  and the need to cut capital borrowing why is the council  considering making a 30 year loan to Saracens to enable the construction of a new West Stand at Allianz Park?

13. Given that Capita are responsible for the finance function in the Council  why is Barnet paying for Grant Thornton support following a review of financial procedures and practices

14. Before confirming a spend of up to £500,000 what are the specific objectives of this exercise and how will you measure whether their input has met those objectives?

You can see the councils rather unsatisfactory responses here. Perhaps the most unsatisfactory is to Q7.
The increase in 2017/18 overspend and associated carried forward pressure is new information since February, but the scale of the future challenge for the Council has been well known for a number of years.
In a supplementary question, John Dix asked Richard Cornelius when the council actually knew about the shortfall. He said "Early May, Purdah was unusually strict before this election" (make of that what you will).
John took questions from Councillors about his presentation. Interestingly, only Labour councillors bothered to ask John anything. The most interesting question was from Councillor Ross Houston.





After the meeting, a local resident I hadn't met before was asked to give her opinions of what she'd heard. Here is her response. It rather sums it up.





Perhaps the most interesting outcome of the meeting was the response of Richard Cornelius to a suggestion by Barry Rawlings that financial management be brought back in house, rather than be managed by Capita. Richard agreed that a paper be brought forward to examine this. Could it be that an outbreak of common sense has occurred at Barnet Council and we have just passed the high tide mark for the frenzy of outsourcing?

Whatever happens, it is clear that Barnet residents will have to pick up the tab. That means you and me will be paying through the nose for misamanagement and cock ups. Not a pleasant thought. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Barnet Council and the big bin porkie pie story

Spot the Council Porkie!
Sit down children, I'm going to tell you a fairy story.....

Actually I won't bother, I will just point you in the direction of this highly misleading press release on the Barnet Council website, regarding bin collections. It is rather embarrassingly entitled
I've added my comments in Red Italics just so you can get a flavour of why this is so misleading 


Barnet Council’s Environment Committee last night (Tuesday, 5 June 2018) agreed a range of proposals to improve the efficiency of recycling and waste collections. (Barnet Eye - It must be noted that this committee has a Conservative majority, who simply used their numbers to bludgeon the changes through. The committee did not agree. It was split on Party lines) 

The changes are aimed at ensuring services are run in the most efficient, effective and economical way possible. Committee members agreed proposals, including the reorganisation of recycling and refuse rounds to improve efficiency. This will allow Barnet Council to plan for future population growth in the borough, as well as enabling crews to be much more responsive to localised needs and issues. (Barnet Eye - It is interesting that there is no mention in the council papers, which are circulated to members to support their decision making, that they do not mention anything about being "more responsive to local needs and issues". Given the various changes made, it appears that there is actually far less scope for flexibility. The papers specifically state 'Double shifting – using a reduced vehicle fleet to carry out the same number of rounds with each/selected vehicles undertaking two collection rounds per day. This would involve some collections happening earlier and later than they currently do' The idea that anyone might believe that reducing the number of vehicles and introducing double shifting, will make the service more flexible, is quite frankly ridiculous). 

 Changes to the way food waste will be collected from residents’ homes was also agreed. Currently, the separately collected food waste is taken to an anaerobic digestion facility for energy generation. With only around 25 per cent of homes making use of separate weekly food waste collections (Barnet Eye - According to the papers that accompanied this meeting "Based on a survey undertaken in 2015 only 25-30% of residents participated on a weekly basis in this service" One has to assume that the Papers contained the most up to date information. This looks like a clear attempt to mislead the public, as it was an out of date survey and the press release clearly stated 25%, when the report say 25-30%. Many residents have reported issues with the collections, which have depressed collection rates and the council has put minimal efforts into trying to promote the service since the 2015 survey. ), residents will instead be asked to dispose of their food waste in their black waste bin. This waste will then be taken to an Energy from Waste facility, where it will be used as fuel for electricity generation. (Barnet Eye - Again this is a highly dishonest distortion of the truth. At the meeting the council announced that food waste is already being sent with black bin waste for burning and has been since December 2017. This is a clear attempt to mislead the people of Barnet. What this explain is that the current system uses green technology to compost the food, wheras the new system will simply see the food waste burned, producing CO2 and other greenhouse emissions. ) 

The additional collection cost of the separate weekly food waste service is £300,000 per year, for around 5,000 tonnes of food waste, equating to £60 for every tonne collected. Green garden waste collections will also undergo some changes. Services will be simplified with collections only taking place on weekdays. They will also be reconfigured to reflect the reduction in usage over the winter months, with a six-week suspension of services taking place each year. This schedule was trialled during last winter. Collection of Christmas trees will, however, be scheduled to take place throughout January. (Barnet Eye - The Barnet Conservatives made a manifesto committment to retain weekly bin collections. I have re-read the manifesto several times and there was no mention at all of a six week break in the service over the winter months. For many active gardeners, this is a time when gardens are cleared and maintenance work performed, as plants are dormant and are less likely to be damaged. It is highly disappointing that the Conservatives played so fast and loose with the truth in their manifesto. I trust Barnet residents will take note. These changes were clearly planned long before the election. It is worth noting that no one from the Barnet Tories mentioned in their manifesto that last years suspension was a trail for a permanent winter break). 

 Committee members also agreed for penalties for anyone caught littering or fly-tipping to be toughened up to act as a deterrent. Those caught littering will now face an increased fine of £100, while anyone caught fly-tipping, will be handed a fixed penalty notice of £400, as well as facing possible prosecution. (Barnet Eye - Fly tipping is a scourge. I would advocate zero tolerance with prosecution in all cases, seeking confiscation of cars and vans involved. Barnet has efficient recycling centres at places such as Summers Lane. Anyone too lazy to use these should be made an example of. I'd like to see them named and shamed and prevented from doing it again). 

 In total, the proposed changes agreed by the committee will save the taxpayer £790,000 and come into effect in September 2018. (Barneteye - Again this is misleading, as the Food Composting changes have already commenced, with brown bins being emptied into the general waster with black bins by the collection teams).

Chairman of the Environment Committee, Councillor Dean Cohen, said: “We know that refuse and recycling collections are of huge importance to residents in Barnet. That’s why we will continue to provide weekly waste collections. We are also looking at how we can continue to provide a high-quality service, in the most efficient way. (Barnet Eye - It is clear from this statement that bin collections are still under review. The Council has already passed a budget motion, in March 2018, prior to the election, saying that if efficiencies and savings were not met, the weekly bin collection would go. It seems to me simply to be a matter of time now. I predict the introduction of a two tier system, where Barnet residents who can afford to pay for a weekly bin collection can pay for it and less well off residents will get a more 'economical service'. I also expect it within two years, so that residents will be given time to forget that a manifesto promise was so blatently broken) 

“The proposals agreed will see more efficient weekly collection rounds, food waste incorporated into existing collection services, garden waste collections better tailored to suit demand, and stiffer penalties for anyone caught littering or fly-tipping in the borough.” (Barnet Eye - These changes are clearly the result of an administration in melt down, which simply cannot balance the books. To try and claim otherwise is simply outrageous spin. This press release is perhaps the most shameful and misleading council communication in the history of Barnet Council . The Barnet Conservatives should simply tell the truth. They have mismanaged Council finances and now the council is in a mess).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you want to see responsible recycling retained, there is a petition with the following text: 

"Barnet plan to scrap the dedicated food waste collection which currently goes to anaerobic digestion. Instead the food waste will either be burned or sent to landfill. The saving it will make is £2 per household per year or around 4p a week. This goes against the advice of the London assembly which says "We recommend that boroughs should endeavour to include separate food waste collections in their waste management regimes across all property types."

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Tweets of The Week in The London Borough of Barnet

Image result for The TWeets of the week
 
It's Sunday so it's that time of the week where we see what the Twits of Barnet have been up to.

This week, the sun has been out and all manner of weird and wonderful and some not so wonderful things have been happening. Here is our pick

1. We start with a very special anniversary for one of our favourite shops! We joined in the celebration yesterday and purchased a couple of fine bottles of wine.




2. This is something you may want to check out


3. Be careful, there are some scumbags out there. Don't use your mobile phone on exposed streets


4. This is something worth checking out. Delicious food and a chance to meet new friends


5. This is why you shouldn't drink and drive!


6. Last Sunday there was a bomb detonated in Colindale!


7. If you live in Cricklewood and have some spare time, read this!


8. Mill Hill's army of litter pickers was out and about yesterday


9. There was a massive war in Barnet yesterday. Luckily all of the participants were able to have a thirst quenching pint after


10. Any aspiring drummers out there?



Be sure to follow any Tweeters who tickle your fancy (or anything else).


Saturday, 9 June 2018

The Saturday List #177 - My Top Ten Thameslink Destinations from Mill Hill!

Image result for Thameslink Destinations
Thameslink Network
With all the criticisms of the appalling services provided by Govia on the Thameslink Route, it is sometimes difficult to remember what an amazing route it is and just how many excellent places are easily. As summer approaches, I thought I'd compile a list of my top ten destinations from Mill Hill on the Thameslink Service.

1. Brighton. On a glorious, sunny day such as today, you can hop on a train at Mill Hill and in less than a couple of hours be on the seafront at Brighton! Unless you leave at silly o clock in the morning, you have to change, but that gives you a chance to take in the amazing views from Blackfriars station. Top tips are the pier, the Pavilion, the Lanes and the whelks on the seafront. We usually stay at The Ship, although it can be a bit noisy outside on a Saturday night. There are also some great restaurants on the seafront.

2. St Albans. St Albans is another destination worthy of a visit. The Cathedral, the Roman Amphitheatre and the selection of fine pubs is worth the trip.  Ye Olde Fighting Cocks claims to be the oldest pub in England. There are numerous pubs and there is also a real ale festival. The Arena has some excellent shows, we are off to sea Joan Armatrading there later in the year.

3. St Pancras. What many consider to be the best station in the World. There are many things to enjoy, the architecture, the drinks, the restaurants. The whole Kings Cross area has massively benefitted from regeneration and is worth a good walk around. If you want a pleasant walk, go to the Kings Cross Canal Museum, then walk along the canal to Camden Town.

4. Blackfriars and the South Bank. As I mentioned above, Blackfriars station is awesome, great views and amazing modern architectire. It also provides access to the South Bank which is a pleasure on a sunny day, with all manner of buskers. The Tate Modern is adjacent, and if you want a relatively cheap day out, a tour of the Tate and lunch at one of the food stalls in Borough market is a very pleasant way to waste some time. If you head Westwards there is the NFT and some lovely restaurants at Gabriels Wharfe. On the north side, there is the Blackfriar, which is one of Londons most spectacularly decorated pubs.

5. City Thameslink. This is the nearest rail station to St Pauls. I love the Cathedral, it is well worth the tour. I did an O Level project on the building. It is amazing to think that all of the materials were brought by barge and hauled by hand & horse to the sight. You only realised the Genius of Wren when you realise he had no power tools, no computers, only quill, pencil paper and ink.  The Old Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street does a mean pie and is pretty good value. For those of you that care about such things, it is a Sam Smiths pub so the beer is pretty cheap. Good shopping at New Change.

6. Farringdon. This is the stop for Smithfield Market. There are some fine eating establishments, especially for the meat eaters amongst you. The nearby Bleeding Heart is my favourite restaurant for a schmoozy romantic dinner. I nearly didn't say because I don't want it getting too popular! The nearby Betsy Trottwood is also a great pub, music nice beer and a great vibe.

7. Loughborough Junction. I bet you didn't see this coming! It is actually the quickest way to get from Mill Hill to Brixton, being a 7 minute walk down the road. Brixton has an amazing market and one of the best venues in London with the Academy. I have seen more brilliant gigs there in the last 20 years than just about anywhere.

8. Kentish Town. Another great place for a drink and great live music. With the iconinc O2 forum, it is a great place to see a band and less than 20 minutes from Mill Hill on the train. There are a few great pubs nearby, such as The Pineapple and The Oxford.

9. West Hampstead. Again some great places to eat and drink. We particularly like The Wet Fish Cafe in West Hampstead for a bite to eat and The Railway for a drink. A brisk ten minute walk down the road is Kilburn, and we often visit the Tricycle Theatre, which is one of Londons best small Theatre venues.

10. Cambridge. I thought I'd throw this one in. It is now possible to change at St Pancras and get a train to Cambridge. I've not done this although we have had a few great little visits to Cambridge. A historic University town and also home to the Corn Exchange and The Junction, two great venues. A whole host of great places to eat and drink.

All we need now is for them to sort the Timetable out!



Friday, 8 June 2018

The Friday Joke - My Aunty Mabel

Image result for aunty mable joke
Aunty Mabel
I went round for a cup of tea with my Aunty Mabel recently. She told me of this amazing young priest, Father Maguire who has recently arrived at The Church of the Holy Ghost. Apparently he is an extremely handsome young chap, an amazing preacher who is extremely kind and caring with the ever growing army of elderly widows, who fill the bulging pews for Sunday Mass. She told me an amazing tale of just how inspirational he was and how he had restored her faith in the power of the Lord. 

She explained how at Last Sundays Mass he'd told the packed congregation "Trust in the Lord! He will keep you safe in the darkest hour. When Satan confronts you, make sure you know your scriptures, that is your weapon! Satan cannot withstand the word of the Lord" 
Fired up with Evangelical zeal she returned home from mass and as she was making herself a cup of tea she realised that there was an intruder upstairs in her bedroom. Recalling Father Maguire's words, she yelled yelled, "Stop! Acts 2:38!" 
(For those of you not up on scripture readings, the verse says "Repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.") 

The burglar stopped in his tracks.  Mabel, surprising even herself, then calmly called the police and explained what she had done. When the Police arrived, the officer cuffed the terrified burglar to take him in and asked the burglar, "Why did you just stand there? She's only and old Lady who had returned from Mass?" The Burglar replied  "I wasn't going to argue with that crazy Lady, she said she had an axe and two 38's!".

I suspect that as the word spreads, Father Maguire's pews will bulge even more!

Have a great weekend