ZANE Blog

Day 0 – Nobody Knows (the Trouble I’ve Seen)

Day 6 – Royals and Rackets – Day Off

Win/ win

A successful businessman and ZANE donor told me that he made his money by stealing from the rich and selling to the blind!  You have been warned!

Wilde Speculation

When Oscar Wilde was asked if he believed other planets harboured life, he said that he did,

“Why?” they asked.

“Because we are their insane asylum.”

Hosts with the Most

We stayed last night in the happy home of a Bill and Penny Evershed. Apparently they built their own house and very nice it is too. I have to say that I find the extraordinary talents of my hosts overwhelming. I can’t do any of the things they can do so feel rather useless.  Bill – who is a retired naval officer- walked steadily with us the whole day and he was the ideal guest. He was quiet and he only talked when he had something interesting to say.

We arrived at the Isle of Wight ferry with literally ten seconds to spare.

We are staying tonight in a glorious house in the Isle of Wight. Peter and Johanna Truman were generous hosts and they gave a dinner party for us and asked some of their buddies -all delightful and interested in Zimbabwe.

His Term Has Ended

I see that the great educationalist Sir Chris Woodhead has died. He spent most of his professional life battling against what Michael Gove called “the blob” that is the cloud of educationalist lefties who seek to protect useless teachers often at the expense of  pupils.

Chris pointed out that there were at least 15,000 useless teachers working in the state system.

When one of our daughters attended our local grammar school we noticed with some incredulity that her history homework was unmarked. We  complained to the head teacher to be told that the history teacher suffered domestic “problems.” I said why should  domestic problems affect the educational future  of the entire class. I was then invited to see the teacher in question with the head teacher.

I protested that this was beyond the absurd and this was not my job. The education went from bad to worse.

As our daughter’s  education was suffering so we bit the bullet and sent her to a local public school. From day one she improved.

Chris Woodhead knew great vilification in his life when he tried to take on the blob and at the hands of cowardly politicians who failed to back him. May he rest in peace.

Royals and Rackets

I am an ardent royalist but that doesn’t stop me from pondering on some of the less appealing aspects of the monarchy! For example, have you ever wondered at the sick-puppy expressions on the faces of those in proximity to anyone with royal blood? I am sure that most members of the royal family are pleasant and able people, but what special personal qualities do they possess to garner such adoration? They must wonder why the good Lord created humanity with faces permanently puckered in an ingratiating smile, for that’s all they ever see when they meet ordinary mortals.

The Royal Effect

Why do people turn to glue when there is a royal within a hundred yards? As the effect of the monarchy is socially crippling, do the royals have any “real” friends? Surely they must always wonder at people’s motivations? We have an admiral friend who tells us that when he was at sea people used to laugh at his jokes whether they were funny or not… but the laughter stopped dead when he retired. How much more amplified must false mirth be for those in the Queen’s tiny circle; they must have noticed that all their vaguely funny comments are greeted with shrieks of hilarity. Who dares to tell the royals when they are talking balls? Or inform them they’ve told the same tedious story twice – and that it wasn’t funny the first time round?

Can you really be close friends with an HRH? And please don’t believe the fiction that ladies in waiting or equerries form close friendships with their royal employers, for that’s highly improbable. How many of the tailored suits and frocks are sufficiently brave to chance the royal scowl and speak an occasional unvarnished truth? This is sad for the royals, sad for everyone.

Why is it like this? It’s nothing to do with the fact that the present Queen has served the country with rare distinction. I know we live in a celebrity culture – most people live relatively tedious lives and so royalty adds a touch of spice to the mix. But I’m sure there’s a darker reason… perhaps it’s because when Charles I was executed, the “divine right of kings” nonsense never fell into the basket along with his head. So today, deep down in people’s psyches – so far buried, they’re probably unaware of it – is the idea that the royals are semi-divine. I am sure if they were to be challenged, people would see this idea as risible, but if you think I’m wrong then please come up with a more convincing explanation!

A Brilliant Wheeze

And while I am on about my theories, here’s another one. Do you recall being taught about Martin Luther, the original whistle blower and the total outrage of “indulgences”?

It was dangerous blowing whistles then. To remind you, indulgences were part of a Catholic racket that guaranteed that if, for example, you paid say £10,000, you could avoid the fires of Hades despite that little spot of adultery you committed. And your bribe could ensure a shorter time in purgatory too. And what about a package of, say, £50,000 to absolve you if you wanted to go on committing the same crime! It was a sort of spiritual extortion and hugely successful. On top of this, the good old Catholic Church had the monopoly on forgiveness. The whole thing was such a brilliant wheeze that the Mafia’s Don Corleone would have given his mother and her spaghetti sauce recipes for even two per cent of the gross.

To the vast irritation of the Catholic Church, on 31 October 1513, one-time monk Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral; amongst his trenchant criticisms was a claim that indulgences were a disgraceful fraud. Only God, he proclaimed, could forgive sins through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and his blood spilled on the cross.

Are you paying attention, class? Sit up straight!

The Church had another monopoly: deciding who was to be regarded as a heretic. Luther was sentenced and they immediately began to stoke the faggots for his bonfire; so he went into hiding and who can blame him? To cut to the chase, Luther had influential pals and survived. Then came the Reformation and after a time indulgences were scrapped.

Today, no one in authority in any Christian church would be daft enough to formally reintroduce indulgences as such. But has the notion completely gone away?

What are the motives of the faithful, for example, when they help to fund church building projects? Perhaps the idea that if I donate £20k towards a loo extension, then somehow God – never mind the vicar – will be pleased, and my gift might still prove to serve as penance for that derring-do (or don’t)?

If churches are facing financial difficulties, perhaps they might bring indulgences back. It was such a good idea until dear old Luther blew his whistle.