About Me

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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Friday, January 28, 2011


My introduction to George W. Bush came from the British media who painted a picture of the Texas governor who'd just swindled his way to winning the 2000 Presidential election as a hapless buffoon with a fondness for drink, and who, without his "family connections" would never have found himself in the position of US President #43.

Of course, much of the fault lies with me for rather naively believing and soaking up everything I read and/or was told, forgetting that many people were distinctly reluctant to forgive President Bush Senior (#41) ten years or so previously, for much of what transpired then, and I have grown to become greatly ashamed at my jumping onto the bandwagon of lampooning "W" as a stupid fool. His book "Decision Points" clearly shows anyone who bothers to read it that George W. Bush was anything but.

Bush himself talks about the way the book is constructed, revealing that he started work on it the day after he left office. The narrative is purposely built around a series of far-reaching decision points faced over the course of his 2 terms, as a demonstration that - to Bush - making decisions is THE number one job of a President. Some decisions were of national significance, some of world significance, and some, such as the response to 9/11 (barely 8 months, remember, since Bush took office) were the kind of decisions you only get one shot at, and which seem all but impossible to make.

Aside from 9/11, some of the other decisions covered in the book are the controversial stem cells issue, and how the US Government should react to that; the financial meltdown that dogged the end of his Presidency, including the crises with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and GM; the Hurricane Katrina disaster; and also a host of foreign policy decisions including those concerning Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East in general.

What comes across loud and clear from this book is that - for anyone who might be wondering - the job of US President is not in any way an easy one. Probably the hardest job in the world. Yet for every decision made (and remember, he HAD to make some sort of a decision, whatever the political fall out might be) Bush never made or makes any excuses. He always acted out of what he calls "the best interests of our country". Bush cared. Still does. A former playboy type with a fondness for alcohol, Bush had an encounter with God which was very much accelerated by Billy Graham, to the point where he came to power teetotal for a number of years, and with an unshakable faith in God, an irrefutable love for his country, and an undeniable love for the people of America (and much further afield too). To deny any of the above would be fatuous, since it is self evident.

Nobody - least of all George W. Bush himself - will deny that he got decisions wrong, and he is the first to admit, with clearly profound regret,  his many failings during his two terms in office. But while you can disagree with his decisions and his policies, no rational person can disagree with the motives of George W. Bush.

This book is eminently readable, and in fact quite often gripping. It is brutally honest and suffused with faith and love...and hope for the future. Since arriving in the US I have met a number of people who are personally acquainted with George W. Bush. They speak of a highly principled, loving, human, and Christian man. I hope one day I might get to meet him myself and to be able to apologize for getting him all wrong, those years ago.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Filling In The Blanks - The YFC Years 2

February, 1994, and TVB (along with then-YFC National Director Lowell Sheppard and then-Chief Evangelist Roy Crowne) arrived in the former Yugoslav country of Croatia which was just one week out of a damaging, bitter and bloody civil war, which pitched Serbs against Croats and Bosnians, with Muslims thrown in for good measure. In short, it had been a mess.

We were in the country at the invitation of aid agencies and Spring Harvest, the UK's largest annual worship conference, to help with the effort to rebuild the country, and to raise awareness of the situation at the upcoming Spring Harvest Conference in April, at which we would be leading worship for the teens section of those who attend.
Specifically we were the guests of an amazing couple -- who are still doing great work in the country -- Nikola & Sandra Skrinjaric. We arrived by road after a drive from Denmark, down through Germany and Slovenia (where we first encountered the dreaded Eastern European border "issues" which mainly consisted of lengthy delays and the threat of having to pay a hefty bribe to cross over; the border term "Spedition" still brings me out in a cold sweat!) and based ourselves initially in the coastal city of Rijeka, which was, and still is, an absolutely beautiful place. Of course, with the war just coming to an end, the place was deserted -- not a tourist in sight -- although I am glad to say things are now very different.

Next we moved inland to the Catholic tourist town of  Medugorje, staying in a fabulous -- and again deserted -- hotel overlooking the city. From there we were taken by bus across from Croatia into Bosnia, to Mostar, a very symbolic city where the violence had been great, and where a beautiful and historic bridge - the Stari Most (which gives the city its name) had been very publicly destroyed by gunfire. The bridge has since been lovingly and beautifully rebuilt.

To give us an idea of just how recently the war had finished, our guide informed us as he led us through the winding streets, that if we had been walking in this area just one week ago we would already have been shot dead by snipers. We were taken to Nikola and Sandra's church, where we took part in one of the most emotional services I have ever had the privilege to attend, and we were also able to meet some of the locals -- all the time filming segments to show back at the upcoming Spring Harvest conference.
One of the final elements of our visit was to play a special concert for hundreds of Mostar schoolkids -- who had to be bussed out of the city to Medugorje for security reasons. Once again, a very emotional night.

While back in England, TVB had recorded segments for a Spring Harvest youth CD which was also tied in to raising awareness for the situation in former Yugoslavia, and on our return to the UK, we were in a unique position to be able to share with the kids what was going on, and their response was amazing in terms of money raised.

TVB continued that year through June/July, but the rest of that year paled by comparison, although I do recall a week spent ministering at an exclusive girls' boarding school in the southern England town of Basingstoke, where one of the girls who reportedly made a commitment to Jesus that week was the daughter of Genesis star Mike Rutherford.

I committed to a second year with TVB, which would commence in September 1994. More about that next time.

Postscript: If you would like to read more about the Balkans war, the best author to check out is Misha Glenny. You could do a lot worse than try this book, which was written not long after the war ended. Glenny is a highly respected and experienced writer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 and some loose ends

It's been a while since I was on here last. To be honest, I've been suffering from lack of motivation, as well as time, on the blog front, but I did want to assure you that I will be posting part 2 of the "YFC Years" piece soon. Haven't forgotten, but whereas some people love to write and do so very well, it is always a tremendous effort for me. (I was going to say it's like giving birth, but with so many mothers as my friends, including one very expectant one, I know they would beat me to a pulp for saying that!!).

I won't pretend that I am upset that 2010 is over. It was a year of waiting, and waiting, and frustration...and waiting, and I finished the year much as I started -- with my future in limbo -- but considerably more frustrated with myself at the way I handled what was certainly the toughest year spiritually I have ever had to face up to.

Clearly I want to do a better job dealing with the enemy's attacks in 2011, and to do that I need to deepen my relationship with God, first and foremost. I have had enough of people at my church saying what an amazing time with God/worship time/service they just had, while all I could do was stand there and say "I just felt like it was work".

Obviously it would be nice for a positive and speedy outcome to my visa status too, but I have learned over the years that what might seem to be sensible and clear to me isn't necessarily the way that God views things, so although I hope that this isn't another year of waiting and hiatus, I'm prepared for the fact that it could very well be that way, even if it is the last thing I would want.

So pray for me as I try and deal with circumstances that pretty much got on top of me last year. Pray that God will help turn things around, and that I won't be constantly frustrated with myself.

Thank you, and do be looking out for the rest of the YFC Years story...if I can remember to write it!!

And one more thing. Happy New Year.