Sunday, July 20, 2008

CEN June 2008

My Church of England Newspaper column for July will be published this week so I am allowed to archive the last one. Here it is.

Just back from holidays. I do recommend visiting an island without an airport for the feeling of being completely unavailable. After car, bus, plane, taxi, ferry, taxi (yes, I will offset) I arrived at the place I most love to visit and return to again and again. Fancy going? Xlendi Tourist Services may help you discover ‘ island of charm and beauty.’ No I’m not saying where it is. You’ve got to want to find out.

Before I went away my church youth group staged a fund-raising publicity stunt and kidnapped me. They then demanded money either to return me or keep me. They raised over a grand for Sight Savers International. Watch the video of my kidnap on Youtube. The video which follows it, of a fight at an ice-hockey match, is a different Steve Tilley. I’m rubbish at fighting as you can see from the kidnap video. I do however have the names of my parishioners who paid for me to be kept. The blow on the head with the handbag hurt like crazy. This was take three.

One of the best books I read on holiday was Julian Baggini’s Welcome to Everytown. Baggini is a philosopher. He wanted to understand what made the English tick. This involved spending six months living in the most typical post code in the UK - the postcode where the responses to questionnaires most match with national responses. The answer is S66 in Rotherham. The following six links are from the book:

The English Project ‘...aims to create, for the first time in the English-speaking world, an innovatory ‘language exposition’ (or 'living museum') where visitors - both physically and virtually – will be able to explore the English language in all its vigorous complexity across time and geography.’ One of its current projects is to record Kitchen Table Lingo – the words we use for everyday objects when chatting around the kitchen table. Follow the links to add your favourites.

Knowhere began life as a hook-up site for skateboarders but is now much more than that. It is almost a young people’s commentary on various towns around the UK. What do the youth think of your neighbourhood? Some people find the fact that young people are quite blunt is annoying and write abusive emails and comments saying so. The site proudly records a single link to all its hate-mail, which is a funny and grown-up thing to do. User-generated content warning.

Muslim Youth ‘...aims to raise awareness of the different social problems that affect young Muslims and provide culturally sensitive guidance to young people. The site encourages young Muslims to develop peer-support networks, access specialist services and care for their social and mental wellbeing.’ I found it a fascinating discussion to eavesdrop.

More people in Japan are interested in the race for the US presidency than in the US itself. Another fascinating statistic brought to you by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, ‘...a series of worldwide public opinion surveys that encompasses a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. More than 175,000 interviews in 54 countries have been conducted as part of the project's work.’

The National Consumer Council exists to make the consumer’s voice heard. It is likely to be at the forefront of any pressure to reward sustainability.

If you want to find out about views and preferences in your neck of the woods visit Up My Street and enter the name of your town or your postcode. Find out the newspaper most commonly read by your neighbours, how many people are on benefits, how many have satellite TV and what they prefer to drink.

All this is really useful but as a distraction, and contemplating the movie Iron Man, I got to wondering how many super heroes had websites. Well it’s pretty endless but try Superman, Batman, Flash Gordon, Green Lantern and Spiderman for starters. Not all these are official sites but then the fans are often more, well fanatical, and consequently of greater interest.

Oh the dangers of the knee-jerk joke. hasn’t folded as I said last month. It exists. There are diagrams and everything. It is a place of beauty. Visit it. Sadly, and I have checked this time, has expired.

Mustard Seed Shavings has the archives. It’s why it walks funny.

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