Chapter 9 Written / Published 2.11./8.11.15 Pics by author, unless indicated
Again, this chapter has two parts. Firstly, you read about two sports: Cricket, where we shall meet a legend from South Africa, and horse racing. A young lady from Ballarat, Victoria made history.
At the end we are travelling through South Western England, on the penultimate leg of our 2015 Europe trip. Much of what I wrote here, relying on my diary entries and photos, turned into magic. I didn't try; it just happened.
HE is the star of the show.
9. Ride on Star K
It is not very often that I would meet famous people, face to face, during public engagements; even rarer that I buy their book and have it personally signed by the celebrity/author. In October 2015 there were two such occasions. The first one I have already written about in the previous chapter. (Read on for the sequel to this).
The other occasion was a visit to our church by a famous, former South African cricket legend, Peter Pollock. The gentlemen gave a talk at a men's breakfast on October 17th, 2015. About 50 men sat and listened, spellbound as he told his life story. Not only was Peter a successful international sports star, he was also a high achiever in business, married to a lovely wife and family. If ever there was a man who had it all, Peter Pollock was it.
His greatest asset, greater than all his cricketing trophies, was his wife Inez, who believed in the power of prayer. One Sunday night he and his wife were watching a Christian TV show, during which his wife was being picked up to go to her church service.
Peter, who had not shared her faith until that day, normally would have switched channels. That night he didn't. This simple decision was to change the course of his life. The show that night was a debate between evangelist Reinhardt Bonnke and Stephen Grenfell, a self-confessed critic and cynic.
At first Peter's cynicism toward Christianity seemed confirmed, as he listened to the atheistic arguments of the first speaker. However, when it was Reinhardt Bonnke's turn, the fiery German sowed a seed in Peter's heart and mind. For the first time he realized that he was a sinner, and that he needed forgiveness.
Shortly after the TV show the phone rang. It was the voice of a close friend, Henry Hauser, a former South African soccer skipper: He invited Peter over for supper. Peter's wife had gone there after church. Normally, Peter would not bother, but that evening, to his own surprise, he agreed.
Hauser's wife May, during this brief gathering, had slipped a piece of paper into Peter's pocket. After reading the note at home later that night, the seed that was sown in Peter's heart, brought forth fruit. He went out into his garden and prayed the prayer that Hauser's wife had slipped into Peter's pocket:
Many have prayed this prayer. Those who truly mean it, with all their heart and mind, can be assured of eternal salvation. They are born again! A new life begins, a new mindset, a renewal from within. Peter describes himself as having changed from a growling lion into a lamb. Under new management - would be a good sign to display, after becoming a Christian.
Back Cover - God's Fast Bowler - Autobiography of Peter Pollock.
"What can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8, 37).
At the end of the previous chapter I had seen the letters me. At the time I had no idea that they were to link in this chapter to another big sport, horse racing, and that sport's annual holy day - the EMIRATES Melbourne Cup.
Run two days prior to this writing, the 2015 Melbourne Cup, the 155th, came with a few surprises. For the first time a female jockey, love her name Michelle, took out the prized trophy. The young lady, the only female in the race, had started with an outside chance of 100:1, but beat the rest of the field, all male jockeys.
Her win broke many existing betting records, going right back to 1940. One punter, who had picked the first four places, turned their $ 9 investment into a $ 126 000 windfall. (Source: News.com.au).
Michelle Payne, riding the Prince of Penzance, on 3.11.15.
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The late Jockey Tim Bell. (Pic.ABC TV)
Reading an article on this news item in the BBC News online (World-Australia) raised many questions about this unusual tragedy. In the past I often I doubted the truthfulness of certain media stories. (My findings in the Liddy case, the half-truths that were reported, or significant details omitted, are the major reason for my cynical disposition toward media reporting.)
There may well be logical answers to these questions. To find them I did a little further googling. An article in the Strait Times, Singapore, painted a much more detailed picture of the tragedy. Here I read that Heidi was a mere 2 metres away from Tim, when he slipped and fell. This news organisation also gave Heidi's surname.
But I saw more. It came in the photo that illustrated the BBC online report. It took a while of thinking (and asking God for wisdom), before I sa [w] something I had not taken notice of yet.
The picture, shown below, gives the name of the apartment from which young Tim allegedly fell - Mi Casa (my home). This linked to my home (South Australia) in two ways. Take a look:
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It should not come as a surprised that after uploading the previous chapter 8 (at exactly 8 am, unintentionally) that the word he would cross my paths a few times soon after.
HE appeared in various ways and places: In church, in a humourous way - (HE.brews); and in a short video clip, as a young boy recited the attributes of Jesus, seen in each book of the bible: "In Genesis HE is ...; in Exodus HE is ...; in Leviticus HE is...etc. etc."
A sign outside a warehouse was half covered up. It only showed: Pick up - HE ...! The rest (RE) was hidden by another sign. My bi-lingual self loved it, because RE backwards is HE in German.
One day after the HE chapter I very briefly tuned into the BBC's Antique Road Show. The popular TV program is filmed usually in grand, historic places. People bring their antiques, or collectibles or other oddities, to have them appraised by an expert. It so happened, as I was tuned into the program, just for a few minutes, an antique bottle was being shown and valued.
I happened to have my camera ready for a photo. Here it is:
Old bottle marked HE 1727.
As could be expected, coming back to horse racing, one female participant beating 23 male contestants, stirred up the feminist lobby. The sensational outcome gave social media, as well as the mainstream, much to twitter about. After her proud win the queen of Flemington commented that this could be a game changer for female jockeys. Payne pointed to the fact that the sport was still largely male dominated. Her critics can "get stuffed".
One touching scene surrounding the Melbourne Cup 2015 was the moment the winning jockey, Michelle, gave the horse's strapper, Stevie, a celebration hug. Stevie happens to be her brother and has *Down Syndrome. One lady was also touched by that wonderful moment. In a letter to the editor of the Adelaide Advertiser she brought out a very valid point:
Nobody would disagree with Michelle Payne's claim after the race that "women can do anything and we can beat the world". (ABC online). But please, call me sexist if you wish, why are women constantly trying to prove the point? Ardent feminists express this view point, as if there was a direct competition who is better at doing stuff.
When did this war between the sexes begin? Would not our nation, yes the whole world, be stronger, if we all worked together to make it a better place, if every member of the human race, male or female, did their best, in whatever they are good at?
To try and be somebody else, to compare your role in life with that of others, wanting the leading roll, leads only to frustration and discontent. If we like it or not, men by nature are built stronger. Males are generally more risk taking and competitive. If anyone disagrees, let's have mixed competitions at the Olympic Games. Let males and females participate in the athletic competition together! How many woman would win gold?
To Michelle Payne may I say - Ride on, ride on ... (read on).
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The day before the Melbourne Cup, ironically, breakfast TV broadcast a live segment, where commentators air their views on certain news stories, usually controversial topics. That morning the debate was about a lady's advise that women should choose between a career or raising a family. To be trying to juggle both would bring problems.
Just before this subject the topic had been about lowering the voting age to 16 years, an idea brought forward by our very unpopular Labor Opposition Leader. One comment about the related subject of drinking age, I definitely did not agree with. It prompted me to sent a comment to the Channel Nine breakfast show.
(The PS refers to Australia's loss of the Rugby grand final in London on 1.11).
(End of email)
There can be no argument about one thing: Women are best equipped to having babies, and there will always be men who love making them.
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(Time Travel - June 2015 / England)
The short 1 1/2 hour flight on June 27th 15 from Stuttgart to London with Easy-Jet went very smoothly. The plane arrived exactly on time, having left at 10.20 am. My bicycle cost more than the seat. Packing it into a box, which was not easy to obtain, was a pain. In the end it was worth it all. Good to know that flying is no longer a luxury, only for the rich.
I had pre-booked the train from Gatwick Airport to Bath, via Reading. There was no need to travel to London; my train arrived in Bath at 3.28 pm.
On exiting the railway station I noticed on the other side of the road a contingent of police. The footpath was blocked off. One officer was holding a shotgun, obviously taken from a person, who had been silly enough to walk around with it, or worse? At the time Britains were in shock. A day earlier a madman on a Tunisian beach had gunned down innocent tourists.
The YMCA hostel in the centre of Bath was not only very conveniently located, but good value for money. The caretaker was very considered of this dinosaur traveller. He gave me a single room at dormitory cost (£19 - Thank you, Rob! I snored all night to my hearts content).
The Paragon, Bath, Somerset, UK (near YMCA Hostel)
On my second day in Bath, Sunday 28th June 15, I attended the local Salvation Army church. Even though there were only 38 parishioners, they still had a small brass band and a choir. As a feature that morning the preacher showed and explained the Boundless Logo, the symbol of the 150-year anniversary Congress in London:
Here are the colours red, blue and yellow again! (Unplanned).
The theme of the church service at Bath was about God's greatness and diversity. Each worshipper during the sermon received a boundless logo and a pen. All were asked to write on the back something they found God amazing for. It made everyone think about their attitude toward God. What did I find so amazing about God?
It didn't take long for me to come up with one word - creativity.
Here is what I scribbled (in my diary) which I had written on the boundless logo, all of which were collected and placed on a board at the front of the church:
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The rain that had fallen during the church service had eased as cycled along the Avon Canal to Bradford, a distance of about ten miles. As I got closer to my destination, the Lock Inn at Bradford, more and more barges moored on the side of the Canal. It was obvious from all the gear loaded onto the boats, bicycles, garden plants etc. that people lived permanently on that canal.
It was strange to be riding along a canal, with the Avon River flowing beside you, 10 meters below in a valley. Besides Bath being famous as a tourist destination, I had chosen to travel here for another reason. I wanted to again meet up with a lawyer, who had shown me around London eight years earlier. In Book 6, Chapter 5 I had called her Kathy. She lived not far away in Bradford-on- Avon, about ten miles from Bath. (She was the lawyer, who had taken an interest in the Peter Liddy case).
We ate lunch in the popular Lock Inn Restaurant, which was crowded. The food was excellent. I would have loved to discuss more about the unfortunate magistrate in jail, and perhaps start a new strategy in the fight. Soon I came to realize the matter is really in God's hand. HE in the end will bring justice. At that time HE will not need a lawyer!
Kathy showed me around her home town - the 14th century Tithe Barn, and one of the few surviving Anglo-Saxon churches in England, St. Laurence. The famous Bridge Tea Rooms also deserve a mention. Historic places don't come better than this. (Pictures below).
Anglo-Saxon gem - St.Laurence, Bradford-on-Avon
Internationally renowned - The Bridge Tea Rooms.
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The evenings in midsummer in Europe are long. That Sunday there was plenty of daylight to explore this ancient town a little further. Using my bike for the first time in Britain, after six weeks on the Continent, I made a mistake. Many visitors to the British Isles make the same error, some with fatal consequences - I travelled on the wrong side of the road. Suddenly, as a motor car was almost on top of me, did I realize what I had done. Luckily, a bicycle takes little space to escape.
As I strolled around Bradford village I noticed a blue church sign, advising the service times. 'You will be welcome at any service' the sign read. It was a United Church. I liked the name; it's the same as that of our Adelaide football team. (But we won't mention them until later in the season, hoping the scripture will come true - the last shall be first).
The sign advertised a 6 pm evening service at this United Church. Checking my watch, it was only ten minutes past. A few cars were in the car park. My curiosity took over. I walked up the narrow path and carefully opened the front door to take a look inside. Indeed there was a small group of worshippers sitting at the front of the bright, not so ancient sanctuary. I had been to church already that day and really wanted to explore the village further.
However, as I quietly walked on, a man, who must have seen me, caught up with me and invited me in. I could hardly say no. There is no place, not even a football stadium, which unites people from all levels of society more, than a church with believers who worship HIS Majesty. I was glad I stayed and participated that evening.
Two things made me think. One, the number worshippers present - 9 ladies and 6 men. I was the sixth man. Two, during the singing I noticed that this congregation sang from the Mission Praise Hymnbook - the same one I wrote about years ago in earlier books.
The lady sitting right in front of me left the Mission Praise Hymnbook open on the seat. I could not help seeing which hymn it was. Since I have a copy of this book in my library, here is a scan of this hymn:
Hymn 580, Ride on, ride on in majesty.
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The next morning it was indeed time for me to ride on and pursue my road through the lovely countryside of Somerset. It was a superb day for riding; light winds, sunshine and mild temperatures. I left Bradford-on-Avon via Frome Road and turned right into B 361, which led to Hungerford and Norton St. Phillip.
Hungerford, Somerset, England.
Traffic travelling in the opposite direction seemed rather heavy. At one point, after leaving Wells, cars were bumper to bumper for many kilometers. Later I found out that they all travelled home from the annual Glastonbury Festival, which had finished the day before.
My overnight stop was the town of Taunton on the Tone River, which I reached at around 4.15 pm. The self-contained room at Yalland Farm B&B, just a short ride from the city centre, was good value at £50, as was the Chinese take-away at £7.20. While certain items in England were comparatively expensive, others were not. At the LIDL super-cheap supermarket a 330ml can of coke cost only 21 pence. Budget travellers all over Europe like LIDL.
Riding to town the next morning, above a shop front, I saw a sign, which had one letter missing. Since earlier in the chapter you read about a Tim, the name of this sign fits here rather well:
Timpson T e Quality Service people
During my short 20 hour stay at Taunton I noticed 7 other missing letters on buildings. To be finding 8 missing letters in such a short time, just in passing by as a tourist - could this be some kind of record? Here are the other seven:
Apple & Parro .. (Restaurant) M..... HOU.E (Market House)
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The above all happened in Somerset. My destination in South Western England was Cornwall.
Because of time constraints I had to take a train to Exeter St. David's, where I boarded the Royal Dutchy, the express train between London and Penzance.
In the next chapter, God willing, we shall visit a famous village on the beautiful Cornwall Coast and meet another celebrity, Ian.
In the meantime life goes on, here in mi casa, in our Adelaide suburb - 50 meters from Somerset Rd. and 450 meters from Cornwall Dr.