Author Archives: barstep

About barstep

Chairman Restore (York), Digital Storyteller, cyclist, walker, news junkie, shutterbug, grandfather, Christian, churchwarden, and tech head esp. Apple stuff

Ten o’clock miracle

Deb Stephenson and Alice Newsholme

Deb Stephenson and Alice Newsholme

At ten o’clock they started to pray. Earlier in the evening the family had been called to the bedside of my father as he lay dying in hospital in Preston, Lancashire. They had been summoned by the doctor because he wasn’t expected to survive the night.

The illness had started a few days earlier as he rode his Panther 600 motorbike home to Ambleside from Coventry where his fiancĂ©e, later to be my mother, lived. As he battled against driving rain on the old A6 towards the Lake District he developed a headache which intensified as the miles passed. By the time he arrived home it was so bad he went straight to bed to ‘sleep it off’. Next morning the pain was worse and his mother persuaded him to see the doctor who admitted him to hospital.

“TB meningitis” the consultant told his family, “there’s not much we can do. Patients reach a crisis point; some get better, others don’t make it.”

This was before antibiotics were in general use to fight the infection revealed in the tests on his ‘lumber puncture’. I remember my dad describing the lumber puncture process with relish when he retold this story. A long curved needle was inserted between the discs in his back into his spinal fluid. A sample was drawn off for tests. His hands and fingers used to describe the arc and length of the needle whilst his face grimaced as he recalled the experience.

So they waited. The crisis came and passed with no improvement. He hadn’t eaten for days, he was thin and weak and had only slept through the intense pain with help from medication.

After the family returned to Ambleside there was little conversation. My mum’s family, the Newsholme’s, were strong in their faith. Grandad Newsholme was Pastor of a large Pentecostal Church in Coventry. They actively believed in miracles. On my father’s side the family was divided. Some were believers, some not. Grandma Stephenson had helped to start the Pentecostal Mission in Elterwater but her husband hadn’t been involved. All four of dad’s younger siblings were believers too. The four older one’s, I was told, weren’t.By ten o’clock only the believers were left in the room. Grandad Newsholme suggested they prayed for healing. So they did. Thirty five miles away, a dying man went to sleep naturally for the first time for two weeks.

The next morning my father sat up in bed – pain free – and startled the young duty nurse. “What’s for breakfast?” He asked. The nurse left the bedside without responding and called the ward sister. He asked her the same question. “What’s for breakfast, I’m starving?””I think you’d better get him something quick.” The sister said to the nurse. That morning he ate a full English breakfast and waited for the puzzled doctor to arrive. He ordered another lumber puncture and then another one.The doctor had reprimanded the lab staff for mixing up the samples because they reported that there was no trace of the infection in my father’s sample. Convinced there was a mistake he ordered the second procedure with the same result. No infection. He concluded in the light of my father’s surprise recovery that it must have been a miracle. The miracle explanation was confirmed when he was told about the impromptu prayer meeting in Ambleside the night before.Within days dad was discharged from hospital and steadily gained strength and weight to be restored to his family. It was 1947. A few months later, in March 1948, he and my mother, Alice, were married in her father’s church in Coventry. I arrived the following summer.

I often reflect on how my existence is due to a miracle of healing two years before I was born and thank God for answered prayer.

Minster Carols – honoured to have been there

I’m still glowing after last night’s Minster Carols – what a great team – so many people working together to create an event so moving and relevant. I can honestly say it ignited the spirit of Christmas in me for the first time this year. The sheer enormity of it all – God being born on earth to be our Saviour – is truly overwhelming. The impact of the Riding Lights theatre, the simplicity of Alyson’s preaching, the music from the choir and the slick work of the technical team all played out in that magnificent building – stunning. Not to mention all the stewards, welcomers, fetchers and carriers, pray-ers and all the rest of the people behind the scenes. Thanks St Mike’s for being a great church. Honoured to be part of it all.

No more bishops?

I’ve had time to think about this one – since the vote on intorducing women bishops is now a couple of weeks behind us. I’ve read a load of articles, opinions and summaries of the events that led up to and followed the vote that by a very slim (some woud say undemocratic) margin threw out the measure that would have allowed the church to consecrate women as bishops.

The decision that it was alright in principle to have women bishops was made some time ago. This vote was about how to do it.

So here we are looking down a dark five year tunnel that may lead to the next vote. Five more years of women in the clergy ducking under the ‘stained glass ceiling’ as one newspaper columnist put it. Five years of the church appearing to be struck in a bygone age. Five years of negative headlines where those outside the church appear to know more about what we’re doing than we do.

These voices will distract and deter some people looking for their place in Christ’s kingdom. But if it hadn’t been this issue those voices would have found another one to put off the seekers from looking for the truth in Christianity. 

Thankfully, the Church of England is not the only Christian denomination. Others have women in senior positions of leadership as do other parts of the Anglican communion. So it’s possible that another tradition would help those seekers to sign up to a local christian community.

For some though the long wait for the next round of debates and voting will be too long. They will never, in the duration of their working life, fully answer the calling they feel they have received. In the cold light of day there must be many callings that are never completely fulfilled, but in this case, to miss out because such a small number of people witheld their approval seems unjust. Rightly there were tears of disappointment at synod and probably some words of anger in private too. 

So perhaps this would be a good time to call a moratorium on the appointment of any more bishops until this issue is resolved. The church has agonised for years over the number of diocese and bishops with their palaces, staff and retinue. Here is an opportunity to cut the numbers. Impose the same stained glass ceiling on all clergy until men and women can be treated equally. It may just focus a few minds in all three houses of Synod and who knows – speed things up a touch.

Election Dilemma – vote or abstain?

I’m having problems with this Police and Crime Commissioners election.
Here in North Yorkshire it’s a 70 grand a year job – there’s no interview – no competencies or personality profiles are being checked – previous experience seems to be irrelevant – it’s just the popular vote that decides on the basis of what the candidates are saying about themselves.
Normally politicians (councillors and MPs) only share power with any number of other politicians. The PCCs are essentially on their own. All the power of the office is vested in one person.
So should I vote or abstain in the hope that low turn out will lead to a proper selection process in future.
I have never abstained from voting before – but I am in a genuine dilemma. I think the process is deeply flawed.

Virgin TV Anywhere iOS app revealed, ideal companion to your TiVo box – Pocket-lint

This is a preview piece about VirginTVAnywhere. After reading this perhaps the app should be renamed VirginTiVoCompanion.

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/47159/virgin-media-tv-anywhere-ipad-app-tivoA later piece says the app will deliver Video On Demand – but I’ve searched through the app and there’s no sign of this function.http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/47395/virgin-media-launches-virgin-tv-anywhere

Virgin Tv Anywhere – my initial review

Review of iOS App VirginTvAnywhere (after hands on use for a week)

What is this app for and how will it improve my enjoyment of consuming Virgin Media TV using TiVo?

The ‘about’ and ‘help’ sections in the app are noticeably devoid of an over arching vision of its purpose. The help files are mainly about how the app functions technically – with little about why I may want to use those functions or how it’s better than using the standard remote control. I had to spend sometime with the app to discover what it would and wouldn’t do before I could think about how I might use it.

 

I asked myself three questions 
  1. Is this just a bigger remote control for TiVo?
  2. How does this app deliver TV Anywhere?
  3. How might I use it?
  1. On the first question – it certainly is a bigger remote control. It’s also smarter most of the time. It delivers improved content management. Shows can be scheduled, deleted and previewed without interrupting the family viewing on the TV screen (except for the odd slip when I press a button that I didn’t realise would affect the TV screen in real time). The app also gives access to many of these functions away from home – via WiFi. 
     
  2. I have to admit that my expectation of the app when I was recruited for this trial was that at the very least I would be ableto watch live streaming of my Virgin TV package on the same WiFi network. At best I would also be able to watch shows recorded on my TiVo anywhere at home or away – a sort of Slingbox for Virgin. In the event only a handful of mainly obscure channels are available for live streaming and there is no access to recorded programmes. So I am puzzled by the name of the service because it doesn’t deliver TV anywhere. Shouldn’t it be called TV Remote Control Anywhere? It would be a truer, if rather long winded, title.
     
  3. There’s a novelty value – O look I can control my TiVo from my iPad! (I tried this once before using a long lead to connect the TiVo to my Router. I downloaded an App called Peanut. I wasn’t impressed and decided it was wasn’t worth persuing it as I would have to find a more practical way of making the network connection permanent – The app was fine but so was the dedicated TiVo Remote.)

    So how will I use it? 

  • I will occasionally use VirginTVAnywhere to browse the guide.
  • I will probably use it extensively to manage recordings. The TiVo interface on TV is somewhat ‘clunky’ and slow; the app is faster. 
  • Network required
    My final comment is about connecting the TiVo to the router. Mine are in different rooms so I have attached a WiFi adaptor to the TiVo. Isn’t it time TiVo was fitted with an integral WiFi card – after all it would add little to the cost of the box and apps like TVAnywhere could connect without substantial extra cost to the customer.
    Manage Expectations
    I assume that when the app is launched it will be free. If so then Virgin Media has a lot to gain by good marketing. Without it, the title raises expectations above it’s function. 

    So what do I like about VirginTVAnywhere?

    • Ability to browse the programme guide without interrupting the programme being viewed by others in the room.
    • Being able to manage recordings
    • Limited TV streaming – although there are better apps in the App Store.
    • Greater control of the TiVo box using the app

    But I won’t be taking the batteries out of my TiVo remote just yet. For basic use it’s still quicker to pick it up to select a show or a channel.

    I also think I may have found a bug.
    1. Select a folder in My Shows
    2. Delete the series link.
    3. Delete the shows one by one using the swipe- delete method
    4. When the last show is deleted (leaving an empty folder) the app loses connection with the TiVo – presumably because it’s trying to connect to a folder that no longer exists.

     

    So BBC Local Radio is safe ….. The DG says so

    In an article in this week’s New Statesman, Mark Thompson says that merging or closing local radio stations is not the way forward for the BBC ……We’re in the middle of an open debate inside the BBC about its future. One idea was whether you could merge local radio with Radio 5 Live or reduce local radio in some way. Although local radio is relatively cheap to run, when you run 40 radio stations in England, you have to multiply the cost. The point of local radio is that if it’s not local, it’s not doing its job. It’s reasonable for people to have a debate about merging or shutting local radio but that’s not the way forward for the BBC.