The Queen

Portion of a poster for the film The Queen

Last night Jane and I travelled to Edinburgh to see The Queen. What it is to have connections.

Well, alright we didn’t actually meet Her Majesty in person, instead our lovely friends Dusty and Joy, Jane and myself sat in a darkened room in Wester Hailes and watched Stephen Frears’ film about the House of Windsor during those strange couple of weeks in 1997 in the days between Tony Blair’s election to government and the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

At times the film felt like a comedy, while at other moments like a tragedy. Overall it was an intelligent and moving film. I felt great sympathy with both The Queen and with Tony Blair, played by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen respectively, a clash of two cultures and upbringings. I longed for the Royal Family to realise the feelings of the people but could quite understand their sense of shock and that their perception and interaction with Diana was completely different to her public persona.

There were a few moments in the film that I found most moving. Charles flying to Paris to see Diana’s body; how hard must that have been? The Queen’s landrover breaking down en route to a stag hunt, and the Queen crying at the side of the river. The Queen’s walkabout outside Buckingham Palace once she returned to London, the sea of flowers on the pavement placed in memory of Diana and the bouquet of flowers presented to The Queen by the little girl in the crowd. The acting was first class.

It took me back to those strange days in London in 1997. I remember waking up in my room in Bermondsey and hearing the news that Diana had been killed. We gathered in our communal lounge at Lansdowne (accommodation for Shaftesbury Society homeless hostel workers) in our pyjamas and watched the news on TV, stunned. I remember many of our homeless residents queuing for hours and hours and hours to sign the book of condolence, and to go out early on the evening before her funeral to sleep on the streets to book a place. (We joked that Diana had made homeless people homeless again for one night.)

I moved out of London and back to Scotland that day. I sat exhausted (having driven through the night) on Mum’s sofa in Selkirk watching the funeral on television with my friends Danny and Greg. What an odd and memorable day that was. What a splendid film.

Tonight I’m off to Glasgow to see Motörhead in concert.

Bloglings, meet your maker

Tim Berners-Lee

Hands up if you know of whom this is a photograph. (If you do know, well done … you geek!)

It was thanks to this fine English gentleman, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (TBL) that I was able to ask you if you knew who he was. You see, in 1989 while I was happily preparing to move to St Andrews to study Divinity TBL was busying himself in a lab at CERN in Switzerland inventing the World Wide Web. Not the Internet, the military and academic communities had done quite a good job at that already, but the World Wide Web — a globally available information space made available via the Internet that could be written to and read from where each item of information could be referenced by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). What genius!

Yesterday’s post on TBL’s blog was entitled Blogging is great. And I suppose if you think that blogging is great then the most logical place to announce this is on your blog. Makes sense, really. And you know, I have to agree really. Blogging is great.

Blogs I’m particularly enjoying just now include:

  • Bishop Martin Shaw – Bishop of Argyll & The Isles.
  • Lorna Brown – a lovely and talented illustrator based in London. I had a curry with her once.
  • Dark Side of the Moon Chaplaincy – Simon Steven is chaplain at the University of Southampton (where, incidentally, Tim Berners-Lee currently holds a Chair of Computer Science in the School of Electronics and Computer Science.
  • New York Hack – blog of New York yellow cab driver Melissa Plaut (fairly quiet at the moment as she’s writing a book).
  • Steve Lawson – possibly one of the loveliest people on the face of the planet… called Steve … who plays a bass .. and who often has very few friends on stage with him.
  • Jonny Baker – forward-thinker about emerging church in the UK (and I used to play bass guitar in a worship band with him in London).
  • Limping Towards The Sunrise – The Revd Dr David Campbell is a fine gentleman with a beautiful writing style, wit and … (I’ll come back to this, there must be at least one other adjective to describe the chap. Think Gareth, think!)

If you get the chance to read Sir Tim’s book Weaving the Web: The Past, Present and Future of the World Wide Web by its Inventor then do, it is a fascinating read. It is a very easy book to read, which is not filled with technical gobble-dee-gook and isn’t at all geeky.

Alright, maybe it’s a little geeky, but when was that ever a bad thing?!

So bloggers, keep up the good work. Bloglings, keep reading and posting your comments, observations and thoughts. And if you’ve considered starting your own blog then why not do it right now? I suggest using either WordPress.com or Blogger. It’s quick and easy to do and you’ll be contributing to the collective online wisdom in no time.