Cancel culture

Clare Flourish

It’s all very well complaining about people being “Cancelled” for transphobia, but every day people come out as trans, and are immediately cancelled. We lose our jobs, families, and friends. People abuse us in the street, and on social media. I think that’s a bad thing.

What kind of opinions justify “cancellation”? Opinions prejudiced against people simply because of who they are deserve cancellation. Racism including antisemitism, sexism, and homophobia are all disgusting opinions, which should make people disgusted with those who hold them. There is some fuzziness around the edges of these things, for instance, when does criticism of the government of Israel shade into antisemitism? But they have a clear core- a reference to “bum-boys” is clearly homophobic. Boris Johnson’s use of the term, and others, show he is racist, homophobic and misogynist. He has not been cancelled, but he should be.

Assertions of falsehood which damage other…

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Candles and Corona

At online Meeting for Worship last night a Friend ministered about candles. I didn’t catch who she was quoting but it was someone’s reminiscence of how, as a small child, her parents explained to her about the votive candles she saw in church. How each one is a prayer. The child asked what would happen when the candle she’d lit went out, would that be the end of the prayer? No, said her parents, because other people were always coming along to light their candles and all the prayers join up together and support each other.

I really needed to hear this right then. If I’m going to have a wobble then early evening is usually it but this reminder really helped, that it doesn’t matter if we get tired, that the community can hold the faltering individual . I remembered the many occasions I’ve looked around the room in Meeting for Worship (when we could still meet face to face) and thought, I’ve really lost the plot. But it didn’t matter because you could see that other Friends hadn’t and they were holding the space. Then the other times when I’ve been one of the steady ones for somebody else.

So it’s OK to not be strong. We are enough. Which took me back to Coronavirus and Climate Grief (the cause of most of my recent wobbles) and on to the Covid-19 maths: how many thousands one person can potentially infect. And I thought about that one prayer – that one candle metaphorical or otherwise. Could that grow exponentially in the same way? So it doesn’t matter if I burn out or die, the people of goodwill continue and grow.


The right to be believed

When I was young what used to hurt most was feeling misunderstood. Being told constantly what and who I was; having my own insights and perceptions denied and rubbished.

As an adult, other people can no longer diminish me; I have the choice to walk away. However, my trans friends don’t. Theirs is a daily struggle. Hate and physical danger are the obvious enemies but well meaning ignorance is almost impossible to deal with. Read (or listen to) Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race; many of the same points apply.

You see, I’m not talking about sex, gender or whatever wobbly bits anyone of us might have. This is about openness. About respect. About kindness. About the right each one of us has to be accepted exactly as we are.

This is about souls. And who am I – who are you – to dare to trample on someone else’s.


I’m English, living in England, and although it’s months since I’ve seen my granddaughter in Edinburgh Scotland is absolutely right to close the border. The situation down here isn’t safe. There will be a second wave and we shouldn’t be reinfecting Scotland when they have done so well at curbing infection rates.


Should Nicola close the Borderto non commercial traffic.

IS an argument that is raging across the country. Has she the power to do it? What would justify it? What would be the economic cost?

Good questions, let’s try and answer them. I will take the easiest first. I think there would be overwhelming public support for such a move if it could be demonstrated that Covid 19 was on the rise again in England and the current infection rates were much higher than in Scotland. This would create a clear and present danger to Scots, particularly in the rural tourist areas where local health facilities would be quickly overwhelmed by a deluge of incoming infected tourists. In such circumstances I think the public would be right to demand Government action to end that risk. There would be a big cost in doing so but I will deal with that…

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Dean Laidley

I don’t get bogged down in the “mainstream” hate-filled fascist media very much but I am beyond furious about this whole situation. Daniella Laidley has my full support.

Clare Flourish

A charge of stalking becomes national news when the alleged stalker is AMAB in women’s clothes. Reporting on Dean Laidley treats them as a man, even while stating they asked police to call them Daniella. It also shows the photographs of them in a wig and dress taken by a police officer, even while condemning that police officer who is suspended and likely to lose his job.

Dean Laidley was a former player in the Australian Football League, then coach of North Melbourne. Aussie Rules football is a contact sport played with an oval ball, played all over the world though only professionally in Australia, where it is the most popular sport. The leaked photographs, published by the Murdoch outlets, show them in the interview room with a long blonde wig, and in a mugshot with makeup but without the wig, showing a man’s haircut, short at the sides, apparently…

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Alphabet blogging 2020: B is for Balance

It’s not unusual to find oneself knocked sideways these days, to get sucked in to the hatred screamed from the tabloids and online. I determine not to let it overwhelm me – not to give in to the cycle of fear that arises from and results in seeing other people as unconnected to myself – but then catch myself slipping yet again.

It’s simple in theory but also hard work to move through life with my antennae out, alert to other people and to the currents within myself. However it has to be done, this constant checking out and checking back, this resetting of my internal compass, this tweaking of my rudder on life’s ocean.

Alphabet blogging 2020

Inspired by Rhiannon Grant, I’m going to have a go at alphabet blogging. 26 letters over 52 weeks.

Unfortunately the first A that came to mind is Armageddon. I nearly ducked it but, given the current political shenanigans, warmongering and climate disaster, it feels apt and needs facing steadily. As does that old joke of an A which jumped in straight after: “Armageddon outta here”. Which is also apt and needs to be slapped down, at least in my case. Avoidance (another A) is not an option. In the Quaker tradition we’ve realised that the only positive way to deal with pain, fear and despair is not to be cowed and brought down by them but to stand firm and still, in the knowledge that a way will be shown to us and strength given to travel it.

So, who knows where and what I’ll be by the end of 2020 but I hope to keep staying present and determinedly non-hating; paying enough attention to my own needs so that I’m in better nick to support other people.

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

For the last few years I’ve had increasingly mixed feelings about celebrating Christmas in our darkening world. This year there’s a sort of survivor guilt as well, as I have a home and family, and there will be food on the table tomorrow.

Advent has always been important to me, a gradual walk into the darkness towards the manger. Anyone who has ever held a newborn will know the vulnerability but also their awe inspiring power. This year there is an added dimension. A couple of weeks ago I was on silent retreat at a Carmelite priory and heard read aloud those wonderful passages from Isaiah – the ones that begin Handel’s “Messiah”. The penny dropped that, alongside the power of that tiny being, something huge is also happening and that those two things were about to converge.

Which brings me back to this afternoon. The Carols from King’s at 3pm on Christmas Eve always mark the beginning of Christmas for me, but today I felt antsy and irritated at the “holiness” of it all. Then came a reading which grounded me, by a woman who sounded like a regular person and seemed very sincere.

Listening intently for the source of my discomfort, I was struck for the first time how much the Victorians tried to tame Jesus and how that’s not actually possible. The carols I grew up singing are mainly about gentleness and mildness. The power of kingship is there and may have meant something to the original writer but how much does it really mean to us now. Are we just paying lip service?

In today’s world we persuade ourselves of Jesus’s gentleness and mildness at our peril. Even worse, we try to emulate it, telling ourselves we are “nice” people. Jesus cannot and should not be tamed. What the world needs is the power of a people acting radically out of love, as he did.


I realised in Meeting for Worship recently that I have passed beyond hope. Imperceptibly. I have no idea when that happened, I simply became suddenly, devastatingly aware.

Now, this is not to imply that there IS no hope just I, personally, can no longer feel it.

Observing my immediate feelings, I was curious to find that I was not experiencing despair but, rather, the opposite. In Ignatian terms, not desolation but consolation, consolation, consolation.

The flip side of hope – for me – seems not to be despair but steadfastness. Faithfulness.

So… resisting in whatever way I can… calling out injustice in whatever way I can… supporting others in whatever way I can…

Doing what Love requires


Steer a straight course…

I’ve suddenly realised – with utter clarity – that my default position is fear and despair.

I’m well aware that the roots of this rest in childhood damage, which I’m not going into here. Most of the time I rise above it, practising mindfulness, presence and positivity. Combatting division. But when I’m exhausted or over stressed, despair rises up from nowhere and bites me on the nose. These days Twitter can have me spiralling downwards within five minutes.

I care deeply about people and events, so I want to keep myself informed in order to act, but how to do that without going under? I suspect I am not alone.

In such moments I feel extremely thankful to have fallen in with Quakers. The insights of early Friends, like the gospel these echoed, are beacons of light and hope – of liberation from fear. George Fox’s “ocean of light”, which the darkness can never overcome, is a perennial comfort.

“The good ship Woodhouse” is one of my favourite Quaker stories. Separated from a convoy in mid Atlantic, Dutch privateers bearing down on his tiny craft, the ship’s Quaker master suddenly heard the words, “Steer a straight course. Mind nothing but me.” There wasn’t much choice, so he did. Suddenly the wind changed and the pirates were blown off course. The Woodhouse dropped off her cargo of Friends in the New World and returned home safely to tell the tale.

Steer a straight course. I think I can do that.