Many people think that a priest is someone who has gone from university to theological college and has little experience of the real world. I want to explain something of my background so you may understand that I am not from that mould. Far from it ...
I have worked all my life and never accepted a penny from the Church. Yes, I am an ordained priest in the Church of England. A Non-Stipendiary Minister, or Self Supporting as we are now called (I don't like that term as sounds like a stocking!).
I started my working life briefly in a bank, then after total boredom moved to Cadbury Brothers as a trainee sales rep. - got fat eating samples! From there I became a Tele Ad sales manager on an evening newspaper.
At the grand age of 23 I went to work as a Housefather in a children's home, halved my salary and decided I wanted to spend my life helping people. Sounds very pious!
Then I attended Liverpool University to train as a probation officer. I remember sitting in my office during the miners' strike, interviewing a guy who had been caught shoplifting. I asked why. He replied that he wanted to give presents of food to his wife so that she would have sex with him. Bit weird in the flicker of the candle on my desk.
I was asked to sit in on an interview a trainee direct entrant probation officer was to have with a man caught stealing ladies' underwear from washing lines. I sat at the back of her office thinking 'Please don't ask the question I know you are going to ask'. She did. A mature, no-nonsense lady. 'Why do you do it?' He answered in a matter-of-fact voice 'To wear them of course! I always pin a ten bob note on the line for every item'. How I managed not to fall off my chair trying not to laugh I will never know!
I then spent 40 years working with children and families; some happy times; mainly tough. I have met and supported parents who have tried against all the odds to care for their children and parents who have inflicted unimaginable horrors. I have been delighted in approving foster carers and in recommending prospective adopters to the courts.
From the age of 23 I was a lay minister and came to ordination late in life.
Now here I am in Calasparra waiting to help people. For goodness sake give me a ring or send an email. I will listen to you and smile, then tell you all my problems and a week later we will stagger into the sunlight and head for the nearest bar.
I don't push religion. I am interested in people and hope that I understand where they are coming from. God is love. No more to say; everything flows from that.
'Bye for now and God bless