TV IN MANCHESTER
I arrived in Manchester late on Saturday night, and the city centre was lively with shrieking, shouting young people, many drunk, a few vomiting or slumped in pub doorways. With intermittent blasts of driving rain, it was a vivid but depressing scene. Several thumped on the doors of my taxi as it took me to what was once the Free Trade Hall, the facade now fronting a vast modern and very comfortable hotel all thick glass doors and shiny steel and gleaming dark wood. The taxi-driver said the crowds were celebrating St Patrick's Day, but that most Saturdays were a bit like this. I stepped over a fat drunken girl in the doorway as her friends mumbled awkwardly and a couple of lads started to argue with my taxi-driver.
My room was immensely comfortable and I slept well. Off at an early hour to the TV studios for the "Heaven and Earth Show", broadcast live. As one of three panel members I ddiscussed whether or not Christians are experiencing discrimination in Britain....lively talk. Mentioned obviously, that we shouldn't whinge too much....Christians in Pakistan have had their churches torched and homes destroyed, Christians in China get beaten up or mysteriously disappear to be listed among prisoners three or four years later..... But yes, things are likely to get difficult here...unjust new law about to be passed forcing Catholic schools to teach that homosexual and lesbian activity is an acceptable lifestyle...obviously for some years now Christian doctors haven't been able to work in senior posts in obstetrics unless they abandon their beliefs and perform abortions...etc. Another panel member said it was all the Christians' fault for having too many privileges in the first place, eg having Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords, and being allowed to have Christian schools funded by the taxpayer. I pointed out that for centuries all schools in Britain, and health services too, were run by the Church (and run rather well - the State has been a newcomer, and I'm not sure has yet proved itself as the best provider of either education or health care) so any funding now being produced from the public purse is an extra to what we provided first and purely from a spirit of Christian service.....oh, but debates like this get nowehere really....
Home, just settling to letters etc when phone call from BBC World Service at Bush House in the Strand...would I come and do a News Hour interview re same topic? Looked at kitchen clock. Could just manage it with Mass first. Cycled to Mass - our Sunday evening one is always packed, especially with young people as the parish youth club meets afterwards. Squeezed in to corner of pew. Cycled home. Jamie back from weekend in Yorkshire.Had about five mins with him then taxi came. To BBC, did interview. Staff at Bush House v. anxious about BBC reporter, one of their team, kidnapped apparently by Palestinian group in Gaza. This was subsequently all over the news bulletins. His BBC colleagues all say he is a v. decent and friendly chap, keen to be a fair reporter.