Some Readings by DavidPalmer

In Ackworth School we have a system whereby each teacher will do three 'Readings' a year. These are delivered as assemblies over the course of a week. After a suggestion from a student, I have put some of mine here and would be quite happy if another teacher wished to use or adapt them. Not many of the ideas are original - they have been adapted from things I have read or heard myself!




Did you see the program on C5 on Friday?
They were searching for a monster 21ft crocodile.

In 1982 I worked on a research project for the Dutch government. At the time I lived in Kenya. The Dutch government wanted to create a computerised model of the Tana river - the biggest river in Kenya - somewhere in between the Thames and the Amazon in size!!
I am not sure if I was hired because I had a very reliable LandRover - or because I was friendly with George Adamson - who had a gamepark on the upper edge of the survey area.
Anyway, I ended up driving some Dutch scientists into the Kenyan bush. We eventually arrived at the Tana riverbank at the highest point where it was possible to wade across. Right opposite George's camp. But 3 hour's drive away - down to Garissa and back up. We got out of my 4wd and the Dutch surveyor unloaded his equipment. The plan was that we would wade across the river with a surveying pole while the surveyor used his laser sight to measure where we were and measure the depth of the river every metre - thus creating the profile of the riverbed.
We looked across the river.
Right in the middle was a sandbank.
On the sandbank was a crocodile.
The surveyor was impressed.
'That is one BIG croc!'
He set up his laser rangefinder.
He pinged each end of the croc.
"At least 6m"
The Big Croc on the C5 program was 21 ft.
"No way I am getting in the water with that amphibian. . . . , David - can you go back to Garissa and get the canoe?"

Now in Garissa we had hired a dugout canoe to go downstream to the ocean alongside our boat.
I drove - three hours - back to Garissa and found the boat and the boatman.
"Bwana - we need to go upstream, THIS SIDE, to George's camp."
"Hakuna Matata!"

But when we walked into the river and tried to pull his canoe out we discovered a very big matata
His hollowed out tree-trunk was literally waterlogged and we could not lift it.
I remembered that we had been promised assistance from the Kenyan government so I went to the nearby police post and asked if there were any spare policemen who could (a) assist in lifting the canoe into the police lorry and (b) mount a patrol upriver to the riverbank opposite George's camp where they could unload the canoe!
They were very keen to help BUT they had no diesel fuel for their lorry. I had a lot of spare fuel for my landrover - but it was petrol! I asked "Where can I find any diesel?"
"'The Waterboard have diesel for their irrigation pump"
To cut a long story short - they did - and they were prepared to give us some - and we loaded the canoe into the back of the police lorry - and drove upstream - . . .
And we arrived at the riverbank.
The policemen trotted around to the back of their lorry - slid the 1-ton canoe out and down to the river.
The Dutch guys were very impressed – and I was feeling quite smug.

Then the boatman got out of my Landrover- walked down to the riverbank - waded into the river and waded across to the other side - banging the water with his paddle.

We were horrified.
We called him back.
"What are you doing?" we asked.
"I am banging the water to drive away any crocs - I need to make sure the water is deep enough for my canoe!"

So my message to you today is . . .

Will you depend on your laser rangefinder to tell you there is an 6m crocodile in your way -

or will you walk out into the river and bang the water with your paddle to drive the crocodiles away???

Music:- 'Superman Kryptonite' by Three Doors Down.


Karen Blixen famously said 'I had a farm once in Africa'

It launched her very famous book and the film – Out of Africa. (In which I played a part – but that is another story).

If I was ever lucky enough to write a book it should probably start off 'I had a LandRover once in Africa'

I went out to Kenya on a 2-year teaching contract. I spent every free moment on safari. When my contract ended I was offered a six-week safari guiding a group from the New York Zoo-ological Society up to and around Lake Turkana.

I adapted it by building a specialised metal roof which could carry a load - and had fittings to clip on extra fuel tanks too.

So this was the vehicle in which I arrived at George Adamson's camp. He had adapted his landrovers too. They all had bumpers at both ends made from logs - he explained that if they needed to push start one of them it was much less noisy than with the traditional bumpers.

I'd like to tell you a bit about George's camp.

It measured maybe 100m along each side and was surrounded by a 15 ft high chainlink fence.

Within this space there were a number of individual huts which were equivalent to the rooms in your home, so there was a living hut, a dining hut, a kitchen hut and so on. The day huts had three sides - each was fully open on the side that had the best view.

The side walls were all made from an ingenious construction which the English army had helped to build. Basically, you put up the uprights - and then hung chicken wire and tied sackcloth to it. Finally the sacking was plastered with a runny cement mix. This termite-proofed it - and you ended up with a rigid wall which was too thin to hold heat overnight.

The roof section were all palm thatch which also had good user-friendly thermal qualities.

George and Terence lived a very amazing life-style. The first time I visited their gamepark I met Terence in the bush leading a work-party who were clearing a roadway. He was 74 years old.

George was probably less useful than Terence. He was famous for releasing lions into the wild - but it is an inescapable fact that some of these lions returned his kindness by attacking either him or - tragically sometimes fatally - his workers.

However - whenever I visited him I was impressed by his harmonious relationship with the local creatures - ground squirrels and hornbills would come and feed from his hand.

One 10m by 10m section of the compound was walled off from the rest of the compound with a six ft high wall of woven rushes.

This was the toilet.

I don't mean to upset you by talking about such matters - but this was a very interesting toilet!

To put it in context, the usual communal toilet design in Africa was something called a 'long-drop'

You simply dig a deep hole and put a platform over it where you make your deposits into the hole.

A friend of mine described arriving at a campsite in Zambia at night. They visited the loo and were alarmed to hear a loud crash and a rattling sound. They fetched a torch and some string and lowered the torch into the hole - only to discover that the ground below them had subsided into the hole - leaving a cavern - with a thin roof covered in cockroaches (hence the rattling sound)

Terence had come up with a much more civilised shallow drop. They excavated a trench maybe a foot across, twenty feet long and a couple of feet deep. Over the trench was a frame holding an elephant's jawbone. I know this sounds odd - but it was white (and so didn't get too hot in the sun) and a very user-friendly shape to sit on. When you were finished you shovelled some gravel back into the trench - and voila - no unsightly mess - and no cockroaches - and no offensive odours.

Your dignity was protected by the rush walls on two sides but the other two sides were plain chain-link - and it was not unheard of that one of George's lions would stroll by . . . Some visitors reported that this had the effect of speeding up their alimentary process while other guests said it had the exact opposite effect.

So George was lucky enough to live out his dreams.

He died a very violent death - he had some visitors and when they were being driven to his airstrip by one of his drivers they were attacked by some bandits who fired in the air to stop them..

George heard the firing and drove out to investigate. The bandits saw him coming - and killed him - but he - aged 83 - effectively drove them off and saved his guests.

I think if he could communicate with us now he would tell you that he thought he was lucky to depart in such a brave way.

Music:- "I'm Lucky" by Joan Armatrading


Today I have been asked by Stephen Fields to add the Peacejam theme to my reading. I found three brave and well-spoken vounteers to stand beside me to see if we should share our view of the world.

Suzanka:- "I have lived in Slovakia, a small but not unimportant country in Central Europe. I have also lived in Croatia, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, and England.

All these places were wonderful but I have realised they all have something in common in that people have problems they need to deal with.

In particular I have noticed that in my own country people deal with problems without getting too stressed. We have two sayings – one, for the men, is “If a problem doesn’t solve itself in three days then it is not worth your attention.” And the women have a saying “Don’t worry because it creates wrinkles” I think this explains why Slovak women are considered to be the most beautiful in the world."

Gee:- "I have lived in Hong Kong, China, Canada and of course, England.

I have noticed that in all these places people were prepared to help me if I had a problem.

In particular I have noticed that people in England are kind, funny and friendly."

John:- I have lived in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and England.

Everywhere I went I found people were generally friendly and helpful.

In particular I have noticed that African people are more laid back and don't get too stressed. I like this!!"

Me:- "I have lived in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Germany, France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Australia, America, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

As a general comment I have found that people in all of these places will react positively to you if you hold your head up and look people in the eye. It also helps if you take the trouble to learn the local greeting.

Specifically, I have found that people in Ireland have the most interesting philosophy. I once read this quote – “The Irish are a fine race who never allow mere logic to stand in the way of higher truth”

Music:- "I'll Take You There" by Ladysmith Black Mbazo.

Monday I want to talk to you today about lying. Who thinks that lying is wrong? Who has told a lie? Who has never told a lie? Who thinks it is always wrong to tell a lie? Well what if someone you loved was ill and asked you if they looked OK – would it be OK to say “fine” in order to cheer them up? What if they were dying? Perhaps it is not as simple as we thought . . .

I want to warn you about the fact that a small lie may have larger consequences and that they do have a habit of coming out. Let me tell you a story about a little lad called Archy. His mother sent Archy to the shop to buy some potatoes. On the way he had to pass a sweet shop and he couldn’t resist it – he went in and bought some sweets. Then he didn’t have enough money to buy the potatoes. So he went home and told his mother the shop was shut. A little lie. Now how can I explain this? (Take scissors from pocket) “Would you mind helping me Mr Fulford? – Thank-you.” (Remove tie from front of Mr Fulford’s jacket, cut the end off and tuck it back in. Hold up end of tie.) This is like the first little lie. (Point at Mr Fulford) You can’t really see the effect. So Archy’s mother said “Well, where is the money?” Archy said “I lost it” (Cut a bit more off the tie) You can still not tell what has happened. “Well let’s go and look for it” “I think it fell down the drain” (Cut another chunk so end of tie now won’t go back in jacket) Now you see it can’t go much further. When his mother goes to look down the drain she will see that the shop is open and all is exposed. Recently in a school quite near here a boy was late for school. When asked why he said he had been asked to get into a strange car – a white Ford. The school called the police who took this very seriously and set up road blocks in the area. Counsellors came to the school and talked to the boy and his classmates. It was not until three days later that the boy admitting that he had made it up so he would not get in trouble for being late. The headteacher of the school – who was a very good and caring leader is still off work with stress triggered by that incident.

Sadly you are not set a good example by many of our politicians these days who seem to think it is fine to twist the truth and when caught out insist that it was for the good of the country. It isn’t.

Music:- 'All I See' by Vinegar Joe - as performed by Amy, Charlotte and Joe

If you like, you can actually hear this assembly by clicking on this link! (6M file but may stream)


When I asked our Matthew what he thought of my morning reading he instantly replied “It was OK – but you should tell more African stories”. So I dedicate this reading to him.

We lived in Africa for ten years and I was lucky enough to spend two of those years on safari. For three periods during the two years I was based in the northern tip of the Serengeti identifying lions and guiding research trips for the New York zoological society. While one group was staying at our tented camp we had arranged for two leading wildlife researchers to come and talk about their work. I collected them from their camp and took them back afterwards. Their names were Laurence Frank and Bob Sepaulski. Laurence is one of the leading hyaena experts in the world while Bob does baboons. Laurence was very witty in conversation but a bit dull when making his presentation. Bob was very quiet – until he got in front of the crowd when he was spellbinding!

At their camp they had a very smart large canvas tent with a big veranda on which they had set up two long tables to work on and we sat there and enjoyed a cup of tea. Their camp was in an oxbow of the Mara river on the edge of the national park. The view to the left was across the endless open plain stretching away seamlessly into Tanzania and to our right more open space with a small hill – which the locals might call a kopje - and then a gentle rise. Their camp was inside the park and the other side of the river was outside. The view was amazing even though there were rolling black clouds above us. Our camp (some 30 miles away) was also in an oxbow but was heavily wooded and I commented on how quiet it was here. Laurence told me that the other side of the oxbow was a designated campsite – “but there are twelve more between here and the road so no-one ever bothers to come this far”

No sooner had he said this than we heard a rumbling sound and a big overlander lorry appeared and pulled in to the opposite promontary. The driver was alone and he threw down a sleeping bag, put a transistor radio on it, switched it on and lay down to rest. We listened to the tinny noise of “Nakupenda Malaika” – a popular hit song at the time - drifting across for a few minutes without saying a word. Then Laurence stood up and walked across their headland (about 70 yards) until he was opposite the driver. “Excuse me – would you mind turning that down” he called. No response. A bit louder “Excuse me would you mind turning that down”. No repsonse. Then he got really cross – he visibly swelled up and the veins stood out on his neck as he bellowed “WILL YOU TURN THAT BLASTED THING OFF” and as the echoes rolled across there was a huge flash of light and the loudest bang I have ever heard as lightning hit the small hill - less than half a mile from where we sat. It was so close that the sound and the light were simultaneous. The driver shot to his feet and grabbed the radio with trembling hands and turned it off.

Bob and I still had our teacups in our hands and I turned to him and said “Gosh – that was impressive – how did he do that?” Bob answered calmly - and with a perfectly straight face “Oh it’s easy – but it does tend to drain your batteries quite quickly . . .

Music:- 'Crocodile Man' by Chris Smither - as performed by Joe

If you like, you can actually hear this assembly by clicking on this link! (6M file but may stream)


Today I want to talk to you about music. As I think you know, music is very important to me – and – I suspect – to a lot of you too. I must confess I like music with a nice simple message. I liked the connection between talking about “Not telling lies” on Monday and and hearing Joe sing “Your mamma knows exactly what this bad boy’s done” on Tuesday – and don’t forget that! I once played “Search for the hero” and expained that to me that phrase meant looking inside yourself to find the decent, Christian thing to do – even - or maybe that should be particularly – when you are tired and under pressure. Less than a week later I was telling off a student when another student asked me if I could find the hero inside myself. I was amazed at his bravery – and at how right he was. As a child I was so frustrated by hearing adults stand up and tell us to love our neighbour – and then an hour later that same adult might be shouting at us and calling us stupid children. I hereby grant you all the right to ask me at any time to look for the hero inside me – and in return – well we are going to hear two pieces of music today so let’s listen to the first one now.

Music:- 'Leg Up' by Vinegar Joe - as performed by Amy, Charlotte and Joe

So your side of the deal is this – when you have a choice – and this happens more often than you might think – between having a laugh at someone else’s expense – or of lifting that person up – maybe you could make the nicer choice.And now to the last piece of music this week. A very simple message – but don’t let that put you off thinking about it because it is most certainly true for all of us here.

Music:- "I'm Lucky" by Joan Armatrading - as performed by Amy, Charlotte and Joe

If you like, you can actually hear this assembly by clicking on this link! (6M file but may stream)



DP leaps to his feet frantically ringing a handbell and shouting:-"OYEZ! OYEZ! OYEZ!"

"Please put your hands up if you know who used to make that call.

Thank-you. It was the town-crier, in the 17th Century. I must confess I am fascinated by the way that that system worked - how did he get his information? How often? Did he trot out the same stories until he got an update? Did he let people ask questions? Did he make up the answers? How long did it take a story to travel from London to Ackworth?
But more to the point, I wanted you to consider the way data was delivered then compared with today!
In those days information trickled along and was passed from person to person. Today, every single person is bombarded with hundreds of datastreams, radio, TV, digital channels, newspapers.
Did you know that the weekend edition of the New York Times now weighs 2 kg? One professor has estimated that ONE of these editions contains more data than the average person in the Town Crier's audience would have absorbed in their whole life.
It is calculated that in this country you are exposed to between 1 and 2 THOUSAND advertisments every day. Some is in your mail (snailmail as some people now call it) How much of your mail is from people you know? A few years ago pretty much all of it would have been.
If you have a mobile phone you will know about text-messages. There was a prediction that the latest technology would mean that since your phone knows where you are, you might get texts about special offers from shops and restaurants that you are near.
And don't get me started on email! Surely email is our modern Pandora's box. I get between 1 and 2 hundred emails a day - and these days I suspect that is not unusual. Naturally a lot of these are mailshots but it does take time to sift through them to make sure I do not throw out a genuine message.

Where it used to take days for news to travel across the country - today it only takes seconds for news to travel across the globe. Very often the cameras are pouring the information onto our screens pretty much as it happens. Surely the most dramatic example of that was September the 11th. Did you know there was actually a news and phone blackout in New York for two or three hours as the events were unfolding? We got a message over the internet from a school in New York asking us if we knew what was happening and we were relaying the news back to them!"

Plays:- 'Where were you when the world stopped turning' by Alan Jackson (Sample available from


For a while, when I was MUCH younger, I tried to write poems. Now please don't worry, I am not about to inflict one of my attempts on you - but for that time - I did move among people who wrote poems, and was lucky enough to hear Brian Patten reading his works (which I cannot recommend too highly). One of my friends was a guy called Charlie Cooksey and he wrote this poem which I think may be appropriate when thinking about all the junkmail, adverts, etc that we get every day:-
Pullout Piece of Poem Paper

This piece of paper says I was born
And this piece of paper says my teeth are O.K.
That's what those pieces of paper say
Colour prejudice apart, they must be right
Says so here in black and white

This piece of paper says I'm this type of guy
Because I'd read some pieces of paper
And wrote it all down on pieces of paper
And got a piece of paper back
Which I can show to a man who fills in
A piece of paper employing me
To fill in pieces of paper
And at the end of the week
Get some pieces of paper
In a brown licked-up piece of paper

This piece of paper says war has broke out
Over some piece of paper
That wasn't really a piece of paper
But something quite different
Even though it was only a piece of paper
And that everyone in the country will get a piece of paper
With some instructions written on
And from then on they won't have much time
For pieces of paper or anything
Till some guys have signed a piece of paper

This pocket of mine has one or two pieces of paper
Which I give to people to get things
But they give me a piece of paper back
Which I throw in the street
With thousands of other pieces of paper
But the person who I gave the piece of paper
Keeps it and puts it ever so neat
With other pieces of paper

But the strange thing thing is this:
The piece of paper you are looking at
Means more to me than any other piece of paper
Before it was empty
Now there are words on it

This piece of paper says I've got a broken leg
And this piece of paper says I need some blood
But this piece of paper says I'm a Jehovah's Witness
This piece of paper says I'm a Marxist
But this piece of paper says Marx was a one-hit wonder
And this piece of paper says it was rape
While this piece of paper says it is love
And this piece of paper says I'm guilty while
This piece of paper says I'm insane

Some people I know devote their whole lives
To pieces of paper
They say they are the pieces of paper
But the fellah the pieces of paper are about
Never even wrote a word on any piece of paper
Others say I've got to read certain pieces of paper
Because they are better and classier and tastier
Pieces of paper
You have to talk about the right pieces of paper

I swear I'll get some piece of paper one day
Telling me it's the end
Because of my lack of interest and concern
In pieces of paper "-
But I've got this piece of paper
And it says I'm already dead
And I'm quite looking forward to the little piece
In the local paper

Plays:- 'No-one ever do' by Vinegar Joe (inc. Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer)


So, what can you do about Information Overload? Well for one thing, you can filter! I hope you know that not everything you read in the papers is true? Indeed not everything the Prime Minister tells you is true! I hope you will recycle your junkmail rather than just binning it. And with your emails you can create filters to remove a lot of the dross - if you don't know how then I can show you. And I trust that you will not be copying long and silly jokes and chain letters to everyone in your addres book? But with your email - and your contact with the Internet - please remember that you CANNOT be too careful! As that song just said "None of us are ever invincible". Take me for example. I was once killed by a rhino. It was a very large, male, white rhino. He was actually very docile since he had been reared in captivity in the USA and brought to Africa specifically to kill me. To get him to appear to charge my armoured car a Texan cowboy stuntman had to run in front of him to get his attention! Then they brought up a perfect, life-sized replica of his head and horns, on a luggage trolley to hook under the armoured car and appear to lift it. While all this was going on I had to try and shoot him with my machinegun - which was supposed to be jammed! I found this quite hard to manage since Her Majesty's government have actually expended quite a lot of effort training me to unblock a machinegun. And this drill, as at least one other gentleman on the staff can tell you, is done until it is automatic so I found it very hard not to shoot the rhino. Well I didn't - and then they brought scaffold poles and after filling my armoured car with contact adhesive, they tipped it over the edge of the ravine and set light to it! Ironically, after all this expense, the editors did not use this footage in the film but nevertheless, having been paid - and having survived - I consider myself to be very lucky! And being able to filter your information, and indeed for being here - so are you!!
Play "I'm Lucky" by Joan Armatrading


On the 21st of September I set off with six of our sixth form on the Northern Schools Pilgrimage. I heartily recommend this trip to all our students. Since only a few people can go - I hope others will try and talk to some of the pilgrims to find out about what went on. Our pilgrims were Greg, Lauren, Louis, Gloria, Laura and Deborah.
We saw many amazing sights - indeed, very early in the trip a beam of light from the sky hit the minibus - and the radio-tuning-mechanism was mysteriously welded onto Radio2 . . (I have to tell you that only a few of the pilgrims were converted to this music)
On a more serious note we did find that the sites we visited were ALL very attractive and I think it is easy to see how one may be inspired in such places. It also made me think very much about exactly how much early Quakers gave up when they were put in prison for their beliefs. Greg & Lauren are going to tell you a little about their experience:-

One of the interesting issues we discussed while we were away on the weekend, was the issue of what would George Fox's view on modern Quakers of today be?
We decided that he would probably find modern Quakers too impassive for his liking. Being a man with a great talent for public speaking and also with the guts as well as the energy to spread his word as far and as wide as possible, what would he feel towards the rather quiet and peaceful approach of modern Quakerism?
It is known that in his time he had the ability to hold audiences for hours with his talks on the wrongs of the church and the world of his time. Nowadays it appears Quakers are somewhat more subdued. We all agreed that at times Quakers are willing to literally, yet not practically, fight for what they felt right, though this is all in comparison to the likes of people like George Fox and Margaret Fell, who were willing to go to prison on countless occasions so as to stand up for what they believed in. We were even fortunate to visit the jail in Lancaster in which George fox was actually locked up in and this only helped us realise how tough he, and other dedicated Quakers of his time, actually were!!

Margaret Fell married Judge Fell and lived at Swarthmoor Hall for 20 years before she met George Fox. When Fox arrived at Swarthmoor, Judge Fell was away but Fox was welcomed into the house just as many travelling ministers had been before him. Margaret listened to him speak and was amazed by all he had to say, being so moved that she wept. Soon Margaret and her family became Quakers. When Judge Fell returned, he was met by some of the local gentry and told that his wife and children had been bewitched. In the 1600s this was a terrible charge, as witchcraft was strongly believed in. However, when the Judge arrived home he was willing to hear what George Fox had to say and he too was impressed by this man. He allowed the Friends to hold their meetings in his house and although he never became a Friend himself, he often sat in his study with the door open, listening to the meeting, which was in progress in the next room. Margaret wrote countless letters of encouragement to travelling Friends and protests against persecution to Members of Parliament. She also gave much of her own money and helped to raise further funds for those spreading Quakerism so that they could support both themselves and their families left at home.
Whilst Judge Fell was still alive the Friends could continue to meet as his wisdom and high position in society protected them. Without him, the Quakers were disliked in society due to their non-conformist ways.
When Charles II was restored in 1660, life for the Quakers grew worse. Many were imprisoned for almost any excuse, including George Fox who was charged with plotting against the King. Margaret Fell immediately went to London to see the King and explain the principles for which Friends were suffering and explain that it was not within their religion to plot against the King. Fox was eventually released but even more Friends were arrested. Margaret remained in London, petitioning for the release of Friends. In 1662 an act was passed which made any non Church of England meetings illegal. Margaret Fell was asked by the Magistrates to promise not to hold Quaker meetings in her house and to swear an oath of allegiance. However, Quakers do not swear oaths,as they believe that people should be sincere and truthful at all times and therefore an oath is unnecessary. On her refusal to take this oath, Margaret Fell was imprisoned in Lancaster Castle as well as having all her property taken from her. Even whilst in prison Margaret made vigorous protests about the appalling conditions in which imprisoned Quakers were kept and wrote letters of encouragement to Friends. She was finally released after being in prison for 7 years. In 1669 she married George Fox and together they continued to build up the society of Friends.

Play "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash


I got a call the other night from a lady at BT. She wanted to make me an offer. Everyone else was out, there wasn't much on TV and she sounded as if the last 50 callers had all told her to get lost so I said OK! "We would like to give you 3p a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week" "Wow" I said, "that's a jolly good offer. Let me just get my calculator - Now let me see, that's £1.80 an hour - £300 a week - that's awfully generous on your part - will you be sending out the cheques weekly or monthly?" "Erm - no sir - it's a rate - we will charge you 3p a minute" "But that's not what you said - you said you wanted to GIVE me 3p a minute . . "

Well, we went back and forth on this for a while and parted still (I hope) friends - but when I put the phone down it did make me think about the way we get time and money all wrong. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to make money - and completely miss the point that it is TIME that is the thing that is worth having.

Have you noticed how time goes at different rates? When you are involved in something you like or enjoy it goes pretty quick! Next time it is going the other way for you - and you think you are bored - just try to imagine for a minute that you are sitting in the assylum-seekers camp in Calais - or in a refugee camp on the Afghanistan border waiting for something to come out of the sky - and then you might agree that even at its most tedious - your time is worth more than 3p a minute.

Play - "Precious Time" by Van Morrison


I would like your help with a short survey.

Please raise your hands if you think you know what music will be played today.

Thank-you. Now please raise your hands if you liked the combination of Pilgrimages and 'I Can See Clearly Now' on Monday.

Thank-you. Now please raise your hands if you thought 'Precious Time' by Van Morrison went OK with Tuesday's theme.

Thank-you. Now please raise your hands if you think it connected well with my theme today.

Thank-you - I AM impressed with your ability to predict the future . . .

There was a line in the chorus which said 'It doesn't matter to which god you pray' and I really like that. I was always impressed when the comedian Dave Allen used to finish his act with 'Good night - and may your God go with you' I like that because it shows respect for other peoples' beliefs.

I want to return to something we mentioned on Monday - what would George Fox think of Quakers today - and extend it. What would the Prophet Mohammed say to the leaders of the Taliban? What would Jesus Christ make of the Catholic church and its wealth? I read once that in the New Testament he never said 'Thou shalt not . . ' His message was always 'Love thy neighbour'. If you follow that instruction then you cannot harm your fellow man. But the establishment of the church may have found it hard to control its members with a positive command and so they produced lots of negatives. I sometimes think that a measure of the spirituality of any organisation is connected to its trust and belief in the goodness of its members. How did 'Love thy neighbour' become the Spanish Inquisition? How many of the conlicts around the world today are fuelled by so-called religious differences?

Now you may say that all these things are outside your control. But you are wrong. If you can find it in yourself to see good (or if you like God) in others then you will respect them even when they are annoying. I also said to you that I found it easy to be inspired in a lovely place - but I truly want to be able to feel inspired when I am cold and wet and tired too!

You are so lucky to have the freedom to choose which god to follow.
You will not find the hero inside yourself unless you search!

Play "I'm Lucky" by Joan Armatrading


I want to talk to you about the future. In my area the changes are incredibly dramatic and likely to continue to develop rapidly. Moore's law says that the power of your computer will double every 18 months. The size of the parts that do the work get about half as small in the same interval.

If this continues then by 2055 you will have a computer as powerful as the combined brainpower of the current population of the earh. It will be very small - indeed it may even be implanted!

I'm not going quite so far into the future today. I want you to imagine a holiday I am going to have in 20 years time. I'm going to fly to SA. I am going to drive to the airport and because the motorways are so busy I have to book a slot on the motorway. I go out and unplug my car from the house. This may not mean what you think it means but I'll come back to that tomorrow. I haven't packed much because I am wearing clothes which can morph into different sizes and colours for different functions. Once I have got my car into its slot on the motorway I can relax because it is on autopilot. I smooth my hand across the top of my thigh and that bit of material morphs into a smooth screen which shows my message box.There's a message from mum saying take care and one from little brother reminding me to bring back a present. Not much change there then! There is also a note from my clothes saying that my blood pressure is a bit higher than normal. I know that this is because I am excited about the holiday so I ignore it safe in the knowledge that if my vital signs should go outside certain parameters, my clothes would summon help. I arrive at the airport and walk straight through to the departure area. There are no queues because as I passed through various archways I was scanned for weapons and my ID, passport details and flight booking data were all checked eletronically from the computers built into my clothes. The plane does not look too different from today's planes but it actually takes a parabolic flight path in that it flies up and up until it can coast down to its destination.

While in my seat I smooth the cloth surface of the seat back in front of me and another screen appears. No new messages so I watch a movie. In SA the best bits of my holiday are two outings. One is to climb Table Mountain and the other is to swim with some sharks. For both trips I have rented a superman suit No, not a red and blue outfit but a light exoskeleton, developed originally by the military which takes my muscle impulses and amplifies them to give me great strength. The suit enables me to climb the mountain quickly and without ever breaking into a sweat. And when I am swimming it lets me go as fast as the shark and anyway, my clothes generate an electric field which warns the shark from coming too close.

And when I get a chance to relax on the beach I will be able to read the twenty-fourth Harry Potter book and listen to some of my favourite music, produced with very little electronic assistance - indeed, without even using any instruments.

Play "The Star and the Wiseman" by Ladysmith Black Mbazo


We use hydrocarbons as fuels. Over the years we have moved from the carbon - coal for example - towards more volatile fuels like petrol and eventually we should be using pure hydrogen, probably in fuel cells. These take in hydrogen which combines with oxygen in the air, releasing energy and forming a waste product - water. So you might have a situation where on a long journey in a hot car a child asks for a drink and dad says nip round to the back and suck on the exhaust while mum revs the engine. Our view of the car as bad news for the environment - you do know that the car is bad news don't you? - may undergo a radical change. Do you remember when I said the car was plugged into the house? Did you think the house was charging the car? If we get the fuel cell right it may be that you will leave your car runnng overnight to charge the house and sell any excess energy to the
National Grid. A trap under your exhaust will direct the water onto the garden.


In my first talk mentioned how computers are shrinking. People are already working on something called nanotechnology which means tiny machines which could, for example, swim through your bloodstream. We already have lots of little computers communicating with each other. This little computer can store data which I can transfer to my watch or my phone. It could also control devices in my house. I think this process will continue. This little digital camera is even smaller than you think. More than half of it's size is batteries and more than half of what's left is casing. What I can't understand is why they have not yet built it into a mobile phone. No more worries about how many images you can carry, just email them home.

It might not be as crazy as you think to imagine that if, while I am preparing something in the kitchen, I realise I am missing my favorite program, I might ask the fridge to tell the video to start recording. And as I take a pizza out of the fridge it sends a message to my pocket computer and my phone to add 1 pizza to my shopping list. Or do you think it might just email the supermarket? I would guess that it knew I'd taken a pizza because it had scanned a little chip in the dough. This chip had also been scanned when I had taken the pizza out of the shop so that I was charged for it. The chip is small enough that after its last act - to tell the microwave how long to cook the pizza - it will be vaporised.

I heard Peter Cochrane who is head of BT research labs saying that he is - at the age of 55 starting to lose his hearing. He belives that if he does something about it duing the next year he will have a choice between sticking a little plastic lump in his ear - or have an implant. Being a technologist he thinks he will opt for the second option - and he is just hoping that when he does he will also be able to get either a radio or a cellphone fitted at the same time.