May Day Blues

The Weather is at the core of the British psyche. We start any conversations discussing it, and our mood is determined by it. Whatever the weather it is wrong for the British. When it snows we complain that everything stops working. When it rains the news cameras always find a flood. When it gets hot we want it cold again.

Tomorrow is the first day of May and today it is raining and the weather has taken a complete U-turn and headed back towards winter. It is cold, once more fires are being restoked, and central heating restarted. There has even been whispering of snow. It is made more painful because 10 days ago we were into a summer heatwave with temperatures just under 30oC.

I love hot weather. The temperatures in Dubai were perfect for me. I remember one winter’s night the disdain in the radio announcer’s voice as she read the forecast complaining that the night time temperature would drop to a low of 23oC. Can you imagine that?  23oC!!

There has been research to suggest that as the atmospheric pressure drops so does the mood of the British. That research may be spurious but bad weather affects me. I become indecisive.

There is enough happening in the world that surely something would attract my attention and there should have been no problem finding a subject to write about. There are meaty topics out there that deserve to be considered but weather-induced procrastination is rampant.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary resigned yesterday after two weeks of hounding and chasing. But, the why and when we should resign will be for a later day. It requires more thought.

Last week again we saw the British legal system in disrepute as another trial collapsed because the requirement of the prosecution to provide the defence with all the available evidence, even if it supports the defence, was not met.

Previous examples were in rape cases. This time it is a commercial trial. We are unsure if this is a deliberate and systemic failing or a consequence of funding shortfalls. Both are unacceptable. When prosecutors and defence lawyers are interviewed there is general concern and condemnation, but no action.  However, with Maddie very close to qualifying as a solicitor I would like to speak to her first before I comment.

I had tentatively arranged to meet some friends this week, but none has confirmed. I don’t mind if they are busy, but none has answered my emails and I am left just wondering and re-planning. It is both annoying and impolite, but I wrote about politeness last week. I can’t cover it again and this is not the place to moan.

It is not just the weather that is disrupting me. Sasha has the day off for a public holiday. In Ukraine, today and tomorrow are the Labor Day holidays.

You probably know I write to Sasha every day. They are long letters and while Sasha speaks and reads English well, we arrange for them to be translated. It means I can write without thinking about simplifying my thoughts and writing style. But, because it is a Ukraine public holiday, our translators Tatiana, and her colleagues, are also relaxing in the sun. So not only is anything I write left in the in-tray but also none of Sasha’s letters arrive.

The role of the translator is interesting and one of high confidentiality. Subconsciously, I know that my innermost thoughts are being read by someone else before they are read by Sasha in beautiful Russian. In this process, Tatiana is almost invisible. It only strikes home when I am in Kiev and we catch up.

We greet and then she might tell me that it sounds as if I have been busy or it was unfortunate that something or other happened. It is only then that I remember that she reads every romantic, mundane, naughty, word and thought I have shared with Sasha. It is momentarily disconcerting. I forget that she knows all about my life, love, and fears. It is a good job that Tatiana is a good friend.

It continues to rain. If I was a writer of lists I could spend the next two hours compiling one, but then I would have to find reasons to procrastinate before working them off.

I could try and sort out the details of my next trips to Kiev first in early June for a few days, and then September when I will be moving there. I am sure that I will need a visa to stay for more than 90 days especially if I want to work. But, first, I probably need to get the dates sorted.

When I move I hope I will learn some Russian. That is the plan but with everyone speaking, or wanting to learn English it may not be easy. I have started by buying two language courses. Using them is also on that hypothetical list of things to do.

It is still raining and getting no warmer. I think the best for me today is to wrap up in two jumpers, think about Sasha enjoying herself in a bikini on the beach, while I read a good book.

Although I might start a list.

  1. Buy an umbrella.
  2. Buy a new warm jumper.
  3. Turn up the central heating
  4. Throw out summer clothes.
  5. Write a list of all the lists I need to write.

It’s Raining. It must be Easter

I envied the IT manager for a company I worked with in Dubai. He was an Indian Christian living in a Muslim country. He would take every holiday going from Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, though Easter and onto Ramadan.

This up and coming weekend is Easter. A four-day holiday which, at least for the British will again be celebrated by rain. At least, as one forecaster said, it won’t snow. Well, it might as well snow. We have only just got over Christmas. It feels like winter and it was only last week that the season was officially reclassified as Spring.

We accept that Easter moves around but this isn’t the earliest date. I know you won’t remember but in 1761 Easter fell on March 22nd but among more recent history you may recall the Easter Sunday of March 23rd in 2008.

On the other hand, in 2000 we had to wait until April 23rd. If you thought that was a plan to encourage a sunny day, you were wrong. It didn’t lead to bright brilliant days of picnics and decorating the May Pole. Showers affected many parts of the British Isles during the day, these being thundery over W and N England, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of SE Scotland during the afternoon and evening.

How did this all happen? The First Council of Nicea, a council of Christian bishops convened unsurprisingly in Nicea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325AD, fixed Easter and a whole load of other Christian stuff.

They were a properly organised and busy bunch who sorted out:

  • The Arian question;
  • The celebration of Passover;
  • The Meletian schism;
  • The Father and Son one in purpose or in person;
  • The baptism of heretics;
  • The status of the lapsed in the persecution under Licinius.

To be honest, I have no idea what most of this was all about, but Maddie will have it all her fingertips and if anyone is interested I will pass on your questions to her for an answer.

It looks like quite a meaty agenda, and the Council worked on it for a month and out of the 300 plus delegates, everything was unanimously agreed. Maybe we also need to research how they organised themselves to do so much in such a short timescale. The EC and other such might learn something.

The bishops in Nicea decided that Easter Sunday, the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection, would always be on the first Sunday following the paschal full moon. That means the next full moon after the spring equinox.

Christmas Day is a fixed date, 25th December but Easter must always occur on a Sunday because that was the day of Christ’s Resurrection, and so the date is always moving around

The reason for choosing the paschal full moon is that it’s the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter is the Sunday after Passover.

However, the paschal full moon can be on different days in different time zones and that would produce variations on Easter. Realising this, the Church decided that the full moon is always determined to be the 14th day of the lunar month. The Church also fixed the spring equinox as March 21.

Have you got all that? Basically, Easter is fixed around the Jewish festival of Passover.

It’s a total mess. No one knows what’s happening. When does the school terms finish? Getting married at Easter, 2020? Who knows what dates to put in the diary.

I just hope that you don’t live in the UK and pray at a Coptic Church. The Coptic and Orthodox churches, celebrate Easter based on the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar used in the West. The Eastern church also ensures Easter always falls after Passover but has a different way of calculating the date of the spring equinox. If you can wait until 2336 then Easter, in the Coptic Church will be May 10.

Don’t worry the Church of England is on the case. In 2016 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that the date of Easter could be fixed to one day within the next ten years, hoping to end one of the longest disputes in church history. Apparently, Justin is going to phone Pope Francis and the Coptic Pope to see if we can have the festival celebrated on the same day each year across the world.

I have some advice to the Archbishop. Look at the very long-range weather forecast and find the wettest and coldest day and fix that as Easter. After all, that is what the Bishops of Nicea managed to do.