By Martin Gibson

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it, is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy, error undetected will flourish and subvert”. – J Robert Oppenheimer.

Important notice: next Wednesday 16th December, Rev Steve Oram will conduct a service of Holy Communion in St Mary’s at 10am. This is wonderful news, but comes with caveats: first, everyone MUST observe social distancing and wear masks; second PLEASE, after the service leave the church immediately, do NOT stop to chat to your friends. If you do wish to talk with others, please do it in the street, not the church or its grounds.

One carol service definitely worthwhile joining in with is the BIG DOORSTEP CAROL SING ALONG on Sunday 20th December at 6pm. The hills of Old Down will certainly be alive with this music, as local residents are planning a community sing-song from their gardens. Tune into Ten Radio – 105.3FM -and invite your neighbours to sing 10 carols – all the details are on:

The CHAT group explored one of the perennial mysteries of our time last Tuesday. Why do people go to church for Christmas, but not at other times of the year. No conclusions are ever reached by the members but the ideas put forward can be fascinating. To answer this particular question came explanations of culture, localness and personal. But perhaps the most interesting answer was “family”. The joy of being together with kith and kin in a building which symbolises all that is good in the world.

We’ve talked about lonely people in the parish many times before. One person who relishes in unannounced visits from good people, regardless of how well he knows them, is Richard Powell. Do find 10 minutes to go and see him. If you don’t know where he lives – ring me on 616856.

Wonderful to see that the church porch was absolutely STACKED with food and toiletries over the weekend – all destined for the North Bristol Foodbank. Please keep your kindness coming. There are so many people who depend on our generosity and compassion.

Have you spotted the new, very graceful bench on Tockington Green? It’s a gift from the Parish Council to the village, There are 2 plaques on it, one saying it has been donated by the Parish Council and the other is a tribute to the late Kenny Neale, our friend who stood on the corner of the Green for 40 years and waved to everyone who passed by. There is plenty of remaining space to commemorate other Tockingtonians who have helped to make our village a wonderful place in which to live.

Always read what it says on the sign

At a towing company:  “We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want your tows instead.”

On a maternity room door: “Push. Push. Push.”

At the optician’s:  “If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

In a podiatrist’s office: “Time wounds all heels.”

On a house fence:  “Salespeople welcome! Dog food is expensive.”

At a car dealership: “The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.”

In a veterinarian’s waiting room: “Be back in five minutes. Sit! Stay!”

At the electric company: “We would be de-lighted if you pay your bill. However, if you don’t, you will be.”

In a restaurant window: “Don’t stand there and be hungry. Come on in and get fed up.”

In the front yard of a funeral home:  “Drive carefully. We’re happy to wait.”