View from the tram stop

When you are out and about among strangers, do you ever wonder who they are, what they do and how they see their surroundings?

On a journey this week I was amazed by the friendliness and helpfulness of people, who were perhaps on their way to work. I caught a tram, having been helped by another passenger, when the ticket machine suddenly decided to display the menu in Spanish. As I boarded I asked someone whether all the trams went to Manchester Piccadilly. I thought he said, “This one does.” However the doors were closing noisily and he probably said, “This one doesn’t.”

I recognised most of the stops on the route from a train journey a couple of days before. Places I had known decades before had really changed. When I used to take a train it entered a tunnel at the station. Now the Metro goes above street level in many places. I felt like a time-traveller!

Suddenly a young lady came to me and said, “If you’re going to Manchester Piccadilly, you need to change here.” I thanked her and stood up. Two other people made sure I caught the correct tram, one of them sitting with me on it and chatting. He was a young man, who asked if it was my first visit to Manchester. I told him I had known the city a long time ago, before there were trams.

His reply surprised me, “I thought there had always been trams!”

That brings me to perceptions. Do you see below the surface? Would it surprise you to know that the beautiful stone or brick of many of the older buildings in Manchester used to be blackened with soot from factory chimneys? I can recall seeing the cleaning work in progress using dilute acid (as far as I remember) to remove the soot and grime, exposing light coloured stone.

You may not know Manchester (UK), but what about the places you do know? Have they changed much? Can you trace how they have developed from the changes in architectural style of the buildings?

And what about the people? How many of them have always lived there as Mr Popper had in Stillwater in the excellent production of Mr Popper’s Penguins, which I saw in the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale? (It is on until 31 December 2019 and is great fun.) The young man I was speaking to had only been in Manchester a few weeks. I was just passing through the city centre on a beautiful, sunny morning. Being too lazy to walk to the other side of a post supporting the overhead wires in the hope of better photo, I snapped the Central Library from the tram stop. The tram arrived in less than 5 minutes. I was almost sorry not to be spending more time in the city.

What I read in October (Part 1)

Palau: A Life on Fire The spiritual memoir of Luis Palau with Paul J. Pastor

I was given this book by a friend. I had not previously heard of Luis Palau, whose ministry is similar to that of Billy Graham (one of whose books I reviewed here).

The style reminded me of God’s Smuggler. It has been written primarily for a US readership. Palau’s story is very interesting. It is told in an open and honest manner. I was interested to learn of his visit to the UK at the time of the Falklands War. Palau’s country of birth is Argentina – the country laying claim to the Falkland Islands. Palau came in peace to spread a message of peace.

The book was written after Palau had been diagnosed with cancer. He had not previously written about his own life. The partnership with Paul J. Pastor has resulted in a very readable and inspiring book.

I took the book to our prayer group and read a few pages about his visit to Britain. It was suggested that I might read more from it another time – a recommendation in itself!

As a UK citizen I found one of the words used about British society rather strange to put it mildly. However, I realise that communication is important and if one word is chosen rather than another, it is probably for a good reason. Just to set the record straight, we do not use the word ‘caste’ to describe our flexible social structure. Our word is ‘class’ and society is roughly divided into upper class, middle class (professional people) and working class. Before the Second World War class divisions were far more obvious than they are in present-day Britain. Following WW2 there was a greater emphasis on education for everyone. It became easier for people from working class families to become professional people. We even have a word, yuppies – Young Upwardly-mobile People. Personally I regard people as people no matter what their background.

One thing that resonated with me from Palau’s faith story was the importance of understanding that the Holy Spirit (or Spirit of Christ) lives within Christians helping us to live for God and helping us to grow more like Jesus Christ.

Luis Palau continues his ministry with podcasts which may be found on Twitter @LuisPalauLive.

A question for my bookish readers

I have recently read a post about how to write book reviews. It ends with the statement that the reviewer should include the details about the book including Publisher, price and ISBN. While I agree with that for reviews of recent or forthcoming books aimed at print publications, I do not consider it to be essential online.

What I try to do is include a link in my reviews to the publisher’s website or even to Amazon. One reason is that I know that my blog is available to be read worldwide. Also I write about books I have read, which may not be newly published. Some may even be out of print.

My next post will be one or more book reviews, but meanwhile what do you think about this?

Please vote in the poll.