A day off (apart from a meeting from 10am to 2pm regarding the process for appointing a new Dean of Bradford, followed by a trip to the best physiotherapist in the world ever…) and a moment to note the arty highlights of the last couple of weeks amid all the work stuff.

German friends sent me the new CD by a band called Silbermond. For English ears German rock is an acquired taste. Apart from Herbert Grönemeyer, who I once saw perform in Linz, Austria, not much gets me listening frequently. In a week I have listened to Silbermond's Himmel Auf a dozen times. A great female lead vocal is backed by a tight band and some effective guitar work. And the lyrics (which I have just read through) are sensitive, searching, sometimes poignant expressions of longing for depth in a superficial world. Try 'Wofür', for example. I love it.

I caught Kristina Train on the telly and loved her voice. Her new album is called Dark Black and deserves a wide hearing. Much of it seems to me to be stripped back in order to allow her voice to fill the space. Again, there is a poignant beauty to songs which are deceptively simple. And it brightens up after the opening track cheerfully declares: “Dark black is the colour of my life since you've been gone.” Lovely stuff.

Swiss friends staying with us recently left us a French DVD of a 2010 film called Little White Lies (Les petits mouchoirs). It is all about a group of friends who, when another friend is badly hurt in a road accident, discover how shallow their relationships actually are. What appears to be strong only conceals the realities each one is afraid to reveal, thereby putting a question mark over the reality of love, trust and friendship. It is funny, sad, entertaining… and features the excellent Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Inception) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist).

Books? Still reading Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies alongside Verstehen Sie das, Herr Schmidt? – a book of informal interviews with former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Loving both.

I am reading Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel's sequel to the brilliant Wolf Hall and was struck by two lines back in the first chapter:

We think time cannot touch the dead, but it touches their monuments, leaving them snub-nosed and stub-fingered from the accidents and attrition of time. (p.10)

But what has been done can never be undone and the passing of time puts everyone and everything into a more realistic perspective. Even the most glorious monuments crumble as the glories and catastrophes of the past are reappraised in the light of subsequent events – the future being contingent on what has brought us to that particular place. Time never stands still and even death doesn't spare us from judgement.

Later Thomas Cromwell is reading his papers and is cross to see that manipulation of the grain market is allowing 'some little lordling' to promote 'famine for fat profit':

Two years ago, at Southwark, seven Londoners were crushed to death in fighting for a dole of bread. It is a shame to England that the king's subjects should starve. (p.28)

Plus ca change, we might say. Yet the same mechanisms that operated in the 1530s can still be seen today. People – and what motivates them for power, greed or mere survival – remain the same as time marches on and human ingenuity progresses.

So, this last week we were confronted by (a) a government that can find billions of pounds for banks and Olympics, but employs a firm to find sick people fit for work in order to bring down the welfare costs, and (b) a debate going on in some UK cities and towns about whether or not to accept local authority grants to help provide basic food for poor and vulnerable people though charitable food banks. (Does accepting the money make such banks an institutional feature for the future and compromise the charities or churches involved?)

It is a shame to England – and notions of civilisation – that our national priorities look like this. We are used to sending money to help poor people in developing world countries. Now we have (as, in fact, we always did have) very poor people in our own communities dependent for food on local charitable donations. Those running the food banks deserve enormous credit, as do the shops and food outlets that are letting surplus goods be offered to them. But, we have to ask what sort of a society this is and how we would answer to the cry of the Old Testament prophets about such priorities.

But, if shame is being doled out, the Church of England must hang its head once again. I know from experience in my last diocese and my current diocese that the safeguarding of young and vulnerable people is taken with great seriousness, that the disasters of the past should not and could not happen again. (Since coming to Bradford I have given considerable attention to these matters and had already arranged – as just one part of our strategy – for my senior team to spend a day in September working through a range of scenarios in order to check our systems and responses. This will be led by a retired detective and a lawyer. The focus is not on protecting the diocese, but on ensuring the best process and outcome for potential survivors/victims.)

However, the report on the disaster that is Chichester rightly makes recommendations for the whole Church of England. One or two of them raise questions that are not covered by the report and might have implications not yet considered, but that is for further appraisal in the coming weeks. The significant point about the Chichester report is the recognition that the safeguarding failures are largely the result of institutional incoherence, a failure of leadership and structural fragmentation.

One thing this suggests is that any diocese needs clear authority structures, clear processes and communications, clear structural consistency and coherence, and clear integrity of purpose. If this is not so, matters such as safeguarding will never be considered or administered consistently across the piece. This is what Monty Python called 'the bleeding obvious'. But, the church is dogged by people who bemoan talk about structures, infrastructure and policies as if administration was somehow 'unspiritual'. The Chichester business brings it starkly home that where the structures are not well-oiled everything else becomes vulnerable.

Yesterday I was writing a piece about 'renouncing evil' for publication later. The Chichester report – and the responses by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham – names the behaviour of abusive people – particularly clergy – for what it is.

The new Bishop of Chichester is a good man and he hasn't even started yet. My prayers are for him as he starts to sort out the mess he has inherited – a mess that has caused suffering to abused people and rightly put the spotlight back onto how the Church of England fulfils its vocation: to speak for the voiceless, to bring the Jesus of the Gospels to people, to facilitate reconciliation and healing, to demonstrate the power of realism, repentance and forgiveness.

But, first, the shame has to be experienced and named.


All has been quiet on the blogging front – again. No loss of interest, but just life being full and a lack of conviction that I have anything useful to say about anything. I might have commented on Mark Thompson's appointment in the USA or developments in Syria or the usual preoccupations of the Church of England or Robin van Persie's move to Manchester United or Bruce Cockburn's gig coming up in Selby on 6 September or several other matters. Even the post-Olympics funny stuff might have got a look in if I could have been bothered. I thought of reviewing a book I was sent over a year ago, but, having read it, a review would have been unkind, so I decided not to do it.

Feeble-hearted, I know.

But, then, last weekend our house got burgled and the culprit (who has been very clearly caught on CCTV) nicked my computer and my car. So far neither have been found. So, the first week of holiday has been taken up with police and the sheer hassle of trying to recover data. I'll come back later to the conundrum that really takes the pip.

Anyway, the burglary and it's associated inconveniences account for the 'loss' element of the title. The local newspaper did a piece in which I apparently 'condemned' as 'sick' the burglar. Just for the record: I didn't condemn anyone; I only said I 'felt sick' when I saw what had happened. But, the paper does a good job exposing such crimes.

So, before leaving home today for a break away (in a place where I am assured there is very poor mobile reception and no Internet connection… a bit like a planet without air), I noticed Samira Ahmed's Guardian article about the learning of German in the light of yesterday's A Level results. She highlights the very concerns I have been banging on about here for the last few years – that language learning (not 'teaching' – that's a different matter) in England is so poor and given such a low priority that our young people will eventually find themselves culturally impoverished, professionally disadvantaged and intellectually weakened by their monolingualism. As Ahmed points out, we Brits are missing a trick with German and Germany – but we will only really notice the cost in twenty or thirty years time.

So, here I am. In Liverpool watching our two year old grandson grow before my eyes. He and his mum are coming on holiday with us. And when we get back at the end of next week we will see Liverpool hammer Manchester City at Anfield before heading home. The new season begins, my fantasy league team is ready, optimism is high. And holiday will see me get stuck into four Patrick Gale novels before I tackle Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies.

And my query? My iPad was synced to my computer. The computer has been stolen. If I now try to sync my iPad to my new computer, it will only do it by erasing anything on the iPad that isn't on iCloud or wasn't bought from iTunes. Is it possible to sync what I have on my iPad onto my new computer (iMac) – so that I won't lose my apps, downloaded music and everything in iBooks? Or am I stuffed?