It has taken a Volf (a Miroslav) to remind me that I am a Fox living amongst Wolves. Leicester City FC shirts are a rarity in Ellesmere Port. Not so Wolves shirts. Ellesmere Port is the place where many people travelled from Wolverhampton and the west Midlands – walking along the Shroppy Canal – to find work in Jones’s Ironworks. Wolverham is an estate which marks that geographical link. Ellesmere Port the birthplace of Stan Cullis, player and  manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers during their glory years. He was an England international until he refused to give the Nazi salute when England played Germany in 1938. As manager in 1949, he led the Wolves to an FA Cup win over, of all teams, the Foxes!

In Against the Tide Volf reminds his readers that “more Christians have been martyred in the 20th century than in the previous centuries combined”. He refers to the unambiguity of Jesus sending out his disciples min Matthew’s gospel. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves …” Suffering, persecution and martyrdom are to be the rule rather than the exception for the Christian following the one who gave his life for the sake of others. Suffering, according to Martin Luther, is a mark of the true church. Volf writes:

For the disciples just like for Jesus, there is no uncontested space, no exit from the struggle, and therefore no way to avoid suffering.

But life doesn’t seem like that. Living is easy. It’s an easy life being a fox living amongst wolves. Have I forgotten to be a sheep – following the Good Shepherd? Maybe. I’d rather be a sheep in fox’s clothing than a fox in sheep’s clothing. I could still be cunning as a fox – after all Jesus did say “I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent of doves.” The cunning of the fox, and the wisdom of the serpent both stretch the imagination -as we try to overcome evil with good.

>Wizard Day Out


I am becoming fascinated by our canals. Our local canal – the Shropshire Union – protects some of our local natural beauty and I have been enjoying running the towpath through Stoak and Croughton by Ellesmere Port.

Our half term outing was on a hired barge along the Bridgewater Canal courtesy of three volunteers who crew the Wizard for the Disability Partnership.

This is a wonderful facility which I hope escapes the cutbacks in social services.

I remember people talking to me about their families walking the Shropshire Union Canal in search of work – walking all the way from Wolverhampton till they found work in Ellesmere Port. I wonder how many times they had stopped off on the way to ask potential employers if they had any work.