Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Interview with Tony Buglass

How long have you lived in the Upper Calder Valley?
Nearly five years.

Where is your favourite place, personally, in the Upper Calder Valley?
Hard to say. We love walking in Hardcastle Crags. The views from Heptonstall can be stunning. Where we live (in Mytholmroyd) the valleys meet and broaden out, and we have wonderful views from both sides of our house. The Trades Club. The Dusty Miller. Too many choices!

Who, in the local community, is your "Local Hero"?
Chris Green. We sing together in Calder Valley Voices, and he's a great bloke to be with, but his work for the White Ribbon Campaign is excellent. I mean, Cosmopolitan Man of the Year! What more can I say?

What do you think this area should be most proud of?
Its people. And Kerbside.

If you could wave a magic wand and change three things in the area, what would they be?
Calderdale Council (get rid of the cabinet - see above about Kerbside).
Northern Rail - more trains, with more carriages, running regularly along the valley.
I'd move us a bit further from Manchester, so it doesn't rain as much. Or would the rain just follow us...?

What is your general occupation?
Methodist minister, Superintendent of the Upper Calder Circuit, which is 10 churches (9 Methodist and 1 URC) between Luddendenfoot and Walsden.

What is the most satisfying bit about what you do?
Getting alongside people, sharing life and faith with them, especially when I can be the catalyst which helps them take a step up.

What is the most frustrating part about what you do?
Getting alongside people! Trying to bridge the gap between the caricature most people have of the Christian faith and how I see the truth of the faith. Great when it works, but frustrating when the gap is too big.

What was your very first job?
Carrying furniture and stuff around in a department store, occasionally going out on the van when a big load had to be carried up a block of flats. What fun we had...

How do you relax?
Music (all sorts, classical, folk-rock, etc, etc), perhaps a DVD (movies, air-displays - I'm an aeroplane anorak) or a novel, especially with a glass of something nice in my hand.

What's the best film you've seen recently?
Because of my work-pattern, I find it hard to get to the cinema, so I've not yet been able to see "The Reader" which is my latest on the wish-list. Best one recently was probably "Atonement" about Dunkirk.

What is your favourite food?
Chocolate. Fish and chips. Not necessarily at the same time!

If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you would do?
What Blair should have done in 1997 - get rid of Thatcher's Social Fund, which made the poorest borrow out of their benefits to pay for things they had usually been granted, like furniture and cookers. I'd had gentlemen of the road at my door looking for a handout, but the Social Fund meant for the first time I had mothers begging for help to buy food for their family. Criminal.

As cheap and easily available oil is expected to run out in the next couple of decades, what do you think will be the predominant form of transport in 2030?
Bicycles, larger vehicles powered by nuclear-powered electricity (until we get our act together with water and wave-generated electricity).

Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
I leave the TV on standby. Mea culpa...

What have you done, personally, that you were most proud of?
My job. Proud is the wrong word, but I started from scratch, from a large family in a council house in the North-East, and studied, trained and have served for nearly 30 years as a Methodist minister. I’ve looked after 26 churches, been hospital, prison and RAF chaplain, researched for a further degree, and generally got involved in a lot of places and people’s lives. And I’m not finished yet!

What single issue are you most concerned about in the world at large?
Ideological fundamentalism, whether it’s religious or political. It stops us seeing each other as people, and getting alongside each other to solve the real problems of poverty, food, climate change and peace.

Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why?
John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. He survived Amin’s persecution, and has done so much since. He’s a real lovely Christian man, he has the sheer guts to tell it straight, and has a lovely sense of joy and fun. Can we clone him?

What are your three favourite websites of the moment?
There’s a collection of blogs and online forums where I go for a good argument, but I think my favourites are classicfm.com, Ship of Fools (think Private Eye, Christian, but poking fun at religion from the inside), and I have to say Hebweb, don’t I?

Thank you Tony.

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