Capacity crowds and no one more amazed than us!

Edinburgh is beautiful but it is not flat. Until you've got your bearings, you will be doing several cardiac work-outs just trying to get from your bus stop to your venue. They say that J. K. Rowling got her idea for the moving staircases at Hogwarts from the stone steps in Edinburgh that seem to lead somewhere different every time — but always to more steps.

We're four performances in now and, thanks to Fringe Central's excellent 'how to make your show noticed' session, we are flyering like pros. To flyer someone successfully, you need to pick your people carefully and engage them in genuine conversation. For us, picking 'our people' is quite simple: middle-aged couples and groups. Obviously some of them aren't our people and give us the equivalent of a flip while passing on but, hey, we're vicars. We can forgive them. :-)

I even managed to forgive the woman dressed like the most stereotypical witch you've ever seen, including green make-up. I thought I'd say 'hi' and complement her outfit but she swore at me in either Czech or Slovakian and waved her broomstick at me threateningly. Bloody foreign witches, coming over here and stealing our jobs...

Kate had the brilliant idea of flyering a troupe of middle-aged singers performing on the Royal Mile. Every single one of them took a flyer (and they were, at the very least, the types who would recycle them). And as for Ravi - well, he's a natural! About every ten minutes we lost him because he was deep in conversation with someone, charming the M&S pants off them.

Sofi's Southside is a lovely little bar just five minutes from the Fringe Central with seating for about 40 people max. Um ... we may have a venue that's a little too small! On our first night, we had six people, which is not bad for starters but that trebled on night no. 2 and for the last two nights we've been at full capacity! Can't tell you how delighted we are about that.

It's lovely that people have simply found us in the brochure and thought they'd take a punt, it's wonderful that old friends and friends of friends are turning up out of the blue and it's just great that people we've given flyers to, actually turn up! It's also terrific fun to experience ourselves referencing back and forward to each other during the show as we get to know each other better. We are not only performing together, we are living together too. And nobody has died yet!

But God, is it tiring! I went down with a cold on day three so not at my best but it's also hot here and we're not as young as we think we are and are slightly prone to hysterical laughter when Google maps tells us that our destination is ten minutes' walk away 'mostly flat.' That's flat if you have a helicopter. Or a broomstick.

Another part that's fun is getting feedback from Kate when she and I are going somewhere together (Ravi is always strides ahead, engaging with everyone). Kate can see the expressions on people's faces when they see my rainbow dog collar and relays them back to me. They vary somewhat drastically at times. :-)
However, I was stopped by one young man and practically begged to go and take part in The Big Gay Story Slam one evening. Can't wait! (it's for LGBTQ folks and allies so I do qualify).

As we settle in, we're starting to have the energy to go and see other shows, although it's astonishing how many shows I'd like to see are on at the same time as we are. Will have to work on the bi-locating.

We know we're getting at least two reviews — from the in-crowd, Premier Christian Radio were in two nights ago and both Kate and Ravi wisely suggested I dropped all my 'Dartmoor witch' material... And we have Church Times on our last night so I guess that will be witch-free too. Still, the great thing about so many years of comedy is you can always drag up a properly ancient joke and drop it into a gap. It will be fascinating to see what other reviews we may get.

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 - White Collar Comedy.

It was a wet October morning and I was wondering what the next step might be in my comedy career. I was doing okay, but meeting a few dead ends along the way and it felt as though some new impulse was needed.

So, I did what I usually do each morning, gave it to God (who pretty well had to pin me to the ground and wrestle it out of my head as per normal) and sat in meditation. The answer was swift and clear: "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."

It's an African proverb so neither God nor I were being particularly original that morning but then God did make Africa along with everything else (including dinosaurs) so I guess He/She can still claim it.

"Go together" meant performing comedy with other vicars. Fortunately I knew two who were intentionally funny, from a show we'd done for Christians in London called Holy Guacamole. Not one of my best gigs: a load of folk staring in horrified outrage at my heresy (and less than perfect timing) but at least I'd got to meet Revs. Ravi Holy (yes, that's his real name) and Kate Bruce.

They take up the story in this article in The Wee Review.  Originally, there were to have been four of us — Rev. Mark Townsend is a talented magician as well as an author — but that will have to wait until another year. Perhaps if Mark were with us, Pontius Pilate would have given us four crosses?

Getting a load of vicars together outide their parishes is like herding cats (we are well trained in plausible avoidance techniques by our Parish Councils) and we live in Devon, Kent and Oxfordshire so we couldn't just meet up after work for a drink. But suitably tempted by the offer of supper cooked by my Jewish friend Adam — all vicars should have at least one Jewish friend who invites you for supper, obviously — we met up in the holy city of Aylesbury and started to plan.

Our first show together was at Leicester Comedy Festival in February. We were doing just one night on the first day of the festival — and none of our promotional material had been brought along for us to do any flyering. It was all done just not delivered. So, we had a pizza and a quick word the the One Upstairs and to our delight, thirteen people showed up. Now, 90% of those were friends of Kate's but no one was complaining about that and we never told the Holy One we wanted strangers. You do have to be very specific in prayer...

Our second gig was at Bath Comedy Festival, eight hours after Lion and I landed at Heathrow from three weeks in the USA. I don't sleep well on planes and was a tad nervous about the effects of tiredness. But the delight of seeing more than 50 people turn up (together with a few of Kate's friends), was enough to help the adreneline and we all did better than on the first night.

So, two gigs together before we headed for the Edinburgh Fringe. Seriously under-prepared? Yes and no. We're each doing our own set which we already know well and allowing ourselves to refer back to each other spontaneously from the day's events and it just works.

Edinburgh isn't cheap and, as we are at the Free Fringe, we rely on donations to keep us going. For most comedians, accommodation is the biggest cost but, bless him, Ravi got in touch with an old friend from his wild-child days who lives on the perfect bus route to our venue, Sofi's Southside, in Buccleuch Street. She's obviously quite crazy because she happily invited all three of us to stay for the whole 11 days we are here.

So here the adventure begins for real. And no better start for three middle class, middle aged comedians to sit with our hosts the night before we begin our run. Ravi and Pauline are discussing their wild days of drugs and punk music (Ravi was lead singer in Satan's Bitches and yes, he'll tell you about that in the show). As they remembered some of their more unravelled times, with "E" and other illegal substances ,Pauline came up with a classic about the seriously mad, bad and dangerous to know "Joe":  "I well remember the day Joe introduced me to Earl Grey tea." You can take a girl out of the Middle Class, but you can't take the Middle Class out of the girl...


Dear Republican America: Don't you DARE call yourself Christian.

It has come to the point where I want to apologise for being a Christian; where I feel embarrassed to be a minister in a sea of prejudiced, inaccurate and archaeic law-quoting hypocrites.

It's not just Alabama and Georgia ... it's all the people who love to worship Jesus without taking the time, courtesy and energy of trying to follow him. Christ never once asked us to worship him; he did ask us to do what he did. Following him is bloody hard work; worshipping him is a piece of cake.

You do not get to call yourself a Christian just by worshipping Christ. I'm sure someone would like to quote Ephesians here as in "you cannot get to heaven by good works alone" but even that is a selective quotation. It makes it clear that we get to heaven through Grace and Grace alone and the signature of Grace is that it cannot be deserved. Grace is radically unfair; Grace is God's unconditional love for us. The woman having an abortion and the doctor aiding her are equally likely to receive Grace as the pro-life Christian. If you even want to consider calling yourself a Christian you have to allow Grace even when you really don't approve of it. God gets to call the shots and God is always love. Read the dratted Prophets! No one ever does but they make that abundantly clear.

N.B. Heaven and hell are states of the psyche. There isn't any nice land up there that's exclusively for Christians ... or Muslims ... or anyone else. We're all going to be surprised who we meet in the reality after death.

But to the point: I'm not the first person to call out Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama for saying the ruling on abortion comes from, "Alabamans' deeply-held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God." Really? REALLY?

Apart from the fact that Alabama has the death penalty — and Kay Ivey has presided over the killing of six people — you cannot, cannot, CANNOT say you are pro-life and not challenge the NRA on assault rifles and, frankly, you cannot even go to war. Ever.

If you are "pro-life" you do not agree with the taking of any life, obviously including the life of a child in a school classroom. You truly do not even consider sanctioning the bombing of other people's children (of any age) in countries across the world.

If you support pro-life, then you must be pro all life. Otherwise you are exactly the kind of person that Jesus fervently condemned, even if you think you are a Christian. Especially if you think you are a Christian. You are the equivalent of the Pharisees of his day - hypocrites of the highest order making sure they were seen to be following the law while holding no compassion whatsoever.

Jesus said "I come to bring a sword" (Mathew 1034) but it was not a sword to use to kill, it was the sword of truth, to cut through hypocrisy. Jesus was a pacifist. He restored the ear cut off one of the Temple guards who came to arrest him in Gethsemene. He really, really didn't have to do that; everyone would have understood. But he did. Yes, I know he knocked over the tables in the Temple and chased the merchants with a knotted cord but there's no report anywhere of any of them actually getting hurt. I'd quite like to do the same in Alabama right now.

What I find truly shocking is that people, like Kay Ivey, who think they are Christian obviously haven't even read the Gospels.

How about this: "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  (Matthew 25:40)

Every single person every single one of us has hurt in any way is Christ. We cannot do anything to harm another (or for that matter ourselves) without doing the same to Christ. That's because Christ is in all creation.

I can just hear Kay Ivey respond that she has done just that to save aborted fetuses. But if you are trying to be a Christian you don't get to pick and choose. You don't get to condemn the woman who knows she is carrying a baby who has already died to keep carrying it so it rots in her womb. You don't get to condemn the teenager who thought she was in love and the condom broke; you don't get to condemn the family which already has too many children to provide for and no benefits.

Even more, if you're a Christian, surely you should know something about souls? That souls are immortal and that souls do not fully attach to the fetus until they are good and ready? And that souls aren't affected by abortion and can - and will - return another time. Why is nothing about souls ever taught in seminary, in church, in the world? Why? Why? Why?

The answer to that is because we are all too tied up with our bodies ... "the sins of the flesh" but both the Prophets in the Bible and great mystics teach that the first, and most insideous form of evil is "the world." It's the system, it's the way things are, in the modern world, it's generally what's called "mammon" - the pursuit of money as opposed to spirit.

But the greatest of all evil is when we present this system as being virtuous. The system that disallows abortions is virtuous. Of course it is! It is all for the good! From what I observe, the Republican "system" absolutely loves to tell us how good it is. Democrats are far too busy arguing among themselves to get on quite such a high horse.

The first demon in Mark's Gospel is found in the synagogue and that's not a coincidence. You find evil very easily in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples. That's its favourite place to hide, looking all shiny and virtuous and full of glamour. These are the forms of evil that present themselves as the light. To truly succeed, evil must always look necessary or virtuous and it will encourage us to support and need it by broadcasting how good it is.

For more on this, please click here.

If you want to ask me if I'm pro-life, then honestly, I have to say "no." I still eat meat and fish; I visited the statue commemorating Bomber Command, in honour of my father, and I think it was a necessary evil to fight Hitler. I don't think abortion is a good thing and I am glad for better forms of contraception but I would never condemn a woman who had one (how could I?).

And in the meantime, I will continue to apologise for Christianity each time I do stand-up and each time I minister anywhere. Truly, fellow Christians, we have absolutely no excuse for not knowing better.


Easter 2019. The Too Small God.

The Cosmic Christ - Toledo Cathedral.
A good man dies in the most horrible way because his father (God) requires his sacrifice in order to atone for human sin.

This is the wholly unsupportable Christian orthodoxy that we have lived with for more than seven hundred years. No wonder people turn away from churches in droves now that it is no longer a community requirement to attend. Only the ego can support such a theory and only the tribe can maintain it.

It is not the point of the crucifixion and it never was. And it's not just me saying that. Great theologians such as John Duns Scotus and St. Bonaventure have been saying it for centuries. It has always been part of the Franciscan Orthodoxy and, now, Richard Rohr, says it magnificently in his new book The Universal Christ.

In a nutshell, all this "substitutionary penal atonement" came about because of theories by St. Augustine (354-430 CE) and Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 CE). It's important to emphasise that these were only theories - but they were gobbled up by Christianity like chocolate eggs at Easter - because they fitted so neatly into the ego's desire for blaming and shaming. If you can make other people wrong, you really don't have to do anything about the plank in your own eye. And you can worship Jesus Christ and thank him while doing diddly-squat about following him, healing and loving as he did. N.B. Jesus never once asked us to worship him. He did ask us to follow him.

St. Augustine came up with the theory of "original sin" — that humanity is born sinful because of Adam and Eve's disobedience and that Jesus died to save us from that. From what I've read, his point appeared to be that Jesus had saved us from that so it was over ... but good old Christianity preferred to pick up the idea and run with it. Blaming people and making them wrong is just so much fun, isn't it?

Incidentally, Judaism has no concept of original sin so it's fairly unlikely that the human known as Jesus did either.

St. Anselm's theory was that "a price had to be paid to restore God's honour and it needed to be paid to God the Father by one who was equally divine." (Cur Deus Homo? 1094-98). The ego is fully programmed to leap onto this kind of idea and promote it - that authority is angry, punative and violent and that we must either fight and resist it (atheism) or appease it even if that means rejecting or killing "unbelievers" (fundamental religion). For both sides this makes the genuine spiritual journey impossible. As Richard Rohr writes, "why would you love or trust or desire to be with such a God?" (The Universal Christ.)

Franciscans, on the other hand (and I would call myself 100% a Franciscan), do not see the incarnation of the Divine in a human body and the crucifixion as a reaction to sin. We see the cross as a freely chosen revelation of God's love. God is spilling Its own blood to reach out to us and tell us that It understands and experiences our pain with us.

Life on Earth is painful. Where there is love there will always be loss and sorrow. Where there is food to find or grow, there will be hard work and sometimes injury. Where there is a child to be born, there will be blood and pain. That is not a punishment; that is just how physical life is. And God is in there with us, living it with us and helping us when we remember to be conscious enough to allow that.

God is not a distant authority figure who could choose to stop our suffering but won't (like our abusive parent/teacher/boss). God is in us, in creatures, in plants, in the land, in the water, in the air, in the fire. The choices WE make are God's choices. That's what free will means. The message of the Hebrew Testament prophets is, again and again, that God may be astonished and even horrified by our choices but that God will love us through everything. Don't believe me, read Samuel and Jeremiah ... and read them as metaphor for your own life because then they will make sense.

The whole Eden story is about teaching humanity about choice - we can choose good or evil - and every day, we do.  What's more, we choose what we (or more accurately, our egos) believe to be what is good and what is evil. And like Adam and Eve we deal with it by blaming others ("The woman gave me the fruit"/"the serpent tricked me" Gen. 3:12) instead of taking responsibility for our own beliefs and actions.

Look at the rage over the donations to restore Notre Dame for example. The energy of blaming and shaming those who choose to give to restore a building rather than to the rainforests or corals or poverty is far more damaging to the life-force of the whole planet than the wealthy's well-intentioned donations. It is entirely possible that our pollution of the planet follows directly on from our culture of blame and hatred — particularly of those who have wealth and whom we deny that we envy so we can feel virtuous for criticising for their choices — and we could heal the Earth simply through the long-term application of love.

Richard Rohr again: "A religion based on necessary or required sacrifices, required primarily of Jesus and later the underclass, is just not glorious enough for, hopeful enough for, or even befitting the marvelous creation that we are a part of. To those who cling to Anselm's understanding, I would say, as J. B. Phillips wrote so many years ago, 'Your God is too small.'

"Far too many evils have been committed in history under the manipulative cry of 'sacrifice,' usually violent and necessary sacrifice for an always 'noble' cause. But I believe Jesus utterly undoes the very notion of sacrificial requirements for God to love us — first in himself and in all of us. 'Go, learn the meaning of the words, what I want is mercy, not sacrifice' (Matt. 9:13, 12:7).

"It is not God who is violent. We are.
It is that God demands suffering of humans. We do." (The Universal Christ.)

So, what is the point of the crucifixion and the resurrection? It is transformational not transactional. We all suffer "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ... and by dying to that suffering, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they are doing"  (allowing it rather than resisting it or fighting people over it or blaming people for not saving us from it), then resurrection is a done deal. How? Because we let go of our own judgement of the situation and allow Grace in.

I can't say it any better than Richard does:

"The cross was the price Jesus paid for living in a 'mixed' world which is both human and divine, simultaneously broken and utterly whole. He hung between a good thief and a bad thief, between heaven and earth, inside of both humanity and divinity, a male body with a feminine soul, utterly whole and yet utterly disfigured...

"... Jesus the Christ agreed to carry the mystery of universal suffering. He allowed it to change him ('resurrection') and, it is to be hoped, us, so that we would be free from the endless cycle of projecting our pain elsewhere or remaining trapped inside of it...

"...We are indeed saved by the cross — more than we realise. The people who hold contradictions and resolve them in themselves are the saviours of the world. They are the only real agents of transformation, reconciliation and newness.

"Christians are meant to be the visible compassion of God on earth." (The Universal Christ.)

Thank you for reading to the end. Happy Easter.

The Weaving of Life - a response to the shootings in Christchurch.

A woven butterfly on my evening dress which creates new
beauty after the sleeve was damaged by moths.
We must try to understand
the meaning of the age
in which we are called to bear witness.We must accept the factthis is an age in whichthe cloth is being unwoven.It is therefore no good tryingto patch. 
We must, rather,
set up the loom on which

coming generations may
weave new cloth according to
the pattern God provides.

Mother Mary Clare, The Sisters of the Love of God (Anglican community founded in Oxford 1967).

Today we heard about the deaths of 49 people in the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. In a world that seems to become more and more chaotic, we feel sorrow and send love and prayers and healing and yet, it is so tempting to think that it is hopeless, that we can do nothing tangible to help the world to heal.

There's the environment too ... and knife crime ... and (dare I mention it?) Brexit. Seemingly chaos everwhere.

And yet... and yet... Things break so that we can look inside them.

I'm about to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a conference on The Universal Christ - Another Name for Everything, led by Fr. Richard Rohr, John Dominic Crossnan and Jacqui Lewis. About 1800 of us will gather to hear that Christ is not Jesus' surname; that Christ is not limited to Christianity - that Christ is the whole process of creation and that every single one of us is a part of it. Christ began with the creation of the Universe and is one with every rock, plant and being in it. The whole purpose of creation is for God to give birth and all of creation is that baby.

In Jewish mysticism, that baby is called Adam Kadmon, the Primordial Being. Each of us is one cell in the body of this Divine baby. And so are the creatures and so is the land and the sea and the sky and the stars. We will all become perfect, one day. Not for a while yet... And then the baby will be born and the process of creation fulfilled. What happens then? Who knows! Let's deal with now.

This teaching within Christianity is a radical awakening (and much needed) and a shattering of the vessel that has trapped and made exclusive a profound perennial teaching. WE ARE ALL CHRIST. We are called to follow Jesus' teachings and example not to worship him or make a religion out of him. Most of us are damaged, weak, disbelieving Christs who haven't come anywhere near our full potential yet, but we are being called ... and called again ... to pick up that yoke and walk this world as if we were Christ.

As Teresa of Avila put it so beautifully: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours”

So what do we do? We WEAVE.

To use a metaphor from the Book of Proverbs and from many teachings of the world's faiths, it is all about weaving.

Dr. Margaret Barker teaches that the early chuch father, Origen, in his Greek translation of the Hebrew of Genesis 1.1 states, 'by means of the net, God created the heavens and the earth.' 

Jewish mysticism also teaches that all of creation is a tapestry, known as the Pargod, woven by all of creation. Each of us is a thread and each of us is vital to that weave. God is the loom and weaves the warp and we weave the weft. We can choose to create holes through anger and fear if we choose, but someone else will always re-weave them to recreate the pattern.

The shooter in Christchurch, other killers and people of cruelty have torn holes in the weft of creation but the Universal Christ - God's weave - remains. It is our work constantly to re-weave that weft. It is what we are here to do.

We weave it through our sorrow and our tears. We re-weave it with our blessings and our hope. We
re-weave it with good works and deeds, with a gentle hand on someone's shoulder; with a listening ear. We also look through the broken pieces to see the complete beauty of the warp still strong, still sound, still open and receptive to our new weaving.

So weave today, please. Weave as the Christ-Consciousness that you are (even if only in potential!). Weave by loving, by creating beauty, by honouring our Mother the Earth. By knitting or crochetting something beautiful, by drawing or writing or painting. By planting a seed, by cooking a delicious meal, by stroking a pet, by smiling at a stranger, by making love rather than having sex, by listening... By doing anything you possibly can do today which is both Universal and creative. It is that simple to be an essence of the Christ Consciousness. It does all count; it does all matter. It is a part of the weave.

Judaic mysticism teaches that humanity as a species is still very young: approximately two years old. We are still having tantrums and breaking our toys and fighting 'the other.' But we are in it for the long haul. We will learn; we will heal. The Universal Christ will be born one day. And every one of us is a part of that great, sacred journey.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. Proverbs 31:19.

The View from the Whitehouse no.2. Being An Outsider.

“Ah yes, but do you actually live in a white house,’ enquired the Wag. ‘You see, if it’s the view from the White house...’
There’s always one.
Frequently several.
As it happens, we do live in a white house. As it’s 1000 feet up on Dartmoor, it is white for a given value of seventeen years of howling gales, rain, hail, sleet and snow, not to mention passing sheep trailers, milk lorries and muck trucks — which means grayish, greenish and, in places, frankly, mouldy. But the view, over the gate to Cosden Hill and towards Scorhill is glorious, the common across the lane is a perfect screen between us and the main road and although the cascades of wildflowers has gone from the lanes themselves they are still awash with wild roses, honeysuckle and yarrow as I write.
This time of year, the view generally includes the horses and caravans of our regular summer visitors, the folk who build furniture from trees and beautiful, rounded, gypsy caravans or vardos—from the Iranian word vurdon for cart—to sell or rent out for weddings and parties. Their painted horses (does anyone still use that somewhat ugly word skewbald for horses?) are grazing peacefully on the common in the shade and John has come for the water that we happily let them have from our underground well.
They are not real gypsies, and neither are the young family that also camp here with their daughters and who only travel in school holidays; they are courteous people living lightly on the land, existing, for the most part, as outsiders.
We are outsiders too and we know that. And we understand that wonderful fine line between not being local but being accepted. It is quite enough. They do say that you can’t be a Devonian until you’ve buried your grandparents here. I did enquire of the family about digging mine up and moving them down but nobody seemed keen. It probably wouldn’t count anyway.
I think we knew that we were okay the day that Diana, down the road, asked us to help look for her Dartmoor ponies which had broken out of their field. Or the day that Neil, the postman, left a brace of pheasant hanging on the door knocker. Or there was the first day that we freed a young sheep that had got its horns stuck in our wire fencing. And then another, and then another. Oh, hang on, it’s the same sheep...
But the real day of acceptance was when Neil knocked on the door, handed me a brace of pheasant and asked if I minded plucking and drawing them for him as he was on voluntary fireman night duty and wouldn’t have time to do it before they were to be eaten on Friday.
By then, I was an accomplished pheasant plucker—and had even skinned, drawn and jugged the most beautiful road-kill hare I came upon, still warm, one night as I turned off the A30 on my way home from a comedy gig in Bath.
Wags, though are, unfortunately, currently out of season…

First published in The Moorlander.

The View from the Whitehouse no1: Earthing

My Editor at The Moorlander Newspaper has given me permission to reprint the columns I've been writing for them here, so this is no. 1 from 2017.

Hello, I’m a woman with a thorn in her foot who’s just scared the willies out of the postman by lying naked on the vegetable patch. Our garden is pretty sheltered if you’re not actually coming into the driveway — and I did have enough time to ensure that my important bits were decently covered with a towel — but he probably thought I was a dead body for a moment.
This lying naked on the earth thing is called “Earthing.” I think it’s simultaneously the latest and the oldest thing on the planet. According to the website, “Earthing is a fast-growing movement based upon the major discovery that connecting to the Earth’s natural energy is foundational for vibrant health.”
Major discovery eh? I think our ancestors knew a bit about that. Even my mother knows — she’s survived to 90 very healthily and firmly believes it’s all down to all the gardening she does. She’s probably right; mothers usually are.
It’s all because of electrons. Research from Texas A&M University reveals that when we take our shoes off and touch the earth with our bare flesh, free electrons, powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, transfer from the ground into our body via the soles of our feet or the palms of our hands.
You’d think, given their contact with nature, that walkers would be the most grounded of people but rubber or plastic-soled shoes prevent us from contacting the earth. Nowadays we rarely walk barefoot except on a summer holiday at the beach. We don’t even lie on the sand—it’s plastic loungers on the beach or by the pool.
I think it’s a bit too much of a challenge to spend half an hour a day lying naked on the vegetable patch so, instead, I’ve started to walk barefoot on the Moor. So much former city-dweller ‘it’ll hurt’ wimpy stuff came up ... and it was jolly cold too until this last month ... but it feels amazing and it certainly makes you focus on where you put your feet. There are tiny, tiny fledgling gorse bushes on the Moor and they hurt.
But I love the feeling of my bare feet splaying out as they were designed to do, adapting to the grass and peat beneath them. That’s not to mention the comfort of socks and shoes when I put them back on my feet afterwards. 
In the meantime, I’m leaving some intriguing footprints in the squelchier places. When just the ball of my foot and toes show up it looks like a very weird mark. Maybe some curious hikers on the way back down to Shilstone Tor are starting to wonder if they have seen the elusive prints of the mythical Beast of Dartmoor?
Mind you, she’s the one racing down the hill behind me, tongue out and leaping for joy. Dogs have all the right ideas and walking in shoes is not one of them.

Time For Some Not Fake Food.