About John Baxter

John Baxter Teacher of Religious Education for 25 years and professional photographer for 16 years. Degrees from Rhodes (SA) Oxford and Bristol in Religion, Theology and the Philosophy of Education. Qualified as a Licentiate with the British Institute of Professional Photography. Interests Art, Photography, Religion and the issues it raises, Politics, Poetry, Writing.

ANVIL MARTOCK June 28th Assisted Dying

On June 28th Greg Atkins (for) and Graham Stride (against) from Wincanton will explore the arguments for and against Assisted Dying in order to initiate  our discussion.  This is quite a complex issue but one that raises strong opinions on both sides. To help you prepare here is a recent cover article in favor from the Economist. Also highly recommended is a documentary on the BBC Iplayer entitled BETTER OFF DEAD in which the presenter is against. Continue reading

ANVIL Martock. Dawn of Everything 24-5-24

GA Greg Atkins: At our next meeting on 24th May, Don Reed will give a presentation on a recent best-selling book, “The Dawn of Everything – A New History of Humanity” by David Graeber and David Wengrow. This book puts forward some new and revolutionary ideas about human prehistory and evolution, and how modern society compares to prehistoric society; it is available from Amazon. More about that nearer the time, but you may wish to purchase and read this in the meantime. Be warned though that I have found it a difficult read as it is written in a very intense manner!

On June 28th myself and Graham Stride from Wincanton will debate the arguments for and against Assisted Dying. ” the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.”.

Planned Visit to the Met Office Exeter

I have been in touch with the Met Office in Exeter about arranging a visit to them on July 26th. This will be a day trip and hopefully will involve a talk on Climate Change and a guided tour. If you want to go please let me know now as the Met Office has asked for an estimate of the numbers. We also need people to volunteer their cars, so please also let me know if you can do this. If sufficient people want to go we could also consider hiring a coach or minibus. I intend that we should have lunch in a local pub. It is important that you let me know now if you intend to go, this will not be binding. The cost at the moment is just to contribute to the cost of lunch for your driver.
Blind Copies for ANVIL  circulars
Several people have asked to be blind copied for these circulars. On reflection, I have decided to do this for everyone. If you wish to contact a member and want their email address, please write to me and I will ask their permission.
60 Members
For your information, we now have 60 members on the circulation list, but this is probably an underestimate of our membership as I know of several couples who share an email address. This is much better than I had hoped when myself and John started this venture; only a minority of these are members of the former u3a Science and Philosophy groups (although they are also very welcome). We are obviously fulfilling a need not met in Martock and surrounding area by any other organisation. I am gratified also that we are learning orientated, gender balanced, having almost equal numbers of men and women, and do not have a burdensome bureaucracy. The capacity of The George Function Room is 60, so if we were to get much bigger we will have to consider a move to the Parish Hall. At present though I don’t see this happening as experience shows that not everyone will turn up. Also, the facilities at The George are better quality and better organised than those in the Parish Hall, and a smaller group makes for better discussion.


After seven years meeting five or six times a year in Wincanton,, we decided, Greg Atkins and John Baxter, to base ANVIL as an open discussion group to meet monthly In Martock.

Our first session was on Friday 23rd Feb. 24 and was introduced by John Baxter with a response from David Warden. The subject was HAMAS AND THE GAZA WAR. Some 35 came and all had been sent (and said they had read! John’s introductory paper.

Revised and updated as the situation has changed, this is now attached as:
An attempt to understand this complex conflict and suggest a way ahead for Britain.

Continue reading


Greg Atkins writes:
We’ll meet again next Friday 26th April 10am to 12pm in The George Function Room, to hear presentations and discuss a seminal event in World War 1, the Sinking of The Lusitania. This occurred on 7th May 1915, when the ship sank off the coast of Ireland after being hit by a single torpedo from a German submarine; it took just 18 min to sink with the loss of 1199 passengers and crew. Although the ship was British (Cunard Line) it had departed from New York and 128 of the dead were Americans. Some have claimed that this event precipitated American entry into the war and eventual German defeat. The details of the sinking and how it occurred have remained, however, shrouded in mystery and speculation since the sinking occurred.

Ian Winkle, who is a retired Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University in Marine Architecture, has some new ideas about the technical aspects of the sinking which he will present. Ed Lorch has a Ph.D. in Physics and worked for many years as a research scientist at Amersham International. He was also founder and Chair of the Tintinhull Local History Association. He will introduce and chair the discussion following Ian’s presentation.

John Baxter reports: In a well attended meeting Ian took us through his meticulous research into how and why the Lusitania sank in only 18 minutes as a result of a single German torpedo. In particular he argued on technical grounds that the armaments stored in the bows of the ship could not, as has been widely reported and asserted by the Germans, have exploded, so causing the ship to sink and making it a legitimate target because of this contraband cargo. Instead, Ian argued that the torpedo had penetrated the hull before exploding and the rapid sinking was the result of a series of preventable errors. So who in the end was responsible for this terrible loss of life? US, Germany, Ship Owners?
Ed Lorch then added to what became a lively discussion with selected extracts from US library of Congress and Wikipedia.  Continue reading

ANVIL and COP26 17-11-2021


We had an excellent session with our two speakers kicking off not they said as Climate Change deniers, but as questioning science driven voices.  After their 40 min and 30 min talks, everyone who wishes spoke  out their views and a vigorous discussion followed.  I only gave bits of the paper I had prepared but here it is with responses from Greg and Iain to make of it what you will.
John Continue reading

CC The Gov Climate Change Committee Latest Predictions

CCC Climate Change Committee                                                                                The Sixth Carbon Budget. The UK’s Path to Net Zero  Predictions made in 2020, CONFIRMED 2021
The need to adapt to a changing climate This section summarises the evidence that indicates climate impacts will continue to increase even under a rapid reduction in global emissions and could be greater still if global emissions reductions are not sufficiently rapid to achieve the Paris Agreement. Continue reading

BREAKING BOUNDARIES The video and book you must not miss.

Please be ready to  copy and forward this on to your friends –  try and engage them in discussion. We can all get engaged in waking people up to how serious the situation is so they will accept and work for change.

At the instigation of the authors of THE FUTURE WE CHOOSE  (Figueres amd Rivett-Carnac. Summary attached) who organised a webinar I watched on Zoom, I have now watched and commend for you a quite exceptionally important video entitled:

                                          BREAKING BOUNDARIES
                                           The Science of Our Planet
and have bought and read  the excellent book with the same title. Continue reading

ANVIL Covid 19, Inequality and the Relevance of Liberation Theology Wed. 12th May

letter for general useJoining us via ZOOM from Durham we had as our main proposer Dr Sarah Pearce who is a retired medical consultant  currently working on a Graduate Diploma in Theology and Religious Studies at Durham. She gave what everyone found an excellent, clear and shocking paper based on the Marmot reports which analyses how Covid has laid bare the extent of poverty and inequality in Britain and how this has been getting worse. . Continue reading