Thursday, 31 December 2009


2009 has not been the best for me. I guess it all started with the gable end of a tenement building coming through the roof of the church, demolishing my office in the process. However, that was sorted before the big hassles of the year started. It became apparent that dad could no longer live alone after hospitalisation in early April. We nearly lost him then, but he eventually pulled through. Then to find a Care Home. It's been a dreadful process, but at least he is happier now, having moved into a new place just before Christmas. He has been so unhappy and extremely difficult since May, but we have high hopes that 2010 will be better for him.

It was a year, too, when I publicly expressed my fears over sectarian marches of any variety, and I paid the price for that in many ways. I would be disinclined to mention the subject publicly again, and that's a shame. The reaction, and the pain and aggro that followed just wasn't worth it.

However, we managed to build a new Community Hall beside the church, and that was an achievement. The new place is all ready to take off in the New Year, and we'll be moving to a new Rectory at the end of January too.

Archie, the Special One, arrived to be part of the family and sometimes I wonder if he is a blessing or a weight around our necks. Then he looks at me as only a Golden Retriever can and my heart melts!

So we go into the new year with high hopes and lots of expectation! Looking back I can see that "Emmanuel", the Christmas message, is very true. God has indeed been with us, and for that I'm grateful!

Good Luck Gerry Britton

As a PTN supporter, I'm wishing one of my heroes well today. Gerry was far too bright to be a footballer and is a qualified lawyer. He leaves wonderful memories!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Wonderful Sights

There has been some awesome pics from all over Scotland during this cold snap, but my favourite today is from Big Rab who gives us this one of Dumbarton Rock and the River Leven this morning!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Dad on Christmas Day.

New bunnet, and a happy attitude! Freedom!

Monday, 28 December 2009

A Sermon a la Madpriest

I do not know from where this sermon has come from, except to say that very few people have actually seen MadPriest, and he never publishes photos of himself! Could this be him????

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Poppy makes a Christmas Day Debut..

Poppy came for Christmas Dinner and Archie almost made her Christmas Dinner! She just loved the RW and of course, Peanut was very interested in something smaller than her!

All is Well

Christmas Day and Christmas dinner, with dad, passed as well as we could have hoped for. There were no scenes, no tears, no tantrums or angry outbursts, and at the end he went back home like a lamb. Despite our fears it was a fairly pleasant day!

It was "cherry on top" time, too, when one of the senior workers from the home phoned at 9pm to say that she thought I could do with a bit of reaasurance, and that since the horrible assessment meeting, dad has calmed down greatly and looks as if he is going to settle and be kept on after the four week trial period. This is an outcome beyond my wildest dreams, and it was really thoughtful of her to phone. She just said that she had felt so sorry for me after the assessment meeting and wanted to pass on good news rather than me just hearing all the negatives.

There will be a psychiatric assessment early in the New Year, and his medication will be reviewed then. Anything that will lessen the horrendous mood swings will be accepted gratefully by all the family.

Thanks, good folk, for your prayers through this time. Greatly appreciated!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Dad at Christmas

After a lot of thought and a wee bit of prayer too, it's been decided to have dad for dinner tomorrow. Just dinner, without too much alcohol. The thought of leaving him in the home on Christmas Day was too much for us, and we'll take the consequences, and just hope that he'll go back quietly!

Happy Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

What Every Rectory Dog Wants

In case you are stuck for ideas, Archie, Toastie and Peanut suggest you look here.

Blackberry Blues

Only weeks into being a committed Blackberry user the phone part of it has "broken" and O2 are telling me the handset has a fault. It's not under any guarantee, so it's back to the old Motorola today. Feeling really cheesed off with that!

Still haven't written lots of my Christmas cards yet. Must do this afternoon, in the midst of the RW trying to bath three dogs and a cat.... and the snow is tumbling down!

Continuing Saga

Dad moved into his new Retirement Home on Friday, but has been causing lots of problems since. Today, at a Social work assessment I was made aware that this was a four-week trial and things were not looking good. He's been aggressive, insulting and downright nasty to staff and clients, although at times his good side is still shining through. It really is the dementia. My dad was never like this, and I'm close to total despair at the moment.

Where he goes from here I don't know, although he's made it very clear that I should be having him to stay at the Rectory and I should be looking after him. We just couldn't cope.

Staff are saying that he will become more unsettled if we take him to the Rectory for Christmas dinner, but I don't know if I could live with myself if he wasn't here.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Moving On

Dad has been in a Care Home for about six months now, and in a place which he hated with a vengeance. In his mind he should still be allowed the freedom to come and go as he pleases and live independently, although these days are long gone now. However, the place he has been living is more than a tad depressing for someone like him who, for a good part of the time, is active on his feet and is able to have a reasonably sensible conversation. The good times are really good, but the bad times are dreadful for everyone.

Social Services had to intervene when he became quite suicidal at times and his frustration was being expressed with some fairly violent outbursts. He had high hopes of moving into the ex-servicemen's place at Erskine, but they eventually decided he wouldn't fit in there and we had to look elsewhere. After weeks of  messing around Social Work have finally found him a new place in a Council run home in Dalmuir. I move him in tomorrow, and wonder how long it will be before he is desperately unhappy again. He's basically been so angry since my mum died ten years ago. That wasn't how it was supposed to be, and really, he's been wanting to die for all that time. However, some better stimulation may lift him out of the pit for a wee while at least.

So, prayers please, that he'll be happier and more content in this new setting. It would be the greatest Christmas Blessing that our family could wish for.

If Jesus Came today

A Real Letter - Honest!


Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill

We Were Most Amused

Blethers pointed this blog to this clip which, for those who teach in Scotland, may hold special interest!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Well, well, well!

Visit to the cardiologist this afternoon saw me being discharged from his clinic. Although my heart is still in AF, so is ten percent of the population, and at least I'm down to a normal rate, ie about 60bpm. So, I'm happy about that, although not so happy to be told to cut out the caffeine! At 10 mugs per day that's a lot of cutting down, but I know it makes sense.

The old smoking issue was not discussed in any depth except to acknowledge that I was still smoking. It's something I will need to cut down or cut out. Financially, at least, it's fair crippling me these days! Maybe after the house move in January.................?

Early Christmas Pressie

Just thought I'd mention the phrase "Partick Thistle Five". It sounds so good, especially when you put "Airdrie Two" just before it!!

New Family Addition

My son has just got himself a King Charles/Cavalier puppy, a relative for Toastie and Peanut, and she's a beauty. Meet Poppy....

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Candidates for the Glasgow & Galloway Election

It has been an honour, and extremely hard work, to be part of the Preparatory Committee tasked with finding suitable candidates for the Electoral Synod of the Diocese to choose from. Canon 4, in practice, gives this Committee a huge burden, but a humbling one, and it is with a feeling of deep gratitude that the job is done, and I was a small part of it.

The candidates can be seen here.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

If Only the Vicar were Here

I remember my folk singing days well! Give me a guitar, and I'd have a three chord bash at anything! This was a long time ago, as those who have listened to me trying to play recently will testify to, but I was passable, and with a now infamous Canon of the SEC, sang in a duo for a month in England for free drinks!

One song which was a favourite of mine I remember as being rather funny, with a catalogue of disasters visiting the average congregation. However, the chorus was full of hope:

"If only the Vicar were here,
If only the Vicar were here,
He'd know what to do,
Yes, he'd pull us through,
If only the Vicar were here!"

(These were days long before the ordination of women!)

The concept was basic. Whatever befell the parish, the Vicar would sort it. The ordained would settle arguments, clear drains, organise a rota, or form a committee.

In many ways these days are gone, and folk now in our congregations assume responsibility. After all, it's their parish, and they will be left long after the clergyperson has departed from their midst. In fact, many congregations have to take the responsibility because they only "own" a little bit of the stipendiary priest, sharing that priest with other congregations, or have a non-stipendiary who has a full-time job too.

However, when things go wrong, it's nice to have someone through whom grumbles can be channelled!

We're short of a Property Convenor at the moment, in St Aug's, which means that I'm taking this stuff on board at a bad time too! The New Hall is one major headache. Moving into a newly completed, or nearly completed building is always a headache with snagging to be done. Snagging is the big list of little things that are not "quite right" and need to be sorted. I think I can handle the snagging! The issues aren't big and are soon sorted out, usually.

However, there are a handful of issues in the New Hall that go far beyond the "snagging", and the builders are being incredibly slow, or incredibly unhelpful, in sorting them out. A kitchen window, the mechanism of which is clearly broken has been on the list for nearly 6 weeks now. The dishwasher can't drain because of the way the plumbing has been put in. (6 weeks for this, too) The wooden cladding has still to be bolted on to the exterior. This was started just yesterday and is a rather big and important job.

Meanwhile, yes I can't believe it either, the final bill has come in from the builders now we have completion!

However, I've left the best until last! The roof is leaking like a sieve and the joiner has sorted this by drilling two holes in the ceiling to let the water through. The roofers blame the builders and vice-versa.

If only the Vicar were here.......