Thursday, 30 December 2010


The RW has come home with a caricature drawing of herself. Honestly, the nose isn't that big!!

However, a lovely pic with her sister Mary puts it all into perspective!


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

So How Was It For You?

A couple of hours before the RW returns, I reflect on my Christmas. Joy that the Christ-child was born and sharing that with good people. Apart from Midnight Mass, attendances at church were poor and that was disheartening, although the weather played a big part in that. I need to convince myself that it's not part of a poor ministry.

It was a lonely and empty few days, and I so longed to be with the RW in all the celebrations and family time. At one point I nearly drove to Wales on a spur of the moment feeling! I desisted!  (I got pics through my mobile!)

It brought home to me the need of family and the closeness of people you love. I have much more empathy with those who are alone at Christmas and hate it! My brief 4 hours on Christmas Day with family was just not enough! It was Christmas Eve and an empty house, Christmas night when all had gone home, and Sunday with it's emptiness and shocking attendance. It was Monday when folk did family things. I felt empty and needy! O Lord! What a confession! Needy? Moi?????

So, tonight we get back to normal, and the Sky+ box will help us both watch lots that we both missed at Christmas!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Different Christmas

I've survived without the RW!! Dinner cooked and scoffed by six, although my sister forgot to bring the soup, and a near catastrophe when I realised I didn't know how to switch on the oven.

My unslept self dragged himself out of bed and did priestly things like morning mass and house communions, and unpriestly things like walking the dogs in the rain. Yes! Rain! On top of sheet ice, and the car was doing Waltzing Matilda!

Dad slept for most of the visit. He woke up to eat then fell asleep again and couldn't remember whether he'd had dinner or not! He's home safely without drama.

Thinking of entering Come Dine With Me in the near future. Talents like this should never be put to waste, and now I know how to work the oven the sky is the limit!

Scary stuff from Wales, however, where the RW is in festive mood before tomorrow's wedding. This pic was sent this morning. I can just imagine Archie's reaction!

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Very C of E Traditional Service

From St Laika's

Very Strange!

It was a strange night, last night. The RW is flying off today for her son's wedding in Wales on Sunday, and so we had the solemn exchanging of Christmas gifts last night instead of the stramash which usually ensues after the Christmas Midnight service. And, no, it wasn't quite the same, but it still had the sacramental feel about it.

Of course, I've had my new laptop for quite a few days now, so my pile was smaller, but glad to find the Billy Connolly DVD in amongst it and a new pair of jeans which I've been coveting for so long! Presents are here, but presence is about to go.

Now that push comes to shove, I'm not very sure about us being parted on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It will certainly be a weird sort of experience! Circumstances mean that there is really no alternative, and it's only for this year, and I understand all this, but it will be presence that I'll miss most of all.

Presence is important to all of us, and as you dread the visit of Auntie Aggie or whoever, keep in mind that it's your presence rather than your presents that is more important to so many people. I'm lucky inasmuch as I'll be busy and I've got a parish to look after. Others are not so lucky.

And presence? Ach, the RW will never be off the phone, and texting is her delight! Then the soppy bit! She's always in my heart, anyway, so she's never far away!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

From Facebook

This is a brilliant wee "app" in Facebook which sums up what you have been on about all year in your postings. Think it sums up my 2010 rather well!

For my Friend Big Rab

A Christmas Message from the Anglican Communion

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Not What We Need...

Many of my friends are devout, and some not so devout. The spirituality of Islam is very attractive when it is lived properly, much like the spirituality of Christianity! Many of my Muslim friends gladly celebrate Christmas with me and honour "a great prophet"

Inter-faith dialogue works. So I express my dismay at discovering this:

Thanks to Big Rab

Sorry! Couldn't keep my hands off this...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Walk in the Park

The daily Dug Jaunt today was absolutely stunning, and my wee phone doesn't do it justice. However I love the one of the River Clyde; yes, Archie was in swimming and even managed to appear in the pic of Dumbarton Rock!

Happy New Year?

It was down memory lane this morning as I thought of Dick Gaughan and how his music inspired me many years ago. He raised my spirit and made me proud to be of real working class decent, and brought out all the socialism that my father had planted deep in my soul from an early age. I remember getting taken the union meetings and hearing tales of John McLean and other Clydeside Reds!

Later, I was to be inspired by Jimmy Reid and others of that time. The miner's strike, was it 1984, again brought out all my feelings of injustice and anger at the way things often are. When I look at the present situation in the UK, I'm wondering if we're heading for more confrontation between government and people. Maybe the student riots are only a wee warm-up. There are hundreds of thousands who are facing the dole next year, and as fat cat bankers continue to pay elegant bonuses, I wonder how long it will be before the ball bursts, and the inherent deep-seated socialism, especially in the souls of Scots, raises its head and seeks confrontation with a government who seem hell-bent on taking us back to the Thatcher years.

Gaughan sings of the miner's strike, but his message is still prophetic.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Getting What You Need

I guess it all started off with a Facebook comment I made earlier today. I think I said..

"Really need to get a haircut today! Don't know what's worse, sitting in the queue, having to make small-talk while he clips away, or having to pay a tenner for the dreadful experience!"

So, it was that I further explained in comments that if the hairdresser said, "Aye, this is a busy time for you", I'd be prepared to do time! My stock reply is something like, "No, Holy Week is busier!", or, "Aye, this is the only time of the year we work, you know."

By the time I arrived at the old-fashioned barber, I was all psyched up for it.... "Right Mr Macaulay, just cut out the grey ones will I?" Well, he always says that! I replied, "Just my usual, but without comments about this being my busy time of year." Ha! That pre-empted him!

However, we ended up having a quite amazing conversation about getting things at Christmas, and about how we should get what we need rather than what we want and be grateful for it. (His words, not mine) "Usually, I get what I need, and if I get what I want, too, then that's a bonus".

There then ensued a wee conversation on jealousy, and about being overly-concerned about what others got, or what others gave. This man should be preaching, you know! "As long as I get what I need, I'm not too bothered about what other people give or get. Good on them if they can afford it and it makes them happy. I'm happy that I get what I need, usually."

I'm glad I started the conversation the way I did, otherwise we'd have talked about the fitba' as usual.

I came away wondering, as I trailed the dogs around the park, about getting what we deserve. At Christmas we declare that we are given God's grace, epitomised in the Christ Child. A free gift of God's love for us, whether we deserve it or not. Just as well, because most of us deserve very little indeed, yet still that grace is bestowed on us.

Getting what we need, getting what we want, getting what we deserve. I think we would all do well to contemplate what that means for us as individuals. I think my wee barber is right, and I'll concentrate on me rather than what other folk give or get. It might even make for a happier Christmas!

The thing is that few of us get what we deserve, and we should be grateful for it!

Cat's Whiskers

A couple of pics to share today. The first one is of the Silent Assassin, after mauling off Santa's beard! (Actually it's what comes out of Archie's coat after two minutes brushing. The second is Peanut, wondering how Santa gets down gas fires with glass fronts!

And the Bold Boy is anticipating Santa's visit too! He's not as soft as he looks!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Oot Singin' in the Snaw!

Well, we always said that it would be nice to have our Ecumenical Carol Service outside the Pound Shop in the snow! Well, we had the snow today, but as a result, hardly anyone turned up!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Charges for Christmas - the Church's Message

Cat Nap!


Had my first Skype call today! I am no longer a Skype virgin! And it was wonderful! However, now I'll need to make sure I shave and brush my hair before I sit at the computer!

No Excuses

Well Santa came early for me today, and brought me my new laptop. I've been bereft since the last one died some weeks ago now, and using a borrowed one just isn't the same! It's not yours and you have only limited personal stuff on it, added to the fact that all your wee programmes and things you like to use are just absent.

On my lap just now is a shiny electric blue Hewlett Packard number with a gleaming white keyboard, and we're going to get on just fine, I can tell. It'll be a few weeks before it's up to speed and everything is loaded, but the essentials are there. I've even networked it in with my PC in the outside office, and I have access to all the files in there that I need! It even prints to the office! How cool is that?

Now I need to get my head around things like Skype, and Photoshop and other stuff I've never used! It's a speedy wee number and I'm fair whizzing around my stuff. Advent had to be put on hold for another afternoon!

However, now there's no excuse for not uploading stuff to the Parish Site, or getting things like magazines and service sheets done in quick time! You know, it may actually become enjoyable again!

Dad at Christmas

It's a hard time of year for dad. He can't get his head around why his family have "stuck him in a home" and won't have him to stay if we insist that he can't look after himself, which he obviously feels he can do quite perfectly if we'd only left him alone!

The staff at Frank Downie House are just wonderful and spoil him terribly, but visits are often difficult. There are often tears as he tries to struggle with why he's there and what he's "done wrong" to be dumped there. When I left him on Friday he was far from being in festive mood, and I was dreading tonight's Christmas Party which the RW and I decided to attend.

However, lo and behold, the old boy was done up in his good suit and shirt and tie, and with a plate of food in one hand and a good glass of whisky in the other, he was in good form! A photo certainly for the archives.....

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Unposted Missing...

The Christmas gene has still to kick in. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I'm still at the beginning of Advent in my head and there's plenty time, but, oh no there's not! The Rectory is extremely un-Christmassy at the moment, whilst neighbours deck the halls and put up their fairy lights!

Things weren't helped by the dreadful weather we've been having since Advent began, and so much that might have been done was booted into touch until we got mobile again. Bad weather or not, Christmas has always got the habit of "jumping me" just when I least expect it. I long for a new Calendar that extends Advent to six Sundays rather than the four we have!

It's certainly going to be a strange Christmas, and because I'm not terribly looking forward to it at the moment, I've managed to kick it into touch until today anyway! The RW's son, Dafydd,  is being married in Wales on the 26th, and we'd been looking at ways for us both to attend the wedding. However, my conscience got the better of me, leaving my little flock on Christmas morning to attend the M6, so we've decided that I'll stay behind and just get on with the job of being the Rector! The RW will fly down on Christmas Eve. It makes much more sense than both of us spending Christmas Day on a motorway in God-knows what sort of weather.

Certainly Archie is happy about being spared kennels over Christmas, and the cat has escaped a first stay in a cattery! Peanut was going to stay with Auntie M, so she's not too bothered one way or another!

Today I took the plunge and got the "parish" Christmas cards done and cards made for our annual Amnesty International "sign up" on Saturday. The Friends' Party and Carol Service has to be all arranged for Sunday, and we are now in the position of putting quarts into pint bottles. Maybe now that Christmas gene will kick in and I'll be motivated to think things like "tree", "postage stamps", "presents", "wrapping paper" and, of course, the sellotape!

Oh Lord! And Christmas Carols need to be sung on Saturday in the High Street! Glory to God in the High Street, but give us some peace in the Rectory, at least until Christmas really arrives there!

More Football

Continuing on the subject of the Fitba', it is with some shame that I confess to the fact that I have only been to see Partick Thistle Nil once this season, and the fare was pretty dire. For the first time in decades I didn't purchase a Season Ticket, and that, perhaps, took away the commitment to attend as many home games as I possibly could. It wasn't particularly a financial reason. If I was honest, I'd say that I have become quite scunnered by the state of Scottish Football, and the thought of travelling to Glasgow on Saturday afternoons to watch increasing mediocrity has not been an attractive one at all.

The beginning of the real demise of Scottish Football began with the "League of Greed", the SPL, and the decision that we all had to sit down to watch the fitba'. I remember well the formation of the SPL, and Partick Thistle so wanted to be part of it. We built a new stand so that we could have the 10,000 seats necessary for gaining entry, (we also installed undersoil heating),  and so couldn't afford to pay decent players. The result was relegation and the wilderness years. On the other hand, some clubs refused to spend the money on seats and were granted entry anyway, which then released the funds to build the stands and put in the heating!

The sitting at the fitba' reduced greatly the atmosphere at matches. The singing and dancing all but disappeared, and we were stuck in our seats freezing to death on a winter's afternoon for two hours. I said at the time that the only person I know who sang sitting down was Val Doonican. Having your b******* frozen off sitting watching mediocrity and paying £20 for the dubious pleasure of this is something approaching insanity.

The recent weather has underlined the fact that we need summer football in Scotland and a decent winter break. This isn't Qatar, and summers are pretty mild and often wet anyway, but certainly better conditions in which to play the Beautiful game. However, it all gets down to finance and TV money, and greed! Scottish Football reflects society in general. The rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer, and the rich don't really give a damn.

The latest plans for the revamp of the Leagues is totally disgraceful, but it's driven by Rangers and Celtic, and, of course, the TV who pump millions into their coffers. The rest of the clubs can go whistle, sink or swim. I have long advocated that Scottish Football will never flourish until we get rid of the Old Firm and send them to Englandshire or whoever else will put up with their sectarian bile.

Once they go, we can rip up the seats, and prepare once again to stand at decent matches in our summer shirts, singing the praises of our team, who should have as much chance as anyone else of winning the League or a cup or two. The Kingdom of Heaven may yet come!

World Cup Matters

In the aftermath of the World Cup decision, the Englandshire press have been having a wing-ding over FIFA corruption, and dismay that the 2018 finals were "awarded" to Russia. Some of us, not just in Scotland, were rather relieved at that decision for various reasons.

What slipped under the net, as it were, was a more shocking decision, and that was to award the 2022 finals to Qatar. One wonders what is behind the decision to hold the finals in a country where the July temperatures are not exactly designed to ensure beautiful fast-flowing football. That in itself is crazy.

However, there are cultural reasons that need to be addressed too. How are Qatar folks going to cope with hundreds of thousands of folk coming to their country in need of a pre-match bevvy? Where will they drown their sorrows? The strict anti-alcohol laws will surely need to be relaxed, although I wouldn't hold my breath on that outcome. Perhaps people will be less prone to travel, and we'll see the dreadful sight of half-empty stadia.

There is another issue that very few of us have considered, though, and that is the attitude to homosexuality, (it is illegal), and public displays of affection. The President of FIFA seems to be OK with that, though, having spouted, "I would say that 'they' should refrain from any sexual activities". Well that solves that problem Mr Blatter!

The question remains. Should we be awarding the World Cup, a truly magnificently inclusive celebration of football, to a country whose laws and attitudes are far from inclusive? Of course, by 2022 things may have changed, but then again, I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Pinched Again!

This time from Lesley's Blog:

A Catholic Priest, a Baptist Preacher, and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette . They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop.

One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard - a real challenge would be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another, and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they all came together to discuss their experience.

Father Flannery, who had his arm in a sling, was on crutches, and had various bandages on his body and limbs, went first. 'Well,' he said, 'I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him, I began to read to him from the Catechism.Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle as a lamb. The Bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation.'

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next..... He was in a wheelchair, had one arm and both legs in casts, and had an IV drip. In his best fire-and-brimstone oratory, he claimed, 'WELL, brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quickly DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb.. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus..Hallelujah!

The priest and the reverend both looked down at the Rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IVs and monitors running in and out of him. He was in really bad shape.
The Rabbi looked up and said: "Looking back on it, ........circumcision may not have been the best way to start."

Shock! Horror!

The RW couldn't get to work today for the first time ever in living memory! Nae trains and the cars are gubbed! Edrington has had to close (probably as a result of her non-attendance) today AND tomorrow! Warning... there will be a shortage of Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park in your local stores soon, and not just because folk are drinking more!

Dumbarton Nativity

From a disgruntled local shop-keeper comes this.....

Note the Buckie, the carton of cheap fags, and the knocked-off Sky Box! It also comes with a disgruntled song, written and sung by the aforementioned disgruntled shop-keeper. This is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended, so don't click if you are unsure!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Little Acts of Love

Having preached for a bit yesterday on the Kingdom, and how we usher in that kingdom by our "little acts of love" which gives the world little glimpses of The Kingdom of God, the Boss certainly put me to the test this afternoon.

The RW was sent home early from work. They've been bottling all this whisky, you see, and no lorries have been able to come to take it away, so the whole place shut down. That was today's first "grouse" from the RW anyway.

The second problem wasn't far behind. The car didn't make it up the hill, so it was semi-abandoned, actually the front end was sticking out 4", and I was called upon to sort it! Arriving on the scene was like visiting a disaster movie! At least 5 cars were stuck on the same hill and couldn't be abandoned in the middle of the road.

I felt like the little boy at the Feeding of the 5000. Here I was with a shovel and a wee bag of grit in my hand. But what are these amongst so many? However, with the help of half the population we helped folk to abandon their vehicles "safely", and as each was put to bed until the gritters get through, another would appear at the bottom of the hill ready to make a valiant attempt at going where no man/woman had gone before. Back to the shovels man......

And did any of them get a little glimpse of the Kingdom? I'm sure they're all home just now thinking just that!

Next week I'm going to be careful what I preach!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

As an Archie Owner..

I know which scenario I prefer...

At least the snow is clean!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Scottish Advent Calendar

Dumbarton - The New Hollywood - from today's Daily Record

IT'S a burgh on the north bank of the Clyde, moderately famous for its castle rock, whisky, football team and as the birthplace of racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart.
On the face of it, there's no reason why Dumbarton should be mentioned in the same breath as Los Angeles, New York and London.
But when Oscar nominees and cast members from one of America's most successful TV series consider the A82 as the road to work, then the former shipbuilding and distillery town has more in common with Hollywood than you might think.
Eight years ago, BBC Scotland first rolled cameras on a new series reflecting contemporary Scotland.
River City, the Scottish soap, started filming on the site of the former Strathleven whisky bond.
Within a decade, the site would become one of the most important in the country, boosting tourism and delivering a timely shot in the arm to the local and national economies.
Now BBC Dumbarton Studios have become one of the busiest in the UK, with executive producers from independent film companies putting it on a par with famous industry hubs such as Pinewood and Shepperton in London.
Three former warehouses have been converted into studios, providing 70,000 sq ft of space capable of sustaining massive sets replicating everything from a London skyscraper and the Old Bailey in the 1800s to the bottom of the ocean and a mini-submarine docking pool.
Stars such as Minnie Driver, Oscar-nominated for her part in Good Will Hunting, along with glamour names like ER's Alex Kingston and Goran Visnjic and movie actor Stellan Skarsgard (The Hunt for Red October, Pirates of the Carribean) now have something in common with the towns's former shipbuilders - they've all earned a living in the shadow of the Kilpatrick Hills.
Others who have turned up for work round the back of the Shieldinch Subway include Sir Anthony Sher, Jimmy Nesbitt, Alun Armstrong, Eddie Marsan, Rupert Graves and Andrew Buchan.
Between them, they've acted in projects such as current 18th-century legal drama Garrow's Law, submarine thriller The Deep, harrowing Auschwitz film God On Trial and girlie crime caper Hope Springs.
BBC3 comedies Personal Affairs, with Mark Benton, and current hit How Not To Live Your Life, starring comic Dan Clark, were also shot there.
BBC Scotland's chief operating officer Bruce Malcolm is hopeful of more large-scale work coming to the sprawling site and is optimistic about the resultant boost for the economy.
He said: "BBC Scotland is a £160million business all in. Obviously, we have had big savings targets and drama is a small but significant proportion of that.
"On average, we spend £7million on River City and about £15-20million on network drama. We hope to grow that business and Dumbarton is part of our ongoing plan.
"A drama will be between £3-5million to make. Some of the independent production companies are English - we'd love to have indigenous companies working all the time, but it's a very competitive market.
"But according to Ofcom rules, they have to spend 70 per cent of their budget in Scotland. That money will, largely, be spent on local workers. And the multiplier effect means more money for taxis, restaurants and hotels. That effect can be twice as much for the economy as the actual programme costs."
All this doesn't mean Dumbarton is preparing to morph into Beverly Hills just yet but the local impact is welcome, with the BBC lease running for another 18 years.
Bruce added: "The BBC have committed to making 8.5 per cent of network spend in Scotland which will mean tens of millions of pounds worth of productions.
"And there's a debate ongoing at the moment as to whether we need to develop our drama facilities further.
"Scottish Enterprise commissioned a study, which we have contributed to as to where additional facilities should be, from the point of view of film as well as TV.
"The main argument is one of the economic benefit to Scotland."
Currently, independent production companies can take advantage of the on-site editing facilities, dressing rooms and make-up department in Dumbarton.
However, some River City cast feel their schedules have been squeezed to suit the big network dramas.
Original cast member Libby McArthur, who plays Gina Rossi in the soap, said: "We try to make the show in the ridiculously short time we have (two 14-week blocks) because there's revenue to be made from renting this place out.
"There are people here all the time and we're maxed out in terms of what we can do in a short period. But it happens - just. I think one of the reasons we're on that timetable is because there's revenue to be had in bringing other things in."
But she added: "It would be nice to be a fly on the wall to know what happens when we're not around. I'm tempted to write in lipstick on my dressing room mirror 'these wee lamps were only three quid from Asda, so don't nick them, go and buy them yourself'.
"The security staff and cleaners all say they miss us when we come back in February. But even when we're all filming at the same time, our River City schedule is so mental we hardly see bits of our own set let alone anyone else's. But it's great for the industry here."
Dominic Barlow is executive producer with Twenty Twenty/Shed Media Scotland who make Garrow's Law, which finishes this Sunday on BBC1. He has also worked on Spooks, Casualty and Mistresses and insists the Dumbarton studio facilities are among the best he has seen.
He said: "A lot of places say they're studios when they're really just warehouses. Much of it is down to the investment in River City, which has one of the best sets I've seen and I include EastEnders in that, but that benefits us hugely.
"It even has a grid system much like that at Pinewood.
"It really is a viable alternative to being based around London."

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

St Andrew's Day

My favourite... a tune for our Saint's Day!


The video below has been held up to ridicule, but I actually like it!

Clergy and Meetings

We had a good and constructive meeting yesterday. Just some clergy from my little part of the world sharing some coffee and sorting out some problems. I came away feeling so much better than I did in the morning. It lifted me because I was meeting with people who knew where I was, shared a similar agenda, spoke the same language, and instilled a feeling of collegiality. So it should be. We are not Congregationalists!

A problem had arisen which meant we had to meet, and I think we all left feeling that we should all meet, problems or not. That feels good to me.

Often clergy can be inclined to be too busy for our own good. Not another meeting, we wail. Oh! Lord! The Rector of Little St Reuben's will be there. Can I stand it? Will the Rector of St Archie-in-the-Snow  boast about how successful her parish is? Will the crucified Priest-in-Charge of Christ-in-the-Desert come to moan about the terrifying bouts of depression he suffers? Facebook Friends are easier to deal with!

The fact is that in AA or NA Meetings, the "OK" and long-time sober/straight come because others need them to be there. In a congregation, we sometimes need to come to church because others need us to be there. Clergy meetings are no different. Sometimes we just need the presence of others in the same boat who know the issues and are willing to "be present" for us.

Maybe I'm getting old. When I was first ordained, there was a "brotherhood" amongst clergy. I remember getting up at 6am one morning every week to join brother clergy at a Mass then breakfast. It was simply not allowed to miss this! However, it began to fall away much earlier than the ordination of women. It's not the fault of women priests then! What happened? Was there something in training at some point that encouraged clergy to think that they were on their own?

I mention the ordination of women for a purpose. I may offend many by saying that amongst the gifts that women bring to the priesthood is the gift of motherhood, and a natural gift of gathering the family around her, enabling the 'family' to meet together and inter-react. Oh that we had women who would take on this role in clergy chapters or even local situations. In this Diocese, and I'll get clobbered for this, we have an incredible woman who takes on this role so successfully. I'm convinced that her gender is helpful in this respect.

So, yes, clergy meetings are necessary and beneficial, and the more localised the better. I might be terribly wrong, but it is my feeling that the ministry of women, sometimes but not always, is designed to enable the coming together that we have lost somewhere along the way.

We have lost our collegiality. Perhaps our women can help us to redefine this and encompass us into a caring and sharing group of people again?

Now I baton down the hatches and prepare for war!

Ah! There's Nothing Like....

A good roll in the snow! Archie shuns the Clyde for the more solid stuff!

Stolen from MadPriest...

It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.


Travelling to Helensburgh yesterday with Gadgetvicar, and looking at the most beautiful scenery that God has created on the road, the Firth of Clyde was stunning, I happened to mention that Dumbarton folk were not always appreciative of the wonderful part of the world we live in. Apart from the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, and the majesty of the Ben,  just two or three miles away, there is stuff in the town itself which at times can be quite breathtaking.

First photo from the RW before the snows came in earnest, then yesterday's dog-walk along the Clyde, both showing Dumbarton Rock in all its glory!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Let it Snow

Blizzard conditions in Dumbarton this Sunday morning and only two of us at the 9am. The Church of Scotland across the road has cancelled its service, but we soldiered on, and had about half the usual number at 11am. For those who did'nt make it today, have a wee look at this! Folk in the food court were in for a big surprise on 17th November this year.....

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tough Days

Sometimes tough days come in ministry, and it's my experience that they often come like buses! One after the other after a long wait! We can be lulled into a false sense of absolute security. The parish is going well, things are good, we are OK with ourselves, others and God, then wham! It happens often to me, and I can only tell my own story!

The story of my ministry is like this. So much good is happening, so many things are going well, and there can be a smile on the face in the morning. God is good, and your people are good, and your ministry is OK. Note that it's OK, because you are always striving for it to be better!

And then things happen, as they do to everyone. Life is life and it's not often rosy. People are people and they don't always say or do rosy things. Someone will wake up today and face bereavement. Others will be given bad news after a hospital appointment. Someone will say something or write an email and our hearts and souls plummet. Our little worlds are attacked or challenged and we react or fail to react.

For the last two days I have been walking my dogs along the Clyde Shore. Both days have been beautiful experiences where I've felt a part of a wondrous creation and my wee heart has sung God's praises. The Big Boy, The Special One (Archie), has been swimming like there's no tomorrow and almost reached Langbank today!

A couple of things have happened in between which have touched my soul and made me cry within. However, God is good, and I am good and the world is good, and my community is good and my congregation are good too!

And whatever happens to you today, be assured that God is with you. Every step of the way....

Sunday, 21 November 2010

And it Came to Pass that there was a Census...

The Sunday Next Before Advent is extremely crucial, it seems, for the Scottish Episcopal Church. We are all given, around this time, a form which needs to be filled in, and it's all about our numbers. It's our Annual Returns, and amongst all sorts of rather searching questions, it asks us how many communicants we had on the Sunday Next Before Advent.

These numbers are sent to the General Synod Office, and will appear in print for the whole world to see sometime next year before General Synod. Of course, clergy being as they are, we get rather paranoid about this. I mean, what will people think if we have only 30 good folk on this Sunday, especially if we are capable of getting 70 on a good day? Do we make it up, or tell a little white lie? Of course not! We're trusted and respectable people and who cares how many you get on a winter morning in November anyway?

With that in mind, my soul went "eek!" when three of my trusty 9am service were missing this morning. Three can mean a great difference, you know! I was almost running up the High Street, knocking on doors demanding to know why they have a cold, or how they dare to sleep in/visit family for the weekend/decide to have a Sunday off!! Don't they realise my numbers are important? The bishop looks at this stuff, for goodness sake!

I'm dreading the 11am. Just hope everyone brings their grannies!

Of course, the Provost of St Mary's has the right idea. He's arranged three baptisms for this morning! Now count that pal!

The Silent Assassin Shares this...

Royal Facebook

Whatever Next?

They say that old age brings with it wisdom. Although I am sure that this will never be the case with me, I was heartened to read this! It won't change the world, I'm sure, but it is definitely a start.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How to Wrap up a Cat for Christmas!

Getting De-Baptised

A must for all those "aggressive atheists"! Thanks to Ship of Fools for pointing me in the right direction. It's not just Sir Alex Ferguson who gives out the hair-dryer treatment, it seems!

A Big Hello!

From our kids in The Gambia to all who help to run this school by contributing....

Following the Monobloc Road

Due to the "Parish Photographer" sadly having to dash to London on Sunday because of serious family illness, I've been holding off writing about the most recent "parish production"! Not that I remember too much about it having just arrived at Glasgow Airport at 1.30pm on the day, but I had a serious duty to perform. I was the Tin Man in The Wizard of Augz on Saturday evening!

The creativity, talent and inventiveness of St Augustine's folk never ceases to amaze me, as we followed the monobloc road to the Land of Augz, following the death of the Wicked Witch of Dumbarton East, sadly crushed by the roof of our new hall. Toto was played by a "ginger rodent", but we were more startled by the fact that our Treasurer was looking for a brain and the Rector was after a heart! The RW was slightly shattered after giving her all as the Chief Munchkin!

Over eighty folk, including our bishop, sat down for an American style meal, fried chicken too, and were duly entertained by a bunch of dafties, but that's St Augz at its best, really! An £800 profit kinda helps the parish, too, and it's amazing how much money you can raise by simply enjoying yourself! Well done to everyone!

A full set of photos can be seen, thanks to Michelle, on

Monday, 15 November 2010

Brain Across the Sahara

Re-entering the world after a trip to The Gambia has always been a problem for me. Living in the Third World, not as a tourist, even for a week, always has a profound effect on me and at the moment, although my body is here in Dumbarton, my soul and brain have still to catch up. They are still floating somewhere over the Sahara!

Our little school in Serrekunda needed a visit, really to sort out staffing problems. When you are totally responsible for a school, rather than just a sponsor, there are all sorts of employer/employee issues, and some of these can only be done in person. I had a busy and stressful week, but things are sorted, again, and after a plethora of meetings and informal discussions, I can see ways of taking the next step in development, and providing a larger more holistic model for the school and what we provide. Much work lies ahead, but it will be worth it for the children.

And all this is for the children. All ninety of them. Even after nine years, I continue to be shocked by the conditions they live in and the poverty which is accepted and endured with smile and song. We now have a new Principal Teacher who has great energy, lots of vision, a good track record, and excellent qualifications. That's a big help, but without our regular contributors, none of it would happen.

Leaving is always a drag! Below, a little film of my last minutes in the school before getting off to the airport. The words are simple: "Fadda Kenny Bye Bye!" Ignore the "tubab" in the striped shirt! He's just an old dreamer who is working hard for us out there! Thanks to him and the indefatigable Helen for all they do for Dumbarton London Corner Nursery!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tripping Off....

After a wonderful weekend at St Augustine's, with the baptism of wee John Hardie, it's been a hectic week preparing to go off to The Gambia! The school out there is in trouble, with West African floods seriously undermining the foundations of our school building, and then there are the usual staffing problems that always need to be addressed. Nothing dreadful, but we probably need two new teachers fast!

One of the things that our school is committed to is training our teachers to the highest standards. They, therefore, can be "stolen" away by the bigger schools who want highly qualified teachers and who can pay more and give benefits which we can only dream about giving. "That's life", as they say in France.

It's certainly not going to be a holiday, but at least the work will be getting done in sunshine. :-)

I'll be back on the 13th for the Parish Production of The Wizard of Augz, following the monobloc road to wherever the other side of the rainbow is, or something like that! My tin man suit will be waiting for me, but I think I'd rather have the red shoes! Well, if the Pope can wear them.......

Below, the RW celebrates my coming departure.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Time Traveller in Chaplin Film?

Rules of Engagement

It's something that comes to the vast majority of parents who wait. Your offspring get engaged to be married, or partnered these days I guess. Young Graham is 28 now, and I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to come, but he had met a lovely girl, Angela, a school teacher, and he seemed as settled and happy as we could ever want our children to be. Marriage, however, seemed not to be an option.

So, it is with great surprise, really, that I find myself going to their Engagement Party, away is the wilds of the Airdrie/Gartcosh region of Lanarkshire tonight. The car is full of us "older folk" who will turn up early, make the appearance, and disappear at a reasonable time since we are all pushing it a bit and need to get to our beds!

What does the father of the engaged wear to these events? Since the dog-collar is a no-no, I'll try to look suitable cool, laid back, and well, not 56! However, my mind thinks, well, if you can't embarrass your children who can you embarrass? I'll maybe keep you posted!

SFA Penalty Checklist

With thanks to Big Rab, who is an expert in these matters, I publish the ultimate referee's guide here... (click to make big)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Shame about the Case

Those outside of our little nation of Scotland may be only fleetingly aware that we are in the middle of a rather nasty perjury trial at the moment. It would unwise, and possibly illegal, to sound off about the trial while it is still "live". There are plenty of other people blogging and commenting in a much more profound and knowledgeable fashion than I could ever attain to! 

However, it revolves around a guy called Tommy Sheridan, and a rather tasteless spat with a tabloid newspaper. It would be unwise for me to comment on that. My friends and family know how I feel about the tabloid press.

The sad thing is this. Tommy Sheridan was a political star, and a superb orator. He told things as they are without fancy words, and spoke to the working classes, and the non-working classes, in a way that gave people hope that things could be different, and in a way that reminded my old dad of some of the great socialists that Glasgow has produced in the past. I considered him a hero in my earlier ministry. Here was a people's champion, and someone that could be trusted to deliver, during a time when New Labour got all "Tory" on us. I loved him and he always gave me a warm feeling inside and was capable of really firing me up. I was not alone.

Whatever has happened, and much has happened, a super wee political party now lies in ruins when it had the potential to grow to be quite big in Scotland, in my opinion. His reputation as a man has also been totally ruined, and it has all ended in tears. There will be no way back for the Scottish Socialist Party.

As I read more and more in the press, and listen to television news covering the current trial, I just feel terribly let down, as I'm sure thousands of others do too. So much hope was pinned on this man and his vision.

Whatever happens, and whatever the court decides to be true, something special died along the way. It probably died before the tabloid press even got involved. For that I could be moved to weep.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Back Bloggin'

After a deluge of mail, well about ten enquiries, asking where my blogging had gone, I return to the Blogosphere today! Not that too many will have missed me, I'm sure. I remind myself that I mostly blog for myself rather than others. It's just as well, because my statistics show as much support for my ramblings as the Tories have in Scotland. If I strike a chord with someone else, then well and good.

The truth is that the last wee while has been miserable for me anyway. I don't take kindly to the sort of man-cold I've been suffering from, and it's not good to be continually wiping snot from the screen while you're typing! Add that to the dip in my mood anyway, which I always have at this time of year, when daylight is fast disappearing and clouds and rain seem to be the norm. October clouds and rain tend to be worse that those in July.

There has been another reason, though, and that is the fact that my trusty laptop died. All my life was on there.. photos, favourite wee programmes, inspirational crap, and a million other wee things which were an extension to my brain. We had a wonderful relationship and now it has died. The memories are still there.. photos and files have been backed up on an external hard drive, but that's not the issue. It's like losing a very close friend or relative. You still have the photos and the letters, but the wee things that made the relationship so special have gone. The wee programmes, the familiarity, the feeling on my lap, the knowledge of what we could do together, and knowing each others capabilities and failings. Between us we updated the Blog and had Facebook fun together.

It was a relationship which made me jealous when she was being used by others, however briefly, because we belonged to each other. It was an intimate coming together in the morning and last thing at night. In between times, I "worked" on the Big Beast in the study, but that was work and we both understood that, or I grappled with the little tiddler in the Church Office, which was slow and cumbersome, not unlike the Church itself.

My Smartphone and I have never really got on with each other, but it alerted me to messages that we had to deal with together. The Smartphone knows that I'd rather have an iPhone anyway, so it continually plays up and lets me down. Apart from a couple of trips to the computer hospital, my old laptop never let me down. Never.

Oh! I've tried! My laptop has been replaced with a wee machine which belongs to the parish, but it's not mine, and it's slow too, and doesn't have access to the external hard-drive anyway. I'm still in mourning, and could be for some time! Santa-time may bring me something which I can begin again with, but until such times, I'll struggle on with poor relationships which are really just ones made on the rebound. Unfulfilling, tiresome and going through the motions.

It was five years, dear friend, and during that time you became filled with much that we enjoyed together. If your replacement, when it comes, gives me half the buzz, then I'll be eternally grateful!

From Ekklesia...

From Ekklesia today:
Three major Free Churches say Chancellor George Osborne's inaccurate use of welfare fraud statistics in his Comprehensive Spending Review speech has stigmatised the poor.
The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have criticised the Chancellor for claiming that welfare fraud is responsible for cheating tax payers out of £5 billion a year.
A Department of Work and Pensions report published last week stated that welfare fraud accounts for £1 billion of money lost, with tax credit fraud accounting for an additional £0.6 billion, leading to £1.6 billion lost in total. Church leaders say the exaggerated £5 billion figure depicts the poorest and most vulnerable in society as thieves.
“Exaggerating benefit fraud points the finger of blame at the poor,” says the Rev Alison Tomlin, President of the Methodist Conference - who had urged the government to protect the poorest from harsh economic decisions, in a speech in the run-up to the 20 October 2010 CSR announcements.
“Let us be clear this recession was not caused by the poor, those on benefits, or even benefit cheats", she said today. "The poorest in society only got poorer during the boom years and it’s simply not fair to make them pay for the bust."
Ms Tolin continued: “Questions also need to be asked about the £7 billion of uncollected tax revenues that the Chancellor claims he is targeting. According to the HMRC, there is approximately £42 billion in uncollected revenues; why does Mr Osborne only speak of £7 billion?”
Meanwhile, the Rev Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith and Unity at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, declared: “There is already deep concern that the severe reductions in welfare provision will cause immense hardship to the most vulnerable. This misuse of figures to exaggerate the scale of benefit fraud only adds to the sense of injustice.”
Mr Simon Loveitt, Public Issues Spokesperson for the United Reformed Church, added: “The coalition government is very keen to talk about fairness and the false notion that ‘we are all in this together’, but the Chancellor’s exaggeration of fraud and last week’s Comprehensive Spending Review confirm the grim reality that it is those who are most vulnerable who will pay the price for that which is so clearly not their fault.”

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010


Well, what did we make of it all? The Rectory is settling down again after a few days of constant television, following with interest and great scrutiny the visit of  Benedict, He Who Must Be Obeyed. Our heads are still spinning with it all! It was superb television, although rather unbelievable at times. I'm not sure where the BBC got their presenters and commentators, but they will all get a holy medal, no doubt, for their services to Roman Catholicism and another for their servility. It was like listening to them fawning over the Queen Mother all over again! This was serious spin!

However, it has to be said that we, in The Rectory, enjoyed every last minute of it all! We did cringe a bit at times, but generally this had a feel-good factor which will encourage our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters and perhaps give them new heart after a particularly torrid time following the sexual abuse revelations. It probably, too, encouraged most other Christians, in Scotland anyway, if we are careful to emphasise what unites us rather than what divides us.

The Papal Visit, or the Humanisation of Benny as it may be subtitled, was an extremely valuable event, and will no doubt ignite serious and worthwhile debate within our society. I'm not sure how helpful it was to equate aggressive secularism with neo-Nazi-ism, but at least we will maybe now join the debate rather than have Dawkins, Hawkins et al shoved down our throat as the new,  and only worthy emerging religion of our time. There is an agenda here, and perhaps the modern Christian Church has been slow to respond to it, but it won't go away and it needs to be taken seriously.

So, thanks Benedict, for reminding me why I'm an Episcopalian, but helping us all to look again at the most serious issues of our age and encouraging us all to dialogue! Enjoy your rest! I don't know where you get the energy from!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Total Class!

As far as spam goes, this one is total class! Received today from my "Internet Provider"...  I mean, I say "Amen" to that too!

Due to the congestion in all Btinternet users and removal of all unused Btinternet Accounts, Btinternet would be shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will besuspended within 48 hours for security reasons.

*EMAIL :.......................... ....
* Password: .......................................
* Date of Birth: .................................
* Country Or Territory: ................

ive chnaged the password for security amen  

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Fitba'

It's been understandably quiet in the Rectory of late when it comes to the fitba'. Partick Thistle Nil are having a horrendous start to the season, despite winning on Saturday to ease their way into the Semi-Final of the "Cretin's Cup", a wee trophy in Scotland for the disadvantaged.

Good old Dumbarton are worse than Thistle, but it's on the International front that the Rectory has been afraid, mostly. As a member of the Scotland Supporters Club, aye I get my guaranteed ticket to all the home games, it is with trepidation, no,  from behind my fingers, that I watch Scotland these days. Yes, it's scary stuff right enough.

After a rather non-eventful 0-0 result in the mighty Lithuania on Friday, we will all don our kilts tonight, some will paint their faces, (I might do this myself for the Spain match), and proceed to Hampden to add our voices to "THE ROAR". We like to think we scare the hell out of opponents, but they probably just have a laugh at 60,000 hairy men, with blue faces, in skirts! (Actually probably about 20% of the crowd will be female, coming along to support their men in time of crisis!) 

The strength and skill of the legendary Lichtenstein come between ourselves and glory this evening, and we'll struggle as usual. Actually, I'd feel better if it was Spain tonight! I hate these games where we are expected to win handsomely! 

It is a disaster waiting to happen.

However, I'll be there, singing Loch Lomond, and whatever else we are commanded to do for the cause, probably with my face paint on after all. It will cover the embarrassment if we fail, again.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Here We Go Again!

A new word has crept into The Rectory over the past few days. Every now and again the RW starts a new fitness regime. Wii Fit was all the craze for a while, but the dogs didn't fancy it much, and Archie found it difficult to get into the screen to lift his leg as the RW was on her daily jog. We've exhausted the cowboy dancing and a whole host of other things, including the belly-dancing, but the word these days, seemingly, is Zumba. Yes, Zumba!

This new dance/fitness stuff claims to give you a body beautifying regime, with pulsing Latin American music. Basically, I think, you just jump around and look daft! At £4 an hour, with loyalty bonus of course, it is a good investment, as I get peace to watch the telly or read a book without interruption!

Now the RW is off to a local school for an hour every week to prance about in Latin Dance mode. The good thing is she doesn't need a partner! The down side is that the dogs are unimpressed. A good walk in the park does it for them anytime. Maybe we need to put some Latin American music on her iPod?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Not often that the four of us get together these days, but here we go!

St Augustine's-Tide

Still recovering from a wonderful Patronal Festival on Sunday. Lots of good music from our Praise Band, a special liturgy for the occasion which was well received, and a terrific sermon from Fr Fred Tomlinson, who grew up in St Auggie's! The congregation was swinging, and with lots of little ones, our average age was what it should really be all the time! We even got in well over £1000 for our Gift Day with more to come.

A couple of pics... Fr Fred and me, and one of the Praise Band with its latest recruit!

Saturday, 28 August 2010


I now know another good reason not to hit the whisky again!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


This was a new word for me! One I learned last week. It seems to have been going on in Roman Catholic Orders for centuries, although in modern times it has been weakened by tepidity itself and is now labelled the "mid-life crisis" that priests and nuns can often experience! A good dose of aromatherapy can help, it seems.

However, in the past this state was taken very seriously. We come to ordination or to final vows with such a great enthusiasm, and as the years roll by this can wane and our commitment to Our Lord or even our work can become lukewarm.

And as I sat this afternoon thinking about this, and thinking of our Diocesan Ministry Officer on a train to Gothenberg today, I found great comfort in the fact that tepidity is no longer allowed in Glasgow and Galloway!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Virtually Offensive ... or Good Fun?

Well! We've seen it all! A good friend has pointed me to the delights of "Priestville", a new "game" on Facebook, where you are a virtual priest with a virtual parish, and like Farmville and all the rest, you are "called" to progress.

Game Tutorial
Step 5: Strengthen Your Diocese

But there's more!

 You need to work on your charisma, integrity, self-esteem, brainpower and energy, and win parishioners, who, i suspect will give you gold coins or something. Maybe you will need the gold coins to buy a new biretta. Who knows? We are told: "PriestVille fans periodically receive free Parishioners, Gold Coins and other useful game items!" There is also an online confessional! Free parishioners, gold coins, and absolution too!

Hold me back!

It's tempting. I'm not taking the bait, but I suppose with a bit of time and effort, I could become a virtual bishop eventually, or even a Cardinal. Whenever things are not going too well in the "Real Deal", I could retreat and draw comfort from the fact that in Priestville I have a thriving congregation who hang on to my every word and do as they're told? When the real bishop calls to reprimand me, I can silently snigger, for in my virtual parish I have much more power than he has!

This could be a very attractive thing for the disillusioned in Holy Orders. We could sit on our backsides all day playing with our laptops, and let the parish go to the dogs, either our real one or our virtual one. Hmm or maybe that happens anyway?

The biggest boon to the Church, though, could be in scrapping selection conferences for potential clergy. We can now just tell potential ordinands to go away for a year, play Priestville, and if they have a successful parish, or have risen to the heights of Dean, Canon, Bishop or whatever in that time, they would be a shoo-in for training!

I'm just waiting for some smart-ass to tell me that their congregation is thriving on Facebook, and that I should be ashamed of myself. My retort will have to be that the game doesn't seem to mention God, although maybe God comes in at some point after you have enough gold coins, and there is nothing in the initial blurb about praying. However, who needs God and prayer when you can run a successful parish on Priestville?

PS If you get your parishioners to join Opus Dei, then you won't lose them! Spooky, eh?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Let There Be Light!

A couple of weeks ago I bought one of these SAD lamps! I know, I know, maybe I have more money than sense, but fellow sufferers from depression had recommended them to me, and pointed out that a wee burst of light every morning had often raised their spirits enough to see them through the day.

Now, because I'm not that rich, I opted for the cheapest version, but even in these dark summer mornings, sans sun, I've felt the benefit. I opted not to take it on retreat, and there was enough sun and stimulation there to make it kind of redundant anyway! Even though I didn't feel the need today, I had a half-hour blast this morning and it's done me no harm at all.

West of Scotland dreary cloudiness doesn't do the spirits much good..... a wee parish in Florida would be nice..... but something caught my eye in today's Herald which rang bells with me. It was a light-hearted, (no pun intended), wee article on light bulbs, suggesting that we are all really being deprived of light in our modern world through our efforts to save the planet!

I remember the days when a 100 watt bulb was always in the "big light", but we can't purchase these things for love or money these days, and even our 60 watt bulbs are energy savers. They take forever to heat up, and just don't give me the same buzz as ordinary old-fashioned bulbs.

The West of Scotland should be exempt from saving the planet through the use of new-fangled light bulb rules, and we should be allowed, as from now, to have as much light in our homes as we like. Simply to stave off the depression of course!

After all, a happy workforce is a productive one, and for those facing long-term unemployment, they'll need something to cheer them up!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Back to Reality

"So how was the retreat, Kenny?" I've been asked that so many times in the past 24 hours, and I've still to formulate a reply that does the experience justice!

On one level it was an amusing experience. I became a Roman Catholic for five days, surrounded by a mixture of nuns, priests and religious from all over who were fellow retreatants.  I've said so many Hail Marys in the past week that they are coming out of my ears! The Masses were wonderful, and because of the tradition I come from, and my knowledge of the Roman Missal, I coped really well with that stuff, except when they went off into singing the Agnus Dei or the Sanctus in Latin and I realised my Latin was somewhat rusty! However, it was a joy to be able to receive Holy Communion with them all and made to feel a part of it all. Nightly Exposition and Benediction became special times and I longed again for that special holiness which so many modern liturgies have drummed out of us.

The best bit was the silence. The five days when not a word was spoken, (except in my chats with the Director), but only in praise and adoration of Our Lord. If that sounds pious, then I'm sorry, but it was a very real piety that permeated my soul and gave me a peace that passed understanding. Kinnoull is the sort of place where you catch that stuff. It's the sort of piety that you need to experience and drink in , especially if your ministry tends to focus on so any material and practical matters. We are always in danger of losing sight of the bigger picture!

The Retreat Director, Fr Ronnie McAinsh brought something very special to the retreat and to me personally. His experience, in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and his qualifications as a practising psychotherapist, were all extremely relevant to me and many of the issues and problems I had been dealing with in my life and ministry were addressed and tackled. (I know that many of you think I should have visited a "shrink" a long time ago!)

So, back to the parish! Expectations that the "sermon" tomorrow will be an imparting of all the wisdom that I've "sooked" up since last Sunday. However, I don't know how much I can impart at the moment. Much of it is still swimming around in my brain and my soul, and I'm not really ready, or able, to articulate much! Some of it may never be spoken. I no longer feel the need to show a "naked" spirituality! Some things need simply to be pondered in the heart, as Our Lady did.

See, all these Hail Marys have had an effect on me after all!