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."