Thursday, 27 May 2010

Toastie (2003-2010)

Well done, good and faithful servant! We fitted each other perfectly. Rest in Peace.

85 and Not Out!

Dad celebrated his 85th Birthday this week, and got a new watch to celebrate it with. He also got a new bigger room in Frank Downie House, with a nicer view, so he's happy as a sandboy. When I look back at where we were this time last year, I'm extremely grateful for all the love and prayers which have upheld me!

Man Cold Blues

It's been a pretty horrific week health-wise with an infected arm, and now a man-cold to top any cold ever known to, well, man. Will I suffer is silence God forbid! A cold is a cold, and this is a HUGE BIG one!

However, my own plight fades against that of Toastie's, (my beloved 7-year-old King Charles Cavalier). He has heart disease, and his wee lungs are just filling up with fluid. As the days go on he is becoming more and more distressed, and I'm terrified that tonight the vet is going to suggest we have a "decision" to make. He has been with me through thick and thin, and I probably love him more than all the others, but I get really distressed when he's distressed, and I've spent most of the morning with him in my arms, both of us having a good cough together. Fortunately I can do something about mine and it will be gone in a few days. For Toastie, that's not an option, and the wee man's chest is heaving as he tries to get in some air between his coughing fits. (He's now sleeping fitfully at my feet)

To the vet tonight and we'll see what can be done, but my prediction is that the Boss doesn't have many days left among us. I couldn't see him suffer. He just wouldn't deserve it, but it's like all things pertaining to life and death, as we hold out some hope that tomorrow all will be magically better, and our loved ones, our dying ones, will be restored to health and stay among us a bit longer. Maybe it's fairer and better sometimes just to say "thanks and farewell", and let them go. Perhaps with dogs it's easier done, but it's still not easy to say it.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Unjust Government Cuts - from Ekklesia

Campaigners for an international tax on financial institutions have said that the £6 billion programme of spending cuts announced by the Coalition Government yesterday, are a sign of "profound injustice".

The Chancellor, George Osborne, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, outlined the immediate spending cuts aimed at reducing Britain's £156 billion fiscal deficit, which is now the highest in the EU.

The plans included scrapping child trust funds and freezing civil service recruitment and will lead to £6.243 billion of cuts this year. £500 million of that will be reinvested in apprenticeships, further education and social housing, which means that around £5.7 billion will be directed towards paying down the fiscal deficit this year.

The main cuts are:
• Scrapping government contributions to the Child Trust Fund.
• A civil service recruitment freeze across all government departments and agencies.
• Full first-class travel, which cost £45 million in 2008-09, "should be avoided by public servants wherever possible".
• Quangos will have their budgets cut by £600 million. Others will be scrapped completely leading to job losses.
• Efficiency savings in discretionary areas like consultancy and travel costs; £95 million through savings in IT spending; and £1.7 billion from delaying and stopping contracts and projects with the 70 major suppliers to government.
• £1.165 billion savings from local government which will be achieved by reducing grants to local authorities.

Owen Tudor, a spokesperson from the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: “The spending cuts spelled out by George Osborne represent a profound sign of injustice. Those who bear no responsibility for the global recession will have to pay the price, while the financial sector, whose reckless behaviour has largely contributed to the mess which we are in, can continue business as usual.

“Cuts will not only affect a significant portion of public sector workers who will lose their jobs or see their pay frozen, but also the general public who will no longer be able to rely on essential public services.

“One way of avoiding these large-scale cuts would be to introduce a Robin Hood Tax on the financial sector, which would raise at least £20 billion a year in the UK alone. Such a tax would be fair as it would target a sector that played a pivotal role in the economic crisis and that has the financial resources to cope with a levy.”

Robin Hood Tax campaigners say that the revenue raised would help reduce the public deficit, protect public service jobs, tackle poverty at home and abroad, as well as fight climate change.

108 organisations including Ekklesia currently support the Robin Hood Tax campaign in the UK.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The End of the Road?

Missed Opportunity

Today I was supposed to be attending a Ministry Development Day, entitled "Edges & Endings", which I was really looking forward to. It related to pastoral situations, real ones, where our judgement is often tested and having the experience to know how to handle more difficult encounters.

Physically, this morning, I could hardly make myself coffee, never mind making it to Glasgow and providing any sort of positive input. I feel somewhat "robbed" of a day that I would have got a lot from, apart from the clergy togetherness which I just soak up on these occasions.

Maybe it will be repeated at some point, or maybe I'll just go to the doctor for antibiotics that little bit quicker next time I'm bitten!


Pic of Amy Jean's baptism yesterday. I was the one in agony, and she was the one who did all the crying!

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Well I caved in at the end and ended up at the hospital today. The mega-bite I got from Archie had obviously badly infected my arm. It was all scarlet and swollen this morning, and I had trouble moving it.

The groundswell of opinion among the congregation fuelled the RW's terrible anxiety and I was wheeched off to the Minor Injuries Unit in The Vale before I could even drink my coffee after the 11am baptism. Opinions varied from the possibility of me losing my arm because the infection was heading for my lymph mode (!!!!), to the informed opinion that I definitely needed a tetanus jag at once, or my life would end sooner than you could say "holiday", never mind go on one!

It had been a lovely Pentecost celebration with Amy Jean being on her worst possible behaviour. She screamed throughout ......  a first for me in 32 years of ministry. I'm usually the one who stops the bairn crying, but not today :-(  As I made my way into the centre of the large congregation with Amy in one hand and a Baptismal candle in the other I heard one of the older ones whisper, "Don't stop nipping her"!

Anyway a dose of giant antibiotics and some strong painkillers to see me through until I see my own doc tomorrow.  Today, having taken a couple of the painkillers already, I'm heading for bed Zebedee. No need for tetanus as I'm all up to date anyway, but it seems that it's no longer policy to give a tetanus jag for a dog bite as most of us have had at least five shots throughout our lives.

Time to give in to the fuzzy head, and despite warnings, I should wake up to a left arm still being intact.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Apps of the Apostles

Tired of online churches, twittering vicars, blogging bishops and all the other appurtenances of religion on the Internet?

Welcome to the wonderful world of iPhone apps, where Bibles, blessings, rosaries and religious radio – not to mention chakra tuning and aura reading – are all now available at the tap of a screen. We've sifted through the hundreds of religious apps available and chosen just 10 which seem to be most in tune with the spirit of the iPhone: quirky, inventive, interactive and, above all, entertaining.

See it all here!


I know the signs now, but the Black Dog of Depression is not far away. I'm struggling to keep it at bay and not let it find a way in. Searching for that "turning point" where all seems positive again. In bewilderment, I cannot understand why this happens, but it does and I feel the shadows approaching. I can't even begin to pray properly that it will end. Will recede.Will disappear!

So a wee prayer from you might help me get through today and the next few days to come. Thanks Blogland!

Will coalition ConDem arms trading unit?

We will get a better idea of some of the detail regarding the new coalition government's approach to a range of issues today. But what will the new government do about its arms trading unit, the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation?

Campaign Againt Arms Trade (CAAT) are urging people to email Vince Cable in the hope that the LibDems might be able to bring some positive influence to bear.

Last year, the Conservatives said they wanted to increase the support given to arms exports, and use arms sales as a "foreign policy tool" - a prospect which campaigners say is truly alarming.

But in the past many senior Liberal Democrats have supported the campaign to end government support for arms exports, including Vince Cable, now the Minister responsible for UKTI. Add to this the financial pressures around deficit reduction and substantial investment in underwriting the commercial arms trade might not seem such an attractive prospect after all.

(From Ekklesia)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Just cos I Like it. and it Reminds Me of the Bradford Disaster - 25 Years Ago!


It was the start of a new partnership yesterday, as Circle worker, Janet Rae, moved into  the St Auggie’s office to share the space with me. Hopefully this can be a really positive partnership between St Augustine’s and Circle.

Those who want to know more can follow this link:

Thanks to MadPriest!

Quilting Exhibition

For the next few days there is a Quilting Exhibition in our church building, and some extremely colourful and magnificent examples are on show. This morning our Eucharist had to be in the Community Hall as the church was buzzing with visitors. As I collected books and chalice etc etc from the church I met with 3 American Episcopalians, and another four folk from Episcopalian Churches in the Diocese! In the end, there were more Episcopalians at the quilting than in the Community Hall for the Eucharist.

If it hadn't been for a smattering of Presbyterians wanting to look at the quilting, we could all have joined together in a wonderful celebration in church, surrounded by the talents and gifts that God gives us!


Well, I guess it was inevitable! Archie, The Special One, had finished his dinner last night and after escaping from the kitchen, he pushed the other two canines aside and started wolfing down their share too. Although I have perpetually warned others not to try to separate a dog from its food, I feel sufficient trust in the SO, and took hold of his collar to pull him away.

Ever regret anything? He got hold of my arm and drew blood in four places. One cut is rather deep, and today I'm feeling sorry for myself as my arm is badly swollen and I'm wondering if he's damaged a bone too.

He knows he's not the most popular dog in town at present, and is spending most of his time, voluntarily, out in the back garden, looking rather pathetic. The thing is that he's such a biddable big soft lump! Next time, though, I'll heed my own advice and the spaniels can just go hungry!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Just Reflecting

I'm in the middle of a relaunch of the St Augustine's Dumbarton Website, and I wonder how much I want to save or delete! Hopefully something fresh and exciting on the horizon. Who knows?

The Waiting Time

The Ascension has come and gone for 2010, and here we are, waiting for Pentecost. There is this great pregnant pause for the disciples as they wait. Some may have already given up and gone to the Jerusalem Job Centre. Others had faith that something, and something significant would happen soon.

In our churches, we often experience this "waiting time". Projects are launched, and if they don't bring instant results they are often abandoned through lack of interest or we deem them to have failed. Much like the first apostles, in the waiting time, we can lose heart easily.

However, often, a bit more perseverance, and a bit more patience wouldn't go amiss. Set up projects, set up new initiatives, and let God take all the time God needs to bring them to positive fruition. How easily and how tempting it is to give up just because we don't have immediate results.

Let God be God, and give God all the time God needs, and put aside the temptation of impatience!

Saturday, 15 May 2010


Often folk look at our three dogs, all clean and prim and friendly, and respond,"Ahhhh".Like in a aren't they just perfect "Ahhhh". Below is the terrible truth of Archie, The Special One,after a walk in Balloch Park.

He is a Golden Retriever, by the way!


Dad has really settled into his new home now, thanks to the staff of Frank Downie House in Dalmuir. Yesterday was the happiest I've seen him for years, and although the old mind is going, he's still enjoying his pipe and dram. He even has a suntan that would grace the beaches of the Mediterranean!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Greens take the Mickey!

The Green Party have urged Liberal Democrat supporters who object to their party's coalition deal with the Conservatives to join the Greens to achieve real change.
In a deliberate parody of the language used by Tory leader David Cameron at the start of the coalition negotiations, the Greens have issued a "big, open, and comprehensive offer" to Liberal Democrats. They have urged them to "come and join the Greens and campaign for real democratic change, real action to tackle poverty, and real action on climate change".

The big problem is that only about half of Scotland would consider voting for any party that had "green" in their name.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Ascension Day

Wonderful Ascension Day service this evening incorporating the three local charges of Helensburgh, Alexandria and ourselves. Our wee music group were on top form!

Was waylaid by Scottish Lib Dems at the end who wanted to convert me from being a Christian into a Lib Conned, but they did it with a smile. Much in the same way as Darling Dave will do it to Old Nick as the months roll on!

Actually, I'm getting quite used to this compromise game. It has its plusses! On Sunday I'm preaching in the local URC Church, who have made a pact with the Episcopalians and the Methodists. It's called EMU for obvious reasons.

So, here I will be on Sunday, telling the URC guys that it will be of benefit for them to think ecumenically and pool our resources in the town. We'll even give them five seats on the Vestry Committee!


Well, as dear Toastie seems to be coming into the last stage of his wee life, it was brilliant today to get a photo of my son's pup who has obviously tons of attitude! She's taken to getting everyone up at 4am lately! Poppy is a wee cracker, and is coming to live with us when her owners are off to the States in the summer. Toastie, Peanut, The Special One and the Silent Assassin will soon lick her into shape! Or will they? Take a look at that face!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Farewell Gordon Brown

The Press gave you an impossible time. You did more for this country than the people appreciate. Go. Enjoy family life now!

An RW View of the Paris Visit

Holiday Bookings

As we are due to fly out to a beautiful Greek Island at the end of June, ash permitting, the emails have been tumbling in from Thomas Cook. Book your seats in advance.Choose extra leg-room,etc etc. As a man who loves that little bit of extra leg-room, it helps me to sleep and it's worth a few quid more, I was right on to their website where I'm constantly told that my booking reference is invalid.

So, let's phone instead. Five times now I've phoned and been given a long spiel about what I can upgrade and all about their cruises.A wee word about swine flu and off we go. "There is a high volume of calls at present.Please call back later!" I could have paid for the bl*** seats with the cost of the calls so far.

Why don't they just begin with, "There is a high volume of calls at present.Please call back later!" It would have saved me a fortune!


Toastie has been my constant companion for seven years now. An almost perfect King Charles Cavalier who could have won stuff at dog shows if I'd been inclined to do the necessary. I wasn't. Instead he became the parish pet and was spoiled rotten by the congregation! He came everywhere with me, and had a couple of adventures at gravesides which we won't go into! He sat in the passenger seat of my car, and slept with his head resting on his two front paws.

As the years passed he's had to put up with a puppy being introduced, another Cavalier,and a Golden Retriever and even a cat, but until recently still considered himself as leader of the pack.

Unfortunately, of late,he's been diagnosed as having heart disease,and his old lungs are filling up with fluid. He still tries to keep up with the pack, but alas, he suffers for it and coughs up lots of goo for hours afterwards. His days of long runs are over, and when the time comes we'll know what to do, however heartbreaking that will be.

He's started sleeping with his head resting on his front paws again, and today starts a new regime. Instead of long walks, he's getting to sit on the passenger seat again, with the opportunity to widdle as we go about our day. A return to his first two years as my pet. I only hope he gets long enough to appreciate the joys of parish ministry once again!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Gay Paris

Back from a first-time visit to Paris to celebrate the RW's 60th Birthday. Apart from the fact it was freezin', I loved the place, but especially Montmartre. Could have stayed there forever!

It was good, in the end, to escape the last days of the political nonsense that was going on. We got back in time  to register our vote, but what Scotland votes is largely ignored anyway.

What happens now is perhaps unknown,but I wish I was back in Paris.We are back to deals being done behind closed doors and that is depressing. The indecent haste of Clegg to jump into bed with the Tories is astonishing.Who would have thought that a Lib Dem vote could end up  a Tory vote? Nick... you will never get PR from Dodgy Dave!!! If I were a Lib Dem voter I'd be feeling really let down this weekend.

the Take Back Parliament initiative ( may be worth a look!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

By popular Demand - More From the Gossip Column:


‘You can’t go on the 23rd - that’s only for Kenny and Tim! But everybody’s welcome on the Sunday night.’

That was how Bishop Gregor’s consecration celebrations were sold to me. So, knowing our place in the great autocracy of the Scottish Episcopal Church a few of us ventured forth to the Cathedral on Sunday 25th sacrificing a Dorothy sing off for the occasion.

We arrived half an hour early - we were in Kenny’s car - but only restricted viewing seats were available. Indeed, some were not occupied but being reserved in spite of the service leaflet’s assurance that
the Cathedral was open, inclusive and welcoming!

The clergy were all arriving clutching zipped garment bags containing their vestments. Kenny travelled in his cassock and carried his surplice and borrowed preaching scarf in a poly bag - at least itwas an M&S 5p poly bag!

When we read the programme we discovered that we were at a Diocesan Choral Evensong with the installation of the new Dean thrown in as a supporting act and, in small print at the end, the new Bishop’s first sermon to the diocese.

Memories flooded back to me of Evensong at St.Auggie’s in the fifties and sixties. It always preceded the AYPA (youth club) meetings and it was almost mandatory to attend. Failure to do so meant a nagging from the righteous so it was easier to go. Why? We had confessed to our sins at the morning service, after all, and what could we possibly have got up to on the afternoon of a Scottish Sabbath to make repeating the process so important?

I recalled my least favourite service -Morning Prayer with ‘the Te Deum is on Page 8’. Oh no - it’s not! I now fear that if I ever make it to the Pearly Gates all those Cherubim and Seraphim would confront me for quietly removing the two pages of this dreary canticle!

Meanwhile back at the Cathedral the massed choirs and robed clergy were processing up the aisle. What a crowd! But where were all the women? Oh, some were hitting the high notes in the choir but there was not a female voice raised in prayer, in reading or even officiating. No, they weren’t making the tea! This was Kelvinside - famed for ‘you’ll have had your tea’ . Just as well TBag O’Neill had declined the invitation or she wouldn’t have lasted past the introit hymn!

Maggie moaned that she knew all the music and wasn’t getting the chance to sing. Linda said she felt like a spectator and Margaret Hardie devoted her time to guessing what the hordes of clergy were up to at the back. Well, Kenny was punctuating the service booklet -  can we have both our hearts? -perhaps some of the others were praying! Bishop Gregor, totally at ease in his new role showed the new Dean where to sit and we could then see him better. The sermon followed -short and to the point. He even raised a few laughs.

Well done, Gregor! He told us how the disciples, after Easter, were ‘all over the place.’ And here we were in this magnificent Cathedral with nothing and no one in the wrong place.

The Choral Evensong had been an organisational triumph and many left enthusing about this wonderful traditional service. Why then was I missing our argumentative Music Group, our predominance of women, our congregational participation and even the Partick Thistle scores?

Happily the Church survives our plethora of tastes in worship - indeed it is enhanced by them and long may this continue.

Footnote: So enthusiastic was the singing of the closing hymn that the gentleman in front of me who had been blocking my view for most of the evening sat down with aplomb and jammed my fingers between his body and the back of the pew. (Don’t ask why they were there.) But mindful of the place and occasion, I refrained from yelling out and simply beseeched him ‘please can I have my hand back?’  I needed it to write my gossip column!"