Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wonderful Christmas

Having just finished my last Home Communion after Christmas, it's a minute to post my favourite pic of the season! It's the RW finally cracking under the strain with the electric carving knife which, thankfully, she'd forgotten to plug in at the time!

It has been a good Christmas, with a wonderful Midnight celebration, lots of goodies, and the world would be even better had Archie not taken a likening to Belgian chocolates, ham wrapped in tinfoil, and my slippers!

Oh! Santa brought an iPad too, so I'm now on a learning curve! Watch out!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Angel in the Darkness

Well, it's like never that I post a picture of my Christmas tree!

I fling it together every year, and sometimes it looks better than others. However, this year I wanted to share a wee bit which you can't really see too well from the photo!

At the front, near the bottom/middle is a wee straw angel. Somehow the lights have managed to bypass her, and there is a little hole of darkness with only the angel there, shining as brightly as anything else, even the over-sized angel on top!

I meditated long and hard last night on the angel in the darkness. For many, this Christmas will be a time of great darkness, but in the midst of it the angel still says, "Fear Not!"

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Pressures Receeding

Now that Advent 4 is past, the Christmas Cards written and posted, the RW's car fixed and collected from the garage, and several deadlines met that had to be met, it might be a space today to actually put up the Christmas tree!

I suspect Rectory families don't have it too easy in the run up to Christmas. Friends and other families have their stuff up by December 1st and their houses look like Santa's Grotto from Advent 1. However, the "grumpy cleric" insists it's still only Advent and everything is put on hold until the last days of Advent and some of the pressures are off. I know many clerics who will not have a bauble in the house until it's almost Christmas Eve! (I'm afraid I'm a bit like that myself, loathing Christmas Carols until after Advent 4!!)

I may even go Christmas shopping soon! Hums.. "The Angel Gabriel..."

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Christmas Party

St Augustine's Community Christmas Party and Candlelit Carol Service didn't disappoint again this year, although one of Santa's little helpers had problems getting into his gear!

Each year we bring everyone together, hall users, various weans, big and small, and start off with a big party at the back of the church. That tends to be pandemonium, but there's always Santa to look forward to! He was as magnificent as ever in 2011, with a new outfit, (XXXXXXL Size) from a posh shop in Helensburgh!

Santa's little helper gets his stuff from Slater's! There are lots of pics of the children and other exciting bits which will go up on the Parish Site as soon as I've written my Christmas Cards, but here is a pic of the Dynamic Duo,,,
and one of the Service. We had well over 100 folk who came and went during the four hours!

Dumbarton Nativity (Repost)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mum

Yes, I miss my mother. She's been dead twelve years now, but she is still very much with me, and she still "speaks" to me through the days and the weeks. I guess that "confession" is brought on by two things. Firstly by a fellow blogger who has just lost her mum, and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to her,  and something else which happened this week to me which my mother would have strong opinions about. She's been whispering in my ear since Monday!

Isn't it strange that even as we grow older, the voice of our mothers is still strong in our lives? We remember sayings, phrases, funny events, and more and more I find myself saying, "As my mother would have said....."

I have been blessed this week with opportunities for silence and reflection. Many voices have spoken in the silence, and I hope God was among them, but the strongest voice has been my mother's! Beyond the grave with comfort, challenge, and a wee reprimand!

As I think of those who have lost loved ones recently, my heart goes out to them at this first Christmas without them. However, we are not without them. The line between the living and the departed is very thin within the Communion of Saints, and our loved ones are not far from us. We need to remember this. We can cry at our loss, but the loss is merely physical.

She was not perfect, but my mum gave me her faith. For that I will be eternally grateful. We all have reasons to be grateful for those we love but see no longer. Maybe we can count them and smile during the "jolly" time which is looming. They are celebrating the birth of the Christ too.

It's Hard When you are Little!

Young Neve manages to light the Gaudete Candle on Sunday, with a little help from a friend!

Only one more to go, then Santa is coming!

Oh! And the Baby Jesus too!

Come and bring your weans to the Parish Christmas Party on Sunday, in church, at 4pm.

Visitors..

Here are some members of the Scottish Tour Guides Association who visited Dumbarton on a study day at the beginning of December.  Few knew much about the town, having mostly whizzed past in tour buses.

The exception is the lady in the green jacket - Margaret  nee Goldie, daughter of Fred Goldie, who was once Rector of the parish and who went on to be Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway. Margaret  sends her regards to anyone who remembers her.  The family left Dumbarton to go to St Margaret's Newlands..

Monday, 12 December 2011

Archie's Dream!

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

A 6am start this morning to take the RW to the airport. She's off to Welsh Wales to see her new grandchild Isla for a few days, laden down with gifts, not only from us, but from members of St Aug's too. So, a few days for myself, and peace perfect peace in The Rectory. The dogs and cats are a handful, but I can at least rule the roost until Friday.

Oh! Cards will be printed and posted, and a lot of admin including dastardly Parish Returns might also be done.

However, grandchildren, or the thought of them, bring a smile to my face. Graham, my son, and his beautiful partner Angela, are about to present me with my own first grandchild on or around January 13th, and I'm beginning to realise that this is no longer in the distant future. So Santa could well be bringing me a cardigan, pipe and some comfy slippers so I can at least look the part!

It's certainly making me think of generations just now. My dad is suffering badly from dementia just now, and visits are a heartbreak. His care home is fantastic, but he's not the most popular chocolate in the box when he head-butts staff in his anger and frustration. The old Glasgow Kiss is something he remembers OK, and that's upsetting for all.

If the cigarettes don't kill me first, I often wonder how things would be if it was me in a care home. I pretend that it would be fine and I would cope, but I know I wouldn't, and I'd feel as sad and abandoned as my dad feels just now. That engenders feelings of guilt, but I know we couldn't even begin to give him the care he needs. Frank Downie House staff in Dalmuir are just fantastic and they give him the best life possible.

Recently I have been dreaming of my deceased mum, and I remember how close they both were, a real loving partnership. I pray often that dad would just have a massive stroke, or something, pass away quietly and be with her again. I don't know if that's a good prayer or not, a selfish or a self-less prayer, but I know that his funeral, when it comes, will be one of gratitude that my Old Man will have been released from the pain  he's so obviously in at the moment.

Another generation is about to be born, and I guess that's just the way of things.

And will this new child visit me in my care home? Naw! He'll be too busy playing for Partick Thistle Nil!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Disappointed!

This is one of my lads from The Gambia. Another in the background with an old Dumbarton top.

He's going to be disappointed today!

However, I'm delighted that Partick Thistle Nil put away another three points today, at Cappielow, no less!

C'mon the Harry Wraggs! We can still win this league!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Borrowed from Big Rab - Hurricane Bawbag is Tamed!

This is from the STV website
It continues:

Mosaic


The mosaic used as an altar frontal on Wednesday was made by the Women's Group attached to Alternatives in Dumbarton, entitled "New Beginnings".  (Click to make big) It took them six months to make this, and I covet it immensely! I'm borrowing it back for Easter Day at least! Brilliant and beautiful piece of work!

Light up the Fire!

The Service of Remembrance for those who have died as a result of addiction went well on Wednesday night. When you compile liturgies from scratch, you worry about how they will work out in practice, but this one flowed well, and the feedback has far surpassed my expectations.

The church was fairly full, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and caseworkers of young people who had died as a result of drug misuse, others with names of people who had died as a result of alcoholism.

We were all given the chance to name someone we had lost and light a candle in their memory. There was a lot of healing and some closure going on. The liturgy flowed well, and ended by remembering those still suffering on the streets and at home, with a great feeling and message of hope for all.

Afterwards we had coffee, tea and eats in the hall, where we were joined by a large gang of NA folk in recovery. That certainly gladdened the heart!

Hopefully, this will only be the first one of these services, and it will become an annual event in out town. We had 18 drug related deaths in West Dunbartonshire this year. Unfortunately that number will be added to as the weeks and months and years progress.

A Book of Remembrance has been started, and it will be housed in St Augustine's. We will remember them.

Nothing can be done without drama, however, at St Aug's, and after everyone was safely in the Community Hall blethering, the candles on the table at the front of the altar exploded into a huge flame. A large dollop of baptismal water was used to "pit it oot"!

Worth doing? Certainly!

Dumbarton's Cup

Some years ago I started sponsoring and supporting a large group of lads in Brufut, in The Gambia. They had a large number of lads who were daft on football, but they had no kit, no jerseys, shorts, socks, boots. No nothing, except incredible skills.

Shortly afterwards, I approached Dumbarton Football Club, and they generously donated some old kit which was shipped out for my boys.

They changed their name to Dumbarton FC, and proudly wore the yellow and black, with a white jersey with blue trimmings as a second kit when colours clashed. The lads have done well ever since. I've watched them mature and grow, and rise in the Gambian leagues. They are now in a position where they are overseen by the Gambian Football Association, and must have certified officials to referee and run the line on their games.

They became, and still are Dumbarton daft. They look up their results when possible, and they even had special T-shirts printed with the Dumbarton crest on them. You can catch a glimpse behind the cup in the photo.

Yes! A trophy! This year they won the Gambian Combos Cup, and there was much celebration, as you can imagine. You can imagine too that the Dumbarton Kit is well worn and done.

Maybe Dumbarton FC will donate some more? Certainly, a Dumbarton FC in The Gambia, or anywhere else in the world, winning trophies is good news! We just need them to get into the yellow and black again. They are having to hire kit at the moment, and these guys really live in poverty. They charge 10 Dalasi, about 20p to watch their matches, and that just about covers referee fees and their membership of the GFA. Anything else they have to pay for out of their own meagre profits!

Any donations to help support this team are gratefully received!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Remembering

Tonight, for the first time ever, the people of West Dunbartonshire have an opportunity to remember those who have died as a result of addiction in a formal church setting. St Augustine's is hosting a Candle-lit Service, devised by yours truly, and hopefully it will hit the spot. This year alone we have had 18 deaths through drug addiction, and God only knows the number through alcoholism and its effects.

We're pulling out all the stops with millions of candles, some Taize music, and a chance for folk to remember, light a candle, or share their story. Trying to organise things like this are a nightmare sometimes, dealing with great folk whose lives are a bit chaotic anyway, or those whose lives are chaotic because they are caring for or working with the chaotic. For those who know me, they will realise that I'm totally at home with that! Chaos and I are really good friends!

I'm trying, desperately, to stay in professional mode, but I can't remember the last time I was so nervous about something. It's maybe because it's the first time around, or maybe because I know it's got to be just "right" for those who are in varying stages of grief. People will come, or will they? People will be upset, people will come with expectations, looking for closure, looking for comfort. Can we do all that? Can we pull it all together on the night?

I'm trying to pray and keep calm but I can't because I know how much this will mean to some folk. I'm giving it all to God, then I'm taking it back again, and the stomach is churning! So say a wee prayer for us tonight!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

Feeling Like a Priest Again.

As I sit down tonight, after the busiest day, it's with feelings of satisfaction. Not just that I managed to tick off a few more "must do" things in the list in my head, but that in the past 24 hours I have been really there for people who have needed me to be there for them. Often, in my busy-ness I forget that this is what it's all about.

Open Doors ministry is great in theory, but when I'm in the middle of a thousand things, and someone says, "Rector, there's a guy in church bawling his eyes out and he's not even drunk or on drugs", the human, frail reaction is, "Well gie him a hankie and tell him to say a prayer!" (Honestly, I never actually say that!) I might feel it, and in the middle of admin and planning, and magazines and sermons and all the rest, that's very human, I think, but I get a much bigger buzz in shutting my office door and facing what ever needs to be faced.

Two enormous problems today, talked over with guys who are really lost and in the wilderness, together with an emotionally heartbreaking pastoral problem last night, and Kenny is feeling like a priest again. It's a funny thing to say, that. "Feeling like a priest again", but so much in modern ministry can weigh us down and take us, or tempt us away from the things we were ordained for.

And despite the fact that I was "hauled" away from the admin, you know, it got done anyway!!!! It may be 9.50pm, but it got done!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Weekend After

Usually it takes me a few days before my head catches up with my body after a trip to The Gambia. For several days my head hangs over the Sahara, and eventually body and soul and mind come together again. It's that sort of place.

For some reason, this year, probably because it was the beginning of Advent on Sunday, the first weekend back was complete overload! Friday night saw our annual Pantodine in church, this year Augadoon, (rather than Brigadoon), and we all had a part to play. Thankfully my role didn't require me to learn the words, and I read from my script perfectly! It was a great night as ever, with ham acting, a beautiful meal, and a bishop rolling in the aisles with laughter. The RW played the Good Fairy perfectly, but there was a cast of star performances.



Saturday saw us engage with serious stuff, sitting down and working out our plans for our Mission Action Plan, as required by the Diocese. Anne Tomlinson was wonderful, as always, affirming the things we are doing well, and pointing us in the sort of direction we could be growing into in the next year. It was a good session, and it gives us lots to work on, and maybe we made a good start with an incredibly emotional Healing Service on Sunday evening. Almost 40 folk attended, most of whom weren't regulars, and the feedback has been very positive.

So, Advent Sunday, the start of a New Year for the Church was maybe the beginning of something which we will be building on, and looking ahead to a special service on Wednesday, when we'll be hosting a Service of Remembrance in St Aug's for those who have died as a result of addiction. More tears are expected, but we hope and pray that they will be tears of healing.

Gambia 2011

It's been an unusual November, most of it spent in the sunshine and 30-40 degrees, and then back to monsoons in Dumbarton! The Gambia still holds that little bit of magic which means I always have a wee tear in my eye as the plane takes off from Banjul back to Manchester, but this year we found the school in terrific shape under our newish Teacher-in-Charge, Sulayman Saidy. Sulayman is a star and he certainly motivates both staff and pupils, and gets the best from both.


As always there was a great big list of needs and wants, and the Charity was in a position to give the needs rather than the wants! The children were in excellent form and their oral English has come on leaps and bounds. They couldn't all get in the picture, but we tried! One class at a time!


Raising money to keep this going, providing free food, medicine and free education for 90 kids requires a lot of effort, and anyone who wants to help with £5 a month is very welcome to join us. For those who do already, a couple of quid more every month would be like manna from heaven.

More of my time, this year, was holiday rather than work, since the school is obviously in good hands. Our Administrator, Helen Touray, does a wonderful job, and we are really grateful for her presence and expertise. 

The RW took some time off to indulge in her pet hate of snakes, yet managed to find a wonderful pal to ease her feelings of discomfort. This guy will only attack if he thinks he can eat you whole, so the RW was quite safe!

It was a great opportunity to spend some time in St Andrew's Lamin, who link with St Auggie's, and to show the weather, and the newly painted Church Hall, I add this pic!


This is opposed to what we came home to in Dumbarton....




For two days, Archie hasn't needed the River Clyde to swim in!

However, it's home to reality and a backlog of work that is frightening the pants off me! Will I make it to Christmas? Only if you postpone it to January!








Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Week of the Dead

After All Saints and All Souls, and printing sheets off for next Sunday when we have Remembrance Sunday, it seems to feel like a fair old week for the dead, and I'm feeling half dead myself. It's been a busy week, getting everything prepared for my 19 days in The Gambia.

Preparing to take time off from the parish is a fairly arduous task, if you are obsessed, as I am, that things will run perfectly when you are not here! Of course everything is going to be just fine, but I check and double check, and drive folk crazy as I repeat instruction after instruction, fifteen times over. "And remember to.... "

Personal preparation is much less intense. I tend to be a pack-ten-minutes-before-we-leave sort of guy, which drives the RW a little crazy too. I have little room for clothes anyway, as the case is half full of pencils, pens, erasers, dictionaries etc etc, and some football tops for the boys in the village. Two personal requests this time too....  a box of Basilica incense and haggis! Whether the haggis is allowed through customs or not will be interesting, as we don't have a pet passport for the wee thing.

So, having been run off my wee feet for the last week, I'm looking forward to seeing the kids at our school, and haggling wage rises, terms and conditions with the teaching staff. This usually takes about five days!

At least our kids in The Gambia are creative. Hallowe'en in the Rectory didn't happen! Nobody came to the door, and the RW was tempted to eat all the goodies herself. This is different, it seems, in douce Helensburgh, where my friend Big Rab had a procession of guysers at the door telling jokes. They are articulate in Helensburgh.


"What's invisible and smells of carrots? - A rabbit's fart!"
"What do you call a Spanish footballer with no legs? - Grassy ass!"
"What does the devil keep between his legs? - Great balls of fire!"
The average age of the comedians was about eight.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Ear Wax

The RW disappeared tonight for an hour, off to a "Beauty Therapies" joint in Dumbarton that was having an Open Evening with canapes and coffee. Just the job to combat the Weightwatcher's meals. She came home with some delightful stories of the therapies being offered and the cost of each. (A small mortgage is needed for a pedicure, for example, and that's without the fish eating your toes.)

No the latest line, seemingly,  is to put candles in your ears and light them. Honest. You couldn't make this up. They are called Hopi candles, I'm told, and very therapeutic they are too, although walking about with a couple of lit candles in your lugs has me thinking about prehistoric daleks at best, and the need for men in white coats at worst.

Ever one to take advantage of a new phenomenon, we'll be branching out in St Aug's, (with hopey candles), in the near future and candles will be supplied for lugs to women at a far cheaper price than the ones advertised here. Unfortunately we don't do Lavender candles yet, but there should be a Basilica Brand out soon. Dumbarton may never be the same! Watch this space!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Exhausted!

St Auggie's had one of its special days yesterday, when we try to cram everything in at once and all end up exhausted. It wasn't until the end of the day that I realised that the "parish photographer" was on holiday, and we have very few pics to show off to everyone.

Two baptisms, one adult, at the main service, certainly brought in the crowds, and there's something good about having to bring in more chairs before the service starts. Then the dreaded AGM which went smoothly, but always has me on edge, followed by preparations for our Big Event at night.

Friends of St Augustine's continue to amaze me by thinking up unthinkable events, and pulling off unforgettable evenings. Last night it was "Sing for your Fish Supper", and we even had a chip van in the car park taking orders for over 90 people desperate to clog up their arteries. This led to the church building where we were joined by around 30 other folk for the singing.

About six months ago, one of my little flock was putting on a "wee" show in the Denny Theatre for church funds, and was looking for unlikely folk who would dress up as nuns for a sort of Sister Act slot! It wasn't a case of "Can you sing?". Much more a "Do you want to sing?" So began the "Allsorts Choir". I call them the Dolly Mixtures!

It has grown and grown, and features members from children to old-timers from ten different churches in Dumbarton. You don't have to be a great singer, although so many of them are. You simply need to want to sing. Some of the choir, based at St Auggie's, have Alzheimers, but they remember every word and every step, and sing like linties! They feel great about being part of something again, get up in the morning with a song in their heart, and go to sleep feeling they have achieved something great. Their families are amazed and grateful for the transformation. And the "nuns" look fantastic! I'm hoping to get some footage on You Tube soon.

The Allsorts now have bookings well into 2012, and they have become local legends. I'm not joking when I say that when they become millionaires they must keep in mind their roots and where they came from. The AGM showed that we need the dough!

Another wee reflection on yesterday, though. I celebrated the Eucharist at Drumchapel, too, at 9.30am. There were about 9 of us, but the love, joy and warmth of that service was just as heartwarming as the shenanigans in Dumbarton at 11am with 120. It was a joy to be with them in their ramshackle scout hut, a place that emanates love and care. Our wee Pisckie Church certainly has diversity, and that's got to be celebrated and supported.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Grandmother Supreme

Finally, today, the pic that some have been waiting for. The RW with her granddaughter Isla...

!!!!!!!!!

Woe is me again. As a repeated offender of the overuse of the exclamation mark, I am suitably put in my place by the Benevolent Dictator for Life I am indeed chastened. I just can't help it! It's a dreadful habit I have, almost akin to addiction to that lovely exclamation mark. I use it perpetually, even when I know I shouldn't, and even as I type this, my fingers are twitching to shove it on to the end of every sentence....... !  Argh! Couldn't help myself! It even sits at the end of every sentence in every sermon I've ever preached.


After today, things are going to be different, because I'm embarking on a Twelve Step Programme to cure my addiction. Others can join me.



1. We admitted we were powerless over exclamation marks—that our lives had become
unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity and stop us being obsessed by a line with a dot at the bottom.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives and our grammatical errors over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, and our overuse of exclamation marks.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs and promised that full stops will do us from now on.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character especially as far as exclamation marks are concerned at least.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings, including our use of these dreadful things
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed by using exclamation marks, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, especially the Benevolent Dictator, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and, when we misused exclamation mark, promptly
admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God, as we understood Him, praying only for strength to use more periods
and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to
carry this message to other exclamation mark users, and to practice these principles in all our
affairs.

Anniversary Waltz!

It seems quite incredible, but it's 10 years today that I was Instituted as Numpty-in-Charge of St Augustine's Dumbarton. On reflection, much has happened during that time, some good things, some hard things, some not so good, but such is ministry.

The church building has been restored to its original beauty, we've built a new Community Hall, worship has become a little bit more informal, and music has improved greatly thanks to a music group who can play just about anything!

We have lost many faithful members, but numbers still hold up, we are no longer augmented by the Diocese, and there have been so many happy occasions, from baptisms to weddings and other celebrations.

Friends of St Augustine's was reborn and is now responsible, not just as being a tremendous vehicle for mission and raising about £8000 every year, but as the instigator of many many unforgettable parties, productions, dinners and all the rest!

I've been blessed for ten years! However, could they continue to keep me in check for another ten?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Swanning around the Clyde

Today's walk was wonderful! There was little point in checking high tide times, because the park was already soaking and sodden, and the rain would have washed the mud from Archie's coat anyway.

However, we did meet the most beautiful cygnet on the River Clyde. So proud and just gorgeous paddling about in the rain. Very alone! Where were dad, mum, brothers and sisters? Not in sight anyway.

Of course, Archie had to spoil it all by heading into the water, but my feathered friend soon saw him on his way with incredible hisses and flapping of wings.

I had no idea my Golden Retriever could be so hastily subdued! He was out of the water like a shot!

Maybe I need to grow a set of wings?

Nae Nothing!

The wee Honda Jazz has been taken into the car hospital for repair, and quite unexpectedly, I've been given a brand new Ford Fiesta to play with meantime. Courtesy car! I'm not too sure about this, since I'm not that keen on driving about with "Courtesy Car" emblazoned down the side, or even "Arnold Clark Accident Repairs" on the back.

It's a sign that you are a numpty who has crashed his car and it's in for repair. OK. I am a numpty, but I'm not sure I want to tell the world! But there's worse.

The Ford Fiesta has certainly developed since I last drove one! Buttons everywhere! Gadgets beyond my ken. There is a button called "Phone" and a keypad attached.... can I just press it and phone someone? Who pays?

I'm frightened to look at it in case I scratch it, and there are ominous warnings that if I do scratch it I'll be in big trouble. There are other warnings too. Nae smoking, nae dugs, nae eating, and I'm still searching in the list for nae swearing. I'm frightened to sit in it in case one of the dug hairs comes off my coat and attaches itself to the pristine upholstery!

Can you imagine the embarrassment if I was to bump this one too?

So it's sitting neatly in my driveway, and it'll stay there until the RW comes back from Wales.The Dogmobile will do me till then!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Biting off More than you can Chew!

On reflection it was a pathetic sermon this morning. I guess challenging my congregation to oppose and rail against unfair taxation in the UK, and in their spare time fight the other injustices in our society made them feel more powerless than they felt before they came today! However, sometimes I get angry when the agenda that the Church adopts as being "so important", when it's not at all important to the poor and dispossessed lends me to violent outbursts of sermonic diarrhea!

There's only so much you can do, and it's OK that I got it all off my chest today, but it's not going to help anyone get through the next seven days. Get real Kenny!

I realised that this afternoon in a sermon preached by my Golden Retriever, Archie. Here he was in the Clyde, trying to get to grips with the biggest branch ever, and totally failing. He's better off chasing the sticks! The little ones are more easily managed!

So, instead of munching at my crowd to take the whole of society's injustices on at once, it might have been better to home in on the possible rather than the impossible!

It's amazing what we can achieve if we bite off little bits at a time! Today, I feel as if I'll stick to what I know best and start calling for more Treatment Centres for those suffering from addiction, and a sound investment in this from the Scottish Government. I hope I'll get support from my community.

We are losing another generation to drug misuse, and I don't understand why we haven't yet learned from our mistakes.

So, I've decided to chase a little stick, and go with that for now. Members of the Church who will go for other "little sticks", like gay marriage, are welcome to do so. In my community, hearts and souls are being torn apart by the tragedy of addiction and its consequences, and that's what we, as a parish, are dedicated to follow and address.

Otherwise my parish would be just pissing in the wind. The Church is good at that.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

She's Here - Isla!

Well, we have known she was a girl for a while, but Isla Isabella Thomas came into the world at 7lb 3 oz at 1.30am today.

I'm a step-grandparent, meaning I'm not old enough to be a grand-dad yet, although January looms large for me!

Isn't she just beautiful, and the best thing to come into a wet October day, with Wales being robbed in the rugby, Thistle being robbed in Kirkcaldy, and the dugs getting soaked in the Clyde!

Welcome, little one. You will be well loved and adored and, gratefully, you will be given the start that will be denied so many children of your age. Your parents and grandparents will surround you with all you need. Go for it, wee one! You can be a Superstar!

Dumbarton at its Best!

By:
Pat Brown                                                     This is behind the Castle looking over to Levengrove Park 

Friday, 14 October 2011

In the Midst of Life.....

Yesterday was an amazing experience. In 33 years, I've never presided over a funeral with so many people present. We are talking 400+ here, not big but mega. It was an honour to be asked specially to conduct the ceremony.

Scott was a 25 year-old  lad, full of life, love, laughter and fun. Dumbarton's answer to Del Boy, he always had a new idea or a new business venture that was going to make him a millionaire. To begin to do him justice here would mean regurgitating a 20 minute eulogy, and even with that I had to leave about 75% of his story unspoken. He was a big lad who always went for everything 100%, but who had demons. A legion of them.

Being a 100% guy, Scotty was obviously sucked into the local drug culture here, and he gave that 100% too.

Another young life in the town, in our nation, claimed by drug-misuse, and that is tragic.

Sure, we laughed much yesterday about Scott's antics and business acumen, his determination to be a truly Ecumenical Celtic Supporter, and all the rest, but underneath was a tragic truth. That we had lost yet another youngster to addiction and it's consequences.

For years I've tried to be a voice, and I feel sometimes like a voice in the wilderness, for much much more money being invested in setting up more Treatment Centres in Scotland. We desperately need them. Instead we seem to be hell-bent on a policy of long-term methadone maintenance, which at best keeps folk comfortably numb, and at worst just helps top up the crap that's bought on the street. There is a solution, but it entails total abstention from mind-altering substances.

I'm proud that we boast two Narcotics Anonymous groups, (along with AA), in our Community Hall. NA is for winners, where young people themselves, who are managing to live drug-free lives, mentor and encourage others who want to live that way. Some of these folk even come to our church on Sundays. The fact that they've got there, despite the dearth of proper treatment options outwith the community, is a miracle in itself.

How much does the Church care? Well, it should care a lot, and would be a powerful political voice if it chose to be in this matter. However, all I've heard this last week from the Church is stuff about gay marriage, and some side issues that go along with that.

We wonder how young people don't go to church, and I wonder if it's because we are not engaging with the issues that they are engaged with, addiction, education, joblessness, poverty and all the rest.

In communities all over Scotland, meanwhile, we are losing young folk, not just from our churches, but from life itself. When the dust settles, us oldies will be proud that we have gay bishops and gay marriage, but we'll be missing a generation to celebrate that with us.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Excitement Abounds

The RW has waited a long time to be a grandmother! Contractions started today down in Welsh Wales! We await the outcome with bated breath, and our cheque books in a handy place!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Crash Bang!

The indignity of it! Having a bump in my new Honda Jazz in the teeming rain last night. Thankfully nobody was hurt, although I'm embarrassed by my stupidity as it was verily my fault entirely. My embarrassment was overtaken by the other driver's when he realised that the torrent of foul language was being aimed at a clergyperson, but I understand his frustration. Seemingly this was his sixth bump this year, and his car had just come back from the repair shop!

I expected a long drawn out business with insurance companies and quotes and long forms to be filled in, but step up to the mark Esure, who very quickly dealt with the claim in a very efficient manner by telephone this morning. Within 20 minutes my car was booked in for repair on Monday. They will collect my damaged car and deliver it when it's ready and I get a courtesy car to boot! Excellent service!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Compassion

Far from being a day off, today has been a day of people telling me stories. The stories concern a larger-than-life  25 year-old whose funeral I will be conducting on Thursday. Stories of a young lad who had not long emerged from a Treatment Centre where he was addressing addiction issues and trying, like mad, to get his life sorted. It looked as if he was managing fine, and his sudden death was a tremendous shock to all who knew and loved him.

All so tragic so far, and a funeral that nobody is particularly looking forward to. However, especially at St. Aug's we deal with that sort of stuff and even manage to try to talk about redemption in the midst of it.

The young man died in Aviemore, far from home, where he was trying to make a new life for himself. My gripe is about the shocking way that the mother of this lad was treated by the constabulary up north. The identifying of the body was done in a way that no parent should be subjected to, and the mother herself, in interview, treated as if she were a drug misuser herself, or at best someone who was responsible for her son's lifestyle. I'm glad to say that even the cops in Dumbarton seem to be embarrassed by the way this was handled.

A police force is no use to us unless it can show compassion, especially in the face of tragedy. That's something that should be incorporated into police training if it's not already there. Whatever the circumstances, the grief of a mother should be dealt with in a way that she feels supported and affirmed. A policeman, especially from the higher ranks, should both know this and practice it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Saving a High Street!

The Save Dumbarton High Street campaign has been on the go for a while now, and in lots of ways it's a thankless task. High Streets up and down the country are in a state of decline, and Dumbarton is no different from anywhere else. High rates, and high rental costs means that operating from the High St becomes an expensive business, and shoppers are lured away to retail parks, often out-of-town, where car parking is easy, and the large supermarkets do big business.

The brilliant people who are working on the campaign to attract more investment, and new businesses to Dumbarton High Street are up against big players and huge retail giants, and it's a wee bit like David v Goliath, without the sensational biblical result. However, Pride in our Town Week is on the go, and we launched it today from St Augustine's with a big Craft Fair in the church building. It rained and rained.

Footfall on the High Street on Saturdays has been falling anyway, but despite plenty of advertising, rain reduces the footfall anyway. So we had plenty of stalls, offered free head, neck and shoulder massage, brilliant crafts, dedicated stall-holders, but fewer customers than we really needed. They were probably doing their shopping at ASDA or Morrisons.

St Augustine's are proud to be associated with the whole effort, but there's a wee saying about taking a horse to water! If the people of the town will not come into the High Street and shop locally, then inevitably there will, one day, be no High Street to shop in!

However, when you have folk who are as dedicated to turning things around as we have, then there is always hope. The solution, though, ultimately lies in the hands of those who live in these parts. There is the argument that, economically, they have no choice really, and the big boys will continue to sook up the very heart and soul of our towns.

We can't move St Auggie's to the Retail Park, so we need to work out new ways of being a Town Centre Church with a Town Centre Ministry. That can be an exciting prospect, and if there is a solution to the problem, then bet your boots that we will be part of it!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Blogging Again

Why would I want to start blogging again after having given it up on the RW's retirement? Well, I miss doing it, and I miss the discipline of keeping some sort of diary of what goes on Castle Greyskull, (aka The Rectory).

Not that my viewing figures were astronomical! Far from it, but I wasn't really doing it for other people anyway, but mostly for myself. Just keeping a wee journal of events, and being able to look back at them and laugh was always good therapy, and something I've come to miss. On bad days I was able to look back at the good ones, and on good days, looking back at the bleaker ones instilled a bit of gratitude into my soul!

So often in the past weeks things have happened that I've wanted to share, and Facebook doesn't always do it for me. (Well, it can be a bit bland and fails sometimes to capture the humour of a situation!) The rat that the cat brought in, and its ultimate demise, the opulence of the RW's Retirees Lunch, the joy of learning that I'll soon be a grandfather...... and a decent run of results for Partick Thistle Nil have all gone unreported!

I'll never win Blogger of the Year, far too dull and uncontroversial these days for that, but I'm not here to try to vie with the "Big Boys and Girls". Just a wee journal for others to chuckle away at, or not, as the case may be. Hey! I'm actually looking forward to a return!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

And Finally...

The RW retires! A new life for both of us!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break from blogging for a while. Facebook and Twitter seem to be the way to go these days, and good honest blogging is better left in the hands of those who do it best!

Bits and bobs will still appear on http://www.staugustinesdumbarton.co.uk/news-events/

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Not Good

The past couple of days have been pretty dreadful! A bad case of the "runs" and the central heating breaking down have not done much for the demeanor! It's not a pleasant subject, but I can't be far away from a loo at the moment, and although there's now a bit of heat in the house, the prospect of a frozen loo is not the best!

With so much good reflection and Lenten goodies going around, I suppose it had to be me that would bring everyone down to earth!

Apologies for meetings missed, but these things can't be helped!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Fight the Good Fight?

Was talking to a friend from the east today, a Church of Scotland minister, who just so happens to be gay and in a same-sex relationship. He and I know each other well, and speak often, although at the moment there is a lot of angst about the forthcoming General Assembly and the position he may find himself in shortly. A Church that is rejecting him and his ministry, however beautiful and effective that ministry might be.

We had a laugh about the recent blog stuff over gender issues, he agrees with where I stand and what I'm saying,  after all it's only my opinion, but then we got serious. I think we got serious because we love the Church and share a common concern about the way things are at the moment.

There are so many individuals, loud people, opinionated people who know they are right, people with a sword in hand, people, sometimes with great chips on their shoulders, who want to fight the fight. LGBT issues? Bring them on! Gender equality, bring it on! Let's fight to the death for the freedom, or the crucifixion, of brothers and sisters in Christ. (Whether it is to be freedom or crucifixion depends on your standpoint). The Church today is being seen as a Church which has big issues. Issues over sexuality and gender imbalance. We are getting so upset by this that our Churches, our Communions are falling apart.

Meanwhile, the outside world looks on and thinks, "What the hell is that stuff all about?" "This Church is getting so screwed up with issues that don't bother us ordinary folk at all. We have already dealt with this stuff and it's not the most important thing in our wee lives"

Why is the Church not getting its knickers in a twist about cuts to services, unemployment, abandonment of the poor, the indifference towards the folk on the edges of our communities, those in debt, those in the throes of addiction and their kids? Why are we not angry about poverty and starvation in Africa or elsewhere? Why are we not campaigning that bankers are being allowed to do it all again?

Why are we not angry that our town centres are being decimated, that the rich are getting richer and we are NOT all in this together? Why are we not fizzin' about kids stuck on metadone programmes with little chance of getting into treatment centres?

Because we're too busy arguing about how many women Bishops or Canons we have, or who somebody goes to bed with.

And Jesus wept.

Numpty Vicars..

Just realised I'm probably one of them... but as one of my little flock once said, "You might be a numpty, Kenny, but you're our numpty!"

Thursday, 10 March 2011

As the RW Approaches Retirement This Month....

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie?


This is a pic sent to me by one of my friends. I know the dog, and the baby, well. They are truly in love with each other, and he's a big softie, although he looks like a half-chewed caramel.

The pic has caused a lot of comment, though, about trusting sleeping dogs with weans! I know that the vast majority of my readers are "doggy" people, so I thought a wee straw poll would be interesting. Would you trust your dog in this situation? Whether you would, or not, a nice wee caption competition might also be in order!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Shrove Tuesday

It's a strange day for me. Pancakes are certainly off the agenda when the RW is on Weightwatcher meals, but it's still a significant day. Eyebrows are singed as palm crosses are burned to make the required amount of ashes I'll need tomorrow. I've been know to use a wee accelerant to hasten things along, and hope that the little chrism I use ensures that my ashes smell ok in the end!

In my first Charge, there was an incredibly sweet old lady called Nellie who was in her eighties. On my first Shrove Tuesday she pulled me aside and said, "Father, you do not know this, but I am the biggest sinner in this parish, and I will be wanting a significantly large black cross on my forehead tomorrow! Next day, in all it's solemnity, Nellie appeared at the altar, with her sparkling blue eyes and the widest grin I've ever seen. "Go for it!", she whispered. I certainly did, but it took me quite some while to regain my composure afterwards!

In the same parish, the Roman Catholic priest borrowed a van and parked in the local supermarket car park, dispensing ashes to the shoppers who had failed to attend mass. One year a young lad came up and said, "I'm a Proddie, mister, so can ah git ashed tae?" He replied, "You'll get ashed because you're a Proddie, son. C'mere!"

Speaking to a retired headmaster last night, he was reminiscing about another priest in another parish who walked the corridors of his school on Ash Wednesday, ashing every pupil he could get his hands on between class periods!

Ah! For the old days, eh?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Gender (cont)

It was strange to discover that my comments on Gender Issues has been partially cut and pasted on to Ruth's Blog and my words have caused a great stushie over there!

Again, I'm being set up as the "baddie", the "anti-women guy", and various other things too! I'm feeling uncomfortable about the way things are going in the SEC, but to suggest that I'm in any way non-supportive of women being appointed to the upper echelons of Church life and work is simply nonsense.

I was part of the selection committee in our Diocese when we were electing our current Bishop, and  there were three candidates  put before our electoral synod. One of these was a woman without much parish experience, but someone who I believed to have all the gifts and talents required to be an excellent bishop and leader in mission. So, let's get that one out of the way. I am pro women bishops and hope we have one soon. Ruth herself has all the credentials for being an excellent bishop, and this time next year may well be Bishop of Edinburgh. I would applaud that appointment.

It has to be said that, in my opinion, we have in our Diocese , the most gifted clergyperson I have had the delight to encounter. She has a senior position through merit.

Perhaps my concerns have been misunderstood. I'll try again.

The Gender Audit needed to be done and I have no problems with that. However, there now seems to be an almighty rush to put things right. If  what I was hearing at Diocesan Synod was wrong, then I apologise, but basically we were being told that in future, those responsible for making appointments to senior positions within the Church, had to always consider the imbalance we have at the moment. That sounds like positive discrimination towards women however you put it. It sounds like, "We must try to appoint a woman here, to be seen to be aware of the terrible imbalance we have."

I think positive discrimination demeans women who I think are perfectly capable of being appointed on their own merits, whether to Dean, Cathedral Chapters, or whatever you care to name.

Now that we seem to be in a dreadful hurry to redress the imbalance, many capable and gifted men will be overlooked, simply because we must be seen to be appointing women as often as we can.

I do not have any real senior position in the Church and a look at my ministry career will testify that I've never been a career priest in search of glory or titles. After Saturday, however,  I almost felt like apologising for being Convenor of  the Diocesan Church in Society Action Network, knowing, as I do, many women, ordained and lay, who could adequately fill that post. When a man has to consider apologising for being a man, then we are in a pretty pickle.

I suggested that we give time time, and eventually, especially in the SEC, things will work out.

Again, it would be nice to discuss this issue on my own blog where the full text appears, but I enjoy reading Ruth's Blog anyway, so to visit often is no chore on my part!

Comments from my post Synod may be read as they are part of this debate

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Gender Issues

Gender Issues being discussed within the Scottish Episcopal Church make me feel uncomfortable. We already have our Canons in place to accept women bishops, and I feel that as a Province we are more sensitive than others about making sure that women are treated equally and fairly.

I am about to start worrying about a movement that seems to want positive discrimination for women. When appointments are made, in this Diocese at least, I know that the best person available is appointed. Because of years and years of discrimination, sometimes the posts require experience and acquired talents which mean that women are sometimes not appointed.

Males in this Diocese begin to apologise for being male! But I believe I belong to a Diocese and Province where the best people are appointed, regardless of gender.

In a few years time, the imbalance will be redressed because of time rather than positive discrimination.

Can I pray for a bit of patience here? I'm sorry I'm male, but I do have talents and experience of  parish life and lots more!

All Round Mistake?

At Synod today, I noticed that Holy Trinity/St Barnabas Paisley had bought big round tables for their new hall complex. At St Augustine's we did the same, for, I'm sure the same reasons. However, they do not work! Conversation is limited to those on either side of you, and cross-table banter is impossible. Not good for Synod!

In St Aug's we have started buying long tables again. Communication is so much better over meals!

I was a great believer that round tables would work better, but in a big hall they don't!

However, if there is a parish who wants to use big round tables that seat at least 10, please get in touch!

Synod

I'm not a great lover of Diocesan Synod. People who know me are aware of this, and know that I go simply because I have to. The agenda today was far from dramatic, and there was little chance of anyone falling out dramatically.

My attention today was fixated by "Mercy Ships", and the presentation on their work, mostly in West Africa. I have witnessed their work in Banjul, The Gambia, and know what sort of effect they have, first hand, on the people of that country. The Bishop has made Mercy Ships the recipient of his Diocesan Lent Appeal, and I applaud his decision.

However, today, something was not quite right. We had seen the most horrific images from West Africa then retired quite unperturbed to lunch which was extremely beautiful and probably cost the Diocese an arm and a leg. I know the money we spent today on lunch would go a long way on a Mercy Ship!

We could easily have put on soup and bread, and nobody would have starved. It would have been even more apt if we had been given a bowl of rice and a little sauce, possibly peanut, to keep us alive during the afternoon session.

This is unlikely to happen as we seem keen to lavish money on Diocesan events. And I'll be wrong again and get flack.

The Dean, eruditely reminded us of the whole Eco problem and how we could cut down on our waste of energy and show an example to the world.

When I take photos of Gambians living in mudhuts without a proper water supply, I wonder when the western church is going to wake up to showing an example. Perhaps for the next year or so we should budget for the norm, take the cheapest option, and give the balance to Mercy Ships? I'm sure many would approve!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Holy Cats, Batman!


The new cat, Sushi, or the WC as she is known, (Wee Cat, or Wild Cat depending), is settling into the Rectory just fine, and is finding her place in the hierarchy here. You always hurt the ones you love most, and so although Archie has become her "best friend", his nose is rather scratched at the moment! Everyone is getting along.

However, this wee one seems to be rather protective about the cat food on offer. After all she has to share it with the Silent Assassin. The RW keeps her palm cross on the kitchen windowsill, but it's now being dragged out to cover the bowl after the WC has eaten! It keeps the vampires at bay, I suppose, but the WC just seems to either want things kept fresh, or is warning the SA that it's her food!


Anyone else have other uses for their palm crosses?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Monday, 31 January 2011

Eh???????

What's Worse?

The "new cat", whose name has been subtly changed from Simba to Sushi over the past week, (well she is oriental), is beginning to take over the asylum, aka The Rectory. She's certainly a lively wee thing who is best friends with the Special One, has come to the point that she reckons the Puppy might be worth playing with, and is now able to sit on the window ledge with the Silent Assassin without them having to hiss at each other!

Sushi, has decided to be the "Disrupter"! Vases are knocked over to inspect the contents, the USB magic stick is hidden under furniture if it's not kept in my pocket, and I get the life frightened out of me when this black and white blur suddenly appears on my back and claws its way on to my shoulder.

However, I'm struggling with what's worse.......

a) A cat that leaps onto the keyboard when your typing something important which suddenly gets terribly disfigured as a result or
b) The dreadful man-cold that I'm suffering from at present.

The man-cold wins. Blocked nose, ears, cough, sore throat and sore head, worse than any of you could possibly imagine, really is the utter pits. The upside of it is that the sneezing frightens the cat, and I get peace to use my computer!

Feedback

In Blogland, those of us who blog have many friends, people whose blogs we follow avidly. We perhaps meet with a few of these folk from time to time, but for me, in the most part, I know very few of those I follow personally. I guess I have a picture in my mind of what these folk are really like, and what it would be like to meet in real time, but I know from experience that I would possibly come away feeling either disappointed or extremely surprised that I had underestimated them!

My own blog is very different from when I started. I'm now much more careful about what I share and how I share it. That has come about after a couple of run-ins with organisations that were not the sort of people you take on! I was given a warning that there were some battles it was wise to avoid, and people it was be ill-advised to upset! A fairly wicked newspaper story has also had a profound effect on my life and my blogging.

However, the fairly dull and inane blog that I keep going keeps me amused and I know a fairly large number of people enjoy it enough to keep on reading! It's certainly not going to be winning many awards, that's for sure!

However, I was totally shocked at the weekend to receive some feedback from someone I'd met in "real-time", who had commented that after reading my blog they had been disappointed that I was not quite as lively or interesting as they had expected me to be! Jack, or Kenny, must be a rather dull boy indeed!

Looking at myself, then looking at the sort of stuff I'm blogging just now, I'm pretty unsure about what I need to "liven up" first! I guess it must be the "real me", so meantime let the inanity continue!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Good News Version of the Address to the Haggis!

How like a smiley-face, you
(pre-eminent among all forms of prepared meat,
though largely made of guts)
are worthy of a decent thanksgiving.
And not a short one either.





(with acknowledgement to Raspberry Rabbit) 

Mission as it Should Be.

Gambia in Bristol

Off to Bristol tonight for a very important meeting which involves many little lives in The Gambia. For nine years now we have been running, not supporting, but running a wee Nursery School in London Corner in Serrekunda, one of the most shocking areas of poverty I have had  the misfortune to witness. During that time almost 400 weans have been offered free schooling, a feeding programme and free medical care due to the generosity of people from my parish and much further beyond.

There is the opportunity to "go big" and join with an English charity in providing a more holistic educational experience in a complex some walking distance from our own rented accommodation. It all makes sense, but abandoning London Corner after so many years, and especially when things are going so well, will be a tough decision to make.

So, I ask you for your prayers tonight, for me and the ninety children who are educated daily in Serrekunda. It's going to be a tough call!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Nicked from Lesley!

Don't Blame Me - Blame Phillida!

Proposed cuts to the National Health Service.

The British Medical Association has weighed in on the new Prime Minister David Cameron's health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it,  but the neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.

Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted..

Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the  Paediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.

The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash  their hands of the whole thing.

The ENT specialists didn't swallow it, and just wouldn’t hear of it.

The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow,  and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the  matter...."

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were peed off at the whole idea.

The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a gas, but the  Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in London .

Andy Gray

Sacked. For a bit of banter off-air about women not understanding the offside rule. Oh! And a couple of other things, again, off-air that have been dug up since.

The cry of "sexism" is being shouted loudly by his employers, who happen to publish the Sun and The News of the World, highly sought after reading for those with intellect, especially the Page Three girls who tittilate us all and are certainly not exploited for showing us what they have upfront! Andy is suing The News of the World at present, but that has nothing to do with his sacking, of course.

Any employer will tell you that a sexist comment deserves a warning rather than a sacking. But, there you go. Rupert Murdoch and his cronies can do what they like. Richard Keys will keep his job. Why? He's not suing the News of the World.

Banter in the workplace happens. The female in the workplace is as guilty as the male. Men are untidy, can't multi-task, leave their dirty socks, can't work the washing machine etc etc. We all laugh along. It's banter for goodness sake, and no harm is done or offence taken.

I grew up with Andy Gray. I played football with him in our BB team. He visited my family home, even after he was a professional at Dundee Utd. He was a nice guy, and totally harmless! His sense of humour and his knowledge of the beautiful game will be missed.

It's a sad day for common sense.

MadPriest pitches in with this....

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Holy Saturday

What does one do in the pit, in the desperation of hopelessness, despair, and worthlessness? Cry out with Jesus in that Godless day, Holy Saturday, in the darkness of the tomb, yet in the hope of Easter Morning.

For those in the pit today, can I assure you that Easter Day will come, just give it time!

Monday, 24 January 2011

What's Her Name?

Update on the new Rectory Cat...... not good! The Silent Assassin refuses to accept her, although the dogs are fine! An immediate cat fight seems close on the horizon.. we protect the vases!

Simba sounds so "Un-Rectory"! We've taken to call her Suki, although she responds to nothing! What's that Japanese raw fish thing? She may respond to that!

Oh Yes!

Wonderful post on Lesley's Blog today! I know of so many clergy for whom this has been the case. I reckon honesty all round is the best way to do it!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

And Lessons Learned..

So................. the local locksmith came and sorted the door. He asked me to show him the advert in Yellow Pages, which had a local number attached. He does contract work for them, so we may have gotten the same man anyway. The "local number" goes through to a call centre in Englandshire.

The difference is that the local man charged £160. The other guys would have billed me for over £400, and he would have got, yes, £160 for doing the job.

You couldn't make it up!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Arghhhhh!

The Problems of Rectory Living, Part 154.

We've had big problems with the patio door lock for ages now. The darn thing's mechanism won't lock because the deadlocks won't engage, but with gentle persuasion, after about 10 or 15 minutes we have been managing to get it locked. However, last night and this morning it just will not work any longer. Archie was our burglar alarm last night, but obviously insurance companies don't accept big dogs as replacement locks!

So, off to Yellow Pages today to acquire a locksmith! After a long conversation with a very nice wee lassie from Manchester, she went off to book the job in and kept me "on hold" for the longest time.

Then:

Sorry Sir, but we can't do this job.

Why?

You are classed as a business address.

It's my home!

But you don't own it.

No, but ....

It's a Vicarage, isn't it?

Yes......

So you don't own it.

No, but I'm chair of a committee that does own it, I'm one of the church trustees, and I sign the cheques.

But you don't own it, and we need authorisation from the owner.

How do you get that?

We can't, so we cannot do this job.

But why not?

Because it's a Vicarage and we can't change the locks, for legal reasons, unless we get the home-owner's approval.

But I have been given the authority to authorise this job.

But the house doesn't belong to you.

Well, it jointly belongs to me as one of three trustees...


But you don't pay the mortgage.


There is no mortgage!


So, since you didn't pay the mortgage the house doesn't belong to you. Vicarages are classed as businesses, and we don't do businesses.

But it's my hoose!


Sorry, sir, but maybe you can get a local locksmith who is prepared to take the risk.


But unless you are sending someone up from Manchester, you would be calling a local locksmith?


But we can't do that because you are a business.

Can I speak to your manager?


(Now go to the top of this conversation and repeat the explanations and questions with the same answers)


So, I phoned the local locksmith and he'll be round within the hour. Probably the same guy I'd have been getting anyway! Ah! The joys!

My problem is that I know too many guys who could get the door open in a twinkle, but not enough who can get it to lock up again!