Monday, 23 July 2012


There was much involved in today's readings about shepherding. There was even a fairly weak sermon on how we should all be shepherds and get involved rather than being detached. However, the readings spoke to me, and every clergy person. How are we at shepherding? There are some in my congregation, my little flock, who would say that I'm dreadful. Others will say the opposite. I'm left with me, and how judged I feel when it comes to shepherding. I try my best. Often that's not good enough. Today's readings challenge me always to do better. With God's grace I might!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Condemned.... Well not quite!

My constant need of heat is something my friends will attest to. I despise the cold, and this summer has still to provide us with temperatures to my liking. The central heating is too much, as upstairs reaches 10 degrees more than the sitting room, and why heat the whole house when there is a wee fire in the said sitting room? The fire in question is a flueless gas job, wall mounted, with a glass front. It discolours the walls very quickly, and we have always been uncertain about whether there should be more ventilation or not. Returning from warmer climes, I have needed that wee fire of late, but at the weekend it died on us. Enter the local gas-fitter today who cleaned it all out and all but condemned it. He insisted, as per manufacturers instructions, that there needs to be a flue, but was prepared to let us use it meanwhile since the dogs are running in and out of the patio doors. A decision has to be made about flues or/and an alternative fire. Maybe we'll just have to use the central heating anyway. Central heating in July? Maybe I'm just a cold person, but it is the West of Scotland!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

When the Cat's Away..

In my curacy, many moons ago, I got upset when Sunday numbers went down when the Boss went off on holiday. Who did they come to church for, I would ask! On his return, he'd try to comfort me with, "Well, when the cat's away...". Much the same happens in St Aug's today, and my numbers drop dreadfully when I'm off enjoying myself, but that's for another day, or another sermon!

What happens when the people are away? Let me explain...

Before going off on holiday this year, we made the usual arrangements for the dogs. Archie has to go to kennels because he's too big for everyone. However, with cattery fees being so high, we thought we would run an experiment this year. Let the cats stay at home, and the lad across the road could come in every day to feed them. During the day, the upstairs bedroom window could stay open to let them come and go as they pleased. It sounded like a good idea at the time. It really did!

On our return from holiday, about midnight, we noticed a few feathers in the living room, and we suspected the worst. The young lad explained that there had been various birds and little mice removed during the three weeks, and he suspected the fireside rug had, maybe, been used as a litter tray once or twice.

Sure enough, as a couple of days went by, there was indeed a strange sort of smell battling with the RW's various air-fresheners in the room, and the fireside rug was duly washed and disinfected. Still the smell persisted, and was getting worse, despite our laminate flooring.

A hunt was commissioned, and there it was.. a great dirty, dead, rat, hiding away at the back, underneath the little coffee table in the corner of the room. decomposure was minimal, as the house has been pretty freezing and we really wonder if it's possible that it's been lying there for a week or more, but there it was in all its glory.

I now sit in a living room stinking of bleach and disinfectant, which the air-fresheners are fighting a losing battle with. The rug is still outside trying to dry, and two little faces look at me in all innocence.

When the cat's away... well, when the people who live here are away... the little sods are going back to the cattery next time, and no mistake!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Scottish Football.. a Stramash!

Those who know me will testify to my love of the beautiful game and my avid following of Partick Thistle Nil in the second tier of Scottish Football. They will also testify to my dislike of Rangers and Celtic and all the baggage they bring to the table when we should be talking football rather than sectarian bile.

It is in bewilderment that I have followed the demise of the mighty Glasgow Rangers over the past few months. At first I thought it was quite funny, but I'm not laughing any more. I'm beginning to think I'm one of only a few who believe that Scottish Football has shot itself in the foot in the clamour to kick a club, which few admire, (apart from their "fans"),  in any shape or form, when it's down and almost out.

The reality is that Rangers found themselves in the position they are in as a result of extremely bad management, and all sorts of shennanegins have been going on that few were party to. However, many will be made to suffer! The blame rests on the shoulders of individuals rather than the club itself. However, let's kick the club, even although Scottish Football needs them, however much I hate to admit that. With Celtic at the top table and Rangers at the bottom, there are problems, financial and otherwise, that are going to kick in, and which Scottish Football may never recover from.

However much I admire the high moral ground that we have all supposedly taken, I wonder how much this has been shaped by the dislike of Rangers, and the wish that Celtic could actually follow them soon into the abyss?

I was brought up with sectarianism in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, and I understand the issues more than most as a result of that upbringing. I was taught the words of "The Sash" in Primary One by my fellow pupils. I often wondered, as I grew up, why the troubles in Northern Ireland did not spill over into Glaswegian streets and communities. I believed, as I grew older, that the reason that violence did not erupt was because of the "safety valve" of the Old Firm matches. Much of the hatred and ill-feeling was contained therein, and once the 90 minutes were over, everyone felt a little better!

Would it be wrong to suggest that Glasgow, sociologically, needs this fixture to continue, however much I hate to admit that too?

As far as the demise of Scottish Football is concerned, only time will tell. I really wouldn't be at all concerned if Rangers and Celtic both left Scottish Football and let the rest of us get on with it. It's the imbalance I fear.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Jings Crivvens Help ma Boab!

It's just sinking in today that soon I will have my first Curate to train and look after! Pat Smith will be part of the Ministry Team from September 8th, and today she was in church with Ian looking at stoles she can use. Gulp! It's actually going to happen. It's real! More thoughts soon, but as Pat pointed out, from September, I'll have two women to nag me!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Refreshed and Ready to Go!

I have never taken a three week holiday before, but I recommend it! It gave the RW and me the time to relax properly, and spend some quality time with each other. In ministry, these opportunities are to be seized with both hands. At the end of a fortnight I'm always sad to leave, but a three week break did the trick, and we were both ready to go home after the third week. But, what a holiday!

This was the third time in Kefalonia and it just gets better and better for both of us. The island, which Captain Correlli's Mandolin made famous, is just a stunning place to be, and the local people are so friendly and welcoming. Add to that perfect apartments, with a glorious pool and decent pool bar, a good choice of tavernas and excellent food, lots of chill time on deserted beaches, and you get the picture!

Even a couple of small arguments involving a wall, a pole and my hired car failed to disturb the totally relaxed feeling which life destines you to have in this place. To be recommended for those who don't want discos, lager louts, but simply a peaceful easy feeling!

Go to Greece, please! We were bombarded by scare stories and warnings from our press and media in June! Don't go, they said! Greece is bankrupt! Stories of civil unrest were trotted out, and warnings that everything might collapse and our Euros becoming worthless with a return of the Drachma imminent were everywhere! In this time of crisis, Greece needs tourism, and if they are going to work their way out of this mess then they need tourists! Numbers are well down this year, which is a great shame, and predictably, those going have less spare money to throw about. However, eating out is cheap, and our sterling certainly went a lot further this time around.

The mainland is where the trouble and the greatest poverty is to be found, but the islands seem to be struggling but unchanged. The tourist season is short, so as much as possible needs to be made in such a small window of the year. The wall-to-wall sunshine is free.

Next year? Oh, I think...... Kefalonia again. There's still so much to be discovered down those little roads....... with the walls and telegraph poles!

A Special Night

Sometimes it takes a good rest, or something special to get you blogging again! I suppose, having just returned from holiday, and still tingling from last night's Big Event in St Augustine's covers both of these things.

Yes, blogging is a curious thing, and there are no illusions on my part that many folk do, or would want to, read what I blog if I'm honest. Facebook has seduced me, and it's easier and quicker to make a flyaway comment there these days, and get a reaction too! Thinking about it during my holiday time, I realised that I've really only blogged for one person, and that is me. I used it as an open online diary which I returned to to gauge my moods and feelings at certain points in my journey and at different times in the year. If anyone wanted to read it, then fine, but I didn't expect anyone to get over-excited by my thoughts or feelings. I blogged to remember what was important to me at various times.

There was a point when I blogged fearlessly, but strongly held convictions led to strongly led reactions that became difficult for me and the Scottish Episcopal Church. My wings were well and truly clipped, and I often wondered how you blogged inanity and still expected a response! Now, I feel I need the inanity and the online inanity at that! It matters to me. So we'll return again to the blogosphere for perfectly selfish reasons!

As I've often recorded, St Augustine's is a very "happening" sort of place, and there are always special things going on. I had left for Greece in mid-June with the possibility of an "open mike" evening planned for the Community Hall. There are certainly lots of really good musicians in Dumbarton, and especially among the youth, and it was about giving them, and others, a chance to play in public and share the talent they have. After last night I can certainly vouch that Dumbarton HAS talent!

When tickets went on sale it became obvious that the hall wouldn't be big enough and we had to move the event into the church building. Over 100 folk turned up last night to watch seven different acts, each one brilliant in its own way. The young lads who played and sang were just wonderful, and it was superb to see so many teenagers in the building who had come to support their pals. The "oldies" weren't left out either, and everyone went home with a smile on their faces.

Working with addiction, as we do, it often gets to the point where you begin to ask if there are any young people in our town who are not using drugs; such is the nature of working in that particular field. Last night the answer was clear. There are many many brilliant young folk out there who are full of life and hope, and in need of encouragement.

Can't wait for the next one in August!