Friday, March 30, 2007

The charge of the white brigade

I wonder if any of my readers knows anything about the behaviour of sheep?

Behind today's photograph lies a strange tale. Well, perhaps it isn't strange to those who understand the minds of sheep - but to me it seemed more than a little weird.

The incident I am talking about took place a couple of years ago. Every year in early September a number of the ministers in our Presbytery take off for a day retreat somewhere. Occasionally this has been in the form of a spiritual retreat. (On one occasion we even spent most of the day in total silence - no mean feat for a bunch of Church of Scotland ministers!) but on other occasions it has been little more than a day out exploring some part of the country.

In September 2004, I suggested that we take a trip down to the north of England to a part of Westmoreland where a friend of mine had a hotel. We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the hotel then set out for a walk in the rolling hills and dales of this beautiful part of the countryside. It is is criss-crossed with stone walls and you have to climb over many stiles to make your way through the fields.

In one particular field a flock of sheep grazed quietly. But as we approached their end of the field, the sheep started, one by one, to move over to our right and to line themselves up on the brow of the hill, as if they were playing the part of some Native American Indians in an old-fashioned Western. I don't know who the leader was, or what the signal might have been, but suddenly the sheep started to charge over the hill towards us at full speed. [Had it been cattle rather than sheep I would not have stood there taking a photograph!]

The charging sheep swept in front of us then round our left hand side and behind us again until they were back on our right hand side where they stopped.... and simply stared.

What was that all about?
Perhaps the strangest thing of all is that the sheep platoon re-formed at the top of the hill and then repeated the whole episode a second time.
I am sure there is an explanation for it, but, to me, who knows very little about sheep, it was simply bizarre.
But I have to confess that the teamwork was amazing! How did they decide as a group what they were going to do? Who gave the orders? How did they know when to turn?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A little bit of dust

Last of the sunsets for just now. This one was taken from a slightly different location and about 30 minutes later, but again, it is playing around with the exposure that produces a different effect.

That... and dust!

The British naturalist, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, who was a pioneer of evolutionary theory, along with Darwin, wrote a chapter in one of his books entitled “The Importance of Dust."
He pointed out that the beautiful colours in the sky, both the blue of a bright summer day, and the reds, golds and lilacs of sunset, are all due to the presence of dust. Without dust the sky would appear absolutely black and the stars would be visible all day.
What's more, it is because of the dust that we get mist and cloud and rain, without which life on earth would be impossible. Come to think of it, we ourselves come from the dust of the earth, do we not?
Amazing what God can do with a little bit of dirt.

Reminds me of an old joke...There was a group of scientists and they were all sitting around discussing which one of them was going to God and tell Him that they didn't need him anymore.
One of the scientists volunteered and went to tell God that he was no longer needed.
The scientist says to God - "God, you know, a group of us have been thinking and I've come to tell you that we really don't need you anymore. I mean, we've been coming up with great theories and ideas, we've cloned sheep, and we're on the verge of cloning humans. So as you can see, we really don't need you."
God nods understandingly and says. "I see. Well, no hard feelings. But before you go let's have a contest. What do you think?"
The scientist says, "Sure. What kind of contest?"
God: "A man-making contest."
The scientist: "Sure! No problem".
The scientist bends down and picks up a handful of dirt and says, "Okay, I'm ready!"
God replies, "No, no, no... You go and get your own dirt."

Monday, March 26, 2007

More than one way

"The camera doesn't lie!"
Here's another photograph taken from exactly the same location and precisely three minutes later than the one posted yesterday.
It's not that the scene actually changed all that much in those three minutes: it's just that there is always more than one way to take a photograph.
In the same way, there is usually more than one way to see, and express, reality and truth.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A different light

I have not been out of the house much in the past week but last night I took the camera and the car and went up behind Carluke to watch the sun going down.
Alongside more conventional 'sunset' photographs showing the sun as a bright red ball in the sky, and lighting up the few clouds that were around, I took this one.
It is meant to be a bit like a watercolour. Gentle and serene. I love it when the low sun can make hills and fields, which you know are solid, seem like semi-transparent tissue-paper.
If I ever do get back to painting I'll maybe do a little watercolour of this scene.
Did you realise that even Lanarkshire could look so lovely?
In a similar way, I think one of the things that the Spirit of Jesus Christ can do is enable you to see other people in a different light.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Yew wouldn't believe it

You don't have to travel half way round the world to find interesting places. There's probably something interesting just on your doorstep. [There often is for us if the cat has been out all night! :-) ]

Seriously, though, many people (no matter where they live) are often blissfully unaware of what is in their own neighbourhood. It is especially true of people who live near to so-called tourist attractions. Although thousands, even millions may flock to see these attractions, the locals often have never visited them for themselves.

The picture above is not exactly on my doorstep. To be totally accurate it is 100 miles from my door. But in the grand scheme of things that is not far. Nor does it seem a particularly special place from the photograph. However, there is a story attached.

The location is Perthshire, and what you see is the so-called 'Fortingall Yew' reputed to be the oldest tree in Europe and dated at around 5000 years old. I reckon that is pretty special, even for a tree.

But it is also a special tree for one particular young couple who asked for my help when arranging their wedding a couple of years back. The bride-to-be was the daughter of very close friends of ours. I'm a kind of adopted uncle. The place was special to them because that's where the proposal of marriage was first put- in the shade of this ancient tree. Aaaw... how romantic, you say! And it is.

How was I to help? To conduct the wedding? No- her uncle, who is also a minister, would be doing that. I was asked to paint a picture of the tree that could be used on the Wedding Invitations and Orders of Service. A great honour and privilege, although I hadn't lifted a paintbrush for many years and actually had to go out and buy some new watercolours. (Somewhere in the intervening years my watercolours seemed to have been used up by one or more of my daughters.)

Although I had heard of this tree, I had never seen the Fortingall Yew before, so it meant a day trip to Perthshire with the camera. Fortunately, although it was bitterly cold, it was a cloudless Saturday afternoon. I couldn't complain about the weather, but when I saw the tree it looked to me like a half-chewed stick of broccoli and not exactly picturesque. Furthermore, I was under strict instructions not to include any gravestones in the painting. After all, they were not likely to set the right tone for a wedding.

It was, at every level, a major challenge to me, and since the people concerned were much more special to me than the place I was seriously worried that I might let them down. However, as a friend once said to me 'deadlines are lifelines' and the looming deadline of the date for printing of the invitations spurred me into life.

The result is no masterpiece but I was pleased enough with how it looked when printed up and I was able to give the original as an extra little wedding gift.

But that is not the interesting part of the story.

If you follow the link above you will see that the location of this tree is also associated with the birth of the notorious Pontius Pilate who, as Roman Governor of Judaea, washed his hands of his responsibility in ordering the execution of Jesus.

The article says: "Nowhere else in Scotland, or for that matter in the British Isles, has an oral tradition and association with the birth of Pontius Pilate; so why should the tiny and obscure hamlet of Fortingall lay claim to this tradition, unless there is an intrinsic element of truth in what would otherwise be deemed as an audacious presupposition."

Well, don't tell anyone this... no, I mean it, keep this a secret, please....
a friend of mine who lives in the city of Perth (and whom I trust implicitly) recently told me that she knows the man who, in her words 'invented the Fortingall Pontius Pilate legend.' According to her, this man at the time worked for the local tourist authority (whatever its title was in those days) and he was looking for a way to get people interested in visiting this part of Perthshire. Now, given that the Romans were stationed in many parts of this country more than 2000 years ago, it is not at all impossible that someone like Pontius Pilate might have born in such a far-flung corner of the Empire. (Just his recurring bad luck, then, that as an adult he got posted to another obscure outpost called Judaea.) There is, of course, no independent evidence either way. It remains "a local oral tradition."

But I wonder, could it be, after all, only 'an audacious presupposition'?

Just a pity the man himself was no Dan Brown. He might have made a fortune writing a book about it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Name dropping

OK, so I like to place-name drop. :-)

I can't really name drop because I don't really know anyone who is famous.

But, actually, one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was to share some of my favourite photographs of places I have visited over the years and share some of my thoughts about these places. That's because I think life itself is pretty much a journey and I like to pause now and again to reflect on various places of interest I have arrived at on my life-journey.
Of course, the problem is that this can end up being pretty boring for other people.
I remember once falling asleep while someone was showing us slides of their trip to a foreign country. It's more than a little bit embarrassing when you waken up again, not knowing how much you've missed, or whether you were snoring! But you, dear reader, can fall asleep if you wish, and I won't notice, and I won't hear you snoring, wherever you might be.
This picture you can see here is of the Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick, Maine, USA.
We visited it in 2003.
If I have a thing about bridges, I also like lighthouses a lot. I used to wonder what kind of people had the guts to live the life of a lighthouse keeper. All that isolation and potential danger - like being winched across angry seas, as the lighthouse keeper once would have been here at the Nubble. A bit sad, therefore, that most lighthouses are now fully automated. All the romance and drama have been taken out of the business.
The spiritual metaphors are fairly obvious too - the lighthouse warning of the dangers, guiding ships through hazardous seas to safety, Jesus as Light of the World etc. (One reason that part of our church's youth programme is called the Lighthouse Club.)
But the reason I like this particular photograph is because the light you see doesn't come from the lighthouse itself. The only light here is the reflection of the setting sun in the windows. I had to wait quite a while until this moment came for me to capture.
It's a reminder to me that I have no light of my own: only that which is given to me and which I may then reflect back to others.
Which brings me to the second picture - a banner hanging up in the Guest Hostel of PCEA Kikuyu Hospital in Kenya.

Keeps you humble.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ten Thousand Buddhas

Healthwise, this has been for me the worst start to a year that I have ever had and at the moment I am on sick leave, which is a relatively new experience for me. Hence the reason I haven't posted anything here for the last few days.
But, I guess this just comes with the territory when you get to a certain age.
Anyway, not being able to sleep much last night I ended up watching a movie - Infernal Affairs (recently remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed.) It's a great story, well told, dealing with complex moral questions of right and wrong, good and bad etc. but (and how sad is this?) one of the things I liked most about it was spotting all the locations in the film that I had visited while I was in Hong Kong.
The film begins in the Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas.
This is a totally fascinating place and, to my Western Judeao-Christian eyes, almost bizarre.
There are in fact many more than ten thousand statues of the Buddha in the temple and its precincts, and they come in all shapes and sizes and poses.
One of the biggest challenges, though, is simply climbing up the four or five hundred steps to reach the monastery- but you can always stop at any point and pretend you are studying one of the statues, when in truth you are just trying to get some oxygen into your lungs.

I think my favourite was this 'surfing Buddha.' Obviously that was not his proper title, but he reminded me of a surfer or skateboarder.
The monastery of the ten thousand Buddhas is one of the places that I visited on my own, taking the train to Sha Tin and following the signs up the hill.
Being entirely on my own made it an even more 'alien' experience, and, for me, an even more rewarding one. There were so many sights I simply could not understand. Why is there a Buddha sitting on top of a huge blue dog? What is the significance of the nine-storey pagoda?
What do all the symbols represent?
In one way I was glad that there was no one with me who might have been able to answer these questions, because it meant I was free just to 'experience' it as a sort of visual feast.
Sometimes I think experiences without explanation are worth it for their own sake.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Passion Week

What do YOU feel like when you make a new (good) discovery?

For me, there is usually a sense of excitement and delight. But just occasionally, alongside that pleasant buzz, there's a strange feeling of frustration and annoyance. How is it that I didn't know this already? How did it escape me thus far? Have I been going around with my eyes and ears closed? Why did nobody tell me...?

I had one of those moments very recently.

I listen to all kinds of music. And I mean all kinds. But I've been listening to so-called 'classical music' since I was about 14 years old. I first discovered Anton Bruckner 35 years ago when it wasn't easy to buy recordings of his music!

So how is it that I'd never heard of Alexander Tikhonovich Grechaninov until last week? It's not as if he is a newcomer to the music scene. He was born in Russia in 1864 and died in the USA in 1956. In between he wrote a lot of music. And some of it is simply wonderful, including this recording of his Opus 58 - "Passion Week" which I just bought.

It is sung in Slavonic. I don't understand a word of it.

And I don't CARE.

There are some things that need to be understood in a different way. All I do know is that this music touches me really deep down. Some of it is based on traditional Orthodox chants used in Holy Week services. It is unaccompanied choral singing at its very best.

You can listen to an extract for yourself. Not everybody's kind of music. But I love it.

However, what I am most grateful for with this recording is the reminder that I actually know so very little about anything and that there are so many more things in the world that so far I don't know anything about at all.

But it is all out there just waiting to be discovered by those with eyes to see and ears to hear and minds open to new things.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Talk about the foundations being destroyed? Someone has been vandalising our gateposts. It happened once before. We got it repaired. Now it is happening all over again. It is being gradually dismantled!

First they scrape out the mortar, then, using some sort of lever, they prise the stones apart.

It's bad enough that my birthplace, my first church (and perhaps one day my first school) should be demolished after I've gone. But not the house I'm living in while I'm still here!! That is a bit too much.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

All gone...

The house in which I was born..... USED TO BE HERE!

The hall of the Church where I was baptised was recently demolished. Maybe the church will soon be knocked down too?

Behind it lies my first school. How long before it is also bulldozed?

Clearly I am never going to be famous, as there is nowhere left to put up a plaque!

It is sad, though, that so many places which were so much a part of my early life are now no more. But this is life, is it not? Important though certain places often are to us, they rarely remain unchanged forever.

Of course, there are many occasions when all sorts of familiar landmarks may be swept away from our lives and we are left feeling lost and bewildered. What do we do then?

I remember many years ago when I was a teenager and our church was without a minister an old retired minister was preaching. He preached on a text from Psalm 11. (verse 3)

"If the foundations be destroyed, what then can the righteous do?"

His answer? 'They can go on being righteous.'

It's an answer which has stuck with me ever since, but I don't think it only means 'go on doing the right thing.' I think righteousness is as much about right relationships as it is about right behaviour, and, in particular it is about our relationship to God. So to 'go on being righteous' is about hanging in there with God even, and especially, when everything else has been swept away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who says spelling doesn't matter?

First of all let me say I know it is not a great photograph, but it is the only one in my collection taken near to the place I want to tell you about. The river, by the way, is the River Clyde. I was born way down stream from here in the town of Port Glasgow. This photograph was taken much nearer to the source of the river, just outside the village of Abington.
Let me tell you why I was thinking about this village tonight.
I was chairing a meeting earlier this evening when one of the members of the committee shared with us a little tragi-comic tale. He was in this little village of Abington when a very large French truck drew up to a halt beside him and the driver leaned out of the cab and, showing him an address on a slip of paper, asked the man how he might find that address.
My friend looked at the slip of paper and, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, had to point out to him that the place he was looking for was in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, not Abington. It was only one small letter, but it meant he had driven 328 miles further north than he should have. Ooops.
I wonder what his boss had to say when he finally got back to France?
Who says little things are unimportant?
And who says spelling doesn't matter?

Blogging without the use of a Net

I found a new use for my blog yesterday but also missed an opportunity.

Yesterday I was speaking at a local club for senior citizens, known as the "Care Club" and, rather than prepare a talk, I decided to read extracts from my blog, projecting the images on to a screen using the data projector, and illustrating some of the stories with songs and a couple of fiddle solos. The only thing is I forgot to take my camera with me, so I didn't get to take a picture of the audience. That's a pity because a number of the people in the audience said they were going to try and find my blog on the net, even though most of them had never accessed the internet before.

As my childhood hero, the Lone Ranger, might have said "Hi-yo, Silver-Surfers Away!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Too close for comfort

Just in case Tess happens to be watching over my shoulder, I thought I would post a picture of an elephant, because I know she is fascinated by them.
This particularly magnificent creature was coming towards our vehicle on the Masai Mara in 2002. In the end it decided not to come too close.
Later on, though, a young, but still pretty large, bull elephant came striding up the track towards our 'bus' and refused to stand aside. It came right alonsgide the bus and was about to push its considerable weight around, and could easily have flipped us over. However, our alert and experienced driver 'growled' the engine at him a few times until he reluctantly moved away. Actually (like Tess perhaps) I was too fascinated by this strange but magnificent beast to feel afraid at the time. Only afterwards did I realise that we were perhaps a little bit too close for comfort.

Screen play

I have never really approved of the practice adopted by some parents of sitting their small children down in front of a TV screen and putting on a video/DVD to keep them quiet.
Recent scientific research has suggested it may be a possible factor in the rising prevalence of autism and other disorders. I think it may be a bit early to reach fully definitive conclusions on this, but I'm sure there's something in it.
However, I may have to temper my disapproval of the TV Babysitter after recent experiences.
Not with my children, I hasten to add - as they are all fully-grown and well-rounded adults.... but with our cat, Tess!
I should explain.
We rescued Tess from the local pet rescue service. She was still a kitten, maybe six months old, but it was clear even then that she had been badly treated and at times could become quite frightened.
Nevertheless, with a lot of tender loving care, good feeding, and a great wild garden to play and hunt in, she has become more or less a happy and playful cat.
Most of the time.
But every so often she takes a strange turn. Her eyes suddenly change colour and she goes in for the kill. Being a very athletic, agile and fearless hunter- with delusions of grandeur (she is convinced she is a lioness) she can pounce on you from anywhere and you don't know what's hit you till the teeth and claws sink in.
Maybe it's related to the phases of the moon, or her hormones, or something in her diet, but she has these little bouts of bad-tempered madness every so often.
Recently she was having a particularly manic day. It wasn't safe to move around the house. It was even less safe to sit still.
Something needed to be done.
And it was.
It is our policy of last resort for specially bad 'psycho-Tess days'.

One of my daughters fetched a DVD from the study. It was a Discovery Channel documentary about Mountain Lions. It was duly placed in the DVD Player and Tess was sat down in front of the screen. And, would you believe it, she remained there, watching the screen, absolutely still, absorbed, engrossed, calmed.... for nearly 30 minutes.

The only worrying thing is that she actually likes elephants on the TV even more than she likes big cats. Explain that one to me...

*This is Tess, pretending to be a Mountain Lion. Incidentally, the picture of the lioness above was taken in the Masai Mara in Kenya in 2005.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Energy matters

I can't remember if I have posted this photograph before but I thought I'd like to return to the theme of 'light on the water.'
It's where I started with this blog, and it's often where I start with photographs.
This particular photograph was taken in 2003 when we visited the USA. We managed to see a number of places in our three week tour, which took in a number of states, including Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, New York and Connecticut. This is Perkins Cove in Maine.
It reminded me of Cabot Cove in the old TV series 'Murder She Wrote.' Thankfully no one was murdered while we were there as far as I know, and Jessica Fletcher never turned up.

I think one of the reasons why I like the combination of light and water is that you get unexpected and interesting distortions of the sky, or whatever is on or beside the water. But, even more importantly, both light and water are such elemental things- the very stuff of life itself. Energy and Matter.
The fact that these two things are interchangeable (and that a very small amount of matter equates to a huge amount of energy) is something that always causes me to marvel. I pity those who see life only in terms of the material: they miss so much.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

All the little things...

Yet another update on the release of "The Sega Method" by Drive by Argument.
It IS available on iTunes but only if you search under "Drive by Arguement"
Somebody made a small typo somewhere.
You see, little things do matter (including spelling.)
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once observed, "if you think you are too small to make a difference, you've never been in bed with a mosquito."

Another favourite place

A few weeks ago I spoke about a place that was special to me - Venice.
Of course, we probably all have a number of places that are special to us for different reasons. Our family, for example, has a favourite Italian restaurant. This is where we go to celebrate family occasions - birthdays, anniversaries, graduations etc. It's called "Prego" and it is in Lanark.
Fortunately we've had a number of special birthdays and family reunions of late, so we've had some good excuses to take a trip to Prego.

The food is always really good, though maybe not spectacular. The decor is pleasing and comfortable but maybe not amazing. For an Italian restaurant, the espresso could be a bit better. But it is a wonderful place as far as we are concerned, and the first place we think of going to if we have any excuse at all for eating out. What makes it a special place for us is the staff who serve you. You get the feeling that you've been invited to a friend's house for dinner.

It's the gift of hospitality. And it's what makes the place special.

Of course, you don't have to run a restaurant to exercise this gift. All you have to do is treat other people as if they matter to you (and to do it because they do matter to you- since any falseness is easily picked up) and then you can make space for that person, or people, to be themselves and have a good time.

Apart from genuine hospitality, something else that is always on the menu is the 'prego stick' a mouth-watering pastry that you can have as a starter with a savoury tomato/chilli dipping sauce, or as a dessert with a rich caramel sauce.
For the 21st birthday of one of my daughters, a couple of weeks ago, they made one into a ring for her with candles and sang 'Happy Birthday' to her as they handed it over. Nice touch. Nice taste.

In a couple of months time we're going to have our very own Prego just round the corner from our house. So we can walk there. How good is that? (Well, I'll let you know. But if you're ever in Lanark or Carluke, why not try it out for yourself?)

"L" Plates for Life

Learners of Slough, 2, originally uploaded by Chubby Bat.

It had not occurred to me that some folk might not know what an "L" plate is. But that's the beauty of the internet - that we can learn customs and cultures from around the world.
For anyone who doesn't know, or hasn't guessed, the "L" plate is used by learner drivers, who have not yet passed their driving test to warn other drivers of that fact!
When you've been learning to drive, it's a great feeling when you pass your test and you can rip up the "L" plates and go solo.
Although that was about 30 years ago for me, I still remember the feeling, the sense of liberation, and the scary excitement of getting into the driver's seat with no one else in the car and knowing that this time I was ultimately responsible myself.
Mind you, in terms of being a Christian 'disciple' (learner) I am afraid the "L" plates are still very much in place. And there is no way that I could ever pass the test. Jesus once told his learners to "take my yoke upon you."
I think nowadays he might say - 'put the "L" plates on and let me sit with you. We're going out for a driving lesson.'
You see, until you've passed the test, the car is ultimately under the control of the driving instructor not the learner, and yet the learner is the one who has to work the controls and try to guide the car safely around any obstacles. It's a kind of shared responsibility.
In life we are not mean to be mere passengers being carried along and just watching the view through the window. We have to take responsibility. But the disciple knows that he/she is not yet capable of going solo and needs the reassurance, guidance and much greater experience of the instructor alongside.

(Since it is such a long time since I passed my driving test and since all my children have now also done the same, I couldn't find any 'L' plates in the house, so I am grateful for this photo from

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Duel at dawn

Now here's a strange thing! I took my camera with me to the conference at Aviemore - nothing unusual about that - but the thing is - I didn't use it. (Apart from this one photograph taken from my hotel room window.)
The weather was great, with lots of blue sky and clear air. My contribution to the conference was not too demanding - leading the worship band - so I had time on my hands. There was snow on the mountains and I could have snapped any number of picture-postcard scenes.
But for some reason I just didn't want to.
I had thought I might actually use the camera indoors too - take some shots of the conference itself. But again, for some reason that I can't explain, I chose not to.
I've been trying to think what that reason might be, and the only thing I can come up with is this. Photography, by its very nature, involves the photographer in some way standing outside of the subject and looking in or looking at it. On this occasion, though, I didn't want to be an onlooker: I wanted to be a participant. I wanted to be on the inside of the experience, not observing it from the outside. So I just left my camera in my hotel room the whole time.

Actually I think some people go through most of their lives looking on from the outside, never really living inside their own experience- never really letting go. Observing not participating.
It's certainly true of some Christians in this part of the world when it comes to worship. They become observers, onlookers, an audience, rather than participants who have 'let go' and allowed themselves to become immersed or caught up in the experience.
Thankfully, at last night's closing worship of the Re-Energise Conference this was not the case. The singing was marvellous and it was really great, and humbling, to be involved in making the music. All worship (whatever style it employs, and whatever size the congregation may be) ought to be like this, I think.

As for the picture above, I have no idea what the motor-cyclists were doing. The most obvious explanation is that these were new riders learning how to handle the bike. (In fact, at least one of the bikes does have an 'L' plate. )

But I have another explanation - given that this photograph was taken early in the morning. This was a DUEL! One of the riders had thrown his gauntlet - or at least his motorcycle glove - and challenged the other to a joust. On a given signal the two riders would set off across the tarmac away from each other, turn, and then accelerate towards each other at tope speed, and as they came side by side each would try to knock over his opponent from his bike...

The only thing is... it didn't happen. They never got above 5mph.
So, maybe the first explanation was the right one after all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chalk and cheese

This is the congregation of PCEA Kiambaa in Kenya singing in their usual energetic way. That's what I like - energy! That's why I am here at Aviemore for a Church Without Walls conference called Re-Energise. We've just been to morning worship led by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. He was telling us about his recent trip to Ghana which was interesting enough but he was also trying to get us to sing some songs from Ghana - unaccompanied. (Good in one sense that it means those of us who are in the band could have a morning off.) However... compared to African singing, ours was 'Mogadon Praise!" United in lethargy. Sleepers awake! Actually our singing to African singing was like chalk to cheese. Oh no- there's the cheese again! In fact, as someone actually said to me the singing was dreich! Thankfully the weather is not and the skies are blue.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I love my cheese!

But I've been disappointed recently.

The last couple of times we have bought mature cheddar from the supermarket I've opened it and found that instead of the rich, mature, piquant flavour I was expecting, it just tasted mouldy, or as we would say in Scotland "foosty!"

(there's that fungus motif springing up again like dry rot)

Actually, I'm pretty drained at the moment. In two consecutive days I have conducted the funerals of two quite special people who were very dear to me. It was a great privilege to be able to do this in both cases, for both people were the most gracious, humble and gentle folk you could ever have met. They were both in their eighties. But why is it that not everyone grows more gracious with age? Some just get more grumpy.

I fear that as for myself (if I ever survive that long) instead of maturing in Christ-likeness, I will probably just go 'foosty' like some badly-kept cheese.

[Oh, by the way, the picture is of St. Cuthbert's Church in Edinburgh. It's looking good for its age, especially against a clear blue sky.]

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Driving by again

You are right - you have seen this picture before. I just want to clear up a bit of confusion I may have caused with some people I have spoken to. It is proof that I am neither 'up with the times' nor 'down with the kids.'
Drive by Argument are not at this stage releasing an album.
The single 'The Sega Method' will be available on Monday, either as a download, or as 7 inch single. The tour begins this weekend.
There - that's cleared up that one - and given them another wee plug at the same time.
Make sure you download your copy. It's good.

A load of rot...

HEY! How did March get here so soon?
It 'snuck' up on me when I wasn't looking!

A bit like the St. Johnstone team that just knocked Motherwell out of the Cup tonight. (i.e. Wednesday 28th... before March snuck up on me)
Against my better judgment (but I have to say with very little resistance from me) I went with my brother to the match tonight.
I had one of those premonitions that we would lose. What I had not foreseen was how badly we would play, especially in the first half.
I say 'we' but of course I was just sitting down most of the time. (Although, so it seems were most of my team.)
But that is the good thing about following a team in any sport. You share the experience vicariously. You identify with it like Jewish people every Passover who talk as if they had been there on the night it happened.
But what about the accompanying picture?
I'll explain. I've seen fungus moving faster than our midfield did tonight. I think the Motherwell team may have given up football for Lent!
All I can say is I'm glad they reduced the ticket price for that match.
Maybe that's why my team reduced their performance?