Thursday, May 29, 2008

All things in Creative Commons?

Like most of the bloggers I know, I publish my photos on flickr. I use a Creative Commons licence in an attempt to place some legal restriction on the re-use of my images. The badge is clearly displayed under the full-size, downloadable version of each photo, as it is on this blog. So where's the problem?

Well, the problem is that not everyone seems to realise there is a problem. Recently I was sent a small publication about lay ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church - and there, completely unattributed, was one of my photos. Now, I had already used that photo myself for inclusion in the local paper - but this did not mean that it was up for free use by other publications. Not that I was looking for payment. All I want is for the photo to be attributed to me. There were several photos in this book, and no acknowledgment was made of any of the photographers. I happen to think this was merely slovenly attention to detail - the kind of unprofessionalism that gives an organisation a bad name.

Sad thing is, there's a sense in which, because it's the church and because I know one of the editors as well as the person responsible for producing the book, I feel I ought not to be feeling any of this - let alone blogging about it. I should be smiling sweetly and feeling happy to have been of service. And I am - but I'm also aware of all the people I don't know who have taken the trouble to mail me about using my work and who have linked me to their sites where I can see the photo in question clearly attributed to me. We need to respect people's intellectual property wherever we find it - and we need to demonstrate that respect.

There. Rant over. And I realise the CC licence has been upgraded. Need to do something about that...

Update: 3 June. As a result of this post and the ensuing comments I received today a full and unqualified apology from the Synod Office. It seems that those who sent photos with their contributions were assumed to have made the necessary checks. Conversation over for now - and perhaps another step made in tightening up publication guidelines.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tempus fugit in corpore sano

I've been thinking about food today. Actually, I began by wondering where the morning had gone, and it was while I was making soup for lunch that the foodieness kicked in. T'other day I was checking out my messages (shopping, for the non-Glasgwegian) in the local Somerfield when it struck me forcibly how much I was spending. No booze, nothing fancy, one piece of pork fillet the only meat there - and it came to over £60. For two people. I stuck my credit card in the thingummy and commented that it hurt less than handing over cash.

'But you eat healthy food,' opined the youth who was serving me. I had taught him at some point in the past - a pleasant, polite sort of chap. 'It's expensive to be healthy.' I suppose he was looking at the veg and the "best ever" (or whatever) fruit, and the Tropicana juice and the soya milk - but he had a point. It's expensive not to buy the basic loss-leaders. It's expensive not to like the taste of Dutch hothouse tomatoes and to prefer Pink Lady apples. Expensive in money terms.

And in time terms - and this is where this all began - it's expensive to make your own soup (carrot & coriander, with onion, garlic and a wee bit of crushed chili and a sweet potato to improve the texture - about 20 minutes + cooking and blitzing time) and to prefer to make your own bread (I was making the starting 'sponge' which is now sitting in my pantry bubbling gently while it gathers flavour). Sometimes I use the machine and it takes only about 5 minutes to sling the stuff in, but sourdough takes longer, with the floury hands-on bit the time when someone is bound to phone you. Worth it, though - a great taste and texture.

But I digress. Where the time went this morning was partly on cooking, and partly on swimming. For the rest, I was seduced by a particularly enticing post on Kimberly's blog and spent an hour on the phone. But wanting to eat well and being a domestic goddess is clearly to blame for much of what I have left undone of what I ought to have done ... so is there indeed 'no health in me' after all?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PM on form

Gordon Brown Caption comp.
Originally uploaded by Edublogger.
Been watching the video of Gordon Brown speaking last week at Nesta (thanks to Ewan for the link) What a good speaker he is when he’s relaxed and cheerful! And how good to hear someone at the top (for now, anyway) encouraging and valuing the innovators. It must have been good to be there.

He made the point that this was not to be a boring old political speech – makes you wish they would just all forget to be boring and safe and see what happened. Maybe that’s why I’m not a politician …

The Devil's web?

Caught a news item on Radio Scotland this morning, discussing the GTC's newly-launched Code of Professionalism and Conduct. The discussion on the radio gave the distinct impression that the entire document was devoted to the perils of social networking and online contact, and it was only the comment by the last speaker - a teacher - which would lead you to think otherwise.

In fact, the guidelines are what anyone would expect; the three bullet-points devoted to new technologies merely reinforce accepted practice within a new medium. For example, when talking about being alone with a pupil the guidelines now add

using common sense and professional judgement to avoid circumstances which are, or could be, perceived to be of an inappropriate nature. This is also the case in
connection with social networking websites ...

So no change there. But coming on the back of last night's Panorama programme, of which I caught only the last five minutes, I have a horrid feeling that a number of people both in and outside the profession will be reinforced in their perception that Web 2.0 is of the devil.

And meanwhile the young will be getting on with it, as usual, with or without the guidance that informed teaching can give.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The last battle

View of Cumberland's lines
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
We were in Inverness at the weekend, for the 20th anniversary celebrations of Cursillo in Scotland. However, before partying with the fifty or so who turned up on the Friday evening, we visited the site of the Battle of Culloden, the last battle of the '45 rebellion, the last battle to be fought on British soil. I've been here twice before, and on both occasions was really unable to get any feel of the battlefield, though on my first visit, in 1970, I looked at the three huge graves of the Mackintosh clan and wondered if I was to be called upon to an act of repopulation.

This time it was very different. The forest which had completely covered the battlefield on that first visit is gone, and the NTS are currently restoring the land to its original boggy state after the years of drainage since the battle. The positions of the two armies are marked by lines of flags - red for the Government troops, blue for the Jacobites - and gravelled paths lead you on a guided tour with a sat-nav triggered commentary telling you through an earpiece what you are looking at and incorporating contemporary comment.

On a grey, chilly day such as Friday, this is a sobering experience. When we stood where the Mackintosh clan had stood, we could see clearly the impossibility of their advance: the lines had not been parallel and they were at the furthest distance from the enemy, with great tracts of bog and tussock to cover under fire before they could engage. The photo above shows this part of the field - you can't actually make out the red flags of the opposing front line except on the largest possible format.

The new Visitor Centre is a huge improvement too, with convincing audio-visual displays (to which it is suggested you do not take young children) and weapons and personal effects found on the field, as well as contemporary accounts of the events of the '45. I learned a great deal - hardly surprising for someone who picks up her history mainly from fiction. We spent four and a half hours here and on the battlefield, and felt our NTS subscription had been well justified for another year.

This is a sobering and thought-provoking place, and well worth a visit. I couldn't help feeling that if one of the dead had been able to return today to this field, he might have taken some pride in the knowledge that his story was being well told.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Having a ball...

Thoughtful investigation
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
It's amazing how the rediscovery of an old toy can turn the clock back. We dispatched Mr B to the loft to find some of the wooden toys our two had, and he came back triumphant with this one - rainbow coloured wooden balls on poles of varying lengths. The balls are pleasingly solid and shiny, and miraculously there was only one missing.

We had a wonderful half hour while Catriona very carefully lifted off a yellow ball and examined it minutely. She waved it about, poked her finger delicately into the hole, put it to her mouth - and then it slipped and fell to the wooden floor and rolled off under the sideboard and back out again. She was transfixed by this process while we pondered on the obvious uneven-ness of the floorboards. Eventually all the balls were rolling about and we were all laughing helplessly and batting them back and forth.

I don't recall having such fun with this toy 35 years ago. I remember the balls being lost and the horror of stepping on one, as I remember the ritual of collecting them all up at the end of the day. Maybe I simply didn't have the time - or felt I didn't - to sit and watch the mental processes going on as a baby makes sense of a new experience. Maybe I really needed that automatic washing machine and/or some effective disposable nappies - for what I do recall is the hours spent washing terry nappies in a twin tub machine.

I must have been mad. Kids seem to have done all right, though ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bucolic baby

What more could I want?
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
My granddaughter is paying a visit to the West just now. I'm amazed all over again at how babies develop - seeing her in our environment rather than her own home somehow reinforces this. Instead of the baby who lay on her back or reclined in her seat passively watching, we have a 9 month old search engine, programmed to seek out and investigate cables (hidden under the audio set-up), ceramic pots (likewise concealed under furniture), the gas fire and, this morning, the wine rack. The full wine rack. In a few weeks, it seems, she has learned vigorous forward motion and a cunning sideways twist from a sitting start which propels her suddenly towards some interesting object. And every new discovery is greeted with grunts of interest and squeals of delight.

In addition to all this domestic exploring, she had a walk in the country yesterday. She seemed unfazed by midges despite ending the day with two bites on her face (note: obviously has Argyll blood: they remained tiny and have now vanished). But the best moment came when the sheep in the field beside the road suddenly moved closer. Catriona's scream of delight had them all charging off again, including the toddler lambs and the daft-looking beast with its half-demolished fleece dangling from its flanks. Was it a case of not recognising them as animals until they came closer? How far does a nine-month baby see?

Answers from any experts out there in the comment box, please!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bloggers and bluebells

Indiana Jones moment
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Bloggers and Bluebells. A sort of bucolic TeachMeet? Well, in a way I suppose it was. It was all Kimberly's fault. Let's invite Scottish Episcopal bloggers to Dunoon and take them to see the bluebells. I suspect the bluebells might have been an excuse for an alliteration, but they also gave us a starting point for a walk, and a picnic.

Of course, nothing goes entirely to plan. Who could have foreseen that Maximilian ( a dog) would decide to go back to the car, so that Rosemary and Kimberly had to go with him? Who would realise that Kelvin was fallible and would end up heading for Strachur? And why was this the first cloudy, damp day in two weeks so that the midges would attend our jaunt? However, undaunted by such setbacks, a good proportion of the SEC's finest viewed the bluebells in Kilmun Arboretum and ascended the Indiana Jonesworthy upper reaches of Puck's Glen (pictured).

It was great, as always, to put faces and voices to the names familiar from blog posts and comments. Many of us had been contributors to an Advent blog and a Lent blog in the past year, in such a way that we had learned more about each other than many people do in years of actual contact. And of course there was the repeated amusement of someone you feel you don't really know telling you they know all about what you've been doing recently or what you think about Christian Aid collecting - a right conversation-killer, you'd think, but no. Conversation flowed, except when the breath failed.

And at the end, a eucharist. Today was, apparently, St Catan's day; the site I've linked to is much less informative than was Rosemary's address but is the best I can find right now. However, it was also the first time I've ever felt so strongly the community connections made by blogging, as we came together in the wonderful exchange that is the eucharist and was the name of the blog where many of us comment. The church needs to embrace this form of communication far more ardently than it does at present, when too many of its senior figures shy away from the medium and seem to fear the openness and immediacy it brings.

But today we were blessed - by each other's company, by the bluebells, by sharing a picnic together and by our shared communion. Great idea, Kimberly - where to next?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm collecting ...

Collecting in Bullwood
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
This is Christian Aid week. All over the country church people are slogging round allocated districts delivering and then collecting red envelopes in which - they hope - householders will have had time to put sensible money (as opposed to all the coppers they want rid of) and fill in the Gift Aid declaration. That's the theory.

In practice, the experience is more haphazard. Mrs Heathbank and I were covering the area known as the Bullwood, the main road south of Dunoon. I suspect we get these odd places because the Episcopal church is not so readily associated with a parish, but whatever the reason this is our patch. Only this year we doubled "our" bit of road because of a shortage of able-bodied Piskies willing to take it on. And so it was that on Sunday we covered about 3 miles of road and drives and hillsides as we delivered the envelopes, and this evening we again covered the same 3 miles collecting them. As you will see from the photo, it involved some ingenuity and energy to retrieve some of the envelopes.

I actually hate doing this. Most of all, I hate the dogs. I think there are more dog-owning households down the Bullwood than anywhere else in Dunoon. I was on my second house when the door opened to reveal a large German Shepherd on the step above me, so that its face seemed alarmingly close to my own. It was accompanied by a totally inadequate small girl with golden hair. I found myself gibbering at her. Not a good start. After that, Mrs H got all the houses where I remembered that there were beasts, as well as the ones where there was barking.

Another hazard is the people you meet. One woman yelled (above the barking of two ferocious hounds) that she gave money to her own religion. Reasoning that the money goes to help poor people and is merely collected by Christians didn't work. No luck there. Then there was the old boy who took an age to come down his hall, past washing on a clothes horse, then laboriously unlocked the door. I switched on my brightest smile. "No," he said, lugubriously, and locked up again. And there is the Grumpy Woman in the Dolls House, who waved a minatory finger at us on Sunday, so that we didn't even try to leave an envelope. We've tangled with her before and it wasn't pretty.

You do see some places you never knew existed, though. Some of the houses lurk up huge long driveways, and others have bungalows sprouting in their enormous gardens. Some people have built expensive-looking conservatories and then filled them with junk; others houses have strange smells. I was reminded yet again of Larkin, talking about "the smells of different dinners" - by this time it was well past my dinnertime, but I was glad I wasn't dining at some of the houses we visited.

But the hardest thing of all is remaining polite and cheerful. Mrs H is much better at it than I am. I have an insatiable urge to say "sod off, then" when rejected, or told that I'm doing a grand job but "we have our own charities, thank you." And when people on "my" patch tell me that they've given their contribution to their own church, I have to fight down a snarl. Especially if they've used the envelope I left them.

I have, however, to record that some people are delightful, with their envelopes filled and waiting for us, or rushing off apologetically to find money to put in it as we wait. And most deserving of mention is the former pupil who didn't hear us at her door as she was putting her children to bed when we called. She appeared in her car just as we were setting off back down the road, waving the envelope out of the window. She was going to drop it off at my house if she hadn't caught us. To her, and to all the others who kept the smile on my face - thank you. Till next time ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another good read

I've been reading another book by Mark Haddon, A Spot of Bother. Like his bestseller, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this is a painfully funny book, the story of family at a turning point, but primarily the story of George. George, fifty-seven, recently retired, is looking forward to a peaceful time of self-fulfilment when his daughter announces that she is about to remarry (her prospective husband has, according to her brother, "strangler's hands"). Said brother, Jamie, fears that to bring his lover Tony to the wedding will expose him to the awfulness that he has so far managed to avoid, and George's wife, Jean, finds her affair with a former colleague of George threatened by all this family activity.

But it is George's problem which preoccupies him and us. For George has discovered a sinister lesion on his hip and - as the blurb puts it - quietly begins to lose his mind. He becomes convinced that his doctor is incompetent and decides to treat himself. The resulting chaos is of an order to leave you simultaneously sniggering helplessly and cringing.

Haddon's style is well suited to this kind of writing. He makes a feature of the short sentence and the one-sentence paragraph, as well as the grammatical non-sentence - features which, once noticed, could irritate but which in this case do not. He has a wonderful way with climax, taking us along a path we know we have to follow without the slightest idea what waits us at the end.

I loved this just as much as The Curious Incident, and probably for the same insight into strange mental states. I almost wish I'd saved it for a holiday.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Fiery symbolism
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Sometimes, the impossible happens. Flames dance and souls are transformed. This wonderful flower arrangement to me symbolises the madness of Pentecost, the craziness of Christian faith, the exuberance of letting go of earthbound restrictions.

Whatever happens at Pentecost, it is not safe and not ordinary. Thank God!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Calls and drumrolls

Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Some of my rellies are birdwatchers. I cannot claim to be a birdwatcher, as I rarely see anything that I recognise, other than oystercatchers and magpies. Oh, and I recognise a curlew, if it's not a dotteril, and can clock a heron at twenty metres. But I do think I'm turning into a bird-listener, or a bird-hearer, especially this wonderful spring.

The road in the picture runs along the shores of the Kyles of Bute. We started at Colintraive pier and walked for an hour before we turned back, and all the time we were surrounded by the most fantastic chorus of birdsong. But clear through it all we could hear a cuckoo on Bute, its call carrying over the glassy water, and on our way back a woodpecker was making the most incredible noise in the woods (in the middle distance in the pic) - a seven-beat roll, to my mind.

So there you are. I may be as blind as a bat but I have good hearing. A birdlistener, me.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Church going

Kilbride Church door
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?

Philip Larkin's great poem, Church Going, was very much in my mind yesterday as we visited this sad, quiet church in the midst of its orderly, green graveyard, still mown and tended but with a creaking iron gate which is obviously little used and this grim little warning note on the door (you can read it if you click on the photo)

The gravestones told of lives bound into a close community - the blacksmith, the soldier killed on The Somme, the soldier who died - why? - in 1919. And one huge stone seemed way out of proportion to the small life it commemorated, but perhaps symbolised the enormity of the loss of a six-year-old son. Actually, there were many, many stones which told of infant death; we thought of the parents coming to church every week past their graves and wondered if the community was a comfort to them, if death was any easier to bear when so many died at what we would consider an early age.

I don't know when the congregation of this church finally closed its doors and boarded up the windows. There was no sign of vandalism; it was merely empty and sad. But I like old graveyards where the birds sing and mortality seems comprehensible - If only that so many dead lie round.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I've been away ...

Ostel Bay
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I spent hours on this glorious beach today. We had a picnic, we paddled, I contemplated a swim but decided it was too early in the season: there were warm bits of water where the tide had come in over the warm sand, but elsewhere it was perishing. All afternoon a cuckoo called (a major third, if you're interested, slightly flat at first but bang in tune as it warmed to its song) and an invisible skylark gave it laldy over our heads.

I don't remember being so aware of all this birdsong in past years. I've never listened to a cuckoo for so long that I thought it sounded like a boy scout. I've never felt so strongly the power of the trees bursting into leaf - today I was sure the trees on the homeward drive had come into full leaf while we'd been on the beach. And then I realised that for most of my life I've been stuck in school while all this was going on - all these mornings when I've longed not to turn up Bencorrum Brae to the grammar school but instead to keep driving - out past the Holy Loch, into the glens and fields. No wonder I felt stir crazy for all these years at work.

The car thermometer read 28º when we returned to it at 5pm. I had sand between my toes and a pink nose. I heard today that pensioners are the worst hit in the current round of inflation, but today I felt rich.

A rich pensioner, in shorts.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lambs and exams

Originally uploaded by goforchris.
It's absurd how the climate works in these parts. It seems no time at all since we were still bemoaning temperatures of 7ºc and huddling in the wind and rain, and now it's like being abroad - 27º when I took this photo. I was laughing at these lambs, who seemed to have abandoned their mum to play with the gang; they formed what I was thinking of as the Toddler Group and were butting each other and - yes - gambolling. On the same walk I clocked several swallows, some agitated oystercatchers and a couple of butterflies, and the other day I heard my first cuckoo of the year and a woodpecker.

It is, of course, what we used to call exam weather, and I was recalling the sensation of emerging from the gloom of the assembly hall in Hillhead High School to the smells of a city spring - dust, cut grass, diesel fumes - with the feeling that life was going on without me. I seem to remember taking exam leave very seriously, swotting away in solitude at home before going back to school for an orchestra practice. I used to experiment with cigarettes in our empty house (my parents were both teachers) and then spend an age trying to disguise the smell, but there were never any friends around to distract me because we were scattered over Glasgow and it was too hard to meet up. Besides, I never had any money. What a strange life, now I come to think of it.

We all did rather well, mind.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Glaring Technical Codswallop

One of the features of being a retired teacher is the requirement to do something about staying registered - something I still do lest I am overcome by penury or boredom. And so it was that in the last couple of weeks I received two missives from the GTC, one informing me that a direct debit was being taken for this year's sub and therefore I need do nothing and the second informing me that I had to pay £40 by the end of May. The trouble arose from the opening sentence of this second letter:
You may recently have received a letter with regards to a Direct Debit being deducted, please ignore this letter.

I quote this verbatim primarily for the delectation of my more pernickety readership, but I must confess that I rang the contact number on the letter to complain, Meldrew-fashion, about the slight ambiguity and the far-from-slight horror of the sentence. I did ask the very civil chap at the other end if he would like me to take time from my retired life to come and teach English to his minions, and I'm afraid I pointed out that this was supposed to be a council for "maintaining and enhancing professional standards" (if you enlarge the screenshot you'll see this claim from their site).

He promised that they would try harder, and we both laughed. But I bet he's away looking up "comma-splice" somewhere.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Poetic hi-jinks.

They're a persistent lot, the International Society of Poets at Having ignored their first mail about the Las Vegas thrash, I had the above in my mailbox this morning. I still won't be going, but I checked the RSVP link to see if there was any way to tell them, politely, where to go. However, it's like all their other bits and bobs - there is no way to refuse, only to sign on the dotted line.

What interests me is what happens when you don't actually turn up. Does the original poem still feature in the competition, the way missing prizewinners were still awarded their prizes at school prizegiving and applauded briefly before their absence registered? Or is it quietly dropped? I shall only know, of coursed, if I win. I'll keep you posted. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It ain't what you say ...

Just watched a few snippets of Gordon Brown's interviews on the evening news. So ... he's serious, has a difficult smile, knows it. And he's Scottish, and sounds it. Apparently all this makes him an electoral liability. He's made mistakes, and knows it. And he's just admitted it. To my simple reasoning this makes me more hopeful rather than less - I can't bear the fast-talking smarm of the kind of politician Brown says he is not.

I suspect this may be a nationality thing. Despite what I wrote the other day about the wonderful disengagement of having autonomy as a nation, I feel no hostility towards Brown. Exasperation, perhaps, but no more.

And I can't help reflecting on the years spent under PMs who sounded ...well, English, actually.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Are you listening?

Spent the day in Stirling at the SEC's Listening Day. I was there with a job to do: facilitating one of the groups as it listened to and reacted to the stories of two witnesses. Would I have been there had I not been asked to do this? I don't know that I would, for I have already experienced the same format in Argyll, last autumn. But it was good to be with a roomful of people trying to engage with a pressing and urgent situation, even if I find frustrating the glacial pace of that engagement.

I felt sad that at least one gay person known to me was not there because he had chosen not to risk confrontation with still more homophobia in the church, for he would have been encouraged. I felt impressed by the insistency of Bishop Michael, whom I have not seen for 25 years, that something had to result from this day - impressed not least because here is someone who is still making uncomfortable demands in his mid-eighties. Something must indeed happen, for the spirit of independence which cheered me yesterday is apparent in the SEC and must not be allowed to sink beneath the waves of expediency and compromise.

There is much listening still to be done, as light is shone on the dark corners of our church and our assumptions. But for those of us who have long held that the darkness is no darkness at all, there must be the chance to walk forward. There are too many people for whom time is finite and the need great. Let's not fail them.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Do what you like ...

Today, St Athanasius' Day, England decided to be Tory again - or Liberal: anything but Labour - and might even elect a buffoon to be mayor of London. As I walked among brilliant gorse and fat cushions of primroses beside Loch Striven this afternoon, I reflected on how distant all this seems these days, in stark comparison to the gloom election results used to plunge me into in the dark days of Thatcher.

Then, England still seemed miles away ideologically as they returned Tory governments that Scotland didn't vote for, but the impact on our lives here seemed disproportionately great. Now we have our own government and I realise that I don't care what England does. It affects me no more than what happens in France. It is fitting that we have a Scottish government - and right now, fitting that we are not tied to a UK party. So, as the pheasants rush squawking through the woods and the rabbits risk death on the roadside, a happy St Athanasius day to you!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Burning zeal?

Bonfire and boys
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I think I may live after all. Despite the spectre of possible ticks lurking on every bush, I enjoyed thoroughly an afternoon of ground-clearing at the church today. Much of the enjoyment came from the satisfaction of the successful pyromaniac: I lit that fire with no more than half a dozen matches and a few squirts of barbecue-lighting gel. (Never tried that before - it's jolly effective) Oh, and a single page of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard.

It was a jolly afternoon - a bunch of the aged and about-to-be-infirm attacked the overgrown and branch-littered grounds with varying degrees of zeal, assisted by the two chaps in the pic who spent several hours complaining of barbecued eyeballs. You'll find another pic if you click through on this one.

And at the end of the afternoon we all trooped into church, smelling like kippers, for the Ascensiontide eucharist. We even had enough energy for a couple of hymns. And the bonfire ended the day as a pile of glowing white ash. Bear Grylls, anyone?