Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell, Domestic Goddess, farewell 2006

It's dark again. A dark, blowy Hogmanay with further gales forecast. Before I return to the role of Domestic Goddess for one more time - cooking for a meal with a friend - I'll join the hordes who post their look back over 2006. I hate this night of the year - have done ever since I was a child. The days may be imperceptibly lengthening, but the turning year brings with it the reflection that life ain't - let us not think after these ways: so, it will make us mad.

For me, 2006 was a big year - the trip to New Zealand, the death of my friend Edgar, the wedding of Ewan and Morgane, Neil's graduation. But it was also the year in which I made a host of new contacts - some virtual, some becoming three dimensional, like David and Andrew, who no longer needs to stand sideways for me to recognise him. I still enjoy the thrill of making new contacts online - especially if they seem to appreciate what I have to say. And I still find it amusing when people much younger than I say "You have a ... what?" I wonder if there will come a day when writing a blog is as commonplace as keeping a diary - though come to think of it it's not everyone who does that either. (I have kept a diary continuously since 1958 - quite a thought!)

That's enough. I'm off now to do wonderful things with a fillet of venison from Winston Churchill, and then I'll domestic goddess it no further. A Good New Year to you all.

For the sober and literary: there are two Shakespearian references in this post. The usual rules apply.

Televised execution

Just been listening to Broadcasting House on Radio 4. They're discussing the televised execution of Saddam, which yes, I saw yesterday. I saw it at least three times, because it was there, in someone else's house, and I was there too. I've seen lynchings in movies - usually involving a horse and a tree - but, of course, this was so different. In fact, it was unlike anything in my experience, and I found it horribly disturbing.

Judicial killing. Judicial murder? I've heard a former Nuremberg prosecutor say that it shows the victims that their grievances have been taken seriously; I've heard a politician say that "of course" he didn't watch the images, as if, somehow, we're all soiled by having done so. I don't think so. I think that to avoid seeing this keeps you in movie-mode, able to push out of your mind the reality of the death penalty. Perhaps the fact that it has always in the West been carried out off-camera does the same.

Too early in the morning for me to be judicious and measured. But the very civilised nature of the proceedings - the cloth round the neck, the careful explanations, the calm demeanour of Saddam - all these underlined the horror of taking a life in cold blood. Shooting him on sight as he emerged from hiding might have been one thing - except that the Iraqis wouldn't then have been involved. I know why it was done. But I'm damned if I can feel that it was right.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Present joys

I've been tidying (just a little) before I put the Domestic G. disguise away for another year. Having assembled a neat pile of presents, I thought I'd post a pic of a few which are going to give me sustained pleasure (to distinguish them from the more instant gratification of edible/quaffable gifts, some of which are already gone forever..)

The sultry cleric in the background is on the cover of the wonderful Calendario Romano, full of pin-ups for collectors of dog-collars, a present from Mary who knows me too well. The photo album is a collection of wedding pics from the summer, taken from the vast number Flickred of the occasion - thanks to all who took them! The books? The new R.S.Thomas biography, "The Man who went into the West", Richard Holloway's "How to read the Bible", Andrew O'Hagan's novel "Be Near Me" and "Landmarks:an Ignatian Journey" by Margaret Silf. I shall perhaps blog about these when I've read them.

You will also notice the boxed set of DVDs of the wonderful "Rome" soap which I desired after seeing it last year, and a pair of amazingly comfy earphones for my iPod: I have tiny ears which complain hotly if I try to force the usual ones to stay in safely. These little beauties are Sennheisers, which cut out a great deal of noise and have graded rubber adjuster rings so that you can have different-sized ear-holes and still use them!

And the mask? A lovely Venetian one for when I've been drinking too much, perhaps ...really very flattering.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

And all was for an Apple .......

I sent a letter to Apple today - the final act, I hope, in my latest internet saga. It accompanied the Airport which arrived yesterday to replace the one I have which turned out not to need replaced. I post it here to make me feel better.
Case Number : ********

I am returning the new Airport Base Station which you sent in response to a phone call in the week before Christmas. Please note that this is the new Base Station rather than the one which I have been using for the past two and a half years. It has not even been removed from its packaging. The reasons for this are as follows:

Three weeks ago my printer stopped responding to “print” commands, despite the fact that it was still operating as a printer and had new ink cartridges. As I had neither the time nor the expertise to work out what had gone wrong, I called in a so-called local “expert”. After some time he pronounced that the printer was faulty. However, a new printer fared no better and we managed to return it. At this point I was still connected to the Internet through the Base Station.

Our “expert” now phoned your help line, as I have a Protection Plan. After several hours on the phone, and conversations with, I understand, two of your experts, it was decided that the Airport was faulty and should be replaced. By this time I no longer had any internet connection on my laptop, as the Apple advice had been to change all the settings and these settings were left in such a state that I could make no sense of what had happened. (I should point out that I am not entirely witless in this department, and had set up the entire system myself on purchase.)

And so it was that on the Wednesday before Christmas I was awaiting a replacement Airport, had no internet connection and could not print. The next day my son arrived for a few days and within half an hour had fixed the entire network so that everything was once more working perfectly. Hence the return of the replacement Airport.

Your telephone help in this case turned out to be telephone hindrance, I’m afraid, and left us considerably worse off than we had been. Perhaps the routine questions they ask in this kind of case should be reviewed – or are they on rails like all other call centre operatives?

I should add, perhaps, that I spoke to a very sensible young man at Apple this morning - I suspect that their customer service bods are better than their hapless helpline ones.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A fiery Christmas

Having recovered from yesterday, I feel moved to share with anyone still sad enough to boot up their bloglines on Boxing Day a glimpse of the culinary splendour at The Blethers yesterday. I was a tad concerned that Metaxa might not burn as spectacularly as the usual cooking brandy (rather like Larkin's "washing sherry") but behold: a veritable conflagration. It tasted amazing too.

You can find the original of this, and several other photos of over-indulgence, at Christmas 2006 from edublogger. I was too busy being a domestic goddess again to do much snapping - unless the snapping at said Edublogger for getting in the way counts. But harmony reigns at The Blethers this morning, and I've almost managed to clean the spatters of turkey gravy from the interior of the fridge (don't ask). Now I intend to drink some coffee and indulge in an old-fashioned pastime.

I'm going to read a book.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Bird of dawning

Every year around 10pm on Christmas Eve I think I won't survive the combination of cooking and church, and every year the delight of it all takes over. Last night, Mr B and I stuffed the turkey - rescued from the shed, where it had reposed since Saturday, there being no room in the fridge - and headed out to Midnight Mass. The church was lit entirely by candles apart from the red overhead heaters, and seemed to be full of young people - all former pupils - back home for the holiday. The holy smoke was the best I've seen in years, and the coughers surpassed themselves.The excellent innovation of sherry at the back of the church afterwards soon sorted them out.

Here's another wee quotation for the virtual mars bar hunters:
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
Last night I finally went to bed at 3am, and outside my window a bird was singing - not the neurotic oyster-catchers down on the shore, where the lights on the promenade confuse the poor things into squeaking all night, but a real, singing bird whose song continued until I was past listening. Coincidence?

Brilliant anyway.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


After my Scrooge-like grumblings about badly-behaved weans and pathetic parents, I have to redress the balance by reporting that in our church this morning there were four children, visiting their grandma, of whose presence I knew only because I'd seen them on the way in. Two wee boys and a six year old girl behaved impeccably throughout and then joined in with a will as the entire congregation set about decorating the Advent-bare church for Christmas.

This relatively minor incident made me hopeful once more - hopeful that there are still parents who can bring up their children to behave appropriately in whatever situation they may find themselves. I don't even need to grump at David about it!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yule Tide maunderings

Well well. Seems we poor bloggers have been banned by Argyll and Bute because we use Blogger. Apparently the reason given is "sex". I have a sneaking feeling that perhaps iGear can't spell - it could be the "...gger" bit that gets the cyber-masters hot under the collar, or wherever else they feel the heat. Never mind. Presumably someone out there will continue to look in from time to time.

I do hope so, because I've just published a new poem over at frankenstina. It arose from that chilly visit to Edinburgh last week, and is dedicated to my pals Marilyn and Fraser. (Forgot to put that in the title - shall rectify some day!)

In the meantime, if you haven't received a card from The Blethers please blame my computer problems - my address list is in a label page file and the system flipped just before I printed them off. On this Yule Day (apparently it's today) I wish all non-Christians a Happy Yule , and the rest of you a happy and blessed Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Geeks and Goddesses

The Domestic Goddess decided that today merited a premature tasting of the cake iced yesterday, in celebration of the visit of a real computer expert and the subsequent recovery of all we had thought lost: two fully functioning computers, wireless connection to the printer and an apparently hale Airport base station. This wizardry took him all of half an hour, during which he seemed to be attending to his own mails as well. Now we just have to deal with the new Airport which the less-than-expert persuaded Apple we required and which is even now winging its way, fog permitting, to The Blethers. Silly thing is that the Apple Help Desk people seem to have compounded the confusion with their assistance. This is less than comforting when one is less than gifted in the geekery department - from whence cometh mine aid now?

And I suppose the answer is along these lines: why breed experts and then ask someone else? So sorry, chaps - let's just hope there are no more probs for a bit. Right now I feel a tad pathetic - but I can report that the cake tastes brilliant, gritty snow icing and all. So, unlikely a role as it may seem, I'm staying a Domestic Goddess for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trials of a Domestic Goddess (1)

Slipping briefly (I hope) into DG role, I wish to share, gentle readers, the trials of icing the Christmas Cake in this, the Year of Our Lord 2006. The (1) in the title represents a superstitious gesture to the jealous gods who would doubltess heap more trials on my head if I even suggested there would be no more.

What I have to tell you will make most sense if you can remember snow in Glasgow - or some similar city - in the 1950s. ( I know this rules out all but a minority of the bloggership, but bear with me) Snow used to lie. For weeks. Shopkeepers would brush "their" bit of pavement, jannies would spoil good slides in the playground by putting salt on them, but given a decent, pre-global warming cold spell in January, the snow would remain, turning gradually a strange fawn colour and changing texture as it thawed and refroze, so that it resembled demerara sugar in its discoloured graininess.

Why am I telling you this? Because that's what my cake is like. It is no longer possible to buy in Dunoon the unrefined icing sugar which is the preferred taste at The Blethers. So this afternoon, having forgotten to look for the stuff when abroad in Edinburgh, I made my own. Unrefined granulated sugar in the coffee grinder. The kitchen filled with puffs of sugar, the bowl with a pale fawn dust with bits in it. By the time I'd ground a pound of the stuff, I had lost the will to be fussy. And then I added a couple of drops of 33 year old glycerine. I know this because I've had the same bottle since my first cake, when I was expecting infant number one. I think glycerine keeps.....And so it is, best beloved, that we shall have a cake iced with the snow of childhood, crunchy bits and all.

And just a faint aroma of coffee......

Monday, December 18, 2006

A sour note

I promised (threatened?) to post about that child at the carol concert the other night. I owe it to myself, let along anyone else, to get on with it. So, for starters: there was a child at the carol concert. He was, I'd say, four at most - could have been a largish three. He was sitting maybe five rows from the front, next to a woman who might well have been his grandmother. His parents were there too, but took very little interest in him or what he was up to. He had with him a set of antlers, a blanket, a soft toy and a small car. He was surrounded by adults who had paid for the best tickets in the auditorium and who presumably wanted to enjoy the exqusite and finely-balanced singing of Cappella Nova.

This child was bored about fifteen minutes before the concert began. He was obviously physically uncomfortable on the seat and growing tired and irritable. The result was that he wriggled about, wrapped himself in the blanket, waved the toy in the air, made faces and then began to communicate with Grandma. When she tried to shush him, he pinched her arm with some vigour. He was so obviously past it that I began to hope that his hapless father might remove him at the interval - but no. There they were, back again, the child still carrying on, the parents still resolutely ignoring him. At last, Grandma managed to get him settled in a semi-recumbent postition across her lap, and he fell asleep.

Now there are some things to be clear about here. This was a concert, not a church service - that's another can of worms altogether, and one I'll leave for now. People had paid for their seats and had to put up with this distraction for three quarters of the concert. It was doing the child no good whatsoever; in fact I wouldn't be surprised if the experience put him off choral music for life. He was heard to whine at one point "I don't like this music" - that was when he was writhing on the floor with his fingers in his ears. So why was he there?

Presumably because his parents were too selfish to decide that one of them should stay at home and put the child to bed where he belonged, or too idle to arrange a babysitter, or too egocentric and lacking in imagination to see how unsuited the event was for such a young child. They had the comfortable look of people accustomed to their surroundings, but seemed completely unable to deal with their own offspring. I personally believe that children need to be introduced to adult events only when they are of an age and a stage in their development where they will not spoil things for everyone around them - and this includes church services (I can feel hackles rising in cyberspace already). Parents have no right to inflict the delights of family life on everyone else; it's their choice and they should realise the limitations which parenthood bring - and the responsibilities.

Meanwhile, well done Grandma for trying, and thumbs down to a couple of parents who are raising a petulant child for others to teach. But then, they'll not have the imagination to understand that either.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Primus on Civil Partnerships.

I was intending to discuss the child cryptically mentioned two posts ago, but have put that off to say hurrah! for Bishop Idris Jones, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, for his statement reported in today's Sunday Herald. The debate over civil partnerships in Scotland has led him to want to speak publicly about the fact that the different Christian denominations hold very different views on non-traditional relationships, a fact largely ignored by the public as a whole. The Roman Catholic Church is firmly against civil partnerships, a postition "unaltered and rock solid", and it now seems likely that a majority view in the Church of Scotland will go the same way.

However, said +Idris, "that is not where we are as a church", pointing out that "there are many Christians who think that the legislation on civil partnerships is appropriate and an enlightened policy that should be supported." The RC church and the C of S apparently declined to comment on his statement.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Purple Advent .....

This photo of the Advent Wreath in Holy Trinity Church, Dunoon, in the diocese of Argyll and The Isles, is specially featured for the instruction of those who favour red berries and - shudder - red candles for Advent. I have already made my feelings in the matter clear on Kelvin's blog, where a wonderfully abstruse theological argument is currently raging.

I love a church where the big issues have their place, don't you?

Clydeside Christmas?

A late start this morning after a late night - going to concerts in Glasgow tends to mean the midnight ferry and subsequent reviving with cups of tea before bed is possible. We were at Cappella Nova's 20th Carols by Candlelight, in the Barony Hall, an occasion which the choir marked by singing a selection of requests from past concerts and commissioning a new carol.

This year the new piece was an arrangement by John McIntosh (Mr B) of Dave Whyte's Clydeside Christmas Eve, with words by poet Donny O'Rourke - a gentle, questioning piece for an age in which "Faith's candle's going out". The choir sang it beautifully, making the hair stand on end with the sonorous "We still have faith in beauty" and the alto solo's (Alexander L'Estrange) quiet "When all that's certain is our doubt" and the audience reaction left us in no doubt that this was a hit.

It was good to meet Dave and Donny - we were all sitting in a row, rather splendidly - though rather strange to be so aware of the intense listening to the performance on either side of me. I need a replay - it'd be good to have a new CD, Cappella Nova! The hall was packed, and by some miracle of the loaves and fishes order it seemed as if almost everyone present managed to acquire a mince pie and mulled wine in the hectic interval.

Other memories? The lovely St Petersburg Baroque Brass Quintet, complete with antlers and rabbit ears (don't ask), John Tavener's "The Lamb", the chance to sing with the choir in the Carols for All moments. There was also a child - but I'll leave that for another post.

A great evening of great singing and considerable bonhomie. Just what should happen at this time of year, in fact!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

From the ridiculous to the sublime..

I have a confession to make. I have, in the midst of trying to be up to speed with Christmas cards and puddings (damn - I meant to do something about them this evening!), wasted enough time to gain the certificate pictured here. In the spirit of sharing and of educational enlightenment, may I direct any who haven't tried it already to the elf movie, where you chuck snowballs at a number of inanely-grinning elves. If you hit Santa - laudably dressed as St Nicholas in a scarlet chasuble - you are reprimanded and Santa protests. There is one wee elf of indeterminate age who grunts if hit, but he tends to be elusive. The sound effects are repetitive and infuriating and I can't think why I laboured to reach the expertise needed to succeed. I hope I encourage someone out there to join me in this nonsense.

On a more wholesome note, I made a barley loaf today. If that's what they had to eat at the feeding of the five thousand then jolly good it might have been. But of course there was more to it than that ....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas medley, anyone?

Just back from a visit to Edinburgh - a heady mix of a stay with dear friends, a meeting of the Lay Learning committee of the SEC and a visit to the German Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens, where I took this rather low-quality pic on my phone. I would have had my camera had it not been for the horizontal rain on a snell wind as we left the car; actually we had a sufficiently long splash of dry to glug down a mug of scalding gluwein at the market stall and feel suddenly much cosier. We were not, however, tempted by the big wheel - it looked decidedly shoogly to me, and a sure ringer for a bout of hypothermia.

And the Lay Learning? I have much to debrief on this one, but came away thinking about the balance between content and delivery systems in any sphere of learning. There's a debate into which I stuck a toe over on John Connell's blog which threw me into reflecting further on this; the tension between knowledge and the communicating of same is complicated by the problem of having to engage with an audience which, unlike school pupils, can turn away and demonstrate only indifference - even harder to deal with than hostility. And the problem of sentences like that last one is that one loses the will to live ploughing through them - could do better, Blethers!

On a lighter note, a thought about Christmas carols. As we skelped home through the incipient floods on the M8 we listened to a sampler CD of new carols. After one particularly ebullient offering, we were struck by a mental image of the Christ-child, square-faced and open-mouthed, wailing inaudibly as the heavenly hosts gave it laldy over the manger. Makes you realise how very good are some of the by now classic arrangements - a case of content not matching delivery systems in many of the new ones.

We made it home in tempest, storm and wind - another quote for the carolophile!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Celebrating Advent

Today was the Second Sunday in Advent. It rained, relentlessly. The borders in our garden were flooded and we had to wade through a massive puddle to reach the car. The wind blew ominously, making us fear for the ferries again. And yet, among all this wildness, we have had the most wonderful day.

For the first time in many years, we had a proper Advent Carol Service in Holy Trinity Church, Dunoon. I was one of a group of singers drawn from our church and St Paul's, Rothesay, a group small enough and expert enough to make great sounds together and goodness, we enjoyed the experience. Our visiting singers weren't deterred or stranded by the weather, and were followed by a group of parishioners from Rothesay, so that even on a day like this there was a congregation of 50 in the candlelit gloom. The water poured into the vestry and the back of the nave; buckets slithered on the wet floor; the draughts swept down from the tower and into the choir - but there were candles everywhere, the silences were full of the anticipation of the season, and the atmosphere was electric.

We are so blessed in the circumstances which have brought together Kimberly our new rector, Martin our singing bishop, some great readers and this wee choir - to say nothing of our organist, about whom I say less than most because he is also Mr Blethers. Our church may look scabby and leak horrendously; it may be stuck up a hill in the woods; we may have no money to do more than keep the heating on for an extra day to stave off hypothermia. But the inner fire is there, the spirit is alive, and I wouldn't have it otherwise for the world.

And our Rector makes fabby mulled wine!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Things that you can't buy ...

I may chuck something at the telly next time I see this ad - I pictured it in French as being less irritating for today, when I realised that there are mega problems associated with buying more than a Marks & Spencers' semmit with my MasterCard. It's a question of enhanced security making life difficult, not just when I tried to buy online tickets for internal flights in the US - understandable to think that someone had run off with my card there, I suppose - but today, when I tried to pay for the new telly in a local shop. That's the telly I'll be chucking things at ...

It seems that if you actually spend the amount of money that it actually would be inconvenient to have on your person, it's a problem. You can be there, have put in the correct PIN, have heard the retailer give your security numbers off the back of the card, be known personally by said retailer - who happens to own the business you're trying to pay - and still some lassie far, far away with the accent to match won't let you use the card unless you tell the retailer the first two letters of your private password so that he - not you - can pass it on. I refused to do this in a crowded shop where your business is everyone else's, so the deal was cancelled.

I then went home to a serious-sounding call-back message from my bank's security; a further 15 minutes passed before I could actually remonstrate with a real person with a Scottish accent. Apparently it was "such a big sum of money". I had no idea I was turning into a big spender - it didn't strike me as ferociously big bucks. And I'll have to go through the business of contacting them again before I go to the US because that'll be another new spending pattern.

I dunno. I guess I'll have to stuff dollars in my bra or something. Dead convenient. "For everything else there's MasterCard" - but only if it doesn't cost too much.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bonding with the new Bond

I've just enjoyed one of these days you retire for: morning coffee in Fazzi's in Glasgow, a visit to the big cinema (it keeps changing its name - was UCI) to see the new Bond film, and a late and bibulous lunch in Dino's. I have to say I enjoyed Casino Royale so much - more than any Bond movie since Doctor No, which I remember more than the guy who took me to see it in the early '60s.

This film has shed all the smoothie humour of the Roger Moore days and the growing reliance on gadgets and fancy transport, and has reverted to a much more physical style, as well as sticking much more closely to the original book, especially in the key scenes. The violence is ...very violent. Bond doesn't emerge from conflict with a smirk on his face and barely a smudge on his tux; he goes through clean shirts at a terrifying rate and sits in the shower wearing his second dinner suit of the evening after a memorable death-fest in a stairwell. The baddie is wonderfully unpleasant and has an eye problem that fair puts mine in the shade. I particularly enjoyed the fact that nearly all the technology used - by goodies and baddies alike - was familiar to me: mobile phones featured greatly, as did laptops, SMS and Photoshop. The only thing they didn't seem to do was keep a blog - but I don't suppose there was much time for blogging. Maybe M (Judi Dench) blogged on her bedside computer.....

The best bit about the film, however, is the lovely Daniel Craig (pictured). He has all you need in a Bond - blue eyes, reluctant but totally charming smile, and a body. (I'm being really, really restrained here). He does a great deal of running - see the photo - and there is a wonderful sequence near the start of the film in which he runs his socks off in pursuit of one of these amazing free runners. We see how Bond acquires his 00 status, and there is a suggestion that his later attitude towards women may evolve from what happens to him in this, the film of the first of Ian Fleming's Bond books. There is also an interesting reversal of the usual Bond/girl formula - the girl in question isn't the usual eye candy, which Bond undoubtedly is.

I'll stop there. I don't want to discourage my male readers. Just see it - preferably in a proper cinema. They even play the right tune at the end. Great stuff!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Achievers, huh?

Just came across this site, where I find one of my offspring recorded as having achieved something. (Where is the other one, I find myself asking indignantly - and it's not a wiki so I can't do anything to it). However, rather than dwell on this minor irritant, I find myself considering other FPs of our local school - the ones who will not be considered as having achieved anything much, ever. I had an interesting encounter with three of these former customers of mine today, as I returned from an equally interesting trip to Glasgow. The first two were in the Cal Mac waiting room; I had sat down fairly near them before clocking who they were.

The one who hailed me first was half cut, and swigged from a half-empty bottle of Buckie in between remarks - mostly friendly but excessively loud - which soon had the attention of every concession ferry passenger in the room. (The non-rush-hour traffic is mostly made up of old people. Like me.) He had acquired a villainous-looking scar down his cheek since I last saw him, and became alarmingly verbose within minutes. His pal, who had been in my class for years, was obviously embarrassed and eager to tell me that he himself was working hard at college and doing well, that I would be proud of him. When the drunken one went out for a smoke, the other apologised for the disturbance and seemed eager to show that he was civilised and adult and pleased to see me again.

The third lad was in the saloon when I boarded, working on diagrams in a college log-book. He was friendly, natural and proud of the work he was doing, which he was pleased to show me. Enjoyable company, in fact. He had obviously matured beyond the stage where he needed to prove himself with macho posturing or hide his embarrassment behind giggles and whispered remarks. The nadir of the afternoon came when I found myself wheeling on the drunken one and telling him not to use language such as he was shouting in my hearing. I'd been jolted out of my "normal person" mode and back into school-think. An old lady looked alarmed, but Buckfast Boy stepped back, hands spread: "Sorry, Miss. Sorry."

I relate all this partly to make sense for myself of the mindset of a boy like this. He was a nuisance in school, and he's now skiving college and annoying more powerful thugs who carved his face for him. He's about to acquire what his pal called "an ankle bracelet". As Shakespeare would say, "His eyes were set at three o' the afternoon". He told me he's going to grow up soon - but into what? All he seems to have learned is that I was not someone to mess with - and that's not going to see him far, is it?

And the visit to Glasgow? Very pleasant - lunch with
David to make up for distractions at Teach Meet 06 meant interesting conversation before I headed for the train.

And he paid - thanks, David!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ben Gunn without the cheese

Well, that was quite a weekend! This photo of The Cathedral of The Isles, taken during Friday's lull in the frightful weather, gives no notion of the rattling slates, creaking roof timbers, guttering candles and flooded coastal roads that were to follow, nor of the fact that we would be stranded on Cumbrae by the storm and feel that by Sunday we were escaping by the skin of our teeth as we bumped across on the recently-restored Cumbrae ferry link which had been off earlier in the day. (We also had an interesting ride on the Western ferry from McInroy's point, travelling stern-first through the darkness as the sea washed down the length of the car deck, engulfing the cars at roof-height in a white-out of water and spray).

As for the weekend? We were there to sing in the Advent Carol service, and there were choristers stranded who had to be in London today (Monday), so we were not alone in our anxieties. But there was another sense in which we - four of us who've sung together in the cathedral since 1968 - were on our own, and that was in the experience stakes. By now, the rest of the choir seems to be made up largely of singers young enough to be our weans, and the result for me at least is a mix of smugness and irritation. Smugness because we've done it so often that we know exactly what's required, read like pros and don't wander off in mid-piece; irritation because we were surrounded by sopranos with the voices of angels and lowly sight-reading skills and an operatic bass who had never sung in a choir before and who tended not to watch the conductor. I was quite ratty by the time the performance began (who? moi?), so the spiritual dimension was somewhat lacking, though I did manage to fit in a quiet afternoon of study (1st Samuel, anyone?) before the singing began.

I'm ratty again right now because I still can't post my photos as I want to, and lost a first version of this because of it. But there's the usual virtual Mars Bar for the first to spot the point of the title of this post.