Saturday, March 31, 2007

Off again

As at this time last year, I'm about to abandon the blogosphere for a bit and return to the less virtual (but I hope virtuous) occupation of singing. The photo is of where we'll be tomorrow afternoon, singing Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus for a joint Palm Sunday Eucharist with the congregations of St Martin's, Tighnabruaich and St Paul's, Rothesay. As there is not actually a Piskie church building in Tighnabruaich, services are held in Kames Parish Church, of which this is the bell-tower.

After that we're off to Cumbrae again, to my favourite cathedral, where we shall have three days of singing and contemplation. At least, I hope there will be time for the latter; musicians have ways of seducing one into "one more run through ...". Me, I like to quite while we're ahead.

And in case that all seems too holy for words, I'm taking Christopher Brookmyre's All Fun and Games until Someone Loses an Eye to finish - if I can keep my eyes open, that is.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Savage cuts

I don't know. Savaged by a cat and derided by her and her friends I take refuge in the comfort of food, like many a poor soul before me. I post this picture - and it's not all haze, though I think I was a little close for my phone to cope: it was steaming appetizingly - simply to show off the wonderful, glossy black pasta (flavoured and cloured by squid ink) which inspired me to do toothsome things with salmon and baby broad beans. And garlic. Oh, and creme fraiche and lemon juice.

Before that I was once more savaging our hydrangeas - and I realise from this post that I'm almost a month earlier than last year, so they'll maybe die off. Am I bovvered? These bushes were old when we bought this house over 30 years ago and there are days when I hate them. And how, pray, can I make them a more interesting colour than a muddy white? (Practical solutions only, please)

I think I need another holiday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Handy reminders

This is the rather splendid crest of Clan Mackintosh, into which, give or take a few spelling changes, I married more years ago than I care to remember. The motto, in plain English, means "Don't touch the cat without wearing a glove", and I have always taken it to mean that Mackintoshes are prickly sorts who need careful handling. Not today. Today, I was on Molly duty. Molly, as some of my readers will understand, is the Rectory cat, and she was requiring to be fed while her human was away. To cut a longish story painfully short, she bit me. I admit it was probably an instinctive move on both sides - I moved too quickly to rescue some papers she had skited to the floor, and she moved even more quickly to defend her territory. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you ....

As a result of this mishap, I have had my tetanus shot updated. They asked at the surgery how long it had been. "More than five years," I replied, airily. Turned out I last had a shot in 1989. Tempus fugit an' that. And they don't just give you a tetanus jab now - it's combined with diphtheria and polio inoculations. But I was glad to take precautions - I have a dear friend currently suffering from septicaemia as a result of a gardening injury to a finger. I imagine he wasn't wearing gloves either.

And another finger story - this time of amazing dexterity. I knew the days of questioning the use of mobile phones in education were numbered when my pupil whipped out her phone today to call her dad. She can touch-text. I've never seen someone text as quickly as I can type while conducting a conversation and looking at me, not the phone. I was dead impressed. I just hope her thumb can stand the pace.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Be near me

This photo, one of a series I took in Tighnabruaich today, has nothing to do with tonight's blog post - I just like it. But I thought I'd mention the book I've just finished reading:Be Near Me, by Andrew O'Hagan. A beautifully written novel, it begins lightly, with gently humorous dialogue, but develops its own tragic momentum. I loved it - and the teacher in me began to think that this is a book which would reward study at more than one level.

The obvious angle for me, I suppose, is that it would make a great text for a Personal Study at Higher level - not just a good plot to discuss, not just an interesting structure, but written with such loving care for language and imagery as to create delight in its craftsmanship. But the more recent educator, the one who wants to encourage people in churches to think imaginatively about the experiences of those they regard as outsiders, sees in this book a way in - a hero who engages our sympathy as he gradually reveals his early life.

Educational or not, it's a thoroughly good book. And it'll soon be out in paperback!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Passion in Oban

Driving home from Oban yesterday, as the dusk fell after a wonderful sunset (pictured over Oban bay), we talked about Bach's Passion according to St John, a performance of which we had just heard. And it was a good performance, with the Glasgow Chamber Choir in fine form, an orchestra with some super players in it - that cello continuo! - and some moving solos. Martin's Christus was electrifying - real hair-raising moments - and in a way it was this compelling performance which made me think about the whole story of the passion.

You see, there is a good bit of music still to come after the final words of Jesus - "It is accomplished". (OK - it was in German, but I know the story). And for me, that was too much. It was an anti-climax. I wanted it to end there - maybe a chorale, softly, but nothing more. This is what always happens, and in a way, it's what happens in the Bible too. The Passion narrative is so gripping, so enormous, that what comes after is hard to deal with. And that's me now, 2,000 years on. What must it have been like at the time?

Of course, if the disciples had drifted off in tears after the crucifixion and had left it at that, I wouldn't be where I am now. None of us would. But whatever happened to them - and I don't know what happened any more than anyone else does, not really - it changed them. They were inspired to go out and tell the story, and the story's still being told. And it's that, rather than speculation about what became of the body of Jesus, which convinces me that the resurrection is real. Because otherwise the Holy Week events, the Passion, would be the end. We'd drift out, in silence.

But instead, the music goes on.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


At the end of a perfect spring day, with nary a cloud in the sky, I am left pondering the risky life of the pheasant. We were walking along Loch Striven this afternoon, where pheasants are raised for sport and fed from sinister-looking drums on legs tucked invitingly among the silver birch trees by the loch. Pheasants invite a mixture of hilarity and pity as they scuttle along in the manner of a speed walker determined to keep one foot in contact with the ground at all times. You feel like yelling at them: "You're a bird. Fly, dammit!" - and then they do, whirring out of the undergrowth with heart-attack inducing suddenness.

I thought of these birds, thinking food comes from blue drums, living among their friends in the sunshine, loving and begetting and doing what they do (sorry - I'm misquoting a poem here) - only to be shot and eaten come the season. And I felt sorry for them - briefly. Because I eat meat. And these birds, as Mr B sapiently observed, have much more fun playing chicken with the cars than any chicken in a battery - or even free ranging.

But enough of this bucolic rambling. Tomorrow we head off to Oban to hear Bishop Martin sing the part of Christus in the St John Passion, in his own cathedral. Neat, that.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Joys of Spring

Not one of my best efforts, this photo, but full of Spring nonetheless, in the ?person? of a scarpering bee, which until I approached with my phone was busily doing what bees do in the catkins whose furriness matched his/her own. (I think I ought not to anthropomorphise a bee, but once you start ...) Anyway, it was a glorious afternoon; the temperature climbed, albeit briefly, into double figures, and I found myself tempted to enjoy the late afternoon sun with a little pruning. Bad move. The sun sets and you're left chilled and stabbed with tiny prickles as you collect the debris. But I feel that pruning is something that lets you be outside purposefully at this time of year - maybe one of the reasons why I don't do it in November.

It was a good day in another way. The young woman who was at the checkout in the supermarket (a) packed my bags as she scanned them through (this happens elsewhere, but seldom in our local) and (b) told me that I was responsible for her wanting to write. She'd been in my class at some point - I could remember her, but recall a sullen indifference, studiously maintained. Now she's a smiling and helpful person with the confidence to pay a spontaneous compliment. Some days I used to moan that teaching was a mug's game. Not today.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Guid gear .....?

Holy Trinity church I sometimes wonder, as a member of a very small congregation with a picturesque but chilly building in which to worship, what it must be like to belong to a city church. A church, say, on a busy main road at the heart of a city in the Central Belt, a city with a cosmopolitan population and a university or two. I have never belonged to such a church, my arrival as a Christian corresponding with my arrival in the sticks.

On Monday evening I was invited to join the Lent study group in a church with which I do have a strong connection, St Michael and All Saints', Edinburgh. I am used to groups of between five and seven, I suppose, and we can't meet in the church as we'd be hypothermic within half an hour; we meet in the Rectory. So here was the first difference: we met in the side chapel and the church was warm. There was a faint suggestion of incense in the air. But there wasn't a huge crowd - I'd say nine, of whom two were clergy. So I felt very much at home, and enjoyed myself immensely.

So: is it the case that there will always be a small core of people in any church who will turn out to learn and to examine - to think not only about scripture but about their response to it? Or are there indeed congregations which swarm in great numbers to extracurricular activities? I'm talking Scotland here - the USA is quite another kettle of Pisces. (Pun)

Responses welcome - that is not a rhetorical question!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lay Learning - and bothering

I spent today at the General Synod Offices in Edinburgh, at a meeting of the Lay Learning Group. The composition of this small committee varies round a core, but the main point is that all but one of the dioceses are represented and we all feell we have our contribution to make. I always feel I'm more of a consumer than a provider, but realise after today's meeting that there's some work on the horizon as we plan a possible learning event in the autumn.

At this point the finer points are but a gleam in +Brian's eye, but there's an exciting buzz about this which I can only hope will grow louder.

And in one of these interesting side-tracks which always enliven a meeting, I learned of how people in one diocese had "decided not to bother" with the Lambeth-inaugurated Listening Process. I wonder if "bothering" should perhaps be a given for Christians - a sine qua non of our calling. Any thoughts?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Edgar remembered

Some time while we were away, the inscription that marks our friend Edgar’s grave was added to his wife’s headstone. It is, I suppose, fitting that such an unassuming man should be remembered so baldly, and I know that this is probably how he wanted things done. But this is what I would say, had I a very large stone and an army of stonemasons to do my bidding:

Edgar. Erudite, witty, and very, very Scottish. Singer of songs, teller of tales. A prodigious memory made him master of the unwritten sermon, delivered with humour, wisdom and the specs in the hand to drive home the point. A priest who celebrated at the altar with dignity and care, who in his later years would sing at the top of his voice, hands aloft, for the sheer joy of his faith. A “black crow” in severe clericals who celebrated his last Eucharist in a Hawaiian shirt. A teacher, who extended his pastoral care to his pupils when he changed his life’s course to help others. A keen mind which mastered the use of Web 2.0 technology in his 70s and used it with glee. A man who faced his last illness with dogged courage and undaunted faith.

Loved by members of Holy Trinity Church, Dunoon and St Paul’s Rothesay, his last congregations in Scotland. Missed by his friends but alive in their memories.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Keeping mum

After all these remarks about old boots, I thought I'd show one of the perks of old bootdom (old boothood?) with a pic of these rather gorgeous flowers which came at lunchtime for Moi, materfamilias, Magna Mater (trying to become less magna but failing - especially as the flowers were accompanied by fabby chocolates). There was also a card positively exhorting me to eat chocolate; my offspring clearly don't give a fig for my increasing dimensions.

In connection with the above, I did a foolish thing last week and succumbed to a half-price offer from Amazon of ...Weight Watcher scales. Happily, in view of the chocolate, they are a contraption of such baffling complexity that to use them, as recommended, first thing in the morning is out of the question. For a start, you have to program in your user number and code (this presumably to stop Mr B finding out my grim secrets), then push the scale gently in the centre, then leap on before it changes its mind and returns you to the clock. And then - wait for it - if your feet are too dry, dear reader, it says triumphantly "error" - or rather "err" - and back you go to the clock again. So you need to have lightly moisturised (or slightly sweaty) feet or the gemme's a bogey. But I'm not about to become fixated on my weight with all that hoo-hah each time, and that's for sure.

And just for Neil: I've uploaded the pic in such a way to allow for text-wrap. See thae purists?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Boot camp

New boots
I made an alarming discovery today. I think there is only one make of walking boot in the western world which fits me. Living in the boondocks as I do, and having a tendency to walk in all weather and preferably off-road, I wear my walking boots probably every day – unless, as today, I go to Glasgow and spend money. And part of the expenditure – the biggest single item – was a pair of Brasher Hillmaster boots. Ladies’ boots. I bought the same model of boot four years ago, and they have now turned up their toes, so so speak, and died. The soles are thin and the tread worn, but worse than that is the fact that the uppers are cracked across the middle, so that if it rains (I know this doesn’t happen often here – huh) I have wet feet without walking through a burn or sinking into mud.

Anyway, off I went to Tiso’s in Glasgow. The shop was quiet and the young man who served me attentive, so I tried on several other boots which he thought might meet my needs. All the same size (a whole size bigger than normal) and supposedly the same spec. And they were all excruciating – too tight, too stiff – you name it. I felt like Goldilocks. And so it was that I bought the same boot as last time. Only this time it’s got a Goretex lining, so presumably will be even better.

But right now, I’m going to mourn the old ones. RIP.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Food for thought?

Rather self-indulgently, I want to share the vision of the trout we ate tonight. No, I don't fish - but we have a great fish van which comes on a Wednesday, and these beauties were firm, shiny and smelled of the sea rather than fishy. Their flesh was almost salmon-coloured, rather than the rather insipid pink I associate with lesser trout, and the flavour, after grilling with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and capers, was to die for.

And before that I was delighted to learn that one of my private Higher English students has benefited from the work we did on preparing her to write her Personal Study under exam conditions. She passed this particular NAB first go - a tribute to the important place of organisation and prior discussion in helping pupils with their critical analysis of a text they haven't been taught. I have a feeling that not enough time is spent on this, and yet it's something that weaker students can do well in, even if a traditional "closed book" exam leaves them struggling.

I think I deserved that trout.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Borg and Byrd, inter alia

Night ferry
Yesterday was wonderfully full, beginning with a swim at 7.30am and ending - well, the activity ended - on this deserted ferry at 7.40pm. In between I'd discussed Borg's "The God we never Knew" in a group and travelled to Rothesay to rehearse Byrd's "Ave Verum Corpus" and Tomkins' "When David Heard". My idea of a good day, that.

I sometimes think there should be a bridge at the Colintraive Ferry, as the crossing takes just long enough for us to stroll from one end of the car deck to the other, where we disembark. Carless, we aged types do it for free, but need to be met or catch a bus of whose timetable I am ignorant. Still, it's a good place to be on a day like yesterday.

I'm pleased to see so much comment on yesterday's guest blog; I hope Hugh might respond when he gets back to his PC.

Note: "Borg" here does not refer to robotic creatures in a cube in space.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Guest Blog

I'm having a first today: a guest blog entry from my friend Hugh on the subject of the new marriage liturgy for the Scottish Episcopal Church. One of the drawbacks of the Diocesan Synod was the shortage of time to discuss any of the issues covered, with the result that anyone with a point they wished to make was inevitably hustled to fit into a very restricted timescale. I asked Hugh to present his take on the new rite in the form he would wish it to be considered, and it is this written version that I am publishing here:

May I firstly make clear where my own personal stand is regarding the background debate on human sexuality.

I have no difficulty with Civil Partnerships. Indeed I welcome them as giving legal rights to those of the same gender in committed relationships, comparable to those who are married (that is as husband and wife.) I welcome too that they are now openly able to acknowledge their relationships. I do not know what form a civil partnership takes. I presume that there is an exchange of vows comparable to those in marriage. I am equally supportive of those of the same gender who would wish to make these vows in church and in the context of a service of blessing.

What I do not like is changing the meaning of words to accommodate different situations. The word ‘Marriage’ should retain its ancient meaning – the union of a man and a woman. That is male and female. You might like to think about the language of a plumber, who speaks about ‘marriages’, ‘unions’ and ‘male and female connections’. You cannot plumb a house using the language of ‘civil partnership’.

However that little aside highlights the essential difference between Marriage and Civil Partnership. Marriage is fundamentally about Procreation. Civil Partnership is about Legal Rights. In both there are statements about commitment to the other. (I appreciate fully that there is a whole history of other baggage about that has obscured this.) Public perception is that Marriage and Civil Partnerships are about Romantic Love and that is where the confusion lies.

Marriage is about the potential to participate in creation with God in bringing to birth, quite literally, a new life. This is not the potential of a same gender partnership. (The nurture of a child natural or adopted is a different issue.) And before anyone speaks of the marriage of older people and ‘the potential for new life’ they should simply ponder centenarian Abraham and barren Sarah.

There is also another distinction between Marriage and Civil Partnerships. It is both Legal and theological. It is possible for a decree of Nullity to be declared regarding an unconsummated marriage. This can never be applied to a Civil Partnership.

Because of these differences we should not equate civil partnership with marriage. The Marriage Liturgy should therefore clearly embrace the images of gender, as in the older Rites, which speak of the ‘man and the woman’, ‘the bride and the bridegroom’ ‘husband and wife’. I have stated above that I have no difficulty with same gender partnerships, nor am I opposed to them be recognised in a in Liturgy designed for them. Indeed if that strengthens them in their Christian life it is to be welcomed.

Such a Liturgy should not however be synonymous with the Marriage Liturgy, which as it is at present has been so emasculated that it would be perfectly possible to be used without any reference to gender. And if the word ‘marriage’ were to be broadened in meaning, the Liturgy could be used without any change by a same sex partnership. (Parliament has defined same gender unions as Civil Partnerships and declined to use the word ‘marriage’.) I am saddened that some – not all by any means – same-sex couples demand the right to use that word. I request that they should show the same dignity and respect for heterosexual couples as they request of them. .

I am well aware that my beliefs regarding civil partnerships are not shared by all within the Scottish Episcopal Church and that there are huge tensions within the Anglican Communion. There is extreme pain and integrity at both extremes of the debate. Despite a member of the Liturgy Committee’s statement that the Marriage liturgy is ‘for the marriage of a man and a woman’, his statement still remains open ended and does no more to preclude the use of the service by same-sex couples than does the wording of the Liturgy itself. There then remains what I term a ‘Trojan Horse’.

Everything we do must be in conformity with the Gospel. We cannot proceed in the very delicate process of mutual understanding if there is any shadow of subterfuge, deceit, or manipulation. How we do things is just as important as what we do. I have explained above the distinction I make between Marriage and Civil Partnership. I make no distinction between the integrity of those in either relationship. We cannot proceed, however, with the listening process whilst there is the potential of a ‘Trojan Horse’. Trust is immediately undermined.

When the church comes to a common mind regarding same sex unions there will be no difficulty for an appropriate variation of the Marriage Liturgy being produced for that use. The Bishops could easily authorise it over night for experimental use.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Haute cuisine?

Overheard this afternoon in a local shop: "Two cold pies and a quarter of butternuts, please." The mind boggles at the thought of the gustatory bliss promised by these simple words .....

Note: Follow this link for further elucidation: I believe our American brethren have a different view of what a butternut might be.

Succinctly put

I have to thank blogger Mad Priest for publishing
this letter from John Spong on the subject of the current strains in the Anglican Communion. One sentence in particular struck a chord: I, for one, insist that truth always be placed above unity and I do not care to be a member of a Christian body that is mired in an unchallenged sickness called homophobia. Now, the church in Scotland is not currently so "mired" that it cannot extract its feet from the mud, and there is room for hope that we shall - to continue the metaphor - be able to march on our way unhindered. But right now there is work to be done. As Spong says, There are two kinds of ignorance in this world. One is the ignorance of not knowing. That kind of ignorance can always be remedied by simply getting the facts. The other kind of ignorance, however, is the ignorance of not knowing that you do not know. It is the job of those who know to teach those who do not, and we cannot afford to leave it to someone else.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Synod season again

And then you chop it up ....
I've been on my travels again. Two days, one night in Oban for the Argyll Diocesan Synod (ok - I know: The Isles as well - it's just such a fistful) felt like a much longer period. We covered so much and sat still for far longer than I find agreeable, and had no exercise other than oral - but then, anyone who goes to INSET days know just what I mean.

This is such a sparse diocese - I realised this week that there are fewer communicant members of the church than there are pupils in Dunoon Grammar School - and money, or the lack of it, looms large in all our dealings. I don't do well when people start waving balance sheets, but even I can see that we're going to have to find ways of doing church that are different from the days when people attended on a Sunday as a matter of course. And of course our synod is peculiarly our own, and all the more entertaining because of its peculiarities.

Actually, I had almost the last word in the proceedings, because I raised the question of the "listening process" called for at the last Lambeth Conference. There may be listening going on - the church taking on board the experiences of GLBT Christians - but I have been singularly unaware of any such thing in our neck of the woods. I was delighted by the reaction of some of the clergy after the synod ended even as I felt the daggers in my back from other quarters, and I felt a new hope that we might be on the verge of removing our collective heads from the sand and looking, however cautiously, at what the rest of the world is doing. Thing is, it seems so obvious: religion is surely humanity's response to God, but humanity is God's creation - so how dare we object if there are differences between us? We should be rejoicing in the diversity of creation and looking to benefit from the gifts of all.

And of course, if you're not religious none of this will matter two hoots. And that, friends, is our problem, not yours.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On further reflection...

After yesterday's post, which was written in haste after the long drive home and before I'd eaten, I felt I ought to enlarge slightly on my theme and sound rather less curmugeonly than I did. I am so aware at these gatherings that I have barely scratched the surface of technology, and that I have no more interest in knowing how an application works than I have in the bowels of my car. All I want is for it to work and fulfil some need in my life. But once I have found (or been shown, more like) such an application, I do have the skills to make other people like me enthusiastic, and this is what I felt was needed yesterday - unless, of course, a meeting of like minds means it's ok to mumble in a monotone because everyone'll be interested anyway.

Perhaps that's the problem. Current technology - and this'll be out of date even as I say it - enables global mass communication on a scale no-one could have dreamed of ten years ago. You don't need to talk to someone if you text them, or use IM, or post photos. Many blogs are not particularly well written, but if they contain info which you need you overlook the comma-splice and other unpleasantness. Unless you're someone like me, or my friend abf who comments in this parish. And people like me need to be brought on board, convinced that this is all good and useable stuff - and you don't want to put them off by inarticulate mumbling. Nor do you want to blind them with geekery, because for us arty-farty types it's a bit of a turn-off.

So come to the point, huh? I suppose it's this: everyone can't be as specifically gifted as some of the people I saw yesterday. But the skills which would complement such gifts, skills like being audible and audience-aware, can be learned, and there are people around who can teach them.

Let's hear it for Demosthenes!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Quietly enthusiastic?

Well, we found BarCamp, and we found Ewan and managed to snatch a few minutes of face-to-face conversation, although, as Ewan remarked, he was gaining a new understanding of what it was like to suffer from ADHD. To be fair, it wasn't really his fault that he couldn't concentrate for more than 30 seconds at a time - there were a great many people looking for his attention.

I wasn't around for long enough to hear much, but I was there for the "Mexican Wave" of self-introductions and heard some of a talk later. One thing struck me very powerfully. Here was a gathering of obviously luminously bright people, some of whom had great new ideas to share, some of whom wanted to impress potential customers - or employers. Yet one very basic and old-fashioned skill was notable, in far too many cases, by its absence. No matter how wired, no matter how skilled in exploiting technology, if you're introducing yourself to a group of any size there are two things to remember. You have to be audible, and you have to engage your audience's interest.

Presumably many of these people were young enough to have had to do a measure of Spoken English at school - but perhaps their teachers weren't careful enough in preparing them for this sort of thing. I couldn't hear the intros of more than half of those speaking, and several people would start ok and then lose it, as in "I'm Henry Kissinger and I'm interested in prom...... mumble mumble." Not much impact there. Words like "support", "diaphragm", "projection" and "pitch" come to mind.

And yes: you may have a fascinating project to share, but no-one, repeat no-one, is going to share your enthusiasm if you bumble about muttering at the computer while your audience stares at the screen, and then bore them all to sleep with the inner workings of your mystery. There are many, many unconverted people out there, and you need all the skills of the televangelist to get them on board.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Smelly trip east

Mr B and I are off to Edinburgh in the morning and will end up attending the Bar Camp Scotland event to hear some creative ideas to do with technology, marketing, cool tools and innovation, according to Ewan. Actually we're hoping also for a chance to chat , however briefly, to said Ewan, who is becoming more Scarlet Pimpernel-like with every day that passes. But after all the fun I've had as a result of meeting other bloggers on the other side of the Pond, I felt the omens were good.

Sadly, we'll be driving the extremely smelly little car we've had all week while our own is being rearranged, at great expense, after an encounter in December with a Range Rover. The RR was stationary and undamaged, but the wheel arch of the Megane was grievously crumpled. Be warned: this is the one bit of the Megane, apparently, which cannot simply be taken off and replaced. Instead, it is joined on to other vital bits, rather like the bit on your top lip which is really part of your nose.

The smelly courtesy car has obviously been courteous to a dog before we were given it, and now stinks of a heady mix of damp dog and Febreze. If you see a Volkswagen farting its way along the M8 in the rain with the windows open tomorrow, you'll know who it is.