Saturday, June 30, 2007

Back to earth with a bang

I knew I was going to find it difficult to return to Dunoon and all that that implied - two-way roads, yelling yoof in the night, rain that falls all day without respite - but hadn't thought of the additional burdens imposed by life in the 21st century. Before the rain set in, incidentally, it was a glorious night - the photo shows Oban as we sailed into the bay at 10pm last evening - and didn't actually grow dark at all, as I saw the last remnants of the sunset segue seamlessly into the dawn around 2.30am.

But this morning the first sound I heard after the alarm clock was the faint but unmistakeable noise made by an Orange Walk. This lamentable display has been a feature of the first day of the school hols for several years here; it takes place early, presumably to avoid confrontation, and this year it sounded like one drum and a couple of flutes. So as Northern Ireland at last shows signs of hope and cooperation, we know that there are still bastions of bigotry alive and well and fluting in Scotland. Great.

And then in the afternoon we hear that there has been a terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport. It would seem that this may have been carried out by people who were not, I imagine, Orangemen. Less harmful, maybe, just to bang a drum in a wee town's main road at nine in the morning. But banging the drum of bigotry is a dangerous game, and we live in dangerous times.

Friday, June 29, 2007


What a wonderful place. We waded through the last of the receding tide to get here, and walked to the Priory through glorious sun and larksong. I could almost wish to be marooned here - but shall soon leave. No monk, me.

Postscript: As I was unable to rotate the original photo (my phone developed a mind of its own under lack-of-network stress) I've replaced it with one from my camera. And I was noticing that I'd spelled "Oransay" rather than the more common "Oronsay" - perhaps because I was standing by the tomb of a long-dead laird of "Colonsay and Oransay".

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Great Northern in the rain

No picnic today - it keeps raining with a vigour we haven't seen since leaving home. So we ate here, one of the pleasant sitooteries in the hotel. Later we shall sally forth in search of (a)the bookshop and (b)a deserted village, so we'll doubtless be soaked again. But this morning we saw a Great Northern Diver in a lonely bay. Ever since I read Arthur Ransome's book at the age of 10 I've wanted to see one - and there it was, looking just like the picture on the cover. Fulfilment!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Taking the old road

This pic shows the Standing Stones beside the old road which runs from behind the hotel over the hills to Colonsay House. We were aware of the silence here, away from the sea and out of the wind. Only the wee birds (chats?) swaying on the bracken and the odd girning sheep competed with the metallic tip tip of our poles - and the odd spit of rain lasted all of two minutes. Not very Argyll-like, really.

Picnic by the Loch

As this lovely spot is blessed by a strong phone signal, I am able to post this even as I demolish the last crumbs of shortbread from the picnic. We are hoping that the curious cow we bodyswerved on the way up the path has not summoned her compadres to await our return, but there's the rural life for you. Our path home goes through the grounds of Colonsay House, which are quite unlike the rest of the island - all trees and rhododendrons. I prefer the heathery slopes onto which we shall emerge. I suspect that the boathouse gurgling beside me belongs to the gentry - but I approve of this bit. So that's ok then.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sea kelp and orchids.

To the south west of the island today. This amazing beach is where we stopped to eat - sitting at the foot of the cliff with backs to the rock. The tide was scooshing in, picking up the great bullwhips of sea kelp and reminding us why it was not a day to visit Oronsay. And as we headed back past the aerodrome (yes!) there were the deepest purple wild orchids among the bog cotton. I hope this will keep any postcard-hunters happy - there is a shop, but I've not been shopping.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thin places

This beach, at Balnahard Bay, was the goal of today's walk. We hiked miles over sandy tracks, through bog myrtle and honey-scented flowers. And everywhere the thin soil with rock breaking the skin seemed an apt metaphor for this place, where the old saints built their stone chapels and listened for God in the wind.

Sunny Colonsay.

Verily, this is a magical island. A cloudless morning, a great hotel- and sufficient mobile coverage - if a tad patchy - to moblog. Brill!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Country roads ..

Well that was quite a day. It began for me at 5am, so it has already gone on for too long. However, the point of it, the Cursillo team meeting in Perth, was terrific - a great bunch of people, already turning into a family, bursting with enthusiasm and good humour. And when we left the venue at 3pm, it was with the usual injunctions to have a safe journey home.

For some of us, the journey home was merely trying. Torrential rain had caused subsidence in the northbound carriageway of the Glasgow - Perth road; we didn't find the cause until we had already been stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour. We watched the brown torrent rushing past us down the hard shoulder, we cursed the opportunists who snuck up the closing lane or the slip road and then muscled in ahead of us, we were harangued at intervals by the sat nav informing us that there were stationary vehicles ahead. We called it Camilla, by the way, in honour of its posh female voice. (I note with interest how it now pains me to refer to Camilla as "it". Strange.) And all the time the rain battered on the roof and the lightning did dramatic effects overhead.

But we got home in one piece. Father Kenny was not so fortunate. He ended up upside down in a field, having lost control on a treacherous bend after sudden rain. He is unhurt, I'm glad to say, but needs all the prayer support of his friends to get him through two masses tomorrow. His beloved motor is crumpled and squashed, but he is not. I expect he'll blog about it when he's over the immediate effects, but for now I'm doing it. And then I'm for bed. And then ...

A holiday.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A midsummer night's ....

It is 9.45 pm. The sky is still bright, blue overhead but grey and rainy-looking over Gourock. Our garden is filled with the scent of Philadelphus and the stink of next-door's cheminea - or whatever you call these pot-bellied stove efforts with which modern aspirationals attempt to bring indoors outdoors (or is it the other way round?) In the town below, the yoof yell occasionally. This is midsummer in Dunoon.

Actually I fear that the young next doors are having an "empty", and that they lack the necessary fire-raising skills to produce heat without smoke. I don't actually think they need heat, as the evening is almost oppressively warm. I don't care for this fashion of taming one's garden and then sitting resolutely in it in all but a downpour. In these parts you need to burn so many anti-midge devices that the garden smells like a High Mass in full swing.

Be that as it may, I'm going to compose myself for sleep before midnight, as I have to be up betimes (wonderful expression). Yoof, the fires of hell, incense ... I must ignore them all. To sleep, perchance to dream ....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gie's a break

Life is becoming somewhat hectic this week - I'm off to Edinburgh tomorrow, Perth on Saturday and Colonsay on Sunday. I tried to enter this last destination on Dopplr, but alas they haven't heard of it yet. Apparently there is someone living on Colonsay whom I may know from school, but I'm not reckoning on bumping into hordes of eager readers of this blog. In fact, I'm really looking forward to not communicating much at all - though the addiction may creep back via some moblogging. If there's a phone signal.

At the moment I'm despairing of teamwork without adequate communications. In fact I'm turning into a communications bore.

Moi? Boring?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Missing links?

How disgruntled I can still feel when a pupil lets me down. After all these years, you'd think I'd know to expect this, but when my student didn't turn up for the last private lesson of term today I was, to be honest, pissed off. Partly it was because I'd had to curtail my own afternoon to be back here for the right time - and had actually remarked how I could no longer be bothered having to do anything - although I had plenty to do in preparation for the meeting I'm chairing on Saturday. But partly it was because here is a really bright kid who needs what I have to give him - especially the push to put some real work into English - and parents who cared enough to set him up with the lessons and pay for them, and yet neither he nor the parents seem to have realised that he'd messed up.

So tell me, anyone reading this: how much responsibility do you take for your 14 year old child? Do you let him take care of his own arrangements, even if his tendency to absent-mindedness messes up someone else's? Or do you step in to check if you feel he's got it wrong, to liaise with the teacher just in case? When my family were at school, I seemed to be incredibly bound up in the minutiae of band practices, forgotten trumpets, late sessions on the magazine ... but then I was part of all that, and at times we felt we were living in a boarding school.

Rant over. Holiday approaching. But I'll maybe update if I ever find out what happened - maybe there was an earthquake. Just a little one.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Forthcoming attraction...

I feel moved to enlarge on my last post, which, being moblogged, was of necessity terse. For I don't think there can be anyone else of our acquaintance who buys cars the way we do - though the moment I write that I realise that the owners of the many, many Renaults seen today in Inveraray must share this with us.

We turn up, slightly late, at the garage which is also the local Renault agency. I am barely out of our current car when it is whisked off for its MOT, leaving us standing on the oil-stained workshop floor. It appears chaotic - sparks flying from some repair job in one corner, a car up on a lift in another. We are sent off to have a coffee till Peter is ready to spend time with us. By the time we return it is quieter, and once Peter has despatched someone to deal with the man with the dog we go into the office, a gloomy cubby-hole in a corner of the workshop. The accountant is in the outer office, so we close the door. Mr B announces that we want a specific model of car, with a specific engine size. Great sucking in of breath indicates that this is surely too speedy a machine for us - do we not want something smaller? cheaper? more economical? I wonder if perhaps Peter wants to make sure we live to buy another car from him in the future. We find out that there is a new model coming out - one with better clearance, one that might not scrape its bottom on our lane when there is more than one person in it. But there is no information (quote!) and we are sent off, this time for some lunch, while the specifications are found.

Lunch is found in a pleasant tearoom (yes - a tearoom) and we return to the garage. Peter is at his lunch, but has left us two closely-typed pages of info on the new car. We repair to a bench overlooking Loch Fyne to peruse same. Grass is growing through the slats of the bench. The sun has come out and it is warm. We soon decide that this is indeed the car for us and go for a walk, round Inveraray Jail, past the Piskie church. We pop in to look at the church, where we once worshipped for a year or so. The dusty pampas grass has been removed from beside the altar, and the flowers on the wondow sills are not plastic, but little else has changed. There is an odd smell, brewed God knows how long (quote!) We are glad to escape into the sunshine.

We walk along behind the garage, admiring a black Clio over which the swallows have shat messily. Peter has returned. He now seems resigned to the fact that we want to spend money and be able to overtake sometimes, and we fill out the details. We bodyswerve the bright orange special edition of the car and choose black. I always like a black car - I could've lived in the '30s. By the time we leave we are all cheerful. Our car will come sometime this summer. It's called a Conquest - a Scenic Conquest.

It is, apparently, a city country thing.

Which car?

Buying a new car in Argyll is unlike any other retail experience. Right now we're sitting on a bench on the shore of Loch Fyne waiting for Peter - who has sold us 7 cars to date - to come back from lunch. As ever, he doesn't want to sell up anything too fast or too expensive, but we've spotted a new model and fancy it rotten. For one thing, it looks just the job for our lane, which is the nearest thing to Passchendaele (spelling?) you'll find outside a war zone. Watch this space - Jeremy C will be back!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Communicate or ....

I've been thinking about communication in the Scottish Episcopal Church (again). This time it was brought on by the realisation at Synod that there are people engaged at quite an influential level who seem to think that telephone conferencing is cutting edge, as well as the overwhelming need to reconcile small numbers of people scattered over large areas of Scotland with a shortage of money and resources and a lively interest in not destroying the planet with our use of fossil fuels. It seems transparently obvious to me that this is an area of education crying out for the use of the best technological devices for communication and socialising - and yet we seem to be stuck in the stone age humoring people who refuse to have anything to do with computers.

So, for what it's worth - and it won't be worth anything if we don't act - this is some of what I jotted down at the time. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Needs: An efficient and attractive communication package to facilitate online discussions, using webcams, chat wall, forum facilities - all live, timed, with the chance to opt-in/sign up for specific sessions. Podcasts, "play again" features, collaborative document reviews.
OU-type learning, with scheduled seminars for occasional face to face work.

Results: Speeding-up of necessary communications. Enjoyable participation over a wide area. Real - and at times random - sharing:ideas, learning, problems, solutions. Increased awareness of what we are all doing (why did we not know there was a visiting delegation from Delaware in our area today?) because of more regular communication. (We forget unless we are reminded)

Funding would be needed: to pay an outside technical trainer. (Cascading might be possible later). To buy equipment - perhaps on a geographical basis; individuals might be willing to buy their own in order to have the use of it if they knew how to use it!

I asked Synod if it'd be possible to have some LTS-type training in the dioceses. It struck me that some Diocesan New Technologies practitioners who were willing to travel might be very useful.

I've spent much of today pottering on and off Facebook. It strikes me as fun but limited to social chit-chat. But other social groups, such as ning, have more of the facilities which make real interaction possible - blog posts, a comment forum, podcasts, file uploads, photos and emails - along with the email prompts when something relevant happens. I already use this with a Cursillo group in a "closed" format to ensure confidentiality. I'd love to see more of the church catching on.

I'm just dabbling. But I've identified someone who could teach us, and the need is there. Any other suggestions from those who really know this stuff?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Purging dead blogs

The sharp-eyed will notice I've at last got round to updating my blogroll. There are other blogs I read sporadically, but at least I've covered the most active of my bloglines. I've purged a couple of blogs which have gone cold, though I still look on my feed reader to see if there are any signs of life. I am always absurdly pleased when I discover that someone has blogrolled blethers - something you tend to find from your stats, if you look into them.

That's something I shall be checking tonight; Statcounter seemed to throw a wobbler yesterday. I hope it recovers soon. And, still in Cyberia: I'm amazed by the people who turn up on Facebook. Do we all sign on because we're desperate for company - or merely to see what everyone else has been talking about? Anyway, I rather like the quick overview of what my friends (in the online sense, as two of them are my children) have been up to.

And finally I have to say that I can't believe the weather the rest of Britain seems to have been having. All that rain! We're supposed to be the wet place - and we weren't.

But it's raining now...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blogging characters

My latest student blogger has been posting over at Ekki's English about his take on the characters in Macbeth. It interests me how difficult it is to get students to use quotes to back up their assertions - and I've not even begun on how to embed them in a Critical Essay. I wonder how many colleagues reading this find the same initial reluctance; even this clever student obviously understands the characters and his own response to them, but not the importance of evidence. He knows a good graphic when he finds one, mind!

And once more I'm brought bang up against the reluctance to blog little and often - often a feature of new bloggers - and the glaringly obvious benefit of such regular posting as a homework strategy. I used to tell my pupils to keep their writing in practice - especially over the holidays - by keeping a diary; how much more interesting to blog it.

Still have to convince the punters though.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Brilliant book

Almost a first for me - a book in translation that I couldn't put down. Niccolo Ammaniti's I'm Not Scared has been so masterfully translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt that there was never one instant when I felt I wasn't in touch with the original - and yet at no time felt any lack of magic in the language I was reading.

Told by nine-year-old Michele, the story of a baking Italian summer gathers in intensity and bewilderment as his secret discovery threatens his entire way of life. In the same way as "To Kill a Mockingbird" puts life into perspective, "I'm Not Scared" shows us what a child sees and tells us with the honesty of childhood what he feels. Horror and beauty are juxtaposed in such a way that I was almost scared to turn the page, and by the end of the book I felt that anything was possible.

It made me late for Synod. Try reading it on a hot day, with the sweat trickling down your back. Really.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bliss was it. .

Not much of a photo, I suspect - it's too bright to see - but this is what happens when you don't have to work: a picnic on this lovely beach, looking at the Arran hills through the haze. And it's so warm! I may not be young, but it is indeed very heaven.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Back in the Boondocks

Home again. Like Ruth I feel as if I've been away for far longer than three days, and was amazed at how warm the air here in the west was - 24 celsius at 6pm - compared with Edinburgh. I also realised that I had become stir crazy, having to sit indoors for hours at a time without moving or talking - most unnatural. My remedy was to go for an evening walk, and the picture shows the wonderfully deserted shore road a Toward, where all the brassica-type plants have flowered and the birds were singing their heads off in the woods. We may be in a diocese which is in danger of vanishing altogether and which certainly is the poorest in financial terms, but I would trade all the resources of the city any day for the freedom to live in such a place as this.

I don't feel up to further reflection on the Synod right now, but would echo Bishop David's thoughts about the amazing levels of competence on display during the past three days. There are some very impressive people working for and in our church structures. Right now, however, I'm happy to be back in the sticks - even if I do have to do the intercessions tomorrow.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Casting the Bishops

Moblogging from Synod just to show I can is all very well, but not being sixteen I am woefully slow at texting on a phone and find I can really only write the odd blogbite. However, for anyone actually wanting an early summary of what has been happening, Kelvin (wonderfully slender, as you will have noted) has speedily got his act together and provided same.

I'll stick with the frivolous and report that our College of Bishops, once more restored to the full complement of seven, was being referred to as The Magnificent Seven. Taking this further, +Martin bagged Steve McQueen's character as his own, made passing reference to the obvious Yul Brynner lookalike, and observed that Moray had just appointed Charles Bronson as their bishop. He reminded us that Robert Vaughn's character had turned out to be the coward.

There were no casting votes...

The tech.

This is the tech on show at the synod this year. I made a plea earlier today for some up to date training in technology for the church, the kind of stuff LTS does for secular education. There was a resounding silence. But one of the techies, ex LTS, has just thanked me - and would be available. Someone was listening!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Halfway into the afternoon. I've survived the dreaded post-prandial sleep and listened to robust debate on the proposed Anglican Covenant. My moblogging and a power point display are the most techy things in sight. Hardly surprising, I suppose.

Spotted at Synod.

Blogging provost Kelvin at the end of a generous lunch break at Synod today. The lunch was not generous - I brought a piece. Now +brian is looking at the house of bishops. He is witty. I shall pay attention.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Was that it?

You didn't really think you were going to get rid of me so easily, did you? Here I am in Edinburgh, waiting with bated breath for the opening of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Oh, all right - I'm exaggerating, if not actually being economical with the truth.
I shan't be lugging the laptop up to Palmerston Place tomorrow - wifi-less, I believe. Like a bachelor pad. Sorry. I'm looking forward to meeting up with some folk I don't see often, but really I hate meetings. Must be having to sit quietly.

I've been reading ab's thoughts about what blogging does, and when he'll stop doing it. I took the chance to unload in a comment some of the thoughts I've been having the last couple of days, occasioned by the veritable stushie that sprang up on my own comment column. I suppose it comes back to how we regard comment, and how we feel about saying (writing) things so publicly. And there is the additional question of what constitutes rudeness and what is merely a robust exchange. Often, of course, it is possible to disguise criticism and hostility by using, say, the impersonal third person to make your point rather than the second person, which always comes across as more direct. But most readers are perfectly capable of sussing the hostility/jibes/criticism anyway - so is it more honest just to say what you think? And then there are people who make a game of that sort of thing - just listen to Prime Minister's Questions and hear what I mean.

I dunno. I'm always aware of potential readers when I write, and try not let the side down stylistically or in any other way. I won't be shutting away the laptop any day soon - I've kept a diary for 50 years, dammit, and it's still on the go too. In a way, there's a frustrated journo lurking in me, and I'm sure blogging's as good as Dr Kawashima for stimulating the brain cells.

Maybe I'll try a wee moblog tomorrow ....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The rest is silence ...

(Spurred on by Groanin’ Jock – this is my last post…) and ab - the end is nigh)

The premise:

If the blogosphere were coming to an end 24 hours from now, what would your final post be? Would you go out with a bang, or as softly as a whisper? Would you say “goodbye and good riddance” and give us the virtual finger? This is your chance to make your mark on the blogosphere.

The post:

I started this blog 18 months ago, because I had the time, because I thought I might have something to say, and because I could. Now, I’m totally addicted – not just to the writing, but to the ability to make friends here and on the other side of the Pond. I think I write more slick prose than I did – and so turn out what are in effect blog posts for the local paper with alarming ease. (People are beginning to talk about them). I am aware that what I write will be read by at least some people whose own writing I admire – so I don’t want to let them, or myself, down.

And I find that I’m better known as an English teacher now than I ever was when I was stuck in a classroom. I’m grateful to the people who comment approvingly about the ideas I post, and enjoy the thought of the lessons I enjoyed being used elsewhere.

Finally, of course, there are the friends who never bother to phone to find if I’m still alive, because they know exactly what I’ve been up to and what I think about it. So maybe it’s a conversational death-knell, but golly, it’s been fun. I shall have to go back to playing Medal of Honor and write more poems - though how will you know? If I don’t meet you in this life, readers of mine, there’s always the hereafter...

The blogosphere is dead – long live the blogosphere!

Note: Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…

Monday, June 04, 2007

And now for a word from our sponsors ...

In response to popular demand (!), here are a few official words about Cursillo.

‘Cursillo has been very powerfully used by God in the renewal of Christians and Christian communities of all styles and backgrounds. I am deeply grateful for all that has been done through its work.’
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

‘My own experience of Cursillo has been that it deepened my discipleship and strengthened my faith. As one of the many aids to renewal I commend Cursillo to the whole church and I am pleased to record the great benefit that Cursillo has brought to the Scottish Episcopal Church.’
Idris Jones - Primus , Scottish Episcopal Church

‘Cursillo is about making disciples; it transforms people’s lives and empowers them for service. Cursillo is active in most Dioceses of this Province, for which I praise God.’
John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

‘Developing the Mission of the Church is always a priority. To do this, individuals and parishes need to be challenged to grow in faith, to develop their individual vocations as ministers of the Gospel of Christ. The right resources are crucial in helping them to do this. The Cursillo Movement has, for over 50 years, been a leader in personal and parish spiritual development and makes an invaluable contribution to this work. I warmly commend Cursillo to you.’
Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales

And from the leaflet given out to intending participants in Scotland:


“There are lots of ways in which the Church is offering support to help all of us live out our commitment as disciples of Jesus, commissioned by virtue of our Baptism.
Among these supports is one that has been proved to give new insights and new hope to many members of the Episcopal Church: and that is Cursillo.
The “weekend” is just a starter, to set participants off on a journey that includes on-going support through grouping with others in sharing the joys and challenges of faith.
Cursillo is a positive and accessible tool for the encouragement of faith for all Anglicans, and I commend it to everyone for careful consideration with their Rector.”

'Nuff said, I think.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Casting out demons?

I've taken a couple of comments from my post "Fired up" and reproduce them here because I think they deserve wider consideration than they will get tucked away among the comments. They come at the end of a string of criticisms of the Cursillo movement, which, briefly, is a method of rejuvenating tired Christians and firing them with new vigour in believing. It works on the basis of a three-day weekend course, after which participants return to their own churches to continue growing and developing as mature Christians. Most of the criticism comes from clergy - on this blog, and in the church as a whole.

Kenny Macaulay said...

As a member of the clergy who was dragged kicking and screaming to Cursillo, (I was told that I had to go as a condition of my taking up my present post),I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. The problem with so many clergy is that they have already made up their minds about Cursillo, as I had, and approach the whole movement with closed minds at worst, and extreme caution at best. If this movement is so divisive or damaging, it beats me why the College of Bishops and particularly our Primus endorses it, and in fact encourages its growth! Or am I being thick?

Marilyn Shiells said...

Yes...... it's the enthusiasm for Christ that's the important point and not where that enthusiasm comes from. I agree ... that good sponsorship is paramount - but that's why it's necessary to work in partnership - clergy and laity. However that partnership doesn't work when a priest tells his congregation "not to touch Cursillo with a barge pole." This priest had never been to Cursillo so didn't have first hand experience on which to base his argument. A loss for members of that congregation who may have found enthusiasm for Christ through Cursillo. I feel this attitude is more damaging to the church than someone who found Cursillo wasn't for them.

I cannot believe, however, that anyone could come back from Cursillo damaged. Any priest or lay person preaching in a SEC has the potential to damage. We are all open to potential damage from reading the newspapers, watching the TV, surfing the net etc but as, hopefully, responsible adults we can absorb what is presented and make informed choices. Perhaps we shouldn't get out of bed if we want to avoid the risk of being damaged - though, with physio hat on now, that's the worst thing for your back!

I would at this point like to ask critics of the method to look at the people who have found Cursillo to be a useful tool in the church. Ask, as Kenny does, why so many good people endorse it. Ask what the difference is between them and those who criticise. And above all, apply Jesus' own criterion: he that is not against us is for us. And then?

Come and see.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Not blogging but ...

I read recently that someone had said that we ought not to describe ourselves as bloggers, and find myself agreeing with this. I'm not a blogger: I'm a communicator who will use whatever means seem appropriate to the task. That said, I'm delighted to welcome two new blogs to my Bloglines.

The first belongs to my latest private student, who is getting to grips with Shakespeare for the first time and has just begun to write about it here. He would welcome comment from any of my regular readers as we embark on an old-fashioned education in English.

The second blog is that of one of my oldest friends, who has been writing all the time I have known her and would probably have had a blog in the 60s, just as I would. Have a look at wordswordswords - and if you have any advice on laying out verse in WordPress this would be a good time to visit.

And you will note we are not averse to the odd quotation...