Another day….another jag!

Young Lady of the House, and I, became part of medical history on Saturday. We have reached a certain age, and had been invited to take part in a nation-wide survey of life-styles and health information. It is just as well that we are computer-literate, because most of the investigation  was via a touch-screen computer, but, when faced with a continuing list of personal questions, it is difficult to know oneself, especially about what happened, and illnesses endured, during youth.

Then a series of measurements of height, (standing and sitting), body/mass index, waist circumference, percentage body fat, bone density, lung function were all undertaken, and give cause for concern (well at least a little worry!).

Then came the blood-letting! We were donating what seemed like half an armful of blood, to be kept for later analysis and comparison with the other information given. Sounds simple enough! But the marvellous bloke who was taking the blood, struggled to get a vein without hitting nerves! Unfortunately I don’t like needles! Struggle as he might, he was un-successful, and had to try again, at another location, and eventually succeeded. The Young Lady of the house had no such problems. We both survived the experience!

Hopefully the results will prove of use for future medical research, but I would ask that they look after my blood samples carefully, as they, and I, took so much trouble to get them!

A Fitba’ Match

We went to see Aberdeen beating The Jags (Partick Thistle) on Wednesday Night. It isn’t a common occurence (either attending a match, or Aberdeen beating Partick Thistle). Son was going with his family, so Young Lady of the House was quite happy to go along with my suggestion of all of us attending. The match itself was quite exciting but I think that sometimes the activities of those attending are more interesting, and raise a few serious sociological questions….

  • Latecomers don’t seem to bother looking at the pitch as they arrive….it only seems to be part of the scene.
  • Some folk are happy to eat and drink rubbish, and pay highly for the chance to do so.
  • How does a chant start at the same time all over the stand, and just as mysteriously, just stop?
  • The quietest-looking supporters are often the most vociferous.
  • The Man in Black is often accused of being blind, but my observation has to be that he has to be deaf to avoid reacting to the taunts from both sides!
  • The Young Lady of the House can get as excited as anyone and screams with terror or jubilation as the occasion demands.
  • Footballers are only human and make mistakes just like the rest of us….but they still get better paid!
  • On a wintry evening, you end up with cold legs and a freezing bum!
  • A hoarse throat the following morning, goes with the teritory!

When’s the next suitable match?

The Emerald (and Somewhat Tiring) Isle

Did you notice the change of header ? The format seems to be easier to pick-up on some computers, but if you have any problem receiving this Blog correctly, please let me know. But I also like the picture!

Just back from a short break with the Young Lady of the House, to Ireland. On Saturday, had a non-eventful trip from Troon to Larne, which was followed by a longer-than-expected car journey to Enniskillen, where we were staying. Dumped the cases and straight along the south edge of the Lower Lough Erne to Bundoran, just over the Border (where exactly was the Border?). Immediately to the almost-empty beach to see the Atlantic rollers, and the three surfers. Only enough time to get slightly cooled by the biting wind, before  on to the town of Donegal, but too busy to park….super meal at a hostelry just on the Border.

Next day, to church and visiting old friends ,where we ate too much…..but what’s new about that in Ireland?

Monday saw us travelling across country, to see another friend, and then off early to the ferry to get a good early position. Took off 45 mins late and bad weather slowed progress so that we arrived much later than the plan said, (we were actually LAST car off!) followed by a tiring drive north and home.

Who calls these events holidays….I think they should be banned! Things would have been quieter and less tiring at work! But at least we saw some places we had never seen before, and people whom we had not seen for too long. 

On balance, definitely worthwhile…..but why, Oh why, is wonderful Ireland so far away by car?

A Dynamic World!

Strange how things sometimes come together in an  interesting and satisfying conjunction!

There has been a lot of talk over the last few years, about the environment and global warming…..if you haven’t noticed, where have you been? Shots of Mr Cameron advising us to take to our bicycles, abounded on the small (and not-so-small) screen…..good political capital!

I remember as a child, that those of us with a bicycle, always aspired to have a lamp powered by a dynamo…do you remember?….it fitted on the rear forks, rested on the back wheel, and spun round with a very-satisfying ‘whirr’. Enough electricity was generated to power the front and back lights….which was great, until you stopped, and, since there was no power storage, the light faded.

 So……where is this leading? Well, we have always had a small radio in the bathroom, and the last one eventually packed-in, so we needed another one. Batteries were always a pain, as no matter how many you buy to keep for such eventualities, you can never find them when you need them!

Ah….now you are catching-on!……yes,…..we were in Tesco shopping  one night, and I spotted a perfectly-suitable little radio. Imagine my un-bounded JOY when I discovered that, although there is a space for batteries, it had a little crank to generate, and store power….so reducing the need for batteries, and preserving the environment!

The only downside is that the racket which the crank makes when being turned, is unbelievable! It is much noisier than the dynamo of 50 years ago! I suppose that if one’s hearing has deteriorated over the years, then it might just not sound so bad!

However, for £7.50….what can one expect!

Just a simple phone call…..some hope!!

At one time, if you had a phone, it was in the hallway. Then, a cold hall was not attractive, and an extension went into the living room; then one in the bedroom ….so a phone was always within a few seconds’ walk. Sometimes we might be out and miss important phone calls….so we got a recording machine to go with it. Some of us actually had a fax machine!

If that was  not good enough, the cordless phone came on the scene for those who did not want to even get up out of the armchair!

Next step was to have an internet connection, then e-mails, so we could write to each other, then a web-cam, to see each other as we spoke, then broadband, so that we could down-load ‘stuff’ even faster, see every detail on the web-cams, and play faster games.

I have handled all of these things so far, albeit slower than a primary-school pupil, but then a few weeks ago, I got a phone call (yes, a real voice, with a non-local accent) telling me that my broadband rental charge is being reduced by £3 per month!

‘Thank you’, I said, and was about to hang up when I was asked if I wished to subscribe to this facility. ‘Yes, thank you’ I said, and was about to hang up, when I was asked about delivery of the new equipment! ‘I don’t need any new equipment’, I said, and was about to hang up, when I was informed that I would benefit further by being able to make free calls at the weekend and the evening.

I heard nothing for some time, then got two e-mails from BT that the facility was now activated, and did I have any trouble installing the router. ‘I don’t have a new router, but a quite efficient old one’, I said and was about to hang up when I was told that one would be sent free of charge!

It eventually has arrived and lain for some time un-used, as weekends and evenings are when we want to escape from phone calls! I have now got it out and have been wading through the phone numbers, passwords and account numbers I am required to know instantly, when I need to phone the premium line for technical help!

Mobile phone-users have not escaped this increasing complexity of life, as the Young Lady of the house, and I, must be the only local folk who do not have a camera on their phone!

Please, Mr BT, and like-minded technical folk…..just let us get on with what we have, before I go bonkers and need to phone for an appointment to deal with my technical stress…. If I could just find the correct phone, number, password, NHI number,…birthdate, collar size, shoe size, car reg number………..

Aw heck, I think I’ll just write a letter (if I can remember which dates the posties are not on strike!)


When we were at Aberfoyle on Sunday, a few of us took some photos of St Mary’s church and, of course, the assembled choir, for use in the local Church Newsletter. This will be retained in the archives, and, probably, occasionally looked-at over the coming years.

We all try to preserve a written or photographic record of outstanding events in our lives, and rightly so, but what about the not-so-important ones? I have been keeping a daily diary since 1958, and have been slowly reducing it to an autobiography. Not from some narcissistic wish to remember my life, but to record something for the children and future historians.

What I found interesting was the number of bits of information I had kept, like my wages, the price of petrol, what we paid for our first house, what we ate for breakfast nearly 50 years ago, bus timetables, when we stopped getting milk in bottles, the video out-takes from weddings…… All were not tremendously exciting at the time in the writing, in fact mundane. But from a historical point of view, someone will find them interesting.

So can I appeal to you to record not only the things which are important to you, but also those which might turn out to be important to your children, and your children’s children.

My parents and most of my uncles and aunts are dead, and there are now many questions I wish I had asked them, but didn’t. So ask that question now, and take your camera everywhere   ……..Because you rarely get a second chance!

A magically-musical Sunday

This Sunday is treated as the Feast of St Mary, the mother of Christ, and we spent it in two Churches with her as the Patron Saint…….St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, where we heard the marvellous choir, supported by an oboeist, flautist, and pianist, as well as the organ. A wonderfully-eclectic group of anthems and hymns.

In the afternoon, our musical group (the Angelus Singers) went off to practise in St Mary’s, Aberfoyle. A lovely example of simple rural architecture, set in phenomenal countryside, it exuded warmth, and peace. We joined with the organist, and local singers, and practised lustily through the afternoon.

After refreshments, we sang the office of Evensong, and the Sermon was by Bishop John Crooks, who was a one-time Rector there. A good congregation certainly seemed to be inspired by the ancient words of the Liturgy.

So, two different experiences in one day, but still with a common purpose…..worship. No matter the different sizes and location of the two buildings, the numbers of those worshipping, the perfection of the singing, I hope that  the same effect was achieved and that we all went off with our spirits lifted…..and when that can happen twice in one Sunday, can anyone ask for more?

So thanks to ALL those in both Churches who have made this a wonderful Sunday for an old codger who just loves music!

….and yet!

I’m an early bird! As soon as I waken I have to get up. Came down to a beautiful morning, blue sky with a thin layer of high cloud, tree-branches gently waving in a light wind, birds happily chirping as they search in the under-growth for breakfast…..all’s well with the world……

…..and yet….there is something strange happening in Portugal. When we holidayed in that area, the heat was so intense that we could hardly leave the shade of the trees round the Hotel. So we didn’t get much chance to see the area or meet the ‘real’ locals, but those we did meet seemed perfectly pleasant.

So they are now wakening up with the realisation that possible suspicions may end up as proven. Whatever will materialise, there has been a lot of play-acting by various individual groups or individuals. The McCanns, their relations and friends, the Portuguese Police, and the media, have all come under suspicion as being ‘economic with the truth’ to use a long-standing phrase.

There may be good reasons for this, at least in their own minds, but hopefully the truth will appear, and this story which has gripped a large part of the European media will come to an end. This may not be the result we all hoped-for, but it may give some closure to the life of a little innocent girl.  

I suspect that it will, however, leave a feeling that human society is still not as clever at self-control as we like to think it is.

Art or Craft?

The passing of Pavarotti brings again to mind  the question (doesn’t it?) as to whether a performer is an artist or a craftsman. In other words, is he simply providing the vocal expression of what the composer wrote down, or, by his experience and expertise, is he adding to the value of the piece.

Even deeper, it opens the debate about the parts played by the composer, the producer, the conductor, the performer, and the listener (or viewer), in how we appreciate music or other fine arts.  All are essential in the activity, as each has a speciality, and, hopefully, expertise.  

I can only imagine the situation where a composer writes a piece of music, plays it (badly) and listens to his own composition alone. Was the quality of the composition lessened because of his mistakes, or might a hearing problem lessen the experience?

Do you ever wish you had never opened a discussion, but just left the question in the air?

I think in this instance, the latter might have been easier on my brain!!

Ancient and Modern

The choir at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral is back from their holidays….and are in fine vocal fettle (if one can say such a thing!).

Two wonderful pieces were sung by them during this morning’s service. The ‘Ancient’ one was Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum’, with a supremely-sung solo part, and the rest of the choir just gently coming in….superb.

The ‘Modern’ one used the beautiful lilting Scottish Traditional tune ‘Dream Angus’. But the words were by Graham Maule and John Bell, and the chorus has a line…’Christ makes with his friends, a touching place.’

So reminiscent of Iona, where I was honoured to spend some time, after designing the sound and loop system for the Abbey. It was indeed, a ‘thin place’ as described by the founder of the Iona Community. A place you must visit…intriguing!