So far and yet so near

Brother, who is married and lives in Australia, has just had his 60th birthday, and, as requested, has sent me a very nice family photo including his wife and children. I was almost tempted to ask him why the photo did not come upside down, but that is too corny even for me!

He went to the antipodes on UK Decimalisation Day (probably to escape the horrible word, PENCE), and thinks nothing of the long flights back for funerals. It is strange to note that even with being so close as children, who played well together, we have spent most of our lives as far apart as is presently possible, and have built-up relationships, and pursued careers unknown and un-connected to one another.

Yet when we do meet again, we seem to just settle-in again as if nothing had happened.

There is one other interesting point. When writing the obituary for our mother, I e-mailed him to see if there were any specific points or memories he wanted brought to mind, and he sent me over his version of our childhood. There were some important points on which the facts seemed to differ from my recollection and diary, but at this stage in our lives it makes no difference, but does show that we can observe happenings from different viewpoints, and carry that view all our lives.

We still hope that we might take the long journey over, and resolve who was right about the various parts of our childhood, if someone could knock me out for the 36 hours of travelling!

Old?…not me!

Yesterday I reached the age of ‘thrice-21’, which sounds less old than 63. I got lovely simple presents, such as a pair of posh blue walking boots from Daughter (will I ever wear them out at my age?), a modern shirt and after-shave from Son (to try to keep me trendy?), and from Young Lady of the House, a six-CD collection of Scottish comedy and two books of humour (to try to keep me sweet?).

We didn’t go out for a meal, but had a glorious Indian carry-out (good typical Scottish food, then?) and a blether. We are seeing more of both of them just now, and it is great sitting down as four adults without having to tell them to ‘take their elbows off the table’, or ‘don’t gulp your food’, or ‘eat your greens’.

I feel for those with young ones at the table, who have to be fed, or who insist on feeding themselves (or the dog), or who can effectively put food on walls, floor, even ceiling, with a well-placed fist into the middle of a dinner-plate.

Never mind, they do get better….I suppose the next thing is when I become cantankerous and may well end-up emulating the above-mentioned children!

Until then I will try to behave at table and act like a grown-up…..which I suppose I am!

Eighty years young!

Evensong at the Cathedral was special tonight…. the choir numbered 50, of present and past choristers who had gathered together to celebrate. The music was selected by Bernard Porter, a previous organist who was 80 years old this weekend, but certainly does not look it!

He was a pleasure to sing under, with gentle criticism and much praise, a wonderful musical knowledge, but who used and practised his skill and craft with a wonderful under-stating. The youngest and most inexperienced chorister gained from being with him, and even those of who have sung for many years still came away knowing a little more about the works we were singing.

Heavens….this seems terribly like an obituary! No, he is still alive and kicking, with an impish grin. I asked him what he will do for the next 20 years, and he said that it will all seem a bit ‘downhill from now on’. So different from those musicians are so full of themselves, with a puffed-out ego.

So let me add my congratulations…well done Bernard!

Now, that’s eating!

Daughter celebrated a rather important birthday yesterday, so as a family we all went out for a meal last night.

It was in a lovely town in Perthshire called Auchterarder (quite difficult for non-Scots to say!…..think of it as Och..terr…arr…dur…). It was at one time, on the main road from Dunblane to Perth, but now is by-passed. It was a good example of ‘ribbon-development’ where houses and shops were strung along both sides of the lovely wide road for over a mile.

In some ways it is a rather un-remarkable town (it does have the snooker player Stephen Hendry as an inhabitant!). But there is a wealth of lovely shops, as it is really the market town for the area, and they are well-worth seeing.

However, a few years ago, we were up seeing Daughter there and I suggested she look for a nice eaterie. She knew that we liked Italian food (but not excluding food from anywhere else!) and discovered Cafe Cento. For those with a classical background (or even a bit of common sense) Cento means 100, in Italian, and the address is at 100 High Street….so it is really easy for me to remember the name and the address at the same time!

The couple who run it are obvious very enthusiastic about it and it deserves to be well used as the food, ambiance and the service are second to none. (Which reminds me, I must give Gordon Ramsay a phone to tell him he has some stiff competition up there)

So if you are heading north and see the sign for Auchterarder, take the time to have a nice evening meal at Cento……honest I have no shares there….would just wish them the best of luck!….Buon Appetito…….