Quick update

Just a quick message. I am home feeling a bit fragile and tired, but all the surgery went well. My experience was much better this time and I’ll write all about it when the cotton wool leaves my brain. I’ve had enough drugs to  send me on an incredible high, I even felt happy on the operating table!

Thank you to everyone for your prayers, and thank you Jesus for your presence with me always!



Haggis,Highlands and Islands.

I wasn’t going to write anymore until next week but I have just been to the Mid Argyll Music Festival. This is where choirs from various schools and organisations and child musicians compete against each other. It can be an excruciatingly painful experience as numbers of children sing wildly out of tune and their “harmonies” could rival any frisky tom cat, while their proud Mummies smile and nod and sing along oblivious to the racket.

However, and I did miss most of the Primary Schools renditions, the standard seemed much higher this year and I enjoyed the singing, a few crunched notes here and there were made up for by the melodious tunes picked, some Adele, Enya and traditional Scottish songs, which were set pieces.

My number 6 child, 4th female, was in the Intermediate Gaelic Choir. Sometimes, if you listen to Radio Gaelic, as I’m sure you all do 🙂 ,breathy solos , for me, are a bit tedious, but I do like a bit of “diderdly diderly” music, a song sung whilst weaving or spinning which gets up quite a rhythm, or a tune on the pipes and accordion.

Anyway, Coisir Og Dhailriata, the Dalriada Choir, of which our youngest is a member ,sang beautifully, and I joined the proud mums smiling at their offspring because they honestly were good.Good diction and pitch, and they came home with the Bannatyne Plate!

She was not so pleased with the uniform, a tartan (what else?) skirt, “black watch” I think, knee-length, not like the school skirt  whose description should be “belt”, black shoes and flesh coloured tights. Now flesh coloured tights on a porcelain Scots lassie are fine, but if you are mediterranean looking or mixed race ,as she is, they look slightly wrong. She covered it all up with a sweat shirt to travel, as she said that she felt like a 98-year-old trying to look hip in a hoodie. Not 98 , D. just a bit middle-aged!

It’s good enough for her D!

Now they are aiming for the  Mod, Mod means a festival or gathering. These are very competitive, but all these competitons give rise and consolidate that feeling of community, so central to Argyll and Highland living. I doubt that I shall ever be able to learn Gaelic, despite reciting phrases from CD’s in the car, but if you sing “Haggis,Highlands and Islands Board” quite fast, it does sound a bit like it!

Here I go again!

My bloods are done, my bag is packed… sounds like a country song. I think it’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver. How I wish that I was! Unfortunately I am returning to Hospital ,so that they can make a second attempt on my life, on Wednesday.

The Hospital have rung me twice, and even asked if I wanted to speak to the head Physician, but I don’t. I have no control over the procedure no matter who I speak to. Therefore I put myself in Gods hands where I feel totally safe, and ask that he guides the hands of the person who puts the wires into my heart this time, as it is solely their expertise that is the difference between success or failure.

The Doctors spend a long time describing the complications that could occur, as if this shifts the blame to me if anything untoward happens, after all I elected to have it done. Maybe thats what we all do if we mess up, blame someone else.Being one of God’s children has the benefit of being able to own up and be forgiven without the misdemenour being mentioned again. How fantastic is that.

Only thing is, he says “Forgive others as you wish to be forgiven yourself.”  That makes you think!

Anyone for a Quinquenial?

Our parishes are due a quinquenial visit. This occurs in the Church of Scotland , on a similar basis, I would imagine ,to the Bishop or Archdeacon visiting parishes in the Cof E. Thats a guess, if any of you are in the know, feel free to comment.

Anyway, we are due ours, and the Rev. came into the living room the other night with a swathe of paper. This is a questionaire. First question ,  paraphrased by me, “How many hours do you spend in Ministry?”  We sat down together and tried to work it out. I thought it better to put, “I am not working when I am asleep.” Although after a difficult meeting, he may sit bolt upright and come up with a solution to something that has been bothering him.

Second question “How do you see your role as a Minister?”   The answer to this is an endless list which encompasses SO many roles. I won’t even try to put them down.

And the questions went on and on. I knew this would get his clerical knickers in a knot, and was thankful when both session clerks offered to lend a hand and the treasurer offered to help make it look nice on paper.

As an experiment, the Rev. took his “Garmin” with him on his parish visits. This is a bit of technology that he uses when running and swimming, it maps where you’ve been, tells you how fast you went, how many calories you used up and how long you spent at each place. It’s small enough to wear on your wrist, so folk would think it was a watch.

He came home very pleased and uploaded it all onto the computer. We were able to see how long he spent at each visit and how far he had travelled. An excellent piece of time and motion study.

Later in the evening he went off to his swimming master class, and was relating this to a friend. He added, ” and do you know I burned off an amazing  1,800 calories! ” His friend looked at him, he said ” Yes, C, if you had been running at over 35 miles an hour you would have done, but you were driving!” .

Beat the Devil round the Gooseberry-Bush

A couple of posts ago I was berating a woman on a call line for not being able to speak English, then I got to thinking about my own accent.( oops a bit of Scottish grammar there) I have not always been that easily understood myself.

I love to meet and chat with friends . I am sorry to say, my English compatriots, that the Scots are a lot more friendly than us! Though not all in our churches are from this side of the Border.

I grew up on the Sussex Weald, our local dialect was so thick, that when a new headmistress took over our rural Primary School, who came from that foreign place Surrey, she couldn’t understand a word we said. Read some of Rudyard Kipling’s short stories if you wonder what it sounded like. No “h’s” on the front of words and long vowels. My great great grandparents had come up from “Zummerzet”,(Somerset), and that hadn’t helped the families vowel sounds either!

On promotion to Grammar School I found that everyone spoke ,”so terribly nicely”. A bit like Chummy in “Call the Midwife”, everything was just spiffing!I soon learnt that diction and a good command of the English language was paramount if you wanted to succeed in life. One day ,a friend, who hailed from the same place ,and I were engrossed in a science experiment and were chatting away to each other. A girl from the bench in front came over and said ” Oh how hilarious, do you speak like that for fun? “We spoke in the required plummy accent after that, but at home my Mother would say “Don’t think you can talk posh here my girl!” So “posh” was for school and dialect at home. My youngest daughter now speaks Scots at school to avoid being called Posh.

So, here I am in Scotland where neither accent matters much, the Argyll accent is soft and easy to understand, especially after straining my ears to catch the words in Kilmarnockese for 4 years. At my son’s wedding in South Lanarkshire, the Rev had to translate for me, if my new daughter-in-laws’ family spoke to me. I have once been asked if I’m from New Zealand, but on the whole they cope with me quite well in the Parishes.

So when I took the service on Sunday, in the Revs absence, I was careful with my pronunciation, however with nerves this can sometimes go out of the window.I was a little dismayed that no microphone was available, but they seemed to hear me, and understood me. I did notice that the three people in the front row came from Dartford, Northhamptonshire and Leeds.

It is sad when local dialects die out, but over the years local accents integrate with the languages of those who live in certain areas. Who knows how my great grandchildren might sound, a bit of Sussex, Scottish and maybe Asian or Polish mixed in?


My youngest son hits 16 this week, usually I’d say I don’t know where the years went. He is my no.5 child and I can remember every year!

He like most of his comtemporaries, spends his time rebelling, such as wearing the same jeans ,shoes, jacket as all his peers and  listening to rock music at a deafening volume. Now as anyone who was a teenager in the 60/70’s knows that Rock music has to be loud to appreciate it. I only object when others are in the house besides me, the rest of the time I dance about and have learnt alot of “Muse” lyrics, although my elder son ,now a Father, will tell you from when he was in this mode, I rarely get the Lyrics right. This causes the rock star to shout “Shut up Mum, you are singing it all wrong!”.I do ,however, think that some words are not suitable for a Minis. wife to sing!

He spends most of his time horizontal, but does get up to play his own music on his electric guitar and make tea. Actually I am quite impressed with his playing, especially as he is self taught, it is not cool to say so, but I do notice a smile if I comment.

Our neighbours probably think that there is a “mosh pit ” in The Manse most nights.(For those unfamiliar with the term, thats when those listening to a band stand and bang their heads forward in time to the music, often resulting in whiplash!)

I have been known to tell people that I am growing a boy in the back bedroom. I pop food through the door and cups of tea and he comes out occasionally having grown another foot in height. He now bends down to hug me, ooopps it’s not cool to tell you that either!

We do discuss things together such as time dimensions, the recession and politics. It doesn’t seem long since he was stumbling over the words of “Mrs Wobble the Waitress” and “Mrs Plug the Plumber”.

Having reared his 3 big sisters, elder brother and having his younger sister turning 14, I have often longed for a child nurturing manual, or at least an “on/off” switch!

As they grow up and eventually leave home, you hope you have taught them enough to survive and made them into reasonably nice human beings.

I have never forced any of them to go to church, although they have attended Sunday school and services at times, but how can you choose what you believe or understand faith if you have no knowledge of it. I am certain that the greatest gift that I can wish for them,  which is priceless and to be treasured, is a relationship with the Living God.