Sunday, 30 May 2010

Evensong and a quitting

For the 1st time in yonks I attended Evensong tonight. Working day shift meant Mass was out and the brief stroll to Princes St was easy enough. The lovely warm bath feel of Cranmer, chant and canticles, 2 A&M hymns and peaceful intercessions was a joy, even if the sermon was not up to my former placement supervisors best! Anodyne tending to soporific actually - glad I had a strong coffee under my belt.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has resigned - which I think was necessary in the circumstances. To boast of the integrity of your expenses and then to be caught out by £40K - that's a quitting matter. I have a wee bit of sympathy on the in closetedness, but, really, the Lib Dems are anything but intolerant of LGBT individuals. And to argue that you didn't think you were partners because you didn't have a joint bank account - well, that's silly, not to say utterly unbelievable. Peter Tatchell was rather good on the BBC this morning about it all. A pity, because Mr Laws was certainly able. But it would have been impossible for him to stay.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Anglican Antics

The ABC has issued a letter (see for details) which indicates a severing of bonds within the Anglican Communion. My instinct is to say that if the USAnians are to be kept out of certain bits of the Anglican Corporate body, then so ought Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya and all other Provinces who have violated the Moratoria. But of course that won't happen. Similarly, were I a USAnian, I would instantly apply the "no taxation without representation" principle and cease to fund the Anglican Communion to the same extent as they have done up till now. Money talks and Rowan, Akinola's successor and all the other loudmouths need to discover the sharp fiscal reality that their little jollies around the globe are only possible because of the Yanqui dollar. So belt up and buckle down.

Stuff it. I'm off to annoy God about this.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Communing with...

well, that would be God - in my own way. I ended up having A Mobile Quiet Day! Having started the day with Morning Prayer in our nice garden shed with the San Damiano crucifix (aka the Holy Hut of Tollcross) before doing some bits and pieces in the house, I proceeded to Costa Coffee for a breakfast roll and a cappuccino and a snoop at the paper. Rather worryingly, I found myself in agreement with John "Vulcan" Redwood on the Euro zone crisis!! Then I headed off in the general direction of the University, but cut up to the Sacred Heart Lauriston - a gloriously baroque Jesuit interior - to spent a bit of time praying. The prayer that came into my mind unprompted was one of Ignatius of Loyola:

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me:
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.

Then it was up to George Square to the Labyrinth opposite the University Library, which walked in the sunshine, is a joy. I love the way you close in on the centre and then swing away: it is such a powerful paradigm of our relationship with God. What stuck me today was the decoration in the centre; trefoils little Trinity symbols, reminding me that my journey was to be at one with and find my rest in the Triune God.

On then to Old St Paul's in search of a lunchtime Mass. There wasn't one (8am today) so instead I snuck into the Lady Chapel, lit a candle and plonked down in front of the Blessed Sacrament to reflect on Ps 100.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

2 things struck me: Know that the Lord he is God - and not a figment of my fevered imagination. And that his truth - the reality of the Divine - will endure for as long as the human race is drawn to worship and honour. The Church as we see and have known it may fade and die but God will not. My final Holy stop was St Patrick's in the Cowgate. Leaving aside my arrival at the tail end of a Mass, the fact the Marian hymn was syrupy Victorian bilge, sung inaudibly and at a pitch only bats and nuns can register and the dreadful glittery material at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (Redemptorist Church - the Jesuits had a discreet and tasteul crown of flowers on the Immaculate Conceptions' napper in Sacred Heart!), I was able to pray a bit again. My little expedition ended with a run up to the Museum in Chambers Street to behold the Lewis Chessmen on display, then a mezze lunch and trip to the cinema to see "Bad Lieutenant" with Nicholas Cage - very good, I loved the iguanas!

Our weekly Benedictine study was a bit less satisfactory - simply because it was crowded and noisy and my little brain went very Aspie and stressed out. Who knows what riches tomorrow holds? Because today was very rewarding indeed.

The daily round, the common task.

The morning rush is over. The residents and guests have breakfasted and the dishwasher is restoring the crockery to operational readiness with its usual Teutonic efficiency. The washing machine restores the Dougalline Keck's to Eco friendly cleanliness as I type. The bed linen is back from the Royal laundry early (Betty Windsor and brood ain't in town) and has been billeted in the linen cupboard, rooms are being cleaned, service sheets sorted and generally speaking, Benedictine order over ordinariness is calmly triumphing. I have a day off and have decided not to spend the day in a train to Ayr for the Prayer Book Society AGM - it's far too nice to sit in a train and Church all day!

I shall go forth and commune with...whatever is worth communing with! Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour is the one form of Chinese cuisine I personally detest (curry, black bean sauce etc fine but SS - yuk!). But life can be a mix of both. Yesterday my shift was stressful. I wrote my 1st ever incident report and helped to administer my 1st ever dose of PRN medication. I wasn't thumped (but I'm learning to float like a butterfly!) and I could rationalise the resident's behaviour as a mixture of physical discomfort and being unsettled by the noise and the to-ing and fro-ing of building work. It was still stressful and tiring. Today, as I was down to celebrate the 8am Mass, I , in best NSM fashion, packed cassock alb and swimming trunks (from altar to work, no time to drop off and pick up), presided at the Holy Mysteries and then went to take my client to swim in Dunbar. Again, a beautiful day, he really enjoyed it and my hitherto undiscovered (or, rather, long forgotten) talent for impersonating a Spitfire shooting down a Messerschmidt seemed to amuse him no end! I was also asked to preach in St Mike's - at Corpus Christi!! So my bad day was balanced by a good one.

Interestingly a colleague shared with me something of their battle against alcohol and their salvation wasn't AA, but a 3 month retreat in a Zen Buddhist monastery near Hexham. He wondered about the monastic life for himself. A very interesting world it is that I seem to be living in these days!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

"Suicide is painless"

A beautiful day again. I went quietly to St Michael's (where according to the bit of paper from the Bish, I am officially commissioned) and was sitting before Mass, when ye Rector sidled up to warn me that a former parishioner of mine would be prayed for in the intercessions in the departed section. He had suffered from bipolar disorder for years and had made several suicide attempts previously. This one succeeded. RIP.

I feel odd about this. At one level, no surprise. At another, "there but for the Grace of God...". The fact that when I crashed and burned last time, I actually got to the point of buying the razor blades - and in the early days at Emmaus, lay awake at night wondering which of the kitchen knives would be best for a quick soak in a warm bath with a couple of drinks, then opening the veins (the benefits of a classical education are obvious) - means I felt sharply the sense of final despair that I know he had gone through. When you have come close to embracing that pain free darkness and oblivion, it changes your perspective. I recall my sense of bafflement 20 odd years back when a University friend killed himself. Why hadn't he seen that the embarrassing situation he had got himself into (kerb crawling in Liverpool where he was a Tory Constituency agent) might have ended his hopes of a political career but wouldn't have stopped him from having a productive life? Now I understand it better. The release from sense of having failed at living can be terribly seductive.

I drew some wisdom from the sermon as it happens. Our desires teach us much about ourselves. Even the desires we fear or see as negative. Sexual desire teaches us of our need to love and to be loved. Desire for alcohol as an emotional anaesthetic teaches us of our desire for emotional stability and serenity. Desire for the nihilism of self-inflicted death teaches us about our deep desire for peace and respite from "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". It is exactly when we follow the "devices and desires of our own hearts" that we get into trouble. Our desires have to be understood and assesed for their healthiness if they are to enable us be who we are called to be. Discerment and self knowledge are vital both to cut our way clear of our own unruly wills and affections that may be calling us into damage and also to slash through the frigidity and oppressiveness of ancient taboos reinforced by religious affirmation ("The Church/Bible teaches..."). The chains that bind us can be self, as well as socially and culturally, inflicted.

I went to a meeting to let some of this go - to detoxify my little brain if you like. A description of a dangerous mental attitude from the Big Book struck me forcibly: we fail to cope when we adopt an attitude of "belligerent denial". Which I translated as refusing to admit our powerlessness and angrily thinking we ought to be able cope/get a grip/get better. The horrid thing about mental health problems is that you are intelligent enough and aware enough to know you are broken inside but have no hope or see no chance of it healing even in time. It is only when you get some sense of hope (even a name for the problem) that you can begin to recover.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A Day Off in the sunshine

What to do on a day off was the question facing me last night: the question was resolved by dint of a trip to the barbers, an egg & mushroom bap and a macchiato for brekkie, off to Cowdenbeath to see Ma, shoe shopping (no Jimmy Choo's to be found in the Cowdenbeath Factory Shop!), a meal out @ the new Chinese resturaunt in town, then back to sunny Embra to find my nice Bishop had sent me my commission and a nice letter. All in all a decent day. And tomorrow is Pentecost. I prefer the old terminology of Whitsun. Whitsun, red and glorious with Spring sunshine. And athletic types hurtling about on a marathon. The guy who ran the very 1st marathon allegedly dropped down dead after it. That says it all for me. It's Greek and it's bad for your health. Don't do it!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!

Yep. Definitely. I arrived at work to the crash of flying crockery and after a day of medical intervention's am glad to be off for the weekend. Thanks be to God for the guy who discovered diazepam! Not a chemical cosh used properly but a very handy tool for relieving anxiety.

Last night I took myself to the pictures to see "American" a documentary about the American comic Bill Hicks. Surprise surprise, he did his best work after kicking the booze and joining AA. A brilliant sometimes scabrous wit who died way too young of pancreatic cancer at 32. Tonight I shall go and anoint at NiteKirk and play spot the General Assembly escapees! I have no idea what to do tomorrow but offer this little God shaped bit from the Tao Te Ching as a thought for tonight:

"Be content with what you have
Rejoice in the way things are
When you realise there is nothing lacking
The whole world belongs to you."

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Pleasantly bl***y knackered!

I have a right to be tonight: 26 1/2 hours on duty (back shift, sleepover, day shift, 2 hrs overtime + 1/2 hour TOIL - Time Off In Lieu to the uninitiated) and I returned to set the table at Emmaus! That said, I had the most gorgeous drive in the afternoon in brilliant sunshine from Dunbar (Are the natives thereof called Dunbarbarians? And if not, why not?) through North Berwick, Gullane and Aberlady. The Bass Rock in the brilliant blue of the Forth reminded me so much of holidays in Cyprus. It was like something from the Aegean, rather than across the Water from Methyl (I mean Methil!). Admittedly the shock of suddenly finding myself as senior on duty with responsibility for deciding on the use of PRN meds gave me an adrenaline surge in the morning and my patience was needed in a car park for 40 mins - but I learned much about swearing in Italian from a colleague! This job is a bit UN like in so far as I was on shift with Polish, Chinese and Italian colleagues, had dinner with Welsh, English, Scots and Australian guests and went to a group tonight which added Dutch and Irish to the mixture. Cosmopolitan? Moi?

A great day - but thank the Lord I'm on the backshift tomorrow!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Dancing on the Streets tonight!

Not me personally, but certainly in spirit! The Blue Brazil won their play off against Drechin City today and will be in the 1st Division next year, alongside arch rivals Dunfermline ("The Townies"), Wraith Rovers (fans include Gordon Brown and Val McDermid) and sundry other mad mobs such as Falkirk, Partick Thistle Nil (Hiya Kenny!) and the giant conquering Staggies! Fun! Memo to self: get a season ticket, ya Muppet!

A nice day watching Thomas the Tank Engine at Bo'ness - actually a real live steam locomotive dressed up as him! This job is reconnecting me with my inner wean! Yesterday was the museum at Chambers Street and Tuesday Dunbar swimming pool. I am enjoying being out and about without the hassle of owning , taxing and running a car! No Church due to work and a late-ish dinner, so I shall make it to mass on the morrow methinks!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day Off

Well, my day off plan to meet an old friend went "boink", so I drank coffee, ate olives and hummus (the Lebanese have just reclaimed their world record for making the biggest batch ever from the Israelis!), mooched around some charity shops (buying a guide to bird life), made gluten free bread (quite palatable really) and wondered how we will ever cope with a ginger Scottish Secretary? I also keep on calling the new Tory Chairperson "the Kharzi of Kalabar" simply because the name Warsi makes me think of the Kenneth Williams character in "Carry on Up the Khyber" who said "She won't mind it - the British are used to cuts!" We will be soon!

The Blue Brazil will be live on telly on Saturday as they play Drechin City for promotion! Stay tuned ye faithful!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Good bits bad bits.

Good bit: a day spent driving a service user to Dunbar, using the pool (I really hate wave machines BTW), having a packed lunch over looking a castle and getting paid for it.

Bad bit: fantasising about a drink with a meal on holiday.

Good bit: a great and very uplifting AA meeting which put my skull in a good place. (Chapter 7 of the Big Book is a goodie!)

Bad bit: Cameron is PM. Still feel queasy about LD's supporting this. It may be a good thing. I dunno.

A bit Curates' Egg really. That's, as Francis Albert Sinatra pointed out, Life!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sunday in Springtime

With a friend coming up to visit and arriving on the 12.07 at Waverley, High Mass at St Michael's was going to be impossible with it's 11am start today. So it was Old St Paul's Ho! 10.30 start and just at the top of the steps from the train station - nae bother I think. Aye. Right.

The High Mass was a Nuptial Mass. They were still doing communion when I shot out the door at noon having received the Blessed Sacrament! It was a nice service, with a better choir than St Mike's and a good sermon. My only mumph's were: They used that bl**dy silly Handsel thing from the new marriage liturgy (pretentious pseudo-Celtic mince IMHO) and someone needs to hand out diet and exercise plans at the door - loadsa tubby Piskies!

That said, the day proceeded nicely with the Dutch Landscapes exhibition and lunch at the Queen's Hoose (Roast lamb and the trimmings!), a long walk up Arthur's Seat in the glorious spring sunshine, chocolate cake in the Grassmarket and din-dins at Emmaus (chicken and broccoli in a cheese sauce with roast spuds and peas, followed by ice cream fruit salad and chocolate caramel sauce. And we meet again in Berwick tomorrow!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A day at the fitba

Operating on the "stuff politics, I need a break" principle, I set off for sunny Alloa to watch the mighty Blue Brazil today. Stopping briefly for a mozzarella and olive flat bread and a latte before boarding the choo-choo train (who sez footie fans have no cultyir?), I travelled on the relatively new Hillfoots line from Stirling to Alloa for the 1st time. Very scenic it is, too, in the spring sunshine. The Ochils looked simply gorgeous and you got an equally stunning vista of them from the Away terracing at Recreation Park. I like the way the names of Scottish football grounds describe their historic function like RP or location like Central Park. Wonder what went on at Gayfield? :-)

We won, the pies were excellent and very reasonably priced, the weather splendid (why do we insist in not having a winter break in football and playing into the decent spring weather?) and I returned home to enjoy pizza, salad and potato salad for my dinner. Life is good.

The Body Politic

Reflecting on my feelings of queasiness with regard to a Tory Lib Dem pact, it struck me that the Great British electorate tends to go Labour when money is available to be spent to improve life ("Spread the Lurve") and Tory-ish when the economy looks hooky because the Nasty Party will cut back and biff stroppy unions. Really, the idiocy of the unions in striking in the run up to May 6th was a great aid to getting the Tory vote up and out. Sadly, a dose of nasty Tory medicine may be what the economy needs and I can only hope the LD presence will mitigate some of the nastiness. Head and heart are not in sync over the state of the Nation today. Bummer!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Sort of

Food wise a "sort of" day. A very continental breakfast of muesli, polish bread, cheese and cold meat (sort of healthy) was followed by a sort of healthy lunch which consisted of a chicken and sweetcorn wrap (that was the salad bit) and a Reese's peanut bar and a glass of orange juice. Dinner was a Jamaican chicken brown stew with boiled rice and oven chips with fruit squash to drink.

Politically it was also a "sort of" day. Lib Dem I am, but I feel somewhat queasy about an alliance with the Tories. It just wouldn't have happened under Charlie Kennedy - I didn't vote in the Clegg election, as I was disgusted and appalled at the treatment of both CK and Sir Ming. And I'm begining to wish I'd voted Communist rather than for the proto-Tory effect. A protest vote certainly, but I could at least have claimed to have rejected Thatcherism Lite. Yuk!

My antidote will be Recreation Park Alloa for the play-offs tomorrow! C'mon the Beath!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Food and thought

Woden's day was a healthy start (muesli & toast) breakfast, followed by scotch broth from a tin and a cheese and chutney sarnie for lunch, sausage casserole, boiled rice and Chinese vegetable dumplings (staff food cupboard had a very odd mix of contents!) for evening meal then a late snack of cold pizza (it was a left over and I cannot bear waste!). Today was muesli again for brekkie, cheese and pickle sarnie, Quavers and a slab of Rocky Road for lunch. There was also a pre voting coffee (mocha) and chocolate tiffin then split pea soup with bread and pate (well and a wee bit of Stilton!) for din dins. And some chocolate raisins. Cheese and chocolate feature a lot in this diet of mine - luckily I have never had a migraine in my life!

Today I was actually tempted not to vote Liberal. There was a Communist candidate standing! However, I stuck to my preferred party (though I have developed something of a habit of voting SNP for the cooncil and Holyrood in the last few years). There, it has focused on the candidate rather than the party in all honesty. So "iacta ilea est" and we shall see what comes to pass come the morrow. Please God, not the Cameroons.

A rather lovely quote from Sister Joan Chittister OSB came up in our Thursday night study group: "Work is not just a job; it is our exercise in miracle making". Of course, it helps if you have one. Time to pray for those who will weild power in the next few years methinks.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

More munching.

Breakfast was a non event today - unless you count a small espresso! Bad Dougal! Lunch - a steak and cheese sub out of Subway (no dressing and everything in the salad bar cucumber) with a small Sprite and a packet of crisps. One chocolate tiffin with a medium mocha as a snack and some pizza for dinner - mainly vegetarian (well, one slice of bacon chicken and mushroom to 3 veggie). Oh and a glass of orange juice. At least some veggies snuck in there! But quite a lot of cheese seems to be a theme.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Watching the intake!

Breakfast was a cold bacon butty and coffee, lunch a cheese and onion sarnie from Tesco's and an Summer Fruits Oasis, din-dins haggis, neeps tatties and peas. Plus a bread and jam nibble at 11-ish! The day was spent taking peeps to watch steam choo-choos in Bo'ness! Bet Gordon Brown wishes he had my job!

Sunday, 2 May 2010


No, I'm not worrying about my weight, but I am slightly curious as to the healthiness of my diet. I don't think it's too bad but I thought it worth recording for a week or so what I munch to see if it's reasonably healthy.

So yesterday was: Breakfast - 2 poached eggs on buttered toast (Flora not butter) + coffee; lunch - 2 plates home made lentil soup + bread and flora; dinner - Italian meatballs & pasta, chocolate brownie cake, vanilla ice cream, fresh mango and pineapple on the side with chocolate sauce. during the day: 1 bag of chocolate coated raisins as a nibble.

Today: breakfast was a bowl of muesli, fresh pineapple, spoonful of cherry yoghurt, slice of toast with marmalade and coffee. We shall see what follows!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day, May Day!

Happy May Day Tovarischi!

An Anglo-Catholic Socialist hymn, for May Day, as celebrated in the Parish of St Mary's Thaxted, Essex, where the Red Flag and the St George's Flag were flown together in the incumbency of Fr Conrad Noel.
Original lyrics by Charles Dalmon.
Revisions by Kenneth Leech and Ted Mellor.

1. You faithful saints and martyrs
Who fought for truth and right,
We ask your prayers and blessings
To aid us in our fight.
Your faith shall be our watchword,
Your cause shall be our own -
To fight against oppression
Till it be overthrown.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

2. In many a golden story,
On many a golden page,
The poets in their poems
Have sung the golden age,
The age of love and beauty,
The age of joy and peace,
When everyone lived gladly
And shared the earth's increase.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

3. Today the tyrants triumph
And bind us for their gains,
But Jesus Christ our Saviour
Will free us from our chains,
And love, the only master,
Will strive with might and greed,
Till might is right no longer,
And right is might indeed.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

4. God is the only Landlord
To whom our rents are due.
God made the earth for everyone
And not for just a few.
The four parts of creation --
Earth, water, air, and fire --
God made and ranked and stationed
For every one's desire.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

5. God made the earth for freedom
And God alone is Lord,
And we will win our birthright
By truth's eternal sword;
And all the powers of darkness
And all the hosts of pride
Shall pass and be forgotten
For God is by our side.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

6. Christ blessed the meek and told them
That they the earth should own.
And he will lead the battle
From his eternal throne.
O have no fear, my comrades,
Cry out in holy mirth!
For God to us has promised
His Kingdom here on earth.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.