Monday, 25 March 2013

At the Coffee House!


Hogarth's depiction of Tom King's Coffee House.

There is a difficulty about having a gap in your day between work and Mass in Holy Week.  As I'm in my post pub years, it means I go all 18th century.  I take myself off to a coffee house, plonk myself down with a couple of large flat White's and work my way through the Daily Universal Register, the Manchester Guardian and the North British Gazette. (The Times, Guardian and Scotsman for the incorrigible modernist)

There is only so much caffeine a body can absorb, so a tea referred to as a "mint humbug" finished the session off.  The only thing missing other than my periwig, tricorne hat and snuff box (nasty stuff - makes a horrid mess of your hanky!) was some chops!  The Costa brothers appear to have overlooked this splendid Georgian option in their coffee house bill of fare.  Shame really - I greatly enjoyed discovering the details of Georgian literary life & culture when studying the works of Jonathan Swift in 6th year Studies English.  

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Examples of Grace

Sheikh Amed Magghabri (left) and Rev Isaac Poobalan at St John's Episcopal Church. Picture: Hemedia

Splendid examples of grace and charity are not always in great supply.  The new Pope's decision to do the Maundy liturgy in a Young Offenders Institution  is one such sign today.  Another was in the news a few days ago about the Congregation of St John's Crown Terrace Aberdeen hosting their Islamic neighbours.  This has led to some nasty abuse directed at the Rector, Canon Issac Poobalan and the Church  

I'll declare an interest here: Issac and and I were students at Edinburgh Theological College at the same time. He was Curate of the Church I did a 12 month placement at and I preached for him when he was parish priest at St Clement's Mastrick in Aberdeen.  He is a very nice guy and a thoroughly gracious and deeply prayerful Christian gentleman.  The abuse directed by "trolls" is both vile and unchristian.  Most of these so-called "commentators" hide their identity behind assumed identities whilst displaying their prejudices and ignorance in spectacular and blatant diatribes, often badly spelled and grammatically embarrassing.  However, I have every confidence that my gracious friend Issac will rise above their poisonous spleen and will continue to build bridges and the Kingdom.  And, incidentally, I was the 1st cleric in Falkirk to invite a Muslim to preach at a service rather than address a meeting after Church in the Church hall - so I'm doubtless as "unchristian"  as Issac.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Intelligent leisure

Well, there's been a certain amount of intelligent leisure in Dougal land in the last 7 days.  We went to a Friends do at the National Gallery.  And enjoyed the on loan Rodin sculpture "The Kiss" (see above).  I didn't know there were 3 of them - one in Paris, one in Copenhagen and one in the Tate (in Edinburgh now for a while) which was left by a rich eccentric collector of (mainly homo-erotic art) to that douce Sussex burgh of Lewes.  The cooncil covered its naughty bits with a tarpaulin for many years.  I'm sure Bishop Benn would have approved.

Then we actually had some time off when we didn't have to do any family duties so took ourselves off to sunny Durham to mooch around some of Rachel's old haunts, walk on the riverbank and go to Evensong in the Cathedral.  Beautiful psalms to austere plainchant, polyphonic canticles in Latin (Vittoria in part) and decently constructed intercessions including one of my favourite prayers for the Church by Archbishop William Laud:

 "Gracious Father, I humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church, fill it will all truth, in all truth with peace.  Where it is corrupt purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where any thing is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it; O thou Holy One of Israel.  Amen."

And so it's back to work but feeling refreshed and strengthened.

Monday, 4 March 2013


We have a Sunday afternoon free, shall we go to an art gallery?  No, instead we go to an exhibition on Vikings at the National Museum in Chambers Street.  Oh weel, she used to live on Lindisfarne, where the 1st Viking raid on what is now the UK was recorded  and I spent time on one of their favourite targets Iona, so there is a vague connection and interest there.  Fascinatingly, Vikings were NOT the people - it was the name given in Norse to the trading/raiding journeys.  The Scandinavians went on vikings, they were not Vikings!  And they never wore horny helmets - Richard Wagner's to blame for that idea. (Which I picked up as a child reading Marvel Comics about Thor).  It was however a good and interesting exhibition and well worth a gander if you're in Edinburgh before 12th May. Sadly we missed the screening of "The Vikings" film with Kirk douglas and Tony Curtis which was running while we were there. Next time we go,  it'll be the David Livingstone exhibition -which is finishing in early April.