Archive | May 2014

100 days – Day 39: Tramspotting

100 days – Day 39:   Tramspotting


This is rather sad…….


(from yesterday’s Scotsman)

TRAM fans will flock to Edinburgh tomorrow from at least as far as Berlin to sample the capital’s first fare-paying services for nearly 60 years.




German publisher Robert Schwandl will be among aficionados boarding the inaugural trams as the long-delayed project finally starts to recoup its £776 million cost.

Dawn will have barely broken over the Gyle shopping centre when an unknown number of the most eager passengers gather expectantly for the 5am departure to York Place.

Their enthusiasm is likely to gladden the hearts of city council officials who have endured the – some say self-inflicted –construction nightmare that has beset the capital.

But if there are glowing smiles aboard the first tram, the acid test for the scheme will come later in the day when more sceptical passengers take to the rails to pass their own verdict.

Mr Schwandl said he had been anticipating his visit for some time, as it would enable him to complete a new book on British trams.


Trams on Shandwick Place

He told The Scotsman: “It is a good excuse for a trip to Edinburgh, and we’ve been waiting for a long time to see this open.

“For 2015, I’m planning a Tram Atlas British Isles, and apart from important extensions still under way in Birmingham and Nottingham, Edinburgh’s tram has always been the one I had to wait for anyway before publishing such a book.


Vic Simons, a former British Rail manager, who is coming from St Albans in Hertfordshire for the occasion.

Mr Simons will be staying in a nearby hotel before getting a taxi to the Gyle for the first run.

He said: “It’s a big deal – the last new tram system was in Nottingham ten years ago.

“Edinburgh people will take to it and want extra lines, especially to Leith.”

Mr Simons, 68, who is also a director of tram campaigners the Light Rail Transit Association, said he had been bitten by the tram bug as a six-year-old in London.

He said: “I remember the feel of being on rails, but on a street, and gliding along while the rest of the traffic was much slower.”



Closer to home, Edinburgh solicitor Andrew Boyd, 66, plans to join the 5am queue to make amends for missing the city’s last tram in 1956.

He said: “It will be a historic occasion after all the troubles the project has experienced in the course of its construction.

“I travelled quite a lot on the old trams as a small boy, but they were not sleek and the track was not very well maintained.

“I will be making good an omission not to have travelled on the last one.






I’m reminded of the ” Heid Trainspotter”  (or just plain “Heid-banger” about whom I blogged on

The West Highland Line is a Mighty Fine Line….. (unless you’re stuck with an “anorak” )


First he took off his camouflaged army surplus jacket and folded (!) the crumpled garment on the seat next to him.

He was wearing a jacket underneath with badges up and down the lapels, all of which seemed to be railway related. In the breast pocket was an armoury of ball-point pens & inside a veritable arsenal of different coloured Bics.

Underneath was a home-knitted sweater with a picture of “Thomas” on it (actually it didn’t have a picture – I made that up – but it was a tank top)


He then delved into his backpack and produced several sheets of schematic diagrams, a couple of notebooks and a tin of baked beans – all of which he placed on the table between us.

After a few minutes, he got out a Swiss Army knife and opened the can, before starting to eat them cold with a spoon which magically appeared from somewhere.

Half way through this “breakfast” – it was something like 7.30 in the morning – he burped loudly, showering the table and his charts with tomato sauce. He wiped this off the diagrams with his sleeve.

Eventually, he said “Hi, I’m Trevor”


“like Sandy (sic) Shaw the Eurovision mega-star? I love Eurovision. Been to some of the preliminary rounds. One day, I’m taking a train to wherever it’s been held. Do you like Lulu? Brotherhood of Man for me.” Then, as an afterthought, “Isn’t Sandy a girl’s name”

“Not so much in Scotland”

Me: “I take it you’re a train spotter?”

“Good God no – they’re sad w*nkers; I’m a student of railway infrastructure. What about yourself, what do you do?”

“A Minister”

“Do you believe in God?”


“I love the Bible, but with no disrespect, I’m a bit of an antagonist (sic)” I gathered later that he meant ‘agnostic’

he continued, “My favourite story is the one about God smiting the Good Samaritan. That’s a word you don’t hear nowadays, more the pity”

“Yeh” said I in reply.

“Hell”, I thought to myself, “I’m going to be stuck with Trevor the Tank Engine for miles”

“since you’re a man of the cloth, maybe you could answer something for me?”

“OK – I’ll try”

“Given that we’re going to be travelling through hill and dale on our journey, why did God put mountains in the way, causing umpteen navies to bore through them to make tunnels. A bit inconsiderate, surely?”

“Maybe God was setting a challenge or a test for the engineers”

“Why didn’t he do it himself?”

“That’s a good question – Oh, listen, that’s the whistle…. we’re on our way”

Trevor spent the entire journey ignoring the magnificent scenery.  Instead, he checked what seemed to be every point, signal and railway infrastructure as we passed on our way.

At one point he ejaculated (probably in both senses of the word) “Oh, oh, Jesus (sorry, Rev) – they’ve got that wrong”, pointing to his chart and thumbing through his notebook with tomato-stained fingers – wait till I’m home (in Essex) and, by Christ (sorry, Rev) I’ll be in touch with these cartographers – big big mistake there- major error!”

And so it went.  As I tried to catch a glimpse of the natural wonders outside the carriage window, his almost constant  logorrhoea about what to look out for next (re: pointless points etc)  virtually reached orgasmic proportions.


train west highland way

Eventually we reached Malaig

“I think I’ll have a wander around and worship at the ‘Altar of Bacchus” said I

“Oh is it his Saint’s Day in the Church of Scotland?”

“Do you want to join me?”

“That’s OK, thanks, I’ve got a tin of sardines in oil with me. I’ll just sit here on the platform bench and catch up with my Bradshaw and, anyhow, I want to do some calculations on the timetable – I’m getting off at Rannoch Moor on the way back and then on to Perth to connect with the night train south, getting off at Peterborough and on to March in east Anglia…..” (I’m not sure if that was an accurate reportage of his plans, but it was along those lines

And he did get off at Rannoch Moor station. And vanished into the night, but before he did he gave me a tin of baked beans – a kindly gesture, even though I didn’t have a tin opener nor a fork or spoon.

I then settled down – on my own – to read my copy of Herron’s “Law and Practice of the Kirk – a Practical Guide” – after all, you’ve got to keep abreast of the workings of the Institution.  And anyhow, I’d seen the scenery on the trip up

100 days – Day 38: new car day day

100 days – Day 38: new car day






 This is my new Citroen DS4 2 litre diesel







It replaces my Citroen C4

get-attachment (1)

But I’m still keeping my “boy” (sc. “geriatric”) racer – my Peugeot RCZ GT


100 days – Day 37: Ascension Day

100 days – Day 37: Ascension Day (Thursday, 29 May, 2014)




Salvador Dali, 1948

It is the day the Church celebrates Christ’s ascension to sit by his Father’s side. The mental image we have is that Christ simply “floated” into heaven. Once when preaching to group of very young children on this day several years ago, a minister asked the children what they thought the disciples saw when he ascended.

One little boy answered innocently, “I see the bottom of Jesus’ feet!” Apparently, Salvador Dali felt the same way!



Composers Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring Wrote Crown Him with Many Crowns.
In the 1800s there was great tension between the Catholic and Anglican churches . Crown Him with Many Crowns is a wonderful example of how God takes the troubles of man and turns them around for good (Romans 8:28).

The song was originally penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894), who once wrote a book condemning Roman Catholic theology, and then later converted to Catholicism. Bridges wrote six stanzas, based upon Revelations 19:12, “…and on His head were many crowns.”

Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) was a devout Anglican clergyman who was concerned that this popular hymn was allowing Catholic theology to be sung by protestant congregations. And so he wrote six new verses.

The 12 stanzas have been mixed and matched down through the years. Interestingly, of the following six verses most commonly appearing in hymnals today, three were written by Bridges (vs 1,2,and 4) and three by Thring (vs 3,5 and 6).

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of heaven: One with the Father known,
One with the Spirit Through Him given From yonder glorious throne.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou hast died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail Throughout eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11)


100 days – Day 36: Happiness

100 days – Day 36: Happiness


This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi,     translation by Coleman Barks

  • Getty   good health and sunshine! 
  • dogs

 My Dogs!

  • innocence

IMGP0758New places (above: Valletta, Malta)


 the Beauty of Nature (photo- Crichton Gardens)

Listening to a favourite song
Looking at a beautiful work of art  (photo – Michelangelo’s “David” in Florence)

IMGP0754  Sunset (photo taken on Western Mediterranean Cruise
In Rome - at the Forum    A Loved One (Helen in Rome)
                        The joy of having a Grandchild
image        The Simple Things in Life

  • Companionship  (Helen and Sandy – Tobago, 1983)
  • Family (Richard and Cora)
  • 624_900PigeonPoint-tobago
  • Awe (Pigeon Point, Tobago)



100 days – Day 35: Day of the Living Dead

100 days – Day 35: Day of the Living Dead



Poor Nick Clegg – he’s really getting it in the neck in today’s newspapers, following the very poor results his Party got in the Euro elections. It would appear that many Liberal Democrats want rid of him as leader of their Party. One headline (in the Telegraph) shouts:  

Lib Dems call for Nick Clegg’s head

and this cartoon appeared in the Daily Mail:   image

 But – in the Guardian – there is this: “Facing calls to quit from some party activists and parliamentary candidates, Clegg claimed it had not “crossed his mind” to resign, adding that he would not hesitate if he thought it would help the Lib Dems in the long term. “If I thought any of our real dilemmas would be addressed by changing leadership, changing strategy, changing approaches, bailing out now, changing direction, then I wouldn’t hesitate advocating it,” he said in a carefully choreographed interview.”   “Lib Dems call for Nick Clegg’s head”


Regicide, like suicide, is never easy



Another “Leader” who should fall on his sword also gets coverage  in today’s news: this man…….



 Once Captain Courageous: now Coach Clueless

Terry Butcher and Nick Clegg, are singing from the same hymn- sheet, “We will not, we will not be moved!”   Can’t they see what damage they have done to their respective “teams” , Hibs FC relegated; Lib Dems condemned?

Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibernian Supporters’ Association, said: “…… we want Butcher and Maurice Malpas to resign…..

“We want a complete clearout at Easter Road and will announce plans about how we’re going to go about it. It will be an attack – we’re not sitting back.”



Tom English, writing on the BBC Scotland’s Football site, describes last Sunday’s game when Hamilton Accies beat the Hobos, thus relegating  them.


“On a day of many memorable images, there was one that springs to mind. Minutes before the end of normal time, and with his side clinging to a 2-1 lead like a man hanging from a cliff-top, Butcher walked to the edge of his technical area and started flapping his arms madly, like a big old bird attempting to take flight. “Flap, flap went Butcher and flap, flap went Butcher’s players. Flap went his defenders as they hoofed the ball clear with the composure of men whose trousers were on fire. Flap went his midfielders and his strikers, devoid of confidence and any semblance of leadership. “This has been the way of it all season. Those panic-struck moments were the year – the era – microcosm. A flapathon.”


A “Flapathon”


The logo of the Liberal Democrats is that of a bird


They sure are in a flap too – time for Nick to fly away? And, while you’re at it, Nick,please  take your equally useless wee brother with you!




100 days – Day 34

100 days – Day 34:    Memorials and Freedom


Once, in the mid 1970s,  I  talked to a school assembly about memorials. I no longer have the notes (it was, after all, almost forty years ago), but I remember mentioning two memorials in particular. The first is to be found in Normandy in northern France – and is dedicated to the memory of one Madame Harel. Who? Well, Marie Harel (nee Fontaine) invented Camembert cheese!    

Madame Horel – inventor of Camembert cheese, Normandy

In 1791 by Marie Harel is said to have invented this type of cheese who was a farmer from Normandy. The idea came from a from a priest who was from the town of Brie famous for its cheeses. The abbey who was called Bonvoust supposedly sought refuge with Marie at her farm. In return for the shelter she offered him, he gave to Marie the secret of making Camembert cheese.


The next memorial that I talked about at that School Assembly was one erected in remembrance of  Captain Hanson Gregory, of Rockport, Maine.  Captain Gregory’s claim to fame is that he allegedly invented the hole in the doughnut!

This  sea captain  reportedly ate blobs of fried dough while piloting his ship. One day in 1847, he impaled the blobs on the handles of the ship’s big steering wheel for easy snack access. And so,  the idea of the doughnut — dough with a handy hole — was born.




 Rockport didn’t forget its famous son. On the 100th anniversary of  Captain Gregory’s discovery, a plaque was erected at his birth site (spelling it “donut”). The building that once stood there is now gone, but the Lutheran church that currently occupies the spot takes good care of the plaque, planting around it with flowers.


Today, in the United States, Memorial Day is commemorated with a Federal holiday.

Memorial Day is a time to  remember those who died while serving in the armed forces.

 The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.

By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honour all Americans who have died while in the military service.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans



But let’s leave Doughnuts,  and this Special Commemoration of Memorial Day in the USA, and go back to  Normandy

Not to the memorial to the inventor of a particular type of cheese, but to the forthcoming anniversary of  D Day and the Normandy landings, and its commemoration.

Last week, David Cameron has paid tribute to Britain’s D-Day veterans ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

The prime minister described his “awe and pride” at an operation which marked “the beginning of the end of fascism”.

He was speaking on board HMS Belfast, the World War Two ship, which is moored on the River Thames.

The five surviving D-Day veterans who served on HMS Belfast were also present at the commemorative ceremony.

The 6 June 1944 attack saw more than 156,000 Allied troops storm the beaches of France and marked the beginning of the end of WWII.

HMS Belfast spent five weeks supporting the D-Day landings, firing thousands of shells.

Flypast on HMS Belfast

The Prime Minister told the veterans he would educate his children about the bravery shown by those serving their country.

“I will teach [my children] that the freedoms we enjoy weren’t just handed down, they were hard won.

“I will teach them that their generation and my generation owe your generation so much.”

Tuesday’s ceremony came ahead of huge commemoration events planned for both the UK and France in June, including an international event on one of the Normandy beaches attended by veterans and dignitaries including the Queen, Mr Cameron, and US President Barack Obama.







I write this on the morning following the results of the European elections.

Remaining in France, first of all – it is worrying that a Fascist political party, the National Front, has won so many votes.  This far-right, anti-immigrant party led by Marine Le Pen took something like 26 percent of the vote

Further, it appears that voters across Europe have also voted for extremist right wing parties.

Chillingly, there were signs a neo-Nazi  candidate for the NPD party could be elected in Germany, giving the far-Right a foothold for the first time in decades

In Greece, the anti-Europe Syriza party topped the poll with 26.49 per cent of the vote and the extreme right Right Golden Dawn looked set to enter the European Parliament for the first time, with three seats and 9.3 per cent of the vote.

The party – which denies claims it is a criminal organisation with a neo-Nazi ideology – came third overall in Greece.

The anti-Islam Danish People’s Party came first in that country’s elections.

After a bloody World War, in which freedom was won at such great cost, what have we done to allow the memorial to be so besmirched by those who copy-cat (to large degree) those who created such division in the first place.

Did we win the War, only to lose the peace?


May our living memorial be a life that has ingrained in its heart these words from the Apostle’s letter to the Philippians, at Chapter 4 verse 8:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.





100 days – Day 33: Sermon preached at Dumfries Northwest Church on Sunday, 25 May 2014

100 days – Day 33

this is an EXTENDED version of a sermon preached today – it is, if you like, “the Director’s Cut”


I’m very fond of watching films – old and new – comedy and drama – adventure and whodunnits.

I’ve got a handful of blurays and DVDs in my sitting room – as Neil will testify!

Plus Sky Movie channels and Netflix on computer.

However, I don’t like romances……  although this one scene from a classic movie is truly memorable.

This is  one of the greatest movies ever and an enduring classic – it’s not a romance, but this scene is romantic in a bitter-sweet way


Casablanca – at the airport Rick and Isla part…….


Ilsa: But what about us?

Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.

Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.

[Ilsa lowers her head and begins to cry]

Rick: Now, now…

[Rick gently places his hand under her chin and raises it so their eyes meet]

Rick: Here’s looking at you kid.


“As time goes by”


It’s often very difficult to say ‘goodbye’ – especially if it’s a member of the family or a close friend who is going away for a while.  Railway stations, airports, bus stations and ferry terminals can be pretty awful places at times.

I used to live and work in Trinidad as a Church of Scotland minister to the four kirks on the Island.

Sometimes, my work – or leave, of course – would see me at Piarco International Airport, catching a plane to North America, or the UK, or the Island of Grenada, where I did a couple of stints as a locum.

Many times, there would be little groups of tearful Trini’s, bidding farewell to a family member or close friend, as they walked toward the departure gate to catch their flight to Toronto or New York or London – where, in all of these cities, there are large communities of ex-pat West Indians.

Sometimes, I’d overhear this – and it was said to me too, when I returned to Scotland on leave:

“Travelling mercies be upon you!”

What a beautiful thing to say, to wish for, to pray for!

And the reunions at that same airport when a loved one returned.  What welcomes!  what joy that the journey had been completed safely, and the loved one was back in the bosom of his or her family.



……In our lifetime, there are many goodbyes and some of them can be hard, even painful.

Imprinted in my mind most vividly is my beloved wife asleep on her death-bed – just a matter of hours before she died.  I bent over her, kissed her on her forehead and said “Thank you; I’ll see you again soon enough somewhere, some time. You’ll be safe”


‘parting is such sweet sorrow’

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are forbidden to be together

Though they are sad they must leave, they look forward to the time they will be together once more, and therefore the parting contains both sorrow, and the promise of something sweet and beautiful.

My words to my dying wife again, “I’ll see you again soon enough – somewhere, some time…..”


There are many ‘goodbyes’ in the Bible…..

  • We’re going to start with that grand old man Moses who led the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt through the wilderness toward the promised land.

 Moses at the end of so many years of service to Israel, is not allowed by God to enter the promised land.  He looks back at what they have done together, then he looks forward, and bids them farewell.

He says goodbye to his people – ‘Happy art thou, O Israel’ he cries, ‘A people saved by the Lord.’


He knows that God has protected them in the past, and has no fears for their future – for he knows they are in God’s safe keeping.

  • Then there is Jacob, a very elderly man.  What a long and exciting life he has led; what a man he has been. 

Then had come the loss of his son Joseph, whom he had believed had been killed.  But years later, Joseph, now a great man in Egypt, was reunited with his family.

In his old age, Jacob moved with his entire household down to that strange land to settle there.  He lived in Egypt, but his heart was still in his homeland of Palestine.

Even as he lay dying and said his goodbyes, he begged that his body should be taken back and buried in the land he loved..


  • Then there is the parting between Jonathan and David. 

Jonathan was a prince, the son of King Saul, and David was a shepherd boy, and they became very close friends.  But David was perceived as being a rival to Saul, so the King forced them apart.  They met secretly to say goodbye, embraced and wept.

Then Jonathan said these last beautiful words:

    ‘Go in peace…the Lord shall be between thee and me…forever’

They had to part, but in their love of God, they would always be one.


  • There is the parting between St Paul and the elders of Ephesus 

The old Apostle, having done his work in these parts, is on the way back to Jerusalem.

He knows that he is running into danger, and, therefore, says goodbye to his friends.  Even grown men at such times can break down in tears, so Paul asks them to stop as they are making things harder for him.

How these Christians really did care for one another.


And, then there is Jesus addressing his disciples.  Today’s Gospel picks up immediately from where we finished last week, when looking at the first fourteen verses of the 14th chapter of the Fourth Gospel.

READING: John 14 verses 15 to 21

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’


 This must have been terrible for the disciples.

He’s telling them that he’s leaving them.

Here was the one who had brought God into their lives in a real and living way, now saying his goodbyes.  What a blow that should have been.

Here is Jesus whom his disciples had known so wonderfully, and who had changed their lives forever, now going away from them.

But when they do part – on Ascension Day (which is celebrated this Thursday) – we discover that the disciples went back to Jerusalem, ‘filled with great joy’ ‘Filled with great joy’


 Because they had his promise that although it was goodbye and an end of meeting together in the old way with him before their eyes, it was the beginning of his being with them in a new way.

He didn’t leave them bereft, nor orphans, nor alone and cast adrift.  He had promised them an “advocate” a “comforter” (and that word literally means someone or something that strengthens us – we get “fortify” from the same Latin root)

He would be with them, in spirit, always.  And not just with them, but with us too.


I started with a film quote; here’s another…… this time from “Spiderman 2” which I saw last week.



It’s the valedictory speech at High School given by Gwen Stacy, the classmate and former girlfriend of Peter Parker (Spiderman’s everyday persona): 

She says:

“It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too, and they’ll be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most, no matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive, we have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you, is to become hope, people need that, and even if we fail, what better way is there to live. As we look around here today, and all the people who helped make us who we are, I know it feels like we’re saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other, into everything we do next, to remind us of who we are, And who we are meant to be.


And this –

 Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s. 




Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.

At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students.

But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream. 

At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job.

The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama programme. 

No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education. 

What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people.

Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation. He has taught his final class. 

With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes. His wife and son arrive to give him a hand. 

As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium.

Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is. 

To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads “Goodbye, Mr. Holland.” 

Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.

His wife, who was in on the surprise reception, approaches the podium and makes small talk until the master of ceremonies, the governor of Oregon, arrives.

The governor is none other than a student Mr. Holland helped to believe in herself his first year of teaching. 

As she addresses the room of well-wishers, she speaks for the hundreds who fill the auditorium:

“Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my life (on a lot of lives, I know), and yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent.

Rumour had it he was always working on this symphony of his, and this was going to make him famous and rich (probably both). 

But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous. At least not outside our little town. 

So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure, but he’d be wrong. 

Because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame.”

Looking at her former teacher the governor gestures with a sweeping hand and continues, “Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus.
And we are the music of your life.”


Life is about the impressions that we make, like finger prints we leave everywhere.

Jesus left finger prints on the lives of people he met and laboured with,

Never underestimate that people will forget what you say and often forget what you may do for them but they will never forget the way you made them feel!
So leave good impressions like fingerprints of the hearts of people you meet 


A couple of weeks or so ago , a remarkable young man died – and what a legacy of hope and inspiration he has left us.

Stephen Sutton, raised more than £3.5m  for charity after news of his illness spread on social media.

Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer aged 15.

Rather than dwell on his misfortune, the teenager drew up a “bucket list” of things he wanted to achieve before he died.

This led to him completing a skydive and playing drums in front of 90,000 people before the Uefa Champions League final at Wembley last May, among various achievements



  Someone wrote this about this extraordinary young man:

“In his last few weeks, Stephen Sutton aged only 19,was  unable to process the outpouring of emotion and compassion that he had triggered. He did not want to die, but his thirst for life did not manifest itself in gloomy or depressing ways.

“Cancer sucks, but life is great,” was his motto.

 Announcing Stephen’s death, his mother wrote that “her heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son”, and that the “ongoing support and outpouring of love for Stephen will help greatly at this difficult time, in the same way as it helped Stephen throughout his journey”.

Her pride undoubtedly has much to do with the fact that cancer never defeated Sutton, even though it took his life. He will not just be remembered for his fundraising or his refusal to be defined by his cancer.

 He inspired people to embrace life, regardless of the obstacles, to be full of compassion, and to look after each other. That is quite a legacy”





We never have to say goodbye to Jesus, he is with us forever.

Remember what he said ‘ I am with you always, even to the close of the age’ And he is, as king of kings & lord of lords – and in that we can all rejoice.










100 days – Day 32: Bacon

100 days – Day 32: bacon


I dreamed last night of having a bacon roll this morning.  A real bacon roll; none of that streaky, crispy substitute !  In America, in February, I lost count of the number of times I crunched my way through fragmenting strips of tasteless rubbish in BLT sandwiches and in Burgers.

In the USA, the most commonly available bacon is the streaky variety:  thinly sliced pieces of slab bacon. Slab bacon is cured and/or smoked pork belly with rind and streaks of lean meat. It’s about 2/3rds fat, and 1/3rd meat. Smokiness varies.

Our bacon, usually “back bacon”  is meatier and leaner. It’s the cured and/or smoked part of the lower pig loin, with a ring of fat.  In the USA, the closest you get to UK style bacon is Canadian bacon, BUT Canadian bacon refers to only the lean part of the lower pig loin.




Before I went into the kitchen, I had a quick skim through the online newspapers.  One of the main headlines is the success of UKIP in the English local elections, and the backlash within the Labour Party  ranks

One article started off by saying that Labour was in turmoil last night as senior MPs rounded on Ed Miliband for failing to anticipate the dangers of a UKIP surge, and making them “depressed about their chances of regaining power”

 Mr Miliband was accused of running a ‘tremendously ill-judged campaign’ marred by gaffes.

What could they mean by “gaffes“?


As a Jew the worst thing with the Miliband pic is he’s eating bacon. I confess I’ve eaten it too, but I didn’t inhale.  David Schneider (actor and comedian)

This, of course, has led to some rather amusing photos having been posted in Twitter and other social media sites:


  Ed wonders why Meg’s bacon sarnie has THAT kind of affect on her



Charlie’s boot looks tastier than Ed’s sandwich


OK, so I went to the fridge, and…….. there’s NO bacon.  So, I’m just having a couple of cuppas instead….. and will have a fry-up this evening.

Meanwhile, here’s an old joke:


A priest and a rabbi are seated next to one another on a plane.

During the flight, the priest says, “Tell me, rabbi, is it still a requirement of the Jewish faith that you do not eat pork?” “That is the case, yes,” says the rabbi.

“But tell me, did you ever get tempted – did it ever appeal so much that you couldn’t resist and decided to see what, say, bacon tasted like?” the priest goes on.

“Yes, Father, there was one occasion when, as a young man, the smell of bacon became too much of a temptation and I tasted it,” the rabbi admits.

“And how did you find it?” asks the priest..

“Well, says the rabbi, “Since we are both men of God and being honest with one another, I must confess it was excellent. I enjoyed it very much. But I never ate it ever again.

” The priest sits back, looking smug.

Later during the flight, the rabbi says to the priest, “Tell me, father – is it still a requirement of your own faith that you do not have sex?”

“Why yes,” says the priest, “That is indeed true.”

“But were you ever tempted, even once, to see what it is like?” the rabbi continues.

“Well, as you were so honest with me, I must confess that indeed, once, when I was a young man, I did sleep with a woman,” the priest tells him.

“Beats the hell out of a bacon sandwich, doesn’t it?” says the rabbi.


Well, readers, at this stage in the morning, I STILL would prefer a bacon butty!



100 days – Day 31

100 days - Day 31


100 days – Day 31: Flying Vermin


A few years ago, Dumfries, which is plagued by these swooping and sometimes vicious gulls, which have been known to attack pets and people, employed a company with hawks. These birds of prey would be allowed to circle the skies above the Town, and frighten off the gulls.

I remember my wife, Helen, admiring one of these beautiful creatures – on display with the hawker – in the town centre.  A wee boy was fascinated with this bird, and asked its keeper, “When you let it up into the sky, does it come back to you?”

The guy, very deadpan, replied, “No, son, we just get a new one every day!”


DUMFRIES is under attack from marauding seagulls. Politicians were forced to hold a special “gull summit” in the town to work out a way to tackle the menace of aggressive birds.

Environment Minister Mike Russell has vowed to “get tough on seagulls and the causes of seagulls”. Weary postal workers now say swooping gulls are a bigger danger than DOGS.




Gull force … our man braves the streets of Dumfries with a snack

100 days – Day 30: European Elections Day




100 days – Day 30     European Elections Day

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