Archive | June 2014

100 days – Day 69: Ramadan and the World Cup

100 days – Day 69: Ramadan and the World Cup




Ramadan coincides for the first time since 1986 with the World Cup. The 30-day period of fasting and prayer, which requires dawn to dusk abstinence from food, drink and sex, began on Saturday and is expected to end July 28.

Today – Monday, 30 June – will be particularly difficult for two particular teams – and especially Algeria.  99% of Algerians are Sunni Muslims – so, presumably, this statistic is the same for their national football team.  Their opponents in this 16th round draw are Germany, within whose player ranks are the likes of  Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, and Shkodran Mustafi – all Muslims.

According to AFP (h/t France24), the majority of Algeria’s players have decided to fast in spite of the potential health risks posed, particularly dehydration and associated potential injuries.

Brazilian physiologist Turibio Leite worked with athletes in Dubai during Ramadan for a number of years.

“When I lived there we couldn’t force the athletes to train without eating, so we trained during the night,” he said.

Luckily, daylight in Brazil adds up to only 11 hours, compared to 16 hours in Europe and England, which may give players a degree of respite.




Luckily, the disgraced Louis Suarez is not a Muslim


100 days – Day 68: football has no morals; Strachan nails it…. well said, Gordon!

100 days: Day 68 – Football Morals

Scotland manager says football has no morals and that Suarez would welcomed back with open arms by Liverpool fans should he remain at Anfield

Gordon Strachan has claimed that football has no morals and suggested that despite Luis Suárez‘s latest indiscretion he would be welcomed back with open arms by Liverpool fans should he remain at Anfield.

The Scotland manager, speaking on ITV ahead of Thursday’s Group G clash between Belgium and South Korea, said Uruguay‘s willingness to defend their striker in the wake of his nine game and four month ban was understandable and no different to what anyone would do when faced with the loss of a star player.



Luis Suarez reaction show that football has no morals, claims Gordon Strachan

“We give Uruguay stick about defending [Suárez], but every manager defends his player,” said Strachan.

“People talk about morals – we don’t have any morals in football. Let’s get that right.

“Over the years I have played there has been wife-batterers, drink-driving incidents, infidelity, Eric Cantona jumping into the crowd and kung-fu-ing someone in the chest. The clubs stand by them.

“The supporters themselves, when these guys come back, they stand up and applaud them on the pitch.

“So don’t anybody start talking about morals – we don’t have any in football.

“If these things had been done by youth team players – who don’t have any importance to the first team – they get sacked.

“But because they can bring in merchandise and bring in money, then they will back them to the hilt.”



100 days – Day 67: Armed Forces Day/Bannockburn

100 days – Day 67

Today – Saturday, 28 June 2014 – is Armed Forces Day.

It’s an opportunity to do two things. Firstly, to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Secondly, it gives the nation an opportunity to Show Your Support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets.

Across the country people are getting involved: communities hold local events and business show their support.

The National Event will be held in Stirling, but many more events will be held up and down the country in support of Armed Forces Day.




Also in Stirling,  thousands of people will be gathering to attend a weekend of re-enactments and historical recreations at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn

Hundreds of actors will recreate the 1314 battle three times a day throughout Bannockburn Live.

The event is being held at the site of the decisive conflict, where Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II.

It is surely no co-incidence that the Referendum on Scottish Independence is being held in this 700th anniversary of this Battle.




Let’s try and combine these two strands of thought:

 A story ……..


A newly appointed Army Chaplain was being shown round the barracks by the Commanding Officer.

They came to an old dilapidated hut.  “I’m sorry, Padre, but this is all we have for your worship services, but some of the squaddies were painters and decorators in civvy life – they might be able to spruce things up a bit for you”

And that was true.  The Chaplain sought out two or three of them and they gave the place a lick of paint.

After this was done, one of them (who had been a sign writer in his previous incarnation), was approached by the Padre.

” You know”, said the Chaplain, “We could do with something eye-catching on the chancel wall – some symbol or design or something”.

“Leave it with me” said the squaddie, “Give me a few hours and I’ll see you right, Sir”

So, a while later, the Chaplain came back and this is what he saw:


Now, not wanting to upset the Private, who, after all, had done a magnificent job, the Chaplain congratulated him – and then added, “That’s excellent – but I was thinking of something perhaps a bit more religious”

“Leave it with me, Sir; come back in an hour and you’ll love what I’ve got in mind.

So that’s what happened…..

…. and the sign now read “Scotland forever and ever  AMEN”

100 days – Day 66: All the lonely people.

100 days – Day 66: All the Lonely People


Two news stories particularly caught my attention today


A Scottish pensioner who lived in Bournemouth lay dead in her flat for SIX YEARS while neighbours held garden parties outside.

Anne Leitrim, in her 70s, hadn’t been seen since 2008. She was only found after the money in her bank account ran out and bailiffs went to her home to collect months of mortgage arrears.

They got in through one of two windows which were ajar at the flat throughout the six years, and discovered “soft-spoken and friendly” Anne’s remains.




Britain has been declared the loneliness capital of Europe.

The Office for National Statistics found that we are less likely to have strong friendships or know our neighbours than inhabitants of any other country in the EU.


Also a survey conducted last year by The Silver Line discovered that 2.5 million older people in Britain described themselves as lonely.

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that feeling lonely increased the risk of heart attacks, dementia, depression, and could disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure and lower the immune system. Those who felt isolated from others were 14 per cent more likely to have an early death.

With the percentage of households occupied by one person doubling between 1972 and 2008, and  with the decline of community and an increased focus on work,  that makes for a lot of disconnected people.


This is a shocking state of affairs




I remember, as an assistant Minister, in 1973-4, visiting a particular lady who would be in her late sixties and single; she lived on the top floor of a block of flats in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh – a soulless housing estate on the western edge of the City.  There was little, if anything, to do there – and elderly folk didn’t particularly like going out after dark.  Her apartment was on the same floor as three other flats.  But she NEVER saw her neighbours; they would either be out at work during the day (or out in the town), and, at night,indoors watching TV.

No wonder this elderly woman suffered from depression and stress, and, on one occasion that I know of, tried to take her own life. 



From “Mind”:
As social beings, most of us feel the need for rewarding social contact and relationships. One common definition of loneliness is that it is the feeling we get when our need for this type of contact is not met.

However, loneliness is not the same as being alone. You might choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people. Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family and still feel lonely.

Loneliness is not feeling part of the world. You might be surrounded by loads of people but… you are [still] lonely.

Loneliness can have a significant impact on your mental health. It can contribute to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Having a mental health problem can also make you feel lonely. For example, your condition may mean that you find social contact difficult or that you find it hard to maintain friendships, or you may feel isolated because of stigma and discrimination.
Loneliness has many different causes and affects people differently. Often people feel lonely because of their personal circumstances. But sometimes loneliness is a deeper, more constant feeling that comes from within.
Certain lifestyles and the stresses of daily life can make some people socially isolated and vulnerable to loneliness. There are many situations that might make you feel isolated or lonely.

For example, if you:

lose a partner or someone close to you
go through a relationship break-up
are a single parent or caring for someone else – you may find it hard to maintain a social life
retire and lose the social contact you had at work
are older and find it difficult to go out alone
move to a new area without family, friends or community networks
belong to a minority ethnic group and live in an area without others from a similar background
are excluded from social activities – for example, because of mobility problems or a shortage of money
experience discrimination and stigma – for example, because of a disability or long-term health condition, or your gender, race or sexuality
have experienced sexual or physical abuse – you may find it hard to form close relationships with other people.

Some people experience deep and constant feelings of loneliness that come from within and do not disappear, regardless of their social situation or how many friends they have.

There are many reasons people experience this kind of loneliness. You might feel unable to like yourself or to be liked by others, or you may lack self-confidence. This may come from having been unloved as a child so that, as an adult, you continue to feel unlovable in all relationships. Or sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, people isolate themselves within their relationships because they are afraid of being hurt.

Loneliness, for me, is a side effect of the barriers I’ve put up over the years to protect myself from the world, and the world from me.

If you experience this deeper type of loneliness, you may try to avoid being on your own and spend a lot of time socialising. Or you may react in the opposite way, hiding away on your own so you don’t have to face a world of people you feel unconnected to. You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as using alcohol or drugs, to escape your feelings of loneliness or to face social situations that you can’t avoid.









100 days – Day 65: 40 years on

100 days - Day 65: 40 years on

100 days – Day 65: fortieth anniversary of my Ordination


On the evening of Thursday, 26 June, 1974, I was ordained to the Church of Scotland Ministry of Word and Sacrament, and inducted to my first Charge: Kilmadock Parish Church, Doune, near Stirling.







And…… forty years  on! (“age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn”)   🙂



100 days – Day 64: Jaws

100 days – Day 64: Jaws



Helen and I saw this movie in Stirling when it first came out.  She was so traumatised by it that she had to have a large gin and tonic when we got home!  Well, that was her excuse, anyhow.


Last night, I watched “The Retun of Jaws” on TV – the World Cup game between Uruguay and Italy, during which – with the score at 0-0 – Luis Suárez appeared to bite his Italian opponent, Chellini Giorgio , on the shoulder.

I learned this morning that Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Uruguay biter….sorry, striker.

If “Jaws” (he’s got past form in sinking his fangs into opponent’s bodies) is found guilty, then he could face a very lengthy ban from playing.

Uruguay went on to win the game 1-0, a result that knocked the 2006 champions out of the World Cup

Stating the bleeding obvious,  senior Fifa official Michel D’Hooge told the BBC that “biting is not compatible with normal football practice”.  Really?!!!!

Meanwhile, after the match, “Jaws” had no comment to make, as he sipped from a phial containing what looked like a Bloody Mary.

I have a solution to this disgraceful incident!   In future, Senor Suárez  should take to the field, wearing this neat accessory to his playing kit:






And, remember, folks…….

images (2)


You couldn’t make it up: the referee was the  Mexican  Marco Rodríguez – whose nickname happens to be Dracula!!!!

100 days – Day 63: Curry

100 days – Day 63: A Tribute to my Favourite Cuisine… Curry



100 days – Day 62 Wimbledon

100 days – Day 62  Wimbledon – which starts today  🙂


The 2013 Men’s Single Final saw Andy Murray (“British” if he wins; “Scottish”, if he loses) playing Djokovic

After three hours and nine minutes, Murray defeated Djokovic  6–4, 7–5, 6–4 to win the match – the first male Briton since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the title.


It is said that Richard Dawkins was ready to believe in God!

Dawkins has for years, some say belligerently, attacked the idea that there could possibly be a God by systematically using evolutionary science to explain how our ecosystem developed.

However, the esteemed professor admitted that all scientific knowledge was facing unequivocal ‘wipeout’ as it appeared  Murray was going to go and win Wimbledon.

“He was dominating,” a tearful Dawkins muttered to himself, in his Holiday Inn room. “He is  dominating.”

He started to feel a sweat come on. He rifled through textbooks on his iPad,only to admit to himself  that here  was the one gap in our scientific knowledge. There is simply no way that Britain can possibly produce a tennis champion.”

In his mind he recalled how the crowd at Centre Court are such planks that most British players actually want them to lose in the vain hope that they puke up all that overpriced strawberries and cream they’ve eaten.”

In hushed and earnest tones, Dawkins admitted he was faced for the first time with the idea of God.

But then he dozed off.

When he awoke, in a sweat, trembling, he said to himself, “Thank God (!) it was a dream”

But when, a pipe band, outside his hotel, started to play “Flower of Scotland” he wasn’t too sure; and this was compounded when his Holiday Inn copy of the Gideon’s Bible miraculously fell from his bedside cupboard, open at the verse: “Freedom!!!!”



100 days – Day 61: yet even more about my favourite beverage

100 days – Day 61: yet more about TEA!



100 days – Day 60: Summer Solstice

100 days – Day 60: The Longest Day


preparing for the Summer Solstice with Spinal Tap





Today marks the summer solstice, marking the beginning of summer.

Saturday, 21 June, is the longest day of the year and is universally celebrated – as, in ancient times, solstices and equinoxes were a guide to understanding the passing of the Seasons.  

The solstice and midsummer period was usually celebrated by Pagans commemorating the fertility of the season.  However,  its associations with life and nature are now celebrated by many and varied contemporary cultures.

Every year, thousands of revellers flock to Stonehenge in Wiltshire and UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrate.



Many summer solstice traditions include bonfires, originally a pagan custom, although it has been adopted by Christian denominations to celebrate Saint John’s Day. In Greece, men leap over the flames, while in Bulgaria, a barefoot dance on hot embers called Nestinarstvo is performed.

Many cultures celebrate the birthday of St John the Baptist, which is believed to coincide with the summer solstice, with food and drink  – anyone for the Dance of the Seven Veils and a barbecued head on a platter!!!?


 This is the day of Light – the brightest day – the marriage of Heaven and Earth










And then, it’s over….and we, dour Scots, will be heard muttering, “Aye, the nights are fair drawing in!”

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