Friday, January 30, 2009

A Poet Limericist?!

The country is looking for a new Poet Laureate - someone to chart the course of the nation in verse, and to mark great state occasions with sombre lines. I have a suggestion to make in this regard. The archaic and irrelevant post of Poet Laureate should be re-invented as the Poet Limericist, producing entertaining five-liners, to capture the public mood. I have something like this in mind:
Gordon Brown 'saved the world' just in time
But now the Pound's worth only a dime
And as this recession
Slumps down into depression
This saviour looks somewhat 'sub-prime'.
Your alternative suggestions are welcome in the comments!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

(in the) Care of the Elderly

The media are consistently unfair to old people. If one were to believe the usual reporting - all old people, without jobs or children to care for, roam the streets causing trouble; loaf about enjoying final-salary pensions, or stagger from one holiday destination to the next. This is of course most unfair to the many old people who have been rescued from a life of pointless leisure by being given socially useful tasks to perform. Here is one such person who we will call "dad" to protect his anonymity, busy decorating my attic! Photo of "Grandpa" by Doris, aged 3.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PBC Extension Progress

"do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing" Heb 10:25

- a meeting house

Let their be lights!

"make disciples of nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit".

"a house of prayer"

"preach the word, in season and out of season"

"practice hospitality" - a kitchen

The Foyer - a place of welcome!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Perth on Monday

Icy hills in the background, ice slates in the foreground. Monday 26th in Perth

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Looking South-westwards, 4pm this afternoon

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two brilliant cartoons.

The above is from this week's Private Eye, the following was sent to me on e-mail

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Bargains!

For those of you who were disgusted by what Waterstones laughingly called their "sale", which in practice seemed to involve displaying a lot more sale posters than books for sale; help is at hand! Oxford University Press launched their annual book sale today, and although not as impressive at last year's offering, still counts a 'proper' sale, with large discounts on a wide range of good books. There were even some pretty cheap hardbacks lurking in there this morning too! As well as the sale catalogue browseable by subjects (links below), there is once again the most useful link of all: click this link for Books under £5.

Click these links for sale categories
Archaeology Art Biography Biosciences Business Chemistry Classics & Ancient History Dictionaries & Reference Economics,Engineering & Computing Geography History Law Linguistics Literature Mathematics Media & Film Medicine Music Books Ornithology Philosophy Physics Politics Popular Health Popular Science Psychology & Neuroscience Religion Sociology

Brief, but dramatic

The tower of St John's Kirk in Perth just visible through the falling snow. Taken at midday yesterday during an intense, but incredibly short-lived blizzard.

Origins (quotes)

Here's a few quotes I tried to use to stimulate our discussion of Genesis 1 in our house-group tonight. The first three paragraphs have been scanned separately to get a readable font-size, but read continuously, the other paragraphs are all separate. References are at the bottom of the page.




Paragraphs 1-3, Tim Keller, "Reason for God", p92-3.
Paragraph 4, Tim Keller, "Reason for God", p88
Paragraph 5, Derek Kidner, "Tyndale Commentary on Genesis" (Additional Note: The Days of Creation), p57.
Paragraph 6, Derek Kidner, "Tyndale Commentary on Genesis" (Additional Note: The Days of Creation), p55.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Perth on Monday

I can see a 'gloom' theme emerging here!

Who ate all the pies....................?

Who ate all the pies? (well, pizzas anyway). Good friends, old friends, crazy children, precious times.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Not me, Scotland at this time of year, short days, long evenings. It was too dark to play football by 4pm.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mine's a pint

Extolling the wonders of beer invokes two stereotypes. The first is of those whose love of the substance is primarily related to quantity, their drink is lager and their behaviour loutish. The other end of the spectrum are those for whom beer appreciation is a matter of quality. Their drink is real ale and their behaviour is appropriate for the arran-jumper wearing, railway preservation societies and Yetties gigs at which you find them. They might be the objects of derision, but they know their fuggles from their goldings.

It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that your author has no tendencies towards the first stereotype and worrying tendencies towards the latter. I will admit to visiting a steam railway or two in my time, but would like to robustly deny all rumours of Yetties gigs, Morris-dancing, and the like.

Nevertheless, on a cold winter's evening, when rain lashes the outside of the house and the fire is crackling in the grate and the adjacent seat is primed ready with a good book; the scene of happy contentment is completed with a foaming pint of good English Ale. I say English, quite deliberately, because despite having lived in Scotland for almost all my adult life, I still dislike Scottish ales. This isn't a prejudice against my adopted homeland, they just don't taste quite right, and it doesn't sound right either. In my defence to my Scots friends I would have to add that I wouldn't especially like the thought of an 'English Malt whisky' such as "Glen Milton Keynes" either - so let's appreciate what we are both best at!

Here then are my bottled beer awards. None of these are rare or obscure brews, and I am no expert on the production, breweries or ingredients of these ales, these are simply my subjective appreciations.

In first place is Shepherd Neame's 1698, bottle-conditioned strong ale. Bottle-conditioning means that a little yeast is added to the bottle so a fuller, final fermentation takes place in the bottle. This gives the ale a wonderful smoothness, almost as if it was from the cask. It also makes it fiendishly strong, and responsible drinking of this remarkable ale involves food and a long-slow appreciation of its rich tones. Pleasantly bitter, complex, malty and presented with a thick rich head, 1698 has a pleasant sweetness underlying the hoppy bitterness. All these elements are found in such a delightful balance that the overwhelming taste is almost buttery, with more than a hint of banana loaf! Only locally available in ASDA, 1698 is my undisputed champion bottled ale. Second place has been awarded to Fuller's London Pride, the ongoing proof that something good can come from Chiswick! London Pride is absolutely top-notch on draught, and the bottled version manages a worthy impression of that great drink. Pleasantly bitter, mellow, drinkable, and not as strong as 1698; London Pride is a consistently first-class ale. Because London Pride is not an extreme ale (by which I mean it isn't hugely bitter, or massively hoppy, or excessively laden with fruity-notes, but has its elements) it is eminently quaffable, and it takes discipline to make sure that it is not rushed, because its beautiful balance should not be mistaken for lack of complexity.
In third-place comes my long-time favourite, Shepheard Neame's Bishop's finger, which comes like their 1698 from their Faversham Brewery in Kent. The unusual name for this ale (according to the blurb on the label) refers to the signposts (shaped like a hand with pointing finger) which once guided pilgrims through Kent's hop-fields on their way to Thomas a Becket's shrine at Canterbury. As "Kentish" strong ale Shepherd Neame have gained a European Protected Geographical Indicator for Bishop's Finger, in its combination of Kentish Hops, Barley and spring water. Bishops Finger is the Lagavulin of the beer world. Full, strong, hoppy, bitter and dark brown-reddish in colour, it has an unmistakable flavour and finish. While it is a great accompaniment to strong flavoured foods, and would be great with a hearty beef casserole or could even give a good curry a run for its money, it would clash with lighter delicate dishes. Finger, has for all its bitter-strength, an interesting flowery, perfumey aftertaste which is a fascinating and lovely sub-text to the main hoppy sensation. If drunk very slightly chilled though, Bishop's Finger is really refreshing as this brings to the fore the ale's other major flavour, the cystal-clear, spring water which Shepherd Neame extract from their artesian well.

Adnams brewery in Suffolk produce a variety of good beers, of which their "Adnams Bitter" is lovely on draught. In bottles, Broadside is a good bet. Very dark, robust, strong and enjoyably bitter, it has something almost European about it, reminding me of some of the dark-beers found in France, for example. Because of its fascinating complexity and lovely taste, it wins a fourth-place honour here. It is a beer I drink less often because it is one that is nice to have for a change, but is (for me anyway) too far to one end of the taste spectrum to make a regular beer. Nevertheless a fine pint in its own right.

In fifth place comes Old Speckled Hen, Morland Brewery's standard bottled Ale. It is light, mellow, malty, pleasant and very easy to drink. Being neither as strong as 1698, I don't have to be so cautious with it, and it blends nicely with a wider range of foods than something Bishop's Finger does. Always good, consistent, a good all-round ale that appeals to a wide range of drinkers.

My final award goes to the odiously titled "Tangle Foot". This is another beer which is nice to have sometimes for a change. Tangle foot is unusually bubbly for an ale, and is loaded with blossomy perfume, and an almost unique citrus-lemon flavour that bursts out underneath the bitter initial flavour. In comparison with the majestic flavours of Bishop's Finger, or the wonderful balanced complexity of London Pride, Tangle Foot is out of its depth. Nevertheless as a really unusual ale, zesty, spicy and nutty, Tangle Foot is worthy of a mention.

There are no doubt many other ales as good as these, and no doubt many rarer and more expensive ones than these too. However, in terms of regular supermarket shopping these are my beer awards.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This is the third degree...........

A Lendrick Mural

Lendrick Muir, SU-Scotland activity centre, for the weekend youth camp reunion.

Rain, fun, food, mud, God, prayer, music, games, friends, lunacy, dressing up, challenges, table tennis, strange traditions, Bible, pots, films, entertainment, Gospel, necklaces, singing, crafts, twister, jenga, pizza, football, mountain bikes, dodgy wiring, pool table, prizes lesser and greater.