Leave the phone behind…

12th C chapel and broken cross

Will and I are off on a lads trip. I have been so busy over the last weeks that it feels like such a desperate need to get away from things for a while.

We are going to play cricket away down in Carradale, near Campbeltown, on Sunday, weather permitting. We are then camping out somewhere before meeting a group of friends of mixed ages and heading off by boat to a deserted island for two nights.

This is a bit of an experiment really- in taking our kids out into the wilderness, away for the possibility of any kind of screen based infotainment. To be fair, Will is really looking forward to it, but it is likely to be a shock to some. The island we are going to is the same one on which we have led ‘wilderness retreats’- this one in fact.

I saw this today and it seemed apt;




Below the broken houses

Under these shattered streets

The earth lies like litmus;

Bright red

Made toxic by all the anger

All the layers of pain

Fresh young blood

Worms its way

Into each holy strata



A general declares for war

“Until we have located and destroyed each tunnel”

As if it might be possible to rid the earth

Of moles

Or earthworms

But both are fed by what falls from above

Death makes fertile soil

For tunnellers

Take me to Church…

You have probably all already seen this- but I had not.

This was what the singer said here;

Hozier himself describes it as “a bit of a losing your religion song”. Written in the wake of a breakup with his first girlfriend, it is a love song, certainly, but also a contemplation of the idea of sin, drawing influence from Christopher Hitchens and a Fulke Greville poem, Chorus Sacerdotum, that speaks of mankind being “created sick, commanded to be sound”.

He has been startled by the lack of controversy the song has stirred, particularly at home. “That it got on Irish radio, the fact of that was amazing,” he says. “But there is very little loyalty left for the organisation of the church at home. The damage done is obscene. And the lack of action to make reparations, and the lack of political will to make changes. It’s very, very frustrating.”

The core of Take Me to Church is “about how organisations like the Catholic Church undermine what it is to be human and loving somebody else”, and the “offensive, backward, barbaric” notion that every newborn child is born into sin and must be forgiven by God. He has, he says, “a lot of strong opinions about the church”. His parents were raised Catholic – his father educated at a Christian Brothers school, and his mother at a school run by nuns. “And I think they made a very conscious decision not to raise their kids the same way. And I don’t blame them.”

Thunder falls on Venice beach…

venice beach


Yesterday, on Venice Beach, a man was struck by lightning

Honed bronzed flesh was sparked to mere crackling

Many more were shocked.


I do not mean to be flippant at the death of fellow man

No matter how Biblical his ending

The rumble it raises in me is this question;

How did this become world news?

Who decided that one death among a million

Should be at the top of every news cast?


Meanwhile another dozen die in Gaza, nameless and barely noticed

A four year old AIDs orphan coughs his final cough in Mozambique

Fifteen people are killed in a crash outside Kandahar

Scores are killed on the streets of Benghazi as Libya slides into civil war

In Gineau 24 were crushed by rap music.


I should not be surprised -

We celebrate inequality in life

So why not also in death?

One soul does not weigh the same as another

White photogenic flesh is neon

Skin that is darker, dirtier

Is worn like camouflage

Even to the grave

Engine out at sea…

hebrides, snow storm

Sometimes when you stare at the sea

You hear a distant pulse of an engine

But see no ship

It is close

Like a fast heartbeat


And sometimes the hackle of the gulls

Masked as it is by the sigh of the sea

Can sound just like the cry

Of a child

In distress


The roll of a wake

Is a whales back

Which emigrants

Are riding

Back home

The Church, red in (male) tooth and claw…

I read this book recently;



It tells the story of Helen Percy, a Church of Scotland Minister and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who was raped by an elder of her Church, before being ripped apart by a combination of the patriarchal Church archaic infrastructure and the national press.

Helen Percy writes beautifully, but I was left feeling that she is a soul still caught in the harsh headlights of trauma and I long for her to come home, wherever that home might be. Sadly it is unlikely to be the Church.

Read it if you want to understand something more of the life long effects of abuse in childhood. Read it too if you want to see the male institution of Church through the eyes of a young woman who found no mercy, just hard inflexible self serving judgementalism masquerading as justice.

It will break your heart.


OIl rigs, Cromarty firth

We are buying a new car at the moment- my current work pattern involves driving a lot of hard miles, and our current car is managing poor fuel economy, high emissions and the car itself is getting rather tired. The next car will do almost double the miles per gallon and be much ‘greener’.

Although these things are all relative.

How much longer will we be so dependent on burning oil?

How long before all these rusting engineering statements of desire and ascendancy be condemned to the scrapheap?

How long before the giant rigs will be just flotsam, bobbing in a slick of their own making?

Two generations perhaps? Three?

I hope that we learn our lessons- let the grand correction commence…

Fishing gear, oil rig, Cromarty