Small people…

Read this today (here)…

The late Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano once expressed his deepest concern that “we are all suffering from amnesia … [that makes us] blind to small things and small people”. Who, I asked him, was responsible for this forgetfulness. “It’s not a person,” he explained. “It’s a system of power that is always deciding in the name of humanity who deserves to be remembered, and who deserves to be forgotten.”

If you are in any doubt about how our own society, dominated by the twisted logic of ‘Austerity’, views small people, then you really need to watch this film.


Expect to be devastated. Not by the hard story it tells, as much as by the moments of kindness perpetrated by ordinary people. Small people

It is hard to escape the logic emerging from the Bible narrative- where we see systematic waves of Empire rising up and promoting the accumulation of power and wealth over the worth of small people.

The Jesus-logic of the Beatitudes turns this upside down and inside out.

Blessed are those who are poor in spirit…

Blessed are they in failure
Blessed are they in defeat
And blessed are they in
Every empty success
Blessed are they when plans, laid out-
Are stolen

And dreams are drained by

Middle age

Blessed are the wage slaves
And the mortgage makers
Blessed are those who keep on treading

This treadmill

Blessed are they who have no hope
And for whom life is
Grey and formless

Blessed are the B-list
And the has-been’s

Blessed are they at the end
Of all their coping

For here I am

And here I am building

My Kingdom

1984 and more…



The field was full, said Spicer

The NHS is broken

The Holocaust was fake news

The world is not warming

(And I never touched that woman)

Wealth trickles down

Poverty is the direct consequence of indolence


Ignore those pinko academics,

for I have alternative facts

from the University of Google


Conspiracy is the spice of digital life

This toxicity resists all known antibiotics

It seems that even silicon

Can fester


I did not say what you heard me say

And should you contradict

Future truth will land only in the laps

Of some other network


Reality is inside the human skull said O’Brian

It has no external dimension

With a dismissive flick of my hand

I remake the laws of nature


And more.


Another (cricket) season starts…


Campbell facing

I have a small confession. Despite its ephemeral frivolity, few things in life (aside from family) make me as uncomplicatedly happy as…


I know, I know, it is just sport- a way of passing time whilst real life happens all around. In these times it may even be the equivalent of fiddling whilst Rome burns. But if you have ever played the game you will know what I mean.

Yesterday, I dragged myself (despite being near death from man flu) to Bute to play in the first league game of the season against Ardencaple (Helensburgh 2nd IX.) We won. Will scored a fine and sometimes brutal 82, I contributed a much less fine 37 and then took 3 for 17. We managed a total of 217 for 9 from 40 overs, Ardencaple were all out for 144. It feels good to win, but winning is not necessary for joy at our level of cricket. In fact some might say it is a little vulgar, a bit too keen.

My mate Graham played for his team yesterday (Hutton Rudby) and posted this magnificent result on FB- they were all out for 4 off 15 overs. Such a result is to be celebrated. It suggests to me not incompetence, but passion. It is no shame to be outclassed and outplayed on the cricket field- the point of playing cricket really is the simple joy of the game. In fact, the team who overwhelmed Hutton Rudby should feel shame that they did not extend the match beyond 15 overs- there is an art to this- bringing on the weaker bowlers at the right time- giving a little for the sake of the day.


So how am I able to justify this puerile love for a simple game of bat and ball? Of course I could talk about the great events in international cricket- titanic clashes of style and willpower in front of ecstatic crowds. But instead, I offer this;


  1. It is a great leveller. Players of all abilities make up one team. Some players are brilliant, others totally inept. All are welcome.
  2. Youth is nurtured by age in the same playing arena. Where else does that still happen?
  3. I get to play with my son Will. He has decided that the cut and thrust of division one is too serious, too much pressure. He wants to have fun. Yesterday I batted with him for 10 overs. It does not get much better than that.
  4. The banter. There is a kind of banter on a cricket field that is like no other. It is allowed to be crude, but not rude. Any abuse should be reserved for team mates.
  5. Passion. It is allowed, but when it erupts into anger (a dropped catch, a ball allowed through the legs for four etc.) then everyone is a bit embarrassed.
  6. Great things can be achieved by mediocrity. The stunning catch taken with a smack between the man boobs. The miraculously improbable six. The terrible bowler who cleans up the oppositions gun batsman, who can’t believe what just happened to him.
  7. Team/Individual. Cricket is an individual game in a team context. This means that we play for ourselves, whilst looking out for each other.
  8. A series of events. We play 40 over matches (the island location of the team has meant the the league has shortened our matches by ten overs to allow for ferry traffic!) This means 240 balls. 240 events. Each one its own mini-drama.
  9. The games within the game. Even in a miss-match, there will be moment where individual bowler-batman confrontations are electrifying.
  10. It allows a kind of very UN-digital friendship and community that has become rare. Where these gatherings develop they should be honoured and nurtured.
  11. The game will go on. There is an almost tangible yearning to ‘hand it on’ to the next generation. It may not be like it was in our day, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

So, to all of you who turn up into the mizzle of a damp day, hope in hand for one more innings – play on.

It will liberate no captives, nor fight any major injustices, but nevertheless, for the simple joy of it – play on.


Aoradh Wilderness Retreat 2017: Eilean Dubh Mor…


This year, we went here. 11 of us, old friends and some retreating for the first time.

It was a small island, one which even I had passed by and hardly noticed. But it was lovely. More than lovely, it was beautiful. A tiny jewel of a place, with a pebbled coast line punctuated by deep dry caves (we even slept in one. Or we would have slept, had it not been for the phantom snorer…)

The island is small, but big enough to do that thing that islands do; they expand to become your whole world. After landing (courtesy of Seafari) we explored, searching for shelter from the wind and above all, water. It has been so dry of late that water was in short supply- we found none running, apart from the odd drip from a shaded cliff face, so we had to manage with dark brown water taken from brackish pools. I have drunk far worse however, despite the chlorine tablets.

As usual we divided our time between stillness and laughter. We cooked over fires, making bread in an stone oven and cooking pancakes on hot rocks pulled back from the flames. We roasted lamb and shared a meal of haggis.

As usual, Crawford was in just the right place to whisper in an Otter’s ear. We saw a school of dolphins (we think they were the relatively rare Risso’s dolphins) on the hunt. Golden Eagles flew overhead and all sorts of feathered things flitted in and through the trees that grow in the sheltered places.

I stood on the high place – a volcanic plug on one end of the island – and all around me were old friends, islands where we have been before. The Garvellachs on one side, Scarba and Jura off in the distance, Lunga shouldered close.

But the real friendship was found in the company I kept. Sharing life like this is not just a pleasure, somehow is seems to make me a better person. In giving, I receive so much more. In hearing a mixture of stories, some of real hardship, some of great progress, my life is deeply enriched. Deep thanks to those of you who came this time. May each and every one of you journey well. Apart from the Phantom snorer. Whoever you are.

Thanks to the owner of the island, Mr Cadzow, for sharing it with us.

Some photos;




Practice the wound of love

Let it devastate

It will scrape your soul

For blessed are the gentled

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are those whose fullness

Now lies empty


Practice the wound of love

For in that broken place

Grief is no longer silent

Ragged roots tap deep

Into this trampled earth

Blessed are you, as you reach for love

For it reaches for you


Practice the wound of love

Let it devastate

For nothing ever came from nothing

Apart from love

At the end of everything

We are cups

Who are cupped

We are held

Aoradh Wilderness Trip 2017- anyone fancy coming along?

Looking north towards the other Garvellachs

For many years, over the May bank holiday weekend, I have been taking a trip with some old friends out to one of the many deserted islands of the inner Hebrides in order to make a kind of retreat. It is something that we have shared with many ‘guests’- some who have been once, others who have become regulars and firm friends.

We are likely to have some spaces on the boat this year and so if you fancy coming along then get in touch.

We will probably be going here. We will leave early on the morning of Saturday the 29th April from Easdale, and be picked up by the boat on Monday afternoon (1st May.) We will confirm these details.

There are some posts describing past trips on this blog – here are a few;

Lunga 2016.

Eilean Mor 2015

A few reflections on wilderness.

Eileach an Naoimh 2011.

The basics of the trips as as follows;

  • We go as a group of supportive friends- this is not a commercial trip. We have no insurance etc.
  • We can supply suggest kit list etc.
  • Costs are just for boat and your own travel etc. Boat will be around £60 each (we split total cost between amount of us that go
  • We camp wild. Not as challenging as you would think
  • We may get wet and cold
  • We split time between ‘social’ and ‘silent’
  • We share experience and conversation in the evening
  • We take resources but you can do whatever you like
  • We start from a Christian tradition, but seek no converts and welcome anyone who is comfortable to talk about their own spiritual journey.

If you are interested, get in touch!


The world is full of grace and beauty…


The world is full of grace and beauty

It needs no landscape gardener

Old Capability Brown was never capable

Of this


The world is full of grace and beauty

This twisted curl of unfolding girl

Needs no photoshop, for inside

Is woman


The world is full of grace and beauty

The singing bird soars on

the unsythesesised arc

Of its song


The world is full of grace and beauty

The trace of trees on amber sky

Is only imitated in paint

Not captured


The world is full of grace and beauty

The celebrities can burn all neon bright

But I was thirsty and she

Brought tea



tea and biscuits