The insatiable moon film trailer…

We were discussing a book by Mike Riddell that I loaned to our friend Pauline the other day- called ‘Sacred Journey’. It is a good book for those of us long on the road, and still trying to make sense of the spiritual nature of this life of ours.

And I remembered that one of Riddell’s other books, a novel, had recently been made into a film.

I went searching, and discovered the trailer…

I am trying to decide whether to read the book or wait for the film- anyone seen/read either?

It seems to be about the two issues closest to my heart- mental illness and God- and looks great.

Perhaps need to wait for it to be released on DVD, I can’t imagine it coming to our local flea pit…

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The cover of my new book…


Just received a proof of the sleeve of my new book of poetry, out on Proost soon.

I have felt strangely subdued about this project- possibly because it has been a long time in the making- the poems were written over a ten year period, and I have been trying to get the book into shape for most of this year.

But Jonny sent me Jon Birch’s proof- and it is lovely!

Suddenly the book seems real.

Shelter from the snow…

The snow is here.

It has been smothering the East of the country for the last few days, but the cold winds blowing in from the heart of Europe have found their way to the West.

It is lovely, but everything has stopped. We have a car full of rubbish for the tip that we can not move, and the snow shows no signs of stopping.

The chickens are a little freaked- this must be their first experience of snow.

I spent some time in my workshop clearing it out and blocking off some of the open side- what keeps the rain out is not as effective against drifting snow. And the chickens were keen to join me.

I did not have the heart to kick them back out into the snow.

It is still one of my favourite places to be…


I have decided to change the word ‘advent’ into an adjective rather than a verb.

Then, rather than being merely a calendic description, it might become a spiritual practice.

Instead of being a commercial break before the main consumption, it might then become a period of reflective anticipation.

Instead of being something to rush headlong past towards a glittering destination, we might start to savour the journey.

So tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent- always on or around St Andrews day- I am going to begin…


Aoradh daily meditation…

Following a discussion about how we might build some deliberate practices into our community life, Aoradh are about to start an experiment where we circulate a daily meditation by e-mail. This will be for six weeks initially, then we will review things.

Each of us are going to take a week, and prayerfully offer something to the wider group. There will be no theme or common thread at the moment- but I expect a mix of all sorts of scripture/poetry/thoughts.

If you would like to join us and receive the e-mail, drop me a line and I will add you to the circulation list…

Ashes to Ashes…

William was ill last week, and watched some DVDs of England’s win in the 2005 Ashes series repeatedly. He has become a bit of a cricket fanatic (and of course, as a fellow sufferer, I am proud of him!)

William decided we needed our own trophy, and so burnt a wooden stump in the fireplace, and put the ashes in a jam jar. (I could explain why he did this, but if you do not know already, then you are probably not interested in cricket history…)


So far, it is one match each in a five match series. Played in poor light on dodgy monoblock with a hard plastic covered full size ball that hurts when it hits you.

I thought it worth mentioning as England play Australia in the first of five Ashes tests tonight. England are the current holders, but have not won in Australia since the early 1980’s and start this time as marginal favourites, with an Australian team in disarray.

To whet the appetite, I thought it appropriate to share a Freddy Flintoff story. In 2005 after an incredibly close match which was narrowly edged by England, Australian cricketer Brett Lee collapsed to the grass in tears. In what was hailed as a piece of great sportsmanship that could only be seen in the sport of cricket, Flintoff went up to him, put a supportive arm around his shoulder and whispered some words in his ear.

Here is Flintoff describing the incident, which tells a rather different side to the story-

Winter calls us to fireside…

It is a cold night.

It feels as though winter is with us now- the trees are almost bare apart from a few rattly dry leaves. Frost is on the windows of the car, and the sky has a cold clarity that brings out the wonder in me.

Not that I linger long before the expanse of it- rather I shiver and feel the beckoning call of the fireside.

Tonight our housegroup met- we watched the second of the recent ‘Big Silence‘ series.

As ever there was much laughter first though- my favourite story tonight was from Pauline, who described taking her grand kids on the train into Glasgow, and being uncomfortable as they were sitting next to some loud sweary young people.

“It was great last night” shouted one. “We got pissed and talked about good stuff like drink and sex and zombies!”

Drink and sex- fair enough.

But zombies?


I watched “The madness of  Peter Howson” on TV tonight.

I watched him spending months and months creating a painting of John Ogilvie, Catholic son of a Scottish Calvinist, who was hanged for ‘refusing to accept the King’s spiritual jurisdiction’.

For Howson, the creative process was a tortuous one- constantly making and remaking the work, whilst struggling with depression and suicidal feelings.

Along the way he was diagnosed as suffering from Aspergers syndrome, and his assets are now managed by a Guardian.

I have met Howson at an art exhibition we staged as part of an Aoradh event- he cuts an odd and rather shambolic figure, but his genius is without doubt. It arises out of his own twisted brokeness which seem to be the compost in which this wonderful art grows.

Which set me thinking again about creativity- where it comes from, and what can set it loose.

For Howson, this is not a risk free joyful process- it is crowded with self doubt and self criticism. But above all, his creativity is driven– he is compelled to create.

My own experience is far more limited- in terms of my creative talent, my drive and thankfully even my measure of existential angst. But there was something in watching Howson tonight that very much resonated with me- and no doubt would do with lots of creative people.

For us, creating things brings life.

But it also pitches us on a rollercoaster of emotion- joy, doubt, uncertainty, crises of confidence.

But not getting on the rollercoaster is simply not an option.

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1st collector for BBC News – Howson completes Ogilvie work
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A brass band like no other…

William has started to learn to play trombone.

So far it has been surprisingly painless- he seems to have a natural aptitude for it. Also, those shrill screeches that I remember from Emily’s flute and violin practice are mercifully absent. (To be fair- she plays both beautifully these days.)

As part of the learning, he came across this clip of Mnozil Brass playing around. It is great fun talent and theatre all mixed together…