Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Friday, March 27, 2009


If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. (George Burns)


I took this photo when we were in Geneva a few years ago. The height of the Jet d’Eau fountain is 140m, and the water is forced up at the rate of 500 litres every second.


Last week I told you about Lesley’s dog Cody and his letter to a TV magazine.

But Cody is not the only clever pet in our family. Chocky who is Fiona’s dog was disappointed a few years ago with doggie Christmas crackers, and this is the e-mail she sent to the supplier Hawkin’s Bazaar :-


My name is Chocky and I’m a 10 year old border collie. Mum got me and my 2 pals some doggie Christmas crackers from Hawkins this year. We were really excited because we’ve never had those before. Our mums helped us to open them, and we were really pleased with the silent bangs, because we sometimes get frightened with the human crackers they have at Christmas.

My friend Cody (a basenji) really liked the whistle he got in the cracker. I got a hat that said Boss and my friend Basil (a bearded collie) got a lovely bowtie.

The only thing wrong was NONE of us got a corny doggie joke, and my mum told us we would get one. We looked for ages in case Cody had swallowed them, but Basil didn’t open his cracker till the next day and he definitely didn’t get one.

My mum wanted to write to you and ask for her money back - she said it was a swiz (is that some kind of sweetie?), but all we want is to hear some good doggie jokes.

Can you send us some?



There was a very apologetic reply from someone called Pops, and when replacement crackers arrived Chocky sent an e-mail of thanks.

This is my favourite photo of Chocky.



I had been playing piano in a 4-piece band when the leader bought a portable organ. That was the first time I had played an electronic organ and with my pipe organ training I soon felt at home with the instrument. The line-up of 2 trumpets, organ and drums was unusual but successful, for it lent itself to the style of music made popular by Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass.

The trumpet players were brothers. Jimmy had played for a number of years in the pit of the Glasgow Empire. David the younger one had been quite a child prodigy in his brother’s band, and had recently come back from London where he had worked for many years with the big bands. Now he was with Brian Fahey and the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra.

There are lots of stories about David. Both he and Jimmy stood while playing, with their drinks on the floor at their feet. Of course accidents frequently occurred and sometimes the stage was awash with beer. One night between numbers David was heard saying to his brother, “Let’s change places now. I’ll play in the deep end.”

When David moved from London he brought his English wife and young family with him. However, some years later, when he was playing a lot in Glasgow, he came home from a job and found his house literally empty - his wife, children and furniture gone! She apparently had had enough and had gone back to London.

At that time Jimmy was the conductor of the Kirkintilloch Players Club Orchestra, later to become the Kirkintilloch Variety Orchestra, and our daughters Margaret (viola) and Fiona (clarinet), and myself (piano) were members.

One occasion stands out from those dance band days. The Musicians Union held a charity dance when all the local bands took part. David had invited some of his pals from the BBC Orchestra, and I felt very honoured to join them on piano in a jam session.


Here’s a reminder of the Tijuana Brass style - “Mexican Shuffle”. If the music doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps the pictures will.


WHEN I WAS SMALL fashions were very different. Few women smoked cigarettes and those who did would probably belong to the younger set. Women didn’t go into pubs and for most of them the New Year would be the only time they had an alcoholic drink. It’s true that there were pubs in Glasgow which had a small bar marked “Ladies Only”. Older women all wore long black dresses which stretched down to their feet, and, when outside, always wore a hat.

Of course it was unusual to see a man outside with his head uncovered. There were all kinds of hats, but for the average working man the cap or bunnet was favoured. A popular accessory for some were spats worn round the ankles, and they would be kept for special occasions. For golfers plus fours seemed to be a necessity.

There had been a fashion for men to carry a walking stick or cane. This had been popular even among young men, but I remember it was men of my father’s age and older who would have a walking stick. And some women had them as well.

In those far-off days Sunday afternoon was a popular time for taking a walk. Most families I knew would have been to church in the morning, and, providing the weather was fine, would be out for a walk in the afternoon. There were a number of favourite walks, and many people would combine the outing with a visit to relatives. I must mention that a great number of folk went faithfully every Sunday afternoon to the cemetery.


This is a little poem by William Blake (1757-1827)

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said "I've a pretty rose tree,"
And I passed the sweet flower o'er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.


This is a very striking work “The Icebergs” by the American landscape painter Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900)


Finally, here are two crazy musicians - Aleksey Igudesman and Sebastian Gurtier with the Upper Austrian Youth Orchestra. Just a bit of nonsense, but the music is well played.


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