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

Friday, May 1, 2009


This week’s quote:-

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. (Truman Capote)

This week’s haiku:-

in the mirror shop
a dozen images
confirm my ageing


This painting is “The Avenue at Middelharnis” by the Dutch artist Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709). I was very pleased when I came across this on the internet quite by chance, for we had a print of the painting in our first house.


IN 1953 I resigned from my post at the church community centre to join the Glasgow YMCA as Youth Secretary. Their headquarters were in the city centre above a number of shops, with accommodation for boys and youths on the top floor, and seniors and offices on the first floor.

In the same building there was the Lyric Theatre owned by the YMCA, and at that time it was being rebuilt after a disastrous fire. The loss of the theatre had been a great blow to Glasgow for many amateur companies had found it ideal for their productions.

There were five full-time members of staff and a fair number of voluntary leaders. I worked four evenings and five mornings each week, and also on Sunday afternoons for a bible class meeting.

Each year the boys were taken camping for a week to Crail, and that gave me my first and only experience of living under canvas. Fortunately the weather was good and I really enjoyed it. Jean and a girl friend of one of the other leaders came also, and they stayed in a boarding house in Crail.

There were a number of influential men who took an interest in the YMCA, especially when funds were needed. I remember one business man gave a copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress” to every one of our boys. In those days this was considered an excellent gift, but I don't think many young people today would appreciate it. Some years ago I decided to re-read it, and I'm afraid I soon gave up.

One final memory. There was a little storeroom where games were kept. The single window which was painted over looked out on to the Pavilion Theatre across the road. The boys soon discovered that, where the paint had been scraped away, glimpses could often be had of the chorus girls in their dressing room!!!


This is a lovely little video, just perfect for relaxing. John Lennon’s “Imagine” played on panpipes accompanies some great pictures.


I’ve already posted two of William Blake’s poems in those blogs, and I often quote him in Wise Men Say. He was an artist and poet, whose mystical beliefs in Christianity led many to believe that his mind was unsound. I love this poem -

The Little Vagabond (William Blake 1757-1827)

Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,
But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;
Besides I can tell where I am used well,
Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
We’d sing and we’d pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson might preach, and drink, and sing,
And we’d be as happy as birds in the spring;
And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,
Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel
But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.


WE HAVE one of those very informative Bird Books with colour pictures of all the different species, and in many cases their song or call is described. The yellowhammer repeats “a little bit of bread and no cheese;” the song thrush says “cheerio cheerio” or “peter peter;” the chestnut-sided warbler says “I wish to see Miss Beecher;” and so on. Well, I was very doubtful about all that. I’ve certainly heard the yellowhammer and there’s definitely been no bread or cheese.

However, I’m having second thoughts on the subject. A family friend once said that wood pigeons repeat the phrase “My toe hurts, Betty”, but last week one of them in our garden was quoting part of Paul Robeson’s song “Old Man River” -

He don’t plant taters - he don’t plant cotton,
And them that plants ‘em - is soon forgotten,
But ol’ man river - he jest keeps rollin’ -

When I drew Jean’s attention to this, she didn’t say much, but I suspect she believed it was repeating -

Coo coo coo coo coo - coo coo coo coo coo,
Coo coo coo coo coo - coo coo coo coo coo.

Have a look at this photo. I wonder what this pigeon is saying:-


TWO OLD MEN are wandering around the supermarket and accidentally bump into one another.
The first one apologises, "Sorry about that. I'm looking for my wife, and I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
The second one replies, "That's OK. I'm looking for my wife, too. I can't find her anywhere and I'm getting a bit desperate."
The first one suggests that perhaps he could help find her. “What does she look like?"
The second one answers: "Well, she's 27 years old, tall, blonde, blue eyes, long legs, and is wearing a miniskirt. What does you wife look like?"
To which the first one says, "Doesn't matter.  Let's look for yours."


This clip is another one featuring a pipe organ. The music has become well-known as the signature tune of the European Broadcasting Union and is heard in programmes such as the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s the prelude to the Te Deum by the French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704).


1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

The only thing I am unhappy about the Eurovision Song Contest is that the use of English, in the Contest increases year by year.

As a native English speaker I think this is unfair!

It's certainly time to break the habit of "language imperialism", in the Eurovision Song Contest, and use a song, sung in Esperanto instead!

This is a serious suggestion, as you can see from the Esperanto music which is already available at or at

There's even cheesy Esperanto music available! See