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

Friday, May 22, 2009


This week’s quote:-

To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent, that is to triumph over old age. (Amos Bronson Alcott)

This week’s haiku:-

grandmother’s mirror -
for a brief moment her face
- and then mine


I LEFT THE YMCA in 1955. I quite enjoyed the work there, but I had begun to tire of the evening work and it was good to return to normal working hours.

My time with the huge Frederick Braby steel mills in Glasgow gave me some experience of general office work. The only thing memorable about this job was that I learned to play whist. Four of us used to have a game every lunchtime and this was the highlight of our day. Thinking back, I’m remembering that we didn’t play for money, and that was probably unusual.

From there I moved to a much smaller firm, a patent glazing company. In the general office there were 2 directors, the secretary, 3 men including myself, and 2 girls. There were 4 in the drawing office, and in the works there were between 12 and 20 men depending on how busy we were.

My last move came in 1964 when I joined what was then Kirkintilloch Burgh Council, later to become Strathkelvin District Council, later still East Dunbartonshire Council. My position was in the finance department and my work was varied. To begin with, things carried on smoothly, but, as time went on, changes in local government nationally complicated matters a good deal.

I was very fortunate in that for many years I was really my own boss, and so didn’t have the worries that other folk had.

I retired in 1989 but still have dreams where I’m back working in the office!!!


Here’s an unusual picture -



1) In 16th century Scotland, the minimum age for marriage was 14 for boys, 12 for girls.

2) In 1791 a labourer earned 3 old pennies per day, a carpenter 6 old pennies per day and a mason one shilling [5p] per day.

3) There were quite a number of French people living in Kirkintilloch.

4) Mary Queen of Scots with her husband Lord Darnley intended to come to the town in 1565, though there are no reports that the visit actually took place.

5) It’s likely that King James IV passed through Kirkintilloch, because he had a short stay in a mansion in Campsie.

6) Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men marched through the town in 1746. One inhabitant shot and killed one of the soldiers who, it was claimed, had been trying to steal something. The Prince wanted to burn down the town, but some of the local leaders pleaded for mercy, and a fine was imposed.

7) The road through Kirkintilloch was the main thoroughfare from west to east - from Dumbarton through Glasgow and Stirling to Edinburgh.

8) In 1710 church elders were appointed to ring a bell on Saturday nights at 9 o’clock to warn drinkers that it was time to go home.

9) It’s believed that there was a settlement in the Kirkintilloch area before the Romans came, since Pictish graves have been discovered 17 feet further down than the Roman road.

10) Most people know that the name Kirkintilloch means something like “the fort at the end of the ridge”. Some of the variations of the name in old documents include Kirkentolagh, Kyrkintullauch, Kirkyntulach, Kirkintholach, Caerpentaloch and the Pictish version Chirchind.


This is rather an attractive painting by Henry Ryland (1856-1924) - The Captive's Return


Here now is a poem that brings back memories of my schooldays.

THE SKYLARK by James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd (1770-1835)

Bird of the wilderness
Blithesome and cumberless,
Sweet be thy matin o’er moorland and lea!
Emblem of happiness,
Blest is thy dwelling place -
Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!

Wild is thy lay and loud,
Far in the downy cloud;
Love gives it energy, love gave it birth,
Where on thy dewy wing,
Where art thou journeying?
Thy lay is in heaven, thy love is on earth.

O’er fell and fountain sheen,
O’er moor and mountain green,
O’er the red streamer that heralds the day,
Over the cloudlet dim,
Over the rainbow’s rim,
Musical cherub, soar, singing away.

Then when the gloaming comes,
Low in the heather blooms
Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be!
Emblem of happiness,
Blest is thy dwelling place -
Oh, to abide in the desert with thee.


A man had been visiting a mental hospital to which a friend had just been admitted. As he was leaving, he met one of the doctors who chatted to him as they walked along the corridor.

The man had always wondered what factors were considered when deciding if someone should be accepted as a patient in such an institution.

“Oh, that’s very simple,” the doctor said, “We fill up a bath with water, give the person a teaspoon, a cup and a bucket, and tell him to empty the bath.”

“I see,” said the man, “a normal person would use the bucket, because it’s so much bigger than a teaspoon or a cup.”

“No, no,” was the reply, “a normal person would pull out the plug. Now, would you like a bed near the window?”


This week the music I’ve chosen is “Sospiri” by Elgar played by Natalie Clein with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The conductor was Vernon Handley who died in September last year. This is a lovely piece of music, beautifully played.



Trinity said...

The picture you posted is graceful!And this week's music is also great, but I love Gudman's playing more. I find that most people now aren't as interested in classical music or literature as before. It seems that nowadys many people are indulging in either on-line games or shallow entertainments. I'm worried about the trend that many families are devoid of books.

Here I recommend you a legendary Canadian pianist Glen Gould.His playing of Bach is one of the best.

I'm wondering if you know a Chinese poet Wang Wei, who wrote a lot of poems about Zen.

Wang Wei (701-761 C.E.) is often spoken of, with his contemporaries Li Po and Tu Fu, as one of the three greatest poets in China's 3,000-year poetic tradition. Of the three, Wang was the consummate master of the short imagistic landscape poem that came to typify classical Chinese poetry. He developed a landscape poetry of resounding tranquility wherein deep understanding goes far beyond the words on the page — a poetics that can be traced to his assiduous practice of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. But in spite of this philosophical depth, Wang is not a difficult poet. Indeed, he may be the most immediately appealing of China's great poets, and in Hinton's masterful translations he sounds utterly contemporary.

"Wang Wei is one of those model poets, personally and artistically flawless, who occur very rarely in the history of literature."
— Kenneth Rexroth

Deer Park Hermitage

Deep in the mountain wilderness

Where nobody ever comes

Only once in a great while

Something like the sound of a far-off voice.

The low ray of the sun

Slip through the dark forest,

And gleam again on the shadowy moss.

John said...

Yes, Glenn Gould was a wonderful interpreter of Bach. The clip of the 1st Goldberg Variation is quite brilliant and it's a joy to watch him perform. I've just been having a look at YouTube, and see that there are a good many clips of him available.

I'm familiar with Li Po, but haven't come across the other two poets. I've been having a search on the internet and have found quite a few good sites relating to Wang Wei. You seem to guess (in music and poetry) what appeals to me, and I thank you for your recommendations.

Trinity said...

The pictures you posted are extremely artistic! With such great hobbies, your life must be filled with beauty. The Internet is so magical that it let people who have the same interests meet each other with a click of the mouse.

Another famous Chinese poet Du Fu

I recommend you a Brazilian singer Ivan Lins

Trinity said...

Another good song sung by Ivan Lins

John said...

Yes, the internet is wonderful - great poetry, literature, art, music available any time you want. It certainly brightened up my retirement. The poemhunter site is excellent, and I can recommend -