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

Friday, May 29, 2009


This week’s quote:-

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. (Att. to both Eubie Blake and Adolph Zukor)

This week’s haiku:-

washday mystery -
again a sock is missing,
I wear an odd pair



In 1890 my paternal grandparents would be looking forward to getting married the following year.

He was the engine driver of the colliery train which operated between the pit and the coal depots, and probably the canal basin.

My grandmother’s father was a carter who from time to time would be involved in transporting coal from the pit.

We have no actual details about the accident. All we know is that he was struck by the train driven by my grandfather and seriously injured. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow where he died.

I think this little photo of my grandparents was taken about 1935.


IN RECENT WEEKS in this blog I’ve recalled girl friends from my dim and distant past.

There was one girl that I used to go to the pictures with, but I don’t think our friendship lasted very long. The only thing I really remember was that she worked in the office of the local bus company and that she gave me a free pass on the bus. This was very handy for I was a student travelling to Glasgow every day and there was no such thing as concession fares then.

Unfortunately, one particular bus conductress, who must have known the regulations and been suspicious of me, asked me who had given me the pass. When I told her, she took it from me, saying that they were only for relatives of the staff.

I don’t know why our affair ended - but I don’t think it had any thing to do with the bus pass!

There was one more girl before Jean came on the scene. I was playing the organ in a Glasgow church and she was in the choir. We found we had much in common and went to the cinema and concerts together.

I’m remembering that, with the girl friends I had, we would meet perhaps just twice or three times a week. And certainly I never for a moment thought that marriage would be the outcome. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, I must admit I was scared of the idea!!!!


Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) was a Dutch painter. This is one of his - “The Sick Child” which he completed a few years before his death.


This is an amusing Scottish poem that older folk may recognise.

THE BOY ON THE TRAIN by Mary Campbell Smith

Whit wey does the engine say 'Toot-toot'?
Is it feart to gang in the tunnel?
Whit wey is the furnace no pit oot
When the rain gangs doon the funnel?
What'll I hae for my tea the nicht?
A herrin', or maybe a haddie?
Has Gran'ma gotten electric licht?
Is the next stop Kirkcaddy?

There's a hoodie-craw on yon turnip-raw!
An' seagulls! - sax or seeven.
I'll no fa' oot o' the windae, Maw,
Its sneckit, as sure as I'm leevin'.
We're into the tunnel! We're a' in the dark!
But dinna be frichtit, Daddy,
We'll sune be comin' to Beveridge Park,
And the next stop's Kirkcaddy!

Is yon the mune I see in the sky?
It's awfu' wee an' curly,
See! there's a coo and a cauf ootbye,
An' a lassie pu'in' a hurly!
He's chackit the tickets and gien them back,
Sae gie me my ain yin, Daddy.
Lift doon the bag frae the luggage rack,
For the next stop's Kirkcaddy!

There's a gey wheen boats at the harbour mou',
And eh! dae ya see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sookin' the noo
Has tummelt an' stuck tae ma troosers. . .
I'll sune be ringin' ma Gran'ma's bell,
She'll cry, 'Come ben, my laddie',
For I ken mysel' by the queer-like smell
That the next stop's Kirkcaddy!


I DON’T THINK poetry came high among favourite subjects at school - at least as far as boys were concerned.

Probably most, like me, preferred those with a story, ballads like “The Wife of Usher’s Well”, “The Inchcape Rock” and of course the best of them all “The Ancient Mariner.”

I re-discovered one of my favourites recently, which begins -

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank,
A ferlie he spied wi’ his e’e,
And there he saw a ladye bright
Cam’ ridin’ doon by the Eildon tree.

The “ferlie” turned out to be the Elf Queen who took him off to Fairyland. The legend tells that he stayed there happily with the Queen for seven years. He was then allowed to return home, but before doing so she gave him a magic apple which bestowed on him the gift of prophecy.

Now Thomas was a real person - Thomas Learmonth, a Scottish laird living in the 13th century in Earlston, Berwickshire. It was claimed he had supernatural powers, and among the many prophesies, apparently fulfilled, were the death of Alexander III in 1286, the defeat of James IV at Flodden in 1513 and the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

It’s said that the Jacobites consulted Thomas’s prophesies before instigating the uprisings of 1715 and 1745. Oh dear, Thomas wasn’t much help, was he?

You can read the whole poem “Thomas the Rhymer” at -


This video is really something!!!

I’ve no idea how old the little girl is, but her “Tico, Tico” is astonishing. It’s true that she uses a number of automatic functions of the organ, but there’s no faking with her right hand.


That's all for this week, but I must tell you that my new blog JOHN'S QUIET CORNER begins today. I intend to post it every Friday and plan to make it more of a meditation site. The web address is -

EIGHTY PLUS will continue on Fridays and WISE MEN SAY daily.


1 comment:

Trinity said...

Hi John!
As a youth, I find your wedding pictures graceful and beautiful when seeing them. It's a rare chance for the young generation to see these retro photos. It's really a special experience for me!
William Blake used just a few words to precisely describe the magnificance of this world.I never read this poem without being touched.
The sun's great rays shine everywhere, traveling like a horse-drawn chariot.
The ground supports the world without calculating the burden--
Such is the nature of persons of great capacity, who lack any self interest;
They are consumed with whatever brings happiness and benefit to the world.

Candragomin Letter to a Student (Sisya-lekha)

Here's a distinguished Norwegian musician Ketil Bjornstad and his famous piece --- the sea , enjoy !