Monthly Archives: October 2009

Alexander Peden goes home

Tonight Sandy Peden went back to the hamlet where he was born to attend a Halloween Party.
Sandy Peden goes home blog

I most sincerely hope it offends the Vatican. But it is unlikely to offend them quite as much as their attitude to LBGT people and to women offends me.


Strength and weakness

In most people, they are intimately related. I remember discovering this in R.E. as a teenager. ‘Describe the strengths and weaknesses of x’s reign’ read the question. Answering I realised his strengths usually lead to his disasters.

So I don’t know whether to be delighted or dismayed when one of the children lets their hearts rule their heads just as I would.

But I do know my youngest is sometimes quite dismayingly like me.

Desperate? Romantic?

Generally I am not a romantic about tradesmen. Or country people. But occasionally one sees a face which should have been by one of the great painters. I have now engaged two new tradesmen to work on the barn roofs. The first comes highly recommended. He puts on tin roofs. He lives in the community, and has a face by Dürer, I think. He appears highly rational, experienced, and well aware of the balance of cost and possibility. He is amused but not outraged by my insistence on hatches to allow entry and exit for birds. I have at various times a kestrel roosting, swallows nesting, and barn owls prospecting.

The second comes from the larger parish. He also seems competent and he talks unpretentiously and knowledgeable about slate roofs, and the desirability of preserving slates. The superiority of the older slates. I’m not quite sure who his face is by. One of the artists who used thickly layered, broken surfaces of oil. Perhaps Rembrandt himself.

Desperate, yes, I am. Let us hope that between them they can preserve my slates, and re roof my barn. Let us hope romanticism is not in any way carrying me away. They are wonderful faces, though.

Playing seriously

leaves 09 blog
On Sunday afternoon I took the neighbour’s kids to ‘Hunt for Red October’. They were among the oldest children there, which put them off a bit, which was a pity. The activities were good. We had a great time filling in leaves across the spectrum card we were given. I nearly didn’t get one – happily I was overheard saying to one child that I would need to be allowed to share hers as I didn’t want to be left out. So I got a card, and then the other adults were asked if they wanted one. Most did, and I think the Rangers were a bit surprised.

And there you have it. Adults are discouraged from serious play – and I cannot be alone in wanting it. I was re-created as I was absorbed in colour and form. A friend who sometimes posts on here is a bit of a genius at creating these activities and enabling them to become prayer. Should you not be religious – take heart. If Tillich is right , we find religion in what we take seriously. Serious play helps us connect with our real concerns. OK secularists, now you can breath a little more freely.

Sloe, sloe! Quick, quick! Sloe!

On Bute there were two stands of blackthorn. If one was lucky and it was a good year, and one got there before anybody else, it was possible to make enough sloe gin to comfort oneself throughout the Christmas season, and also a few carefully selected friends. One could drink one’s way through the island’s entire stock of sloes.

I watched the blossom very thoughtfully in the spring. I was not going to be able to drink my way through Ayrshire’s sloes.

I identifies a stand of bushes on a quiet road, and last Thursday after work, with an indigo sky and a Bloody Mary sun I stopped on the way home from work and began picking. It was fast apparent there lots of sloes, large and luscious, but nearly all of them were just out of my reach. So I climbed the somewhat rickety fence, and picked. The sloes retreated, and I climbed, clutching the thorny tree to my bosom. The road was deserted, and then the tractors came. The first one had a driver whose jaw sagged, the next one opened his mouth, and the third one’s jaw fairly dropped.

Had nobody told the idiot middle aged woman balancing on the top of an old fence that those bushes were not brambles? My, she would get an awful shock when she baked her pies.

In other words

I have a weakness for classic commedia dell’arte humour. Not so much the plot (or absence of it) but the physical comedy. The polished tumbling, the illusion. One knows little bad will happen. The performance is as much dance as drama. The humour will not bring tears. This had been a gruelling seven days. I need to seek solace in comedy which will astound, delight, reassure.

In other words, it’s been a rubbish week and I need some Jackie Chan – bring on Rush Hour 3.


slater blog 006

Passing neatly over the destruction of my actual slates (supposedly to be saved for the roof) this is one example of the mess my alleged slater left – hence a hideously acrimonious start to today. It is comparatively easy to learn not to shout and not to make a personal attack. I wish that growing a tougher skin was easier.
slater blog003


… or perhaps escapism. It cannot be said I am looking forward to the inevitable struggle with (a) a tradesman and (b) my temper tomorrow. I am uncomfortably aware of any number of duties I need to perform which I have so far failed to perform, and of all my usual besetting sins.

I need to weigh, measure, clean, and perform routine and onerous tasks in almost equal measure.

I am seeking solace from sure-fire sources. I am browsing possible floor coverings.


The things I have most enjoyed spending money on have been joining the British Trust for Ornithology, and taking the neighbours kids out on treats.

Being broke inevitably involves picking and choosing. Yes, you can certainly have something – but not everything. So if you have (as I undoubtedly do) one expensive hobby, then pursuing other interests is probably Not On. But I have been able to indulge in some small pleasures.

I am developing my interest in birds. Here I have only a few in the winter, but they are most exciting … an over wintering kestrel, a visiting barn owl (the local bird man tells me he is a male owl). Also, if getting involved in a local society, wise people join something where they are in the happy position of being a beginner who can admire the knowledge and skills of others – and not sit there thinking: ‘That is very nearly right, you know.’

And the company of children is a licence to do things you know you will enjoy but can hardly do off your own bat. Next weekend I am hoping to join a leaf hunt. To do it without a child chaperone would of course be very difficult – and like the BTO it is not in absolute terms at all expensive (petrol and a cafe lunch, I think – picnic if fine). But it is all money. God be thanked for this licence to enjoy the real riches of the world.

Poverty and wealth

It is all relative in this country, I know that. But relatively I have at some times in my life been pretty poor. It has its advantages. One feels less guilty with others of a modest income. The luxuries one does get mean so much and the delight in them is so intense. The natural pleasure in making something is intensified by the fact that that is the only way one is going to get it. The skilfully made jacket, for instance, is something to be saved up for, executed punctiliously and enjoyed for months, years after. The joys of poverty are acute.

The downsides are enormous too. The sheer time it takes. The thought that goes into saving money, making things last, finding the cheapest thing, and the forced choice to take it or take nothing. I can’t imagine anybody wants to spend that long thinking about something as boring as money.

I am quite suddenly in the position of being able to chose things just because I want them, treat friends to coffee, take kids on an outing, and all without a lot of calculation and planning before hand.

It is disconcerting, though probably not as disconcerting as I will find it when the ability to do this vanishes. When it does, do remind me that I once blogged on the joys of poverty, won’t you?