Monthly Archives: February 2010

Age Appropriate

As you see, I have a great weakness for hooded tops. Most of mine were passed on to me by male family members. However, recently I fell into temptation and bought a much-reduced one. It is quite fabulous. The body is lined with acrylic fur. The arms are thickly padded. It has a zip, so can be taken on and off without other clothes attempting to follow it. It is very warm and extremely comfortable. As I hoped, it is respectable and new enough to be worn in public.

The other night I was wearing it and driving home when a bunch of lads, skylarking caused me to purse my lips old lady style as I took action to avoid running them over. Then the horrid truth dawned. The chief lad was wearing an ‘Outrage’ hoodie. We were identically dressed.

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Fisher of frogs

I don’t have a blasted oak, but I do have a blasted ash. It is currently the default post of a solitary heron while she is resting. It gives a good vantage point – and possibly a chance to warm the feet, though herons must have arrangements to enable them to tolerate cold feet. She spends her working hours fishing in my pond. To be more accurate, she spends her time frogging in my pond.

The mud at the bottom is a winter hibernating place for some of my frogs. She is searching for them. Occasionally I see a hapless leggy form in silhouette before it is turned to a convenient position and swallowed. I never quite know whether to rejoice at the grace and intelligence of the heron or to mourn for the frog.

On the buses

Poor little car is in her death throes. I am very sad and guilty but it is so.

Therefore I have been using buses. I can get them at the two villages to which she can still take me. Due to jury service, two days running I went to Ayr on the local bus. In theory it takes just ten more minutes to go that way than I do to drive – however, one needs to park one’s car and get to the stop and allow time for a slightly early arrival of the bus, so in fact it takes more like twenty minutes extra, thereby adding more than a third to the journey time. But there are consolations. The girl behind me was explaining to her companion how she was paying for her wedding in stages. ‘The boy’s outfits’ were being paid in advance this month. The registrar next. She had budgeted for fresh flowers and decorations at the community hall, and was doing them herself. Her friend, after some persuasion, agreed to come and help her. It all sounded so lovely and friendly – it was a joy to hear.

And I had a high clear view over the countryside and could take my time to look. It was rather less good when I lost my ticket, and had to pay for a single, and waiting for a bus in a freezing bus station was charm-free too. I had not had an adequate lunch and on the return journey the first day felt very very sick. The next set of journeys were fine – I had had a good lunch at a friend’s house, I was very tired and I was glad just to sit.

The journey to Edinburgh and back by bus was not nearly so good. It suffered, of course, by comparison with the train . I had decided to catch the direct bus from the village believing it would be cheaper than getting a bus and then a train and then a bus. I was wrong. The bus from Mauchline to Glasgow was dearer than the bus from Galston followed by the train. The bus came significantly early, and I had to sprint hard, despite having arrived with five mins. to spare. However, the journey there went well, except for being forbidden to take my coffee on the bus. The journey back was less good. I hadn’t seen anywhere to buy street food near the bus station in Edinburgh except McDonalds which was not what I wanted. There was nothing to buy in the bus station except over priced chocolate bars, which blew a hole through my Lenten resolutions, but I could not risk actually throwing up on the bus. This shuttle bus IS cheaper than the train, and slower. There was no express bus back to Mauchline, so I had to get the regular bus which is very slow. And wait for the bus to Mauchline. There was nowhere in or near the bus station selling food of any kind. It was now 8pm. I had had one chocolate bar since twelve noon. It took four hours from Edinburgh to home.

Oh dear, I am less sorry than I had expected to be to be test driving nearly new cars. God send the next car a long and happy life.

Non-juring Wednesday

I have largely spent the last two days in the service of Queen and country as a prospective juror. I was summoned to the Sheriff Court in Ayr, not an easy place to reach from where I live. Yesterday, we prospective jurors had all read the booklet, which has promised us tea and coffee – we hung about and hung at the court’s pleasure, and asked for it. Not in Ayr, it seemed. We were turned away just after lunch time, lunchless, to come back today. We returned bright and early today and I nourished the hope that I would either be called onto the jury, or get away by 11, when I could get to the nearby ‘Piskie church for ashes and Eucharist. The jury was chosen by a raffle (they called it something else, but that is essentially how it worked) and the rest of us just had to wait for the start of the trial. We heard two sentences, and saw another accused released on bail, and the clock ticked remorselessly up to eleven and on past it, and way past it.

Finally having claimed my expenses and been set free, I sat in bitter wind and bright sun and considered my options. Go straight home, and whip round the animals and then back to Mauchline by car and two buses to St Mary’s. Very tempting, very indulgent. Or stay in Ayr, look at the Nissan I was considering, and go home and spend the evening working on Mother Ruth’s children’s Passion reading.

The Nissan was the barbed wire fence. I went for it. I rang a very kind friend to come and help me out. I waited for her in the agonisingly cold stunningly beautiful gardens and prayed. I am dust – let go of some of the self importance. Very possibly I am snow too. It feels like it for sure. Dust dry and chilled. Friend’s car was mercifully warm. Virtue was to some degree rewarded as I decided the Note was not for me – it falls between two stools – but the Micra might just do.

I have lots more to say about the court experience (would have posted last night but the power went off just after seven, which is a trial in an electrically heated house) but today is about a penitential Wednesday. And now for the good bit – Ruth’s reading. Oh, and yes, I do know I am mis-applying non-juring.

Taking bearings

In the days before sat nav I was driving – for me, always a stressful and unwelcome task. I was headed for a craft fair as a trader and I had a good map. Sadly, one cannot drive and map read, and dyslexics have little short term memory. I left a roundabout at the right junction, and scudded along. I found myself trapped on a dual carriageway. I got off it, I consulted the map, and plunged on, eventually becoming enmeshed in endless B roads, not recognising a single offered destination, and eventually finding none offered. Time ticked on. I was looking for the sea on my right hand. Suddenly, stunningly, the sea slammed up on my left. I drew to a considered halt. I drew a considered breath. Had I inadvertently driven all the way across Scotland?

My father died when I was twenty two. In the years before we had not had a very good or close relationship. He had not appreciated his child turning into a woman. We had both struggled with this, and with aspects of each other’s personalities. He died suddenly, before we could readjust to the reality of adult child and parent. I have kept a more than somewhat negative image of him.

The other day I suddenly rounded a corner, and, like the sea, he slammed up on my other hand. The man I met so unexpectedly was compassionate, ahead of his time, thoughtful, caring deeply about the equality of all peoples. He tried hard to keep his wife from plunging too far up or down at successes and reversals. He tried hard to live so that his gifts were fulfilled.

His down sides remain, of course they do. But I am glad I rounded that corner and saw him on my left side. And the sea? Well, I had driven in a big circle and was now heading to my destination from the south.

Monsterous regiment

Yesterday somebody told me he had changed his opinions on women priests. Older than I, he felt he had grown up in a world where it was natural for men to be heads. At first he had voted against women priests, then, knowing some good ones, had come to support them: ‘But when we have women bishops, they will just run everything,’ he added, gloomily. A monstrous regiment of women, more total than anything against which Knox protested.

I can’t actually see it myself, although with so many old women in church, of whom I am one, I suppose it is natural to suggest that old women may end up running everything.

The ability to change the mind strikes me as laudable. I don’t think I am good at it. I was born into a family where concern for the environment was part of daily life, and parents got more exercised over felled trees than many another outrage. My mother had been a career woman, and I was not the first person, nor yet the first woman, in my family to go to University. In assuming that one’s sex was irrelevant to one’s career choice, I was just taking on the values of my parents. Racism was sin, and closed minds a crime. One of Dad’s closest friends was gay, and actually Mum didn’t think it was all the same to be gay or straight, but I did from my earliest understanding of such matters. Dad was a socialist, and although Mum was, on paper, a Tory, she was an old fashioned ‘one nation’ Tory, and her dislike of Mrs Thatcher was intense. The infamous ‘There is no such thing as society’ damned her for ever. Care and concern for anybody unfortunate was just part of the home ethos.

I am a card-carrying liberal from the cradle. And like all card-carrying liberals I find it natural others should join us. I fear I would not find it natural should I suddenly find myself no longer believing in the equality of all people.

But liberal converts, male ones, should calm their fears. Should we female liberals ever happen to find we actually ARE running everything, we would know we had got it horribly wrong. We would know we needed to get somehow to a happy state where we are more concerned with the person than their gender. Something that for all the time elapsed between my parents’ deaths and now, we still seem to struggle with. Extraordinary that the church, with all the tradition that all ‘souls’ are equal before God, should still struggle so hard with this.

The promise


They have come again.

And the days are getting longer.