A Man of the Soil

Further reflections on my Dad's leisure time activities. The first two photos are of my Dad in and beside his greenhouse with his oldest two grandchildren Heather (holding her nose because she hated the smell of the fertiliser in the greenhouse) and Paul (mocking my Dad's often serious face, though in this photo he is smiling as he often did in the garden. The third photo is from on of our visits to Claggan with the infamous Andy Davy in the centre of the picture, my Dad on the left with my brother Sam in his arms, my Mum beside him holding my arm, and my aunt Sylvia and cousin Philip Stevenson on the right.
As I said yesterday, during the winter, if not on overtime, my Dad spent work day evenings at meetings in the church or various Orange Halls. But he spent most Saturday afternoons or and spring/summer evenings and in his garden and garage. That was one of the big selling points for him of buying “Ivydene” because it was a semi-detached house on a corner site that allowed h…

Meetings and Marches

A short reflection on my Dad's involvement with the Presbyterian Church and the Loyal Orders. Others who were involved in both with them might have other stories to tell.

My Dad didn’t spend a lot of time in the house. Most of his time there was spent sleeping. Indeed when my then girlfriend Sally first visited Northern Ireland in 1987, she was there 5 days before she met my Dad, early in the morning before he went off to work and she was heading for the early boat back to Scotland. 
When not working long hours he was usually outside in the garden or garage, or, during the winter, after work, he would have a brief refuelling stop and doze in front of the BBC Northern Ireland news, before going upstairs to wash and shave, get into his shirt, tie and suit and head out in a cloud of Old Spice aftershave to a meeting either in one Orange Hall or other, or at Megain Memorial Church where he was on their Committee. 
He had been baptised and became a communicant member of Claggan Presbyte…

From Farm to Structural Steel

The third of a series of blogs looking at the life of my dad, Thomas James Campton. The photo on here is one taken from the farm mentioned below, but I suspect it is from after the war, and after the Campton family had left the farm. Most of those in the picture are members of the Mitchell family, but my dad is the second from the left.

Not only might my Dad have ended up with a different name or nationality with a slight change of circumstance, given a personal choice, he would have had a radically different career. Like one of my friends’ fathers eulogised on Tuesday, who also grew up in rural County Tyrone some years later, he remained a countryman at heart, and would have loved to have been a farmer, having grown up in that environment. However, the contrast with Tuesday’s tribute being that whilst my friend’s father remembered rearing pigs as a young man, my dad delighted in telling us about how he developed a reputation for being able to slaughter pigs, cycling from farm to farm…

By any Other Name?

The second part of a short series telling the story of my Dad, or at least part of it... The somewhat sun damaged photo here is the only one I have of my grandfather Samuel Robert Campton, his wife Edith (nee Crooks) and my dad's eldest sister Louise in America.
One of the things that stood out in both of the Thanksgiving Services on Tuesday that prompted this series of blogs about my dad, were the two poignant and amusing tributes delivered by members of their family. None of our family felt able to offer a personal tribute at either my Mum's or Dad’s funerals.

I have said time and again to families for whom I have conducted funerals (and there have been many... too many), that whilst it is lovely to have family participation, and especially a family tribute or eulogy, I do not underestimate how difficult it can be, because despite my skills and profession I wasn’t able to do it for my own parents. I have conducted a few other family funerals and that was hard enough, but I, …

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

There's a phase of adulthood where you only tend to meet old friends and family en masse at weddings... then later some will gather for baptisms, or other ways of marking the arrival of children... Later still, around the time that those children's weddings become the focus of such gatherings, there are also, sadly meetings at the funerals of parents.

Yesterday, for me, was a day definitely in that third phase, as Sally and I attended Thanksgiving Services for the lives of the fathers of 2 different friends. In both cases the pain of my friends’ loss was relieved both by the faith shared by them and the fathers, and the fact that both men had lived long and active lives that did not end in overly prolonged illness. At both services a member of the family, a granddaughter at one and a son-in-law at the other, paid fitting and funny tributes to the deceased, and I suppose it was the second of them that made me compare and contrast things with the life and funeral of my own fath…

Carefully Chosen Words

This morning on Facebook my friend Rev. Micky Youngson posted a short and pithy poem by Brian Bilston on the danger of ill-chosen words, which I shared, then she followed it up with the following pertinent verse of scripture:"Take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."  James 1:19

In the intervening period I had written the following piece that had been percolating in my mind over past days and weeks, with references to classical literature being dropped in to speeches to give them an educated gloss, and other crass statements being made by different people playing to their supporters with no regard for the ultimate effects of their words and policies. This doesn't just apply to the political leaders of the UK and US, but to all those who toss out cheap jibes and soundbites... And indeed memes on social media... We can all be guilty of it... Particularly when we are angry about one thing or another... And anger certainly …

Vital Connections

Here is my last Good Morning Ulster "Thought for the Day" for a while, so you can safely put Radio Ulster back on in the morning until further notice. The text below is a slightly expanded version of somewhat garbled the audio (I clearly hadn't had enough coffee on Friday).

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Ulster University Chancellors’ lecture at St Anne’s Cathedral given by one of my childhood heroes, James Burke. People of a certain vintage will remember him fronting the BBC coverage of the moon-landings, one of my earliest memories, but what I really remember him for is for Tomorrow’s World and his seminal TV series “Connections.” Tomorrow’s World sought to predict the future in terms of technological innovation, with mixed success, while Connections explored the link between different people, inventions and ideas throughout history. His lecture last Tuesday night, entitled “The Future isn’t what it used to be” …