The Mirror

I'm still on sabbatical and one of my sabbatical projects is collating and reworking some of my earlier writings into a form fit to publish. One of my sabbatical challenges is trying to find places to worship on a Sunday that will not haul me unceremoniously back into work mode. Project and challenge came together this morning as I tried to slip unnoticed into Fitzroy Presbyterian (I failed in being unnoticed) and in listening to my friend Steve Stockman preach on the importance of Being With Each Other my mind went to the following piece. It originated as part of the last event I worked on with New  Irish Arts (whose chamber choir were on the Proms in the Park" event at the Titanic slipways), entitled “Genesis: A Celebration of Creativity” marking their 10th Anniversary, but I have posted it here a couple of times in a slightly different form.
Have you ever looked at yourself  in the mirror of a morning And wondered “What does anyone see in me?”
The Creator looked at himself…

Feel the fear... and hide under the duvet

Here is the more long winded version of this morning's Thought for the Day (which you can find in its spoken form here, at either 20 minutes in or 80 minutes, devoid of any mention of Yellowhammer or the B-word for fear of winding up one side or the other...) If truth be told I was more fearful of tripping over my tongue in the first sentence than anything else.
Good morning, especially to all paraskevidekatriaphobics... Those cowering under the duvet because today is Friday the 13th... With that tongue-twister coming from the Greek words Paraskeví meaning "Friday", dekatreís, meaning "thirteen" and phobic meaning “fear.” There are many explanations for today being perceived as unlucky, including  the arrest of the Knights Templar on Friday 13th October 1307, although that was first suggested in the middle of the 20th century, before being given greater credence via various conspiracy theories. Actually there are no records of any superstitious fear of this day…

When a Meme Doesn't Cut It

I posted this meme on facebook earlier, ironically prompting some further badenage on the subject of who is right or wrong in this whole debacle. I have, you will not be surprised to hear, strong opinions on this subject, but the closer we get to what seems a climax in this constitutional craziness, the less I feel that my or anyone else's contributions on social media are actually helping...  There has to be another way, hence this past Friday's Thought for the Day... reproduced below in a slightly amended form, or here as an audio clip for those who would prefer to hear my dulcet tones. 

A week is a long time in politics... Never has Harold Wilson’s now clichéd comment been truer than the past week. Indeed I wrote this on Thursday afternoon for approval by the BBC Radio Ulster producer’s approval, wary of what may happen between then and the broadcast the next morning... The only thing that has become clearer in this past week is how many of my friends and associates on soci…

Walk on

I'm on sabbatical currently but that hasn't stopped me fulfilling my biannual quota of BBC Radio Ulster Thought for the Day's. So yesterday morning I found myself sitting in the studio delivering the attached live version of my script. It must be said however the subsequent discussions, text traffic and social media interactions were probably more influenced by a brief aside regarding how much I spent for ticket to a U2 gig in the early 80s. What follows is a slightly longer version of the script, with the red text omitted for length and other reasons.
“We make the road by walking.” This time last week I was preparing for the second day of a three day sponsored walk for Belfast Central Mission, marking their 130th Anniversary and to raise money for their new dementia care facility Copelands which will hopefully open next year. It wasn’t particularly long, around 40 miles, from Carrickfergus, where BCM previously had a residential ho…

Stumbling onto a Story Worth Telling

One of the joys of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is what my sister in law refers to as Fringe Roulette, where you just go to all sorts of random things. I spun the barrel today, having just got off the plane and went to a show on the basis that I was handed a flyer (by the person who turned out to be the writer and sole actress in the show, Susie Coreth), it was half price, it was taking place at a time that filled a gap before I had to be elsewhere, and it dealt with subjects that interest me for various reasons, not least dementia and the role of music in unlocking memories.  So at lunchtime today I joined a small audience in a converted shipping container in George Street (it is the fringe) to watch “Ivory Wings" and had the pleasure of watching an actor/writer on top form, painting a poignant picture of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease who had been a WW2 Air Transport Service pilot. It was a performance and script that avoided hackneyed mawkishness, but drew the audience int…


I have really enjoyed my first visit to the NW of the USA and am currently in Portland, Oregon, but the big shock is the level of homelessness here and in Seattle, Washington. It is a feature of every street in both city centres and is heartbreaking. Whilst this issue is increasing back in Belfast, for various reasons, it is a minuscule problem in comparison with what we have seen here. However, 12 years ago I made the same comments about food poverty here in the US in comparison with the UK in the light of the number of food banks I saw here on a fact finding tour. I fear that like much of popular culture crossing the Atlantic, the more our political masters mimic US tax and welfare policies (which can only increase in the wake of a no-deal Brexit) then I fear we will also import this aspect of American culture too.
Sleep in the daytime Beneath the view of passers-by: Priest, pastor, layperson and typically uncaring contemporary Samaritan. Sleep, because nightime is coming.
Sleep in …

Holden Village

Sally and I leave Holden Village today, but hope to return, as most who come here do, again and again... But whether we do or not this place of beauty and welcome will live long in my memory...
Fire birthed Phoenix In a mountain cradle Nurturing a new Generation Whilst honouring And challenging The old.
Listening to The wounded forest Standing up to Those who have raped The fragile earth And have poisoned The creek
Lingering scent Of damp charcoal by Glacier chilled stream Stripped of all life Picture perfect But behind the screen Lies pain
Welcoming in The weary pilgrim; Midst bear and cub And doe and fawns The foreigner Finds him/herself At home