Saturday 26th. October, 2013 -- Rachel’s Birthday and We’re Working! 

Autumn in Luss

I slept in until nine and then walked Mix, lit the fire and packed Rachel’s car. Then we planted the four signs (little plaques, really) we are leaving behind – the first to the dogs buried in the garden: Kim, Radar, Fang, Juno, Skye and Holly; then, by their trees in the glebe to Rachel’s Mum and Dad, to my Dad, and to Anne. Luss has been a happy place for us both but there have been real sadnesses as well. I suppose that Luss and Arrochar and their people have carried us through them and that life is about good and about sad times as well. Planting these little plaques brought home to me that we are moving on and also that we are leaving something of ourselves as well.

Our loving and much loved friends

I showered and got changed for the wedding, relieved that the weather is fair although there are warnings about mighty storms to come – the worst to hit England, but our new home is only nine miles from the border: can we trust the wind to know where the border is?

Remembrance Trees on the Glebe

The wedding was another really special occasion and with all the rain around, the couple were extremely lucky to get in and out in the dry before setting off for their reception at the Lodge on Loch Lomond. Today the photographer was Henry who lives in the same road in Cumbernauld in which Rachel and I lived when I was a probationer assistant at the start of my career so many years ago.

Gemma and John

Rachel and I set off for Duns as quickly as we could. It is Rachel’s birthday and we wanted to have time to celebrate it at home. It was an interesting journey: road works on the M8 held us back but the radio was good. Enjoyed an episode of The Bottom Line hosted by Evan Davis with John Timpson of the Timpson Shoe and Key business as a guest. There are 800 branches (and another 300 which deal with photocopying etc). John Timpson runs it as an upside down business. Decisions are made at branch level and it is all about providing service for the customer. There is flexibility in pricing and discounts and anything that goes wrong is encouraged to be sorted out at branch level. The area managers are there primarily to ensure that the right staff is appointed and then to support them. The central headquarters (John Timpson wouldn’t care for the title I expect) is there to support the rest of the organisation. Imagination is used in the appointment of staff and opportunities are given to ex-offenders. John Timpson was challenged about giving ex-cons the job of cutting folks’ keys! But he explained that their records showed that if you gave someone a chance and trusted them that people responded to that and that the record of things going wrong was no better or worse than with folk appointed from other backgrounds. He went on to say that he thought that much of the present compulsion to have systems and rules to safeguard against the one or two bad apples prevented so many good things from happening and that this was something which society as a whole had to learn.

I found the programme entrancing. Of course I was transferring in my mind the situation to the Church. If we truly turned it upside down and left the decision-making to the parishes and saw the centre as purely a small support organisation and presbyteries as only there to provide support and enable congregations to do what they wanted to do, what a different church we would have. I’ll be turning this over in my mind for some time to come.

Back home we found that Scott and Sue (my brother and sister-in-law) waiting with Mum, Digger and Olive for a birthday meal. We enjoyed a drink, toasted Rachel in Champaign and ate well before retiring to the Granary, walking the dog and going to bed. We will get an extra hour in bed tonight. Wonderful!

(Got a phone call from Cathy to say that after the wedding she had found the marriage document on the road, soaked and run over by passing cars but, thankfully, still legible. I always make quite a thing of handing over the document to the best man -- I guess that there will be some explaining to be done to the registrar on Monday, but our registrars are kind folk and I am sure that it will be all right!)


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