Sunday 8th. December, 2013 – The Second Sunday of Advent 

It may be damp but Rowan and Rachel are having fun as the Duns Christmas lights are turned on

Arose, walked the dog and breakfasted before travelling with Rachel and Mum to Gavinton Church for the service for the Second Sunday of Advent. Met Tom and Dorothy on the way and walked with them to the Church. The theme was John the Baptist, The Bible and Vocation Sunday. Ann, the minister, spoke about John the Baptist – somewhat of a scary man dressed in strange clothes who called people ‘snakes’ and other less endearing names – who pointed the crowds away from himself to one who was to come after him; about the Bible – translated into 2,551 languages (I think I remember that correctly, but I could be half a dozen out), and translated into 400 modern versions in the English language: perhaps we could spare a few of our many versions for the 4 – 5,000 languages into which the Bible has still not been translated? And while we are on questions, perhaps if we have several Bibles ourselves we might pass one on to someone who has none? Ann also spoke a little about the different ways in which people treated the Bible, nailing her colours to the mast (in my view, and in my words) to the more liberal wing of the Church of Scotland. Under the theme of Vocation Sunday, Ann spoke of her work with the Church of Scotland Selection Committee explaining how difficult she found it to make a judgement on other people’s calls; hardly surprising as some people were so sure of their Call while others were resisting it fiercely. But Call, she reminded us, isn’t only to the full-time ministry of the Church of Scotland but to membership and parish activity.

I found myself remembering that when I presented myself to St. Mary’s College (in the days before selection schools) Matthew Black, the Principal of St. Mary’s, spoke to me but briefly on the first occasion I met him. ‘So you want to be a minister. Well come here and stick in and we will make you into a good minister.’ I don’t know how much they succeeded. I do know that they took the task seriously but the point of my recollection is that the basic premise has changed. Now we select, then we accepted those who offered themselves and did all we could to make them into appropriate vessels for the conveying of God love through the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Over the years I recall many, many discussions with Matthew Black as he took seriously his initial commitment. If I didn’t succeed it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort on his part.

Back home to minor disaster. The dogs had removed the curtains from the kitchen. I don’t know why – were they trying to get out? Were they angry at being left? I don’t know which dog it was – Mix or Rowan or both? I do know we can’t allow this to continue so I stayed at home while Olive, Digger, Mum, Rachel, Tom and Dorothy all went to Paxton House to their up-market craft fayre. They all enjoyed it very much and found lots of suitable presents for girls but few for men (it was always thus). I read my book and also caught up with the musings of the press about England’s Australian debacle, how sad is that?

I should say a little about my book. It’s called Saint’s Rest by Keith Miles who has written many, many books. Some he has written under the name Edward Marston, some Martin Inigo and some Conrad Allen. In all he has written getting on for seventy and once I have completed the one I am reading now I will have read them all. He writes a series about a golfer who stumbles into crimes to be solved; about a sports writer who does the same, about an architect from Wales in 1930s America; about an Elizabethan Theatre Company; about Commissioners of William the Conqueror investigating irregularities in the Doomsday Book; a Restoration series set in London in the 1660s and 70s; a Railway detective series set in the 1850s; a military series set during the War of the Spanish Succession; a series set during the first world war based on a police inspector in London; and a series of detective books written around the great liners which sailed around the world in the early years of the twentieth century. I found the first one I read knocked down to almost nothing in the remainder shop at the outlets in Alexandria and ever since them I have read through his canon and have enjoyed them all. They are light, well written, knowledgeable and firmly set in their different periods. The stories are also well constructed with all the twists and turns one expects from a detective story (some are more of ‘who-dunnit’ novels than others). I’m well on the way to completing the final one today and I will miss not having more to read.

The Christmas Tree lights look great

Set off with Rachel and Mum to see the Christmas lights being turned on at Duns. We were able to park in the main square, I thought that we were early but just as we walked into the centre of the square there was the sound of pipes and the pipe band came up the street, everyone dressed as Santa Claus, everyone with a full beard and moustache, and playing ‘We three Kings of Orient are’. It was magnificent. Suddenly crowds began to appear and for almost half an hour the band played – Deck the Halls, We wish you a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells and more traditional carols as well.

The Band of Piping Santas sounded superb

Just before the time for things to start, the bank marched off, returning to lead in the ‘real’ Father Christmas in his sled pulled by a farmer’s four by four and with Lucy, the winsome lass, sitting beside Father Christmas. The President of the Rotary (I guess that’s who he was) thanked everyone who had made everything possible and Lucy pressed the plunger which turned on the lights on the huge Christmas tree in the centre of the square – the other magnificent lights around the square were already illuminated and looked superb. All the while, members of the Rotary and friends were handing out cups of mulled wine to the large crowd of local folk who were enjoying the event. In the corner of the square there was a children’s round-about doing a good trade. Everyone was having fun. I was so glad that we had gone. It was a magnificent occasion.

Lucy, the winsome lass, arrives in style with Father Christmas

Regarding my entry yesterday when I recalled the efforts of Frank Tyson in Australia (it was actually in 1955), my brother identified the calypso which was written to celebrate Tyson’s success. It can be heard here:

We all dined in the farmhouse and then, later in the evening, Rachel and I watched an episode of New Tricks which we hadn’t seen before. It was very good. We walked the dogs – the wind is getting up again, that will test our remedial works. But for now, bed calls.


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