Well, dear and faithful few, what reward for this long  blog-drought?  Naught, I fear (for the moment at any rate) but a meagre haiku.  I am safely and most happily arrived in the household of my fair fiancee, and this is just a wee heids up to announce that gladmaking fact.  The following verselet was composed on my way thereto, and you should probably take into account my inevitably distracted state of mind when appraising it.  More from Seraphaville when the delirium of it all subsides so do keep checking in now, won’t you.

Ocean Pie

Floating high above

Forked-over mashed potato,

Mid-Atlantic cloud.


BetrothalIt’s pathetic, really.  Ask me to trot out several thousand words on a trip to the barber’s or a single solitary day spent in town, and you can barely get me to shut up about it.  But confronted suddenly with something truly, life-alteringly, alchemically glorious—like, say, having my beautiful, witty, kind, devout, gifted, loving lady-love accept my most inadequate proposal of marriage—I’m reduced to drooling inarticulacy.  Like dear Uncle Gilbert, I may be able to trifle tremendously (or at length, at any rate), but unlike him I don’t really have the literary wherewithal to do anything approaching justice to such truly magnificent things.

As the more astute of you will have picked up by now, on Friday, the feast of St Lawrence (O’Toole) of Dublin, the delightful Seraphic Single of Still Seraphic  (very soon to be blogging under the new banner “Seraphic Meets Bridezilla“), practically my longest and certainly most loyal reader here, agreed to marry me.  Yes, amazing, isn’t it? Fulfilling one of my own McRules criteria, I’m pinching myself black and blue.  Fulfilling another, she seems to have fallen for me just as I am (“without one plea,” etc.).  “Jings!” with added “Crivvens!”, and also at the same time “Help ma Boab!” (or, “Assistez vous mon Robert!” for my French(-Canadian) readers). If you think I am anything other than the luckiest man alive (and very well aware of being so) then I’m afraid you simply haven’t been paying attention.

I am trying terribly hard not to gush about my fiancée ( *grins athletically* ) and my luck at the moment—the poor creature has suffered enough in private—and another couple of dozen words into this and I’ll blow it completely by blurting out things like Providence, eye-watering loveliness, deeply blessed, most gorgeous of creatures, etc.  Nobody really needs to hear that kind of loved-up old tommyrot, so I’ll leave off for now.  If you would know the circumstances under which all this marvellous stuff came to be, follow the (charmingly accomplished and mercifully discreet) account of it as it gloriously unfolded over on Still Seraphic.  Oh, and while you’re there—buy a blinkin’ book! Transatlantic nuptial arrangements being terribly expensive and we parties thereto being endearingly hard-up, buy several. There’s dears.

To end then, I would like with an unfeignedly grateful heart to thank all of you who supported us in any way—by nod-and-wink, by cheering-on, by hint-dropping, by buying my sweetheart’s splendid books, by wining and dining us, but just dropping by our blogs.  Thank you all.  My final and most important request is that you pray for us—please help us give thanks to Him who wrought all this joy-making work, and ask that we may be the husband and wife He would have us be.

Now I really will sign off, for I think I must, ahem, have something in my eye…

This entry, a very welcome relief for you all from my McRules series of presumptuous, unsolicited advice-proffering, is really just a place-holder, “tiding” you over until I get the chance to post properly later today.  In the meantime, you could do worse than pop over to dear Seraphic’s blog—say, here?  Judge my current state of mind from there!

Well, having acquitted myself of hostly and chivalric duties by forbearing to post more detailed news of my recent personal epiphany until the the lady in question had herself had a chance to do so, I have some wee beans to spill.

In the very week of my reception into the household of the Faith (Laus Deo), my household (i.e., me) has been blessed with the presence of a certain Canadian lady blogger.  Dear Seraphic Single, my e-dealings with whom over the last months many of you will have witnessed, has been the ideal houseguest –  even to the supererogatory point of consenting to be associated with me in a somewhat more personal way than mutual blogging usually entails.  I shall make myself more clear (and a grateful nation gives thanks).  Seraphic S and I are, as she has charmingly explained to her parents, “walking out together” (and a grateful nation gives thanks).

I am naturally in a state of giddy delight about all this, but will spare you all the gushy, emo-bloggery.  What I will say is that this has been quite the most wonderfully odd fortnight of my entire puff.  Moreover, the good lady herself wishes me to mention to all who have recently been scouring the muddy dregs of the e-tmosphere for photies of me that the those currently available do not, in her fond estimation, quite do me justice.  That is to say, none of them are worthy of the brush of Hans Holbein, whose more attractive subjects she endearingly insists I resemble.  Honest.

This tribute to her (as this, albeit cack-handedly, is intended to be) must be wrapped up now (and a grateful nation gives thanks), for I can scarcely string together two consecutive words without grinning and giggling .  God bless the gorgeous wee beastie though, eh?

Well, if anyone had told me that my first week of proper Catholicism was going to be as eventful and bewildering and stupendously marvellous, I think I might have converted earlier – or possibly later…  I think the former.

The phrase “totally unexpected, perhaps inevitable” has been clanking around in my hollow nut for days now.  A warning, dear sadly-neglected readers: inviting a lovely Catholic blogpal to stay for a few weeks and to witness one’s reception into the Unam Sanctam is certainly a glorious idea – but maybe in more ways that one initially envisions.  Caution, delight and a healthy sense of self-preservation prevent my saying too much more.  But I will add just this.  The past week has been spectacularly revelatory – as it was bound to be, of course.  “Surprised by joy” doesn’t cover the half of it.

The moral to this rather hasty and gnomic post: do become a Catholic as soon as you possibly can, and do have blogpals to stay.

More news as it breaks.  Please pray for this barmy blogger.  Cheers the noo.

All in all, Tuesday was a splendid day.  How unlike the day last week in which I completely failed to fulfil my intentions of “hitting” the Fringe, for all sorts of bleak and utterly uninteresting reasons – a day the written-up account of which is so dull and dispiriting that I cannot bear to polish and publish it here.  Be thankful.   Be very thankful.  I was determined not to let weather or mood or the state of my digestive system or anything else stand in the way of my “doing” the Festival this week, however.  And, by St. Dwayne and all his dweeby disciples, nor did I. 

I began with a mid-morning trip to the half-price ticket box in an attempt to save a bit of the hard-earned.  Typically, nothing I had planned on seeing was reduced.  Had I not any idea what I wanted to see, I would almost certainly have let the reduced price of these shows be my guide.  As it was, only my enthusiasm was reduced.  This could so easily have been the beginning of the sort of resolve-rotting that afflicted me on Wednesday last.  But no – I wouldn’t let it be, bedad. 

Instead I stuck to my initial plan to see two shows in particular: a piece of theatre (odd phrase, that: “A chunk of proscenium arch or perhaps some of the Royal Box, Sir?”) at three-ish and a stand-up comic at eight.  In addition, I was most keen to “catch” (it’s what one does at the Fringe, doncha know) some free music.  Having scanned the available freebies, I settled upon a lunchtime concert at Sir George Gilbert Scott’s boreal gothic masterpiece, St Mary’s (Piskie) Cathedral, Palmerston Place, and Choral Evensong also thereat later in the afternoon.

My day was planned out ahead of me like a military campaign and, perhaps cowed by my own unusual decisiveness, I spent the next hour-and-a-bit doing some aimless blogging etc. at my usual netcafé (“Mmm, Netcafé!” as Gareth Hunt so nearly used to say, shaking his beans the while).  I also checked St Mary’s website for details of the concert and Evensong that day: a free lunchtime treat of one Martinu and one Schumann piano quintet, and an office-full of Bairstow and Balfour-Gardiner was promised me, and I was exceeding glad. 

My other treat to myself was to be a solitary luncheon at a half-way decent grub-shop, so on the way to Our Lady of Palmerston Place’s gaff I booked a table for 2pm at a nice wee eatery mere yards away from my next cultural appointment at 1455.  Plenty of time to get there from St. M’s “35 min.” concert, I thought to myself as I squelched merrily through the greasy drizzle to the West End. 

As indeed there would have been  had the concert not lasted until a few minutes beyond 2pm.  Which it did.  The excellent young musicians fairly scampered through the scherzo of the Schumann as if they could read my anxious thoughts and I waited with exquisite discomfort until the very last note of the last movement before bolting for the west door, applauding as I went.  After a damp dash and a very hasty but remarkably unhurried and perfectly delicious lunch (assisted upon its alimentary way by a decentish glass of merlot) I was able to make my next venue with a few minutes to spare. 

This particular play, as well as being recommended by both a fellow book-grouper and the Hootsmon, would have appealed thematically to me anyway: a one-man (plus on-stage fiddler) play about the actor-playwright’s Polish father settling in Inverness as a tailor after the WWII and his various accounts of his post- and ante-bellum existence.  I won’t spoil if for anyone who pops past here in time still to catch it, but I will recommend it for its simple, subtle artistic and emotional effectiveness.  Also commendable is the direct transparency of its title (“The Tailor of Inverness” – delivers what it says on the tin) in a festival strewn with titles which seem to rival one another in opacity or strained allusiveness: given the example set by many such efforts, I’m grateful it chose not to call itself something ripely idiotic like “The Unbearable Brightness of Ceilings” instead.

Thence to the netcafé (“Mmm, Netcafé!” [You’ve done that one already.  Ed.]) again briefly, then another trudge to Evensong.  I am always deeply nostalgic at choral Evensong, especially when the music is stuff I sang as a wee piskie chorister, and this one was no exception.  The Balfour-Gardiner (his setting of the office hymn for Compline “Te lucis ante terminum”) especially punched above its weight in my gut.  Sitting at the front of the nave and having eschewed the service sheet for a plain old prayer book, I automatically found myself standing for the Magnificat – alone amongst my fellow congregants, as I found out from my peripheral vision.  Undaunted, I remained standing and stood again for the Nunc – it was meet and right so to do, whatever the cheat-sheet said.  Since when, I should like to know, did it become the form to sit for the canticles?  [There’s another fringe-title in search of a show: “Standing for the Canticles”.]  I intuitively felt the whole assembly’s tacit respect for me as an Athanasius-like champion of liturgical posture: oh yes, I’m quite sure that’s what they must have been timidly murmuring to themselves…

In need of a swift pint after these devotional exertions, I located my next venue and took advantage of its propinquity to a grand old boozer, Sandy Bell’s.  Thus accoutred with a foaming jar of nut-brown ale, I sat down near the bar and was soon joined at my table by a muy simpático couple fresh from Orthodox vespers at the nearby Greyfriar’s kirk.  After much friendly banter and festival-chat, I bade them (and sir’s handsome golden lab) a good evening, my faith in my fellow citizens of Auld Reekie filled to the brim and running over.

So thus in high spirits I made my short and soggy way to the last of my day’s choice cultural nuggets: a stand-up comedy performance by a young chap I’d seen a couple of years before and at whose routine I’d laughed “literally like a drain” – a drain on the other audients’ patience, that is.  I forewent another pint, remembering the pain that can be wrought upon a toper’s kidneys et al. by a chortle-wracked diaphragm, and so it was whilst waiting the ten minutes or so on the stairs up to the venue that I caught sight and sound of the young ladies in front of me in the queue. 

This was unfortunate, really, because I was pretty much constantly distracted by the thought of one of them for the whole of the performance to come.  I had, you see, begun to form the impression that the smaller, darker gal was an old acquaintance from by undergrad days whom I had on many occasions resolved to contact since I’d moved down here: truth to tell, she’d been a lucky but unwitting (I think) object of my youthful amatory attention.  Kirsten McGillivray (names changed to protect the innocent/oblivious/indifferent) and I had performed together in many Gilbert and Sullivan productions, and I had once played a highly susceptible Lord Chancellor to her graceful Iolanthe – “Iolanthe, thou livest!”  That sort of thing marks a chap indelibly, you know.

To be continued…


Alright, so I’ve been terribly remiss in my blogging recently, and have fallen behind in my personal correspondence and I have left undone those thinges whiche I ought to have done, and I have done those thinges which I ought not to have done, and there is no health in me (as Anglicans once were wont to say – and given recent events ought perhaps to revert to saying… ).

But this is what I have been doing!  Right, me at the summit of Ben Cruachan, which a crony and I climbed on Saturday.  Below, Mr T (said crony) atop the same.




 Mr T was concerned about how his hair came across in this photie, but with views like this behind him (and the state my loony locks were in) who was looking?

Ben C is part of a long horseshoe ridge which encompasses another Munro (a peak over 3000 ft) — but by the time we’d scaled the 1126 m / 3694 ft of Ben C himself (minus the 80 or so metres-above-sea-level of our starting position), and taking into account the crazy wind-speeds we’d braved whilst attempting lunch on the bealach (well look it up then), Mr T (who does this sort of thing far more often than me and is consequently in far better shape) deemed we’d proved enough for one day.  I for one was just delighted not to have cried out for an iron lung after the first steep ante-slope at the start of the climb and was positively elated at still feeling fit at the summit — so I was not minded to differ!

The final photie is of that shameless old bluffer BA the next day at a much more peaceful luncheon spot, near Inveroran.  Yes, it was every bit as idyllic as it looks, thanks.  We punctuated Sunday’s trek with a cool post-prandial pint in the Inveroran Inn before heading back up-and-over to the horseless carriage.

So there we have it: a weekend of good grub and fine beer, of good walking and fine views, all in the finest of good company (well, there was just Mr T and myself — so I mean his!).  The fact that we had to decamp from our room in the bunkhouse to another at 0030 on Sunday because water was pouring through the ceiling utterly failed to put a damper (pun foreseen but otherwise unintended) on the proceedings. 

Any more of this sort of thing and I’ll be losing my “pale and interesting” credentials altogether!

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