Friday, 7 April 2017


I recently watched this film on BBB iPlayer. I thought it was wonderful! One of the themes is about the randomness of life or in life; about 'chance' encounters.

It is based on a novel.

Night Train to Lisbon is a philosophical novel by Swiss writer Pascal Mercier. It recounts the travels of Swiss Classics instructor Raimund Gregorius as he explores the life of Amadeu de Prado, a Portuguese doctor, during António de Oliveira Salazar's right-wing dictatorship in Portugal. Prado is a serious thinker whose active mind becomes evident in a series of his notes collected and read by Gregorius.

The book was originally published in German as Nachtzug nach Lissabon in 2004 and was first published in English in 2008. The novel became an international bestseller. Danish film director Bille August adapted the book into a 2013 film of the same name, starring Jeremy Irons as Raimund Gregorius.   [Wikipedia]

The main character follows an incident which happens to him on the way to work. The ensuing story unfolds in which he addresses some of life's, especially in the mature years, philosophical questions.  What would have happened if I had taken the other option, taken a different path? What are/were the chances of this or that happening - both in the past and in the future? Etc etc etc.

About the film, the Guardian states:

Jeremy Irons plays Raimund Gregorius, a repressed academic in Bern who saves a young woman from jumping off a bridge. He discovers in her possessions a poetic memoir by a little-known Portuguese writer called Amadeu do Prado, and becomes obsessed by Amadeu (played by Jack Huston) and his relationship to the woman.

In flashback, as Gregorius traipses round Lisbon meeting Amadeu's friends and associates, we see snapshots of the author's life as a poet, philosopher, doctor, lover and revolutionary.

Gregorius realises how petty his own life is by comparison with Amadeu's. In its lesser moments, the film feels like a European art-house adaptation of a Mills and Boon novel or a Saga holiday commercial, but it is beautifully shot and packed with cameos from big-name actors.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Chance * * * * * * * * * *

I often say that there is no such thing as Bad Luck or Good Luck; it is just Bad Management etc.  M-m-m-m, I am not so sure...!

This week I went into town to see a printer in the city centre. As there was no place to park at Milngavie Station I drove to Westerton and parked there knowing you can get any train west as they all go through this station.

After I got out of the train in Central Station I headed to the toilet (very clean!) and noticed that I did not have my pink wooly hat, a very much-loved hat.  M-m-m-m maybe I did not bring it with me ... but I was pretty sure I had.

Anyhow after our 45 minute meeting I headed back to get the train home dawdling along the way to visit a fabric shop next to Fraser's. (That's another story.)  I headed down to the platform where 2 trains going west were due.  I took the first one, a short train to Dalmuir.  I entered the door of the carriage, the last in the train, where it came to a halt in front of me.  I sat down.  Along came the conductor.  M-m-m-m... I recognize that lovely Irish accent; he's the same one as the train in (but it had been a long train).  I suppose he could have changed trains in the 2 hours I had been away.  Then I thought... maybe this is still the same train ... I have 5 stops ahead of me.  I will just get up and wander along the train and have a look for my hat which maybe got put up into the luggage rack.  As I moved along to the aisle to the end of the carriage I recogized the turquoise door of the automatic toilet.  I had sat opposite the curved door.  I walked up... nothing on the seat but look what I found on the floor underneath!!

Unbelievable!  Now what are the chances of that happening, I wonder??!  

I think of the factors involved:  it's holiday period so the trains are quiet; there is so much litter around that people get 'immune' to stuff lying around; there isn't much footfall in that part of a railway carriage; I am a fairly pro-active person.  I could easily have come home without actually have done a search. (I hear Alastair's voice in my head "M-uh-ummm! Did you have look?  e.g. on Google!!!"   But to step into that particular carriage on that train at that time having dawdled my way back to the station... weird !!!!

Friday, 31 March 2017


March is nearly out ... thank goodness... That means spring is just around the corner. To be fair we have had a reasonable spell of early spring weather but days can still be cold.

We thought we had escaped the bugs this winter but it seems it is the wee ones who have had it the worst.  Iain and I have not been laid low with anything so have been in a position to hold on to Harriet (nearly 4 years old) and/or Ellie (2 years old) because of sickness and diarrhoea probably picked up a Nursery.   

Here is Ellie writing on the wall (where there is a plastic growth chart).

Harriet is learning to use a paintbrush. Also she is picking up the shapes for the letters of her name.  This photo shows that she can keep inside the lines well. What I find fascinating is her dexterity!  She can hold pencil or paintbrush 'properly'.  She has fine motor movements so makes assured stokes.  I get her to 'dab' and draw wiggly lines and then big circles. I spend ages with bits of paper taped on to an old Habitiat easel just watching her 'create'!

I came across this Caravaggio painting recently. What appealed to me was the chap on the right. He is so self-assured and cuts quite a handsome figure in his feathered hat and velvet-looking jacket.

I had a double-take however ... I have the image of the boy on the right as a background 'wallpaper' on my iPhone.  (I find I can read the apps and time easily with Carvaggio's particlular colours.)  Harriet was holding my iPhone and said to me "That's Alastair!".  Heavens!  So it is!

The character of the boy kind of fits too:   The painting shows a good looking foppishly-dressed boy having his palm read by a gypsy girl. The boy looks pleased as he gazes into her face, and she returns his gaze. Close inspection of the painting reveals what the young man [with his self-satisfied gaze] has failed to notice: the girl is removing his ring as she gently strokes his hand.

And furthermore ....  this is the title of the Louvre painting

Yes... [The Gypsy and] ... the Bonadventurerer .... suits Alastair to a T!

Monday, 20 March 2017


We decided to treat ourselves to a short mini-break  on the east coast.  It is not a part of Scotland that we know particularly well.

Instead of heading straight there we traveled with Mairi and the 2 wee ones (Harriet, now 3.5 years old) and wee Ellie (2 years old) for a visit to somewhere fairly close to home for a couple of hours as  she had these 2 Muchkns for the whole day while John had taken the 2 older ones to a rugby game.

I had the idea to visit the Lake of Menteith. It is a place I have enjoyed over 40 years having taken both Mairi and Alastair there in 1979 when the Lake was totally frozen over.  There was an enormous curling bonspiel that February called The Grand Match. Teams from all over the country gathered.  I recall putting my skates on and taking both of the kids on to the ice with Alastair on my shoulders. He would have been a bit over 2 years old.

Having played on the shore for a short while we turned up at the door of the Lake of Menteith Hotel at 11 o'clock exactly.  The premises were Open.  Upon entering the first words to us were  "We only do lunches and it won't be until 12 o'clock."  Hey-ho... 

The place was empty, I mean, there was not a soul in the place.  There were 3 staff.   Having had very  happy memories of taking Donald Bennet (in a wheelchair) here for coffee I did my best to smile and try to overcome my 'heart-sink' feeling .... Can you image entering an establishment in Italy and being greeted that way?  Or even a UK Italian establishment -  be it white linen or checked table cloth - and be greeted like that?!!

I digress ... I grovelled and asked if they could serve us coffee etc etc etc and, yes, we managed to get served.  This is a photo of Mairi and the 2 wee ones while we await our order.

Mairi headed on back to her house and we carried on to St Andrews and the East Coast.

Lower Largo village on the Fife coast

A wind turbine, Burkhaven, Fife.  It appears to be one that is due to be towed out to sea.


Footnote to the weekend:   BnB experience - changed days.

 We stayed at a BnB on the east coast.  It was fine but I offer, not a complaint, but simply an observation:

In the past (and that includes up to about last Christmas) staying at a Bed & Breakfast always meant you got a cooked breakfast.  This was the first time it was not offered.  

Interesting ... not really a problem as we don't normally eat one ... but my idea of a BnB 'experience' is, indeed, to tuck into a full breakfast before heading out for the day's activities or journey (as we are usually traveling in such circumstances.)

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


It was a gloriously sunny day today.  It's also the last day of February so time to mop up bits and pieces before turning over the calendar.

Bridge over burn outside Killearn

At a recent concert in the music room of Charles Rennie MacIntosh's House for an Art Lover I took this photo of a vase of lilies on the window ledge.

And last, but not least, here is a photo John took of Ellie (2 and Harriett (3 and a half).... or as Ellie calls her ...  'Harri-Barri'!


Monday, 27 February 2017


 * * * * * PREAMBLE * * * * *

There is a new film Mad To Be Normal about to come out in April, 2017. It has the Scottish actor David Tennant as the main (male) character. This week it has been  premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival.

The film is about the Glasgow psychiatrist R D Laing.  In my day he was a controversial figure and this film addresses this plus the work he did trying to get a different approach to mental illness.

His book The Divided Self was much talked about in the 60s; I had even read it!

The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, Penguin Modern Classics, 1960.

Amazon: "This watershed work aimed to make madness comprehensible, and in doing so revolutionized the way we perceive mental illness."

* * * * * * INFLUENCE OF O'SHAUGHNESSY  * * * * * *

Our friend, Bill D. dropped in for coffee today.  Iain was out; we got talking.  

Bill was very friendly with 'Ronnie' in their student days (1940s) up to about 1963.  He recalls that he had an incisive mind and one of the things they shared was a love of poetry.  Ronnie introduced Bill to the following poem which Bill (aged 89 years) could recite all the way through:

ODE (from MUSIC AND MOONLIGHT Collection of Poems)
by Arthur O'Shaughnessy *

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Laing liked the sentiment of this poem particularly (like so many people) the notion of 'movers and shakers'.  Bill and I concluded this must have been a strong driving force in how and why he went about his life.

Bill also mentioned that Ronnie was a bit hard to take at times (and, of course, only knew him as a young man before he became a 'celebrity').  

He recounted a chat he had at a Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow lecture some years ago with Dr Arthur Shenkin  (President at the time), He put it to him "What did you make of RDL?"  After a prolonged pause, apparently, Dr Shenkin replied "He should never have been a psychiatrist; he should have been a philosopher."

My 'Rorschach Rainbow'

* Born in London, Arthur O’Shaughnessy worked in the Zoology Department of the British Museum. By age 30, he had published three collections of poetry, including Music and Moonlight, which contained his inspiring poem “Ode.”  [Poetry Foundation]

 * * * * * *    'THE MUSIC MAKERS'  * * * * * *

 aka Us playing at the 'Railway Inn', Bowling

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Here is a 2 minute action packed video of a 'bonspiel' during a winter freeze in the city.  Click on this link in capital letters below (not the image).

And here is what an owl might have seen had he been passing overhead instead of investigating a traffic camera (not sure of location....).

Friday, 24 February 2017


John took the following 4 photos recently.  Their children are  now 10. 8, 3.5 and 2 years old.
Four Wee Monkeys

 Alastair and Ishbel in Glencoe after a weekend camping in a bothy with Dad.

Alastair and Harriet

Harriet is standing on the toilet in order to see into the mirror as we play 'hairdressers'.  She loves 'role playing' whether it be sweeping the floor, stirring with a big spoon whatever happens to be on the go at the time.
Anyone listening at the door would hear something like "And what are you doing today?" ... brush, brush .... "Going shopping..."  "And how are your children? ..."Fine..." Plait Number One done ... "And who is your best friend?"  Plait Number Two done.   "That's beautiful!" she says when all finished!

And here is a fairly recent photo of Indy, now 5 and a half and getting very tall for his age.  He is in the Science Museum in New York during the Christmas holidays. A recent examination under anaesthetic showed no abnormal cells.  Such good news. Apparently, after the age of 5 years the chances of the occurrence (or should that be recurrence?) of pathological cells declines.