Monday, 16 October 2017


Have I ever posted about football before? Probably not, because I'm not that bothered about it unless Newcastle are playing. But The Magpies are in the news tonight, and this time it's not because we've been beaten. (Drew with Southampton away at the weekend, if you'd like to know.)

I never knew a thing about football except that you have to kick the ball into that net thing at the end. Preferably the right net thing at the right end, or they call it an own goal, which isn't fair because it's an accident, or even a gaccident. I always thought it would be more sensible to give them a ball each, then they wouldn't have to fight over the same one. But when I had two growing sons I learned very quickly. They were happy to explain things to their ignorant-but-willing-to-learn mum, and I learned phrases like 'strike partner', 'top corner' 'THAT WAS A PENALTY', and 'couldn't hit a cow's bum with a tennis racket'. I could enjoy watching football with two enthusiastic sons. Hamilton Bear got absolutely passionate about it. The boys were here this weekend and he was in seventh heaven, watching Match of The Day with them.

The news tonight is that the present owner of the club, Mike Ashley, is selling it. Mr Ashley - how can I put this? - has not been universally popular with the fans. He has not endeared himself to the crowds at St James's Park. He does not, shall we say, enhance the quality of conversation at the Leazes End. There is now much speculation about who will own Newcastle United next, and whether it'll be all sorted this year, and what effect it will have.

What is called for here is for the club to be bought by a loyal black and white syndicate. I suspect the buy out team is already gathering in a Tynemouth pub -

'Money doesn't grow on trees, so let's get fund-raising. Pass the hat around. Get some lottery tickets. We can have a quiz night, and a raffle, definitely a raffle. Who'll give a raffle prize? Bill?'

'You can raffle me Granda. He makes a grand garden gnome.'

'I'll hire out the bairn for bird scaring. And we'll have a Christmas Fair.'

'Tracey, get knitting. You can sell little cuddly black and white teddy bears for a fiver a kick. Linda! Linda! You can do the cake stall. Chocolate cupcakes, scones, brownies, lemon drizzle, never mind as long as it's all black and white. We'll have a Kevin Keegan lookalike competition and we'll get Rafa Benitez to be Father Christmas. How much do we need to make? About 200 million? Nee bother. We'll make that much just by raffling Bill's Granda.'

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Yes, I'm still here. Sorry. Family stuff, work stuff, garden stuff, church stuff, going on holiday, going to sleep. All of that. But I'm still here, and I hope you are too. The tree in the garden keeps dropping apples on us and I caught sight of a certain squirrel with a basket on her arm.

You might remember that Mum died in May and the following day my sister was in a terrible road accident. Well, my sister's care was excellent, she is a tough lady, she was well prayed for, and she is now getting about on crutches. She, thank God, is still here. This week we met to put Mum's ashes in the soft dark earth.

There were just five of us there, her two daughters, two sons-in-law, and the vicar. We gathered in the Garden of Remembrance outside the church by the sea where she was married. From then on she attended week by week until dementia and frailty crept up on her. She ran the Mothers' Union for a while, and a playgroup, she baked, dished up and washed up as church ladies do, she befriended, encouraged, and generally did what needed doing. For a while she and her friend did the cleaning of a little upstairs chapel while listening to the organist practising. Our cat was a church cat. (A church kitten, in fact. The curate adopted a stray which promptly had babies. His landlady didn't mind the cat but she wasn't taking on the whole family, so the kittens needed homes. Ours proved to be an Alpha Female. She'd follow us to church and be carried out by a fully robed acolyte.)

I digress. This is about Mum, and she would not be pleased at being upstaged by the cat. Now that dementia Mum has died I have much clearer memories of the way she was in her best days, practical, welcoming, funny, down to earth. She loved having a houseful of friends, especially young people. There was always cake in the tins and a sewing or knitting project on the go. We argued a lot, I raged at her in my teenage years. Mums can cope with that.

We met on a bright, windy afternoon. Mum would have said it 'blew the cobwebs away'. The sky and the sea were bright blue beyond the green as we settled her into the earth and remembered her tucking us into bed. It was her day.

For her and for those of us here, there is the Celtic Blessing. There are various versions of this about and I can't trace the origin, but it comes from the Celtic Christian tradition. I think I first heard of it via the Iona Community.

Deep Peace of the Running Wave to you
Deap Peace of the Flowing Air to you
Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth to you
Deep Peace of the Shining Stars to you
Deep Peace of the Son of Peace to you.