I love the way the poet in the MRI scanner sees himself being ‘scanned’ in the same way that he ‘scans’ his poetry.  Great fun and very clever.  (And by the way, when he got the results from his scan he was fine).

How To Scan A Poet

My doctor tells me I will need a scan;

I tap a nervous rhythm with my feet,

‘Just count to five’, she says, ‘and then sit down.


The gist of it is printed on this sheet,

So read it over when you are at home.

We’ll have a clearer picture when we meet’.


I read the letter in a waiting room,

It’s language strangely rich for one like me

Image, Contrast, Resonance; a poem


Slips into view amidst the litany

Of Latin terms that make our medicine

A new poetic terminology.


The door is opened. I am ushered in

To lisp my list of symptoms, to rehearse

The undiscovered art of naming pain.


‘Its called deep inspiration, says the nurse,

‘Draw deep for me then simply hold your breath

And stay composed.’ So I compose this verse.


She says ‘We dye for contrast, to unearth

Each hidden image, which might bring

Some clue that takes us closer to the truth.


Be still and I will pass you through the ring,

Three passes, all in rhythm, and you’re free,

The resonance will show us everything’

Be still and I will pass you through the ring

And now my Muse says much the same to me,

Scanning these lines, and calling me to sing.

(by Malcolm Guite)



Over the past 8 months we’ve been living with Daughter 2 in her house in Surrey.  Last November she had a child care crisis and we were worried about the effect on the grandchildren, so we offered to move her to her new house, move in with her and look after them until the wedding, when her husband would move in.  Then there would be two adults in the house again and childcare would get a whole lot easier.

There were a lot of other things going on as well.  She got married last Saturday, but first, there were 2 new bedrooms to be built in the garage for her two new stepchildren.  So lots of building work this year, not to mention endless cups of tea.  We were very blessed to have a real-life ‘Bob the builder’ who was a pleasure to have around.

Then D2 announced that she and her fiance had decided to hold the wedding reception in the garden … we took a look at the weedy patch outside and silently wondered ‘why’? … but trying to get it under control kept us out of mischief, especially as we aren’t gardeners.  And thereby hangs another tale.

The best way to communicate with her was by text – she could pick it up when she wasn’t in surgery.   Occasionally the kids would have a crisis.  So here’s how the texts went on my phone …

Grandson:  Dear mummy can you tell me where the phone is? (lots of blue emoticon faces.  The phone is an ancient, cracked one but he’s allowed to play Candy Crush on it … provided he’s ready for school/breakfasted/teeth cleaned/hair brushed/done his homework/done his music practice.  To ensure this we took to hiding the phone so he would have to ask for it …)

D2:  is it behind the printer in the bureau?  that’s the last place I remember hiding it …

(the answer however arrives after he has left for school.)

I send a photo of lampshades in Wilco:  D2 is looking for them for the new bedrooms.  Am told when she gets back from work that she’s leaving it to the stepkids to choose.

Fathers’ Day:  they all go to Daventry for a barge day with the fiance, and I get back to the house on my own from seeing an old friend.  ‘I could only get into the house by breathing in’, says my text.  The sections of the arbour D2 had ordered for the garden had been stacked inside the tiny front porch and it was a squeeze getting the front door open and edging my way into the house.

Then I discovered the goldfish have died again … we kept buying them, and putting them into the little pond we’d made out of a big belfast sink in the back garden.  We’d put aereating plants and a tiny water fountain and all sorts in the water, but despite our increasingly desperate efforts, the wretched goldfish just kept dying.  Why??? says my text … followed by discussion on possible causes.  Maybe she didn’t leave the water sitting outside long enough to get rid of the chlorine  before topping up the pond??  On the other hand I’d bought some stuff to make the water safe for fish.  Still haven’t solved that mystery.

Then the bedrooms are sufficiently ready for Hub and I to put up the curtain rails and new curtains.  I send a pic to D2, but things are tempered by the news that Bob the builder’s wife is having to go into hospital for all sorts of tests, and he’s just told me the news is not good.

Although he had to take a lot of time off work to be with his wife, who has a hospital phobia, and the work was late being finished, he would turn up at odd times in order to get done, including working most of one evening to finish the shower so that the lino could go down.

There’s more.  Much more.  Our lives have been made up of such trivia, but the trivia were about real people, and relationships, and family.  The little things that make the world go round.




I do wish we could stop behaving as if Armageddon was just around the corner. We live in a peaceful stable democracy with a standard of living the majority of the world can only dream of. Enough already with the handwringing. What’s important now is that we agree on the right questions to ask, and the most constructive way forward. I hope we can do that. If we can’t, then we’ll be wasting an amazing opportunity to shape our national future in a positive way, whatever we think of the results.

(image from



Today Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu issued this joint statement.  I commend it for its wisdom in its emphases on interdependence, generosity, and hope.

“On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.”




The shocking murder of MP Jo Cox, coming so soon after the Orlando shootings, brings us to our knees in grief, lament and intercession.

This prayer was written by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB:

Great God, who has told us
“Vengeance is mine,”
save us from ourselves,
save us from the vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.

Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.

Give us the strength it takes
to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again
to make peace even when peace eludes us.

We ask, O God, for the grace
to be our best selves.

We ask for the vision
to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility…

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So off I trot to St George’s Hospital in London to see one of the toppest melanoma experts – a university prof … and I walk in and he grasps me by the hand, looks deep into my eyes and announces with great fervour ‘I’ve been SO LOOKING FORWARD to meeting you!’

I shoot a hasty glance at Hub who may be wondering if this is a blast from the past he doesn’t know about …. but then Prof demands to look at Madame Thumb as if she were the equivalent of champagne and caviar and was the greatest treat of his existence.

Anyway … no, he does not recommend a full amputation. No, I do not need anything doing immediately, because it is all ‘in situ’. Yes, he thinks it would be best if I wait until I go home in the summer. He will recommend that a lot be chopped out, but the length of the thumb kept as much as possible.  So it looks as if it will be another, bigger skin graft.

Huge relief … living with daughter, looking after grandchildren and with lots to do before her wedding in July, having my thumb chopped about was not an inviting prospect.  Plenty of time for that once her new hubby has moved in, and Hub and I have gone home to Devon.  Then I will have lots of time to mollycoddle myself …

So relief all round and much thankfulness to God.

(image from



‘I’m off to Hove tomorrow’, I announce to the family.  They turn and stare.  ‘What are you doing?’  they enquire suspiciously.

‘I’ve got a blogbuddy I’ve known for years, and we’re meeting for the first time.’

‘So tell us about it’, they say.  ‘Male or female?? ‘

‘Female’, I say … and they immediately chorus  ‘you can’t be sure!  That’s what men say on social media to fool you.  He’s probably HUGE and beefy and covered in tattoos.’

I press on regardless.  ‘And we have lots of great conversations online.  Lots of spiritual stuff too’ …

‘That’s what they all say!’  The family’s on a roll.   ‘Mum, you’re being GROOMED.’

‘I’m taking Dad’, I say feebly.

‘Dad’s so absent-minded he won’t notice what’s going on’, they point out.   ‘And he’s going deaf so he won’t hear either.’

I rally.  ‘That’s why  I’m taking him.’