“It was a pity that the deceased never wrote his memoirs”. Have you not heard these sentiments at the graveside?
Well, they can’t say that at mine! On top of the Ghanaian national flag draping my coffin, there should be room for my books, possibly my clarinet – the saxophone will be playing – and most certainly my ventriloquist chimpanzee, Charlie. Two international caps will drape their tassels over the flag. There will be some Muslims in the gathering recalling my confrontation with Usama bin Laden in Pakistan; some Jews recalling their erstwhile Jewish brother in America; some Humanist children’s panel members who knew me as their Reporter in southern Scotland; perhaps a few ex-prisoners who knew me in prison; some Lancastrian Anglican relatives and a host of friends who have lost their faith but ponder my fate at this moment in time. Three knives, unsheathed, will shine in the shaft of light descending on this laden coffin. And if I am lucky a bouquet of tropical flowers might just arrive in time, from a former African Head of State.
A son of the manse, missionary, educational social worker, Regional Reporter to the Children’s Hearings, sportsman, musician, ventriloquist, author, poet, film script writer and writer in residence in Dumfries Prison, International Research Panellist, and Camp Manger in Pakistan. Above all else, father to Fiona and Laura and husband of Jocelyn.
Chaucer told the original Miller’s Tale, a bawdy tale if ever there was. Could my tale mirror his? I write it for the next generation to understand the massive changes which have taken place in my lifetime; mostly for the better. But life is more than a collection of facts.
It’s the humour and confusion, the doubts and the convictions which lead us to explore our circumstances. We have a freedom to explore, to assess possibilities and to respond appropriately. Sometimes when acting spontaneously, I find my laces become untied. The consequences become unpredictable.
All can share in Robert Burns’ work, many recite his favourite verses or songs. Others understand the hardships of his times and the radical politics around him. Many are moved to visit his grave at the Mausoleum at St Michael’s Church in Dumfries or visit the Brow Well where he sought healing. Others stroll the magnificent walks on the river Nith riverbanks that truly inspired the Bard to pen Tam o’ Shanter and collect, craft and mend over 300 songs. But in one thing their experiences will fall short.
His genius was his alone.
This rare manuscript captures the influence of the Bard on his descendants through Dear Bought Bess, his first child, to the present generation. It was a manuscript long in gestation but ripe for the present troubled world.
Then let us pray that come it may
As come it will for a’ that
That Sense and Worth through all the Earth
Shall bear the gree an a’ that
For a’ that an a’ that
It’s comin’ yet for a’ that
That man to man the world o’er
Shall brithers be for a’ that.
7 Point 7 on the richter scale
The diary of a Camp Manager in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, working in the aftermath of the South Asian Earthquake recorded at 7.7 in the Richter Scale on the 8th October 2005. 7 Point 7 is a poignant account of the experience of Mr Miller Caldwell, a committed humanitarian who was so affected by the death and destruction caused by the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan that he offered his services to help the victims. Muslim Hands International, a well-established charity took up his offer and thus the author found himself in the devastated area of the Pakistani highlands – the North Western Frontier Province.
Mr Caldwell’s diary is easy to read and engagingly descriptive, giving a day to day picture of the plight of the victims in one of the many emergency camps of which he was given charge.
The details about the humane role played in this tragedy by workers from so many international charities, NGOs, UN organisations, the Pakistan armed forces and many foreign government bodies is deeply revealing and very heartening. The working together of people of various faiths to help the victims of the earthquake is a very strong and hopeful feature of this tragedy.
The love affair of Jahangeer, a 17-year-old Pakistani boy and a 25-year-old Cuban doctor Jenny, brings a welcome change to the tragic scene of devastation all around. Games of cricket, eating out in wayside chetis and in the houses of Pakistani hosts gives an excellent picture of Pakistani food, eating habits and the Pakistani way of life.
The experiences of the author during his time in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan present a very positive picture of Islam and Pakistani culture. 7 Point 7 not only gives a unique insight into the lives of the victims of the earthquake, but also the lives and efforts of those, from many parts of the world, who were engaged in helping them.
I found it very interesting and absorbing and it deserves to be read widely as it is quite different from any of the accounts of the earthquake and its after effects as reported in the press.
Glasgow, October 2006 DR. Bashir Maan CBE.
Jim's Retiring Collection
Rev. James Caldwell recorded the more amusing stories of his various ministries and on hearing these, artist Jim Douglas of Glenfarg, offered to illustrate his tales.
When Jim died in 1995, I inherited papers, musings, photographs and the general deluge of personal memorabilia which post mortem events produce. Poet’s Progeny was the first of Jim’s writing which became a popular book. Now I have turned his amusing stories into a short book with an unusual structure to inform and entertain the reader. Each chapter starts with a short bible passage then is followed by a contemporary commentary before Jim offers his amusing tales. Accordingly, this can be a reflective book, an aid to understanding the Bible in today’s complex society or a very amusing account which blows out of the water the image of a Scottish Presbyterian minister as a bland, dour preacher. Jim’s tales will certainly have you shaking with laughter.
Book Size (Paperback editions): A5 (210 x 148 mm) Colour Perfect Bound Standard Colour
ISBN (Paperback editions): 0755215915
ISBN-13 (Paperback editions): 9780755215911
Take The Lead
Meet Rock the Wrecker and Ben the Bounder, Kirrie the Assassin and Rikki the Rogue. Then experience the crazy world of the Basset Hound and all its antics. beloved by three Labradors and a Springer Spaniel, honoured by two Border Collies and wonder at the arresting Inverness Alsatian.
The author has been associated with dogs all of his life. In Ghana he was asked to run down a rabid dog and another showed its affection with a snarl. In Pakistan, dogs lived a life apart, frequently tied up and disliked. Most dogs have been a pleasure to know while a few have caused distress. But by far dogs have added to the quality of his life.
Recently, dogs have been put in the spotlight. Their sense of smell and their ability to communicate is starting to identify cancer sufferers early and give human ailments a cure. While some dogs are put down after dreadful and sometimes fatal attacks.
If you love dogs, you will love this book.
£6.50 $12.50 Euros 10
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