This is how I read


I love reading and read very quickly.

I’ve just discovered a passage in a book by Ian McEwan

which describes exactly how I read:


I could take in a block of text  or a whole paragraph in one visual gulp.

It was a matter of letting my eyes and thoughts go soft, like wax,

to take the impression  fresh off the pages.

To the irritation of those around me, I’d turn a page every few seconds

with an impatient snap of the wrist. My needs were simple.

I didn’t bother much with themes or felicitous phrases

and skipped fine descriptions of weather, landscapes and interiors.

I wanted characters I could believe in, and I wanted to be made curious

about what was to happen to them.

(Ian McEwan, Sweet Tooth, page 6 and 7)

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A Song for the Unsung


In the UK we’ve been hearing shocking stories

of the ill treatment of the elderly in care homes

but I’d like to sound a little note of appreciation

for the thousands of care home workers

who do their jobs well.


I see some of them in action caring

for my 98-year-old great aunt in a home in Edinburgh

and have been very impressed at the way the staff treat

the severely demented elderly people in their care.


Cheerful, professional, competent and underpaid.

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Colombian Update

The bodies of all the victims of Medellín’s building collapse have now been recovered.

Former US marine Kevin Scott has been released by the FARC, after a four month captivity.

According to the State of Food Insecurity Report 5.1 million people in Colombia are suffering from malnutrition.

And lovely Mariana Pajon, Colombia’s BMX gold medal winner at the London Olympics, won the Supercross World Cup title.

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Amusing mis-hearing of the weekend

An older friend was telling me about her activities:

I go to Dental Exercise for the over-60s.

Dental exercise? I asked, trying to picture a room full of older people working their jaws.

When she said it again, I realized it was gentle exercise.

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Be shocked

Semana magazine reports this week that 89 children are being displaced in Colombia EVERY DAY.

Between January and August 2013 21,373 Colombian children were forced to leave their homes due to violence.

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Update from Medellín

As I write, on Wednesday evening UK time, six people are still missing in the rubble of the tower block that collapsed in Medellín on 19th October.

Five bodies have been found.

One of the victims, James Arango, was sent to the tower because he was an expert solderer, and was ten minutes away from the end of his shift.

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Five things I learned in the past week

1. The language with the second largest number of speakers in the Highlands is Tamil.

2. There is a significant Filipino community in the north of Scotland.

3. The Gaelic for broccoli is broccoli.

4. I love cullen skink.

5. Wild Geese are Presbyterian: the strong support the weak.

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Trip North

That’s me safely back in Glasgow, after ten wonderful days up north.

I drove 937 miles.

I slept in four beds.

I spoke in six churches.

I met with nothing but interest and kindness.

The weather was mild; the autumn colours sensational; the baking worthy of prizes.

If you have just started reading my blog, welcome!

Next up, the Latin Link Scottish Conference this weekend.

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