Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Is Thought For the Day boring?

John Humphrys seems to think so. In an interview with the Radio Times, he said the slot is "deeply, deeply boring", and argues for the inclusion of thoughts for the day from secular thinkers.  It's not the first time that this claim has been made, but the BBC doesn't agree, and it's unlikely if Thought for the Day will ever change its policy.

Does it matter? Probably not, but eight years ago, I thought it worth trying to change, so I persuaded the Guardian to run a series of podcasts that showed what a secular thought for the day slot might be like. 

We persuaded quite a range of people to contribute, from the late Clare Rayner to the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway. 

Their recordings are still up there, so you can listen to them here and judge for yourself
I'd be interested to know your thoughts...

Laura and Robert’s Humanist Wedding at Kinkell Byre

I don't give prizes, but if I did, Laura would definitely have got my 2017 Award for the Most Original Entrance of a Bride...

Her guests were at least as surprised as I was...

To see a real fire-engine, sirens wailing, bells clanging, thundering up the narrow road to Kinkell Byre. Inside it of course there were no firemen, just one very happy bride!

Robert and Laura wanted their wedding to be very much a family affair, so Robert's dad entertained us on the pipes, and Laura's Uncle John gave us the first reading, from Winnie the Pooh, by A.A Milne.

Then their mothers, Daphne and Jane, told us the full story of their children's early lives and characters, from birth through school and university to almost the present day.

Laura's other uncle, Uncle Rory, came over from Norway to do his bit, which was to recite, rather than sing, the words to the Johnny Cash song, "I walk the line" - a strange choice you might think, but it was their mutual love of country music that first drew Robert and Laura together.

I then told the guests in a bit more detail the story of how Laura and Robert came to be together

before various guests popped up out of the audience to tell us what marriage means to Robert and Laura. 

L'amour c'est une relation affective que 2 personnes partagent avec une grande complicité et le mariage un engagement pour la vie

Love is friendship that has caught fire.

To love a person is to see all their magic and to remind them of it when they have forgotten.

The speakers were in all sorts of random places, so Kinkell Byre's Technical Director, Stevie, had to make a quick dash to take the handheld microphone from one to the next!

After a short pause for contemplation, it was time for the vows and exchange of rings, and while Laura and Robert signed the marriage schedule in the presence of Robert's uncles Charles and Don who'd flown all the way from Australia, we listened to their friend Catherine Bidoni singing Mhairi's Wedding.

Finally, one last family member got up to give us her contribution. It was Robert's aunt Ruth who spoke an old Scots blessing, for which I've printed the words below. If you don't know what a girnal is, just ask...

“May the best ye've ever seen
Be the worst ye'll ever see
May a moose ne'er leave yer girnal
Wi' a tear drap in his e'e
May ye aye keep hale an' he'rty
Till ye're auld eneuch tae dee
May ye aye be jist as happy

As we wish ye aye tae be”

Laura and Robert sent me a lovely card. 

"Thank you for all your assistance in the build up and your expert conducting of our wedding on the day itself.

We had the most wonderful day of our lives, and we are very grateful to you for the role you played in it!"

These great photographs come from the lovely Caroline Trotter whose portraiture I've long admired. If you find yourself over in the East Neuk, check our her photos on the walls of the East Pier Smokehouse, of which I've grabbed a quick snap below.

Jill and Chris's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Just look at Mansfield Traquair . Could it be more calm and tranquil? Little did Jill and Chris know what was to come. If they h...