Saturday, January 21, 2012

Whisky is the Fountain of Youth

My old seminary chum Bruce, in Montreal, is turning 59 in the next day or two. Feeling his age he asked if I could recommend a good single malt to drown his sorrows in. Now, just because you move to Scotland you don't immediately turn into a Scottish version of Yoda able to say "Och Aye...." and make binding recommendations about whisky. However, my response to Bruce may prove useful to a wider community and so I here publish it for all and sundry:

Poor Bruce. I suppose the only thing worse than turning 59 is the alternative.

I find that a 12 year old Highland Park confers an increment of youthfulness with each glass taken. After glass one you realise how your many years have equipped you with the sort of sophisticated palette that a younger man could only dream about. After glass two you turn to your lady wife and are struck by her mature graces and your good fortune in having her. It will be no consolation to the good woman, however, that after glass six you've turned into a disgusting old Bacchus and are making time in the corner with a twenty-five year old exchange student from Guatemala. After glass eight you curl your lip and say "It's not fair". After glass ten you wet yourself and need to be changed. After glass twelve all the women present make clucking noises and say "Oh look, he's asleep".

12 year old Highland Park, Bruce. Damned fine whisky.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anyone growing tired of the Authorized Version of Burns' Address to a Haggis and looking for the Good News Version of same is welcome to borrow mine (giving credit where credit is due).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Monday, January 16, 2012

Disaster plans.

Our hearts go out to all who have been lost. The story of the Costa Concordia is still to be written as emergency crews search for survivors in the overturned cruise ship off the West coast of Italy. Questions are emerging about the adequacy of the ship's preparedness for a disaster and the timeliness of the initial response to the grounding.

If you dig through the layers of many ancient cities you will encounter what are known as destruction layers - typified by the presence of blackened or broken masonry indicating that a city was periodically put to the torch or subjected to natural catastrophe and its inhabitants beset by tragic circumstances. It is a given that disasters will take place. They are a part of the history of human communities.

As you look at the rubble and the blackened bricks you wonder what the people were thinking and what they did to alleviate their own distress and that of others. Human stories from ancient disasters are hard to come by but we do have modern analogies.

In such tragic circumstances two sets of stories frequently emerge: In one set of stories those in responsibility abandon their post. In so doing they abandon those they are meant to be caring for. In another set of stories some germ of human worth dominates. Places in lifeboats are given to others - the weak and the infirm are thrown over the shoulders of the able-bodied and carried to safety. Plans are worked out on the backs of envelopes by torchlight and everybody shoulders the task they've been given and performs it admirably.

Do you have a disaster plan?

What will you take with you?

How will you preserve the life around you and, in so doing, your own humanity?

In our disaster plans we must give thought, not only to our passports, our wallets and our credit cards but also to our nobility, our responsibility, and our love of strangers.