Monday, 19 December 2011


One of the things that springs to mind when I think about childhood Christmases is the vivid sense of colour associated with them.
There is the red of Santa's tunic, green for the Christmas tree and, of course, what every ten year old's heart yearns for at this time if the year, great expanses of white outside the window - as long as it STAYS safely on the other side of the window.
Some of these colours had a very personal resonance for me. There's red again. Cherry red in fact. The colour of the first, and only, car that I have ever owned. It was a sporty little red pedal powered number that was my pride and joy until I was too big to get into it.
I still get a thrill at the thought of my first, clandestine, sight of it as, on Christmas Eve, my big sister lifted the blanket under which it was hidden in her bedroom. the moment I caught sight of that long, red bonnet I fell in love - truly, madly, deeply. I knew that I would be travelling in style from then on. Admittedly, it would only be up and down the garden path and round my Mother's "Greenie Poles", but a chap has to start somewhere.
There is another colour, though, that resonates even more potently in my memory of those long ago Christmases. One of the decorations that hung on our tree was an odd purple object that looked not unlike a prune. I could never quite work out what it was meant to be but my mother assured me that it was very old and had been bought long before I had arrived on the scene.
I used to watch it, fascinated, as it gleamed under the Christmas Tree Lights. It seemed, somehow, in the unfathomable depth and richness of its colour, to have stored up all the happiness of past festive seasons. I was in awer of this misshapen bauble and I am pretty sure that I did not "ping" it, the way I did the other decorations, for the childish pleasure of seeing it swing back and forth. I didn't want to break it and endanger the continuity the line of Happy Christmases.
Of course, now, all those years later, I realize that those colours only remain so vivid in my mind's eye because of all the things that they were associated with. The colours of those childhood christmases were only given their depth by the efforts made by my parents on behalf of my sisters and I; the presents under the tree, the stockings full of tins of toffee that we occupied ourselves with in the early hours of the morning before we could get to that Christmas Tree. Most of all, I realise now, that it was a stable, loving family life that added, year by year to the bauble's glow.
Inevitably, as time goes by, Christmas loses some of its vividness. We get blase. We grow up? We read cynical, supposedly humorous articles about dreadful office parties, terrible T.V. "Specials" and about how the columnist never wants to clap eyes on another mince pie in his/her life. Ho. Ho. Ho. All very funny - but not very fulfilling.
This Christmas, though, I find myself having much in common with my former self. I am not actually getting ready to climb into my little red racing number but I have much the same sense of excitement as I look forward to my first Christmas at St Paul's Cathedral, Dundee, the Candlelight, friendship and the soul tingling mysteries of this time of year. I have been attending the Cathedral since February and it has turned my life around!
Along with faith, friendship and fellowship are the true colours of Christmas to all of you of all faiths - and none.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


I like my home "town". It suits me very well indeed. I have lived in both of Scotland's biggest cities and in the lovely countryside near to the English border but here, I can honestly say, is the only place where I have been acutely aware of a Sense of Community and so, because I believe good things should be shared, I am inviting you to a little tour of Broughty Ferry.

Up until 1911 Broughty Ferry was a town in its own right then, much to the chagrin of its population, it was incorporated into the nearby city of Dundee.

The main business of the place used to be fishing and in the nineteenth century more than 80 fishing vessels were based here. Even among the humble fishermen there was a hierarchy. Those who fished for salmon further up the River Tay were the Princes of their profession.

There was another hierarchy at work in the Ferry. The poor and the humble, such as the fishermen I have just mentioned, tended to live very close to the shore in cottages or, sometimes, lean to shacks, while a few streets back, lived the middle classes and white collar workers, such as school teachers and shopowners.

Further back, and high up on Reres Hill, lived the rich in their Mansion Houses that looked down condes- endingly on the rest of the community. Some of these houses bore spectacular witness to the wealth of their owners, many of whom were Jute Barons who owned factories in nearby Dundee.

One owner, who owned a particularly beautiful house (its name escapes me) commissioned an ornate painted ceiling from one of the leading FRENCH Artists of the day. After the building was torn down the whole ceiling was moved, lock, stock and barrel, to the store room of a museum in Dundee, where it remains to this day - unseen and unappreciated.

The first railway line in Scotland passed through the Ferry but, long before the railways, there was the Stagecoach and in King Street there is still a reminder of that long lost world. The Eagle Inn which is still operating was a staging post and did a good trade sustaining the weary traveller with food and drink.

Being on the Coast, Broughty Ferry has often been touched by the Shadow of War. Broughty Castle, which stands near the mouth of the River Tay was a military garrisson as far back as the days when Napoleon was Britain's biggest worry and during the second World War anti aircraft batteries were stationed on the beach.

Much further back than that, French troops landed on the beach on their way to help the Scots fight the English in nearby Dundee.

Nowadays, though, apart from the odd "punch up" outside one of the bars at the week-end, its a quiet place. The yachts from the local yacht club are often out on the riover, people walk their dogs along the beach and the remaining houses of those old Jute Barons look benignly on the rest of us.

As I said my home town suits me fine. Basically, everything I want and need is within walking distance. As an added convenience, I live right above one of the oldest pubs in this area. The Occidental Bar is a fine old, traditional Scots bar where you can meet people from all walks of life. it has its very own cast of "characters" and when I want a bit of company I look upon it as an extension of my living room!

Friday, 25 November 2011


All my adult life coffee shops have been very important to me. I write in them. I read in them and, as regular readers of this blog will know, I have been known to form relationships in them. I cogitate, ruminate, meditate and (once or twice) mediate in them. Sometimes I even drink coffee in them. They are a basic essential of my life.

Some years ago, before the arrival of the big Coffee Chains in this country, I lived in Edinburgh. There was a great variety of places to drink coffee and watch the world go by in that great City then. Everything from the rather elegant Coffee Room at the top of Jenner's Department Store which looked out over Princes Street Gardens and which was, in turn, overlooked by a looming Edinburgh Castle perched high on its forbidding mound of rock, to the little Italian Cafes out in the "sticks".

My favourite place, though, The Laigh, was right in the centre of town. You went down some steps from street level and into a long, narrowish establishment with a varnished wooden floor and long plane tables and bench seats on either side. On shelves above head height were displayed brass pots, pans and other kitchen equipment from a bygone age, although I always had the suspicion that some of the older clientele could remember them being used.

The walls were wooden panels of a sort of honey coloured hew that glowed when the sun came out. It wasn't the most luxuriously appointed establishment that I've ever been in but it suited me just fine. It was owned by an elderly actor called Moultrie Kelsall who was a bit eccentric and had an honourable, if not scintillating career on Stage Screen and T.V. I chiefly remembered him from a guest role in a black and white series called Doctor Finlay's Casebook which was a national institution for a while.

One of the most attractive things about this place was the variety of customers that walked down those steps. You could find yourself chatting to everyone from an office worker to a business man, an actor or a prostitute! I chatted up the lady who was to be my partner over a chocolate cake one afternoon as I said all the right things about a new pair of shoes she had bought - and was extremely pleased with.

Believe me, I clocked up a good few hours in The Laigh. I like to think of that time as my "Bohemian (some say unemployed) Period" and I'd sit for hours in conversation with eccentrics, amateur philosophers, tub thumpers, nut jobs and, once in a blue moon, someone of true intellect and insight. I may have been a burden on the British Taxpayer at the time, but at least, I was learning. A lot of the ideas that are the mainstay of my world view were formed then.

Although, in most things, I favour independent businesses over national or international chains, I have to admit that Coffee Chains pretty much give someone like me everything they want. You can sit for as long as you like and think wonderful thoughts. If you happen to be in a strange town the sight of a branch of your favourite chain can be very comforting - like a little bit of home away from home. Like your own living room.

I prefer writing in coffee shops to writing at home anyway. It's a less lonely and less sterile atmosphere and if you get stuck with something you forget the laptop for a moment or, in my case, put your pen down. You watch the world go by and, usually, the magic works and your temporary block vanishes as quickly as Spring snow.

The best thing about Coffee Shops though - let me whisper it ladies - that someone wonderful will walk through the door and the only available seat will be at YOUR table. So, if you are passing by my local, come in and make yourself known. The coffees are on me - and perhaps a piece of chocolate cake. Just don't ask me to like Starbucks!!!

Friday, 7 October 2011


I have been fascinated by this largely forgotten heroine since I first heard of her and I am now engaged in researching material for a play that I would like to write about her.

Jane was born in the last years of the nineteenth century in a little village called Dunscore in the South West of Scotland. She was a more than able pupil at school, becoming Dux (top pupil in her year) at Dumfries Academy.

After a career in Commerce she went on to train to be a Missionary and secured a position as Matron of The Church of Scotland Mission School in Budapest.

She was home in Scotland on holiday when World War 2 started and, against the advice of family and friends and her bosses, she went back to be with her girls.

She was gassed in Auschwitz on the seventeenth of July 1944.

At one point Jane was made to sew the Star of David onto the clothes of the children in her care.


The stars fell out of the sky
and, if you could have done,
you would have gathered them up,
one by one,
and stationed them once again
in their rightful quarters
and, as before,
their shining would have shamed
the darkness around them.
But, instead, they made you
sew them into all those
little coats and dresses,
forcing you to chain
all the bright and shimmering
to the dull clod
of a poisoned earth.
Then, at the dying breath
of that great evil,
just when hope -
fragile as a Spring flower -
broke ground,
you were sucked into the maw
and in your presence
the darkness all around you
was shamed into nothingness.

John R, Nicoll.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011



Every year I clutch
at the last of those colours
before the inevitable fall
into the long white day,
and every year I fail,
for my porous memory
will let them all leach away.
It is then I remember
that green is the only colour
I need register in my mind's eye.
Through the long, dead days
I shall wait for green's return.
Green is the colour of faith.

John R. Nicoll

I am having trouble leaving comments on my own blog, would you believe. I'll get the hang of it some day. In the meantime I would just like to thank Pearl, Suz and all of you for your comments - particularly on the last posting.

To Sledpress: You are absolutely right. There are a lot of very dodgy men out there who just use people for their own amusement. I'm also not denying that other people have been treated in a far worse manner. I don't take drugs and I don't believe in counselling (some of the most screwed up people I have ever met are, or have been counsellors), unless its for something serious, so I am using these postings as my own self prescribed therapy. I am trying to make sense of it all myself. As you get a bit older these things affect you more acutely and I would just like to get it all in perspective and, hopefully, find someone who actually is who she says he is.

The Trouble With Adrienne should follow shortly and, as you will see, things get even more confusing. Thank you all very much. You've restored my faith in women. Hope you don't think that I am being patronising - cos I certainly don't mean to be.


Friday, 26 August 2011


Meant to have the article I have been meaning to write ready for you by now. But it's proved to be a much more complex affair than I had reckoned on.

Better that it's right than quick, though. I want to be absolutely fair to the party involved and I would like to obtain the maximum cathartic effect for myself. I'll try not to keep you waiting longer than I have to.

If that doesn't have you dry mouthed with suspense nothing will!!!!!!!!!!

*Not her real name but its close enough.

John R. Nicoll, Dundee (The Hospitable Scots Bachelor)

Friday, 19 August 2011


If you've been following the P.C. or not P.C. strand you may well be glad to know that, for once, the machinery of bureaucracy has coughed and spluttered and lurched in the right direction.

That's my ham fisted way of saying that I have once again been assigned as a school escort to the same little Asian boy that I was escorting last year.

I picked him up the other day and he was ready, face washed, hair combed to within an inch of its life and ready for his new school - or at least as ready as any school boy ever is for anything to do with school!

I'm glad it worked out this way. I'm glad for him. I'm even more glad for me. I'm sure that he will appreciate a little continuity in his life. I know that I do.

I'm a big fan of continuity myself. I know that nothing stays the same for very long in this life but, lately, change has seemed to become a religion in certain quarters. Often it is change for changes sake - or, as we used to call it, FIDGETING!

How nice if things can continue in the same way - at least for a while.How nice if you can bask a little longer in the warmth of a friendship or enjoy a comfortable situation. Why must this world insist on dragging us along by the scruff of the neck? What's the hurry?

My young friend shows me his new toy car. He grins. He giggles when I call him a twit. Then he looks out of the car window to see the world roll relentlessly by.

Again, I ask, what's the hurry?

Thursday, 28 July 2011



This poem was written for a dear friend of mine. She is brave, talented, kind hearted and one of the best "advertisements" for Christianity that I have ever met. Her friendship means more to me than she can probably guess"

she rises from that hospital bed
and the years of half-life
that, nevertheless,
could not extinguish
the embers within.

Now, with every kind impulse,
those embers glow again;
the cards at Easter,
the bringing of strangers together,
prayer and poetry.
This heart shines outward.

The road rising
is sometimes a mountain, but,
though bone weary,
frailty is matched with grace.
The embers are fanned.
The flame is returning!

I'm having trouble placing comments on my OWN blog, would you believe? - you would if you had any idea of my computer incompetence. So, here's a special message for:


Thanks for all your comments Pearl. Like the lady in the song: "You're a darn nice girl"!

and Suz

I've got some sympathy with your views Suz. There are not many likeable characters. Daisy is the sort of woman most modern women would cheerfully slap and her old man is a Yob - no less so for being rich. But Gatsby - at least he believes in SOMETHING. The bit that moved me almost more than any other bit of the book was where they find, after he is dead, the note to himself about the regime he must impose upon himself if he is to achieve his goal. The fact that his goal would be unachievable to any mortal being (see last page) makes his story all the more moving. "Come back, come back, oh glittering and white" - indeed !

I plan, in due course, to do a posting dedicated to explaining why I love the book so much. Maybe I will even convince you. Take care ladies xxx.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


This is another story about the little Asian boy that I took to school and said goodbye to about two weeks ago. It's in two parts, so I hope that you will bear with me!

A couple of days ago I was enjoying a coffee in a place up town. I had just come from Church and was ploughing my way through The Observer (not my favourite newspaper) when snippets of conversation from the next table began drifting into my consciousness.

They were all the harder to ignore because the person who was doing most of the talking had one of those voices which was not so much loud as penetrating,if you know what I mean.

Her voice was bright and shiny with enthusiasm. The snippets and slivers of conversation came thick and fast. She was into some sort of Virtual Reality scene and was proudly regaling her companions with the status of her Avatar. Am I getting this right?

The Avatar was apparently a person of great virtual importance (we've all met a few of these in THIS world, haven't we?) The Enthusiast actually came out with the immortal line, "I'm the third most important person in my imaginary world". If I was going to go to the bother of creating an imaginary world I'd make b***dy sure I was THE most important person in it but as it is, I have enough problems with reality, so there!

This world, no not THIS world, the imaginary one (try to keep up) was apparently a dangerous and demanding place. There were Ogres, Monsters and Dragons and what have you lurking around every corner. Dastardly things had to be done to ensure survival.

"I've just realised", said our Enthusiast", to stand a chance of surviving I might have to kill my own son!"

I felt myself rapidly approaching "people slapping mode" so I tuned out and returned to The Observer (it has its uses).

Fast forward (what a relief), to:

A day later I am going home on the bus. The little boy I said goodbye to a couple of weeks ago (see previous postings) was in his wheelchair across the aisle and accompanied by two of his carers. He had just come back from a Fun Day Out and the sheen of happiness was still evident on his face. Suddenly, he frowned. "Will you be taking me to my new school?", he asked.

I reassured him that they would find somebody nice to look after him and his face relaxed back into that teddy bear smile.

For the rest of his journey he would look over occassionly and the big brown eyes would sparkle in a reprise of that smile. He seemed confident that, at least for the moment,everything in his world was as it should be and I, at least for the moment, was glad for him.

As the bus rolled on I thought, again, of that idiot world I had heard about the day before. One thing was certain the Ogres, Monsters and Dragons that this little boy will have to face will be real enough. They will come in the form of the humiliation he will soon feel at still needing nappies. They will appear in the form of the unthinking cruelty (and worse, the conscious cruelty) of those more fortunate than he. And, later, when others find girlfriends they will come, again and again and again.......

But I have seen the light in his eye and been close enough to sense the strength of his God given spirit. There will be many battles ahead and he may not win them all (though I pray that he does) but, he can be sure of one thing, those he does win will be REAL. They will not be locked away in some, dark and dank and unseen Virtual World. They will be out there shining for ALL with the eyes to see.

May God bless him and watch over him on his journey!

If you have any stories to tell or subjects you'd like me to cover or any personal heros/heroines that you would like to draw attention to, you can contact me on: Thanks

Friday, 1 July 2011


Thanks for all your suggestions a little while back regarding the choice of a small gift for the little Asian boy that I have been escorting to school in a taxi for the last two years.

I eventually settled on a Colouring/Activity Book, Stickers and lots of coloured pencils and felt tip pens.They seemed to go down well.

On Wednesday he had to say goodbye to a teacher who had been with him for practically his entire school career. She's a nice woman in her thirties and as she knelt down to give him a kiss, a hug and a nicely wrapped present she burst into tears and had to retreat to a Staff Room.

My young friend didn't seem too fazed by this at the time but, later, in the taxi going home, his top lip started to wobble. I wanted to tell him that saying goodbye to the people that matter gets easier as time goes by but we all know that that's not true and so, instead, I settled for tickling his ear and, being seven years old, that seemed to do the trick.

Perhaps I shall wait until he starts his new school and send him a card to wish him well. Maybe it would be a good thing for him to know that though friends can't always stay in your orbit,often they can find ways of reaching out to you!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


So Summer has rolled round once more.........such as it has been so far!

I don't see the person who was such a big part of my days last Summer any more and so, perhaps, I have rose-tinted memories of the Summer of 2010.

All the same, the skies did seem bluer and the days a little more languid and relaxed. Still, memory can be an uncertain ally. It means well but does not always give you the "straight skinny".

I don't if I am any the wiser than I was then but, like most people, I have had many new experiences that have surely broadened my world view - but is that the same as wisdom? "Discuss" as they say on the exam papers.

Early this year I was lucky enough to meet many fine and talented and just plain nice people in a very short space of time and life seems a lot richer than it did in the dark days of winter. One in particular has become a close friend and something of a kindred spirit. At least I now no longer believe that it is IMPOSSIBLE to meet new people!

And so the world turns again and we have to accommadate it in its restlessness but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it would slow down long enough to allow us to catch up!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


When I was about fourteen this "small saint" arrived in my life courtesy of my father.

Dad was still, in the early sixties, a reservist in the Royal Air Force, having reached the rank of Squadron Leader. The big house where his unit was stationed was due to be sold off and the unit disbanded and, consequently, the contents of the Officer's Mess were shared out amongst Dad and his fellow officers.

He managed to lay claim to a good clutch of L.P.'s to aded to our collection at home. Ray Conniff and His Singers did not do much for my fourteen year old sensibilities but, oh, how Earl did!

As much as I liked contemporary popular music, his music was so much deeper, richer and more exotic.

The songs he recorded like Ebb Tide, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing and The Autumn Leaves were the songs of my parents' generation but I did not mind that at all for there was something very different about the musical "palette" that he employed to anything else I was listening to.

It was the first time that I had been made fully aware of the quality of "wistfulness" in music, or anywhere else for that matter. If you ever hear his version of "The Autumn Leaves" you will know just what I mean.

Earl's music was probably the first time I had made any real connection with the gems from the thirties, forties and fifties.

Connection? I nearly wore out that copy of "Sweet Tunes Of The Fabulous Fifties" The family's little Dansette record player was practically begging for mercy.

Ironically, Earl Bostic's signature tune, Flamingo, wasn't on that record. I only discovered it through the internet about a year ago and I think it is now my favourite track of all Earl's tracks - the ones that I have heard that is. It achieves the almost impossible feat of being wistful, boisterous and joyous at one and the same time.............. and entirely thrilling!


Born 25/4/13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joined Terence Holder's Band at the age of 18.
Made his first recording in 1942 and formed his own band in 1945.
Recorded his signature tune, Flamingo, in 1951.
Died of a heart attack while performing wit his band in Rochester, New York in 1965.
He wrote arrangements for, among others, Paul Whiteman, Louis Prima, and Lionel Hampton. His song writing hits include "Let Me Off Uptown" recorded by Anita O'Day.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


It's no use,
I shall need a new language.
These words I have used
for so long
are no match for this task.
They are blunt and heavy things
that will not take flight
to pierce her heart.

I need a language, suffused
with some elemental power,
to lend the directness of the arrow
to my purpose.

But earth will not do.
The nurturing clay tethers
all to the ground.

And air itself?
No, not air!
In the vast and endless

the great imperative
will be lost.

Water, then?
No, water flatters with a caress,
being only concerned
with the things of the surface.
It will not pierce her heart.

And the spark
that lights the fire
too often devours
the very thing
it sought to create.

No, the elements have been
no help to my purpose.
They cannot
pierce her heart.

The only hope, then,
is the light.
I shall live in the light
and make my stand
and pray that she is drawn
toward my orbit.

Light does not pierce.
It has no need.
It prefers, instead,
to peel away layers of illusion
that hide the truth
from the sincerest eye.

I shall not flinch
in all the shining.
I shall not flinch
under her gaze
for the light
will make all transparent
and vouch for me.

And, being washed clean,
I can only wish
that the gifts I hold
in my heart for her
will appear in bold relief.

I can only pray
for her delight,
that smile again,
her quickening heart
and an outstretched hand
to lead me home.

John R. Nicoll.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Dear Readers I have something of a quandary which I hope that one of you can help me with!

As I may have mentioned before I have a portfolio of part-time jobs to keep body and soul together (such is the lot of the free lance writer). One of these involves escorting a seven year old disabled Asian boy to school in a taxi.

My contract ends in June because the littl
e boy is going to a specialist school on the other side of town.

Here's my quandary: I have known this little boy for two years and grown rather fond of him. He faces all his difficulties bravely and cheerfully and I'd like to get him some small gift as a token of my affection and a memento of our time together.

But what!!!

It wouldn't be appropriate to spend too much. I was thinking about five or six quid -six or seven U.S. bucks. The child is Muslim so I will have to be careful not to offend any sensibilities. Also in these Politically Correct times I have to be very careful not to give anyone the wrong idea.

So what do you think? Is there wise counsel out there? Should I get my little friend an innocent treat or let the whole thing pass, be extra cautious, bend my knee to political correctness and see a little boy robbed of a small but happy moment?

Friday, 15 April 2011


From time to time I hope to bring you another addition to what I'm going to call my Gallery of Small "Saints".

Some of these "Saints" are known to me personally, others may be writers, artists or musicians etc. The one thing that they will all have in common is that they all add, in their own way, to the sum of human happiness. In however great or modest a fashion, they make the world a better place to live in. They appear in no particular order of merit.

I have known Gladys, vaguely, for many years but only recently gotten to know her better.

The thing that always impressed me whenever I saw her in the street was how well dressed she always was, but there is nothing ostentatious about her. She dresses simply and elegantly and has great poise and dignity.She told me recently that she was in her 70's and it came as a genuine surprise to me.

Gladys is a modest woman in the best sense of that word, but "modest" should never be confused with "insignificant". People like my friend form the very spine of society. They are the ones that work, look after aged relatives, support friends and continue to foster a sense of community in a society that seems hell bent on tearing that very thing apart.

Gladys IS significant for she and her like (and, happily for us, there are more of them than you may think) are the perfect antidote to the ME FIRST society.

They don't talk psychobabble. They are not slaves to every passing fashion or the latest sociological theories. Like Gladys, they have a clear eye and a good heart and their value to us all is immeasurable. We may not always notice people like Gladys but if they all disappeared tomorrow the whole world would feel the draught.

I usually put some sort of illustration on my postings. Illustrations are there to illuminate but Glady's qualities are illumination enough and now I am glad that you have met her.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


I would be delighted to receive poems or short pieces on any subject for inclusion in "guest posts" which I hope to feature regularly. No payment I'm afraid but full credits and you can include a potted biography of yourself, mentioning any charitable organisations that you are involved with.

If interested, email me on


Friday, 1 April 2011


All right, now I know that all YOUR Mums are the best in the world, but the modest verse below goes some towards explaining why I think that mine is.

She is 91 now and has served her country as a Wren Officer during World War 2. If you are reading this in the U.S. that means she was a Woman Royal Navy Officer. At one point she was operating only 22 miles from Rommel's approaching army.

She was one of the generation who brought our National Health Service into being and, of course, funded it through her taxes and, as well as helping to bring up three children in a secure, happy and stable environment (of a sort that a lot of kids these days can only dream of) she held down a series of important and worthwhile jobs.

When we got home from school we used to have our evening meal together, during which she'd always talk to us like the intelligent human beings she knew us to be and tell us in great detail about the book she was currently reading. I KNOW that this was where I got my love of Language and Literature.

I hope to produce a fuller biography of this fine lady (and one of my father) soon.

John Robertson Nicoll

The pebble on the beach
and the wave
are good metaphors,
I think.
For the wave alone
gives the pebble its form,
returning time and again
to spend everything on the stone
which, owing to its nature,
can never adequately give thanks
for each gift -
each act of forgivenness.


Thursday, 24 March 2011


The necklace breaks.
The pearls scatter
and, somehow, it is not enough
for her to know that,
though lost for a while,
they are still nearby

She wants them all back,
the moments and memories,
and those who made them.
She wants them all back,
secured together and shining,
before her dazzled eyes

REMEMBER: If you want to suggest a topic you'd like to see covered on this blog, or you've got a personal story to tell etc. etc., you can reach me at or phone me on 01382 774228 (this is a UNITED kINGDOM PHONE NO.)

Monday, 14 March 2011


The older I get the more I realise that it's the small things in life that make me happy.

You can rely on the small things. They carry with them their own humility. They do not seek to wreak seismic changes in your life, like a love affair, or a new career. They warm the heart and don't out stay their welcome.

I go to a local coffee shop most mornings after my stint as a school escort is over and relax over a cappuccino and the daily paper.

Every now and then a mother and her daughter, who is probably about two, come in. The child is as fair as the mother is dark but they both exude a quiet grace. They seem to come from another, gentler age.

They usually sit in a table at the window next to mine. I turn around to wave and, because she knows me now, the little girl waves back at me with the tiny, still forming hands that will one day stroke a child's cheek or hold a lover's hand.

Then they look out through the window at the passing world and something catches the child's eye and her mother leans in to explain another little part of the world's mystery.

It's usually then that it happens. I have this overwhelming need for time to stand still. I am grateful to be distracted from the horrors in the "Daily News" and want this reminder, that life was once as simple and innocent for all of us as it is for Amy now, to last for as long as possible.

Once we all gazed out through the window at the world, dazzled by it, but held securely in loving arms and totally unaware of our mother's fears for us once we passed beyond the glass ourselves.

I say a brief, silent prayer that all will be well for this mother and daughter when that moment comes. Then I place the moment in that crowded, untidy cupboard of beautiful moments that we all carry around with us and lastly I do it the courtesy of letting it pass in peace!

Friday, 11 March 2011


Do not pity this "Little Emperor",
for you do not know
the wonders once encompassed
by that dead eye.
Once, the whole world
was contained by the span of his wings
and, even in death,
he is not shackled.
See how that eye
is still fixed upon
the endless vaults of heaven.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


A voice singing in another room,
a gentle haunting that, nevertheless,
can stab at the heart
in the quiet moment.

The voice is sweetly insistent,
a slender, unbreakable thread
leading you haltingly
back to the past.

But you would not silence it,
would you?
You would not be the one
to murder memory?

For each well remembered
moment of tenderness
helps build a raft
for the endless sea.

It's not the "ghost" that troubles,
only the fact that
it might be the first
to quit the haunting

John R. Nicoll (for A).

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


For me, Spring is the most poignant season. Some might argue that Autumn should hold that title, what with the last of the leaves and the onset of the "dead season", but, no, for me, it's Spring.

There is something about the idea of rebirth that always brings a lump to my throat and, with every passing year, it seems to get more pronounced.

We find ourselves, once more, marvelling at the first signs of new life. We didn't think that winter would ever end, particularly this year, but it has and so we watch eagerly for the first flowers to poke their head above ground and it always seems to symbolise hope. And hope IS poignant, isn't it?

Hope tells you that even the things that you thought had died within you can be re animated - even hope itself!

The other day I saw a line of still bare trees outlined against the blue sky and scudding Spring clouds, their branches waving in the breeze as if beckoning to the leaves that will come to them shortly. Hope joined with faith, then!

So this is probably as good a time as any to start this new blog. I've recently had a disappointment in the romance stakes and, like a lot of people who are not exactly in the first flush of youth, I find it hard to meet ladies and so, to console myself, at least for a while, I will treat this humble effort as a place to "meet" ladies of quality like yourselves and hopefully entertain you writing on subjects which will, hopefully,be of interest to you.

All constructive comments are welcome, particularly if they are amusing.

If you want to write to me in detail, or if you have suggestions for an article or subject to be covered you can email me at or, of course, you can leave a comment

John R. Nicoll.