P&J Column 26.5.16

More Brits are atheists than Christians?  I don’t believe it.

The Reverend Edmund Everend, Minister for Holburn North North West

A recent poll showed that there are now more atheists in the UK than there are Christians, and my parish has been abuzz with the news. By which I mean, old Jessie McGarrity asked me about it yesterday when I visited her in hospital.

Jessie seemed troubled; not uncommon for someone about to undergo a colonoscopy, but I sensed that spiritual matters lay at the root of her discomfort. “Have we become as godless as that, Minister?” she asked me. “What does it mean?” I sought to reassure her. The faithful will still be the faithful, however few we become, I said. And perhaps the news was not all bad – perhaps . now that we are a minority group we will have to be treated with a little more respect than that to which we have become acustomed in recent times. But more than this; Christ and the Church’s teachings still shape the traditions, the mores and the vocabulary of our society, even for those who are non-believers. When people of all genders and sexual orientations do not clamour to be married; when people cease to cry out the Lord’s name when they strike their thumbs with a hammer; when breathless girls stop repeating “Oh. My.God.” into their mobile phones; that is when the Church will be in trouble.

Jessie closed her eyes, settled back in her bed and waved me off, saying “I’m ready for my colonoscopy now.” Truly, what a joy it is to bring comfort to people in their time of strife.

Prof Hector Schlenk, Senior Researcher at the Bogton Insitute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions. Questions like; how long does meldonium stay in your system? Is it true that a high-fat diet can help you lose weight? And do you have any shirts that don’t have ink-stains around the breast pocket? The answers to which are – longer than I initially imagined (sorry, Maria), no – put the big mac down and make your way quietly to the salad bar; and no, no, a thousand times, no.

This week I have mainly been asked about the University of Aberystwyth’s overseas campus in Mauritius, which has been criticised for costing the university £600,000 and has enrolled only 40 students. A former head of the University described the campus as “madness”. Clearly the local seafood and snorkelling opportunities in Aberystwyth must be better than I had imagined. I have already written to my colleagues there, offering to go to the campus to give an expert assessment of its suitability as a venue for tertiary education. Without wishing to pre-judge the matter, I imagine that I would be able to give the venture a clean bill of health. It would be a long and arduous journey, but it is one, in the spirit of collegiality, that I would be willing to undertake. Especially in business class.

It has become standard practice in the sector to open campuses in glamorous locations: consider, for example, Glasgow Caledonian’s campus in New York and Heriot Watt’s campus in Dubai. Hence my own Alma Mater, the Bogton Institute’s new satellite campuses, in Boyndie and Clatt.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who’s full of exuberance.

Although it is a staple gun in the football calendar, I had some respirations about watching the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday. For the first time ever, the trophy was to be congested by 2 teams from outside the top lung in the football bladder. It wasn’t no minnows playing, though. One of them was a club that has a proud history at the top of Scottish football and the other one was Rangers.

I tell you, it was some of the best action on a football pitch I’ve seen for years. It was passionate, energetic, fast-paced and not for the faint hearted. That’s the pitch invasion I’m on about. The game was mince. I must say I wasn’t surprised to see the Hibs fans steaming onto the pitch. Half of them was steaming in the stands!

Seriously though, it is a sad fate of a stairs when football fans can’t not celebrate a victory in a calm and signified manner. Nobody deserves to be taunted and invoked by the opposition fans, even if they do support Rangers. The worst of it was when some Hibs fans swung for the Rangers team. There is no place in the great game of football for fans trying to injure opposing players.That should be left to the professionals, like myself.

Don’t miss the fliying Pigs live in ‘Dreich Encounter’ at HMT Aberdeen, 2nd -11th June