Tag Archives: university

Ash Wednesday




Yes, it sort of happened to me.  I was a Liberal Arts student at St Andrews University from 1966 to 1970, studying Mediaeval History – leading to an Honours Degree (MA – Master of Arts).

I had a tremendous crush on a lovely fellow student, Dorothy, who came from Stockport.  She was a devout Roman Catholic (not that devout when it came to …… hey, this was the “Swinging Sixties”, and we were young, single, and free!)

Anyhow, we had arranged on one Ash Wednesday to meet for lunch – probably, at the Student Union for a gourmet meal of pie beans and chips….. yes, I know that Catholics shouldn’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday, but the University’s Scotch Pies had a filling that had as much meat in it as my dental fillings have. 😄

So, I met her near the RC chapel, and, of course, immediately blurted out, “You’ve got a dirty smudge on your forehead!”  And that’s de truth, Yer Honour.

With it being a Wednsday, there were no classes nor tutorials in the afternoon; so, after lunch, we had a bit of R & R – and the “smudge” quickly rubbed off! but that’s another story………😊


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The Blood Donor

I used to be a blood donor until hypertension stopped me.

Started at University in the mid-sixties, when a mobile unit would set up shop in St. Andrews.  In those far off days, students were rewarded with a can of Tennant’s Lager or Tartan Special for their contribution to the wellbeing and welfare of humanity.

In some cases, I think it should have been a pint of blood in exchange for a pint of booze that was donated!

I continued the practice when I moved to Edinburgh as an assistant Minister.  At the old Royal Infirmary, there was a blood donation unit (tea and biscuits by now) and on one particular occasion, having visited parishioners in the RIE next door, decided to pop in a give a pint.

After the donation, cuppa, digestive biscuit and waiting period, I was ready to leave when I noticed a sign advising – nay, warning – that one should not smoke for so long after giving bloods.

Being an awkward (thrawn is the Scottish word) sort of person, I thought “Why not?” and, lit up once I’d left the building (I used to smoke in those days.)

I soon found out! Started feeling dizzy and light-headed and had to hold on to railings as I staggered down Lauriston Place.  Oh, wearing a suit and dog-collar, by the way.

Anyone seeing me, must have been disgusted at the sight of this clerically suited and booted man of the cloth who was “obviously” “zipped up in the bag” (as my American friend, Greg, would put it.)

I got as far as what used to be the NCB building just beyond the fire station.  There used to be a pub “The Lauriston” (?) beside it, and, what hell, still wearing my clerical collar, went in for a medicinal brandy – oh, and a restorative ciggie.

My worst experience of blood donation was while I ministered in Trinidad.

In the General Hospital in those days, if a patient needed a blood transfusion, the he/she had to get an equal amount of blood from family and friends to top up the stocks, as it were.

As I had the same blood type as one of our church members whom I was visiting, I volunteered to give a pinta.

I was ushered into a small room with a bed (blood on the sheets) and invited to lie down on top of it while I got the cannula fitted. The cheerful nurse then went back to her desk and continued to eat the equivalent of a KFC from a cardboard box.

She was then called away and I was left on my own some.  Lay there for ages – enough time to observe the blood splatters on the ceiling above me.

Still no nurse.  Was I going to bleed to death?  It was beginning to look like two arms worth and a leg!

Eventually, she returned, and wiping her greasy hands on her uniform, unhitched me.

No tea nor biscuits – not even the offer of a chicken nugget. Nothing.  And never again!

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September 20, 2013 · 16:02