The question on everyone’s lips is not: “When is Father Frank’s Log returning?” but “When are we going to get some decent weather?” I had friends over from Dublin last week and of course when friends come you want some decent weather to show them around. It is, after all, officially summer time, seeing as how the clocks went forward at the end of March. It was, however, during the days that they were here, more like the middle of winter.
My great standby for visitors is always the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and this time around they had an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the wonderful Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I love going to Kelvingrove as I grew up very close to it, and it was so much a part of my childhood to visit the museum and marvel at the sheer scope of the exhibits. I also love the new refurbishment, and if you have ever seen the famous floating heads in the foyer, then you may be interested to know that my friends are convinced that I was the model for them. I do have to admit that one or two of them look quite like me.
The Mackintosh exhibition is really interesting and it gives you a real sense of what his influences were, the work of his contemporaries in “The Glasgow Style,” especially the famous four: Charles himself; his future wife Margaret Macdonald, her younger sister Frances Macdonald, and Frances’s future husband, James Herbert McNair; and then those that they influenced themselves. Some of the collection pieces of his own work are brilliant, and I love that so many of them are just ordinary, everyday things that were put to use; coat stands; umbrella stands; fire guards and the like. There’s even a toilet door. As someone who holds with the belief that God is best found in ordinary, everyday things, this kind of art really appeals to me, rather than the more esoteric variety. I still find it hard to believe I attended a Mackintosh designed school for two years at the St. Mungo’s Academy Annexe in Barony Street with absolutely no appreciation of my surroundings whatsoever.
Apart from Kelvingrove, another regular part of my childhood was going with my father on a Sunday afternoon to Henderson’s shipyard on the Clyde at Partick, where he worked for the Anchor Line as a timekeeper. Whenever there was a ship in drydock being refurbished he would take myself and Hugh along (Patrick was too young) and we would be able to board the ship and walk all in and around every part of it. I have wonderful memories of those
Sunday jaunts. I only discovered recently that the Anchor Line restaurant on St. Vincent Street is bedecked with memorabilia from the Anchor Line and, thanks to a generous gift from a church patron with nautical connections, I was able to go there with my friends during their visit, steep myself in memories, and bore them to death with reminiscences.
On the second day, while searching for a particular shop on the southside (being a north-sider the southside is a foreign country to me), we found ourselves walking through Queen’s Park and visiting the Scottish Poetry Rose Garden with its cairns and dedications to some of Scotland’s best-known bards. It probably wasn’t the wisest time to visit as there were no roses out and, in the driving rain, wind and cold, the place felt and looked a bit bedraggled, as did we. We did, however, find a nice coffee shop with lovely pastries and warmed ourselves up. We also found the shop we were searching for which was near to the monument to the Battle of Langside where, 450 years ago this year, Mary Queen of Scots fought and lost her last encounter with Regent Moray. The rest of the time was spent browsing book shops and the like and, all in all, despite the weather, we had an enjoyable couple of days. There is always something to do in this great city – hail, rain or snow!
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. (Julian of Norwich)
God communicates with us by way of all things. They are messages of love.