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September 2013


(was reading Ian Abrahams' biography of Mike Scott - Strange Boat - and came across my name as he quoted this interview... so thought I... with the 6 CD Fisherman's Blues about to be released... let's blog it again!)

 Mike Scott

STOCKI: Environment has a huge influence on your work - Spiddal on Room To Roam, Findhorn on Bring Em All In, London on A Rock In A Weary Land. Are you strategic about where you go to write and record?

MIKE: I generally make 'em wherever I find myself but on occasion I have made a decision in advance to, for example, write and record in the West of Ireland (late 80's), or to record the new Universal Hall album in Findhorn, in the spiritually charged atmosphere of the Findhorn Community. I am always inspired by the places I live and by what I feel and see around me, and this inevitably flows into the music and the albums.

STOCKI: So what took you back to Findhorn?

MIKE: My wife and I visited in 2001 after several years living in London and both got a 'yes' feeling to moving back.

STOCKI: Maybe that is a chance to sketch us your spiritual journey. What triggered it?

MIKE: If you mean what triggered my whole spiritual journey, it was being born on planet earth of course ! I've always been wondering who I am, what are we here for, what is God etc. I got an early sense of the nature of the divine from CS Lewis's Narnia stories as a child. Then as a young man I discovered the world of metaphysical and esoteric teaching and wisdom - this was around 1983. That began a long period of deepened learning - some high, some painful. Finally, after many adventures I found my school - and that was the Findhorn Foundation.

STOCKI: How did it lead you to Findhorn?

MIKE: My mother had been there on a healing workshop and told me about the place. I remembered hearing about it years before, so I checked out a video featuring its founders, especially Eileen Caddy. She was talking about the power of gratitude and unconditional love and it was exactly what I was ready to hear. I went there as quickly as I could and did an 'Experience Week' there during which God came down from my head into my heart. A very beautiful and transformative experience.

STOCKI: Eileen Caddy seems to be a bit of a guru. Tell us about her? What drew you to her stuff?

MIKE: 'Guru',with all its distortions, would be the last word Eileen Caddy would use to describe herself. She is a teacher, certainly, primarily by the example of her own life. She's an ordinary woman who has lived in an extraordinary way - following the inner guidance of the 'still small voice within'- the voice of God within - wherever it leads, however strange its instructions might appear to human values. Her whole teaching is to turn others inward to find that inner divine source within themselves (the mark of the true spiritual teacher), and that is what I've learned from her. I love her a whole lot and am very grateful for the privilege of knowing her.

STOCKI: In a world of definitions would you label your creed "new age"?

MIKE: And what creed might that be ? I have none. I personally believe we are truly One in our deepest truth; that there is One Life in creation, and all our adventurings and learnings are leading us to that realization. This is the perennial wisdom and it has been around as long as God.

STOCKI: You have been reasonably clear if quiet and gentle about rejecting Christianity and yet Iona, CS Lewis and Christ are all very much a part of your belief?

MIKE: I don't reject Christianity. It is the religion of my race and like everyone else here I grew up with the stories of the example and teaching of Jesus - and how could I be untouched by that ? But I am not a practising Christian. I'm not even sure Jesus would be if he incarnated today ! As for CS Lewis, yes, he was a committed Christian, but I find if a writer or teacher is infused by the true divine spirit, as Lewis undoubtedly was, this is magnified and transmitted through their work regardless of the name of their faith. Iona is well known as a Christian centre because of the work of St. Columba who brought Christrianity there in the 6th century, but it was a Druid centre of power before then, and the island has a spiritual quality or soul that is divinely and powerfully Itself - and accessible to all who have eyes to see, regardless of their spiritual background or religion. Lastly the Christ to me is the divine energy that Jesus manifested on the physical earth - hence his bearing the name 'Jesus Christ', but I believe the Christ energy existed before Jesus, and is a universal energy infusing every part of creation, and every human being, whether they call themselves 'Christian' or not.

STOCKI: Why Iona?

MIKE: My grandmother grew up on the neighbouring island of Mull and from an early age I was familiar with the idea that Iona is Scotland's sacred island - a special place set apart. When I eventually visited it I found the spiritual peace and presence there and loved it.

STOCKI: What is CS Lewis's greatest contribution to your own journey?

MIKE: Infusing me with a sense of the divine when I was a child. Later, with his books 'Perelandra' and 'That Hideous Strength' he taught me a lot about the topography and inner life of what we call evil. That was useful too.

STOCKI: Who do you see Jesus of Nazareth as being?

MIKE: One of a succession of divinely directed world teachers who incarnated at successive periods of human history when as a race we were ready to go through initiations. And I see Jesus as being a real and available spiritual presence right now.

STOCKI: While we are there, Pan with his cloven hoofs. Who is he/she? The cloven hoofs is an image usually given to the devil.

MIKE: The 'devil' image was superimposed on Pan by the early church fathers in order to discredit the pre-Christian nature religions, that they sought to replace. Pan is not the devil, but a principle of creation, and - in my book - a divine ally of the Christ energies.

STOCKI: I was there in Belfast's Ulster Hall when Steve Wickham came on stage and the crowd went wild. It was echoes of my favourite gig ever in the same venue in April '86. How did you get back together?

MIKE: Steve and I are great friends and even when we weren't working professionally together we were always in touch. In 1999 Steve invited me to Sligo, where he lives in the west of Ireland, to do a show. So I went over and we did a two-man concert together. It was a great success and I knew we had a lot of music still to make together. Then I asked him to guest with us at our shows in Dublin and Belfast in 2000. It went so well I asked him to rejoin the band, and, to my great pleasure and delight, he is back and playing the greatest rock fiddling ever !

STOCKI: What does he add to the Mike Scott/Waterboys muse?

MIKE: Steve gives the music wings, a sense of the elemental, a sweetness, a gateway to the unseen.

STOCKI: In the writing of these songs does a fiddle on stand by effect where the songs go?

MIKE: Yes, indeed. 'Peace of Iona' was a hypnotic chant until Steve's fiddle entered the picture and turned it into a sonic evocation of the island and the elements.

STOCKI: How did Steve take the spirituality of the piece and how did he enjoy Findhorn?

MIKE: Well, I can't answer that for him, though we had a great time together in Findhorn making 'Universal Hall'. He has visited many times.

STOCKI: Some of the new songs are almost Taize chants. What inspired the economy of words?

MIKE: I'm familiar with Taize chants because they are very popular in Findhorn, and I also work with affirmations, so I'm used to the idea that a few short lines of words, carefully chosen and repeated aloud or inwardly, can have a powerful inspirational effect. When my songs started coming in this minimal form, with only 2 or 3 lines, the challenge was to allow them to be so, and not to be tempted to flesh them out into a 'normal' structure. I resisted the temptation ! >

STOCKI: When spiritual belief ignites the songs does that give an extra expectation to what you hope that they might achieve?

MIKE: My hope is the same whatever kind of song I'm writing - that I may express myself and my inspiration authentically, in a way that thrills me and takes my writing somewhere it has never reached before, and that the listener will have every chance to 'get it' and receive the same inspiration I did when writing.

STOCKI: What would you hope the listener takes away from Universal Hall?

MIKE: A feeling of love inside.

STOCKI: When I watch you perform now I get the impression of a man at peace with where his art has taken him. You could have been a megastar but you decided to get off the beaten track and head west to Galway. You seem to be very content at the level of your success. The songs seem more important than the riches, fame or house in Malibu. Am I right?

MIKE: Whether I 'could have been a megastar' is unknown. As CS Lewis liked to say 'We are never told what might have happened'. Nor am I interested in what might have happened ! I've always followed my heart, guts and fascinations and I have learned to surrender to the places - both physical and inspirational - to which they take me. Yes, the songs and creativity are more important than any riches that could result, but I have nothing against houses in Malibu. Malibu is a very fine place indeed.

STOCKI So, where next?

MIKE: This is unknown !

UPSIDE DOWN (Forgive Us When We Are Not Disturbed)

Upside Down Kingdom

God, Jesus is you

At our level

Tearing the veil in two

Smashing all that would make you unapproachable

The Word is flesh

Moving into our neighbourhood

Sympathising with us in our weaknesses

Understanding our lives

Touching us with his love

Or turning to ask our name

As we get to touch but the hem of his coat


God in Christ

You are approachable

And we come with boldness

By His blood

We, sinful and rebellious humanity

Feel comfortable in your presence

In this silence

In this place.


And yet forgive us Lord

When we equate this comfort

With a complacency that leads to apathy

That retains the status quo


Forgive us when our lives are not disturbed

And tossed upside down by the life and words of Jesus

When we are not accused of madness

When we are not known as a peculiar people that it is a blessing to be around

Forgive us when our churches are not disturbed

And tossed upside down by every remembrance, sermon, prayer or praise

When we are not known as those who love one another, against all the odds

When we are not known as the place for the outcast, tramp and sinner

Where all will know they belong, no matter what.

Forgive us when our country is not disturbed

And tossed upside down by the life and words of Christ’s body on earth

When we are not subversives for peace

When we are not throwing a spanner in the works of prejudice, bigotry and pride

When we are not front page news for loving in a most unnatural, indeed supernatural way.


Forgive us when we are nice and respectable and middle class

If only that is what Jesus had said to Peter

But he didn’t

He said be rebellious, humble and upside down.


Lord toss us upside down

Help us to follow Jesus.


CSN 2012

I know that some of you, who are kind enough to drop into Soul Surmise, like the musical reviews and tips I throw out. I don’t always get the chance for full reviews so I am going to start just jotting down the things I enjoy through a week...


I downloaded a few tracks from this live record when it was released about 18 months ago. I had so many versions of some of the songs it took me until now to get it all. It is a revelation. These guys might not be as prolific or as vital as they were in 1970 but the playing, harmonies and profundity on this is fantastic. Really rockin’ and vibrant and some lovely between songs chatter.

Article about C,S,N & Y verses Mumford and Sons


It is seventeen years since I fell in love with Among The Swans but their new record reminded me of that sweet melancholic ambience. Among The Swans needs dusted off too!


After their blistering Belfast gig I have been spending even more time on their more recent record. It is so satisfying at every level. Great tunes, literary wonderment and mature wisdom in abundance.

Stocki's review


Getting Sam’s new CD in the post was a treat. I’ve been a fan since I walked into a Peter Case gig at Greenbelt where he was the support. My wife walked into him signing at our wedding, I have even made a record with him so I am subjective but this record is a mellow beauty. Love songs can be pastorally helpful!

Stocki's review


Yoko is an eccentric but this is as accessible as she gets even though the bird screeches at the beginning might scare off those with preconceived ideas. Get past it. Mad as a hatter but wonderful imagination, great instrumentation and as I say as accessible as she gets!

Stocki's review of Yoko's last record


Zachary Schmidt phoned me this week and said he was in Belfast working and played some songs. He pointed me to this and its acoustic reggae sound grabbed some of my ear. Think Bob Marley who gets a mention crossed with Jack Johnston if he was from snow peaked Colorado instead of sand beached California! He’s playing a few tunes at Fitzroy tomorrow night, without his Grinz!


Fitz logo

Tomorrow morning in Fitzroy (11am) I will be preaching on Jesus turn the tables and the spritual landscape upside down and nothing is ever the same again. John's intentionality in editorial is essential to the reading of the Gospel According to him and these opening chapters leave no doubt about who he thinks Jesus is. Novelist Norman Mailer will lead us into the Temple courts... We will also be welcoming new IFES Ireland's top man David Montgomery as we think of the student year beginning. All with vibrant worship creatively placed!

In the evening (7pm) I will be staying in those early chapters of John and seeing the art of how Jesus does friendship, pastoral care and evangelism. A John Bell/Graeme Maule reading and a studnet interview will add insight and Zachary Schmidt from Colorado band Zac and the Grins will brings some tunes.


Jesus and Twitter

(with the use and abuse of the social media being in the news recently I thought I would reblog my address at at the  Taking Care Conference at Assembly Buildings, Belfast on October 8, 2011... This is part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of his article I suggested that social networking was where people were at today and suggested we needed to climb on board, be aware of its dilemmas but realise the mad potential! It seems to me that Paul was very strategic in his missionary intentions. He went to where people were at and also where he knew people would go out from. Whether Ephesus, Athens or eventually Rome Paul was using the networks of his day to fulfil Jesus commission to reach the ends of the earth with the Good News of the Gospel. The hundreds of millions of people on social media in 2011 suggest to me that this is a place for our missional intentionality.

Of course even before we get to Paul’s mission we find another reason o be in the web but not of the web. This was Jesus’ incarnational example. In the first verses of  The Gospel According To John we read, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus example was to “dwell amongst us” or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message “move into the neighbourhood.” Essentially God wanted to be where the people were and today the people are on social media sites. As the Father sent Jesus so Jesus said he sends us to be incarnational.

As a minister of the Gospel let me put it straight. I have, as I write this, 1676 Facebook Friends. I will admit I know these people at different levels of friendship. However, I have daily possibilities of interaction, whether it is responding to their status updates or sending them a birthday message or them using my updates or finding their way into my blog. Some of my Facebook friends live thousands of miles away and our friendship benefits from brief daily connections. Other people I have never met but through Facebook I would call one or two of them dear friends. If I had the opportunity of those 1676 people in my garden each day would I go out of the Manse to make a connection no matter how brief. Believe me I would. What an opportunity?

Let me quote again Ephesians 5, that we looked at in Part 1, 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit...” Here Paul calls us to make the most of every opportunity but also gives us a clear behavioural pattern for how to.

How can I to sit with my the lap top or the iPad, be aware of their ability to connect across the world into millions and millions of people’s homes and not make the most of the opportunity. As I sit on a Saturday night, only half interested in the X Factor, I can be part of a communal family event and reach out across the world in meaningful conversation. As I watch the soccer on any given night of the week I have the ability to stay in touch with people, to listen to their lives, to inform them of mine and to build up relationship. What a gift!

Many suggest to me that social networking is breaking down real face to face friendships. Much as I can see where that argument comes from I would suggest the opposite. Radio, televisions, cars, modern crime and the need to keep your door locked are among the reasons why the neighbour no longer drops by and the front room music session or the story telling round the kitchen table are rare memories of a past time. My children don’t run free around the city the way I did and so to see them on MSN chatting to their friends face to face seems a better option than their heads stuck in some reality Wii game or another Television show.

Others will tell me they waste their time on Facebook. I know some friends who have come off it for Lent or withdrawn from it altogether. This is not the fault of Facebook or any other social networking opportunity. You can go for coffee with a friend and talk nonsense. You can spend all your leisure time watching empty trash or worse on TV. These are again issues of our making the most of every opportunity. Maybe it is because I am a minister, though I don’t think so, but I don’t see any of my engagement on Facebook as wasting time any more than I waste any time I spend with my family, friends or Church community. We are back to Paul’s instruction in Ephesians. Make the most of the opportunity and don’t be full of foolish talk. If we are intentional in friendship it will never be wasted; and so our Facebook time. We waste it at our peril!

I do not doubt the potential of the internet in general and social media in particular for causing harm. However, I also see and have known its potential for the good. If we live and use social media in thoughtless frivolous ways we could do real damage but led by the Spirit under the Lordship of Christ and Biblical direction this is a resource to reach the world with the grace and love of Christ. This is a challenge and an opportunity that we have never had in the history of the world so let us seek God’s Spirit to make us Christlike and then let us use what is available to us for the Kingdom.

read part 1 here...


(the use and abuse of social media is in the news again so I thought I'd reblog the script of my key note address at the Taking Care Conference at Assembly Buildings, Belfast on October 8, 2011... this part 1 of 2)

Jesus and Twitter

The above photograph is a lot more than humorous for me; it sums up social media engagement. For the uninitiated you “follow” people on Twitter which adds up to receiving their Twitter feeds. Jesus was about a whole different kind of following altogether. However, for the Christian the following of Jesus on Twitter heightens the level of discipleship needed for such engagement. John Stott shared, in his final book The Radical Disciple, how in his last talk at Keswick, at the grand old age of 86, that he had lived his life believing that what God wanted most from his life was Christ-likeness. Perhaps a good passage to contextualise these thoughts on social media would be Ephesians 5; “1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for the Lord’s people.”

First, let me share something of my own social media journey with particular reference to Facebook. Working as a Chaplain I became aware of Facebook somewhere around 2006 and remember my students finding it quite quaint when the old man signed up! My first day though convinced me of its unbelievable potential. As I started “befriending” people I found myself in the first 24 hours engaging with folk who had lost faith, were looking for faith or had struggles in their faith. I remember at the dinner table suggesting to my wife Janice that there would come a day when we would need to employ a pastor simply to work on Facebook!

Over the years I have had significant moments on Facebook and had to learn a whole new pastoral pattern. As already noted I have had very serious moments of pastoral care and conversations with those who have lost their faith or never had faith at all. As the minister in a new congregation I have found that commenting on people’s Facebook status has speeded up pastor networking. This has been particularly true in terms of communicating with our Overseas Personnel (missionaries) across the world and our students in England and Scotland. We in Fitzroy have used Facebook and more recently Twitter as our main means of advertising events. We now have some members who joined us through casual Facebook engagement.

There have been dilemmas too. I remember in the immediate aftermath of losing a dear member of our congregation asking our pastoral assistant who else had heard the news? She told me a few names and then added that she didn’t get someone in person and she wouldn’t leave a message in a situation like this. Later I noticed that around the same time one of the deceased’s children had already shared the news on Facebook. This alerts the pastor to the different ways that are appropriate for different generations to share information. We need to be wise when we use social media or texting or voice messaging or whatever; what is appropriate for some might not be for others.

I also shared on my Facebook status one morning something that someone suggested a minister shouldn’t say publicly. I didn’t feel it was public but amongst a group of friends who had chosen to be my “friends.” I have also left messages on other people’s pages and not realised how many of their “friends” might read the comment! In conversations that have happened on my status I have added personal messages that others involved in the discussion didn’t know the meaning of and took the wrong way. So, yes, there are dilemmas and you have to always stay alert!

However, it is now part of life. The printing press must have raised dilemmas too. This new gadget was going to be used for propaganda, anti Christ literature and pornography. If we had decided not to use it the Reformation would have a very different history. The radio, the television, the telephone and indeed the computer have all changed the world we live in. The Church has oftentimes been slow to exploit the benefits. I was amazed when people heard I was going to take a positive approach to social media how many people were thanking me because they were fed up with all the negative response.  

Yes, footballers have been very bad adverts for the medium. Yes, there have been politicians including our own MLAs who have had to catch on to the new rules of social engagement. Yes, teachers will tell me that cyber bullying is what they now spend most time dealing with. However, life is messy and we need to navigate our ways through the dilemmas of human interaction. Social networking does raise dilemmas but then doesn’t all forms of socialisation.

 We are back to where we started. What new forms of social media call for is a heightened form of discipleship. Throwaway comments between friends, that you would get off with off line can expose your loose gossip, rumour mongering, bad mouthing and slandering on line. Never is it more necessary to be Christlike and to follow the advice of Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps or the bracelets so recently a fad, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). To really follow Jesus has never been more crucial. If ever we needed he wisdom and fruit of the Spirit in our social interaction it is now. Can you opt out? You can but as a Christian with a pastoral and missional intentionality to share Christ’s love with as many people as possible then I suggest that Social Media is a huge blessing and not a curse. It is time to engage.

read part 2 here...


Sam Hill 2

Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Elton John have recently shown how age brings mature wisdom and a generation beyond the naivety and innocence of youthful exuberance has found music that still speaks into their journeys; it is what lacks in a Paul McCartney record, no matter how relevant his sounds! Sam Hill Jr has delivered such a record. The Scottish born, formerly Lancaster based but now settled in Cornwall man, has been writing songs for 35 years and releasing records, though not enough for over 25 of them. I can remember watching thousands of people at a Greenbelt Festival simply not letting the man leave the stage.

One of the reasons that he has released so little, and is probably not known to you, is what this record is all about. Life, love and family took over, went off in all kinds of difficult directions and Hill decided to give his life to the things that were more important than entertaining the likes of you and me. What those years also did was give Hill the life story that, written into songs and recorded, is a pastoral record we all need to hear and a prophetic record that the nation needs to hear.

Rarely do you find a record that is deeply personal but socially vital. Look no further. These are songs born in one house, in one family grappling with “the winds that blow out of nowhere and knock us off our feet” as Bruce Cockburn once sang. They are to be heard at 2am, as one title suggests, in the deep breathing out of a weary day. They are full of melancholy but all about hope. That hope is not some ethereal other world kind, though hope in other shores get the odd mention, but built on the unconditional, unfailing, long suffering of a couple in love and committed to fulfilling their vows of long ago. That is why I think the record should be available to the nation. In a world where love is fleeting, self indulgent and as brittle as fashion and feelings, here is the real thing. The love that doesn’t live for the getting but for the giving of comfort, consolation and constancy to the other.

It helps that the work is excellent. The songs are tender and gentle in sound and content. Hill was once dubbed “Preston’s slow hand” and that crisp beautiful guitar is a foundation where instrumentation simply caresses grace notes. Richard G Mitchell, composer of soundtracks, knows when to just glance off the soundscape; Phil Madeira, who works with a plethora of legends most notably Emmylou Harris, brings little dobro flashes; Geoff Orr’s piano is economical but lush; and Alan Gregson adds the odd tinge of lap steel. Hill’s voice is strong and pure and the authenticity of the songs give it some grain. The songs are shy and unobtrusive but seep deep into the soul. Cowboys and Moonbeams is a reminisce of Sam’s father, and The Lone Ranger and Trigger are never far from your mind; We Pass Through is Sam passing wisdom from his father to his sons; 2am has two lovers hunkering down through tough times; the stunning I See You is the light in that dark; and This Woman is a hymn to the one who “whispers softly into my soul.”

American writer Frederick Buechner said that the artist needs to cut a vein and bleed onto the page. Sam Hill has opened a vein onto a record. These songs are as raw as Joni Mitchell’s Blue and out of this honesty, and probably entirely unknowingly, Hill gives us songs to help us open our veins that will then bring solace. Actually they whisper into all of our souls. As a pastor I want to allow it to soothe my congregation. As a preacher I want the nation to hear its battle cry for commitment and never failing love!


Grace Waltz

I understand that many people have issues with the Church. Many things down through history, and you don’t have to go too far back in that history, leave many dismissing the Church. There are many times at weddings, funerals or wherever else I get to speak to a wider than Church audience that I apologise for all the crud that has encrusted the greatest idea in the world. If you can take enough time to peer underneath the grime then the one thing that everyone in the world wants is lurking underneath. Grace! Unmerited favour! Loved as you are! It is “a thought that can change the world” as U2 have declared.

This is the heart of Christian faith. God has interrupted how it is and given us an opportunity to turn it into what can be. Jesus life, death and resurrection have made a way for humanity and God to interact. In a world where we are loved by what we achieve, how we look or who we are, God loves us no matter what. It goes against all our default positions but is the only hope we all have. Imagine a world where it wasn’t about earning people’s love but you were given it as a gift. What would it do to our relationships and our inner lives? It could save us and indeed save the world

My friend Beki Hemingway puts it brilliantly in a song called Forgiveness Waltz, written by her friend Jonathan Rundman.

“it's like a dance, it's like a wheel
less like math, less like a deal
more like a heartbreak beginning to heal
we can start over, we know forgiveness

these are hard words to hear in a world where nothing is free
and it's hard to trust in a promise that sounds too good to believe
but know that it's true: this is for you.”

SWEET LITTLE ELLEN-ROSE (Some Days Are More Mysterious Than Others)

Angel wreath
(I wrote this for little Ellen Rose Williamson who sadly died in the first breaths of her life, a year ago today... it is for her and her mum and dad... it was me, a pastor, trying to make sense of the events we were all so tragically caught up in...)

Sweet little Ellen-Rose

A wee angel in your daddy’s arms

A perfect mix of all he is

And a bundle of your mummy’s charms

You kicked her in the safety of the womb

Then stuck your tongue out at the earth

And hookeyed straight to the arms of Jesus

At the moment of your birth


Our emotions are all ragged and ripped

The best, shuddered to the very worst

The sweetness on the lick of our lips

Jarred sour when the bitterness burst

Some days are more mysterious than others

When these turns and twirls twist odd

Some days are filled with deep sorrow

And empty gestures on our knees before God


Sweet little Ellen-Rose

You know God only knows

When that gust of the fiercest wind blows

You know God only knows

Sweet little Ellen-Rose


You kicked her in the safety of the womb

Then stuck your tongue out at the earth

And hookeyed straight to the arms of Jesus

At the moment of your birth

Sweet Ellen-Rose


Kompany 4-1

At the start of the new season I suggested that my beloved Manchester City were early season favourites. My mate Gary Burnett commented “hope springs eternal.” Poor Gary’s Facebook comments on Monday morning weren’t so hopeful about his mighty United! I did point out to Gary that I did add that I wasn’t sure City would still be favourites at the end of the Transfer Window but Sunday’s performance against champions Manchester United suggests that certainly our arch rivals haven’t taken over the favourites mantle. I was amazed that United only signed Fellaini before the window shut and Sunday afternoon revealed the shocking performance of United summer’s dealings.

I have to say that when I saw the team sheets on Sunday I started relaxing a little. I just could not see how a United team with Young and Valencia in midfield could stem the strength and power of City pouring forward. So it was proved. Michael Carrick was my Player of The Year last season. His best season for United was one of the reasons, along with that pre season signing of Robin Van Persie, that won the title back. On Sunday he was a non entity because he had no support. I believe Fellaini will be a hit for United but not trying to quell the kind of avalanche that City launched on Sunday. Fellaini is strongest in the opposition’s penalty area, not his own, as was proven time and time again on Sunday. Smalling didn’t have what it took to deal with Nasri and instead of Valencia terrorising Kolarov as predicted, Kolarov was the terrorist.

Yet, Sunday was not about United’s weaknesses. City were devastating. They simply rattled United for 20 minutes and had them in mental tatters. At last we saw a team that looks world class on paper putting in a world class performance. In our title winning season three players were particularly outstanding – Kompany, Toure and Aguero. If you look at last season all three were a little out of sorts. That spine on Sunday was quite phenomenal. Jamie Carragher described Kompany’s performance as the best centre half performance he had ever seen. High praise but hard to argue with. Toure, as he has done in City’s 4 wins against United out of the last 5, bulldozed United down and Aguero was terrifying in pace, strength and that first subtle finish was extraordinary in its genius. Sunday was fluid and slick without the magician that is David Silva but Nasri’s variation brought out his best City performance, Navas showed pace and options that City lacked last season and Negredo’s holding up of the ball, distribution and partnership with Aguero adds another bow to City’s attacking armoury.

It was a marker thrown down for sure. If City can turn up like that every week then all things are possible. Yet, away form has been a little iffy. Pelligrini’s task now is to take this good team, that he has added to with vision and precision, and make them consistent. The Premiership is more open for various reasons this season. Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool have upped their threat but also teams like Stoke, Everton and even Cardiff City can sneak a few points off the top 6. It is going to take Sunday like performances for 33 more games if City are to fulfil the potential. United have work to do but they have played 3 of the top 6 already and are only 3 points behind City. Moyes has a task ahead but they are Manchester United and they have done crazier things before, like win the league by 11 points with a team that looked as ordinary as they did on Sunday.

The season has really started at last. Bring it on!

Stocki's August Surmise on the new season