Thursday, 17 February 2011

Presenting Presbyterian: a new name for plutonium

Giant Andy Scott statue felled in roundabout crash


Free Church minister resigns over music in services

'Virtual minister' leads worship at two churches

Welcome everybody!  I am at Pacific Quay in Glasgow and I’ve been having a very nice chat with some of our academic friends, courtesy of the BBC in Glasgow.  I’ve been able to run into Fred, Laura, Lorna, Michael, Morag, Fiona, Alison, Shareen, Glen, Colin.  Some of these names may be familiar to you from listening to the TV and radio, but they’re very busy people and before I introduce the next speaker on the subject of bigotry in football, I would like to introduce Dr Manjit Singh, who is a member of the Sikh community here in Glasgow.  We’re not doing photographs on this blog – yet – unless we can download it as a Youtube piece.  Manjit has got a rather flashy turban and a bright kilt on complete with a suitable Sikh dirk or kirpan as it is known in Punjabi.  Manjit is going to tell us a bit about Glasgow, its culture and its religious history.  I should remind you that when we refer to green, we mean Celtic; and when we say blue, we mean Rangers.  Other colours should not imply any particular adherence whatsoever.  Over to you, Manjit.

Hello, there.  Thank you Obreption and welcome back to Glasgow.  If I remember correctly, you visited us in 1990 during our fabulous year and I well remember your seminal lecture on St Mungo or St Kentigern.  Was this a case of the Arian heresy and the significance of this with the current problems affecting the dark blues?  The Free Church of Scotland or the Wee Frees have taken a decision to allow music into their services, and this again  proves the groundbreaking work which Dr A.V.O’Gadro has researched concerning nuclear fission.  (Please note, A.V. does not stand for alternative vote, or indeed for apostolic visitation.)  Dr Tony proposed that the most fissile element is Presbyterian.  It’s always breaking up. 

Here in our wonderful city of Glasgow, it’s not so much the 3-in-1 oil that opens window into the world; it’s either WD40 or a drink called Bucky which some Benedictine greens – or they may have been Jesuits, but you never know with these monks as they move around.  They’re known in Glasgow as friars and can often be seen giving out the deep-fried Mars bar at some of their services. 

Sikhism in Scotland is quite well represented.  I myself am descended from a line of peddler Sikhs who travelled around Scotland selling nick knacks at the doors in small towns over the last 100 years.  We are a very much neglected part of Sikh culture and those that came from South Africa when you Britishers put them to work on the railways of East Africa think they are better than us.  From the 1960s there were further waves of Sikh migration from the Punjab.  These are mainly known as Jhuts and they are looked down on by everyone.  I admit this to you from a sociological and class awareness point of view.  In every society, there is Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and though we Sikhs are not supposed to drink alcohol and smoke, you will find that in many of our shops you will find such items.  Some Sikhs choose to become even more holy and this is called ‘becoming a khalsa Sikh’.  Khalsa Sikhs tend to be more active on the running of gurdwaras, though they often waste a lot of time in aspects of Sikh pedantry and in that respect Sikhs are not different from others. 

One aspect of Sikh culture is our great use of binary examples.  From our gurus we take both spiritual and practical guidance.  Thus you will often find Punjabi terms such as ‘degh’’ and ‘tegh’ coupled together.  While they may sound trite, in Punjabi is basically a coupling of the sword with the cooking pot.  So at every Sikh event whether it’s a community of those worshipping, singing the rags, and cooking lunch or food for anyone and I mean everyone, we get many Glaswegians arriving for what they know as a ‘great wee injin restaurant - though it is a pity they don’t serve Scotch pies'.  You’re welcome at all times to our community halls and kitchens and we ask nothing of you except that you respect our community and behave.  In Scotland we do not proselytise and to some extent our families are closed.  Many weddings are arranged and the concept of izzat is a strong one.  The boys have an easier time because they can marry out and their wives can usually tell their new mother in law to ‘yoofa coffee’.  This is a polite Glaswegian expression ‘would you like a cup of coffee’ though like many of our binaries, these Scots girls have picked up the patter.  I believe you have been introduced to Parliamo Glasgow.  Khalsa Sikhs do not cut their hair, their head hair is combed and tied with a comb.  A bangle is worn and special kind of boxer shorts are worn underneath the kilt.  I’m not going to lift my kilt which is naturally the Singh or Lyon tartan.  This tartan was based on the late Queen Mother’s family without any particular approval, as most of the tartans around here are made up.  In addition to writing the ‘A to Z of Sikhism’, Obreption has asked me to put a discussion paper forward regarding the ‘Trigonometry of Tartan Tack’.  This involves a lot of checks, Czech and bouncing cheques or Maxwell’s , as they are known up here.    Robert Maxwell did not come from Dumfries and Galloway, was not a well known physicist (James Clerk Maxwell) and he literally fell off a boat. 

Camilla, who appeared on the Archers last night, had told us that Prince Andrew had a very interesting joke about Robert Maxwell.  I don’t think the BBC would broadcast it, though, but it was a good one.  You can see that I have mentioned the colour blue on the Wee Frees.  Regarding the greens, we have had in Scotland, many shades of green,.  Many of them came in waves from Ireland during times of famine, depression and the need to find work.  Further to the Irish waves of immigration, in Glasgow (my family has been in Glasgow for 110 years) there have been waves of immigration from Italy, from Poland – twice – and now from Romania, Africa and Latin America.  We are multicultural in many aspects, though as you can see some of the greens don’t talk to each other and many of the blues frequently fall out, sometimes when you’re tired of football, but it’s difficult to avoid.  Radio Scotland - and I have to be careful how I say this - is usually Radio Glasgow football and you seldom hear other expressions of the delightful Glaswegian tongue.  In the case of BBC Scotland, the move was made from Queen Margaret Drive
in Kelvinside to Pacific Quay on the River Clyde.  This is now known affectionately as Calvin Clyde, though if you move a 100 yards away it’s ‘mair liker Primark Clyde’. 

Thank you.

Obreption says:  This was an excellent exposition of this sociological mix in Glasgow, and that multiculturalism with the Asian communities has been much more successful than among the shades of blue and shades of green.  Perhaps you can blog Mr Cameron, Mr Salmond, Tommy Sheridan, and the Scottish establishment in a city 44 miles away to the east, which will remain forever unnamed - but which I shall visit just to check out theories of predestination, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the legal status of the Church of Scotland within the State. 


  1. I was intrigued to read about the Sikh Kitchens, deep-fried Mars bars and Scotch pies. What a heady diet! I am reminded of a fitness program originating in the USA called Muscular Christianity (see

    I attach an excerpt from their web page as a taster!

    "Jesus Was In Shape

    He wasn’t given to any kind of excess; He would’ve adhered to an orthodox Hebrew diet and if you consider the physical rigors of His trade and His ministry, the Biblical snapshot we have of Christ is a Man that was fit. "

  2. Is this your dull blog Johnhenry?

  3. It looks as though you're keeping all these dark forces away from Minsk. I hope you can campaign about the poor pronunciation on the Today program. It seems that too many expats have tricked the BBC into pronouncing 'Bahrain' as "Baarain". They've also made a correct comment about the pronounciation of "Manama". At least the BBC can't make a mess of Minsk! Or a gove of Grodno. Remember Inspector Renko is still watching, so please use favourite code. Your pinno code has been busted.


  4. It seems that william Hague is definitely on the Baarain side. That Sarah Montague is a bit thick and she needs to be moved. She ought to go to You and Yours.

  5. Is this the same blog as the Telegraph last night. You might have got taken off by the Catholic Goons as a warning take care with people calling themselves John Henry. I think they're all Muslims and they're trying to stir up some fight with the liturgy with the Cathoelic Lottergy.

  6. You've managed to offend all the neo-cons on the Torygraph. How on earth did you manage to smuggle in Caroline Spelman as the Hoor of the Forest. That was neat work, Obreption. Did you see the aurora borealis in your travels? I assume you stopped at Bannockburn?


  7. Anonymous (17/2 10:51)

    Thank you for your posting. This "muscular Christianity" should probably be desired for those on the cannibal diet. To quote Shirley of St Valentine "It's called the F plan."

    Radomir (18/2 00:41)

    It looks like the shi'ites are on the up and we hear that press tv is issuing fat wads of dosh to people prepared to make a lot of shi'ite comments. I am worried that Tony (Dr A.V.O'Gadro) might be tempted to take the Ayatollahs shekel. We've got some Blackberrys in a container and we're sending them over in the usual way. Hope these new keyboards help.

    Anonymous (18/2 1:00)

    Yes Hague does sound a bit vague. Didn't he marry some Welsh secretary? As for Sarah Montague, all I can say "Up you and yours!"

    Anonymous (18/2 1:04)

    No aurora. Refer to The High Life and the child given the name Aurora Borealis!

  8. Dear Obreption

    Your knowledge of the off-side rule is pretty poor. Did you listen to the News Quiz last night? Lots of remarks about forest. I think your campaign to have one of the English ministers named and shamed as the "Hoor of the Forest" has got traction.