Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Hey pastor would you like a cigarette?

On the right Billy and his brother Gibby

Today I joined with others to remember the life of my Uncle Billy. A difficult day for the gathered family and friends. Very poignant to see a number of his grandchildren carry him to his final resting place in the Inverallochy & Cairnbulg Cemetery.

My other post about Billy talked about our shared love of Aberdeen FC but we also both liked a good laugh. He was born on April the first, April fools day, and some say that was the right day for him!

One of his "wind-ups" stands out to me. Back in 1976, the local AOG church had just appointed a new pastor. A young guy of 26 from Exeter named Roger Blackmore. As so many of the men in the church back then were fishermen it was customary for any new pastor to go through the initiation of going to sea in one of the trawlers.

So my dad invited Roger to travel to Peterhead with the rest of the crew by minibus. There, the fish were landed and sold very early on a Saturday morning then the boat would make the short trip back to Fraserburgh.

We travelled around the villages of Inverallochy & Cairnbulg picking up all the crew in a well-worn routine. First, Jimmy Love, then Alex, on to beacon cottages where Billy got in and Jim the cook who lived just across the road, finally fellow Dons supporter Charlie. With all the crew onboard it was time to head of to the manse to pick up Roger.

Roger hopped on sat down and settled in. Before long Billy tapped Roger on the shoulder and offered him a cigarette which Roger politely refused having never met this man before in his life. To that Billy fell about laughing finally saying, "Well you wouldn't have lasted long here if you had taken it."

Although Billy was only the occasional churchgoer he knew enough that smoking, drinking, dancing and going to the cinema were seen as the unpardonable sins at our local church.

Later he told me that he had shared some of his wisdom with Roger the new pastor.

You see Roger it's like this, for the first 2 years the church will idolise you. Then for the next 2 years, they will criticise you and then for the next 2 years, they will scandalise you.

Sadly Billy had not been given the greatest impression of the church by us who are part of it. Even more, sadly it turned out to be too near the reality for comfort.

Hey, my Uncle was far from perfect and like me, he was his own worst enemy by opening his mouth and putting both feet in it. But as I look back to my time growing up before I left home my memories of him bring a smile to my face.

I don't get to see our first love Aberdeen FC very often nowadays but no matter the ground I am visiting, Villa, Leamington or even MK Dons he is never far from my thoughts.


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