Solace for a child that has not lived

Devika Bhat wrote an incredibly moving article in The Guardian a few days ago about dealing with the loss of her baby daughter in pregnancy. You can read it here. As she wrote, ‘I almost came unstuck when confronted with the task of choosing a reading: there is no established narrative around grieving for a […]

Margaret’s Final Curtain

A singer and entertainer all her life, Margaret was 89 when she died. A member of ‘The Russell Sisters’, she performed a cabaret mime act for many years in the many social clubs around Easter Road, Leith and Abbeyhill, and her sons, Rikki and Raymond, made sure that her last appearance was a hard act to follow! […]

I do, I will, I have, by Ogden Nash

I Do, I Will, I Have*  How wise I am to have instructed the butler to instruct the first footman  to instruct the second footman to instruct the doorman to order my carriage;  I am about to volunteer a definition of marriage. Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen,  I […]

11/11 – a Humanist Poem of Remembrance

I wrote this poem for the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day when I became the first humanist ever to address an official government ceremony of remembrance. It’s a response to Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’. To the nameless millions who lie in mass graves, From the forest of Katyn to the killing fields of […]

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral.

Many humanists are scientists, by inclination if not actual training, and I noticed today a new summation of what humanists believe that places emphasis on ‘science and reason’. As someone who failed physics ‘O’ Level and had a chemistry essay published in his school magazine as an example of ‘humorous writing’, you may already have […]

A Story about A Lovely Love Story

‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton is a perennial favourite at weddings. Yesterday, I heard it being read by two ten year old girls on a beach and it reminded me just why it’s so popular. I decided to have a look at Edward’s web site where he’s installed a clever new thing called […]

A humanist

Tom Leonard is a Glaswegian poet whose work deserves to be better known – and I am talking to myself here as much as you. I thought I knew his writing quite well, until I came across this today: it’s a wonderful, thought-provoking poem and I am delighted that he has given me permission to […]

A Cockney Jock

I’ve conducted a number of ceremonies recently for former members of the armed forces, and I’ve been very touched to see their old comrades turn out wearing their berets and regimental ties, accompanied by a standard bearer with the colours bearing their battle honours.Peter’s funeral had all of those elements, but what made it extra […]