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Competitions Page


Autumn Competition 2015

( The challenge was to write a ‘ crafted prayer’. Chris Goan, the speaker at our autumn conference was the judge)  

First prize: Irene Howat  

It’s morning, Lord;  you’ve spared me  to another day.

I don’t know why; I have so little left to give.

I’m old and tired, my memory often fails.

I pray for faces and forget their names.

You’ve kept me, Lord, you’ve never let me go.

You’ve been the centre of all my joys and pains.

Throughout the years you’ve been the constant one

and now in older age you’re with me still.    

I’ve served you, Lord, over these many years,

not well, dear Father, but I’ve tried.

You’ve taught me lessons all along the way, Lord,

keep on teaching; I am learning still.  

I’ve felt it dawning, Lord, and now I know it’s here.

The time has come to serve through being served.

God, grant me grace to accept each helping hand.

Lord, keep on teaching; I am learning still.  




Second prize: Ian McGregor   

Refugee Saviour We remember that as a young child

You fled from a Middle Eastern country into Africa

To avoid the death squads of a dictator

Who feared your promised but unproven kingship.  

We hope you found a home and a welcome

And the unconditional love of strangers.

Not perhaps a Nazareth or a Bethany

But somewhere you were safe and warm and fed

Somewhere to rest your head at night.  


Heartbroken Saviour Who wept over

Jerusalem and still weeps over suffering in this world,

Are you weeping now for the drowned children?  

And their parents and their friends?

We remember you passed through the waters of the Jordan

At your baptism, when you identified with us

In our weakness and brokenness and wrongness.


Fierce Saviour, Whatever we do - or don't do - for the least of these

We do - or don't do - for you.

We measure ourselves against your words and don't come off too well

With our selfishness and fear and busyness and reluctance to get involved.  


Emmanuel - God with us – Saviour, We can see you in the drowned child

And in the Turkish policeman tenderly carrying his body.

Help us to be your hands and feet and voice and heart and conscience

As we seek a partial restoration of this world of wonders

Which has become a world of horrors.

Make it a world of wonders again seen through childlike eyes          

And may the children's eyes be open to hope  

And not closed in death.      





Third prize: Lorna Smith

Hi Dad, for I can call you ‘Dad’, can’t I? I just had to tell you: The most amazing thing happened to me today – I met my brother, and he told me about you. Before today, I had no brother, and I did not know you. I saw the world as plain as day.


Now? It is Technicolour! With Dolby surround-sound, smell-o-vision and kinaesthesia special effects all rolled into one! I can barely put it into words but then, I don’t need to, do I, for you can feel my heart racing with joy while my mind is somehow at peace. The world makes sense now.


I can hardly believe that I am part of this world that extends beyond my ken. Man has only just managed to look beyond our star but you already know what lies beyond for you made it. We discover new species in oceans and rainforests yet you have cared for them since Creation. How can this be understood by … me?


Everything we need is right here, always has been, yet still, you gave us free will to choose your way. You watched Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge, and you had to let her, else how could we choose to follow you?


I was looking for my forever house. I wanted an old house built of stone, made to last and to endure our winter storms. Look what I have found! A house built on Christ the Rock, as old as Creation and as strong as the universe…with a room laid aside for me. You knew. All this time I was searching, and you knew, and waited, until I could choose you.


There is nothing on earth that can compare to the singular moment of knowing you. I can’t get my head around it. You made the stars in the Heavens and each grain of sand in the desert yet you also made me. You knew I would find you even before I had heard of you, or even come into being. You knew me since you created the stars and the oceans. You are the God of all Creation. You created love, and express it in a million tiny things we barely notice. You created love, sacrificing your Son for us, that we might know.I am yours, Lord, and I will never be alone. I have many brothers now, and a forever, ever, after home. I know you now, and nothing else can ever compare.

Spring Competition 2016

The challenge was to write a poem or prose piece based on the famous saying by Robert Louis Stevenson: `To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.` 

First Prize: Irene Howat

Glory has been his home forever and forever apart from some years spent on a journey.
He should have felt at home on earth for he made everything he saw and touched and tasted and smelled. But it was all soured by sin.
His journey began in a stable, no place for a king on his travels, but that’s where he chose. From there he went into exile, a refugee from a tyrant until danger passed. In manhood he worked as a tradesman, and shouldered the responsibilities of a widowed mother and younger siblings. Surely that wasn’t the job for a king on a journey - a journey like no other.
A motley crew gathered around him; he called them his friends. From time to time he showed them chips of the glory of who he was, where he had come from and where his journey would end. Occasionally, very occasionally, they nearly caught a glimpse of what he was talking about. But, by and large, he was on his journey alone - apart from the One in whom he existed, by whom he endured.
Then he set his face like flint and headed straight to Jerusalem. Now, that wasn’t a strange place for a king to go. It was a kingly kind of a city.
He was welcomed like a king by some as he neared the end of his journey. But then all hell broke loose on him - quite literally.
The traveller arrived at his destination: a rough cross made of out wood from a tree he’d created. Nailed to it, he was, by nails of metal he’d planned and made for man’s use.
Jesus travelled hopefully knowing how terrible it would be to arrive. Yet his end was the end of the beginning. In the end his hope was certain sure.

Second Prize: John Meiklejohn 

 ‘Have you seen a donkey?’ I asked. We bought the house and so began my journey with a donkey. Don came with the house. Whatever had possessed me to agree to that remains a mystery! We had had pets but a donkey was unknown territory. He rejected all my efforts to make contact. He had a half-acre paddock for grazing, a stable for comfort and a farrier who looked after his feet – but was still discontented. If I strayed too near, he tried to kick me. When I planted new trees and bushes, he ate them. We tolerated one another, travelling along paths never to meet in a congenial relationship. 
One day, he left it all behind. Our neighbour saw him go. ‘The donkey has gone walkabout,’ she said, pointing eastward. ‘Towards Menstrie.’ 
I set off on what seemed a fruitless exercise and grumbled ‘Ungrateful animal. He has all that a donkey in the east could desire and yet he wants more.’  
About half a mile along the road, a man stood at a bus stop. and, with no flicker of bemusement at the question, he pointed to a lane leading to a farm in the Ochil Hills. ‘Up there.’ 
Following the direction of the pointing digit, I walked up the steep lane, rounded a corner and there he was. Stopped in his tracks by a cattle grid, he was gazing longingly to the hills, dreaming perhaps of what it might have been like to be THE GREAT DONKEY OF THE OCHILS. 
He ignored me as I stood beside him and made no objection as I held his bridle, turned and headed down the lane on the homeward journey. 
No one from Law and Order witnessed the excitement we caused. Cars slowed to see the view; double deck buses adopted steep angles as passengers moved to see the Clackmannanshire version of ‘Travels with a Donkey’.  
Our relationship didn’t improve but neither did it deteriorate. I fed and watered and he accepted it all and ignored me. I was told the Rudolph Steiner School in Auchterarder needed a companion for a lonely horse. Don was offered and accepted. His new adventure began in a horse box owned by the mother of a pupil of the school.  
My journey with a donkey ended without a goodbye from him and with a sigh of relief from me. 

Third Prize: Lorna Smith

Fishing Trip

I pulled the line up and saw the distinctive shimmer of tilapia scales. These fish are our bread-and-butter but they don’t hang about. We land and sell a small catch each day except the Sabbath. You should see the nets bulge when the sardine run is on, though! It takes all our strength to haul in the nets.  We often pay other locals to take the catch further inland to sell, or have mum and dad preserve them to eat or sell in leaner times.

“Quick, Jim! Throw in the net,” I called. My brother isn’t the brightest, but he is strong, honest and loyal to his core. Our dad used to fish this patch single-handedly, taking us with him whenever he could. Jim didn’t go to school much, but nor did he need to - we were always going to take over the family business. He can read tides, currents, clouds and squalls; count fish, calculate profits; and I can write. I know it sounds weird, but we don’t travel beyond sight of this beach. We’ve never left town. It has everything we need. We have everything we need - right here.

I watched Jim haul the heavy net over the side of the boat, calloused hands letting it run free.

“That’s it all out, Jack. Marker buoy’s in place. Bring her round tight and we should catch most of the shoal. Tilapia’s fetching a good price in market just now.”

I turned the boat around and we spent a couple of hours pulling the nets back in. Spotting the tears to be mended later, separating the fish into ‘selling’, ‘eat-it-ourselves’ and little ones to be returned to the sea (almost before they realised they’d had a brief sojourn out of it!). Sustainability, else we’ll lose our livelihood.

Back ashore, we pulled the boat up beyond the tide mark and mum took the tilapia baskets to market. We stayed in the boat and set about fixing the nets. Dad brought down spare twine and lent a hand as we sat in companionable silence.

Looking up, we saw our neighbours, Pete and Andy, heading along the beach towards us. They introduced us to their new friend, a charismatic stranger.

“Come with me,” He said.

What? Leave everything behind to travel with a stranger? Journey into the unknown with naught but hopeful faith?

And just like that, we did.


The Autumn Competition theme was ‘God Keeps His Promises’.


First prize: Lin Field


Two Slovakian Captives in Dundee


Two wildly beating hearts, rising panic

Eyes jerking from wall to wall of the greying room

We are trapped! We are lost!

Will we die here? What is happening to us?

A silent scream - I want my mother!


Enter cunning captor, lending phone.

‘Call home.  Say you are well,

Tomorrow this new work begins.’

She calls, obedient, ‘Mama, lubim ta . . .

Yes, yes, all is well, do not worry . . .’


She ends the call and sobs.  He leaves.

Now quick – the phone – the window

Street captured, picture sent.

Slave master retrieves the phone

But precious hope has flared


Uneasy sleep through hunger and fear

Though heads pound and stomachs churn

Then hammering - ‘POLICE!’ - arrests

And young ones freed to travel home again


‘I have called you by your name . . . You are mine.’

Second prize: Burns Shearar


Huge tears of sweat poured down Amram's brow. He emptied the last of the day's baskets of rubble with a sigh of relief. By now the sun was almost setting and a delicious cool breeze ruffled the surface of the great river. The overseer watched dispassionately but with a cruel smile.

‘Go home Hebrew,’ he said. ‘I hear your wife is going to have a baby: I dare say you will have a visit from the lovely Siphrah when the brat arrives. How I'd love to see your face if it's a boy!’ He roared with laughter. ‘No need to worry. Siphrah can cast any new hungry Levite lout well over forty cubits into the Nile. That's what our King commands.’

Later that night, in the little one-room hut in which the slave family lived, the baby was born. Amram sat outside the hut with three year old Aaron on his knee talking softly to his first born son. A few minutes later, it was his daughter emerging from the hut who broke the news. ‘Dad,’ she said excitedly, ‘Mum's had a boy. I've got another brother. He looks very handsome"

Amram bowed his head in a silent prayer of thanksgiving. As he rose to his feet, his head spinning with mixed feelings of joy and apprehension, he saw two figures approaching up the path under the light of a flaring torch. It was Siphrah, the midwife detailed by Pharaoh to kill newborn boys, with another woman. They would reach the hut in moments. The baby within the hut was already beginning to cry. There was nowhere to go. Amram lifted his face heavenward and said aloud, ‘Lord of Abraham, take us out of Egypt to the promised land.’

Siphrah gave him a powerful shove as he tried to protest and Amram fell backwards over the bench clutching Aaron. The Egyptian midwife bustled into the dim interior with her accomplice. Amram scrambled to his feet and followed. Shiprah was whispering to Jochebed as she cradled the new born infant at her breast.

‘I have here’ - the accomplice briefly disclosed a pathetic bundle – ‘the body of an infant who died at birth earlier today,’ Shiphrah said. ‘With it. I will foil Pharaoh’s wickedness tomorrow. Hide your new baby.’ Then she and her silent partner were gone.

The promise to the Israelites had begun to be fulfilled.

Third Prize: Fran Brady



It is the last day of the summer holidays. Two weeks at a beach resort have been followed by a four-week ‘staycation’: every local attraction has been sampled; every picnic spot explored and rated; every new child-rated film viewed; every new board game, bought for rainy days, done to death.

There remains only the last-resort sport of squabbling, competing to see who can find the flimsiest pretext, who can emit the most ear-piercing wail.

By the afternoon, I could cheerfully drown all three of them. When they eventually tire of baiting each other, they turned a surprisingly united force upon me.

‘We want to make popcorn. You said we could make popcorn.’

‘Did I?’ I have lost track of the things I have said. I would agree to abseil down the Empire State Building or dye my hair tartan to escape the intensely reproving looks of people who have forgotten that their own children are/were not angels.

‘Can we? Can we?’

‘Why not?’

‘You said . . .’

It took me an hour to return the kitchen to a recognisable, usable condition after the last popcorn event. The pot has been thrown out, the hob is never going to look the same again and the heap of sugar, which littlest child helpfully swept under the dishwasher, is probably feeding a family of slugs.

‘You promised.’

‘Yes, you promised.’

‘You did. You did.’

Like an escaping convict, I spot the hole in the wall and bolt for it. ‘No I did not. I NEVER promise things like that.’

‘But, Mummy . . .’

‘You know I only ever PROMISE two things.’

 A collective sigh of defeat ripples through the trio.

‘What are the only two things I will ever promise you?’

With one dejected voice, they chorus:

‘One: No matter what you do, I will always love you.

Two: If you get lost, I will never stop looking for you.’

Then, brightening, ‘Now you do your bit, Mummy.’

I draw the three of them into a hug. ‘And that’s just exactly what God says to all of us: he will never stop loving us and he will never stop looking for us.’

For a brief moment, we stand in a blessed circle of love and light, all our fractious irritations becalmed. Then middle child breaks free.

‘Well, can we make pancakes instead?’  

Spring Competition 2015

The spring competition was to write a blog post with the theme 'If I could change one thing about Scotland...'

1st prize
Lorna Smith 


If I could change one thing in Scotland …   


… it would be the temperature of the sea. I’m talking just about the bits that I personally would want to use: not a threat to the deep sea fishing industry, oil platforms and sustainable native fish stocks. Oh no. Just a few bits where I could swim without losing circulation. I’m not talking about global warming here. Let me be clear. I love swimming in the sea BUT, and it’s a really, really big Jennifer-Lopez-sized but…. I really prefer warm tropical waters to my native shores.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Scotland and spent many a happy summer holiday swimming in the sea off Carnoustie. For those of us who are geographically challenged, that’s on the east coast and an awful lot closer to the North Pole than mere latitude would tell you. Just dip one big toe in the water and you get a pretty good idea of its proximity to polar bears and icebergs. My memories are fond, though no doubt tempered by a good few years, nay decades, since last I swam there.

Camping near the town, picnics on the beach and sandcastle competitions all have a special place in my heart. So, too, do my parents for all the right reasons. My dad would take my sister and I in swimming. We’d jump the waves (not quite Atlantic breakers on that side of the country, but childhood memories do tend towards distortion and exaggeration, don’t they? And I’m only wee) then a big wave would knock us under and we would be swimming like a fish. Once the cold had eaten its way through the outer layers of mere skin and was worming its icy fingers in towards your heart then the swimming would become ever more vigorous. When you could no longer feel arms and legs (fingers and toes having been sacrificed for internal organ circulation very early on in the swim) then it was time to head back out. There would be mum, ready with a rough towel to chafe circulation back into reddened limbs. This was my childhood experience of swimming in the sea. “Invigorating,” in my dad’s words.

Imagine the surprise I felt on first holidaying in the tropics: approaching the sea, extending my big toe towards a gently lapping wavelet only to have it caressed by enveloping warmth. I rather think I could get used to that here! 





2nd prize
Babies And Bathwater

Fran Brady 



   ‘Your mother is so proud of you.’

   I stared at the speaker, a friend of my parents, in disbelief. I was just about to graduate at a time when degrees were quite rare and there were only four universities in Scotland. I was quite proud of myself but the idea that this satisfied glow extended to my mother was ridiculous. The friend insisted: my mother had apparently been blowing my trumpet since I was five. To others, perhaps, but never to me.

   I grew up to the mantras: ‘go to the top of the class but don’t take your books, you’ll be back’ (any success is a mere flash in the pan) and ‘for a clever lassie, you’re remarkably stupid’ (brainy but useless). To this day, I remain plagued with a sense of never having done anything well or useful. What Mother would say about my present attempts to write fiction, I shudder to think!

   If you had asked me forty years ago what I would change about Scotland – indeed what my generation DID change - I would have said: we must not belittle our children’s efforts and achievements; we must praise and celebrate everything they do; we must give them – that modern holy grail - self-esteem. The mantras my three children grew up to were: ‘you can do anything you set your mind to’ and – echoing a catchphrase of that era - ‘didn’t you do well!’ Even when they clearly had not.

   Now, with the next generation, we see the long-term effects of the praise-everything culture. I happily expected these young people would be the culmination of the great change my generation had begun: full of self-esteem, fulfilling potential, unburdened by adult denigration.

But ask me now what I would change about Scotland and I think of our ‘broken society’ that venerates youth. Whatever age we are, we are urged to pursue youthful looks and behaviour, as if there is something disgusting in the natural process of ageing. As a result, heroes and role-models are made out of callow pop singers and dissolute football players whose celebrity will be short, no matter how much cosmetic surgery they have.

   Shakespeare’s never wrong: there are seven ages of man; youth’s a stuff will not endure.

   Yes, the old culture of denigration needed changing, but I have a sneaking feeling that we may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. 







Autumn Competition 2014

The autumn competition was on the subject of independence.

This Is My Voice

Lorna Smith November 2014


I hear fluidity and caramel, honeyed tones

Yet you hear nothing, as I cannot speak

These are my words.

I speak of music and cadences

Yet I cannot hear

The keys are my fingers and the words my lifeline

I reach out as if clutching at pale, lifeless straws

For these are my words and my meaning.

Hear my cry as I write

Feel the pain that I could not express

Before, there was nothing

But now?

Now I can speak!

I email and you hear my voice


Music dances its fractal patterns on my screen and I understand

Before, in the void, I was not part of your world

Now, everyone is coming here. With me!

Let me show you text, email, internet

Let me share my world’s knowledge, my skills.

I can show you.

Before, I was no-one

Before, I was to be pitied and condemned

Poor kid,

Deaf and dumb kid

Now, I teach, I share, I interact…just like you

I am the same

In this on-line world I am an equal

I work the same; I teach the same; I mark the same

for my online students around the world.

I shop the same, Facebook the same, talk to my friends …

The same as you

In this, our computer world, I have my independence.





2nd prize

Independence Through Surrender

Lorna Smith


“I can manage”, says my small voice, shouting in the wind

I struggle on, alone, afraid, I cannot ask for help, for aid

These testing times are mine alone, I struggle on, ashamed


I look around and feel the weight of all I’ve brought on me

Why do I turn, retreat, resist? Refuse the help others insist?

Why do I think I have more worth when martyred on my knees?


Oh, leave worries far behind you, give stress a kiss goodbye

Turn away from problems, hand over all your sighs

Look above for succour from Him who lives on high


Sing praise with gay abandon; sing for angels, not for boys

The flat notes and the sharp notes, too long, too high, too short notes!

Sing out your heart with wordless love – God hears a joyful noise!


Surrender to the Father! Surrender to the King!

Cede to him your worried tears, all wants, needs, ills, and fears

Be independent of the world, with the Lord of everything!




3rd prize


Penny Shackleton


Life on dad’s farm is really tough

And of this work I’ve had enough.

I’m grown up now, a real man,

I have to follow my own plan.

I don’t need him.


I’m leaving home the world to see

So I can find the real me.

My bags are packed with what I need,

I’ve got the cash, I’ve done the deed.

I need to leave


It’s so good here with lots of wine

And pretend friends with which to dine.

A far off land and life is great;

Can have it all without a wait.

Don’t need a thing


It was fine here, I had some fun,

But now alas the moneys gone

And I am in among the swine

Wishing their dinner could be mine.

I need some food


I realise now that to be free

I cannot only live for me.

I know it’s time to wander back

And then confess the things I lack.

Don’t need to starve


My welcome was fit for a king!

A calf, a robe, sandals, a ring.

In spite of all the things I’ve done

My dad says I am still his son

I do need him.




Spring Competition 2014

The Spring Competition was for a dramatic sketch, monologue or dialogue on the theme of Communication which would last a maximum of three minutes.



1st Prize

The Letter

Ian McGregor


HIM                 Good morning, Mrs Er.. Mrs. Please sit down.

HER                 Thank you.

HIM                 Now, Mrs er.. I have called you to this meeting at the tax office on a very serious matter.

HER                 Oh dear.

HIM                 Very serious indeed.

HER                 How serious?

HIM                 pause. Very very serious.

HER                 Oh dear. Oh dear. Pause  Oh dear.

HIM                 Quite. Now, to get to the point, I have received. - a letter!

HER                 A letter? What is it?

HIM                 It's a piece of paper with things written on it. Pause But that isn't important right now.  What is important is what is written on the letter.

HER                 What is written?

HIM                 It is an accusation. A very serious accusation.

HER                 I didn't write it. I don't do accusation. I am not without blame myself.

HIM                 Aha. You admit it? Writing

HER                 Admit what?

HIM                 To not being without blame?

HER                 Of course I do. That's what the Teacher said. And it's true - no-one is without blame.  I am not without blame. You are not without blame.

HIM                 Wait a minute! I am not without blame.

HER                 Er no.

HIM                 I thought you didn't do accusations. Pause.

HER                 What is the accusation?

HIM                 It says here....reads....that you have undisclosed income.

HER                 Undisclosed income. What is it?

HIM                 It is income that you have not disclosed on your tax return. But that isn't important right now. No - it is important - that is why you are here.

HER                 I am sure I have disclosed everything. What have I missed?

HIM                 Reads. It doesn't actually say.

HER                 Who sent this letter?

HIM                 Reads. It doesn't actually say. The letter is anonymous.

HER                 That's terrible - writing an anonymous letter and then not having the courage to sign your name.  That's very poor.

HIM                 Er. Talking of "very poor" - that is what you claim to be.

HER                 I am very poor.

HIM                 I have here your tax return. Produces tiny tax return and reads. Very poor.

HER                 I am.

HIM                 Well then. How do you explain your....reads...."excessive outgoings"?

HER                 Excessive outgoings? Have you seen the price of a loaf these days?

HIM                 Y-e-e-s. The letter refers to the amount you put in the offering.

HER                 The offering. What about it?

HIM                 I have information here that on a particular day several very rich people gave some very large sums. Do you recognise the names of these high net worth individuals?

HER                 Running finger down list  Yes. Yes. Oh yes!

HIM                 Is it true that they gave very large sums?

HER                 I try not to bother with what other people give. But it's difficult - these people make    such a show of their giving. So yes - they give a lot.

HIM                 And yet. I have it here from a very good source - that Teacher you mentioned – that you gave more than any of them. How is that possible?

HER                 That can't be right.

HIM                 Are you saying the Teacher is lying?

HER                 No!

HIM                 Or mistaken?

HER                 No.

HIM                 How much did you give?

HER                 I'd rather not say.

HIM                 Aha. So now we are getting somewhere. I must insist.

HER                 I'm a bit embarrassed to say.

HIM                 You can write it down.  She writes it down and hands it to him. Is that all?

HER                 Yes.

HIM                 That's not very generous.

HER                 It’s all I had.

HIM                 All you had? But but that would mean you are uses calculator "very poor".

HER                 Like on my tax return?

HIM                 Like on your tax return. Yes. But I don't understand - why did the Teacher say you gave more?

HER                 I wondered about that.

HIM                 Might it be to do with what you kept back? These people still had loads left but you had nothing?

HER                 Mmm.  Maybe.

HIM                 Gathers papers. I think that's us finished.

HER                 I can go now?

HIM                 Yes. Thank you for coming in.

HER                 Leaving. Is that you finished for today?

HIM                 No. I have one more appointment. Another undisclosed income case. Sorry an alleged undisclosed income case. Someone paying tax with money from fish.

HER                 From fishing?

HIM                 No No - from fish.  A specific fish apparently - with a coin in its mouth.





2nd Prize              

A Matter of Appropriate Communication

Burns Shearar


Prosecutor:  Are you John,  son of Zebedee,  sometime of Galilee and now of Patmos?

Witness:  Yes.

Prosecutor:  You are a fisherman?

Witness:  Yes.

Prosecutor:  And do you have a brother James?

Witness:  No sir.

Prosecutor:(Accusingly) No?

Witness:  I did have a brother James, sir but he is longer alive.

Prosecutor:  And were you and your brother James part of a gang, a group of radical revolutionaries based in Judea and Israel?

Witness:  I am a disciple of  my Lord ,Yeshua of Nazareth, along with my brother James

Prosecutor:  Insurgents, am I correct?

Witness:  No sir.

Prosecutor:  You planned and conspired to bring about  insurrection.

Witness:  No sir. We wanted merely to change men’s understanding

Prosecutor:  I warn you not to try the patience of this court.

Witness:  What I have said is true. There was no planning of insurrection.

Prosecutor:  I must remind you, you are under oath. I shall ask you once more. Were you a  member of a gang or cell of revolutionaries intent on undermining the authority of Caesar?

Witness:  We did not plan or take part in any form of insurrection against the authority of the Roman  Empire or the Tetrarch in Jerusalem or even the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Prosecutor:  I put it to you that under the leadership of this Yeshua of Nazareth, you, your  brother James and the others  were part and parcel of an underground  movement which sought by covert and clandestine means to foment revolution among the common  people and to subvert the authority of the government. Is that  not the case?

Witness:   No sir. With respect,  I think there has been a corruption of communication. Our Lord’s teaching was to render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s

Prosecutor:   You constantly refer to him as  “my Lord”. What exactly was

the nature  of the authority this Yeshua  that you speak of was seeking?

Witness:  He did not seek it.

Prosecutor:  What do you mean?

Witness:  He already had it.

Prosecutor: (Scornfully) He already had authority?

Witness:  Yes  sir. His Kingdom is not of this world.

Prosecutor: (Puzzled ) Is not of this world?

Witness:  No sir. My Lord sought only to save men’s immortal souls from the penalty of death. He made no claim on any other territory.

Prosecutor:  Do you have any proof of what you say?

Witness:  Yes.

Prosecutor:  What possible proof can there be that this man Yeshua is who he claimed to be?

Witness:  His resurrection from the dead.

Prosecutor:  He rose from death to being alive again?

Witness:  Yes.

Prosecutor:  There are witnesses to this?

Witness:  Yes sir. I am one.

Prosecutor:  You expect this court to believe you?

Witness:  I pray that every one who hears of My Lord truly believes what I have seen with my own eyes

Prosecutor:  Then that would have to be a matter of appropriate communication?

Witness:  Yes sir,  it is very much a question of communication of Good News. In the Greek  tongue, what is known as  ‘the Gospel’.

Prosecutor: (Thoughtfully)You are the most unusual fisherman I have ever met. In this case I am not going to press for the death penalty. Instead, I will seek to have you put to work in the salt  mines here in Patmos. You and your testimony will either be destined for oblivion or,  if not, ........well,  let’s just leave it there shall we?



3rd Prize

Cross-cultural love and the difficulty of communicatingacross a language barrier

Burns Shearar


Me: “Dae ye want a piece?”

Him: “A piece of what?”

Me: “Jist a piece. Ye ken, like twa bits o’ breid wi’ sum-hin’ in the middle.”

Him: “You mean a sandwich?”
Me: “Aye. A piece.”

Him: “Why do you call it a ‘piece’ when you mean a piece of bread?”

Me: “Naw. If ah meant a piece of breid ah’d’ve said a piece of breid. Why wid ah just ask if ye wanted a piece of breid? A piece needs sum-hin’ in the middle. Like jam.”

Him: “You mean a jam sandwich?”

Me: “Ach whitever. Dae ye want a piece the noo or is it too near dinnertime?”

Him: “Dinnertime? Is dinner not usually nearer seven? It’s only eleven just now.”
Me: “No’ yer dinner. Are you thinking o’ wur tea?”

Him: “Tea? I didn’t think we were talking about a cup of tea just now. Or do you mean afternoon tea?”

Me: “I mean tea is at tea-time. Yer big meal at night. Dinner time is nearer mid-day…”

Him: “Oh, you mean lunch. Lunch is dinner and dinner is tea to you, is it?”

Me: “Aye. So dae ye want a piece the noo or is it too near yer dinner?”

Him: “Erm…. Just a cup of tea just now and we can lunch early.”

Me: “So do ye want a piece for dinner, or ‘lunch’ to you, or wid ye rather a poke?”

Him: “A what?”

Me: “A poke. Or you could get a supper if you’d prefer.”

Him: “Supper at lunch time? What are you talking about?”

Me: “Well, dae ye want something from the chippie or not?”

Him: “Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Why were you talking about prodding me or having a late evening snack?”

Me: “Whit? I asked if ye wanted a poke, ye ken, like a poke o’ chips or a fish supper?”

Him: “Why can Scots not say ‘chips’ instead of the receptacle they come in? Yes, chips would be good, but what’s a fish supper?”

Me: “Fish and chips.”

Him: “You mean fish with a poke, then?!”

Me: “Of course not – a poke is just a poke, not a supper. Any main thing becomes a supper when you have it wi’ chips. Dae ye want ginger wi’ the chips?”

Him: “Like crystallised or root ginger instead of a pickled onion? With chips?”

Me: “Naw, like a bottle of ginger, ye ken like Irn Bru. How, whit dae you call it?”

Him: “Fizzy pop. And what’s iron brew?”

Me: “Ach, ye ken Irn Bru. It’s wur national drink! It’s bright orange…”

Him: “You mean, it’s a ginger ginger? Ha ha.”

Me: “Aye. I think you’re getting this now. So dae ye want a poke wi’ a ginger?”

Him: “Yes, thank you. I’ll have a small portion of chips with a bottle of fizzy pop.”

Me: “Right ye are!”

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