Sunday, 29 November 2015

"Oh! It's yerself!"

"Oh! It's yerself! ya bu**er!

This was the greeting that the Reverend Jack Kellet received from one of his 90-year-old parishioners, a life-long attendee of South Leith Parish Church.

It was a greeting that was met with a heartfelt kiss by way of a response.

The book is subtitled "A Scottish Minister looks back on a life of surprises."

The Reverend Jack Kellett describes himself as a lucky man. (Though some say that by-and-large, we create out own luck.)

However, his luck includes being fortunate enough to fall under the very positive influence of the famed Iona Community as a young man and lucky enough to have a surprise weekend at Balmoral Castle in the presence of the Queen.

He had experienced life within the working class community of Edinburgh, born to parents who had known what hard times were like for the desperately poor of Edinburgh.

He knew the love of his parents that was demonstrated in the taciturn fashion that was their way.

He also considered himself lucky to have fallen for a girl who also fell for him, despite, as he saw it, all his faults.

And lucky to have raised a family of three children.

He was surprised to find the Queen was much more ordinary than he had suspected might be the case, and didn't get into any trouble at all when he accidentally stepped on the paw of a Corgi who had been dashing toward its breakfast!

He also had the pleasure of saying grace, a short one, much appreciated by the Royal family and the staff, at a meal at Balmoral, where he had stayed as a result of being asked to preach a sermon at nearby Craathie.

Hobnobbing with the Queen and the Royal family. But that wasn't how it had begun for Jack Kellett.

His father was a grate builder who was proud of the fact that he was able to earn a halfpenny an hour more that the other tradesmen and he was the only employee never to have been paid off during the great depression.

He wrote with great eloquence about the childhood games of the 1930s, games like What's the Time, Mr Wolf? and the like.

He touches on childhood ailments, his school days, his National Service, his involvement with football and cricket and marriage to the great love of his life, Ena.

It was when he and Ena were enjoying a holiday on the Isle of Iona that Jack realised he had a calling to be a church minister.

And, after six years of theological study at Edinburgh University, that is what he became.

He proved himself to be a more than capable church minister, always busy being a husband and father and working for the members of his congregation and known for working with other churches in his area, including building strong links with local Catholic churches.

This book is compelling, amusing and truthful, written by a man who is, truly, a man of his God.

It is published by Matador at £10.99 and is a compelling autobiography.

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