For many years the only bearable part of the apology for imaginative programming that BBC Scotland got together for Scottish cricketers on Hogmanay was the address by the Rev I M Jolly.
Jolly was the creation of the great Scottish comedian Rikki Fulton and was a satire on the then Last Call shown late on many weekday nights featuring a fireside homily from some Minister of the Kirk or other. In these more secular times these delights are no longer available. For we like sheep have gone astray............
Jolly was the archetypal miserable Christian with the ability to be depressed at every turn of events and Fulton's straight faced lugubrious presentation brought out the wonders of a particular Presbyterian view of life. Test Match Quality. This link will take you to his very first address.
The Reverend Jolly never addressed cricketing issues in the broadcasts that FB recalls, perhaps it was too cheerful a subject. However FB's diligent researches have unearthed this script which makes unusual reference to Jolly's skill at ministering to troubled cricketers.
In the bleak midwinter - and never has a midwinter been more bleak - we've had water coming in our roof for days now. So much so that my wife Ephesia has taken to wearing wellingtons around the house. Her repeated suggestion that walking on water is a skill that I should master strikes me as wholly inappropriate.
But no matter how bleak the midwinter is, it is our lot in life to bring happiness to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. A cheery wave from us happy souls can make their day. Even though as I look around me, it strikes me that there may not be too many who are less fortunate than me. I've had a hell of a year. A bloody nightmare from day one.
In the bleak midsummer - and never was a summer more bleak in my considerable experiences of bleak midsummers. Some of you may have thought that all that stuff in the Good Book about it raineth for forty days and forty nights was a poetic expression. Indeed my own keen sense of humour may have from time to time made light of it - I acknowledge now that my suggestion that the Lord did not say unto Noah build me an ark, but instead build me an anorak was too radical a reinterpretation of scripture. It may also have been in questionable taste given the Church roof blew off in the January gales. And for this I am sorry.
It was in the midst of the downpour that a member of the local cricket club came to me seeking spiritual guidance, which, there being nothing worth watching on the telly at the time, I was only too willing to give.
Reverend he said, 'Whit is it whit I should dae in these terrible times of torment?'
My first thought was that he should learn to speak English, but I suppressed it.
'Brother' I said unto him. 'What is it that troubles thee?'
Upon which he let out such a wail of lamentation that reminded me of myself on a good day. The gist was that this soul was once a star batsman but had been dismissed for a succession of low scores. His wife fed up of hearing his endless tales of biased umpires and had left him. His business went bankrupt as he practised 24 hours a day. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. He was at the end of his tether. He was thinking of ending it all. And so he went on......... and on............and on.
It is at times like this that one's vocation comes to the fore. That one's long years of training in the Ministry bring forth their fruit. Without that I might have turned my back on him and passed on the other side of the road. In the spiritual sense of course - the literal sense would have been difficult since he was sitting in my vestry at the time. Drinking my tea.
But instead I looked kindly on him, and gently said to him some words of comfort.
'You may think that things are bad just now. But just you wait. It's getting worse. Let me tell you about the day I've had............'