This week I attended the funeral of my father in law, James Muir. Not many in the wider world will have heard of James, but I owe him a great debt. In the early years of our acquaintance I was a raw youth; I knew quite a lot about science but very little of anything else. James on the other hand was wise in ways I couldn’t then comprehend. We would spend occasional hours together and, over a few ales, I would talk of science and scientists, of atoms and astronomy and he would speak of poets and poems, of songs and stories. I am sure I got much more from these discussions than he did, but such was his generosity of spirit he didn’t seem to mind.  James always searched out the best in people and they in turn strove to be better than they were and we are diminished by his passing.

As well as a lecturer at Glasgow University and Jordanhill College, James was member and sometime Secretary and Vice President of the Scottish Association of Writers. He received the Association’s Annual poetry prize from none other than Norman McCaig 1. Later he was awarded the Associations’ First Novel Prize adjudicated by Margaret Thompson Davies2, and the Constable Trophy.  I have selected one poem from his collection Legacy, let it speak for itself.


I throw a stone into the air
And give it energy, I’m told,
Which on its upward curving flight
Converts into another form,
Holds at apex in potential pause,
Until by earth’s attraction wooed
It plummets down in forceful fall
Dives through the sheen of placid pool
Sends rippling waves across its face
In symmetry of spreading circles,
Till one by one they fade and die.
And all the energy is lost, it seems;
But it is there, as heat – the force
That drives the engine of the world.

This energy abides in all I see,
In flowers at my feet, in birds above,
And bending trees, in all that rests or moves;
In the quietest day, in the wildest storm.
Nor is it ever lost or lessened,
Or added to, but keeps its store unchanged,
Chameleon-like in all its different forms:
And it abides in you and me,
For we are it and it is us.

Is there an immortality in this,
Vague consolation for those of us
Who have no God, and no hope of heaven:
That we will be converted at the last,
That when the pleasures and the strains
Of music and life are felt no more,
Yet in this world some scrap of us remains?

My work background is in operational meteorology and in my career I have been involved in forecasting for everything from bananas to jumbo jets.I joined the Met Office 1974 as an observer at Glasgow Airport. After training as a forecaster, I worked as an Operational aviation forecaster at various defence sites and airports. In 1982, I moved to Glasgow Weather Centre as a forecaster and STV broadcaster till 1988. He then took up a post as Senior Forecaster London Weather Centre, then Senior Forecaster ITV where I qualified as a trainer in presentation techniques for the ITV Association. After being diagnosed with MS, he moved into management and became Head of London Weather Centre in 1997 followed by a period of front-line management for Southern England and Europe covering London and Cardiff Weather Centres and the Met Offices on defence stations from Akrotiri in Cyprus to St Mawgan in Cornwall. He took up the post of Met Office Chief Advisor for Scotland & Northern Ireland in March 2008 and moved to Edinburgh. I retired in September 2014. My one claim to fame is once performed a comedy sketch on TV with Manuel (Andrew Sachs) from Fawlty Towers in support of Comic Relief.

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Posted in Poetry, Sharing, Stories
3 comments on “Requiem
  1. David Tooley says:

    Beautifully done.


  2. Anne Wright says:

    That was lovely Alex. Yes Jimmy gave a lot to a lot of people. I was luck enough to meet him when I was 13 or 14 years old. He never stopped giving to me and my family. Thank you for saying it so much better than I can


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