Apr. 15th, 2010 01:59 pm
tree_and_leaf: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in uniform glengarry bonnet, Jamie in kilt, caption "Wha's like us?" (Scots Soldiers (Icon of patriotic prejud)
Yesterday I went for a wander down the Canongate in Edinburgh with mater; we discovered a wonderful recreation of a seventeenth century knot garden down a Dunbar Close. Amazing the things you just wander past!

I also went to the Grey Ladies Bookshop, which was full of fascinating and lovely things, though I confined myself to a book of Canadian Girl Guide songs, and Josephine Elder's Lady of Letters.

On another note entirely, if you haven't seen this, you may be amused (regardless of your political leaning, I hope):

tree_and_leaf: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in uniform glengarry bonnet, Jamie in kilt, caption "Wha's like us?" (Scots Soldiers (Icon of patriotic prejud)
When my grandfather was a very young man, not all that long after the Great War, he drove a grocer's van round the farms and settlements about the Gala Water. He carried all kinds of things - tinned goods, and string, and bits of agricultural supplies in a small way. And once a week, he had fish.

One day, he was driving up a steep hill and realised to his horror that the van doors had come open - he had been in a hurry the last time he had stopped - and the things gleaming in the road behind him were fish. His fish. So he went back and picked up the scattered and dusty haddock and herring, and then, for want of a better solution, went down to the burn and washed them.

The next place he had to call wasn't far off, and he presented the fish to a busy farmer's wife with some trepidation.

"Ach, laddie," she beamed. "What grand fresh fish! They look like you just guddled them oot the burn the now!"
tree_and_leaf: Watercolour of barn owl perched on post. (Owl)
Nominally this is a winter poem - but I think it works well for Passiontide, especially such a snowy one.

Edwin Muir, One Foot in Eden )
tree_and_leaf: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in uniform glengarry bonnet, Jamie in kilt, caption "Wha's like us?" (Scots Soldiers (Icon of patriotic prejud)
[profile] parrot_knight's tweet about a local festival which, among other things, commemorates Jacobite doings in 1715, reminds me of a very short poem by Hugh McDiarmid. Who one would not have expected to be a natural friend of Jacobite imagery, but the poem is none the worse for that.

The rose of all the world is not for me:
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp, and sweet – and breaks the heart.

It is, incidentally, one of the fine assortment of quotations about Scotland or Scots opinions on the nature of politics, all bar one by Scots† carved on the Canongate Wall, part of our mildly eccentric Parliament building (about which opinions have differed, but I rather like it).

† The exception being Fr. Hopkins, who gets in on the strength of "Inversnaid" - as well he might.
tree_and_leaf: Spock looking horrifed; caption "Illogical!" (illogical)
There's actually an amusing thread on Comment is Free: On Haggis. Of course, it is the Guardian, so there's a debate about the ethics of haggis farming versus hunting...
tree_and_leaf: Both sides of the RBS golf £5 note, showing the Old Course at St Andrews (st andrews money)
Which means that it is The Conversion of S. Paul Burns' NIght, in honour of Scotland's most famous poet.* My parents will be at a Burns Supper tonight, where my father is giving the Immortal Memory (quite an honour, given that he's English); normally I'd organise a little Burns Night party myself, but I lack the space and the haggis this year. However, I will be going out to drink whisky later on with some friends - and will probably be expected to provide an introductory lecture on Burns, as well as choosing everyone's whisky for them (an onerous task).

With that in mind, a Burns poem under the cut: 'one of the most characteristic effusions of his muse': chippy, funny, egalitarian, and written for the masons (OK: it lacks the skirt-chasing, but you can't have everything...) Also, as a bonus, one of Hugh MacDiarmid's better efforts.

Sorry, this cut was meant to be here! )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
The Grauniad asks: Should we mourn Flashman?

I must say I'm more inclined to mourn Pte McAuslan, J, the dirtiest soldier in the world, and his long suffering superior officer, Dand MacNeill, not to mention the rest of the regiment immortalised in three collections of short stories about life in a Highland regiment stationed in North Africa at the end of the Second World War. Screamingly funny, all of them, and in an unobtrusive way rather interesting accounts of the Scots, or at least of Scots men of various kinds and conditions. They also contain one of the best ceilidhs and almost certainly the funniest game of golf known to literature (whaur's yer PG Wodehouse noo?), and a series of curious yet believable characters and events. The language, too, is wonderful, though I suspect it might account for the lack of attention which the English obituries gave to the stories.

Gaiman fans, though, might note that one of the stories in 'The Sheikh and the Dustman' (a hilarious account of poaching and illicit distilling in Perthshire) is the source for an incident in Sandman - and I have a suspicion that Pratchett's Nic Mac Feegle owe quite a lot to Fraser's Scots soldiery.

If you google 'McAuslan', the first hit you get is a rather posh-looking Canadian microbrewery. I think I'd have difficulty trusting their products, though, associations with the Tartan Caliban being too strong...
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
A link to an excerpt from the forthcoming new Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants.

Looks promising. The characterisation of the talking bear reminds me strongly of Prince Caspian, but definitely in a Gaiman world. At any rate, I'm looking forward to getting hold of this.

I've been watching the TV film of 'Kidnapped'. David McCallum is a good Alan Breck, though remarkably free from either pockmarks or freckles. Generally well cast, and the adaptation is good, and so far surprisingly faithful, if you cast aside the decision to add Catriona in from the beginning. A lot of the dialogue is recognisable, even in German, and Uncle Ebeneezer still divides his parritch into two portions. My major gripe is the general cluenessness about Scottish geography. If Davie's journey from Essendean to Edinburgh takes him north of the Highland line and through some quite serious mountains, then he's very, very lost. And - if that was meant to be Corstorphine Hill, then it's too high. Edinburgh does not have mountains where the New Town ought to be, kay thnx bye. Also, why the random interlude where Redcoats chase Alan round what is very obviously an NTS site? (they've removed the interpretative boards, at least, but there's no effort to hide the concrete slabs laid at strategic intervals, and it's all very neat and tidy). Also, the Red Fox looks remarkably like a ginger version of film! Lucius Malfoy (thankfully minus the cane), though that's an observation rather than a complaint.

On a side note: why do I keep finding holes in my clothes? It doesn't seem to be moths (*touches wood, cedar for preference*)

ETA: I thought the chap playing Capt. Hoseason looked familiar! He's the same chap who played Büffel, the gruff, sarcastic hero of the charming Lilo Pulver film, Die Zürcher Verlobung. I'm also looking forward to seeing Jutta Speidel, who I last saw as a strong-minded nun in the ARD comedy Um Himmels Willen, as Prestongrange's daughter Barbara (a much more interesting character than Catriona, if the truth be told).
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: sarcastic interpretations of commonly used phrases in scholarship. (terms commonly used in academia)
"Ye see, David man, they'll be Hieland folk. There'll be some Frasers, I'm thinking, and some of the Gregara; and I would never deny but what the both of them, and the Gregara in especial, were clever experienced persons. A man kens little till he's driven a spreagh of neat cattle (say) ten miles through a throng lowland country and the black soldiers maybe at his tail. It's there that I learned a great part of my penetration. And ye need nae tell me: it's better than war; which is the next best, however, though generally rather a bauchle of a business. Now the Gregara have had grand practice."

"No doubt that's a branch of education that was left out with me," said I.

"And I can see the marks of it upon ye constantly," said Alan. "But that's the strange thing about you folk of the college learning: ye're ignorant, and ye cannae see 't. Wae's me for my Greek and Hebrew; but, man, I ken that I dinnae ken them--there's the differ of it. Now, here's you. Ye lie on your wame a bittie in the bield of this wood, and ye tell me that ye've cuist off these Frasers and Macgregors. Why! Because I couldnae see them, says you. Ye blockhead, that's their livelihood."

... I've been re-reading 'Kidnapped' and 'Catriona', and am forcibly reminded of how much I love Alan Breck, for all his faults.

Not to mention the pithy analysis of homesickness:

" So we went east by the beach of the sea, towards where the salt-pans were smoking in by the Esk mouth. No doubt there was a by-ordinary bonny blink of morning sun on Arthur's Seat and the green Pentlands; and the pleasantness of the day appeared to set Alan among nettles.

"I feel like a gomeral," says he, "to be leaving Scotland on a day like this. It sticks in my head; I would maybe like it better to stay here and hing."

"Ay, but ye wouldnae, Alan," said I.

"No but what France is a good place too," he explained; "but it's some way no the same. It's brawer, I believe, but it's no Scotland. I like it fine when I'm there, man; yet I kind of weary for Scots divots and the Scots peat-reek." "
tree_and_leaf: Photo of opening of Beowulf manuscript (Hwaet Beowulf)
This is rather splendid - a list of the quotations placed on one wall of the Scottish parliament. A nice mix of idealism and irony, indeed:

tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Happy St Andrews Day, everyone!
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Today is the feast (well, actually it's a Lesser Festival, but let's not be pedantic) of S. Margaret of Scotland; and also the commemoration of Edmund Rich , in whose name was founded Teddy Hall, otherwise St Edmund Hall in Oxford.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
In honour of Scotland's most famous poet (not, in fact, our best, but we love him anyway), born today in 1759, I bring you one of his finest lyrics - no, not 'My luve is like a red, red rose', though that's good also...

Because there's more to Burns than whisky and sex )


tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

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