05 November 2007

Scotophile Monday

Whew! After a busy couple weeks where I had to put Scotophile Monday on the back burner, it's nice to be back. This is where I pull together snippets of news, humor, web sites and nonsense of the tartan persuasion. All sources credited. Enjoy!

Black Watch Sells Out In NY
The award-winning National Theatre of Scotland's gritty production "Black Watch" has sold out in New York after rave reviews. The play, which focuses on Scots soldiers of the regiment in Iraq, did well when it was performed in Los Angeles, but there had been concerns that its Scottish accents - and occasional digs at the US military - might put off audiences in New York. Instead, the New York Times gave it top billing, describing it as "one of the most richly human works to have emerged from this war". Read more

Say It Ain't So!
It is surprising that with the Scottish National Party in government in the Scottish Parliament and its leader, Alex Salmond, riding high in the popularity stakes, research published this week claimed that support for an independent Scotland "has fallen to its lowest point in 10 years." The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has been carried out annually over the past 10 years. It has measured support for an independent Scotland between 2004 and 2006 at between 30% and 35%. But this year, of 1,300 people selected at random and interviewed between May and August, only 23% registered support for independence. Read more

Rest and Be Thankful Closed
The main road between Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne in Argyll has been closed since last weekend after hundreds of tonnes of rock and mud fell onto the road at Rest and Be Thankful - the highest point on the route. Torrential rain at the weekend, with just under an inch on Saturday night, also caused subsidence below the road. Inveraray and the Mull of Kintyre can now only be accessed from the north - resulting in traffic from Glasgow and central Scotland having to go on a detour which adds around 35 miles to the usual route. Read more

Robert the Bruce Statue for Aberdeen
Aberdeen was one of the cities to shelter King Robert the Bruce when he was deposed by King Edward I's army in 1307. In return, King Robert the Bruce issued the Greater Charter in 1319 and granted Aberdeen the Forest of Stocket (now Mid Stocket) in feu. The money generated by the Forest has been used to create the Common Good Fund which has helped to build some of the city's great landmarks such as Marischal College, Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Central Library, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Hazlehead Park. Now, Aberdeen City Council is commissioning a monument to King Robert the Bruce to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of his inauguration and to celebrate his contribution to the city. Read more

Bottle Imp
The Bottle Imp online magazine is published by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies to promote and support Scottish literature and language. But this is no dry academic production - it's full of fascinating background and articles. There's an item, for example, on the first ever Scottish literary character - Calgacus, who turns up in Tacitus' life of Roman Emperor Julius Agricola, prior to the battle of Mons Graupius. He is there to add a touch of nobility to the barbarian horde, before the legionnaires win a resounding victory (according to the Romans). The item on the Scots word "gloaming" also caught my eye. This Old English word for twilight seems to have survived in Scotland, perhaps as a result of us having longer hours of daylight after the sun has set - and Sir Harry Lauder going roamin' in the gloamin' probably helped too! Bottle Imp

Final Effort to Save "City of Adelaide"
The "City of Adelaide" is the only sailing ship built to give regular passenger and cargo service between Europe and Australia that still survives. Between 1864 and 1887, she brought out emigrant families and goods vital for the survival of the young colony in Adelaide. The ship has been stored for many years on a slipway in Irvine in Scotland and, despite many efforts to save her, permission has been granted to "deconstruct" the ship, thus losing an important link with the past. A final effort is being made, however, by South Australia’s own Clipper Ship "City of Adelaide" Preservation Trust to develop a viable plan to relocate the ship. Read more

Roman Tombstone Uncovered
The first Roman tombstone discovered in Scotland for over 170 years has been unearthed by an amateur archaeologist in a field near Inveresk in East Lothian. The Latin-inscribed sandstone monument was for a man called Crescens who was a bodyguard for the governor who ran the province of Britain for the Roman Emperor. Dating from between 140 and 180AD, it features a "barbarian" - possibly a local Scot being attacked by a cavalryman. The tombstone has been described as the most important Roman discovery in Scotland since the Cramond Lioness, a white sandstone lioness statue found in the mud of the River Almond 10 years ago. Read more

This Week in Scottish History
November 4 1774 - Poet and song writer Robert Allan was born in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire.
November 4 1965 - Pop star Lena Zavaroni was born. Her biggest hit was "Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me".
November 5 1877 - Opening of the original Mitchell Library, Glasgow, now the largest public reference library in Europe.
November 5 1879 - Death of Edinburgh-born mathematician and physicist James Clerk Maxwell.
November 6 1887 - Celtic Football Club formally constituted in Calton, Glasgow, to alleviate poverty in Glasgow's East End parishes.
November 7 1974 - Writer Eric Linklater died in Orkney.
November 8 1308 - Scholar and philosopher John Duns Scotus died. His dry subtleties led to the word "Duns" or "dunce" meaning dull and incapable of learning. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
November 8 1736 - First regular public theatre in Scotland opened in Carrubber's Close, Edinburgh.
November 8 1891 - Author Neil M Gunn born in Caithness. Best known for "Highland River" (1937) and "Silver Darlings" (1951).
November 9 1847 - In Edinburgh, Sir James Young Simpson delivered Wilhelmina Carstairs while chloroform was administered to the mother, the first child to be born with the aid of anaesthesia.
November 9 1937 - Ramsay MacDonald, first UK Labour Prime Minister, died aboard "Reina del Pacifico".
November 10 1871 - Journalist Henry M Stanley found the missing Scottish missionary David Livingstone with the classic "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

Spirit of the Glen
In 1972, a recording of "Amazing Grace" by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards swept to the top of the pop charts. It remained there for five weeks. Now, 35 years later, the same regimental pipe band has signed a £1 million contract with a major record company. Their CD, "The Spirit of the Glen" will be released in late November and the hope is that it will top the charts again. In addition to traditional Scottish tunes, including a reprise of "Amazing Grace", the new compilation includes easy-listening hits such as Rod Stewart's "Sailing" and Paul McCartney's "Mull of Kintyre". The album was recorded by regular soldiers in Scotland's only tank regiment between tours of duty in Iraq. All royalties are being donated to military charities. Read more

Web Page of the Week:
Browse the video vault below to enjoy a selection of music from the first episode on Scottish identity. Many tunes are presented as full-length extended edits created for the web." Pride & Passion: Scotland's Music

Orkney beast 'similar to Nessie'
A mystery creature washed up on Orkney almost 200 years ago was "strikingly similar" to descriptions of Nessie, the Highlands Science Festival will hear. Geneticist Dr Yvonne Simpson, who hails from Orkney, has researched the Stronsay Beast. Its carcass, which some said was that of a basking shark, was found off Stronsay in 1808. Dr Simpson said the descriptions of its long neck were along the lines of those of the Loch Ness Monster. Read more

Blog of the Week
Diary of a Deckhand, mainland Orkney.

Go Potty In The Garden
Winter is coming - and if you haven't already gone potty, now is the time to do it.
Containers, window boxes and tubs don't have to lie dormant during the winter months - garden centres are bursting with colourful shrubs and evergreens to see your garden through the long, dull days ahead. Read more (Um, what did you think this one was about??)

Essay: My Little Piece of Scotland
MY FAVOURITE place in Scotland is the island of Staffa. It is off the coast of Mull. You get to it by ferry from Fionnphort. On the day I went, the weather was sunny and the water sparkled like diamonds. From the ferry I saw seals and their pups. We were able to get very close to them and the driver of the boat took us round their island twice. The seals looked back at us as if they thought we were strange creatures from another planet. We also saw a minke whale but it dived down and disappeared for ten minutes before coming back up for air. My dad spotted some porpoises on the way to Staffa and I saw some four-ringed jellyfish. Staffa is a small island with cliffs that look as if they're thrusting out of the sea like arrows through the air. Read more


tea_please said...

There was a piece on "All Things Considered" yesterday (Sunday) on Black Watch.

tea_please said...

Oh, and Amazon either still hasn't sent a copy of your book or the post office can't be bothered to deliver it until they're done reading it. : (