Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Monkey Mind

This picture was sent to me by our friend in Bedfordshire, Fran Andel. Sunset over Balephetrish, she calls it. It’s lovely. If you click on it you will see the full size image, one worth saving I would imagine. I don’t think Fran will mind at all.

Another drama class last night. I must say I wish I had taken this up earlier in life. I said this to one of the younger participants last night. She said ‘why? You’re doing it now, aren’t you?’

This year I’ve achieved the two goals that I set out with: I wanted to act (somehow) and I wanted to run. I’ve achieved both of these goals, what with the Napier Commission play and the Tiree 10k but I’m now a little greedy for more.

Talking of the Napier Commission I heard it mentioned on the Radio Scotland news this morning. Many people in the crofting universe are suggesting that there be another Napier Commission-style investigation into the state of crofting in Scotland.

The man I was listening to reminded the listeners that most of the recommendations of the Napier Commission were ignored.

Today I had to good fortune to spend lunchtime with the good folks of the lunch club organised and run by the Better Neighbourhoods Scheme. We were over at the Lodge Hotel.

Gott Bay looked wonderful in the early afternoon sunlight. The sea was flat calm and there wasn’t a single soul to be seen on the beach. That situation is about to change of course. In a couple of weeks it will be Wave Classic time again and wind surfers from all over the world will come to compete in this world-famous event.

I was sitting next to Duncan Gillespie in the dining room. Before he retired Duncan was a journalist – an agricultural journalist, if memory serves – and I believe he still writes a column for Scottish Farmer. Although Duncan does not enjoy the best of health he has, just last week, completed a novel. He’s an interesting and intelligent man and I always enjoy talking with him.

At one point two of our party gave us a rousing version of The Lord of Cockpen. Until recently I had not heard this song. One of our party told me she had learned this song when she was a child in school. She’s now 91 years of age and remembers every word.

I can’t remember any poems I learned at school. In fact I don’t remember the Scottish tongue being encouraged back where I grew up in Lanarkshire.

Last night at the drama class I – among others – was performing an excerpt from a play called Miss Julie. I played a Frenchman named Jean. I performed his dialogue in broad Scottish. Somehow it seemed quite legitimate.

It seems to be very much en vogue to be Scottish. The present Prime Minister is Scottish (not a lot of people realise that!) and his predecessor as his leader of the Labour party was a Scotsman. The next Prime Minister is likely to be a Scotsman.

My mate, John Andel – husband of Fran, my friend who sent today’s picture – a Czech by birth but very much an Englishman – is very much ‘into’ Scottish and Gaelic culture. But he was amazed when I told him earlier this year that I couldn’t stand Runrig.

And I might as well confess that I prefer Shakespeare to Burns.

I am very proud of being Scottish. I feel myself to be Scottish through and through. But I am also proud of the fact that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. I feel like I can share in being proud of – for instance - Shakespeare, an Englishman, or Dylan Thomas, another poet and a Welshman.

(Oddly enough, although I can think of lots of Irish artists, offhand I can’t think of any who are definitely northern Irish and thus part of what we call the UK. Please feel free to remind me!)

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