One of George Mackay Brown’s favourite words was marvellous. He used it about the weather, his friends, music, the Dounby Show, the landscape, and about his penn’orth of sweeties and The Hotspur comic for boys. He thought it an intense word, shorthand for the kind of state described by poets such as Dylan Thomas, Muir and Wordsworth. So here we have an introduction not just to what he called his scraps of journalism, but to George himself; his lyricism showed through whatever he wrote. His modesty is revealed too, and his love of those writers who had a dimension which transcended the ordinary and saw the magic in nature and in life.
The OED definition of marvellous is ‘such as to excite wonder or astonishment’ and it seems that George’s attitude to life, in spite of his periods of ill health, incorporated a willingness to see beyond the everyday, and to see the wonder in the commonplace.
( A Marvellous Journey – ‘A peedie look at the life and work of GMB’ – Sue Tordoff in the George Mackay Brown website)
Hi everybody, Bonjour tout le monde !
Many many thanks and congratulations to our dear friends Iain et Margaret for their generous and marvellous contribution to Scotiana. Their last Letter from Scotland was the 10th one and we hope there will be many many more of them for we can’t imagine Scotiana without their friendly voices which have become so familiar to us.
We have learned so many things about Scotland with them already! Iain and Margaret’s last letter is entitled ‘Betty Mouat’s Lone Voyage, a Miraculous Survival‘ and we can only recommend you to read it for, as its title indicates, it is a fascinating story, a ‘marvellous’ one to quote George Mackay Brown, one of our favourite Scottish authors and the one who incredibly led us to know Iain and Margaret. A marvellous story in itself!
YES ! Ten ‘Letters from Scotland’ already ! Just have a look at their titles and we’re pretty sure you will feel like reading them at once…
We also recommend you to visit George Mackay Brown’s website and to read the very interesting story of his life by Sue Tordoff. We’ll soon introduce this great, ‘marvellous’ poet on Scotiana.
St. Valentine comes to Glasgow..
Hello Marie-Agnès, Jean-Claude and Janice
Bonjour from Scotland on this crisp, early Spring day! I know you were intrigued to hear that St. Valentine had a connection with Glasgow, and as his Feast Day approaches, I’ve tried to find out a little more about him.. ..
I had only vague memories of having heard that relics of the Saint had been kept somewhere for a while in a big cardboard box, so it’s been interesting to look into all this a little further…
Jane Haining, Auschwitz’s Scottish Christian Martyr..
Hello again from Scotland, Marie-Agnes, Jean-Claude and Janice!
I wonder whether you remember driving that time from Wanlockhead (home to the Lead-Mining Museum) all the way to Wigtown, to explore the many bookshops? The journey would have taken you through part of Nithsdale, just north of Dumfries, a relatively quiet but very pleasant part of Scotland.
Scotland’s Voice of the Century is Stilled …
We’ve just received from our Scottish friends, Iain and Margaret, a very moving tribute to one of the most lovely voices of Scotland, Kenneth McKellar, who passed away a couple of days ago and we are eager to share it with you…
Great Days of the Scottish Highland Games ..
Hello again from Scotland, Janice, Marie-Agnes et Jean-Claude!
With summer almost upon us, the first Highland games of 2010 have already taken place; next on the calendar is the gathering at Blackford (near Auchterarder, Perthshire) – the 141st Blackford Highland Games, scheduled for Saturday, 29th May.
(A complete list of this year’s Highland games, running through to mid-September, can be found at the web-page: VisitScotland.com ‘Highland Games 2010′ )
Monstrous Conspiracy That Condemned The Innocent Oscar Slater (1909) ..
Bonjour Marie-Agnes, Janice et Jean-Claude! Hello again from Scotland!
Please let me begin today, Marie-Agnes et Jean-Claude, by recalling that joyful, sunny day in late summer when Margaret and I met you for the first time, at Biarritz on the Atlantic coast. From the deserted street on a quiet Sunday morning, you appeared as if by magic at the doorway of Hotel Marbella; and what an unforgettable day we spent together! Although it feels like only yesterday, weeks have now passed – and last Saturday we re-set our clocks and watches to ‘winter’ time.
Reflections on the Oscar Slater Affair …
Bonjour! Hello again from Scotland, Janice, Marie-Agnès and Jean-Claude!
It’s pleasing to hear, Janice, that our Oscar Slater post has attracted some interest, and to read the Comments left by Shannon and Colin. I had the idea of sitting down quietly for an hour or two and adding my own thoughts on the matter!
I first heard the name of Oscar Slater long ago, from a neighbour, a Mr Thompson, with whom my father would often chat…..
Married at Gretna Green!
Bonjour Jean-Claude, Janice et Marie-Agnès! Hello again from Scotland!
(…)The small Dumfriesshire towns of Gretna and Gretna Green – almost a mile apart – are particularly busy on 14th February (and also in high summer) for it’s possible to make a booking up to a year ahead to be married there. How different everything used to be, when young runaways would arrive at all hours wishing to be married instantly!
‘Daft Pate’ Macmillan of Courthill Smithy, Pioneer of the Pedal-Driven Bicycle ..
Bonjour Marie-Agnès, Janice et Jean-Claude! Ca va? – How are you?
We’d like to tell the story today of the quiet, diffident Scotsman who is generally accepted as the inventor of the bicycle; but first, please let us say how thrilled we were to see the excellent photos you’d taken at Gretna, in the course of three separate visits. (‘Married at Gretna Green!’) Thank you for these, they bring the whole thing to life!
Gretna is easy to get to, for it’s very close to the motorway and also has a railway station. Its strategic location, as the first stopping place for stagecoaches on the Scottish side of the border, gave it enduring fame.
First Days of Golf …
Bonjour Marie-Agnès, Jean-Claude et Janice! Hello again, how are you?
(…) Golf may not have been born in Scotland – the Dutch also claim it – but it evolved here over the centuries, under royal patronage, on the links courses of the East Coast. A few years ago, I asked Elinor Clark, Assistant Curator of the British Golf Museum at St Andrews, to tell me a little of the history of the game. “The earliest written reference to golf in Scotland is in the year 1457,” she said. “The parliament of the Scottish monarch, James II, tried to ban football and golf in favour of archery, which was considered more useful for national defence. But these games must have been extremely popular, for over 30 years later, parliament was still trying to stamp them out!”
Betty Mouat’s Lone Voyage, a Miraculous Survival ..
Bonjour! Hello again Janice, Marie-Agnès and Jean-Claude!
Our tenth “Letter from Scotland” already!
(…)For centuries there have been strong links between Scotland – and especially the Shetland islands in the far north – and Norway (Lerwick, the Shetland capital, is equidistant between Bergen and Aberdeen.) For almost 300 years, until the late 15thC, all of the Orkney and Shetland islands were actually under Norwegian rule.
The ‘Shetland Bus’ (1940-45) of the Second World War was much more than a transport and logistics operation linking Shetland with occupied Norway; originally headquartered at remote Lunna House, intelligence, commando and all manner of secret operations were undertaken.
Enjoy et Bonne lecture!
Mairiuna and Janice