James Robertson: The Fanatic

I can’t say I was bored, but of the three novels by the author I’ve read so far this one was the weakest. The ‘historical’ hero doesn’t seem able to decide whether he wants to be a martyr for his faith or to save his skin at any cost; the reasons for the interest a particular contemporary of his takes in him are unclear (they were to me, anyway); and although I could find some similarities between the ‘modern’ hero and myself, there were not enough to enable me to really relate to him. So while not bored, having finished the book I didn’t even look the main characters up to see which, if any, were based on real historical persons, as I would normally do.

 

Printemps ’17

Bon. La beuverie est terminé, et bien que je sois toujours quelque peu faible, je relève. Et parce que j’ai raté à la fois 1er mars, le début du « printemps météorologique » (il faisait encore assez froid ici) et 20ème mars, le début du « printemps astronomique » (la beuverie), il était grand temps que je remplace mes économiseurs d’écran: l’hiver par le printemps. Alors, je viens de le faire.

 

Pink Dandelion: Quakers: A Very Short Introduction

Very good. A concise account of the Friends’ past and present: if I had this book a few years ago, when first becoming interested in the topic, it would have saved me a lot of time and effort spent on gleaning all the information therein contained from divers internet sources. Also, the author being British, Liberal Quakerism is given a bit more space than the Evangelical and Conservative traditions. (Incidentally his name is really Ben Pink Dandelion, poor soul.)

 

An at air falbh … ’s dòcha

As dèidh ochd seachdainean bhon fhàgail an ospadail, bha “ath-sgrùdadh” agam Diardaoin. An oidhche roimhe, bha amharas agam nach biodh e deimhinnte, agus sin mar a thachair. Chan fhaca an dotair an at nam ghuthlag tuilleadh, ach thuirt e gun robh a’ ghuthlag air a thoinneamh leis an réidio-theiripe agus nach fhaca e a-steach gu ceart. An ath mhìos, coimheadaidh iad a-steach is mise fo pràmhan, agus bidh sgana PET/CT ùr ann: cha bhi fios agam co-dhiù a bheil aillse orm fhathast ron 27mh Giblean.

Tha e a’ coimhead dòchasach ge-tà, ach bha droch naidheachdan ann cuideachd: cion nan smugaidean agus dè cho dùmhail ’s a tha iad, thuirt an dotair dhomh gur e “buaidh an taobh mhaireannach” a tha ann; mar an ceudna an sprogan (duine cnàmhlach le sprogan, o mo chreach) – faodaidh sin fàs eadhon beagan nas miosa fhathast; cha robh a’ mhisneachd agam as dèidh sin ri faighneachd mu dheidhinn na staise/feusaige a sguir dhen fhàs.

Agus fuirichidh a’ chuisle dham stamac gus a’ Chèitean aig a’ char as lugha …

 

Sweden to reintroduce conscription

The Swedish government has decided that as from 1 January 2018, conscription into the country’s armed forces would be reactivated.
BBC: Sweden brings back military conscription amid Baltic tensions
The Local: Why Sweden is bringing back the draft
Government Offices of Sweden: Sweden re-activates conscription
It’s interesting to consider how one’s perception of conscription is influenced by one’s country of origin. The Local suggests that to Brits it may “sound archaic”, but support amongst Swedes themselves is said to be strong. Having been drafted myself in the then Soviet Bloc, I’m used to the sentiment of young men there and then: “two wasted years of one’s life”. Then again, we never expected to ever actually have to fight: we reckoned there were but two possibilities for an Iron Curtain country, peace and total nuclear destruction.

 

Mariages homosexuels en Finlande

Du 1er mars, les mariages entre personnes de même sexe se produisent au 22e pays: Finlande. Ça signifie qu’ils se produisent dans tout les pays nordiques (y compris le Groenland mais sauf les Îles Féroé).

(Et aujourd’hui, 7e mars, c’est l’anniversaire de la perte de ma virginité. Intéressant: en ce temps-là, j’avais 22 ans. Et en juillet il sera 22 ans depuis mon dernier rapport sexuel. Je serai chaste plus longtemps qu’avant le premier …)

 

Cìs chraolaidh iPlayer

Leugh mi mu àrdachadh cìs chraolaidh is thug an aiste gu mo chuimhne mar a bha iPlayer an asgaidh air a chrìochnachadh an-uiridh. Agus thàinig rud neònach a-steach orm: Airson bhliadhnaichean roimhe sin, choimheadainn dìreach air iPlayer gus nach biodh agam ris a’ chìs a phàighead. Chan eil an t-adhbhar ann tuilleadh – ach cha do rinn e diofar sam bith. Choimheadainn fhathast air iPlayer a-mhàin. ’S ann cho annasach, cho neònach a tha an nòisean gum biodh agam air prògram air choireigin a choimhead aig àm puingeil, àm stèidhichte leis a’ chraoladair, seach dar a bhios agam ùine is togradh air . . .

 

Macabre

Il y a environ deux ans et demi, j’allais au magasin quand un homme, qui paraît avoir à peu près 17 ans, m’a demandé dans la Panmure Street une sèche. J’ai refusé, bien qu’il était plutôt mignon, puisque j’ai eu le dernier clope sur moi. Mais quand j’ai vu le mois dernier la photo de Steven Russell, semblable à lui, de 20 ans d’âge et assassiné dans la Bardowie Street, près de la Rue Panmure … bien sûr, je ne suis pas du tout certain: ça aurait pu être un homme complètement différent. Néanmoins, c’était très perturbant.

 

Suffragettes

One tends to think that the feminist focus on already well-off females getting paid as much as their already well-off male colleagues (while ignoring the overall societal inequality) is comparatively new. It was with some surprise that I read, in TM Devine’s The Scottish Nation: A Modern History, that Helen Crawford, a prominent Scottish suffragette, had herself remarked about the movement at the beginning of the 20th century, “The women who became most prominent in the WSPU were middle-class women to whom the best paid professions were closed because of their sex”.

One likewise tends to think that first came universal male franchise, followed by gradually widening female one. Here again I was disabused by the book, learning that while single women and widows could already vote in local elections in 1882, as late as 1911 only slightly more than a half of Glasgow males had been enfranchised, giving grounds for fears that “to give the vote to women from the propertied classes would both strengthen the electoral advantage of the Conservative Party and […] do nothing for the majority of women in the country who belonged to the working classes”.

Ecclesiastes was right again. Nihil sub sole novum.

 

35 millions de Canadiens

Apparemment, le recensement canadien n’a pas été fait en 2011, mais l’année dernière, et les résultats clés ont été publiés ce mois: il y avait 35 151 728 habitants. Je me suis étonné que le tiers des trente-cinq millions vivent aux trois villes les plus grands (Toronto, Montréal et Vancouver) et les deux tiers à 100 kilomètres (62 milles) de la frontière sud. C’est bien plus fou que l’Écosse avec sa Central Belt . . .

 

Sìona fhiadhaich

Cha mhòr nach bidh mi a’ coimhead air iPlayer gu làthaireach an-dràsta, sa chiad àite air prògraman co-cheangailte ri Alba ’s an Rìoghachd, ach cuideachd air prògraman aithriseach gun cheangal riutha. O chionn ghoirid, thachair mi air sreath mu dheidhinn nàdar ann an Sìona, agus bha e gu math intinneach. Dhìochuimhnich mi dè cho eadar-dhealaichte, dè cho allamharach agus a bha an saoghal fad às sin.

Ach dè cho bòidheach ’s inntinneach a tha e, chan eil mi ga ionndrainn. ‘S toil leam ga fhaicinn air an TBh. Ach ‘s e dùthaich dhachaigheil seach allamharach air a tha cianalas orm. Cruth-tìre is craobhan is lusan is ainmhidhean is eòin is bailtean is . . . is daoine Albannach. No co-dhiù Breatannach, no Frangach, no eadhon Lochlannach amsaa . . .

 

An e an aon chàball?

Am Faoilleach 2010: Tha guth ann (agus tha e coltach nach e a’ chiad ghuth a bharrachd) air càball eadar na h-Eileanan is tìr-mòr: Naidheachdan a’ BhBC 15/1/10:

“Thuirt Comhairle nan Eilean Siar gun dèan e feum dhan eaconamaidh ionadail agus gun cuir e neart ris an argamaid airson càbal-dealain fon mhuir eadar na h-Eileanan is Tìr Mòr airson ceangail ris a’ Ghriod Nàiseanta.”

An t-Sultain 2012: Tha an t-Urras Steòrnabhaigh an dòchas mòr: Naidheachdan a’ BhBC 10/9/12:

“Tha fios againn gu bheil cosgaisean mòra an cois a’ chàbail ach chaidh gealltanas a thoirt dhuinn gum bi sinn air ar ceangal ann an trì bliadhna eile.”

An t-Samhain 2012: Chan eil SSE ann an cabhag ge-tà: Naidheachdan a’ BhBC 8/11/12:

“Chaidh an ceòl air feadh na fidhle an t-seachdain seo chaidh nuair a dh’innis SSE nach biodh cabal mòr dealain eadar na h-Eileanan an Iar agus Tìr Mòr deiseil ann an 2015 mar a bha dùil.”

Amsaa, amsaa . . .

An Gearran 2017: Thuig feadhainn anns na h-eileanan mu dheireadh thall: Naidheachdan a’ BhBC 10/2/17:

“Bu chòir gabhail ris nach bi càball dealain ùr eadar na h-Eileanan an Iar agus Tìr-Mòr agus plana ùr ullachadh mu choinneimh sin, a rèir Urras an Rubha agus Shanndabhaig.”

Ach, gu follaiseach, cha do thuig na h-uile:

“Chaidh an dà chuid Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is Urras Steòrnabhaigh às àicheadh beachd Mhgr MhicSuain.”

A bheil iad a’ bruadar nan dùisg – air no ’s e caochladh chàballan a tha annta?

 

January ’17 news

The eyes of the world were unsurprisingly mostly directed at the new US president’s first days in office. He began by attacking his predecessor’s health care and climate change achievements. This failed to bring as much publicity as hoped for, so he banned entry to people from certain countries. (That would occupy journalists enough to have little time left to ponder about his following near-U-turns on the issues of NATO, Taiwan and Putin.)

Closer to home, Martin McGuinness resigned as NI deputy first minister to necessitate snap Stormont election; Theresa May realistically admitted UK would leave the common market; and the Supreme Court decided that the referendum result wasn’t binding. Not that it made much difference except perhaps to some lawyers’ wallets.

Sadly but naturally, there were some deaths: Peter Sarstedt, Gorden Kaye and Tam Dalyell.

And the number of pollution zones in Scotland has risen to 38, with Hope Street, despite its name, still topping the list. It was cold comfort to remind oneself that Edinburgh and Glasgow had more green space than any of the other 10 most populated UK cities.

 

Ann an teis-meadhan an ath-shlànachaidh

Oidhche Ardaoin. O chionn ceithir seachdainean, dh’fhàg mi an t-ospadal. Ceithir seachdainean bho seo, thèid mi ann airson faighinn a-mach an robh an leigheas soirbheachail. An deach an aillse air falbh.

Smaoinich mi gum biodh dà mhìos ro fhada, gun dèanadh aon mhìos a’ chùis. Fìrinn innse, cha dèanadh. Ged a chaidh a’ chuid as motha dhe builean an leigheis à sealladh, chan eil an amhaich fhèin mar a bha i fhathast – agus bhiodh aig na dotairean am fibroscope a chuir a-steach. (Cuideachd, tha mi a’ fàs sgìth leis an ‘PEG tube’, oir chan eil i a dhìth orm tuilleadh, agus tha e riatanach ga glèidheadh gu làitheil. Ach bheir iad a-mach i tron amhaich.)

Uill, foighidinn, a ghille. Aig a’ cheann thall, mìos ann no às, tha fios gur e an toradh an rud cudromach: am faod mi a bhith an dùil gum bi bliadhnaichean, seach mìosan, romhamsa fhathast.

 

Retrospect: last part of hospital stay

It was only getting worse.

I don’t mean the chemo. In fact, I never discerned any side effects, although it was stopped when my blood samples revealed to the staff that my kindneys were becoming affected too much.

I don’t even mean the radiotherapy, although in the end I needed to use the PEG tube even for ‘drinking’, could only speak with difficulty (and pain), and salivated so much I was afraid I might choke in sleep.

What troubled me most was that in addition to these, I could hardly get any rest. What with people watching TV, my roommates snoring, nurses constantly coming for this or that reason and so on and so on, I only slept in a a-few-hours instalments. Which was of course taking its toll on my mental energy.

In the end, while still switching on my tablet each afternoon or evening, I then just made some bookmarks for reading later, and killed time by playing Microsoft fucking Solitaire. I had no zest for anything more demanding than that.

(Even when I unexpectedly received a New Year’s email from Tommy, it naturally made my day, but I was only able to mail back ten days after being discharged.)

I was also nostalgically recollecting foods I used to like and noting down those I wanted to taste again once I could.

But it was over at last and after some time things began getting better. But I already wrote about that.

 

Quote: James Hawes: Rancid Aluminium

 

I was running on pure belief. No, not on belief: on the pure need to believe.

But then you always do, in the end. You cannot run on logic: the maths always adds up to absolute zero, one way or another, and you never lose the black stretch Lada*, no matter how hard you drive. You can only live as if.

(Peter Thompson, p 312)

 

* in the book’s context, read ‘the hearse’

 

Thill mo ghuth

Uaireannan, cha tèid gnothach am feabhas mus gabh thu ris nach tèid a-riamh. Airson na làithean, cha b’ urrain dhomh labhairt, dìreach cagairt. Cha b’ ann mus do ghabh mi ris gur dòcha gum fàg an tinneas balbh mi, gun do dhùisg mi air madainn Diluain seo agus, abair iongnadh, fhuair mi a-mach gun robh mi comasach air brudhinn a-rithist. Seadh, a’ bruidhinn ann an guth ìosal is glè thùchanach a-mhàin, ach a’ bruidhinn. (Fìrinn innse, b’ fhèarr leam ma chumas mo ghuth cho ìosal mar a tha e a-nis. Bu lugha orm an-còmhnaidh dè cho sgalanta ’s a bha e.)

 

December ’16 news

December news in February, hmm . . . anyway, here goes:

There were some minor surprises in politics. The Icelandic Pirate Party was asked to try and form a new government (but would later fail to become part of it). Donald Trump sort of broke decades lasting pretence that the US doesn’t recognise Taiwan (more publicity stunts would follow). The European Court of Justice ruled against the Snooper’s Charter (giving the UK government another bad reason respect the referendum result and leave the EU). And the SNP disclosed that despite the comtinuing devolution of powers from London to Edinburgh, the Scotland Office’s budget rose over the last five years by 20% (although a much more interesting question was how much would Derek Mackay have to compromise to have his first budget voted through Holyrood).

A sadder surprise was the death of George Michael at the age of 53 (making me look up what was it he sang at all, the biggest surprise being Freedom! 90). On the other hand, air an làimh eile, bha deagh naidheachd ann gun do chomharraich Tormod MacGilleathain an t-ochdadamh cho-là-breith aige (’s dòcha gum bu chòir dhomh The Leper’s Bell a cheannach mar faidhle Khindle is a leughadh a-rithist).

More good news were the opening of a new Edinburgh railway station and the reopening of Kelvingrove Museum’s Life Gallery (pity I may never see it again).

The sporting surprise, for me at least, was how close to each other the teams at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership were: Partick Thistle, last (ie 12th) three matches before the end of the month, got by just two wins to the 6th place and after a Hogmanay draw ended the year as 7th. Another sports-related news was Andy Murray’s knighthood; but to be honest, I admired more Lynn Faulds for rejecting her MBE – or rather, for her reasons to do so.