’S ann beagan neònach a bha i, oir bha ‘lights-out’ aig uair: dìreach dar a bha meadhan-oidhche an Alba. Ach dh’èist mi ris a’ Bhig Bhen (a’ chlag ann an Lunnainn) air Radio Scotland, as dèidh sin dh’èist mi ri MP3 dhe Flower of Scotland air a seinn leis na Corries (an dà chuid dhiubh air fòn-tapaidh, tro fhònaichean-cluaise), agus leugh mi The Path of Zen le Robert Aitken as dèidh sin, ged nach b’ urrainn dhomh smocadh tuilleadh.
Somewhat particular this year, because I was currently in love with a guy of that name. (Still am, but more on that later.) Obviously there was no way of obtaining Scotch eggs or shepherd’s pie, not to mention haggis, so at least I lunched on a mackerel tin. And as it had begun by the first lying snow of this winter, I switched at night my laptop’s screensavers to the winter folder.
A somewhat strange birthday. Spent in a rehab, where nobody knew or noticed, and I myself felt no urge to tell anybody. For all the group therapies, I don’t feel really close to any of the other guys here. Obviously no celebration; there’s nothing to celebrate anyway. Neither a feeling that the day was somehow significant, even though it began my last year as a quadragenarian. Nor does writing this two days later feel like a delay which should have been avoided. After all, I’ll only can post it after the cure, presumably a few months from now.
The life here is in several ways rather more enjoyable than what I had between Scotland and now; all the same it feels like marking time until I’m properly online and have more spare time again.
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 …)
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.
Not a bad month for transport: the ScotRail strikes over guards were finally called off to allow further negotiations; Queen Street station tunnel reopened and so did Glasgow Subway; and the Tay Road Bridge was 50 years old. The exception was the oil rig, travelling from Norway to Turkey, which was blown ashore on a western Lewis beach instead, losing thousands of gallons of diesel and later temporarily moved to a bay on the other side of the island.
Of course, there were the Olympics in Rio, but I’m not into this kind of showbiz, so I’ve only seen Ross Murdoch qualify to semifinals and my namesake create a new British record before ending 5th – yet later with not one but two silver medals from relays (the first with 2 other Scots, or 3 if you count in Renwick). But somehow I admired no less Ieuan Lloyd, whether bottle-fliping or dabbing – and even more than all these Nick Skelton. Winning an equestrian gold aged 58 … can you beat it? (Of course, I couldn’t help noticing that Team GB ended second in the medal table, with 16 Scots getting such a disc or two.)
In other news, bha briseadh-dùil ann mu dheidhinn fo-thiotalan air BBC Alba, on a tha Urras a’ BhBC dhen bheachd nach urrain dhaibh leigeil le luchd-amhairc an roghainn a dhèanamh; Michael Russel was appointed the Scottish government’s Brexit negotiator, although the UK government later indicated they’d only pay lip service to negotiating with Holyrood; Poles overtook Indians as the largest migrant group both in the UK and in Scotland (which slightly surprised me, I thought they’d already done so); and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation named (on p 10) both ‘my’ Keppochhill and Tommy’s Wyndford among the 5% consistently most deprived areas in Scotland since 2004 (which didn’t; but it is interesting that the allegedly most and least deprived areas in Scotland are only about 7 miles distant).
Vingt-six ans depuis que j’ai arrivé en Écosse la première fois … Drôle de se souvenir que je connaissais si peu du pays … ou de l’avenir.
Sia bliadhna air fhichead on a thig mi a dh’Alba a’ chiad turas … Neònach ri dìochuimhneachadh dè cho beag a bha dh’fhios agam mun dùthaich … no mun àm ri teachd.
I won’t pretend I hardly remembered it was my birthday the other day, but by and large it was just another ordinary (working) day.
To quote a guy I once worked with, “another day closer to death”. A day, not a year. Nothing outstanding even about that.
On 5 July it was 25 years to a day since I left KSK, the student hostel I’d been staying in for the five previous years. I would revisit a few times while some of my former crowd still remained there; there would be quite a few trips together and other reunions; to this day I keep in – however rare – contact with a handful of my former college mates. And I still consider those five years (plus the next one in the National Service) as the best days of my life. But somehow I don’t reminisce about them all that often nowadays. And the handful of old friends are the only ones from that period that I’m still interested in meeting with. Somehow … somehow my three years in Scotland overlaid those older memories.
The KSK days were the only ones in my life when I felt like I really belonged where I was. An indisputable insider within a community I cared about. They were the best: no two ways about it. But the Scottish days were the second best … and they’re much closer in time.
As dèidh bliadhna, tha mi suidhichte gu math an seo, ach chan e dachaigh a tha ann idir; chan e ach àite-còmhnaidh. Dh’fhàs mi cleachdte ris gu dearbh; tha grunn bhuannachdan aige (m.e. gu bheil e cuimseach faisg air far a dh’obraicheas mi), ach tha grunnan eas-bhuannachdan aige cuideachd (m.e. faram nan nàbaidhean). Nas cudromaiche ’s dòcha, chan eil mi nam dhùthaich. Gu gearr, chan eil mi a’ sireadh àite-còmhnaidh eile, ach ma bhios agam ri gluasad a dh’àite eile, cha bhithinn ro dhuilich.
A lot has happened since my last post like this. Once again, I’m living on the Net and only ‘occurring’ in the so-called real life. Unlike before my migration attempt, however, I’m mostly just observing what happens, without communicating much with anybody even online.
There is the nice portmanteau netizen, created as a blend of net and citizen. It would be nice if there was a similar blend made from net and hermit (what about nermit?), because that’s what I feel like now.
Bha mi ag iarraidh gun bhòtadh na Breatannaich airson ‘Fhàgail’ agus rinn iad sin. As dèidh a’ chiad aoibhneis, thàinig e a-steach orm gun do dh’atharraich sin an suidheachadh anns a tha mi fhìn gu tur. Jusque-là, il y a eu de l’espoir, dè cho beag agus a bha e. It is virtually zero now. Mar sin dheth, je dois recontempler tout.
Cathair-eaglais Dhùn Chailleann thall Uisge Tatha (bho Cheum-choise an Inbhir).
Well, tant qu’il y a de la vie, il y a de l’espoir. La réincarnation, mar eisimpleir. Ach tha an sgeulachd seo a’ tighinn gu crìoch. Tha mi airson ga crìochnachadh mar bu chòir – agus an ìre mhath nam aonar. For the seagulls they have gone. Ge-tà, faodaidh fiù is foghar a bhith tlachdmhor, un petit peu.
Of course, the main news was the elections and the aftermath. Before that, Sir David Attenborough became the latest celebrity nonagerian, and the BBC White Paper was unveiled: mostly it seemed to be about money and encroaching on the broadcaster’s independence, with some specific proposals for Scotland agus moladh airson leantainn le craoladh sa Ghàidhlig.
After the elections, while in London the Queen’s Speech allegedly included fines for companies sending spam emails without first getting consent (could it still be called spam if they did?), the new Scottish government announced that for the next eight years the operation of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network will remain with CalMac, rather than being handed over to Serco. Muirfield, however, lost its right to host another Open after a vote to remain a men-only club. (I’m not sure to which degree the following criticism is due to the unadmitted knowledge that if there was a women-only golf club, men simply wouldn’t give a damn about it.) Shortly after, the Kirk voted to allow ministers in civil gay marriages, although not gay weddings within the Kirk, and the Scottish Parliament obtained its first law-making powers under the 2016 Scotland Act.
Mostly good news, then. Not so across the Atlantic, where Donald Trump in the end won the Republican presidential primaries, and Alberta, Canada had to declare emergency in response to a wildfire which destroyed about a tenth of Fort McMurray and later threatened to come back to claim more. In retrospect this kind of puts the feminists’ (and my) obsession with the Muirfield vote into perspective.
O chionn ghoirid, thàining e a-steach orm (a-rithist, a-rithist) gun toirinn dhomsa gnìomhan is pròiseactan ùra an ìre mhath cho tric ’s a choileanadh mi iad; gun robh feadhainn dhe na gnìomhan seana a’ dol air adhart ro shlaodach, agus nach robh feadhainn eile a’ dol air adhart idir.
Rinn mi (a-rithist, a-rithist) liosta dhe na bha agam mar tha, agus chuir mi romham nach cuirinn rithe (on 12 an Cèitean, an 25mh co-là-breith Thomaidh) rud sam bith nach biodh gu tur deatamach. (Uill, tha fhios nach do chuir mi crìoch air sgrìobhadh duilleagan ùra sa bhloga seo . . . )
There were hardly any to speak of, to be honest. It felt as if everybody was just waiting for May’s elections and June’s referendum.
It began with a very important news indeed: on the first day of the month, the new national minimum wage of £7.20 an hour came into effect (although not for Tommy, who’s still under 25). After that . . .
The next day Kezia Dugdale came out as a lesbian, which, considering the already self-proclaimed homosexual Mundell and Davidson and bisexual Harvie and Coburn, makes one wonder when are Sturgeon and Rennie going to jump on the bandwagon. Then nothing for almost three weeks, until the Queen turned 90 (BBC News Scotland stopped short of calling her a Scots queen first and a British queen second, but only just). And after another week the news that the Birnam Oak and Sycamore were so damaged by last December’s storm Desmond that without human aid they probably will be lost. Which only merits a note here as I’d seen them with my own eyes within one of my Dunkeld trips.
Ah well, one mustn’t grumble. The good thing was that I was able to write this post in less than a hour before leaving for a night shift.
On 28th August it was exactly a quarter of a century since I first entered Scotland. On 31st I successfully completed my 3-month probation in my current job. On 5th September it was a quarter of a century since I promised myself in St James Church in St Andrews I’d be back.
Until recently, each of these would be a reason for celebrating; at the very least for an individual blog. Nowadays, I may not even have noticed them if I hadn’t put them down in my calendar.
Similarly, I’ve bought several things to make my life easier lately: proper pillow, fleece jacket, doormat and more. I paid off what was left of my debt to Rob. I finally sorted the flat’s door. All the pleasure these things brought was little more than the satisfaction one feels when one can tick off a completed task.
The View’s newly released Ropewalk CD arrived five days ago; it’s copied onto my hard drive but hasn’t been listened to yet. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the fleece from the post office; I’m not sure I’m even looking forward much to that, however useful (with nostalgic value added) it will inevitably be.
On the other hand, all life is in balance. Big pleasures are invariably followed by big miseries; small pleasures mostly only by small miseries.
Only I feel more like 74, in the sense that there is no longer any ‘big’ goal to achieve. All that’s left is the intent to make what’s left of my life at least tolerably pleasant.
Ah well, at least it finally rained yesterday. (I know this summer wasn’t exactly ideal in the Isles, but I would honestly prefer that to the two subsequent heat waves, each lasting weeks, in this fucking central European climate.) And by posting this I’ll have achieved my holiday ‘little big’ goal of managing my bookmark backlog and updating this blog.
Oui, je suis chaste depuis le 12 juillet ’95. Probablement pour toujours. Le temps passe vite … Mais au moins, la veille de l’anniversaire je me suis branlé – finalement. En tous cas, ce n’est pas la chasteté qui est le problème, c’est la solitude.
An t-siathamh latha an Giblean. ’B àbhaist dhomh an dàrna ‘Trian’ dhen bhliadhna a thòiseachadh air an latha seo. ’B fheàrr leam gun robh fhios agam càit am bi mi air an latha seo an ath-bhliadhna.
Ann an dòigh, tha e gu math sìmplidh. An dara cuid gheibh mi obair gu luath, agus bi mi fhathast an-seo, bochd ach sàsaichte, a’ feuchainn fhathast ri saoranachd fhaighinn; no nach fhaigh, agus bi agam ri tilleadh dhan t-seann bhaile, air briseadh-dùil a ghabhail ach beò.
Eaglais Naomh Conan, Loch Obha, Earra-Ghàidheal
Chan eil mi airson tilleadh idir. Bhiodh mi na b’ fhaisge ris na càirdean agam (ach a-mhàin aon dhiubh), ach bhiodh cianalas glè mhòr orm air an dùthaich seo. Agus chluinninn an cànan neo-fhonnmhor sin fad na tìde . . . Air an làimh eile, ’s mi fhìn as coireach ris an t-suidheachadh anns a tha mi an-diugh; feumaidh mi gabhail ris.
Co-dhiù no co-dheth, ge be dè thachras, bu chòir dhomh oidhirp a dhèanamh ri faighinn cho mòran ’s a ghabhas bho na tha ann fhathast dhe mo bheatha. Agus mar a thuirt Naomh Mike, “Seadh, tha seo cruaidh, ach tha mise nas cruaidhe”.
How the time flies. I have been living here for a year now*, yet I still remember, as though it were yesterday, the amazement at having come by something I had never realistically expected to get: a tenancy contract. One which is neither set for a definite period, nor has a clause enabling the landlord to give the tenant a three-month notice whenever it suits him.
The initial idea was to take years, if not decades, slowly improving the place each time I saved enough money to do another bit. Then I got a substantial (by my standards) sum as insurance for a road accident, and within less than two months accomplished a complete revamp.
Kyle Falconer sings “You’d be amazed at what you can achieve in a year” and he’s right. When I look back on the photos of the bare walls and floors a year ago and compare them with how the flat looks now . . . Admittedly, the money was a windfall, but they only bought me things while I did the work (with a little help from Tommy sometimes): the money bought the paints, but I did the painting, and so on.
So yes, I am definitely proud of myself.
* It’s hard to say which date to consider as the most important: I signed the contract on 5th, got the basic furniture on 6th, began moving my things on 8th, spent my first night here on 9th and only moved the rest of my possessions from the previous place on 11th.