Gay marriages for the French

President François Hollande signed a law legalizing gay marriage, nicknamed mariage pour tous, making France the 14th state worldwide to have done so, despite massive demonstrations against it. One of the slogans of those smaller demonstrations in support of the law was Nos amours sont plus forts que votre heine. For once, this was true.




What with one thing and another, I haven’t been posting much lately. Not being the New Year resolution type, I won’t even predict how much I’m going to post in the coming year. But in case anybody still does have this address RSS-ed, let me wish you a successful year 2013 – whatever goes for “successful” to you. Let’s hope the weather will be better than what it was in 2012; that we’ll see less attacks on freedom of speech, whether coming from the US, from the UK or anywhere else; that Catholics and others won’t suceed in their attacks against religious freedom for Quakers and others; indeed, that all kinds of Big Brothers will be reined in when attempting to trespass on human liberties.

Och, I’m not so naïve as not to realize that there will be, to quote an old Joan Baez song, “little victories and big defeats”. Yet that shouldn’t stop us from hoping and, when possible, trying for the best.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!


Kavanagh’s gd map of Alba

I have to admit that I’m a wee bit disappointed with some of the translations he apparently invented. There are indications that Ruchill comes from rough hill, while Kavanagh came up with An Ruadh Choille; I’m used from gd-wiki to Kelvin being Ceilbhinn, something Akerbeltz didn’t disagree with, while Kavanagh calls it Caol-Abhainn; Firhill isn’t there at all, which is understandable – but I would like it there. He also fails to place Cambuslang railway station between Rutherglen and Newton, having it on the “southern” line instead.

But all in all I don’t regret the buying. It’s good to know that when I want to look a gd placename on a map I can, it’s good to see Shetland where it is – and I hope that over time it’ll help me get some of the names stuck in my memory.


Mike Perham: Sailing the Dream (2)

Reading it the first time I was mostly interested in the story (all those happenings I had missed when following, sometimes not too carefully, his blog while he was still sailing), pleasantly surprised by the fact we in fact did have one thing in common (the “no immense problem but always some new minor bother” principle), fascinated by the motto (I still see Mike as one of the key people giving me a helpful prod to try and live my dream), towards the end somewhat disgusted by so much “positive thinking” – and I didn’t have the time and patience for attempting to make out what all those technical expressions meant.

This time round, having some idea about what I could expect, I was neither so amazed nor so vexed. I just enjoyed it as I would a letter from a friend, with all the inevitable imperfections. For my part, I persevered in diligently checking the nautical jargon, so except for a very few sentences or paragraphs I was able to make out what he was talking about even when describing some sailing procedure. I hope I’ll manage to put the glossary I was handwriting into an alphabetical text file and print it for… for when I read it for the third time. And yes, I should learn the most basic words by heart.


ETA 18/11/12: Forgot to proceed quotations last night. The news ones which made it:

It was raining, dark, cold and pretty miserable but I didn’t give a damn; it was my home and I loved it.

And of course the one I have written (following Vonnegut’s “fart-around” and Åkesson’s “Jomsvikings” ones) on the A4 sheet on the noticeboard above my desk even before finishing the book:

‘Yes, this is tough,’ I thought, ‘but I am tougher.’


Walter Scott: Quentin Durward

Apart from this very book read in a translation edited for children and/or youngsters, a translation of Ivanhoe which I began but soon put aside for good, and a translation of The Bride of Lammermoor I hardly remember anything about except reading it in a train, I had so far read by him Waverley, which I had to begin three times or more to finish it for the first time, and Rob Roy, which was so long-winded I was sometimes losing track of what’s going on at all. So it’s a bit of a surprise that I enjoyed this one – and enjoyed it for the “novel” rather than the “historical” aspect of it. The biggest surprise was that Scott occasionally tried to be humorous – and succeeded. It’s not good enough for reading again some day, but I did enjoy reading it once. And as a consequence I began reading Ivanhoe for the second time, this time in the original.


Translating personal names

Another example why “translating” people’s names should be avoided (unless there’s a very good reason for it, like themselves using two variants according to the context) has appeared in a recent BBC article. Talking about Jamie McGrigor, the title of the article translates the surname to an Griogarach and the body of the text as MacGriogair. Of course, both ways are usual in Gaelic, but using them for the same person in the same article looks like talking about a Seumas MacGilleAnndrais under the title Anderson’s request then stating “the question was raised by Seumas MacAndrew”.


Manach Albannach

Walking across the Uddingston railway bridge this morning in charming dark and fog reminding me of Robert Macaulay Stevenson it suddenly struck me that the way I’m blogging is a waste of time. All the interminable recycling of old posts into new summaries nobody probably reads anyway is just an immense waste of time.
And so are the frustrating (because never satisfactory) attempts at recording my current life with as much detail as I might later find useful yet at the same time without giving away too much to an accidental reader.
So I decided, on the spur of the moment, to start afresh (ay, yet again) and create a new blog. A private one, basically a journal, but with neither those perfunctory entries and details of entirely ordinary days nor the need to think about how much I can reveal.
I had the whole shift [7-3, scampi] to think about it and the decision holds. Starting on Friday, the first anniversary of my arrival in Glasgow, I’ll begin my journal here. (Up till then I’ll continue Leabhar manaich). I’ll keep In search of a thistle in case I wanted to post something publicly again, but don’t expect to do that too often, at least in the foreseeable future.
As regards the “auldies but goldies” I’m simply loathe to lose, the idea is to create yet another blog and repost them chronologically – but that blog will be private as well and the posts will go there from RTFs &c with only minimal editing of format and none of the texts. I certainly expect to be done with it in less than a year, hopefully much less than that.
Once set upon this train of thought I also resolved to drastically prune other laptop-related areas like emails, hard disk files &c.
In the end, the general idea has grown into this: my first year in Scotland was about getting settled here, in the most basic terms. The second year would be about significantly weakening my ties to the virtual world.
This should do. Any more detailed plans would probably turn out differently anyway.


A’ choire

O chionn ghoirid, bha e a’ fàs na bu dhorra a’ choire dhealain san fhlat a chur air agus sa mhadainn seo, cha b’ urrainn dhomh an t-suidse a chur air idir. Ge-tà, chaidh mi dhan oifis cho tràth ‘s a thill mi as dèidh obair agus air an fheasgar bha coire ùr sa chidsin mu thràth. ‘S e tè airson dìreach aon liotair, seach 1.7L mar a bha againn roimhe, ach tha mi gu math riaraichte leamsa, oir bliadhna no dhà air ais, dh’fhanainn gus an dèanadh cuideigin eile rudeigin mu dheidhinn sin – theagamh a-chaoidh.


Dunkeld & Hermitage

I no longer remember what brought my attention to the existence of a place near Dunkeld called Hermitage, but as I intended to revisit the Cathedral in autumn anyway, it looked as a good idea to see them both – and it was.

As usual, I was postponing writing about the trip for so long (I went on Wed 19 Sep, more than a month ago) that the initial intention of mentioning every minor feature of the day ebbed away. Which is possibly just as well, because otherwise these blogs would probably usually take a week to write and an hour to read. Still, there are things I can’t let go unrecorded, if only for the fear of forgetting them if I do.

The first tree putting on autumn colours I noticed this year at Dunkeld Station. Down the staircase at the Dunkeld Bridge toll house to the tourist path. Touching the Tay, probably for the first time ever. Following the Braan to the A9 and the path among the pines. A fag on a bench near Black Linn Falls watching the clouds. The Falls from the bridge and from Ossian’s Hall of Mirrors. The Hermitage itself (ay, folly is a good word). The path over the field or meadow between the two gates and then the road to Rumbling Bridge. Back to Dunkeld Bridge and further up to Birnam Oak (& sycamore). Finally across the bridge to Atholl Park and the Cathedral.

A’ Chathair-eaglais thairis air an Tatha.

Where I sat for a while in the same last pew as I had two years ago, deciding I would immigrate, and one year ago, reporting I have and making an appointment with myself which I was fulfilling just now. I made another: preferably earlier but surely before becoming eligible for citizenship.

Some more time on a bench on the lawn between the kirk and the river. Back and past Birnam Hotel. Birnam Tower Buildings, fittingly occupied by an architectural firm. As far as St Mary’s Episcopal Church. A moment in Beatrix Potter Garden. Past the station into the woods and up to the bench there (breathing heavier this year) before returning to wait for my train back.

Sealladh-tìre Thaobh Thatha.

I had a splendid day. Tayside is the part of Scotland whose countryside I like the best, the weather was quite favourable, my favourite season was beginning, I was both visiting new places and revisiting old ones, I was meeting only as many people as to be able to soliloquize if I wanted to, there was a bit of a symbolic undertone to the trip… I can hardly imagine anything which could have made me enjoy it even more than I did. (Perhaps a companion, but that would be asking too much.)

And yes, as usual I wasted too much time taking photographs which it later took several hours to prune, title and upload to Flickr – but mostly I was just looking around and savouring it all.


LearnGaelic videos

I was pleased to find out that unlike with the 2-minute BBC Naidheachdan radio summaries, read so quickly that I can usually only follow the transcript with my eyes without having time to get the meaning of it, I could generally follow and understand these news videos even without switching on the English translation.

There’s one thing I rather miss on those pages though: an RSS button. Well, nothing is ever absolutely perfect.


Edinburgh Agreement

At night finally found the time to read what exactly Salmond and Cameron signed on Monday. Didn’t think it would be mentioned there at all, but it is, virtually settled: “9. [….] Both governments agree that all those entitled to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections should be able to vote in the referendum.” with a footnote stating for avoidance of doubt “The Scottish Parliamentary franchise enables British, Irish, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and European Union citizens resident in Scotland to vote.” I’m fucking voting man!


Clove oil

On Monday my right molars ached again; next day they forced me to visit an Uddingston pharmacy to buy some painkilling pills. Surprisingly, I was recommended a vial of “clove oil” instead. It turned out to be clove as in the dried spice rather than a clove of garlic (which latter is seen as a kind of panacea where I come from). Anyway, it worked: next day there was less pain and today virtually none. In addition, maybe this time I at last won’t presently forget when to use clove and when clover.


A’ fuireach gu bràth

Bha ceò ann rè na maidne ach nuair a bha mi a’ tilleadh bhon obair, bha latha bòidheach fogharach, dathach is grianach (le neulan snoga) ann mu thràth. A’ coimhead a-mach air an uinneig trèana smaoinich mi gur ann air làithean mar seo nuair nach urrainn dhomh creidsinn gun caochail mi riamh.

Leugh mi post-d ùr bho Dhànaidh dhachaigh: gu follaiseach, chuir e iongnadh airsan gun do rinn mi in-imrich cho mòr agus cho tlachdmhor ris a chuir e air Köln o chionn mhìosan…


On problems with deciding

I pondered whether to visit the kirk or the park today, reflecting that sometimes the problem isn’t to prevent yourself from taking the easier way while fooling yourself into thinking it was the better one; sometimes it’s the danger that whichever way you take, you’ll then suspect yourself of having done the above-mentioned anyway.

Anyway, Ruchill Park won today and it was a lucky outcome, as shortly after returning I saw out of my window a rainbow over Ruchill – probably the first double rainbow I’ve ever seen outside of other people’s pictures.


Sàr Sgeòil 3

Watched up Sàr Sgeòil 3: The Silver Darlings. Not sure I’d like to read it, not sure I wouldn’t. Perhaps one day I’ll decide to find out whether it’s more about fishermen or about straight relationships, but not in the foreseeable future. The new episode 4 is about The Thirty-Nine Steps: for a third time they’ve picked something I’d read, which is strangely reassuring. Surprising pick though, like its having been published in Penguin Classics, it seemed so mediocre to me… Maybe they’ll tell me what made it so famous.

[Next day: They did – apparently it was a predecessor of all the far-fetched thrillers of the James Bond type.]


Andrew Mitchell

The Andrew Mitchell soap opera drags on, showing two things: How accustomed this age is to the hypocrisy of the so-called political correctness, so that nobody much cares about top politicians telling mere rank-and-file police they’re scum, provided they later apologize, but a real battle can be fought about whether or not a particular deprecated word was used. And how little human mentality changes, for almost a century has already passed since G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Flying Inn about a certain secretary: “The same modern spirit that taught him to loathe such rags, also taught him to lie about his loathing.”

ETA 2/12/14: Still, there is a bit of satisfaction in the news that the judge finally trusted an common working man rather than a professional liar top politician, probably effectually ending the stuck-up git’s career.


Studying Gaelic in Mitchell Library

It took a while and several internal phone calls but in the end the Mitchell Library stuff did manage to find Scottish Gaelic Studies Vol. XVIII for me. Within a couple of hours read Richard Cox’ 28-page article on mìr àireamhail – in Gaelic: naturally didn’t understand all the details but surprisingly got the general gist and found it reasonably interesting. Fairly morale/mood-boosting, even though the information I actually sought (numerical particle evolved either from possessive pronoun(s) or from the article) only appeared in passing as a matter of fact towards the end. Capped it by Kelvingrove Gardens stroll (and visiting By the Findhorn in the museum).


Donald Trump

In March I mentioned that I had never noticed this person complaining about the effect on Scottish countryside the Denny – Beauly pylon line, the Whitelee or any other wind farm, or indeed any other such project might have, yet that suddenly it was hardly possible not to notice his ravings against the wind farm proposed to be built near his golf course.

I said he had every right to try and protect his business interests, but called it a “fuckin cheek” that he thought we didn’t see that was what he was after. I called his words sanctimonious (“I am doing this to save Scotland”[1]), revolting (“You [Alex Salmond] will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history”[2] – I wondered whether this metaphorical spit in the eye of people affected by the Clydebank Blitz, the Piper Alpha disaster and divers such tragedies was what Trump’s speaker, a Mr Sorial, had in mind when he said “we are putting the facts out”[3]), expressed in a manner of an apparatchik’s spoiled son (“I can’t let a thing like this happen”[4]).

Recently he attacked the RSPB. They naturally can’t use such language as I can, but they drily summed the situation up in those two sentences:

“Trump International is a very successful business organisation dedicated to maximising its financial returns.
“The RSPB is a nature conservation organisation dedicated to saving our threatened wildlife and working towards creating a world richer in nature.”