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Shore Coal

Many Fife coastlines bear the marks of past coal mining. A ribbon of coal particles can be found on Kirkcaldy and Burntisland beaches, whether washed there from mines or eroded from rocks I don’t know..

At Lower Largo the deposits are larger. Here are some seen through the shore barrier.

And these are lumps.

The industrial landscape of Methil can be seen from Lower Largo beach, wind turbines, oil rigs and all.

Rust Never Sleeps

About a month ago we went for a walk along the beach at Lower Largo in Fife. Old railway sleepers held together by well-rusted iron struts form a barrier to help shore up the … err.. shore.

There is the semblance of a face on the second sleeper from right here.

The texture of the rusted supports was interesting.

In this one the iron has almost reverted back to ore. It looks very like samples of haematite I have seen.

Cryptic Answer

From yesterday’s Guardian cryptic crossword:

Leading Tory: “I have come last in poll, schooling ultimately a fiasco” (7, 4)

Answer:- Michael Gove

For those of you who have difficulty decoding such things the clues have a definition part – here “Leading Tory” – and another part which guides you towards the answer. Here the word fiasco tells you to make an anagram of previous letters, specifically “I have come”, the last letter of the word poll, “l”, and the ultimate letter of schooling, “g”.

What makes the clue particularly delightful is that its last three words describe the gentleman concerned’s tenure as Secretary of State for Education down south.

Cryptic Clue

There was a brilliant cryptic crossword clue in today’s Guardian.

It read:-
Leading Tory: “I have come last in poll, schooling ultimately a fiasco” (7, 4)

I was flummoxed to begin with; it wasn’t until I got the down clue that connected with the first letter of the seven letter word (M) that I got it.

Answer tomorrow.

Jack Glass

I have a problem with the novel I’m reading just now.

It’s nothing to do with the subject matter, nor the writing.

It’s the title, Jack Glass.

For a Scot my age those two words conjure up mostly an image of a rabid Presbyterian preacher with black hair and goatee beard, rejoicing (I use the word advisedly) in the title of Pastor Jack Glass. Even when he came to wide public notice (late 1960s? early 1970s?) that Pastor tag seemed impossibly archaic.

Due to his anti-Catholic stance Glass was regarded as Scotland’s answer to Ian Paisley. He vehemently opposed the then Pope’s visit to Scotland in 1982. Given Paisley’s later taking part in government along with Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland Assembly Glass would perhaps have looked on Paisley as some sort of apostate (if he would ever have allowed such a Latinate word to describe any of his attitudes.) Glass, though, died ten years ago. So it goes.

None of this is likely to have impinged on the author of Jack Glass the novel, as he, Adam Roberts, was born in Croydon. I doubt if even his time studying English at the University of Aberdeen would have been troubled by knowledge or thoughts of the pastor, who, as far as I am aware, was never a household name south of the border. It is, though, a reminder of how cultural specificities can alter perspectives.

Balfarg Henge

One of the strange delights of our new home is that Son of the Rock Acres is within walking distance (a couple of hundred metres or so) of an ancient stone henge. Two stones survive from the original outer circle of Balfarg Henge. The posts show where other stones once stood.

There is a central stone also remaining but that is flat. The modern posts follow the original circle. You can also see the ditch which formed the outer perimeter in the photo below and the fact that the henge is now surrounded by houses.

Book Illustrations

You may have noticed from my side-bar that I’m reading Kemlo and the Satellite Builders by E C Eliott. That was one of the pseudonyms of Reginald Alec Martin.

I’ll post about the book later but one of its main attractions was the illustrations it contained – in all their 1960 finery.

The copy I bought was without its dust jacket but the hard cover itself is illustrated, as is the spine, and there is an internal coloured illustration as a frontispiece.

There were a further six internal black and white pictures, four of which are below. All illustrations are by George Craig.

Nothing dates so quickly as the future. Witness the lever switches, metal grilles over loudspeakers and flashing lights of the original Star Trek.

Sminroff?

From a pub window in Markinch, Fife.

Has someone been overindulging in their wares?

Mind you, I don’t suppose a spell-checker would pick this up.

Satellite 4

So. That was Eastercon.

The Convention hotel (the Crowne Plaza, formerly the Moat House) was hard by the River Clyde. It’s the tall building. The footbridge is called the Bell’s Bridge.

The bridge is in its swung open position here.

I met quite a lot of old acquaintances and made some new ones. Plus I bought two books.

The two panels I was on went well and I didn’t make a fool of myself (I think.) The one on steampunk had an unexpected extra panellist.

Yes, a steam driven dalek!

Well, a dalek made to look steam driven by fellow panellist Peter Harrow, a fount of information on all things steampunk. It was actually radio-controlled. The chocolate rabbit was a nice touch.

Sold

Yesterday, after twenty-six years of occupancy, the good lady and I signed the missives for the sale of Son of the Rock Towers. It was put on the market at the end of June and we accepted an offer in early January.

It’s just as well I photographed the sign when I did as the estate agents (I assume) whipped it away sometime on Friday evening when it was dark.

What this news means, of course, is we’ll have to find another house to live in.

So far the search for a new home has proved almost as frustrating as the process of trying to sell this one was.

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