Dumbarton Rock and The Rock

On our visit to the town last March we also had a look in Dumbarton town centre. The Artizan Shopping Centre has seen better days. That day many of its premises did not have tenants. Covid can only have made that worse.

Some of the empty units had been brightened up though by having huge photographs of Dumbarton Rock pasted onto their frontages. These are crops of the photos I took of those huge photos.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

The Rock is a beautiful sight, isn’t it?. And that’s a lovely sky.

This cracking shot of Dumbarton Rock and Dumbarton Football Stadium (aka The Rock) was posted in 2020 in a blog I follow:-

Dumbarton Rock and The Rock

And this view was in a newsletter from Dumbarton FC:-

The Rock and the Rock

A Reading Experience

I know how much effort an author has to make in order to produce a finished story, much more for a novel than a short story, granted, but even the shortest piece of fiction requires a high degree of attention. Anyone who attempts it deserves to be given some leeway.

And yet. And yet.

There are exceptions.

A couple of months ago the good lady was approached by someone via her blog to ask if she would like to receive a certain book for review, a book which happened to be labelled Science Fiction. She replied that she had too many books to read but mentioned that I read SF so the offered was extended to me. I accepted despite some misgivings. The book duly arrived (from the US with a heavy postage on it) and those misgivings multiplied. Its appearance had the stamp of print on demand on it and a look that implied self-publishing. There was a named publisher on the copyright page though, Fulton Books Inc, so I thought it might be okay.


So wrong.

I’m not going to name the book here but I will post the review on the blog at a later date. I won’t put the usual “Pedant’s corner” addendum on the review but include that here (see below) to give a flavour of it. I think it’s the longest such I’ve ever had but it could have been many times the length and still not encompassed all its stumbles.

After one day of reading, I googled the “publisher.” It “is the most affordable solution for publishing your manuscript.” Yes. It’s a vanity publisher, a self-publishing racket, if you will.

Nevertheless I kept on with it. I felt under an obligation as I had agreed to review it and the author had taken the trouble to send it to me.

Most novels have at least some typos, some clumsiness of expression – that’s to be expected – but this book had infelicities on every page, sometimes many – whether grammatical, syntactical, in spelling (even allowing for USianisms,) or in its punctuation; words were used in ways askew from their accepted meanings (separated for divided, relented for refrained from, radiate for radiant,) it contained sentences that made no sense. The whole thing gave the impression of being hammered out on the keyboard and thrown into the world not fully formed. There was no sign of revision or editing, certainly none of proof-reading. None of the things a reputable publisher would at least make some sort of fist of.

Reading it was like reading through a distorting mirror or in a language that wasn’t quite English, certainly not English as we know it. (To be generous to the author this may have been an attempt on his part to render future changes in the language via his prose but other parts of the novel were resolutely quotidian and so challenge that interpretation; challenge it severely; challenge it to destruction. There is no comparison here to the likes of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.)

At times it felt as if a sort of meaning might be glimpsed through the forest of words, a ray of understanding of a possible new method of expression, an almost making of sense. But humans are hard-wired to discern patterns from chaos, to see images in cloud formations or in the dappling of light through trees: that tantalising flicker never did quite coalesce. There was no substance to it.

It was as if the text had been written by a machine or possibly run several times between different languages through a ropy translation engine. Disorienting. And did I say the characters were one-dimensional?

Lesson learned.

Accept review copies only through recognised outlets.

As to the review, I’ll be as gentle as I can with it when I do post it.

Pedant’s corner:- in the epigraph; Leonard da Vinci (x 2, the usual ‘Leonardo’ was used in the book’s text,) deign (design.) Most of the following occurred in the first few chapters. Thereafter I only noted down particularly glaring incidences:
skullduggery (skulduggery,) “the skyline of Chicago that ebbed from the distance” (either, ‘ebbed into the distance, or, ‘swelled from the distance’) “the water smoothed to a placid.” (To a placid what?) “the world had change in the last decade” (changed. This is only one of many inappropriate verb tenses employed in the book. There were also many failures of agreement of subject and verb, along with innumerable stray quotation mark, with ‘where’ and ‘were’ being frequently mixed up,) “that thrived on carbon dioxides” (carbon dioxide; carbon does have two oxides, but only one of them is a dioxide,) “Terra farming” (several instances, terraforming is the usual term,) “spectrums of color not comparable to anything he’d seen on Earth” (1, spectra; 2, human colour perception does not depend on the viewer’s location, on Earth or anywhere else,) “maneuvered into a parking space between a police patrol vehicle;” (it parked inside another vehicle?) “a pail face” (pale face, pail was used again later for pale,) “a man lay dead on his back in the position he had fallen” (where he had fallen,) “identification card” (many instances; ‘identity card’.) “Next to that image appeared a coded script of information she had been trained to read was projected from the computerized crime kit on the floor.” (That is a sentence which, like many others here, needs revising.) “‘……the GSR.’ ‘The Galactic Smugglers Ring,’ Thad defined the acronym.” (Another acronym was also elaborated in the next sentence by a character whom we were then told was defining that acronym.) “Dexter pushed over a pillow then stopped when he saw a sparkling grey rock underneath a pillow” (the same pillow or a different one?) “when its it processed” (when it’s processed,) “‘but that was in zero gravity, the laws are different here on Earth.’” (It wasn’t in zero gravity; the previous speaker had referred to jumping off lunar rock faces, moons exert gravitational attraction: also the law of gravity is exactly the same everywhere in the universe – “the laws” are not different on Earth,) “to almost to an obsession” (only one ‘to’ required.) Dexter says something to Gail even though five lines above she had been referred to as not yet being present in the room, we’re told when she does step into the room – at the bottom of that same page. “Now that he was within several feet from his target” (either, ‘Now that he was several feet from his target’, or, ‘Now that he was within several feet of his target’,) “with the world’s resources that their disposal the birth a new day, a new world came from the ashes” (at their disposal, birth of a new day,) “sir name” (several times; the usual term is ‘surname’. To be generous to him it may be that Cargile here is trying to suggest a future form of English but when there is a perfectly usable term understood by its intended readership in the present day, that’s not necessary,) “on it’s surface” (its. OK, many writers are prone to this substitution,) “down on his hunches” (a simple typo, the correct ‘haunches’ is used elsewhere,) “the normal gene pole” (gene pool.) “‘That’s not what I met, sir.’” (‘not what I meant’,) “‘A grin crept across his face of amusement’” (I like the concept of a face of amusement, but the suntax here is awry,) “at top her gloved hand” (atop – used later,) “bringing the rifle to bare on target” (to bear,) “soft and none threatening” (non-threatening.) “‘The weather net will … then return current temperature to sixty-eight degrees Celsius’” (if its ‘current’ it’s already at that point and does not need to be returned. And ‘sixty-eight degrees Celsius’? People would likely die of heat stroke within seconds, 68o Fahrenheit would be much more comfortable.) “‘When Homo Sapiens encountered Homo Erectus and ‘Neanderthal’” (Neanderthal, yes, but Homo Sapiens came long after Homo Erectus became extinct, “taken a back” (aback.) “Dexter took those last words like a parent forwarding his disobedience would be his demise.” (??? I can not make sense of that sen tence in any way.) “He glanced to either of his team members” (both members, not ‘either’.) “He suddenly lurched his head to the roof of the bay compartment.” (That is one for Thog’s masterclass.)
On the back page blurb: “artificial human’s labor” (humans’,) “a part of humanities utopian society” (humanity’s.)

Municipal Buildings and Boer War Memorial, Dumbarton

In March last year we were over in Dumbarton again – no doubt for a football match.

However we also took the chance to have a look at the old Municipal Buildings which date from long before local government reorganisation in the 1960s – at a time when the town had a Town Council.

Arch and Municipal Buildings, Dumbarton:-

Memorial Arch and Municipal Buildings, Dumbarton

The plaque attached to the arch describes it as one of the tower arches of St Mary’s Collegiate Church, founded 1450. The arch was moved in 1850 to make way for the railway station and again in 1907 to its present location:-

Plaque on Memorial Arch at Dumbarton Municipal Buildings

Boer War Memorial, Dumbarton, Municipal Buildings behind. The memorial is inscribed, “Erected by the citizens of Dumbarton in memory of those who left the burgh to fight for their country in South Africa and who laid down their lives during the progress of the war 1899-1902.”:-

Boer War Memorial, Dumbarton

The New Life by Orhan Pamuk

faber and faber, 1998 (according to the publication page but post 2006 as the cover and author blurb both mention Pamuk’s Nobel Prize,) 300 p. Translated from the Turkish Yeni Hayat (Ilepşim Yaymarlı, 1994,) by Güneli Gün.

 The New Life cover

One day narrator Osman Akif read a book and his whole life changed. He had glimpsed the book in the hand of Janan, a girl at the same college as him, stumbled on a copy in a second-hand bookstall that afternoon and immediately bought it. His obsession with the book spilled over into one with the girl, whom he befriended along with her boyfriend Mehmet (later also known as Nahit, and later still Osman – there are reasons for these name shifts.) Mehmet was apparently shot during a student demonstration but Osman knew he survived and walked away so set out to find him, taking Janan along with him. This involved many bus journeys through the heart of Turkey, many videos of films watched while travelling, and several bus crashes. (There is something of that fixation of J G Ballard about this aspect of the book.)

A flavour of the text is given by Osman’s thought that “it was not right for Janan even to imagine the land of perdition, heartbreak and bloodshed because in that twilight land illuminated by the book, Death, Love, and Terror wandered like hapless ghosts in the guise of downtrodden, heartbroken men with frozen faces who packed guns.”

Reading The New Life is an odd experience at times. Osman addresses some sentences to ‘Angel’ but it is never entirely clear (at least, not to me) who Angel is meant to be. Turkish life is illuminated in the margins; the family who moved in across from Osman the day he first read the book, once more in a Pamuk novel the salience of football (sadly always named soccer by the translator,) the statues of Atatürk in seemingly every town square, the endless cafés and bus stations, the past of Osman’s Uncle Rıfkı, a railwayman who wrote children’s stories which starred Turkish children as the heroes of US Western tales, the redolence of New Life brand caramels, defunct in the narrator’s present. Uncle Rıfkı also wrote an adult book, which was banned, with only a few copies surviving in the wild. That book was also titled The New Life and is that same book which obsessed Osman.

In their final meeting Mehmet tells Osman, “‘A good book is something that reminds us of the whole world ….. a piece of writing that implies things that don’t exist, a kind of absence, or death …. But it is futile to look outside the book for a realm that is located beyond the words.’” As if to underline the literary nature of this endeavour, the niceties of its twists and turns, the narrator at one point asks, has the reader “extended enough attention and intellect at every turn of this book?” and describes himself in these terms; “In people like me whose lives have slipped off the track, sorrow presents itself in the form of rage that wants to pass itself off as cleverness. And it’s the desire to be clever that finally spoils everything.”

The New Life may be clever, but it’s not clever clever. And it’s not spoiled by any of this philosophising.

Pedant’s corner:- In the “by the same author” list, Instanbul (Istanbul,) on the publication page, “Orhan Pumuk” (Pamuk.) Otherwise; “the lay of the land” (it’s ‘lie of the land’,) “there were an odd number of bottle caps” (there was an odd number,) maws (a maw is a stomach, not a mouth,) “life’s mystery will become manifested to me” (‘manifest’ would be more forceful,) djins (djinns,) “Andre Maurois’ novel” (Maurois’s. This must be the correct formulation since the final ‘s’ in Maurois is unsounded and so, in order to make a possessive, the extra ‘s’ after the apostrophe must be added,) exploitive (exploitative,) “had really waked me up” (woken.)

Jackie Bolton

I see from the club’s website that Sons’ centre half from that otherwise immortal team of the 1972 promotion, Jack Bolton, has died.

The line-up for most of that – and the preceding – season is imprinted on my memory as I heard it annnounced so many times over the Boghead tannoy:-

Williams, Jenkins and Muir;
Ferguson, Bolton and Graham;
Coleman, C Gallacher, McCormack, Wilson and B Gallagher.
Substitute, Donnelly.

Jackie, as we fans knew him, played 111 times for the club overall but unlike many of his centre half successors I can’t remember him ever scoring for us. (In those days centre halves moving upfield was still pretty much a novelty.)

As I recall he was about the last piece of the team-builidng jigsaw that manager Jackie Stewart put in place. Certainly without his influence in defence I doubt promotion would have been achieved that season, notwithstanding that side’s formidable attacking prowess.

John McCaig Bolton: 26/10/1941 – 22/2/2021. So it goes.

Live It Up 76: The Love Cats

A nice piece of 1983 jauntiness from The Cure.

Their first top ten hit.

The Cure: The Love Cats

The Barrel Brig

Abut a year ago we decided to take a walk to try to find the Barrel Brig, an old bridge over the River Ore in Fife. It had been featured in a calendar we had of local scenes but we’d never seen it.

It’s not on the beaten track and we had to walk quite a distance from where we parked in Coaltown of Balgonie. The start of the path has a view over to Balgonie Castle (on the left of this photo):-

Balgonie Castle, Fife, Scotland

It turned out to be a longer walk than we had expected along muddy roads/paths and over a disused railway line before finally seeing the River:-

River  Ore, Fife

It was still a couple of hundred metres or so before we saw the brig itself:-

Barrel Brig Over River Ore, Fife

The path curves round to the brig:-

Curved Path to Barrel Brig, Fife

You can see it’s not a modern thoroughfare:-

Approach to Barrel Brig

Before taking that shot I did scout down to the bank to grab this photo:-

Barrel Brig

We then strolled across the (unparapeted) bridge to get the opposite angle:-

Barrel Brig, River Ore, Fife

On the way back to the car I took this shot over the fields to Largo Law in the distance:-

Looking to Largo Law, Fife

An Away Trip

I remember football.


I remember away games.


The reason for our visit up north via Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven and finally Aberdeen last January was for one such away game; Sons’ 4th Round Scottish Cup tie at Pittodrie on 18/1/20.

Ticket to Aberdeen - Dumbarton Scottish Cup Tie, January 2020

Before the game we met up with my younger son and his wife, who were making a day of it, in a pub in Aberdeen city centre for some lunch. The pub had also attracted other Sons fans:-

Dumbarton F C Fans in Aberdeen Pub

They don’t half make a fuss before a game at Pittodrie.

Razzmattazz prior to Scottish Cup tie, Aberdeen v Dumbarton, 18/1/20:-

Razzmattazz at Pittodrie, 18/1/20

More Razzmattazz, Pittodrie, 18/1/20

Teams coming out:-

Dumbarton F C at Pittodrie, 18/1/20

Sons players:-

Pittodrie, 18/1/20, Dumbarton F C Before Game

Teams line up, Pittodrie, 18/1/20

Apart from the result it was a good day out.

I wonder when I’ll be able to have another away day.

Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

Tachyon, 2019, 278 p.

Ivy and her increasingly more exotically named sisters, Beatriz, Amaranth and Semiramis, motherless for a few years when the book begins, have been brought up to keep the secret of their great-aunt Maeve’s identity. Over fifty years ago, under her real name of Adela Madden, Maeve had written a book called Ivory Apples, describing a fantasy town. The book was a slow-burning success but Maeve soon withdrew from social communication. In the interim her work and fantasy world has gained an enthusiastic following, with websites devoted to the book’s meaning – trawled for clues to Maeve’s real identity and the messages her replies to letters (in fact supplied first by Ivy’s mother but now by her father Philip who also deals with Maeve’s finances,) may contain – annual conventions and the like. The family visits Maeve every month or so in order for Philip to do this work.

On one visit Ivy takes a walk through the nearby woods and finds a lake hitherto unknown to her. Maeve is swimming there naked and the trees which surround it are festooned with sprites. As she is leaving, one of these jumps at Ivy and penetrates into her body, squeezing into her every extremity, filling her with a kind of exhilaration and heightened awareness. The sprite thereafter is a more or less constant presence in her awareness (unless he withdraws into himself) and she names him Piper. She is warned by Maeve not to tell her sisters and to be careful, to choose wisely, that sprites have the attributes of tricksters.

One day in the park the children are befriended by a Ms Burden, who soon inveigles herself into the family’s lives then prevails upon Philip to investigate a noise in her basement but he dies there. His will comes as a shock to the girls as it entrusts them to Ms Burden’s care. Thereafter her previous solicitude becomes callousness, neglect and gaslighting (the embodiment of a wicked stepmother even though Philip hadn’t ever considered marrying her.) It is her persistent questioning of them about Aunt Maeve that reveals her real interest, though. She is on a quest to find the present day whereabouts of two original Greek muses, Talia and Claudio, and believes Maeve knows where they might be found or is in contact with them.

Ivy undergoes various adventures, running away from home followed by a life on the streets in which the presence of Piper is a great asset to her, the discovery of the depths of Ms Burden’s perfidy, her meeting with a female private investigator to whom she is attracted, becoming Maeve’s carer then journeying into the fantasy town, before the denouement. In the meantime she becomes a published poet with the raised awareness which Piper has brought her (sprites can act as muses and so apparently heighten your artistry. Ivy speculates that Shakespeare, Bach, Dante etc had been so inspired – a thought which to my mind does a disservice to their artistic endeavour) and meditates on the leach-like qualities of a writer, “I learned later that every writer did this with people they knew, that we were all vampires, feeding on other people’s experiences,” which is true to an extent but again devalues the importance of imagination.

Goldstein certainly writes well and it is gratifying to read a fantasy which doesn’t have a cod-mediæval setting (with its potentially iffy political stance) and to have the villain of the piece resolutely human.

Pedant’s corner:- “as studied my hands” (as I studied my hands,) “an apparition would appear” (yes, that’s what apparitions do.) “Like my sprite, he played music, and like my sprite, he played music” (was this repetition intentional or was the second half of the sentence supposed to be different?) “‘I don’t think you’re supposed to put warmed up peas and carrots on pizzas’” is said to be about culinary habits in England but I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, imposter (impostor,) a lot (a lot.) “‘Do you know who’s president?’” (President,) a missing full stop, Claudia (elsewhere always Claudio,) “to come back with me” (to come back to me makes more sense,) “in places ad smeeled strongly of smoke” (and smelled strongly.)

Aberdeen’s Art Deco Heritage 7: City Centre

I have already posted soem photos of Deco in berdeen city Cantre but in Jani=uary last year we were up there again and I found some more.

Former Amicable House. I think I showed this here, but this is my own photo. Horizontals, verticals, flagpole, rule of three in windows (which have been poked out unfortunately):-

Former Amicable House, Sberdeen

Capitol building. Stitch of two photos. Some Art Deco styling here:-

Capitol Building, Aberdeen

Detail. Rule of three in windows, deco style cartouches:-

Detail Capitol Building, Aberdeen

High deco light fttings and interior doors, Capitol building, Aberdeen:-

Doors and Light Fittings Capitol Building, Aberdeen

Art Deco Doors and Light Fittings

Art Deco, Aberdeen

Unfortunate relections in this one:-

Art Deco Reflections, Aberdeen

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