Dumbarton 3-1 Stranraer

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 24/8/19.

Well. Not counting chickens or anything but the mood around the Rock and with the players must be a lot better after the last two games. We don’t have a great record against Stranraer either so it was a fine result.

New loan signing Reghan Tumilty seems to have made a good impression on the fans. Long may that continue.

And Brechin’s low points record is safe (from us anyway.)

Some odd results today. Maybe this division will be a lot tighter this year than people thought.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

King Penguin, 1987, 141 p. Translated from the Japanese 午後の曳航 (Gogo no Eikō) byJohn Nathan.

 The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea cover

Mishima, seemingly at the height of his literary powers and success, cut short his own life by committing seppuku in 1970, apparently in protest at the erosion of Japan’s values due to Western influence.

In this short novel, the first of his I have read, Fusako Kuroda has been widowed for five years. Unknown to her, her son Noboru has discovered a hole in the wainscotting between their bedrooms through which he can witness her bedtime routines. After a visit with Noboru to a tramp merchant steamer she takes up with the sailor, Ryuji Tzukazaki, who was attentive to Noboru but who it is revealed considers sex as a secret yearning for death. Their relationship is then consummated under the eyes of a not best pleased Noboru. Noboru is also number three in a group of schoolboys who enact nefarious rituals in their secret den. Boys have always tended to the wanton; as Shakespeare well knew.

Here is set the scene for an odd tale of love, alienation, dehumanisation and revenge. Things come to a head when after a final voyage away Ryuji decides to give up sailing and marry Fusako. Noboru presents his list of charges against Ryuji to his gang’s chief.

The tension between Japan’s past and present, which Mishima felt all too keenly, is reflected in the different attitudes of the characters. Fusako, with her job in a luxury goods shop, represents modernity, Ryuji a connection to Japan’s former seafaring glories, the boys a reminder of the insular past.

Pedant’s corner:- louvered swinging doors (louvred,) an unneeded indent of one space at one new line with a larger line spacing than usual below it.

Reelin’ In the Years 163: Home Thoughts from Abroad

Another from Clifford T Ward. In fact the one I referred to in this category’s 147th post.

Here’s Clifford in a live BBC TV performance.

Clifford T Ward: Home Thoughts from Abroad.

Commonwealth War Graves, Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh

With the exception of Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery on Hoy, Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh may possibly contain the most Commonwealth War Graves in one location anywhere in Scotland. 301 servicemen are buried here, from both wars. Its location near a hospital (or two) no doubt contributed to that.

Unusually the memorial stones in the Great War section are laid flat:-

Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh, War Graves

Flat memorial stones. The Stone of Remembrance is to the left here behind the shrubs:-

Flat Memorial Stones, Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh

More flat memorial stones:-

More Flat Memorial Stones, Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh

Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh, More Flat Memorial Stones

Memorial Stones, Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh

All these flat stones commemorate more than one serviceman:-

Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh, Memorial Stones

Stone of Remembrance. It is inscribed, “1914-1918 1939-1945. To the honoured memory of his Majesty’s forces who gave their lives for their country and who lie buried in this cemetery. The following are not commemorated elsewhere. Private R Brines, Middlesex Regiment. 19/1 1920, Private A Brown, Highland Light Infantry, 9/1/1920, Private Jackson Robb, Royal Scots, 30/8/1921.”

Stone of Remembrance, Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh

Information board:-

Commonweath War Graves Commission Information Board

The Rock from the Rock

Or Dumbarton Football Stadium from above.

The good lady took these while I was at the Play-off game vs Alloa Athletic, May, 2018.

The pitch:-

Pitch Dumbarton Football Stadium

Teams line up:-

Teams  Line Up, Dumbarton Football Stadium

Part of Dumbarton Rock to right, Kilpatrick Hills (aka the Long Crags) in background:-

Dumbarton Football Stadium from Dumbarton Rock,

Closer view:-

Dumbarton Football Stadium from Dumbarton Rock

More extended view:-

Dumbarton Football Stadium from Above

2019 Hugo Awards

These were announced at the Worldcon in Dublin at the weekend.

As far as fiction goes they were:-

BEST NOVEL: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

BEST NOVELLA: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

BEST NOVELETTE: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)

BEST SHORT STORY: A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

BEST SERIES: Wayfarers by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton/Harper Voyager)

I have read none of these.

That “Best Series” award shows that the Hugos are little more than a popularity contest and not an indicator of merit. I read the first of Becky Chambers’s novels and was put off her writing for life.

The Bullet Trick by Louise Welsh

Canongate, 2006, 375 p.

 The Bullet Trick cover

The novel is set variously in Glasgow, London and Berlin and intercuts between the three at intervals. It starts with William Wilson, mentalist and illusionist, having fled back to Glasgow to hide after a sojourn as a conjuror in the Berlin night club Schall und Rauch has gone wrong. He had only taken that job after a one-off gig at a London venue – a benefit for a retired policeman, Jim Montgomery, nicknamed ‘the Wizard,’ – was followed by the violent deaths of the club’s proprietor Bill and his boyfriend Sam, whose knowledge of Wilson had got him the gig. Bill had prevailed on Wilson to use his palming skills to remove a package he said belonged to him from the detective’s jacket pocket. Montgomery wants it back – even tracking him down to Berlin. Wilson’s need to return to Glasgow depends on his awareness of this and of the possible dangers of the conjuror’s bullet trick of the title. Only once back in Glasgow does Wilson open the package to see what it contains.

This is where the whole enterprise falls into what I might call the standard thriller plot. A single untrained individual besting the world and solving a decades old mystery don’t ever strike me as very likely. Welsh’s gifts as a novelist are many, a feel for character and an eye for description among them. She does this sort of plot well enough but somehow or other the reader (well, me) always suspects that Wilson’s situation isn’t going to turn out to be as black as he paints it.

There is a reminder of the buttoned-up attitudes inculcated into Scots by centuries of Calvinism when Wilson says of an old friend that he, “pulled me into a hug that was traitor to his west coast of Scotland origins.”

The cover of the edition I read is emblazoned with a quote from Kate Atkinson, “Her most thrilling yet.” I was not quite so enthralled, maybe because of the conjuring business. If a faker is telling you something then you must expect fakery. Of the four Welsh novels I have read so far the best has been Tamburlaine Must Die, perhaps due to its historical setting.

Pedant’s corner:- conjurer (I prefer the spelling conjuror,) Saturday Night at the London Palladium (that Palladium TV show was on Sunday nights,) “her bosoms” (a person traditionally only has one of those,) “there were nothing but shadows” (there was nothing,) junky (junkie,) “licensed grocers” (grocer’s.) “The crowd were clapping” (the crowd was clapping,) “the audience were getting used to” (the audience was getting used to.) “He’s doing his standard grades now” (it is – was – a proper noun, Standard Grades,) “over an over” (over and over,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech (x 2,) a missing end quotation mark. “‘You could of found me’” (You could have found me. This was in dialogue but the speaker was German and I suspect would not be so ungrammatical when speaking English.)

A Bubble in Space, Shooting

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 13/8/19.

This shows the trail of a pulsar (PSR J0002+6216) – travelling at a speed greater than 1,000 kilometres a second – after it had been shot out from a supernova. The bubble it appears to come from is the expanding remnant of the supernova.

The picture is a combination of radio and infra-red data.

Pulsar J0002

Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe

Tor, 2017, 439 p, including 12 p Glossary. Illustrated by David Grove.

 Pirate Freedom cover

This is a book that probably contains all you ever wanted to know about pirates and then more. Not quite a swashbuckling romp – it is too reflective for that, not shying from depicting the downsides of pirate life – it is always highly readable.

It is also a time travel story. Narrator Chris (Crisofóro) was handed over by his father to be brought up in Our Lady of Bethlehem monastery in a post-Communist Cuba. When he left there he somehow or other found himself back in the heyday of the Spanish Empire, got caught up in the piracy trade, eventually becoming adept at it and in charge of several ships. Interpolations into the narrative of his pirate times relate Chris’s thoughts in later life when he is back in the future but not as far as the time he left it. In these interludes he is an ordained priest, given to musing on his past sins, and on God’s forgiveness.

One of his reflections is that, “money is just another way of saying freedom. If you have money you can do pretty much whatever you want to do. (If you do not believe me. Look at the people who have it.) …That is not exactly how it is for pirates … but it is close. And that is why they do it,” another on the ethics of obedience, “A boy who has been taught to be a sheep will not protect himself or anybody else. If he is molested and does not fight, the people who taught him to be a sheep are at least as much to blame as the molester.” In this he, and Wolfe as author, come dangerously close to condoning abuse.

Then we have, “I remembered that America had fought Spain once and freed Cuba.” Freed Cuba, eh? Swapping one empire for another is hardly freedom. That’ll be why they had a revolution sixty years later.

There are some bons mots. Of a man with whom he had dealings Chris says, “D’Ogeron was an honest politician – when you bought him, he stayed bought.” Another pirate captain says, “‘Not all beautiful things are treasures, but all treasures are beautiful.’”

Pirate Freedom is not one of Wolfe’s major works but it passes the time entertainingly enough and may correct some misconceptions about the pirate life.

Pedant’s corner:- a missing comma before a piece of direct speech (several instances,) formast (foremast.)

Peterhead 2-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Balmoor Stadium, 17/8/19.

I saw this* but I’m still not quite sure I believe it.

After a 6-0 hounding last Saturday and our failure to beat a boys’ team on Tuesday night I doubt there was a single Sons fan who travelled to this match in any hope at all, far less expectation.

And it started out that way *(though I missed the first twenty minutes or so due to being held up on the way.) Peterhead were one up before I got into the ground. Our general play at this point seemed to be littered with misplaced passes and lack of control.

Their second came after they were awarded a free-kick for their forward falling over. Connor Brennan saved the effort well but only at the expense of a corner which they converted to a headed goal.

Cue much discussion among the Sons fans round me about whether this was the worst Dumbarton team they’d ever seen and if we’d even manage to secure any points at all in the league.

Then almost out of the blue we scored. PJ Crossan waltzed down the left and his cross found Ruaridh Langan directly in front of goal and he banged it in. There was strange lack of celebration by those on the pitch though. None of the usual gathering round the scorer.

It did though begin to engender confidence in the team. Half time may have helped here as we came out and started to take the game more towards the home side. We hadn’t really forced their keeper into any saves though but then Crossan took the ball up on the edge of their area and instead of skipping outside as he’d done so often before – there were three defenders lined up waiting for that – he shimmied inside to get a yard of space and belted it past the keeper. Celebrations this time; on the terracing, east stand, and pitch.

Isaac Layne had been lumbering about to little effect and generally being muscled out of things but had livened up by this time starting to win balls played up to him. Apart from a flurry after the equaliser we were dominating possession by now and won a free kick on the main stand side. Layne got in front of his defender to head it in. Delirium among the fans – we were just about pinching ourselves – and plenty of celebration on the pitch.

In trying to get back into the game Peterhead resorted to long balls most of which were pretty aimless. We held out reasonably comfortably. Manager Jim Duffy made late substitutions (to waste time I suppose) and among them was Ryan Tierney who impressed me again with his hold up play. He was unlucky with a late Crossan pull back which he hit first time and the keeper made a good save.

So a win, three points, a journey home much happier than had seemed likely earlier and a season now looking much less daunting than it had. Fans and players indulged in much mutual applause after the final whistle blew.

This might have been a one-off, football is a strange game, but the players at least should take heart from it.

At least we now only need a draw from somewhere in order to equal Brechin’s low points record. One more win would surpass it.

It’s the hope that kills.

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