Inverurie War Memorial

Set in a garden in the town centre Inverurie’s War Memorial is a figure of a Highland soldier on a square granite base above a tapering plinth.

Inverurie War Memorial

Dedications. “In proud and grateful memory of the men of Inverurie and District who gave their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1919,” with below, “At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.” Bottom dedication, “And of those who died in the service of their country in the Second World War 1939 – 1945.”

War Memorial and Dedication, Inverurie

From east. Great War names above, World War 2 below:-

War Memorial, Inverurie, From East

From north. Great War names above, World War 2 below:-

Inverurie War Memorial from North

From west. From east. Great War names above, World War 2 below:-

War Memorial from West, Inverurie

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 60: Inverurie

Inverurie is a town in Aberdeenshire.

The closest thing to Art Deco I saw there (and definitely 1930s in style) was the Gordon Highlander pub:-

From side:-

Gordon Highlanders, Art  Deco Style Pub, Inverurie

Now a Wetherspoons:-

Art Deco Style, Inverurie

Face view. Vertical and horizontal brick banding and rule of three in windows to side blocks:-

Inverurie, Art  Deco Style

Inverurie, Art  Deco Style Pub

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Guild Publishing, 1979, 286 p. First published in 1813.

Pride and Prejudice cover

Again, as with Sense and Sensibility, it is difficult to assess this novel without being influenced by prior knowledge, the number of TV and film adaptations which make the plot familiar.

The novel’s register requires easing into, its famous opening line “It is a truth universally acknweledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” designed to draw the reader in, but undoubtedly more pithy than many of the following sentences. But you don’t approach a two hundred year-old novel expecting brevity.

Austen has a reputation for dialogue and indeed her touch is sharp here but it is striking how often speech is reported (some of Mr Colllins’s meanderings for example) rather than being direct. There are wonderful characterisations – the skewering of hypocritical, sycophantic clergy in Mr Collins, Lydia’s air-headedness, the lack of awareness and tact of Mrs Bennet, Mr Bennet’s resignation to, but irritation with, “silly” female company, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s sense of entitlement. Yet Mr Bingley is almost a cipher, his sisters hardly more than plot devices, and Jane Bennet’s reserved nature scarcely makes her leap off the page. But that is the fate of relatively minor characters in any book.

The heart of the book is of course pride and prejudice, the “First Impressions” that was Austen’s working title for the book; Lizzie Bennet’s on Darcy’s first disparaging her, his seeming aloofness and regard for his station in life, her initial credulity of Mr Wickham due to his appearance and ease of manner. Warnings still.

Lizzie’s statement, whether a joke or not, that her affection for Darcy arose, “‘from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley,’” coloured by Darcy’s letter of angry rebuttal of her accusations against him regarding his treatment of Wickham, is grounded in her reflections as she toured the estate with her aunt and uncle. A single young man in possession of a good fortune indeed has certain advantages.

There is only one direct mention of the Napoleonic Wars – raging at the time Austen was writing – and it is on the penultimate page, “even when the restoration of peace dismissed them,” but then her concern was not with world affairs but rather with human nature and interactions (which are timelessly recognisable) and with the habits and mores of the time.

Pedant’s corner:- many archaic or Austenian spellings [develope, exstacy, ancle, synonimously, skreens, stopt, stile (style,) recal, staid (stayed,) mantlepiece (mantelpiece,) unfrequently, sprung (sprang,) dependant, “all had ate” (eaten,) chaperon (chaperone,) uncontrouled, Kenelworth (Kenilworth,) East Bourne (Eastbourne,) laught, intreaty, expences, the same flip-flopping between ‘chuse’ and ‘choose’ as was evident in Sense and Sensibility.]
Otherwise; “the Miss Lucases”, “the Miss Bennets”, “the Miss Webbs” (the names here are in effect adjectives. The noun is Miss, whose plural is Misses, hence we ought to have ‘the Misses Lucas’, ‘the Misses Bennet’, ‘the Misses Webb’. After all, the plural of ‘Bennet sister’ is not ‘Bennets sister’,)
A closing quotation mark without an opening one anywhere in the paragraph preceding it, “the whole party were still standing” (the whole party was ..,) Mrs Philips’ (Philips’s, two lines earlier there was Philips’s,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, “the whole party have left” (has left,) Grosvenor street (Street,) “the whole family were indebted” (the whole .. was indebted,) “to stay supper” (to stay to supper.)

Changing Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is a huge star as can be seen from this graphic from Astronomy Picture of the Day for 1/2/20.

Betelgeuse: relative size

It is so huge it can be imaged from Earth-based telescopes.

Between January and December last year the appearance of the star changed and it also became dimmer. Whether this is a prelude to its imminently going supernova (as it will one day) is a matter for discussion.

Betelgeuse

Photos from Astronomy Picture of the Day for 17/2/20

Drumoak War Memorial

Drumoak is a village lying on the A 93 between Peterculter and Banchory, Aberdeenshire. Its War Memorial consists of a bench, pillars and cross. Left hand pillar here inscribed, “1939 – 1945” plus names.

Drumoak War Memorial

Fronts of pillars inscribed “1914” and “1919” with names for Great War below. The wording on the pillars from side of left-hand pillar round to side of right-hand pillar is, “Their name liveth for evermore. The(y) died for us, Through Sacrifice to Peace, Their lives they gave.” When I photographed it the “y” of “They died for us” was missing:-

War Memorial, Drumoak

Pillars and Cross. Right hand pillar inscribed “1939 – 1945” plus names:-

Drumoak War Memorial, Pillars and Cross

Reverse of pillars:-

Pillars, War Memorial, Drumoak

Cross. Inscribed “Peace”

Cross, Drumoak War Memorial

Dumbarton P-P Forfar Athletic

I wasn’t surprised at the postponement given the weather, even if the park had looked OK a couple of days ago.

Had it been on it might have been the best opportunity to put a win on the board for the first time this year but at least the teams below us didn’t gain anything on us.

If the pitch is truly soaked Tuesday’s rearranged game against Clyde might be off too.

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Orbit, 2018, 393 p.

 Rosewater cover

Rosewater was a nominee for the BSFA Award last year and won the Clarke Award. Its successor The Rosewater Insurrection is on this year’s BSFA Award short list. As I hope to get round to reading that before voting I thought I’d better look at this first.

Rosewater is a doughnut-shaped city that surrounds the biodome, an alien outcropping in Nigeria. The biodome opens once every year for twenty or thirty minutes and everyone in the vicinity is cured of all physical ailments. Even dead people can be reanimated, but the results tend to be soulless and mindless, and have to be killed again.

Narrator Kaaro is a sensitive, able to discern the thoughts of others by accessing the xenosphere, strands of alien fungi-like filaments and neurotransmitters, which link with the natural fungi on human skin and penetrate the nervous system. His abilities have made him useful to S45, a branch of the Nigerian security services. He is also a finder, and a thief. Later his abilities are referred to as those of a quantum extrapolator. He is also a misogynist and sexist, notwithstanding his entering a relationship with a woman called Aminat. Not that strong women are missing in the book, his initial S45 boss, Femi Alaagomeji, and Aminat being cases in point.

The novel is structured into scenes taking place in Kaaro’s Now of 2066, the Then of when the biodome first appeared and its subsequent evolution, and interludes describing his previous missions for S45. This tends to render the reading experience as bitty. Just when getting into the swing of things in one timeline we are jarred out of it, often with a cliffhanger. Coming across in the background we find that the thing humans call Wormwood was an amœbic blob of alien organic matter that fell to Earth in 2012 in Hyde Park, London. Unlike previous such incursions, Wormwood survived and (apparently) tunnelled its way to Nigeria.

Not that it has any real connection to any part of Kaaro’s story, but we are informed that in this world, as a response to the alien incursions, the US has withdrawn into itself, letting nothing in or out, not even information.

At the start of the book Kaaro has a job protecting a bank’s customers from the attentions of other sensitives out to steal their information. This is one of the hares Thompson sets running but never quite catches. There is the biodome itself, the appearance of a character known as Bicycle Girl or Oyin Da, and, in an apparent signal to a thriller subplot that never arrives, sensitives are dying. In the wider xenosphere, where reality is very distorted, Kaaro uses a gryphon as an avatar. Aminat’s brother, Layi, is kept chained in her flat to prevent him burning things using his own xenospheric power.

As can perhaps be gleaned from the previous paragraph there is too much going on in the novel which, as a result, fails to achieve focus. Thompson can undoubtedly write but hasn’t yet found the virtue of economy. Quite why Rosewater has been accorded the accolades it has is therefore a bit obscure.

Pedant’s corner:- “crimes perpetuated in the xenosphere” (crimes perpetrated,) “Ascomytes xenophericus” (elsewhere Ascomytes xenosphericus,) smoothes (smooths,) “amuses me to no end” (‘to no end’ means ‘without purpose’, ‘amuses me no end’ [‘no end’ = infinitely] was meant,) aircrafts “OK it was in dialogue but the plural of aircraft is aircraft.) “None of the people around me are harmed” (None …is harmed.) “None of them want to live in the refugee camps” (None of them wants to live….)

East Aquhorthies Stone Circle

East Aquhorthies Stone Circle is near(ish) Inverurie.

From approach path:-

Aquhorthies Stone Circle

Circle:-

Aquhorthies Stone Circle

Large stones:-

Aquhorthies Stone Circle Larger Stones

Larger Stones Aquhorthies Stone Circle

Live It Up 64: She Sells Sanctuary

This is the sort of guitar-based music you don’t tend to hear these days.

The Cult: She Sells Sanctuary

Interior Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire

Dining room:-

Dining Room, Drum Castle

Ceiling of Library (formerly the servant’s Hall)

Drum Castle Library Ceiling (Formerly Servant's Hall)

Window recess, Library. Note thickness of the wall, for defensive purposes:-

Drum Castle Library, Window Recess

The muniments room was where the owner did his accounts and doled out money. The chair is said to be very old:-

Drum Castle, Chair in Muniments Room

Door to sitting room:-

Sitting Room, Drum Castle

Sitting room:-

Sitting Room, Drum Castle

Sitting room fireplace:-

Sitting Room Fireplace, Drum Castle

Sitting room ceiling:-

Drum Castle Sitting Room Ceiling

van Dyk portrait of King Charles I in Drum Castle. Sadly photo did not turn out well:-

van Dyk Portrait, Drum Castle

Bedroom:-

Bedroom, Drum Castle

War Death Commemoration, Chapel, Drum Castle. Lieutenant Robert Hugh Irvine, the Gordon Highlanders, aged 22 years, killed at Singapore, 13/2/1942:-

War Commemoration, Chapel, Drum Castle

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