War Memorial, Falkland Parish Church

Falkland is a village in Fife, Scotland, about three miles away from Son of the Rock Cottage. I featured its main War Memorial here. This one – due to the smaller number of names – must be only for members (or attendees) of the Parish Church.

Central Panel:- “To the glory of God and in memory of those who gave their lives for their country in the Great War, 1914-18.”

Side panels:- “1939-1945”

War Memorial Falkland Parish Church

Falkland Then and Now

Falkland is a village a few miles away from where we now live. (Its name is connected in a roundabout way to a certain set of islands in the South Atlantic but it’s more famous for its Palace, the country residence of the Stuart monarchs.)

We go there quite often – usually to visit the Library but also to have a stroll as there’s an estate and burn you can walk beside. The Palace gardens are wortha look as well, especially if you area National trust for Scotland member.

In February we found its main street festooned with no parking cones and notices of restriction for four days.

Falkland  in Fife

Falkland in Fife

It turned out they were going to be filming scenes for the new series of Outlander and they’d mocked it up supposedly as if it were the 1950s.

The Community Hall had been daubed with a “Free Scotland” grafitti and a saltire which strikes me as being unlikely for the 50s but there you go:-

Falkland  in Fife

This is how it looks restored to more normal circumstances, in April this year:-

Community Hall, Falkland, Fife

This shop was made to look like a furniture and hardware store:-

Falkland  in Fife

And its “real” incarnation is a gift shop/café, Fayre Earth:-

Fayre Earth

This “fruit shop” took me back:-

Falkland  in Fife

In the 2010s it’s another eatery, Campbell’s:-

Café/Eatery Falkland, Fife

I’m not quite sure what this was supposed to be. A B&B I think. Unfortunately people were hanging around:-

Falkland in Fife

It’s actually The Covenanter’s Hotel:-

Covenanter's Hotel, Falkland

Falkland War Memorial

Falkland is a village quite close to where I now live and at present houses one of those Fife libraries which are to be shut down.

The village’s dominating landmark is Falkland Palace the hunting lodge of Scotland’s Stuart Kings (and Queens.)

The village does have a relation to the perhaps more famous location in the South Atlantic as the Falkland Islands were named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland. The Viscounts Falkland took their title from Falkland Palace.

Falkland’s War Memorial is relatively new, being erected only in the last year or so. The names are listed under First World War, Second World War, Other Conflicts. The word dziękuję, which I believe is Polish for “thank you”, is inscribed at the bottom, though there aren’t any Polish names on the memorial, as far as I can make out.

Falkland War Memorial

Reverse view. Arms of Falkland in the cartouche:-

Falkland War Memorial Reverse

The old memorial was a plaque which has been housed in various locations in the village.

The below is from the Scottish Military Research Group’s website where the plaque was said to be within the building occupied by “Smart Cookies” – a children’s play-group. I believe the plaque has now been moved to the Village Hall.

Edited to add:- The photo of the plaque I originally linked to is now inaccessible.

Falklands Invasion Shock

I’ve been hearing all day on the news about Margaret Thatcher’s “shock” on being told of the intelligence about the imminent Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Why is this being presented/spun as being to her credit? She is said not to have believed that the Argentines would invade. Yet this is despite the fact that she must have had advisers who had warned her of the possibility.

It was only some months after the war, during the Franks inquiry, that she said the things being quoted. She certainly professes shock. But then she had to. She also told the inquiry that immediately after the invasion no-one knew whether Britain could retake the islands. “We did not know – we did not know,” she said.

May I provide a translation? “I’m afraid for my job here. If I don’t wriggle out of this I’ll have to resign.”

Never forget that it was her Government’s decision, for reasons of economy, to withdraw prematurely the Antarctic Survey ship HMS Endurance that sent the signal to the Argentines that Britain was no longer interested in its southern domains and gave them cause to believe the Falklands were theirs for the taking (and keeping.)

Many people at the time (some, like the good lady, still to this day) saw this as Thatcher engineering the conflict. If she is innocent of this charge and that act was simple incompetence then she was – and is – still culpable. I well remember David Owen, Foreign Secretary in the previous Labour Government, saying in a television interview that they had at one time despatched a nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic to warn the Argentines off – a fact which must have been in the minds of Civil Servants in Thatcher’s time.

I also remember Mrs Thatcher quoting the Franks Report in her contribution to the Parliamentary debate following its publication that, “No-one could have foreseen that the Argentines would attack at that time and on that day.”

As I said at the time to whoever would listen: I cannot foresee the exact time and day that it will rain again; but I do know that it will.

Blackpool War Memorial

Blackpool War Memorial is a very tall obelisk situated near the sea fairly close to Blackpool Tower.

Blackpool War Memorial + Tower:-

Blackpool War Memorial + Tower

Blackpool War Memorial. The names of the dead are displayed on the tops of two stone catafalques, one on either side of the memorial:-

Blackpool War Memorial

Blackpool War Memorial west face. Figures and dedication, “In memory of our glorious dead 1914-1918 1939-1945”:-

Blackpool War Memorial Figures and Dedication

South face. Frieze of figures and dedication, “Their name liveth forevermore”:-

Blackpool War Memorial South Face

East face. “In memory of our glorious dead 1914 – 1918 1939 – 1945” with below “Falkland Conflict 1982” and the name Foulkes F, M. N. (Merchant Navy):-

Blackpool War Memorial East Face

South face. Frieze of figures and inscription, “Lest we forget”:-

Blackpool War Memorial South Face

Blackpool War Memorial Ground Plaque, laid 2008. The main dedication is “to those who fought for freedom in all conflicts and those who remember them”:-

Blackpool War Memorial Ground Plaque

Boston War Memorial (ii)

I didn’t photograph all the plinths lining the avenue leading towards Boston War Memorial as there were about forty of them, some of which commemorated lesser known conflicts or aspects of large ones.

Arctic Convoys, 1941-45:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 1

Cyprus Veterans’ Association, 1955-58:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 2

Falklands War 1982:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 3

Suez, 1945-56:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 3

Dunkirk Veterans. (My father was one of the evacuees from Dunkirk):-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 5

Dieppe, 1942:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 6

Battle of Jutland, 1916:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 7

Gallipoli 1914-16:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 8

Battle of the Somme, 1916:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 9

Battle of Amiens 1918:-

Boston War Memorial Plinth 10

Freuchie War Memorial

Freuchie is a village in Fife situated just off the A 92, north of Glenrothes, about three miles or so from Son of the Rock Acres.

Freuchie was once used as a place of banishment form the nearby Royal Court at Falkland Palace but is perhaps most famous now for its cricket team reaching and winning – at Lord’s – the village cricket championship in 1985. Falkland also has a cricket team.

Freuchie’s War Memorial lies in a triangular shaped kind of traffic island hard by the local church on the mainroad through the town, the B 936 .

Freuchie War Memorial

Showing inscriptions. 1914-19 names on plaque, 1939-45 on pedestal. (The Lomond Hills Hotel is in the background):-

Freuchie War Memorial

Washington Village, Tyne and Wear

Washington Village, Tyne and Wear is not to be confused with the New Town which surrounds it.

The family of George Washington, first President of the US, came from here.

General view. The War Memorial is just to right of centre:-

Washington Village, Tyne and Wear

War Memorial front view, WW1 names on base, WW2 on pillar:-

Washington Village, War Memorial

War Memorial Reverse. WW1 Names on base, Other conflicts on pillar. Iraq 2003, Gulf War 1990-1, Falklands 1982, seven for Afghanistan, 2006-13:-

Washington Village, War Memorial Reverse

Garden of Remembrance, to rear of memorial. Dedicated to the fallen in wars and conflicts:-

Washington Village, Garden of Remembrance

Open the Door by Catherine Carswell

Canongate, 1996, 431 p + xii p introduction by John Carswell. Borrowed from a threatened library.

On the spine plus the front and back covers the title is written as above but the title page and other mentions have it as Open the Door! (as did a Virago reprint I saw yesterday in a charity shop.) One of the 100 best Scottish Books.

 Open the Door! cover

Joanna Bannerman has had a strict religious upbringing in Glasgow. Her father dies on an evangelising trip to the US, but didn’t really love anyone. “Better than his curbed enjoyment of his wife’s virginal freshness” was his love of public speaking: hence his ministry. Joanna’s mother, Juley, might have had a religious vocation – so much so that had she been a Roman Catholic she would have entered an order; “But to her the Church of Rome was the Scarlet Woman.” And there it is again; that stab of religious intolerance that blighted Scotland for so long and, partly, still does. However, Joanna’s life is a long attempt to throw off this background. Not that the novel focuses too much on religion, it’s more concerned about her wish to shake off restrictions (to open the door to living) and her relationships with the men in her life, Ben Ranken, Mario Rasponi, Lawrence Urquhart, Louis Pepper, whom she strings along, or is strung by, in one manner or another. The first she enters into an engagement with then breaks it off, the second she marries but he dies not long after they move (in his case, back) to Italy, the third is an intermittent presence, the fourth is a much older married man with whom she has a years long affair.

In Italy Mario also restricts her, not wishing her to appear in public where “she carried on her the lovely bloom which comes to some women when they are first possessed.” But she does notice a sunken door in a wall which she is told admitted a lover to the house of the Renaissance courtesan “La Porziuncula”. Mario’s death in a crash on a motorcycle of his own construction is something of a release. Her return to Glasgow to live with her mother is only relieved by her meeting with Pepper. Her mother’s friend Eve Gedge is described thus, “Barren of life herself, her deepest passion was to balk and defeat the entering of others into life.” I’m sure we’ve all met one of them.

On seeing her sister Georgie with her son Joanna thinks, “Their mother had done this for them, and her mother for her, and all with the same eager and touching confidence in the next generation. And what was to come of it? Nothing! Nothing because it was based on a lie..…… No! If the children, born and unborn were to be served fairly, one must utter clearly and fearlessly one’s own word of truth in one’s own lifetime.” She feels that, “‘evil’ (in the Christian sense of the word) quite as much as ‘good’ had made her alive ….. had made her an individual,” and her thought, “She remembered the words – ‘In sin did my mother conceive me,’ Why not – “In sin did my father beget me’?” shows that feminism is by no means a recent conception.

Mainly due to her affair with Pepper Joanna seems to drift through life. This gives the novel for most of its length the trajectory of a tragedy but Carswell seems to resile from this for the dénouement. Perhaps this was because, as her son John’s introduction reveals, a large part of the book is autobiographical in origin. Already less than overwhelmed by the novel – among other things it is overlong and too full of introspections – I must confess I was all the more disappointed by this (as usual I left the introduction till after I had read the book) as, while of course an author’s life experiences will feed into the work produced, it is better to rely on imagination to create something completely fictional in order to address deep truth. Towards the end there is a strange passage about the attractions of Fife towns. “Cupar, Falkland, Auchtermuchty, Strathmiglo! Such promising names as they had!”

I’m glad I read this and I suspect it was more of a ground-breaker when it was first published in 1920 but for me there were too many longueurs.

Pedant’s corner:- in the blurb page; annulment (annulment,) Observerand (space is missing,) Boccocio (Boccaccio,) Hugh Macdiarmid (Hugh MacDiarmid.)
In the main text:- first pain them was past (has a four character gap between pain and them,) Asias’s Millions (Asia’s Millions,) an end quote mark where none had been opened, sewed up (sewn up,) or his Easter Holiday (for,) thig (thigh,) students were too shy speak (the s and t of students are underprinted with t and o respectively and the word “to” is missing,) an opened pair of quote marks where no speech followed, pigmy (pygmy,) showed (shown, x 2,) “o return home” (to return home,) ay one (anyone,) beams o the guttering candle (the space between “o” and “the” suggests “of” was meant,) forment (foment,) missing quote marks at the beginning of a piece of dialogue at a chapter’s start, a missing full stop, to day (today,) eveybody’s (everybody’s.)

Electric Brae by Andrew Greig

A Modern Romance. faber and faber, 2002, 312 p.

 Electric Brae cover

Love, sex and death. Of the three main preoccupations of the novelistic art only the last might truly be expected from what is a deeply Scottish novel. But as its subtitle suggests, Andrew Greig’s first novel Electric Brae is a love story. And while a modern romance can also be expected to deal with sex what there is here is not graphic and is absolutely necessary to the tale.

The generally linear narrative isn’t entirely straightforward and moves from first to third person and back again, ditto from past to present tense, but does so seemingly naturally, without jarring, and also uses Scots words and phrases organically and unapologetically.

Set against a background of the transition to, and the years of, Thatcher’s premiership and the jolt to the Scottish psyche that produced, the story starts with the meeting, on a mountain in Glencoe, between Jimmy Renilson, an engineer on the rigs whose voice bears most of the narration duties, and the man who becomes his best friend and climbing partner, the committed socialist Graeme. This is before we encounter the love interest, Kim Russell (though it’s really Ruslawska,) a woman about ten years younger than Jimmy and possessed of eyes that beguile him. As these three plus Graeme’s girlfriend Lesley and others in their circle orbit round each other the course of true love – here explicitly acknowledged as an addiction – fails to run smooth. It rarely does, or else we’d have no story; and the canon of literature would be rather empty.

Kim is a troubled soul, given to self-harm and driven to produce art works that fail to assuage the core of her angst. “All art is exaggeration,” she says, “that’s the trouble with it.” But all the characters give off the air of real breathing people, except perhaps for Mick DeTerre, an anti-establishment activist, who seems too broad brush.

Significant locations in the book roam all over Scotland, ranging from Eyemouth in the Southeast, up to Aberdeen, Orkney and later Shetland, Fort William and Ben Nevis in the West, Dunbar notably, and finally Prestwick. The art of rock climbing and some individual Scottish climbs are described at various points. It is a longstanding ambition of Graeme and Jimmy that they will one day “knock off” the Old Man of Hoy, preferably together.

Without shying away from the sentimentality that can lurk beneath the reserve, the novel does however touch on the heart of Scottishness and what differentiates it from its southern neighbour, in especial the inability of the Scottish male to acknowledge “the squishy stuff” of emotion, to admit even to friendship.

It addresses too the Scots shrinking from pretentiousness. At one point Jimmy remembers Lesley telling him that, “Graeme must conclude any intelligent statement with an expletive. As if to apologise for his articulacy,” adding for our benefit, “Clinging to the wreckage Lesley calls it.” Graeme says, in contrast to Scotland about the Falklands War, [Editorial insert:- sorry; police action] “England’s gone off its heid wi this war,” and on the failure of the miners’ strike, “Everyone for themselves these days, eh? It’s no the Scottish way.”

Jimmy himself has more than a few observations about Scotland and the Scots:-
“Deferred gratification, we love it. It lets us square Calvinism with hedonism.”
“Who are we? I wondered. We don’t even speak consistently. We’ll say ‘yes’ and ‘aye’ and ‘yeah’ in the same conversation, alternate between ‘know’ and ‘ken’,1 ‘bairn’, ‘wean’ and ‘child’2 and not even know why.”
“We’re a small country with blurry boundaries.”
“Have I mentioned that good sex is wonderful, a human joy, even in Scotland?”
Of the places listed over the radio in his childhood as in danger of snow and ice, “Some places, like some people, you love before you’ve ever met,” and on being accused of sentimentality over his love of the Scottish landscape, “Someone said sentimentality is the expenditure of emotion on an unworthy object. Do you think this country’s unworthy?”
“We’re living in a banana republic that disnae even have its ain government to be corrupted.”
“Scots prefer the bludgeon of sarcasm,” (rather than use irony.)
“A culture of stoic suffering is limiting but has its uses.”

He notes after a sojourn abroad that, “while he’d been away the value of property had gone up and on the whole that of people had gone down,” and “Great to be back in Scotland, the home of constructive criticism,” along with, “Judging by the estate agent’s at the top of the wynd, where people used to have a home, now clients invested in a property.”
“Mrs Thatcher had done us one great service for she was a litmus test. Three times she dipped the UK into her solution and each time the bottom part came out blue and the top pinker than the time before. We had forgotten we were different, and that difference went deeper than a taste for haggis, Murrayfield and Hampden and an inability to take seriously anyone called Nigel.” [Editorial insert:- This last sentiment, true enough when Electric Brae was first published in 1992, has become even more apposite in the past decade.]

He complains to a later lover, the Englishwoman Ruth, “All this stuff everyone talks about these days, about taking responsibility, taking charge, taking decisions, taking on board – it sounds like too much taking to me.” “Jimmy,” she said, “you’ll never adjust to the Eighties. That’s why I live up here – because most of you still believe the dream might just work. You still seem to think we’re interdependent… You won’t find many still believe that down South.”

Jimmy also sums up the Scottish mind-set, “You’re asking me to think, to come clean at this hour in the morning, with three-hundred close-hearted, tight-lipped Protestant years sitting on my neck?” More generally he muses, “Climbing’s no dafter than roping your happiness to someone else,” and, “It was hard but nothing compared to what we do to each other.”

Though the author does let Jimmy off a large moral hook a touch too easily near the end (though not an arguably greater one) and the symbolism is at times forced, all in all this is superb stuff, about the importance of relationships and mutual dependency.

And the Electric Brae? Apart from being one of the place names in the radio snow reports it is not mentioned at all in the book except in the excerpt from A Fly Fisherman’s Guide by H O N MacCaig that is quoted as a frontispiece. The Brae itself is a hill in Ayrshire that seems to defy gravity. In this sense of disorientation it is a great descriptor for the appearance of madness that love can take.

1If you’re from the East coast.
2“bairn” and “child” if you’re from the East coast, “wean” and “child” if you’re from the West.

Pedant’s corner:- “Next weekend I’d cragging again with Graeme.” “born away on a receding tide” (borne) Lichtenstein (Liechtenstein.) “The longer you stay, bigger the bill will be when you leave.” Glamourous. “It didn’t looked played much.” “He stared back the Old Man.” Seperate. “Half of last the night.” “She hadn’t asked me too” (“asked me to” makes more sense,) Betty (Bette?) Davis, Casopeia (Cassiopeia) glaxy (galaxy,) self-centered (self-centred,) schlerosis (sclerosis,) whaft (waft,) whispy (wispy,) a whailing (wailing?) wall, smoothes.

Several Scots words appeared in unusual spellings; greit (for weep) is more usually greet, fousty (foosty or at a pinch foostie,) bisom (a rare variant of besom,) plouk (plook,) cheuchter (definitely teuchter,) wheich (definitely wheech.)

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