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Emusing Title?

This isn’t really a linguistic annoyance but I’ve not used that category for a while.

Anyway I was tickled by the title of this recent listing on eBay. (PHOTO DUMBARTON CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION VIEW IN THE 1960`S WITH AN EMU IN VIEW.)

“An emu?” I thought.

Then after a second I realised it must be train-buff speak for electrical multiple unit.

Beating Them at Their Own Game

Scotland win by 6 runs

Scotland win by 6 runs.

Over England. In a form of cricket, a game which England invented, at which England are at present the best in the world.

(Well, not now. Now Scotland are surely unofficial World Number 1 in One Day International cricket.)

This is a stunning result, as far as I know the first win Scotland has had over England in any form of cricket.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. Cricket is not really alien to Scotland. There are many practitioners of the art throughout the country. (I was one myself once, playing not only for my school but also for Dumbarton Cricket Club way back in the day. Not in any great capacity; I was only really there to make up the numbers. My proud boast though is that I never scored a duck when batting for the club.)

But back in the nineteenth century Scottish cricket matches used to attract crowds in the 10,000s. J M Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) used to be a member of a travelling cricket side known as the Allahakberries. (Possibly not a name you could get away with these days.)

It’ll be a heady day or two until normal service is resumed.

An Honorary Son? (and Daughter)

I see some overprivileged bloke who got married today has been granted the somewhat unlikely title of Earl of Dumbarton, which means his wife will be Countess of Dumbarton.

My first reaction on hearing this was that the local earldom was surely that of Lennox; but it seems they are still going, only elevated to Dukes, so that title wasn’t vacant.

A quick piece of Googling showed that there have in the past been two Earls of Dumbarton (see upper link above) but the last of them died in 1749 so making the title available.

I wonder what the new Earl and Countess will make of the place should they ever deign to visit.

And does his title make the new Baron Kilkeel (not to mention Duke of Susex) an honorary Son of the Rock? Or his wife, Lady Kilkeel (and Duchess of Sussex,) an honorary daughter thereof?

I look forward to them turning up at the Rock for a game, but I shan’t hold my breath.

Pedant’s corner:- On the (utterly sycophantic) BBC television coverage of said nuptials I heard Huw Edwards refer to “Lord Lieutenants”. Tut, tut, Mr Edwards. Standards at the BBC used to be so much higher. Lieutenant here is an adjective descriptive of the Lord concerned. The plural you were so vainly seeking is “Lords Lieutenant”.

Eyemouth

Eyemouth, in the Scottish Borders Region, just a few miles north of the border and of Berwick, is the town where my mother spent most of her childhood before her family then moved to Dumbarton.

It’s a typical Scottish fishing village/town where a river (the River Eye) flows into the North Sea via a harbour.

I’ve been there several times before, as a child with my mother, and later as an adult but it was many years ago now. When the good lady’s blog friend, Peggy, was here last summer we took the opportunity to visit as she wanted to see it.

I hadn’t remembered this decoish set of windows:-

Art Deco Style in Eyemouth

The statue in front of the shop is of William Spears who in the 19th century led a revolt against the tithes on fish levied by the Church of Scotland.

This is the War Memorial, “Sacred to the memory of officers, NCOs and men of Eyemouth who fell in the Great War”:-

Eyemouth War Memorial

The reverse names the second war’s dead and the column’s inscription reads, “Sacred to the memory of officers, NCOs and men of Eyemouth who gave their lives in the Great War II, 1939-45.” Note also Merchant Navy, Fishermen plus Egypt 1952 and Iraq 2005:-

Eyemouth War Memorial

The original Jack Deighton, my grandfather, was the minister at the local Episcopal Church, St Ebba’s, named after a local saint, the Abbess of Coldingham. The Lifeboat at Eyemouth was also named for her as this lifebelt in the museum attests:-

Eyemouth St Ebba Lifebelt

The Persistence of Scott

My previous post’s title was of course a reference to the alternative title of Sir Walter Scott’s first novel Waverley otherwise known as Tis Sixty Years Since.

I am of course reading that author’s The Heart of Mid-Lothian at the moment which means he has been on my mind.

Scott’s influence continued to be felt long after his death. Edinburgh’s main railway station is named Waverley in his honour and there is of course the huge monument to his memory on Princes Street.

Scott Monument

On seeing this Belgian author George Simenon is supposed to have asked “You mean they erected that for one of us?” then added, “Well, why not. He invented us all.”

Also named after him is the main steamer on Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, the SS Sir Walter Scott, which was built by Denny’s of Dumbarton, dismantled, its pieces numbered, then the whole transported by horse cart to Stronachlachar on Loch Katrine where it was reassembled.

SS Sir Walter Scott
SS Sir Walter Scott

She is by no means the only ship with a Scott connection which I have sailed on.

The Heart of Mid-Lothian‘s main female character is named Jeanie Deans, a name previously familiar to me – at least in her second steamship incarnation – from several of those trips “Doon the Watter” that used to be so much a part of a West of Scotland childhood.

PS Jeanie Deans
PS Jeanie Deans

There was a short branch line (now long gone) off the main-line station at Craigendoran (about 8 miles from Dumbarton) which took trains right up to a platform on the pier where the ship would be waiting for its passengers to detrain and embark – usually for Rothesay. I believe something similar pertained at Wemyss Bay.

One of the delights of the trip was to descend into the lower parts of the ship to see the engines; mesmerising visions of gleaming, oiled steel and brass, powerful flywheels spinning, pistons thundering, regulators twirling. “Taking a look at the engines” was also used as a euphemism by those suitably aged gentlemen patrons who wished to avail themselves of the licensed facilities on board.

There was also an earlier PS Jeanie Deans. Indeed the North British Packet Steam Company and North British Railway seem to have named their ships almost exclusively after Scott characters. Have a look at this list of their ships, some of which were transferred to later operators.

Only one of these floating mini-palaces still exists. The second PS Waverley (built in 1949) is now the sole ocean-going paddle steamer left in the world and still carries out excursions from its base on the clyde near Glasgow Science Centre, in the Bristol Channel, from London, the South Coast and Wales under the auspices of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

PS Waverley at Ilfracombe
Waverley at Ilfracombe

If you can avail yourself of the opportunity to take a trip on the Waverley (or indeed the SS Sir Walter Scott, though she is much smaller and does not quite afford the full experience) I would urge you to do so.

War Memorial, West Bridgend Church, Dumbarton

West Bridgend Church hall was where I started playing badminton, long, long ago now.

I had never explored its churchyard till last October when I discovered this Memorial to the men from the church who died in the Great War:-

War Memorial, West Bridgend Church, Dumbarton

The names:-

West Bridgend Church War Memorial Names

There was also a Commonwealth War Grave. Private William C Douglas, RAMC, 7/12/1916, age 19:-

War Grave West Bridgend Church

And this gravestone commemorates, as well as his father, one Captain William Learmonth Buchanan, 5th HLI, killed in action in Palestine, 20th November 1917, aged 25:-

Gravestone, West Bridgend Church

St Augustine’s, Dumbarton

St Augustine's, Dumbarton

St Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Dumbarton (above; dedicated to St Augustine of Hippo) is possibly the most important building in my life. Not just because it was where I got married – though that can’t be minimised. It was the church where my grandfather (the original Jack Deighton) was the incumbent Rector in the 1930s and 1940s. The Episcopalian ministry was more or less the Deighton family business. Not only my grandfather but his brother (my great uncle,) his son (my uncle,) and his grandson (my brother) took up holy orders – or as I used to put it, “I come from a long line of penguins.” My generation was where the tradition ended though.

The church was where I spent a fair part of each Sunday in my youth as a member of the church choir. There were two accompanied services each Sunday; Matins/Morning Prayer or Sung Eucharist in the morning and Evensong in the evening.

More germane to its importance to my life is that it was where my mother first laid eyes on my father as he entered church in the choir procession and she told herself, “I’m going to marry that boy.” At the time they were both aged nine! My mother was a strong-willed woman and knew her own mind from a young age: her mother said she was so thrawn she’d walk on the other side of the road because she didn’t want to walk with the rest of the family. My father never had a choice. Still, without that I wouldn’t be here.

Since I moved to Fife the only times I have entered St Augustine’s have been for family funerals or as in Saturday’s case a memorial service for an old family friend who died earlier in the year. It was a chance to see how cruel time is to us all. One woman said to me, “I know you,” but couldn’t work out who I was till she was told. Mind you I didn’t recognise her either. My excuse is that she’d changed her hair colour.

I took the photograph below of the chancel, high altar, reredos and stained glass window at the east end; now all much more visible from the nave since the rood screen was removed during restoration. (The pictures on the lower altar are from the life of the old family friend.) The reredos is a particularly fine example of the form.

Interior, St Augustine's Episcopal Church, Dumbarton

The War Memorial to St Augustine’s congregation members used to be to the right of the entrance door. When the church was refurbished with heritage funding – the church is a grade A listed building – it was relocated to halfway or so up the left hand side:-

War Memorial, St Augustine's Episcopal Church, Dumbarton

It only occurred to me when I got home that this was probably the last time I’ll ever attend St Augustine’s. With the loss of that old family friend I no longer have a connection to the church and none with Dumbarton – except for the glorious Sons of the Rock of course. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take more photographs, especially of the stained glass windows facing the High Street.

Dumbarton War Memorial

The Memorial is unusually situated some way out of the town centre, in Levengrove Park, on the banks of the River Clyde near its confluence with the River Leven, with a great view of Dumbarton Rock.

This is the view looking from the Park towards the Clyde. It’s the front of the Memorial which as a whole is surrounded by a metal fence and features a bronze angel. Note the Elephant and Castle crest of Dumbarton on the gate:-

Dumbarton War Memorial, View Towards River Clyde

Reverse of the Memorial – the view towards the Park, again with Dumbarton crest on the fence:-

Dumbarton War Memorial

Again looking into Levengrove Park but from an angle:-

Dumbarton War Memorial from Side

The names of the First World War dead are on each side, above in the original engraving; Second World War ones added below, on two sides only. This is the east side of the Memorial:-

Dumbarton War Memorial Names

The west side:-

Dumbarton War Memorial Details

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

Oxford World Classics, 1998, 353 p, plus 22 p notes, ix p introduction, 7 p bibliography of works by or about Smollett and 2 p chronology of his life. (Edited by Lewis M Knapp and revised by Paul-Gabriel Boucé.)

Another from the 100 best Scottish Books. Also, I borrowed it from a threatened library.

Smollet was born at Dalquhurn, in Renton, which is only two miles from Dumbarton. Since he was educated in the town that just about makes him a fellow Son of the Rock.

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker cover

I found this difficult to get into at first, perhaps because of its epistolary structure. In an innovation by Smollett (previous epistolary novels had consisted of letters “written” by one character) we are given the missives of several; Matthew Bramble, his sister Tabitha, his niece and nephew Lydia and Jery Melford and the lady’s maid Winifred Jenkins: but not, you will perhaps have noticed, any by the eponymous Humphry Clinker, a destitute who turns up around page 80, gets employed as a footman and thereafter performs the company various services. Coupled with the orotundities of 18th century language (the book was first published in 1771) this means the threads are slow to gel. Tabitha’s letters are full of misspellings as are Win Jenkins’s, with in her case the addition of multiple malapropisms.

The structure means that some incidents are rendered from more than one viewpoint – which is not in itself a problem but tends to impede the flow of narrative. It does though give Smollet ample scope to anatomise the society of the latter half of the 18th century and to poke fun at various aspects both of it and of human nature. Tabitha Bramble sets her sights on any available male, Lydia Melford’s sympathies are engaged with a man thought unsuitable by her family, Bramble dislikes the closeness of city life, decries the insanitary aspects of taking the waters at Bath and the adulteration of food.

Smollet does not forego the opportunity to guy his English readers. One character tells Mr Bramble that “the English language was spoken with more propriety at Edinburgh than in London,” that the Scots language was true, genuine old English since it had retained the guttural sounds, that the English render simple vowels as diphthongs and moreover they mumble and run their words together. (The same passage says that wright, write, right and rite were each pronounced differently by Scots in Smollet’s time. No longer – except perhaps for those who still say “a’ richt”.) On the understandings within the two countries we have, “What between want of curiosity, and traditional sarcasms, the people at the other end of the island know as little of Scotland as of Japan.” This is still largely true but the reverse never was and remains so. Later, Mr Bramble is informed in no uncertain terms that, far from Scotland benefitting from the Union, much the greater advantage was derived by England.

We also hear the authentic voice of the traditionalist in the sentiment, “Woe be to that nation where the multitude is at liberty to follow their own inclinations!”

Pedant’s corner:- the intentional misspellings, malapropisms and differences in the language over two and a half centuries make any such listing otiose.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 11c. Dumbarton Yet Again

Familiarity must breed not looking. How I missed this building in this sequence up to now I don’t know. Anyway I caught it early in May when I was over for the last game in the season.

It’s the ex-Savings Bank of Glasgow building in Dumbarton, now a TSB.

Dumbarton TSB

The former Woolworths has been given a makeover and is now a Wotherspoons, The Captain James Lang. The frontage has cleaned up nicely. Compare this to the photo I took in 2009.

Dumbarton Former Woolworths

On the wall inside is a photograph of Dumbarton Woolies in its heyday.

Dumbarton Old Woolworths

As a homage to the building’s past this array of old Pic’n’Mix bags and sweets is also on display.

Pic n Mix, Dumbarton

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