Live It Up 41: – Market Square Heroes

This was the one that started it all off for Marillion in a singles sense but I didn’t come across it for a few years after its first release once I was catching up with their back catalogue after the release of their second album Fugazi.

There are some thematic similarities here with The Knife, the last track on Genesis’s second album Trespass.

Marillion: Market Square Heroes

Wick War Memorial

Wick’s War Memorial is situated by the main road into the town from the south, near the bridge over the Wick River.

Wick War Memorial

Closer view. A figure of Victory on a stone pillar:-

Wick War Memorial Closer View

Dedications. The Great War: “In honour of all those who suffered and in proud and grateful remembrance of the fallen sons of the Burgh of Wick who died for home and freedom in the Great War 1914-1919.”

World War 2: “Also in honoured and grateful remembrance of all those of this Burgh who gave their lives in the Second World War 1939-1945.”

Wick War Memorial Dedications

Memorial Wall (right):-

Wick War Memorial Wall 1

Memorial Wall (left):-

Wick War Memorial Wall 2

The Weatherhouse by Nan Shepherd

Canongate, 2017, 211 p, including 3 p Glossary: plus ii p Dramatis Personae and vi p Introduction. First published 1930.

 The Weatherhouse cover

I don’t normally pick up a book according to its cover but I did in this case. It helped that the novel was by Nan Shepherd whose The Quarry Wood I enjoyed a year or so ago. Yet I was also attracted by the illustration which is almost in the style of a 1930s railway poster – a very Art Deco form – even down to the lettering. The house shown is actually wrong though; in two ways. It is much more of an English type of building rather than Scottish and it bears no relation at all to the hexagonal construction described in the text. Pretty, just the same.

That titular Weatherhouse is the home in Fetter-Rothnie of the Craigmyle family, which consists of matriarch Lang Leeb plus her daughters Annie, Theresa and the widowed Ellen. The story though, is more to do with how Garry Forbes, the intended of Lindsay Lorimer, in turn the daughter of Andrew, Lang Leeb’s cousin, came to become a proverb in Fetter-Rothnie.

The former Minister’s daughter, Louie Morgan, claimed after Forbes’s friend David Grey had died in the Great War that she and Grey had been secretly betrothed and carries Grey’s mother’s ring about her neck as proof. Forbes, home from the war as a convalescent, is convinced that can not be the case. He attempts, first to bring the falseness of Louie’s claim to the attention of the Kirk Session (which upsets Lindsay) and then to prevent his knowledge of Louie’s theft of the ring becoming more widely apprehended.

Despite what appears to be a focus on small matters The Weatherhouse nevertheless has a wider resonance, and has some humorous observations. The incidental mention of the man who, because of his brother, waited twenty years to wed his fiancée (who nevertheless brought him children “as a wedding gift”) shows life in those times was not entirely as straight-laced as might perhaps be thought.

Human dilemmas and emotions occur in all places and at all times. Shepherd shows us the humanity of her characters, in all their complexity. This is a fine companion piece to The Quarry Wood. Both these novels bear some similarities to Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song and Cloud Howe but don’t quite have the sweep of the first of those.

Pedant’s corner:- Amy Liptrot’s introduction says Shepherd’s writing is very localised to the foothills of the Grampian mountains and quotes two of the words she uses, stravaigin and collieshangie as being specific to that area. Stravaigin certainly has no such specificity.
In the glossary: keeing (keeking,) snored (smored.) Otherwise: “you’re as light ’s a feather” (light’s,) knit (knitted,) chose (choose,) “a moment before made up on her sister on the road” (before she made up,) a missing comma before a start quote mark.

Commemorative Plaques, Wick, Sutherland

HMS Jervis Bay was a merchant ship requisitioned by the Admiralty on the outbreak of the Second World War and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. She was sunk by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer on 5/11/1940 while trying to draw fire onto itself to protect the convoy it was escorting.

This memorial plaque is on a wall in Wick town centre.

HMS Jervis Bay Memorial Plaque, Wick

Nearby is a memorial to HMAV Isleford, a Royal Navy Auxiliary vessel wrecked with all hands in a blizzard in Wick Bay on 25/1/1942, in sight of the shore.

HMAV Isleford Memorial Plaque, Wick

Two Bridges in Wick, Sutherland

Bridge over the Wick River; on road into town just at edge of town centre:-

A Bridge in Wick, Sutherland

Bridge near Harbour:-

Bridge Near Harbour, Wick

Architecture in Wick, Sutherland, Scotland

On the way up to Orkney in June (posts, passim) we had time to stop off in Wick, Sutherland.

It has some Art Deco buildings! (Well, styling anyway.)

Bank of Scotland:-

Bank of Scotland Building, Wick, Sutherland

Detail:-

Art Deco Detail, Bank of Scotland, Wick

Minor deco style in De Vita’s:-

De Vita's, Wick

Another Bank. The TSB:-

TSB, Wick

A more modern building. It looked as if it was unfinished inside:-

Modern Building, Wick

Wick’s Wetherspoon’s is more traditional in construction:-

The Alexander Bain, Wick

Wetherspoon’s usually names its pubs after a local person of repute. This plaque on a wall round the corner told of Bain’s accomplishments:-

Alexander Bain Plaque, Wick

Phantastes by George MacDonald

In Phantastes and Lilith, Gollancz, 1962, 237 p. First published 1858.

 Phantastes and Lilith cover

This takes much the same form as the same author’s Lilith, which was originally published forty-three years after it. The narrator travels to a strange land – in this case Fairy Land – and has there certain adventures. On the face of it MacDonald had learned no new tricks over that time span but there was a slight difference in The Princess and the Goblin (1872) where at least there was in evidence something in the form of characters it was possible to care about.

In Fairy Land – reached seemingly by walking through a wood – the narrator (unnamed here, in Lilith at least he had a surname) among other things encounters a long dark shadow not attached to his body, deaths in various guises and more observations through a mirror.

As to MacDonald’s prose I can only agree with C S Lewis who says in his introduction that, “The texture of his writing as a whole is undistinguished, at times fumbling.” But where Lewis detects a mythopoeic quality in Macdonald, I cannot.

MacDonald’s narrator seems to have forgotten Shakespeare’s dictum that, “there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” when he pleads, “‘But tell me how it is that she could be so beautiful without any heart at all – without any place even for a heart to live in.’”

Definitely of its time. I would not have read it but for it being in the same set of covers as Lilith (and that I only read because it was in the 100 best Scottish Books list.)

Pedant’s corner:- shrunk (shrank,) drank (drunk,) sung (sang, used correctly four lines later. Were these possibly misreadings of MacDonald’s handwriting by the typesetter?)

Brechin City 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Glebe Park, 4/11/17.

So, a welcome return to the Glebe. Though the beech hedge has been given a terrible scalping.

This was a reminder of what lower league Scottish football is all about. Standing on the touchline two feet from the referee’s assistant, hearing all the verbals between the players. Pity about the standard of the football….

This was a bit of huff and puff, not much real quality on show. Not surprising really considering the import of the game. Plus we were missing about six players for various reasons.

We had much the best of the first half and made a few openings but nothing ever quite clear cut, Brechin always getting a body in the way. During a succesion of corners which all came to nothing I began to wonder if we’d suffer a sucker punch in the second half.

That looked more likely after the interval as we fell badly out of it and Brechin pressed. But they didn’t open us up either; only a long range effort put Scott Gallacher under any pressure but it cannoned off the top of the bar. This was the sort of game which our Dimitris could have made his own and the absence of Christian Nade shows how little we have in the way of aerial threat without him.

With a few minutes left the ball fell to Tom Walsh in Brechin’s box. Here’s the chance I thought. His shot too went over. That there was at least two points gone, it seemed.

That reckoned without Chris McLaughlin who got down the line one more time and whipped over his cross into that six yard danger area. It bounced off a Brechin player and towards the goal. It felt like it took ages before trundling into the back of the net. It’s the sort of goal a team concedes when nothing is going for it. Brechin must have been gutted.

Yet overall we deserved the win I would say, especially for our first half dominance. Special mention to Kyle Hutton, who gets a lot of stick from Sons fans but more or less ruled the midfield today. His long passing can be awry but when he keeps it short things are better.

It Came From Outer Space…..

Astronomers have discovered the first object from outside the solar system ever to have been observed travelling through it.

A photograph of it is at Astronomy Picture of the Day for 3/11/17.

It was reported in the journal Nature on 31/10/17.

The Nature article quotes “Rights and Permissions” for use so I have not reproduced it here but both links show the object, known as interstellar asteroid A/2017 U1.

An analysis of it movement is at https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.11364.

Live It Up 40: Waiting for a Train – RIP George Young

Another string to George Young’s bow was the group Flash and the Pan which he set up with co-writer Harry Vanda and whose biggest hit in the UK was Waiting for a Train.

Flash and the Pan: Waiting for a Train

George Redburn Young: 6/11/1946 – 22/10/2017. So it goes.

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