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Buildings in Ferrol

On the way in to Ferrol from the ship we passed an area known as Arsenal Militar. A mannequin recalled Spain’s military past. Here’s a photo with some beardy bloke beside it:-

Soldier Mannequin

Ferrol seems to be laid out in a grid pattern though the streets are not wide. This was at siesta time when the streets emptied:-

asiesta time

A square in Ferrol:-

Old and New

The building to the left of the square in the photo above has an odd mixture of architectural styles. See the glass gable-end:-

Odd Mix of Architectural Styles, Ferrol

It was also hard by what may be a memorial to Spain’s colonial wars (if I can trust my reading of the Spanish inscription.) It was in the middle of a busy road so I didn’t linger long:-

Colonial War Memorial, Ferrol

You know you’re not in Calvinist Scotland any more when you come across a statue like this in an otherwise perfectly normal street. (Hooded penitents are apparently a big part of Holy Week celebrations in Ferrol.):-

Hooded Penitent Statue, Ferroll

The Scottish Tradition in Literature by Kurt Wittig

The Mercat Press, 1978, 304 p, including ii p preface, ii p contents. A facsimile of the 1958 edition.

The Scottish Tradition in Literature cover

On the surface it seems a little odd that a book on Scottish literature should be written by a German but Wittig’s second sentence begins, “Scottish literature is part of our European heritage.” He goes on to say he does not wish to erect an invisible barrier that would isolate it from “the larger world to which it inseparably belongs,” but nevertheless, “We must do the literature we are studying the honour of recognising that it has both ‘a local habitation and a name.’” He notes, “Deep down in the heart and mind of many Scotsmen there is a kind of schism arising out of the clash of his conflicting loyalties,” but stresses that “someone from outside can distinguish between the typical and the specific.”

Wittig’s starting point for the Scottish tradition is John Barbour’s epic poem The Bruce, which is, he says, without parallel in the Middle Ages, finding its neglect by scholars (of whatever stamp) truly astonishing. The Bruce predates Chaucer’s great poems and its theme that knightly virtues are of no account unless supported by the ideals of “fredome” and “richt” – ‘A! Fredome is a noble thing!’ – sets it apart from its contemporaries. Barbour is the “first of a long series of Scottish writers who seem not only to be on terms of an informal intimacy with God (or the Devil), but even to be disposed, on occasion, to argue with him. No wonder that the Scottish people were later to find the spirit of the Reformation so congenial.”

Since it manifests itself in pre-Reformation works (of which – William Dunbar’s “Lament ‘Quhen he was sek’” (aka “Lament of the Makars”) with its Timor mortis conturbat me refrain apart – to my shame I was mostly unaware) it would seem therefore that the gloomy prognostications and demeanour of Scots (“the mistrust even of happiness”) are not so much derived from Calvinism but are much more deep-rooted, part of the character induced by harsh, dark winters and the sair fecht of scratching a living from the land. It’s almost as if Scots were marking time till a belief system to embody their experience came along; and thereupon embraced it with masochistic fervour.

Barbour also employs what Wittig identifies as a typical Scottish trait; understatement, particularly in regard to the emotions, and he possessed a keen enjoyment of sense impressions. In Robert Henryson he notes, “genuine emotions of the soul are rather suggested than expressed, but the airs men give themselves are heightened to grotesquerie.” Such sense impressions, personification, or animism – visualisation – is another thread that Wittig discerns in the Scottish tradition. Others include alliteration, an intense economy of expression. He notes that much Scottish poetry is interlinked with music, using traditional metres, often very complicated, internal rhymes, frequent refrain on a thematic word.

After Gavin Douglas – the last of the Makars – and David Lyndsay this spring tide, as Wittig puts it, of the tradition begins to ebb and Scots as a language began to diminish in importance and scope. While the Union of the Crowns meant the old cultural ties with France were cut, more significantly the printing presses were in London and, perhaps crucially, the Bible, and therefore the word of God – in Church and elsewhere – was in English and so English came to be associated with serious, dignified subjects. As a result “‘guid hamelie Scots’ seemed unfit for higher and more intellectual purposes.” In the meantime the Scottish Ballads – “A Treasure-trove” – helped to keep the language alive.

A resurgence came in the eighteenth century with once again as in the Makars an expansion of the language and its uses. This reached a “High Water Mark” with Robert Burns and Walter Scott before tailing off again. In the twentieth century “Another Spring” had its highlights in Hugh McDiarmid, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Wittig’s prime exemplar Neil M Gunn.

Wittig emphasises the cross fertilisation of Scots with Gaelic. The two languages existed side by side for centuries, even at court. Many Scots sentence constructions have their roots in Gaelic which, according to Alexander MacDonald, is supreme over all other languages, “strong, fluent, copious, resonant, and so forth” but in the main “it is the one language in which, since the Tower of Babel, bard or satirist can scold best. Modern Scottish speech, too, is often said to be unsurpassed for deflating an opponent.” It is especially apparent in poetry, “The chief respects in which Scots differs from English poetry are that it shows a stronger feeling for colour (and for other sense impressions); imagery is sharper and more detailed, it is capable of greater metrical complexity, is apter to personify inanimate objects, takes a keener interest in nature, is full of the spirit of clannishness, and makes a speciality of flyting and extravaganza,” all features, Wittig says, even more strikingly characteristic of Scottish Gaelic poetry.

Wittig states that, “Perhaps no other European literature is so dramatic” yet contrasts that with the lack of Scottish drama, a delicate, developing flower at the time he was writing. Nevertheless quoting James Bridie (Dr O H Mavor) “we cannot perceive the Universe except as a pattern of reciprocating opposites.”

The Scot displays “sometimes an aggressive spirit of independence or egalitarianism,” and is adept at the art of flyting, a contest consisting of the exchange of insults, often conducted in verse, between two parties. Then again the mediaeval Scots proverb has it that, “nippin and scartin’s Scots fowk’s wooin.” “The Scots as a nation are passionately addicted to argument.” “The Scots argue not to find a compromise but in order to disagree, to make their point, to assert their rugged independence and individuality. It is an innate tendency to challenge blind acceptance.” Disputatious for the sake of it, “the fervid Scottish delight in arguing – with themselves if no other opponent is available – ” is prevalent in the works of Scott, the first Scottish writer who endowed landscape with a life of its own to the extent of making it one of the protagonists in his novels. (Wittig’s italics.) Landscape in Scott is much more than mere background, it is a formative influence.

James Thomson the younger wrestled with sin and guilt, and repeatedly saw himself as two separate personalities: “I was twain,/Two selves distinct that cannot join again;/One stood apart and knew but could not stir” typical of the emotional and intellectual dualism of Scots – the “Caledonian Antisyzygy” – which may have arisen due to coming to use one language to express thought, another to express feeling.

In the context of why a Scots tale seems to need a sharply portrayed character to tell it Wittig quotes Robert Louis Stevenson as saying, “the English speak with less interest and conviction, while the Scot puts his whole personality into it” and asks, “Is there any such thing as an absolute detached prose in Scots? Is it indeed, possible?”

Wittig occasionally casts aspersions. He calls William McGonagall the “shabbiest of public-house rhymesters” and says that here it is “not rock-bottom that we touch…. that would suggest something solid; with him, poetry is irretrievably sunk in mire,” while John Buchan’s English verse “reads like exercises in a foreign language.”

He notes how many Scots poets do not mention the sea at all. Neither do most writers of prose. (This may well, though, be related to the lack of fishing till well on in the eighteenth century.)

Drink is “a gateway to a new kind of world that provides distortion, new perspectives, and surprising insights.” Wittig says, “I do not know of any other country in which is found a similar attitude to drink: but when Magnus Merriman speaks of this violent Scotland with its hard drinking as a country worth living in and refashioning it reminds me at once of several Scottish acquaintances, poets and others.”

J Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) produces the effect of a “reality that is both subjective and communal. This is the culmination of the inherently dramatic character of Scots, for all the time somebody is imagined to be speaking – or letting his thinking become audible – though his identity may not be specified.” A person can view himself as “you.”

This is a magnificent book. Wittig’s knowledge of his subject appears encyclopaedic, his insights are sharp, his advocacy of the existence of such a thing as a Scottish tradition in literature and his demonstration of its importance and enduring relevance a stirring redress to those who would claim otherwise.

Pedant’s corner:- Reflexion (reflection,) connexion (connection,) medieval, irreverance (irreverence, which appears four lines later!) simplyc alled (simply called,) for convenience’ sake (convenience’s sake,) sublter (subtler,) Blaweary (Blawearie.)

A Twelvemonth and a Day by Christopher Rush

Canongate Classics, 1994, 324 p (including the author’s preface and vi p introduction by Alan Bold.) One of the 100 best Scottish Books. Returned to a doomed library.

A Twelvemonth and a Day cover

Couched as an autobiography, A Twelvemonth and a Day relates the narrator’s childhood as a kind of gazetteer encompassing the year of the fishermen of the author’s birthplace, St Monans in Fife. There is an artfulness to it though, a novelistic approach, which belies the book’s simple structure. The title is taken from the poem The Unquiet Grave (though to someone of my generation it brings Steeleye Span’s All Around My Hat more to mind.)

A Twelvemonth and a Day is laid out in thirteen chapters, one for each month of the year, relating the fishing activities which traditionally took place then, the weather appropriate to it, the light (or darkness) in the sky – with the last, “And a Day”, telling how all that is lost now, a living memory wiped clean away. As such the book lies in the long list of Scottish lament, which Alan Bold’s introduction says goes back to the poem on the state of the nation written on King Alexander III’s death after he fell from a cliff in Fife in 1286, but which may well be an oral tradition older still.

In the book’s course we meet an array of local characters, many larger than life, “These were the eccentrics, whom progress has mostly swept away,” but it is possible that memories of childhood always enhance the odd or unusual, those moments and folk that stick in the mind.

The people’s creed was mare vivimus (we live by the sea) and carries the sense of living not only beside the water but also from its frequently capricious largesse.

Rush relates educational experiences that are the usual tales of contempt and the tawse. The narrator claims he taught himself to read from the Bible and the inscriptions on the graves in the local Kirkyard. This doesn’t convince, the King James Bible may contain wonderful cadences but the lyricism evident here betrays a wider reading. (Rush himself obtained a degree in English from Aberdeen University and went on to teach the subject in an Edinburgh school.) Death was an ever-present possibility, though the narrator tells us of his conviction that he could never die.

The awful embrace of Calvinism thunders through “August” in particular, “You do wrong every day of your life, from eye-opening to eye-shutting, you did wrong from the first breath you took. O thou child of weak-willed Adam and Foolish Eve. You did wrong to be born at all, thou offspring of original sin. Conceived in sin and born in sorrow, you are an error, a living wrong, a perversion of creation, an affront to Jesus.
God sees everything that you do, everything that you think and feel he hears and senses. He knows every lie told, every wicked whisper of the heart. An empty seat in Sunday School, a vacant pew in church is a witness against Christ the Son – and God the Father will not be mocked.
A text unlearned is a failure to love Him. A crude word is a nail hammered into his crucified hands. And a refusal to believe in Him is the sure and certain road to eternal damnation.”

A harsh creed for a harsh life.

[But where in that is the joy of living? Or even its potential? Where is the redemption? The typical “Ye’re all miserable sinners” was never a beguiling sermon, but has held sway over the Scottish psyche for centuries.]

Rush though, goes on to say, “People will argue that the long night of ecclesiasticism was worse than the darknesses of barbarism or of boredom. The religion given to me by St Monan and St Monans filled me with exquisite fear … Maybe it has even made me neurotic. But in spite of everything I would rather have my neurosis, my fear…. than have nothing at all.” Well, each to his own.

That sense of fatalism is encapsulated by a man the narrator and his grandfather encounter by a field, “‘Aye,’ he said at last. ‘Aye, aye.’ It was not a greeting. He was simply recognising that the world and its ways altered and man and women grew older, while the things around us never changed.” No wonder Scots embraced predestination.

Rush mentions a painting “we had inherited with the house. It had been painted in this very room in which it was hung, we were told, by an artist called Lorimer, of Kellie Castle. The picture was a study of the view from the window looking out to sea.” That painter would have been John Henry Lorimer whom I blogged about here. I wonder where the painting is now.

All those local characters are now no more, the fishing is no more. “The folk culture is now embalmed in the Anstruther Fisheries Museum, the saddest place in the East Neuk.” “They are all gone then – the days and the people, and their language and their ways, and the stories they told me.” Not quite. Not perhaps till A Twelvemonth and a Day is also forgotten.

Pedant’s corner:- “My first noises drifted out …., and was lost..” (noises were,) “‘Poor wee beggers’” (beggars,) skelb (I always knew this Scots word for small splinter as skelf, but that is for a thin piece of wood, skelb is apparently more general) cherubin (x 2, the more usual cherubim is used later,) crystalised (crystallised,) gladitorial (gladiatorial,) Kirk o’ Fields (Kirk o’ Field,) “she had a nasty trick off” (of,) “dahns and lamps” (are included in a list of fishing equipment but I can’t source a meaning for dahns,) “whose extra-scriptural decade ….. were nought but vanity” (was nought; and I prefer naught,) unsain (context suggests uncanny/ spooky,) exhiliration (exhilaration,) effette antique dealers (effete.)

After the Dance by Iain Crichton Smith

Selected stories of Iain Crichton Smith. Edited and with an introduction by Alan Warner. Polygon, 2013, 256p plus 4 p introduction. Borrowed from a threatened library.

 After the Dance  cover

Of the many characteristics Scottish literature habitually exhibits – a preoccupation with the dark side of human nature, a fascination with the devil (or at least manifestations of the supernatural,) a questioning of identity, a sense of being peripheral, or isolated, a lack of communication, a love of the land – humour does not come high on the list. The former do appear in these pages (to great effect) yet humour is also here, in spades; a reflection of the author himself, as Alan Warner’s introduction to this collection attests. Warner considers Crichton Smith’s creation, Murdo, to be one of the most unpredictable, and most welcome, characters in recent Scottish writing. I can only concur.

Born in the islands, Crichton Smith straddled Scotland’s own two cultures, Highland/island as contrasted to Lowland, Gaelic versus English. Adept with prose and as a poet, his Consider the Lilies is in the list of 100 best Scottish books. I’ll get round to that sometime.

Murdo Leaves the Bank sees misfit Murdo, kilt, red feather in his hair and all, leave the staid bank branch he had tried to liven up. Mr Heine is an ex-pupil who turns up unannounced to the house of his former teacher to commemorate his retirement. In The Play a new young teacher of English finds the only way he can enthuse his raising-of-the-school-leaving age class is to have them improvise. The Telegram is being carried through the village by the elder, watched by two women each dreading it is bearing news of the death of her son in the war. Murdo’s Xmas Letter details the exploits which he got up to during the year; including running a Scottish short story competition – “What I look for first is good typing, then originality,” – and a crusade for truthful In Memoriams – “May James Campbell’s randy bones rest in peace.” The Red Door has been mysteriously painted that colour overnight. When its owner discovers the change it causes him to reassess his life. The Button has loosened from the jacket of a man whose wife and himself had come not to speak to each other. The untidiness obsesses her. Murdo’s Application for a Bursary is to help write his novel about a private eye, Sam Spaid, who is a member of the Free Church. (“I do not see why the Catholics should have Father Brown and we Protestants nobody.”) From there it digresses. The Mess of Pottage is one of Sam Spaid’s cases. A man has left his overly religious wife. In the interview with her Sam ponders the delights of predestination, then follows the trail to the flesh pots of Inverness. The Old Woman and the Rat is a total change of style, as it relates the violent encounter between the two titular characters in the woman’s barn. So too, is The Crater; an account of a World War 1 trench raid and its aftermath while The House is the tale of the delayed construction, over five generations of the Macrae family, of a stone house.

On A September Day young Iain comes home by bus from his school in Stornoway and walks through the village. The talk is all of the international situation and his thoughts become suffused with images of war. The inhabitants are proud of The Painter despite his less than flattering portrayals of the village, until one day he starts to paint, dispassionately, a fight between Red Roderick and his father-in-law. In Church, an abandoned one, in a wood behind the lines, is where Lieutenant Colin Macleod chances upon a deserter dressed as a priest. The Prophecy he has been told about is unwound by an English incomer to a Highland village who muses, “Life is not reasonable, to live is to be inconsistent. To be consistent is to cease to live.” To test out the prophecy he constructs a shed. This leads to a clash between the young (who want to use it for dancing; well, we know what that leads to) and the local minister. In Do You Believe In Ghosts? Iain and Daial go out hunting for ghosts while A Day in the Life of… chronicles said day of a woman who never married, whose parents are dead and who takes pointless holidays. She wanders Edinburgh, thinks what about what her mother would have said of illuminated bibles in an exhibition she visits, “’Nothing but candles and masses. Heathenism,’” before deciding she can’t bear total freedom any more.

Murdo and Calvin is another jeu d’esprit wherein Murdo goes to a police station to denounce Calvin, “a dangerous lunatic….responsible for the Free Church, for the state of Scottish literature, and for many other atrocities too numerous to mention. And especially the Kailyard.” He also believes him, “to have invented the Bible,” that (Calvin) hates women and deceives men, and is a man who uses boredom as a weapon. In After the Dance a man goes back to a woman’s house, they talk, and he asks to watch television. What he sees strikes a chord with him. Mother and Son portrays the eponymous pair in all their backbiting, resentful hopelessness. “He had now become so sensitive that he usually read some devilish meaning into her smallest utterance.” An American Sky sees a now retired emigrant to the US return to his island home for a visit. He reflects, “Perhaps those who went away were the weaker ones …. unable to suffer the slowness of time.” But there is no going back to the same place. Murdo and the Mod relates Murdo’s money-making schemes surrounding that annual celebration of Gaelic culture – protection for adjudicators, procuring B&Bs for choirs, invisible hearing aids (for turning off on the seventh hearing of the same song,) soundproofing rooms for pipers to practise their pibrochs etc. etc. Sweets to the Sweet tells of how a mini-skirted, peroxided, motherless, daughter of a shopkeeper behaves towards the owner of the shop next door. The Bridge is a story about legends and hauntings and being careful what you wish for set against the backdrop of a trip to Israel. The Long Happy Life of Murdina the Maid is a swipe at tales of the olden days, written in the style of a legend, and tells the story of a maid who was inveigled to the great metropolis, was disillusioned there and returned to set up business at home, where there is no competition for her trade. The Wedding is a Highland one but held in a city where no-one speaks Gaelic. The bride’s father makes an awkward speech and seems like the proverbial spare…. until the songs in Gaelic start. The Hermit plays his chanter – badly – when the local bus stops outside his hut. The Exiles are an old woman once from the Highlands but now living on a Lowlands council estate and a Pakistani law student doing a door-to-door round to support himself. In The Maze time seems to accelerate for a man who cannot navigate it. A boy is left In the Silence in a field when his playmates disappear.

After the Dance is a glorious collection; well worth reading.

PC:- For those of a nervous disposition the word negro is used; there is a mention – as depicted in a television programme – of the hooded axe-man at Anne Boleyn’s execution. (Someone’s got this wrong. Boleyn was executed with a sword, by a man clothed unexceptionally in order to keep her at as much ease as possible.) Each left hand page header is Selected Stories of Iain Crichton Smith but the right hand header is the particular story’s title – except on the last right hand page of Sweets to the Sweet where the header was Survival Without Error – which appears nowhere else in the book.

Scotia Nova: Edited by Alistair Findlay and Tessa Ransford

Poems for the early days of a better nation.

 Scotia Nova cover

I was searching the poetry shelves of one of the threatened libraries when this collection’s title intrigued me – mainly due to its inversion of Nova Scotia the anthology to which I contributed my story Dusk. I used to read poetry back when I was a lad, but it’s not my usual habitat. Nevertheless I borrowed it.

The book contains poems solicited from January-March 2014 regarding the possibility of a better Scotland, across every aspect of life. Timed, as this call was, for before the Independence Referendum, many of the poems reflect the choice Scotland faced. Others do not. Here are poems in English, Scots, Gaelic – even in Arabic. (For the Gaelic and Arabic ones an English version is also provided.) Aonghas MacNeacail’s Saorsa/Freedom/Freedome appears in Gaelic, English and Scots.

The ordering of the poems is strange, being mostly alphabetically according to the poet’s surname. The exceptions are few, even for those with two poems in the collection their second ones follow a similar order to their first. It is remarkable how many of the poets have had books published by Luath (but it was to these that invitations to contribute went in the first instance). On that evidence Scottish poetry seems to be in rude health.

Donald Adamson’s In Thir Haunds was notable for a similarity to Is there for Honest Poverty? (aka A Man’s a Man for a’ That) – but others also alluded to Burns’s works – and I appreciated the classical sonnet form of William Hershaw’s Aye but especially its denunciation of Calvinism.
The poems in Scots beg to be spoken aloud. The sound of the leid (language) is just so earthy and vigorous.

Greenvoe by George Mackay Brown

Polygon, 2004, 249 p, plus vi p introduction by Ali Smith.

(Not borrowed from but) returned to a threatened library.

 Greenvoe cover

Of George Mackay Brown, a native of Stromness in Orkney, Wikipedia says “he is considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century.” He nevertheless also wrote plays and prose. This novel, Greenvoe, is in the list of 100 best Scottish Books. While showing many of the characteristics of Scottish writing – the descriptions of landscape and, here, seascapes, a sense of things lost, the pervasiveness of Calvinism – Greenvoe is also distinctly Orcadian.

The novel is set mainly in the titular village on the fictional island of Hellya and follows the lives of its inhabitants over the course of six days, focusing on each in turn. Over time this builds up into a convincing portrait of the village and island life but one of the drawbacks of Brown’s approach is that before we have had the opportunity to get to know them well we are thrown over twenty named characters in the first few pages thus making keeping track difficult to begin with.

The population includes three fishermen, the wastrel Bert Kerston whose wife Ellen feels much put-upon; Samuel Whaness, married to Rachel who bemoans her childlessness and The Skarf (always capitalised) who tells stories of the island’s history in the hotel bar every night. There is a concupiscent ferryman, Ivan Westray; hotel-keeper Bill Scorradale, who substitutes the whisky; an alcoholic minister, Simon McKee, whose mother, racked with guilt, daily imagines her trial on various charges; the local posh girl, Inga Fortin-Bell, home for the holidays; shopkeeper Joseph Evie and his wife Olive; the frustrated schoolmistress Miss Inverary; Alice Voar, “Every man in Hellya has lain with her,” the mother of seven children (each with a different father); elderly Ben and Bella Budge; meths drinker Timmy Folster; and a mysterious hotel guest who sits typing away all day in his room. On the third day the travelling salesman Johnny Singh arrives to make the annual rounds. This section, entirely narrated from his point of view in the form of a letter to his uncle Pannadas – the usual salesman – gives an additional perspective. In it he says, “The island is full of ghosts.” This is a foreshadowing. For like many classic Scottish novels Greenvoe is an elegy. The island life shown here is on its way out – and not merely due to the Government project, Dark Star, which arrives to hollow out the land and cover it with wire fencing. Each chapter of the book (bar the last) covers a single day and ends with a description of the (all different) initiation rites of the Ancient Mystery of The Horsemen.

In her introduction Ali Smith suggests that the core of the book is in the one character who never sets foot in Greenvoe, Mrs McKee’s niece Winifred Melville, who has an illegitimate child, refuses to marry the father, becomes a Catholic and makes a living writing novels. This would be to neglect how much island life itself is a pervasive aspect of the narrative, the almost impossibility of true privacy, the inability to avoid gossip, the depredations of the modern world.

To my mind it is Mrs McKee herself who is the fulcrum. In one of his perorations her imaginary prosecutor (in fact Mrs McKee’s conscience) tells us, “’Become a Catholic,’ said Aunt Flora. ‘What’s good about that? If you ask me it’s worse than the illegitimate child.’ Hers is, thank God, the authentic, affirming voice of religious Scotland.” Describing an incident in which Mrs McKee allowed Winnie to shelter from the rain in a Catholic Church he adds, “Mrs McKee – whose hand plucked an innocent girl out of a Highland rainstorm into – Lord have mercy on this poor Scotland of ours – the abode of The Scarlet Woman.” She it was too who introduced her son to drink by way of a medicinal toddy. Such are the scars Calvinism inflicts on the true believer.

Yet Brown also tells us, “The essence of love is pain; deep in the heart of love is a terrible wound.” Perhaps it is this pain, this wound, that Calvinism seeks, on our behalves, to avoid. Literature (thankfully?) does not.

Pedant’s corner:- (Some of these look as if they are mistakes in transcribing a handwritten manuscript.) Greenove (once, for Greenvoe,) ona (on a,) meth (methylated spirits is more usually shortened to meths but Mackay Brown uses it consistently,) “like a toby jug came to life” (come to life,) knit (knitted,) under a wide are (arc,) becareful (be careful,) “whoal” (“whoa!”?) fetor (foetor*,) “ says be to me” (“says he to me”,) blashphemous (blasphemous*,) “This lie glimmers at.” ??? Ceileidh (Ceilidh,) stange (strange?) flat heer (beer,) a lap wing (lapwing,) scorpian (scorpion,) telesceope (telescope,) mantlepiece, (mantelpiece*,) “The Window” (the context suggests a rock, The Widow, twice mentioned higher up the same page,) “Now them, Sidney,” (Now then,) Belia (Bella,) elegaic (elegiac,) “his date of birth ‘ll be in” (birth’ll,) a missing end quotation mark, Aunt Alora (Flora,) Fergus’ (Fergus’s,) “by the rose bush, Her basket was always …” (full stop for comma?) Gaderene (Gadarene?) spur (spar makes more sense,) back and fore (maybe it’s northern thing, then,) a thin keep (since this is of a wind, a thin keen?) “…an hour ago said Bill Scorradale’ He must have…” (“…an hour ago said Bill Scorradale. ‘He must have…”) “corn-beef” usually “corned beef”,) what a fine, big housel (house! ?) Wedgewood cups and saucers (Wedgwood?) Prince Street (Princes Street,) and and (one “and” would suffice,) gableends (gable ends,) but this time (by this time?)
*correctly spelled elsewhere.

Reelin’ In The Years 29: Focus

There always seemed to me to be something Calvinistic about Focus‘s music, a touch of rigidity: predestination even. Maybe it was because they were Dutch.

It was particularly so of Eruption, the long track that made up the whole of side 2 of the LP Focus II (Moving Waves).

It is also true of their biggest UK hit Sylvia but perhaps less so of the earlier Hocus Pocus.

Focus: Sylvia

Focus: Hocus Pocus

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