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Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, May 2018

Ducks on pond:-

Ducks, Beveridge Park Pond, Kirkcaldy

Fountain:-

Fountain, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

Circumference path:-

Path, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

Carnegie Library and Dunfermline Abbey

The Carnegie Library in Dunfermline was undergoing refurbishment for a long while. It reopened last year with exhibition and museum spaces alongside the library files. At least they didn’t get rid of the old library bookshelves in the way that happened at the main Kircaldy Library when it was refurbished a few yaers ago.

From one of the upper exhibition spaces at the new Carnegie there is a great view of Dunfermline Abbey (through glass.)

Dunfermline Abbey from Carnegie Library

There is also a gardened area right beside the Carnegie Library with figures of Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnnie in the circular seating space at centre here:-

Garden by Carnegie Library, Dunfermline

The box hedging gives way to a grassed area with intervening espaliered trees:-

Garden by Carnegie Library, Dunfermline

More espaliered trees finish the garden off:-

Carnegie Library, Dunfermline

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

Harper, 2010, 569 p. First published in 2003.

 The Distant Echo cover

I probably wouldn’t have read this – I wasn’t particularly taken by the author’s The Wire in the Blood – but the good lady had just finished it and mentioned it was set partly in my old stamping ground of Kirkcaldy and partly in St Andrews (which I know well.) So I thought I’d give it a go. The locations in the book aren’t restricted to Fife, it does stray to Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, and even Seattle but the main events take place in what the locals like to call “the Kingdom.”

The prologue lets us know of a Fife Police press announcement of a cold case review and a shadowy figure haunting a cemetery before Part One plunges us into the 1978 discovery of the dying body of Rosie Duff by four students at St Andrews University (schoolfriends calling themselves the Lads Fi’ Kirkcaldy) taking a short cut back to their flat after a party. One of them is a medical student and tries to save her life but fails. As discoverers of the body and covered in blood they naturally become suspects. The investigation cannot summon up evidence even to charge them and the case is unresolved but they are still subjected to suspicion, threats and violence – especially by the dead girl’s brothers. McDermid makes a lot of this finger of suspicion and the effect it has on the four and their relationship(s). Part Two sees the resurrection of the case and its reintrusion into the four’s lives. But in the intervening twenty-five years the main evidence from the victim’s clothing has been lost and there seems little hope of progress. But the review has stirred the old suspicions and someone has the four firmly in the frame.

McDermid’s prose is certainly efficient but rarely rises above the workmanlike. The book’s structure, too, made it slightly odd. Part One was more or less scene setting, involved a lot of information dumping and therefore dragged somewhat. McDermid makes passing reference to the fascistic fringe and government encroachments on citizens’ rights in the late 1970s. (That sort of thing has become even worse of late with intolerance having been adopted into the political mainstream and governments eager to seize any excuse to restrict citizens’ rights.)

I would have said that it was cleverly executed except that the resolution was disappointing. It has more holes in it than Stoke City’s defence and depends too much on the prior withholding of information from the reader. In the last (tie-up) chapter it is revealed that one of the four Lads had a piece of information that would potentially have pointed to the murderer but never told the other three – nor the Police – during all those twenty-five years of suspicion. We can only suppose this was to create an artificial sense of suspense and it kind of obviates the point of the book (no matter what reason he might have had for his reticence.) Moreover the murderer seems to have been able to carry the body up a hill to where the Lads stumbled upon it without seemingly getting any blood on himself, even though the victim had a gaping wound.

McDermid has a wide readership. I assume they don’t like taxing their brains overmuch.

Pedant’s corner:- the main drag (St Andrews has a main drag?) Roger Waters’ (Waters’s. And I know he wrote Shine On You Crazy Diamond but did he sing on it? Wasn’t that David Gilmour?) “[Kirkcaldy’s] Town House looked like one of those less alluring products of Soviet architecture” (is more than a bit harsh. It’s a fine buiding.) Raith Rovers’ (Raith Rovers’s,) Brahms’ (Brahms’s,) “had strode” (stridden,) “‘Gonnae no dae that’” (is referred to as if it were a catchphrase from the early to mid 1970s. It wasn’t. Chewin’ the Fat, where it originated, was first aired in 1999.) “‘We lay low’” (we lie low – but it was in dialogue and the character had lived in the US for years and they can’t seem to get the lay/lie thing correct over there,) Soanes’ (Soanes’s.) “The sky was clear, a gibbous moon hanging low in the sky between the bridges.” (sky….sky,.) Sainsburys (Sainsbury’s.) Plus several instances of “time interval later”.

Getxo Monuments

In the afternoon we had a chance to take a walk around Getxo (pronounced Get-zho.)

View from jetty leading out to berthing point. The main part of Getxo itself is to the right here:-

Getxo, Biscay Province, Basque Country, Spain

This is the view off to the left:-

Vista of west Getxo

This monument to a 700th anniversary (1248-1948) is mysterious as unfortunately any other wording is no more. It lay near the junction of the main road with the one to the jetty near to the large “English” houses:-

Getxo Memorial

Getxo must have one of the longest promenades I’ve seen. I thought Kirkcaldy’s was long but Getxo’s seemed to last for ages. At the other end of it near where the Ria Bilbao meets the sea proper at Las Arenas was a Monument to Evaristo Churruca. It’s in that monolithic fascist style:-

Monument to Evaristo Churruca 1.

Monument to Evaristo Churruca 2

Getxo, Monument to Evaristo Churruca 3

Monument to Evaristo Churruca 4

Monument to Evaristo Churruca 5

Last Year’s Cygnets

In November we visited Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy again.
At least three of the cygnets were almost fully grown:-

Cygnets, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, Nov 2015 1

Cygnets, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, Nov 2015 2

Or was it four?:-

Cygnets, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, Nov 2015 3

Art Deco Interior

I took this photo in a museum, I think in Kirkcaldy Museum.
It’s an example of the linoleum made in the town being adapted to the then new Art Deco style laid out in the entrance to Barry’s linoleum factory.
That receptionist’s desk is cracking too.

Art Deco Interior

Sunset Song

Hurricane Films, Iris Productions, SellOutPictures. Directed by Terence Davies.

We don’t go to the cinema much, life and children got in the way not to mention Kirkcaldy’s dedicated cinema closing down years ago now so we had only what passes for the local “Art House” Cinema to rely on unless we wanted a trek to Dunfermline.

However we couldn’t miss seeing the film of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic book Sunset Song. So it was off to the Adam Smith Theatre again. (But that’s also a longer trip since our house move.)

It is difficult for a film to capture the essence of Gibbon’s masterpiece. I suppose this one made a valiant effort but I have huge reservations. The human story of Chris Guthrie’s life was well enough done but though references to it were made via voice-over (and in the odd bit of dialogue) and there were cutaways to sumptuous views of the countryside the importance of the land to the novel (and Gibbon’s intentions for it) did not come across with anything like enough force.

I noticed that the church used – at least for the exterior shots – was actually the one in Arbuthnott (the village with which Gibbon is most associated) where his memorial is situated. I can’t vouch for the interior as I’ve never been inside. I did feel that the soundtrack choir singing All in the April Evening in the lead-up to the church scene was ill-judged; too lush by far. We also had the minister wearing a surplice; not at all likely in a Presbyterian Kirk. And that pulpit looked disturbingly modern.

Peter Mullan as Chris’s father gave his usual Peter Mullan hardman performance and Agyness Dein’s acting as Chris was fine but really her accent was all over the place. At one point I thought she’d said, “they were burning the winds,” when it was whins. (The h in “wh” words is aspirated in Scots and Scottish English; the sound is more like hwins.) She also pronounced the g in “rang” and for her to be unable to say “loch” properly verges on the criminal for someone playing a Scotswoman. None of the accents struck me as being particularly of the Mearns though.

I also felt the prominence given to Chris’s husband Ewan’s fate towards the end of the film made it seem more of a lament for the fallen of the Great War in general rather than the more particular loss about which Gibbon was writing, for which Ewan stood as a metaphor.

Watch the film by all means – it says a lot about the harsh times and attitudes of the Scotland of a century ago – but for the full Gibbon experience the book is certainly to be preferred.

This Year’s Cygnets

I was in Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy last month and the swans have seven cygnets this year.

This Year's Cygnets

This Year's Cygnets 2

Spot the Spelling Mistake

I took the photo below well before our trip to The Netherlands. It’s of a poster advertising a production of Sunset Song at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy.

Spot the spelling mistake.

I notice the “schools £9 age 12+” concession rate. I hope that in future exams none of the scholars attribute the book incorrectly.

Shore Coal

Many Fife coastlines bear the marks of past coal mining. A ribbon of coal particles can be found on Kirkcaldy and Burntisland beaches, whether washed there from mines or eroded from rocks I don’t know..

At Lower Largo the deposits are larger. Here are some seen through the shore barrier.

And these are lumps.

The industrial landscape of Methil can be seen from Lower Largo beach, wind turbines, oil rigs and all.

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