Monday, July 26, 2010

Tapadh leibh! 7 weeks

I have a correction to make, which, for me, is most embarrassing! As I was thanking many people last week, I most definitely should have written Tapadh Leibh NOT Tapadh leat! As tapadh leat is either the familiar or addressing just one person, whereas tapadh leibh is formal address (which is why I didn't think of it) or addressing many people. Oh dear!

The other think about which I wished to speak is Alexander McCall Smith. Once I get going, I could sing the praises of this author for quite some time. He is best known and loved for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (which I confess I have not yet read) but he is quite a prolific author, and everything of his that I have read has been entirely charming and beautiful and heartwarming. I found his recent novel La's Orchestra Saves the World deeply moving. On a Scottish note, however, there is the delightful 44 Scotland Street series, which I am currently reading. In The World According to Bertie (the fourth, I think, in the series) I found this amazing passage:

"For the most part, we treat others in a matter-of-fact way; we have to, in order to get on with our lives. But every so often, in a moment of insight that can be very nearly mystical in its intensity, we see others in their real humanity, in a way which makes us want to cherish them as joint pilgrims, almost, on a perilous journey."

A few months ago he was chosen for the book group I attend in Greene. Everyone read a different novel of his. Not all the ladies liked him (which really surprised me!) but one, Amy Marsland (herself an authoress) voiced an opinion very similar to mine: that whatever his subject, and whatever the location (be it Africa or Scotland) there is an undercurrent of goodness - the "moral" so-to-speak - of the story is always the same, and a beautiful and refreshing current of humanity runs throughout his writing. So I say Three Cheers for Alexander McCall Smith!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tapadh leat! 8 weeks

Yesterday I had my Gaelic conversation with Donald, and we were talking about my upcoming move to Glasgow. He was waxing most eloquent about this opportunity in my life. "Do you know how lucky you are?" he asked me, then answered his own question by saying, "I don't think you can know." He even went so far as to tell me that I had a golden ball of opportunity (I had a delicious moment of feeling like Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend, though of course, the golden balls in question are very different). He urged me to study Gaelic at the university, not just Archaeology, which I had been planning on doing.  The two departments work together very closely and one can even study two subjects at once. On this subject, too, he told me that I have a "unique ability. It is in your blood - in your very cells."

This conversation was very humbling to me, especially when he ended it by telling me I was the luckiest woman in the world. Because I thought, yes, I am. It has been a pipe dream of mine to live over in Scotland (or England) for years and years. A long time ago when I told my friend Kevin I wished I could move over there, he told me to read George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. But here at last I am about to embark on this glorious adventure, this amazing opportunity. And I need to give thanks, because I would not be here without the help of my family and friends. In time, love, money and support I have been borne along by my loved ones, and I am so grateful, because I wouldn't be going otherwise.

Tapadh leat! Moran taing!
Thank you! Many thanks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Orkney Venus *** 10 Weeks

Last August a small carved figure from the Neolithic era was discovered in the Noltland dig on the Orkney Islands - in Westray. It has been named The Orkney Venus, and The Westray Wife. A new dig season is about to begin, where more information about these people will hopefully be discovered. They are hoping, among other things, to shed more light on a building with cattle skulls in the walls foundation. For more information see: