Category Archives: Scotland

Cigareets and Whisky – –

Jack’s Wednesday post is on Thursday again – but Wendy will be back in a few days – – –

And wild, wild women – –

I’ve been a cigarette smoker from the age of sixteen and a drinker from a few years later.

I did sometimes switch to a pipe or cigars but always ended back on the ciggies! As for the booze I started on half pint shandies (half beer and half lemonade) and eventually graduated to scotch and coke. It wasn’t about getting drunk, or numb, or anything else. It just was a way of life picked up in Scotland, that I didn’t question much, until the pandemic struck.

As we moved into the Covid 19 lock-down, we began to monitor our consumption of many things, and realized I was smoking at least twenty a day, plus starting to drink about ten thirty each morning!

Time to regroup….

I discovered that the trick is to keep busy. During these socially distant days of no friends dropping by spontaneously, no music evenings for fun. I have been slowing down and taking lots of breaks. That just contributed to the smoking and drinking. So my wild, wild woman noticed and started to rescue me by keeping me busy. That consists of Wendy, three cats, and two chickens. Bruce, the dog, became my sponsor. The two chickens needed a coop, the coop needed to be draft proofed, the vegetables needed watering, the tomatoes needed picking – – –

Then we set targets (Bruce, Wendy, and me): go from twenty to fifteen, then to ten and to five ciggies per day (I’m between fifteen and ten just now). Move the first drink up to two pm, then three pm and aim for five pm (I’m headed toward 4 pm just now). Because my whisky is usually mixed with coke I just drink a coke earlier and it isn’t so hard. (Wendy says she has no plans to wean me off coke at this time.)

Am I an addict? Probably, but the odd thing is that, at seventy-eight years old I’m in reasonably good health. It’s kind of amazing that my liver and lungs still work so it’s probably a good idea to keep them going a bit longer.

Wendy does all our grocery shopping during these strange times, so she steels herself to buy my cigarettes. But she has discovered the delights of gin and tonics over the summer, so the liquor store isn’t quite such a challenge; she never did take to drinking before suppertime—although she did admit to putting liqueur in a cake recently.

This post isn’t intended to confront anyone else but may possibly give some pointers; be mindful of your enjoyments and make sure they are that, not mindless coping mechanisms that really don’t cope with anything. Wendy and I are enjoying sunsets, drinks in hand, and I’m enjoying the autumn meals from of our garden vegetables that I watered all summer long.

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, VA

The Monday Book – Born Fighting – Jim Webb

Jack’s job is the Monday book this week again – so a day late of course – –

I may have reviewed this book some years ago, but there’s nothing wrong with revisiting a book!

When I first read the book I was impressed, first of all, with the description of early Scottish history and then with the history of the ‘Scotch Irish’ in Ireland.

On re-reading, though, I have some doubts. I read ‘Wales – A History’ recently and that sheds a rather different light on the early history of the Celts (or Brythons) and that paints a contrasting picture. The lowland Scots, who were Webb’s ancestors, were part of the Brythonic culture and spoke Welsh rather than Gaelic or Scots. He doesn’t really cover that period well.

Then his coverage of the lowland Scots in Ireland seems to me now to be written strongly from a Protestant point of view and is rather condescending about the majority Catholic population. There is only passing reference to the Potato Famine which was effectively a British ‘pogrom’ against the inhabitants of the country and hugely important.

The book isn’t just a general history, but a very personal history and it’s important to bear that in mind. Webb’s roots are in Appalachia and he really starts from there and weaves everything around that. There’s no doubt that he set out to place himself in that context and that’s fair enough.

Webb writes well and Born Fighting is an easy read, however I would strongly recommend reading other books about the history of the Celts and the Appalachians alongside this one.

Wales – A History – Gwynfor Evans

The Thistle and the Brier – Richard Blaustein

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Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, reading, Scotland, small town USA, VA