Category Archives: Scotland

As Others See Us

Jack hits the ground running – – –

I’ve often pondered on what we mean by ‘normal’ – normal behavior, normal lifestyle, normal ideas.


When Wendy was teaching Cultural Geography in a classroom instead of on-line she would occasionally have me in to guest lecture on Scottish culture. I would always read the textbook beforehand and was struck by something. The book was always written from a Western point of view and I got to wondering how a textbook written from an African or Oriental angle would compare.

My view of the world comes from a European perspective, whereas Wendy’s is American and although we obviously share a similar worldview, we’ve both had to make adjustments over the years.

A friend recently posted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on Facebook and it reminded me of something I read by C S Lewis – maybe in Mere Christianity. He said, and I defer to his scholarship, that everyone in the world, regardless of religion, had the same sense of right and wrong, good and bad.

If we think of something like Maslow’s pyramid with the shared sense of good and bad at the base and a completely formed worldview at the top, then somewhere between the two is where the difference sets in.

Perhaps the answer to this conundrum is to start lower down the pyramid where the shared perspectives are more evident. That way maybe an African student can avoid seeing a European country as an ex-colonizer and a US student can question whether their form of freedom and democracy is the only kind.

There’s a very rich and varied mélange of ‘normals’ out there and I’ve been very lucky in my life to sample many more than the average person. My message? Read widely, travel widely and reach out.

The map at the top is of the British Isles viewed from the North instead of from the South – a good exercise in seeing your world from a different angle!

Interestingly – there are two countries, a Principality and a Province making up the United Kingdom – how many do you see shown?


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

Revolutionary Thoughts – – –

Jack easily makes it in time again – –

I really don’t want to write anything about Covid 19 so last week I wrote about my wee parlor guitar. This week it’s about a different and equally beloved piece of musical equipment –


Many years ago I had a hankering for a wind-up gramophone (phonograph over here). So Wendy announced before one Christmas that we were going on a trip. She had done some research and found a gentleman who collected and sold ‘old technology’. He lived in a big old mansion house south of Edinburgh and he welcomed us graciously when we arrived.

The basement area was a warren of passages and side rooms that were probably originally cold storage for food etc. Each room had a different kind of ‘stuff’ – radios, TVs (including mechanical Baird Televisors), Medical equipment, telephones, scientific instruments – and on and on!

Eventually we reached the room with gramophones. Everything from old cylinder machines to 1960s Dancettes.

I had already gathered a fair collection of old 78 rpm records, everything from old Scottish traditional performers to Glenn Miller. But I wanted the kind of machine they were intended to be played on.

We chose a lovely old HMV machine and agreed a price. The gentleman then insisted on giving us a free box of needles too (I still have most of them).

For any readers not familiar with these machines – the turntable is driven by a powerful spring which is wound tight by the handle on the side. The needle picks up the sound vibrations and a diaphragm makes them audible, then feeds the sound to a horn. In my gramophone the horn is built in and opens behind two doors on the front. The doors are, effectively, the volume control. There are two levers beside the turntable, one controls the speed of rotation and the other is a brake which turns the rotation off or on. There’s no electricity involved at all.

The great thing is that my old 78s sound exactly as they should.

I often wonder about the previous owners, what they played on it and whether it had pride of place in their houses – I like to think it did, just like here!


Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch