Leid on MacDuff – – –

Jack gets over the line again – wonders will never cease – – –

For some odd reason I’ve been using a lot more Scots words and phrases recently. I’ve no idea why!

It may be a residual effect from singing Scottish songs or maybe because some friends in Scotland have begun to promote the language in the mainstream media and demand more recognition by the Scottish Government.

There was an earlier attempt to champion the language by writers such as Mathew Fitt and Billy Kay, but more recently has seen the emergence of Steve Byrne and Iona Fyfe, who, in different ways have found new ways to encourage recognition and use of the language.

A few days ago I came in from liberating our chickens from their coop on a frosty morning and said to Wendy – “it’s fair snell oot there!”. So – ‘snell’ means very cold and ‘fair’ is a magnifying adjective. The translation would be ‘it’s very, very cold outside’. A friend who had stayed overnight then spoke about her reaction to cold weather and I described her as a ‘Cauldrife Biddie’. That would translate as ‘a woman who’s susceptible to cold temperatures’.

Our backyard is divided into two sections by a fence to try to keep the aforementioned chickens away from the house. Just recently I’ve started referring to the nearest section as the ‘inby’ and the furthest as the ‘ootby’. That’s a reference to Scottish crofts that had two small fields – one near the house and one further away. The croft itself would have two rooms – the front one called the ‘but’ and the back one called the ‘ben’. I sometimes say that I’m just going “ben the hoose”. The croft house would often be called a ‘but and ben’.

I should explain again or to newer readers –

Scots and English are both related languages based, like most European languages, on Greek and Latin. However English and Scots diverged centuries ago and Scots borrowed much grammar and vocabulary from France and Scandinavia. The easiest way to think of the relationship is to imagine Spanish and Portuguese or Danish and Swedish.

Lang may yer lum reek and keep ye frae that snell cauld wynd!

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

The Monday Book – Woody, Cisco & Me.

Jack- gets to do the book review again – – –

Woody, Cisco, and Me – Jim Longhi.

I was fascinated by Woody Guthrie from the minute I discovered folk songs, and not just because Guthrie is a Scottish name.

I knew that he and Cisco Houston (another Scottish name) had sailed in the US merchant marine during world war 2 and that they’d wound up briefly in Glasgow after their ship was mined.

But I didn’t know about the third member of the gang, Jim Longhi!

Longhi’s book is completely wonderful and engrossing. It tells the story of how they kept themselves together through very scary times and also kept their shipmates and traveling companions hopeful and entertained as well. There are many hilarious shore trips from Sicily to Liverpool and Belfast, but lots of really nail biting times as well, as other ships are torpedoed and sink around them.

Although I knew about Woody and Cisco I had never heard of Jim.

The only disappointment is that, despite a lot of details about their shore visits, there’s nothing about the shenanigans in Glasgow, which are well documented. Despite that very minor quibble I thoroughly recommend this to anyone interested in Woody or what life was like for mess hands on the Atlantic convoys in WW2.

Dulce et Decorum Est – – –

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Filed under book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table