Thursday, 22 November 2012


Oh well, it’s November all right.   Here it is raining and cold in Bonnie Scotland.   The leaves are shades of orange and yellow, lots are still on the trees in Lochardil, Inverness, but a good percentage of them are now lying around the paths of the garden, and along the streets.    In some ways Autumn is sad   -----

‘And the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,   And I haven’t got time for the waiting game.’

I think it was John Houston that sang September Song in some film or other.  He was finding it melancholy trying to have a love affair and realising it was probably going to be kind of heartbreaking for an aged person.

Really I am lucky,  -----  old as I am.   I mean I am having steak and sausages for my meal tonight.   Me and Gerald.   And we will watch TV and try not to eat too many chocolates.    The freezer if full of waiting meals for my guests tomorrow – sister (Stella) and brother-in-law (Stephen), and sister-in-law (Irene) she, from another era, like the nineteen fifties.   Anyhow, we will laugh, drink, eat and be merry because 23rd November is my birthday.   So that can’t be bad.

Unlucky is to be in the Gaza Strip, or Israel with rockets and bombs going off, people injured and dying, and whole buildings being smashed up.   Politicians try to help to get some form of compromise going in this latest upheaval in the Middle East.   Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Egypt.   They have a Cease-Fire just yesterday and today, but people don’t believe it will last.  

‘And the days dwindle down to a precious few, September, November, And
these few precious days, I’ll spend with you.   These golden days, I’ll spend with you!’

 That’s what I’ll sing to Gerald tonight, Well maybe, if we can stop  arguing about, you name it, we can make an argument out of it – all in a good cause, of course.

He has been making a flat-pack shelf-unit I bought from a catalogue.   Swearing, of course, as the instructions were incomplete, obscure, and WRONG!   In his dressing-gown as usual, and kneeling in the hallway, he announced to me that the illustrations were wrong, and that the screws DID NOT FIT!.   ‘They’re never wrong, dear’, says I.   But no flies on himself, he goes and looks the catalogue up on the computer, still cursing me, and finds out what?   THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE WRONG!!  Oh well, the unit is completed now and looks as if it had always stood in the kitchen holding Cookery Books.

Reading a library book called  “To Travel Hopefully” by  Christopher Rush.   It is about the author who, after the sudden death of his young wife with undiagnosed breast cancer,  he is devastated and experiencing a tragic time of it, almost a mental breakdown.   Eventually, he decides to make a change in his life, really to get his life back.   He makes up his mind to follow in the footsteps of R. L. Stevenson, and to go walking in France in the Cevennes with a donkey.   You may remember the book is called “Travels with a Donkey”.   I remember reading it in school when I was about thirteen.   It had been translated into French and we had to learn to read it in class in French in school.   The author, Christopher Rush’s experiences are quite fascinating, once you work your way through the devastation of his bereavement in Edinburgh with two young children.   However, I stuck it out and now he has just got his donkey and is getting ready to start alone on his journey through the lonely hills of South West France.   Good luck!   Bad luck!   We all get our share.   Let’s hope good luck holds for me over the weekend, the month even, and maybe until my next birthday.

As they used to say in Scotland in the olden days, when we had coal fires.   “Lang may your lum reek!”   which translated means “Long may your chimney smoke!”   And Christmas is only 32 days away!    Yipee!  Good luck to all my distant relatives and friends who find the time to read this!!

Friday, 9 November 2012


This is a “guest” blog – and the guest is the Gerald that the true blogger, Margaret Dunlop, refers to from time to time.  Gerald is of course the husband of long-suffering Margaret.

So here goes:  I have no claims on literary merit – as will become clear in the next few paragraphs.  My claims to writing are a couple of scientific textbooks, one on animal breeding and one on the yak – yes, that bovine that is the mainstay of the mostly Tibetan herdsmen and their families in the mountainous regions of Western China.  That in addition to a bevy of scientific papers in the field of animal genetics – and anyone with an acquaintance with scientific papers would agree that such writing is a mile away from literature.

It may seem strange to our American friends and relations that I should take an interest in the politics of the USA.  But what a sigh of relief went up – probably across much of Europe and other parts of the world – when the US electorate bade farewell to Mitt Romney.  Perhaps he was misrepresented in the media here but the impression came across that here was a man dedicated to assisting the already rich and caring little about the welfare of those struggling at the bottom of the heap.  Sure, there are some feckless among the latter, but many at the poorer end of society are trapped in a condition from which only a minority can break free.  And yet we owe respect and concern for the wellbeing of our fellows and most especially for the vulnerable and the sick.  Perhaps the majority of the American electorate felt this - and that compassion did not equate with the Romney intention to repeal Obama’s modest health care reforms, or the fact that intended tax breaks would benefit the rich much more than those in the middle.   Furthermore, Romney’s foreign policy (if he didn’t make it up on the hoof), especially for the Middle East, could arguably head us towards conflagration and potential disaster – perhaps the majority of electors realised that too. 

Mind you, in respect of domestic policies, some of the apparent Romney philosophy pervades part of our Tory-led government in the UK – which is a godsend to the Scottish Nationalists as they know that these attitudes are alien to the vast majority of Scots and thus aid the SNP’s ill-judged attempt to separate us from the rest of the United Kingdom.   David Cameron (the UK prime-minister) must be just about the best recruiting agent for Scottish Independence.  Pity he does not seem to recognize that.

Away from Politics, I am astounded by the huge number of TV chefs imparting their culinary wisdom.  But what amazes me is that in spite of this onslaught we are told that a majority of the population don’t do any real cooking and rely on ready meals and junk food – thank goodness for Margaret, in this house.

We were all appalled by the hurricanes and storms afflicting much of the American east coast and beyond and hugely saddened by the misery and loss caused to millions of people.  Folk often complain about the “miserable” Scottish climate (we were recently told that the average daily sunshine was only 3.1 hours).  But it’s so temperate, the grass is green, drought is rare, we rejoice when the sun does shine and we are spared extremes.  Let’s hope that climate change does not alter all that.

A final disclaimer:  Margaret has no responsibility whatever for any for the views expressed in this blog and will hopefully return with saner words soon – once she has finished re-organising the kitchen, making curtains with the most difficult material ever and other self-imposed tasks.