Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Chapter Seven

I'm not stuck. No, really.

I'm not really sure that there is a thing you can call stuck for me (can't speak for other people), not properly. I know what things have to happen in this chapter, and the last one is in fact already written, so I know where I need to get to and I know what's going on along the way. I just don't have a key to get into it yet.

It's like a big bundle of wool where you know perfectly well there must be two ends and you can see there's quite a bit in between them, but blowed if you can find them. What I need to do is go for some walks. Part of it slipped into place about 3.30 this morning (accompanied by the World Service), but that's not such a good method. Walking is the thing. In snow if necessary (and looking outside, it might well be).

Thursday 14 November 2013

Drink tea, save lives.

If you could put your feet up for twenty minutes, have a cup of tea and a biscuit, and save a life, wouldn't you?

I've just given blood. I'm evangelical about this. You have been warned.

My father started giving blood during the war, and he earned his silver badge in the days when you could only give twice a year. He wore it constantly on his tweed jacket, with considerable pride. When I was at primary school, my mother had a serious operation, and a few days after she came home she had a major haemorrhage and had to be rushed back to hospital, where she received, and was saved by, a blood transfusion. We used to joke that maybe my father's blood had saved my mother's life, and perhaps it had. When I was eighteen, I attended the first local donation session that came along, and have been giving, with a couple of medical gaps of my own, ever since.

My father was forcibly retired from blood donation at retirement age, just before he earned his gold badge. A few years ago, I earned my own gold badge, though unfortunately he didn't live long enough to see it. I wear mine constantly on my Barbour jacket, with pride. I've now given seventy three donations, in seven different cities. I’ve seen all kinds of advances in technology, and watched health scares come and go. I've drunk coffee and eaten TUC biscuits and met interesting nurses and fellow donors, and not a minute of it has been a waste of time. It's such a little, pleasant thing for me to do. You can see on television adverts and online the number of lives that are saved or changed by blood donation. I've no idea if I've saved a life - I hope I have, but if it has at least been of service then it has been worthwhile. If you can do it, go on, do.


Thursday 24 October 2013

Autumn again! Ooh, I love it. One allotment pretty much cleared (leeks planted, though) and the other to be done, nasturtiums all over the garden, the amelanchier bright yellow, and the blackberries leaping off the brambles to be eaten. I wasn't going to make any wine this year but it's too good a year to miss and hedgerow wine will be made.  A few weeks ago I took a brisk walk locally to deliver something and saw a skein of 250 geese, two roe deer, and a fox, and filled my arms with elderberries. Who needs to live in the country? (well, me, often, but sometimes towns can come up to the mark. And how many cities can you live in and regularly see grey seals from the bus?)

Meanwhile I'm ploughing through The Tender Herb, Book Six. I'm looking out at autumnal trees and busy bluetits here but half my head is in Moghul India, trying to catch and convey the sights and smells and tastes that intrigue Murray. It wasn't all novelty for him, though: of course Indian silks and cottons were available in Britain, and the first commercially blended curry powder was sold in the U.K. about 1806! So many Scots worked in the Honourable East India Company or travelled to the subcontinent for other reasons, then came home and brought a flavour of their travels with them. The Fraser family of Moniack in Invernessshire are particularly interesting - I've kidnapped William Fraser and put him in my book (couldn't resist) though his brother James can't appear as he came to India later. He was an accomplished artist but returned to manage the family estates after compiling albums of fascinating portraits and views around Delhi and in the Himalayas. And the family estates now produce Moniack Wine, which along with Cairn o'Mohr from Errol is much appreciated in this household!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Scots Words in Fellowship with Demons

The final instalment of these for now:

Advocate: Scots law’s equivalent of a barrister
Assoilzie: (pronounced assoll-yee) to acquit
Aught: anything
Bailie: councillor
Barnage: childhood
Behouchie: behind, backside
Chopin: a Scots half-pint (about 0.85 litres in new money)
Claik: gossip
Craw-step: crow-stepped gables, gables with a stepped edge.
Cundy: a covered drain or the entrance to a drain
Doocot: dovecot
Dwamie: dreamy
Feardy: cowardly, fearful
Flotter: in a state of excitement
Forwanderit: amazed
Glour: sticky muck
Greeshach: shivery, shuddery
Gyte: mad, crazy
Haar: sea mist
Hirple: limp (verb)
Jook: glance, poke your head quickly round a corner
Ken: know (if you’ve read all these lists you’ll ken that one by now)
Laldy, to give: to put effort in, particularly in a fight or row
Lep: leap
Luckenbooth: a folding stall in the street
Meschant: coward
Midden: rubbish pit, dung heap
Pannel: in Scots law, the defendant
Pollis: police
Provost: the Lord Provost is the equivalent of a Lord Mayor
Rammy: fight, squabble, punch-up
Receipt: recipe
Recryand: villain
Reiver: border raider, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries
Risp: twisted metal bar, against which a ring was rattled to alert people to answer the door – a type of doorbell, really.
Sakeless: harmless, simple
Scurryvaig: wander
Skelet: skeleton
Snippy: mean
Stavell: wander
Tron: weighing scales, weighing point for a market
Wald: yellow
Water-caddies: people who carried water in barrels from the street fountains to customers’ flats
Whaup: curlew
Whin: gorse

Friday 27 September 2013

Scots words in An Abandoned Woman

This book actually started off being called 'An Unkenspeckle Woman', meaning an inconspicuous woman, but it was pointed out to me that not understanding the title was unlikely to be a selling point! Again, we have some repetition from the other books here, and some words that will be in use today or obsolete, and some words that will not be exclusively Scots.

Ain: own
Ashet: serving dish
Bejant: first year student at St. Andrew’s University (from the French, bec jaune, or yellow beak, meaning a young bird)
Carline: old woman, witch
Claik: gossip (though Buchan claik simply means Buchan speech, Buchan dialect)
Compear: to appear in any court, as accused or as witness
Corbie: crow
Couped by the heels: knocked flat
Couthless: unsophisticated
Cuddy: donkey
Doocot: dovecot
Faisible: respectable, decent
Fou’: drunk
Gallant: flirt
General Assembly: the annual meeting of representatives of the Established Church in Edinburgh, where the Moderator is elected.
Gey: very
Gowf: golf
Green garten: giving a sister the green garten = a younger sister marrying before an elder one, an embarrassing situation for the elder sister.
Grushie: healthy
Heich-headit: haughty
Heritors: body of laity, usually landowners, who see to the buildings of a parish, the church, manse and schoolhouse, and appoint the schoolmaster.
Hirple: limp
Hizzie: hussy
Ill-gashioned: mischievous or ill-disposed (a Fife expression)
Jook: duck, dodge
Ken: know
Kenspeckle: well-known, conspicuous
Kirk Session: body of laity, known as elders, who with the minister run a particular church. The Session Clerk is their head. Not unlike a vestry in an Anglican church.
Kist: chest
Lammie: lamb
Lepping-on stane: mounting block
Lug: ear
Manse: oh, everyone will know this one! It’s the minister’s house, the vicarage equivalent. It’s also the name of the house where a particular professor lived and taught at Aberdeen University, so ‘Humanity Manse’ is where Latin was taught, for example.
Mercat: market
Midden: dung heap, refuse heap
Muir: moor
Pavie: panic, chaos
Rammie: fight, particularly street fighting.
Roup: auction
Shilpit: lazy, useless, unpromising generally
Skirl: yell, scream
Steading: farm buildings usually round a yard.
Swithering: indecisive
Taigle: dally (basically entangle)
Taigle the cleek: hinder progress generally, tangle things up
Tatties: potatoes
Un-better-maist: ungentlemanly, unladylike
Uncanny: creepy, not quite right (also not careful, not clever)
Whin: gorse
Yeld: barren

Friday 6 September 2013

Scots words in Service of the Heir

Well, the very title is a Scots legal term, also known as a Retour, the proof established that someone can inherit land or buildings from someone else. Moveable goods go differently. But here are some of the Scots words that appear - again, some are in broader use than just Scotland, some are archaic and some still used, and some are repeated from the last two lists. Now, back to typing the next book!

Auld Clootie – the Devil, the old  cloven-hooved one.
Bairn – child
Bing – a barrel or tub, or (later) any large quantity. For example, the mining spoil heaps in the Lothians are called bings
Boke - vomit
Bumbazed – confused
Clarty - dirty
Creepie stool – small, roughly made stool suitable for kitchens
Cruive – pen for animals
Divilment - mischief
Fash – bother, fash himself – take the trouble
Frae - from
Gar my flesh grue – give me the creeps
Gey - very
Gowk  - fool
Groosie – dirty, usually greasy dirt
Haar – sea mist
Handfasted – betrothed
Hizzie - hussy
Howff – low drinking establishment
Joogling – jingling, jiggling
Kirk  - church
Kisting – placing of a  corpse in a coffin (kist – chest)
Loutch – to walk carelessly, with shoulders slumped
Luckenbooth – a lockable market stall
Muckle – much, or of a person, self-aggrandising
Neuk – corner
Pluffy – full of yourself
Pross – parade, show yourself off
Queesivity - curiosity
Risp – an alternative to a door knocker, a vertical twisted iron rod attached to a wall by the door, with a ring round it to be rattled (tried to find one on the SCRAN website but it's refusing to appear!)
Speiring – asking, looking for
Steading – farm buildings
Thole – tolerate, put up with
Tron – weighings scales, also the place where goods are weighed at a market
Wadman – employment agent
Well-kent – well-known

Friday 30 August 2013

Scots words in Knowledge of Sins Past

Some of these are duplicated from Death in a Scarlet Gown, but there we are: this maybe makes it easier!

Ashet: a large serving dish
Birl: spin round or over
Brose: usually barley broth, sometimes oatmeal in water. Athol Brose is whisky, cream and oatmeal as a pudding and can be very fine (and indeed very alcoholic)
Corbie: crow
Craik: croak
Creepie stool: a small stool made usually by amateur carpenters, suitable for kitchens http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/woodbgood/index.asp?pageid=1045
Crusie lamp: a wall-hanging oil lamp with a wick, cheaply made and used often in cottages http://www.ramshornstudio.com/early_lighting_4.htm
Dominie: schoolmaster (this time from Latin, dominus)
Feart: afraid
Gar me grue: give me the creeps
Gey: very
Girdle: griddle
Gob: mouth, or more generally face
Greet: cry, sob
Guddle: confusion, mess
Hapeth: halfpennyworth (that is, not much)
Heidyin: head one, chief
Hirple: to limp
Howff: a low drinking establishment
Ken: know
Kirk: church
Kist: chest. In the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh, there’s a group of Episcopalian Church papers known temptingly as the Jolly Kist – but it’s just a chest of papers that once belonged to Bishop Jolly. Ah, well.
Lum: chimney
Midden: dungheap
Neep: turnip, swede
Nyerps, give you the: annoy you, bother you, disturb you
Precentor: in the Scottish church, one who leads the singing of the psalms
Rammy: scrap, fight
Skelp: slap, spank, cane, generally for disciplinary purposes
Unchancy: unlucky
Wean: child, infant