1 EAGLETON NOTES: January 2009



Thursday 29 January 2009

Sucked Into Blogland

I started A Hebridean in New Zealand towards the end of 2007.  My Brother had been blogging for a while and it seemed to me that it was a way of telling my friends and family back in Scotland and England and France and Spain what I was up to in the other half of my life.  It was somewhere between a diary and a supplement to the emails that I sent (and still send).  It is also lovely to look back and be reminded of what I have done and where I have been.

When I returned to Lewis at the end of April 2008 I continued my diary in Eagleton Notes.  That way my friends in New Zealand could see what I was doing when I was back in Europe.  Indeed they could find out where in Europe I happened to be.  I am now onto the second volume of A Hebridean in New Zealand.

Before Andrew (our elder son) died on my birthday in June 2006 he had kept a blog of his long and arduous battle against cancer.  I re-read it some while later and started another blog A Life in the Day Of.  Ok silly title but as I used the pseudonym L'Homme Bizarre avec la Barbe Grise why shouldn't it have been a silly title.  I've not kept it up but at some stage my cancer will become a nuisance again and I shall no doubt resort to it as my blanket.

Perhaps a month or so ago I wandered into a few of the blogs that Scriptor Senex follows on his Rambles.  I found a life out there which was absolutely fascinating and compelling.  I have only visited a small (ish) number of blogs but have discovered a few that I visit every day (almost).  Given that my life was filled before from 0630 to about 0100 (I have never needed much sleep) I now have a real dilemma.  How do I fit my new found acquaintances into my life?  

What really puzzles me, however, is how one can suddenly become so attached to people one has never met and is unlikely ever to meet.  I have become acquainted with someone with one of the most beautiful smiles and sunny outlooks on life; someone whose brain and ability with words (and, obviously other things too) blows me away; someone from 'my' Island in Scotland whom I've never met on the Island (so far as I know); someone from the North of New Zealand who has met recent tragedy with apparent great fortitude and whom I have come to admire; and someone with a bright pink (is it pink?) blog which is full of the most interesting things (which I am working my way through backwards as I've only just come to it).  

It is highly unlikely that in non cyber-space life we would live lives that would ever cross.  We may live in different continents and cultures.  We may come from different backgrounds.  We may be from different age brackets.  We may hold diametrically opposing views on certain things (but we may never know).  But we all have a common interest in what each of us has to say.

Thank you Scriptor Senex for introducing me to an entirely new life.

Saturday 24 January 2009

I'm Changing My Name

I have a number of Blogs (through nowhere near as many as Scriptor Senex) and use a number of different names to identify myself.  My favourite is L'homme Bizarre avec la Barbe Grise.  But I also use Geeb and Graham.  Leastways they are the one's to which I'm prepared to admit.  Anyway I have decided to amalgamate them and just call myself what most people these days call me which is GB.  It is either that or think up something short and clever and snappy.  And thinking is not really my forté.

Thursday 15 January 2009

The House Test - continued


Scriptor has commented on the results of my taking The House Test.  I thought that I would reply with another posting.  My ideal house as limited by the House Test would be:
A medium sized house with a couple of levels
It's very far apart from its neighbours
My favourite room is the kitchen
I wouldn't have much lawn but what I would have would be well landscaped
I would have a rock garden.
Now the problem with tests like these is that they don't allow for reality.  In reality my 'Grandpa' Cottage in New Zealand suits my life-style ideally.  I spend my time with The Family or friends or playing croquet either at home or at tournaments around New Zealand.  It has a study and a guest bedroom and a reasonable living/kitchen area (even very large houses owned by friends seem to have the kitchen as part of the living space which I love).  It is low-maintenance.   I can see no other house from it (well, I can actually see part of a roof over the orchards).  The garden (5 acres) is part of the main house and I just keep the part in front of the Cottage tidy.  Wendy won't let anyone else of the ride-on anyway!  

In reality my house on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland is absolutely wonderful and is an ideal living space for me when I'm there.  I won't describe it just now but it has views across the Minch to the mainland mountains of the Scottish Highlands from the kitchen and study that few people are lucky enough to enjoy.

So why did I answer The House Test questions as I did?  

I love space and entertaining and guests so a medium house would be ideal.  I have the best neighbours on Lewis that anyone could wish for.  But in an ideal situation I wouldn't take the chance and I like to play my opera or whatever I'm in the mood for as loud as I like.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and my ideal layout would be a huge open-plan living kitchen dining area á la New Zealand.  I have to be able to talk to friends whilst cooking for them and when I'm on my own I can cook with Palin (my Laptop) in comfort without running from room to room.  My ideal garden would have many lawns amongst the rock gardens and trees and open spaces.  Because of my life-style it would have to be relatively low-maintenance or I would have to have a considerably larger income that I have now to pay a gardener!

The House Test

After reading Scriptor's blog posting I too took The House Test. I have to say that it seemed an exceptionally elementary way of trying to determine anything other than, possibly but not definitively, what sort of a house one might like. The result it gave was however:

You consider yourself important, but no more important than anyone else. You love attention, but you don't feel like you deserve more of it than anyone else. (This looks promising, I thought).

You can't stand community oriented people and annoying "buy local" campaigns (Untrue. I'm pretty neutral in those matters). You prefer to live the best life possible (of course), and that doesn't really involve many other people (Untrue).

You are creative, expressive, and bright (Ok I'm not the dullest cherry on the tree but to call me creative and bright is going a bit far). You are always in the middle of some amazing project (Nope).

You look good in a low maintenance sort of way (I'm sorry. I may not look good but I'm afraid that my clothes are definitely not low maintenance - although I may not always pay the full price for them!). You do the minimum required to be attractive (Sorry. I don't think I'm vain but I like to look and dress according to how I feel and what I want to achieve. As a retiree living in Lewis and New Zealand I spend a lot of my time in New Zealand in shorts, polo shirts and jandles but dress somewhat more formally on Lewis. If I go to see my accountant or lawyer I dress as I did before I retired ie however smartly dressed they are they don't outdress me. If I'm mixing concrete I wear old clothes and overalls! ).

You are moved by your own inner sense of peace (Duh!). You spend a lot of time reflecting on the meaning of life (At one time I might have done but cancer and life have cured me and I spend my time enjoying the life that I have not speculating on the hereafter that I might or might not have).

Sunday 11 January 2009

The Split Infinitive

There has never been any argument in our household over the subject of the split infinitive and the need at all cost to one's grammatical reputation to avoid so doing.  One of the things about blogging with pedants for friends is that one is constantly aware of the need for observing the rules at least to a respectable degree.   A while ago I was chatting to Wendy over something or other unrelated to the split infinitive when the topic arose.  Now Wendy is a child of the sixties and split infinitives have not featured highly in her (considerable - a lawyer with a degree in Social Science) education.  After having explained the 'rule' the matter rested.  Until a few days ago when I was handed a piece of paper duly exploding the 'superstition' of the split infinitive.

The following is from the Oxford Dictionaries website:
This is a split infinitive:

To boldly go where no man has gone before!

The infinitive is to go, and it has been 'split' by the adverb boldly. Split infinitives have been the cause of much controversy among teachers and grammarians, but the notion that they are ungrammatical is simply a myth: in his famous book Modern English Usage, Henry Fowler listed them among 'superstitions'! Split infinitives are frequently poor style, but they are not strictly bad grammar. 

In the example above, to avoid the split infinitive would result either in weakness (to go boldly) or over-formality (boldly to go): either would ruin the rhythmic force and rhetorical pattern of the original. It is probably good practice to avoid split infinitives in formal writing, but clumsy attempts to avoid them simply by shuffling adverbs about can create far worse sentences.
Oh dear Scriptor Senex.  Oh dear Marcel.  Oh dear John Allison.  Oh dear...... there are so many of us out there.  It does look as though we have been mistaken.  Unless anyone knows something to the contrary................ 

Blog Layout Under Revision

It has amazed me how, in the two months and eleven days since I left Scotland, the format of my blog in New Zealand has altered and how many additions there have been to the gadgets in the side column.  As I have decided to continue using Eagleton Notes for some postings which are not really within the scope of my Hebridean in New Zealand I have decided also to update this Blog and I shall be doing that over the next few weeks.  So things might look a bit odd or duplicated or go missing.  Hopefully all will be well when the revision is finished.  If any reader has suggestions which they feel would make things easier please send me a comment or email.

One of the things which I have done is remove comment moderation.  If, by any chance, I start getting inappropriate comments (which I have so far avoided) I may have to re-consider but I have noticed that many websites I visit don't moderate them.  They can, of course, always be removed by me later if I don't feel that they are appropriate.

Saturday 10 January 2009


Last October I blogged about a sculpture in the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow to which I took a real fancy.  I thought it was one of the most moving sculptures I'd ever seen.  As I hadn't made a note of the title nor the sculptor nor could I find any details of it on the Kelvingrove website, I simply called it Father and Child.  Two things happened today.  I read Simply Heather's posting Cultivating Flourishing Appreciation and Martin came back from Scotland having been to the Kelvingrove and looked up the information for me.  The title of the piece is Motherless and it is by George Anderson Lawson (1832 - 1904).

Hugh Stevenson, Sculpture Curator, kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery has said of the piece on the Relicarte website:
The heart-rending sculpture by George Lawson has been a firm favourite among visitors since being bought for Kelvingrove in 1901. The story behind the ensemble of the sad little girl in the arms of her distraught father needs no explanation apart from the title Motherless. One can only speculate how mother met her end – in a tragic accident perhaps, or in one of the epidemics that swept Victorian Britain.
The popularity of this piece is guaranteed by its appeal to the emotions. It is by far the best-known work by Scottish sculptor George Lawson; in fact it is probably the only work known to most people by the man who was responsible for the figure groups on the front of Glasgow’s City Chambers.
What is the relevance of Heather's posting and and why did it prompt this posting?  The fact that she had found a wonderful statue of a child.

Life is just so full of coincidences.