1 EAGLETON NOTES: March 2017



Monday 27 March 2017


Every answer to a question by a journalist on television these days seems to start with "So..." Am I the only one who finds that intensely irritating.

And whist I'm on the subject of irritating things can anyone explain the rational behind the practice that seems to have developed in the UK (I have no idea whether other countries/cultures also have the practice) of clapping oneself in a situation where one would usually expect other people to do the clapping.

Friday 24 March 2017

A Beautiful House

Out for a coffee recently we were walking down St Vincent Crescent in Glasgow's Finnieston

and were deafened by birdsong from this wonderfully cultivated frontage:

Wednesday 22 March 2017

One For The Weegies

Many of you, my dear readers, will know what a Weegie is but many of you will not. A Weegie is a Glaswegian. The Scottish equivalent of a Liverpool Scouser. The difference being that Weegie has an obvious link with the term Glaswegian and Scouser has no grammatical link to Liverpudlian. (I do like rambling introductions).

There has been a rumour for the last couple of centuries that the folk from Lewis are a dour Presbyterian lot.  Presbyterian many may be. Dourness is, however, fading fast and, even then, I'm not sure a many deserved the accolade.

Some years ago a number of statues began to appear in Stornoway. This is one of them. Recently someone with a sense of humour (and probably with Glasgow connections) has tried to outdo the Weegies as their own game.

So what, you might ask, is the Weegies game? It is adorning the head of the Duke of Wellington statue outside the Museum of Modern Art in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square with a traffic cone.

Monday 20 March 2017


This week we visited the Huntarian Art Gallery. I enjoy going back every so often to see the Whistler collection and a few other special pieces. Often there is a special exhibition and I never cease to be amazed when I find something new to see in a work I've seen a dozen time before.

Anyone who knows the work of the American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 to 1903) will have their favourites (assuming they like his work). His most iconic works (I think) are his life-size portraits which started with The Symphony in White No 1. The Hunterian has a significant number of these portraits. However whilst they are wonderful works (they have a vaguely Pre-Raphaelite feel about them which attracts me) far and away my favourite work is a small portrait apparently unusually done in one sitting entitled Dorothy Seaton, A Daughter of Eve (1903).

There are a great many versions of this image on the internet including an enlargable one on the Hunterian website at the last link I have given .

This is how I see it:

Saturday 18 March 2017

Books and People

One of the things that I do when I am in someone's house is look at their book shelves. Books interest me. In fact books interest most people that I know.

I was recently reminded of an incident about 40 years ago when I was living a few doors away from one of my colleagues. We were both new to the Isle of Lewis and were both from the North West of England. Our families had become friendly. We often shared a car into work.

One day I was in the friend's house waiting for him to get ready (I am compulsive about being on time. He wasn't). I started looking at the books on his bookshelves. When he came into the room I said (and I have absolutely no idea why I said) "I hope you don't mind me looking at your books." To which he responded that he most certainly did. Of course I thought he was joking. He was not. He went on to opine that it was a violation of someone's privacy because you could tell too much about a person from their bookshelves.

I suppose that he was correct but I certainly hadn't seen that coming.

Would you object if I was looking at your bookshelves and do you think I would learn a lot?

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Flora Edwards

Where does time go? Where do people go? On this day 15 years ago (and it seems like such a short time) the mother of CJ and me died at the age of 93 with all her faculties. It was her decision to, as she believed, join her husband and many of her friends.

Today the father of a very close friend died. A few days ago a friend in New Zealand died. All during one's life people die but as one gets older it is those of the same age who start dying and somehow this brings one's mortality to one's notice quite forcibly.

This first photo was taken in the early 1930s by my Dad. Mum would have been in her 20s.

I have blogged this photo before. I took it perhaps over half a century ago and it's a photos of which I've always been quite proud.

This photo was taken in the caravan we had towed up to Scotland in about 1960 and somehow the dress doesn't reflect the fact that the caravan was in a waterlogged caravan site at the foot of Ben Nevis. Mum hiked (tramped) and camped all over the English Lake District and Wales but somehow always seemed to be beautifully turned out.

This photos was taken on the same caravanning holiday in Killin. I've spared CJ and me the embarrassment of our photos being shown.

How things have changed.

Monday 13 March 2017

Abou Ben Adhem

A short while ago Rhymeswithplague wrote a post entitled On approaching the end of one's time on this planet, plus Davy Crockett which, amongst other things, asked the question as to how one should approach life at that time. Bob is a person with strong religious beliefs so some of the comments inevitably revolved around achieving salvation.
My comment was that my motto is simple: carpe diem. As I am atheist I don't try and please a deity but to live as I have always done trying to be considerate to those other humans (at one time I would have said 'my fellow men' but I understand that is frowned upon nowadays) with whom I share this planet. I don't expect or seek salvation. I'd just like others to show me the same consideration. 

To which Bob recommended the short poem "Abou Ben Adhem" by Leigh Hunt for my reading pleasure. As for the not seeking and not expecting, his hope was that I will be pleasantly surprised.

I was astonished because I had not thought about that poem for many years but I responded that some of my Mother's teaching obviously rubbed off on me because it was one of both my Mother's and her Mother's oft quoted works. Not that either of them were atheist.
So, for those of you who are not familiar with the work here it is:

Abou Ben Adhem

By Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Bring a Plate

Until I read Lee's recent post I'd forgotten how unusual the expression 'Bring a plate' must sound when one first arrives in Australia or New Zealand (and perhaps other places of which I am unaware). It is the usual practice when going to a party or when an organisation such as a croquet club is having a function or tournament for guests or members of the host club to 'bring a plate' of food.

It became my standard offering to make a cheesecake. Why? Because the first time that I can recall doing it was for a croquet tournament the club of which I was a member was holding. That must have been in about 2007 and it led to the following incident.

When I came into the clubhouse from a game I was met by a lady from a visiting club who, loudly and in front of all present, asked if I was Graham. That is my name so I decided on an honest approach and admitted as much. "Then marry me!" That, I have to admit totally threw me. I looked around at all the amused faces hoping for help. Of course none came. My obvious perplexedness (I'm sure there's no such word but I'm equally sure that you'll understand what I mean) caused her to ask if I was the maker of 'the cheesecake'. I confirmed that I was. So she repeated her offer of marriage. She was wearing a wedding ring but as she was obviously older than I she could have been a widow. Anyway I took a gamble and said that I didn't think her husband would approve. "Bugger him!" was her response.

At this point I should explain that the term "bugger" is not regarded as a swear word in New Zealand and I doubt very much that many people even know its legal meaning. It is often used by ladies of a certain age without as much as a batted eyelid.

A couple of years ago I was at a tournament and the said lady was talking to a friend. I said 'Hello' as I joined the group and she looked at me and said "Do I know you?" My friend told her that she had once proposed marriage to me. She didn't bat an eyelid; looked me straight in the face and asked if I had accepted. "No." I replied. "Your loss." she retorted and carried on with the conversation.

Of such memories is life's rich tapestry made.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Lengthening Days

For the last few years when I have spent much of my winter in this country I have looked forward to spring. Before the decade of winters spent in New Zealand I didn't think about winter in a negative way at all. I worked during the day and  I hunkered down at night and did winter things. Now the days when it's dark until after 8am and dark again by 4pm have begun to pall. More than that, though, is the uncertainty of being able to leave the Island. Winter gales often stop the ferries and even, on occasion, the planes. However as I can't take my car on the plane and, being over 70, I can't hire a car at my destination I rarely fly unless I'm going abroad.

This year we've actually had one of the sunniest winters on record although that hasn't stopped the gales and rain from playing their usual part in our lives.

But there are signs of Spring. Yesterday the Blackbirds were singing their hearts out as the light faded and I heard a Wren. Today I saw a Wren in the garden and the frogs  decided it was party time and the first spawn appeared about 10 days earlier than the last time I can recall the event.