Tuesday 28 June 2022

A Friend Stayed

I have just taken a friend to the plane for her journey home to Glasgow. We've known each other a couple of years shy of half a century.  It's a very comfortable relationship. Sue and her late husband had lived here on Lewis until 2006 but our friendship remains as close as ever. 

During the last week we have been blessed by a few days with stunning weather and we made the most of it to see some of the Island's scenes and beaches that we tend to take for granted.

Garry Sands

Traigh Mhor

Uig Sands

Uig Sands

Cliff Bay

Plus a walk in the Castle Grounds

We also enjoyed plenty of good food and the occasional (as in 5.30pm is an occasion) gin and tonic.

The television hasn't been on for a week. After dinner (by which I mean around 9pm) we played Rummy or dominoes. Unfortunately for me I managed to win only one of the evenings. C'est la vie. 

Saturday 25 June 2022

The American Language

Why are we in the UK so hung up on the use of British English versus the use of American English?

In Shakespeare's time English was totally different to that used today. There was no 'am ...ing', 'is ...ing' or 'are ...ing'. If you read Shakespeare you will read "I go." not "I am going". That's a pretty fundamental change in our language. That's before I start on all the other 'archaic' words and forms of a language as written 400 years ago. I'm sure that there are many books written on this paragraph's subject alone.

No one holds a candle for a return to Shakespearean or even Victorian English. 

Years ago someone very close to me was appointing a new PA. He offered the job to an existing employee who happened to be American. He made the appointment conditional on the person ceasing to use the term "trash can" for the waste paper basket. On her first day in the job when he arrived at the office, in the centre of his blotting pad was a small treatise on the origin of the term "trash can". As you have probably guessed it was originally a British term.  

There are also many American words in daily use in the English language which originated in America bur are generally accepted in the UK. Some examples are: commuter, double-decker, do-gooder come immediately to mind as do many words of native American derivation. Examples being: avocado, barbecue, cannibal, chocolate, husky, kayak, jaguar, opossum, potato, quinine, squash and tobacco. However my all time favourite is mugwump. I'm sure I did a blog post about that many moons ago.

I recently mentioned Wordle. Some people in the UK really have got their knickers in a twist because the game - owned and published by the New York Times - uses American spellings for some words. 

I think that it's about time that we on this side of the pond stopped being so precious about our strange, and often bizarre, spellings.

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Scruples and Empire

Great Britain (the title of England, Wales and Scotland in use since 1474) is getting to the end of its credible life. It is, indeed, true that in world terms Britain was great and had the largest empire ever (in terms of land area). Once upon a time it was true that “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” because the empire consisted of colonies all over the world. After World War II, British imperialism began to wane as the United Kingdom granted independence to most of its colonial possessions. 

Britain's wealth and place in the world came as a result of its power and the fact that it subjugated or conquered so much of the world. Britain was great and few could deny that. During the last 70 years we have still been amongst the countries in the world with a major say in, and influence on, world affairs.

However reality has now to be faced and whilst Britain leads the world in many areas it is no longer an imperial player and it has to accept that size matters. The USA and Chinese blocs may fight it out and the economic might of the European Economic Community will be a massive player but Britain, despite its residual economic power and its armed forces and, of course, being a nuclear power, is no longer the great power that it once was.  At present we are in danger of becoming irrelevant and, worse still a laughing stock.

Why? Well, amongst many other reasons, we withdrew from the EC. So we think we can do as we please but have no clout against a bloc of such powerful nations. We are no longer of any use to the US as an insider in Europe. I should not be surprised if The Commonwealth slowly (possibly speedily) ceases to exist as we become less and less relevant to the individual countries involved. Indeed when Queen Elizabeth ceases to be monarch a huge emotional Commonwealth loyalty will disappear. 

However, whilst all these mighty issues march on, Great Britain is free to reconsider its use of the Metric System and revert to the post 1826 Imperial weights and measures (previously or otherwise known as the English System). 

It is this latter possible debate that brings me to consider whether there is any chance that there might be any situation where our Government and Downing Street in particular considers the return of the scruple.

NOTE. For those unaware of Britain's former weights and measures a 'scruple' was a small amount of something equivalent to 20 grains used in the system of apothecaries' weight used by pharmacists. In plain English a 'scruple' is a sense of right and wrong that keeps a person from doing something bad or a feeling of guilt from doing something bad.

Sunday 12 June 2022

Wonderful hens?

Well that's one way to start the day. I ate two of my wonderful neighbour's hens' eggs. By which I mean my wonderful neighbour. I have no idea whether her hens are wonderful. Firstly I have never seen them because they live on her croft up the road behind loads of trees. Secondly I couldn't tell a wonderful hen from any other sort. I'm rather glad she doesn't have room for them in the garden next door. If she did have room and they did live there, they would come foraging into my garden and do even more damage to my plants than the dreadful cold winds over the last few days have done.

The journey down on a beautiful Sunday had been driving hell and took well over an hour longer driving time than usual. I returned from Glasgow on Friday with little traffic. I crossed The Minch yesterday evening on a ferry full of vehicles but with the area I usually sit in virtually empty. Given that I was almost the last car on and therefore almost the last passenger upstairs I was fortunate and got 'my' usual table. Despite the southerly gale the ferry crossing wasn't too bad.

I was down for my final drugs trial review. The trial is now over. It's been a great success and I'm still on the drug but the NHS is now paying. The best news for me, though, is that I shall remain under the care of the Oncology Prof who looked after me during the Trial. My visits to The Beatson will be fewer for reviews and scans but the intermediate interviews will continue but by phone or video. My August appointment is already in the diary.

My relatively short time in Glasgow was partly because I wasn't having scans and partly because Anna went to the opera in Glyndebourne and partly because I was very anxious not to leave my garden for too long despite neighbourly help watering etc. 

I left Lewis after the best day of the year so far on Lewis and arrived home to wind and rain. The photo is me getting ready to feed the birds this morning