It is now the middle of the day on midsummer’s day, 2016. It has been a rather unsummery & harsh fortnight or so – the European monsoon season that kicks in every June putting in an appearance once again. However, on other fronts it has been a pretty cool month. Axis & Allies is, as a formulated poem, complete. All the titles & dates are in neat positions & in bold, there is no stanzetta that needs converting into verse. I’ve sent it to a coupel of people including an American poet named Dana Gaio or something who like my Language of Birds, heaping praise upon my traditional style, then completely clammed up about A&A – refusing to acknowledge a word. Its quite an interesting trait in poets when faced with A&A – its like complete denial. I have flicked through the poem, & I know already there’s a few touches & edits that need to happen – but in all sense of structure & passion, the poem is finished.
Music wise, the band is getting better all the time. Me & Al have finished draft two of the album- ie sorted out bass & guitars – while we’ve played two big gigs in the past few weeks. The Meadows Festival on a glorious sunday afternoon where I could see folk filling up the entire mile or so of greenery before me – all listening to my litle old band. What was funny was Kennys insistence on taking a line of Luke’s stuff, presuming it was an upper (it wasnt) & wobbling off stage at the end of the gig. Cue me thinking he’d had a heart attack & was in hospital, when all along he’d just got back on stage with the final band – Nipple of Venus.
Five days later we are at Eden festival & the Furry Chillum, a gig which Kenny was late for, but kicked off a great Mumble review & good old time, including a brilliant jam for my 40th birthday at Jonny’s bus. It was also mine & ems’ anniversary, & we were joined at the hipp all weekend, very much in love & happy as larry. You can read all about the festival here. Since Eden, we’re welcoming Al’s pal, Bill, to the band on sax. This Friday we go for draft 3 of the album – but Ali from the Matta has thrown a strop & we can’t use Mindis a Make-up or Ceasefire. Instead we’ll bring Poppadom back & record Matty Grooves at Steves. There’s also a gig this weekend in Glasgow @ Nice & Sleazys, after which we’ll chill for while.
In the real world, the English beat Wales in the Euros, but Wales topped the group, while Jo Cox was murdered by some bell-end, but her martyrdom should swing Thursday’s coming referendum on Europe towards the ‘Remain’ camp. Back in my world, I’ve been Mumbling hard in anticipation of August, & I’ve had a wee surge of sonneteering. It began on the train to Burnley where I began the first of 3 sonnets which tie the Humanology project into the rest of the Silver Rose. In essence, there will be 6 grand sequanzas of 196 sonnets each, giving a grand total of 1176. Check this out, my birthday is : 11-6-76. That is some pretty fucked up numerology if you ask me.
Burnley was great n’all – Ems had bought me a ticket for the Stone Roses & I went with my sister & Simon to the Etihad stadium. It was awesome gig – much better than Heaton Park, & one in which the first album was played in its entireity – a great moment really seeing as I’m trying to emulate it at the moment. Yeah, what a gig, the best I’ve ever been to in my life, I think, the Etihad was like a modern Collosseum & my favorite gladiators were on cracking form – their new single, All For One, if a little plastic in the recording was majestic in such an environment. Aye, I love the Roses me!
On the train back after the gig, I penned the third of my three sonnets n’all, & getting home found they fit into the Silver Rose schema perfectly. Weird that it happened the weekend I saw the Roses n’all. So in essence as A&A is an Iliad, & The Silver Rose is the Odyssey. In the 80s, Alex Fergusson of Man Utd said;
My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their fucking perch. And you can print that.
A couple of posts back I gave a detailed explanation as to why I thought the Attacotti were the original Pictish tribe who settled in Britain, builders of the brochs which mark their territories – from Caithness & Sutherland, through the Orkneys & on up to the Shetlands. I also postulated that the name Attacotti has a meaning of ‘both acotti,’ but gave a vague suggestion that this would be connected to Gethus & Gothus, Pictish King who settled the Orkneys. In this post I would like to show you my most recent findings on the matter, & as usual it begins with something I missed in my own researches. In his ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland’ Boece writes;
Nocht lang efter, a banist pepill, namit Pichtis, come furth of Denmark, to serche ane dwelling place ; and, efter that thay war inhibit to land baith in France, Britane, and Ireland, thay landit in Albion. Sum authouris sayis, thay come first in Orknay ; and, sone efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane : and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis, outhir for thair semely personis, or ellis for the variant colour of thair clething ; or ellis thay war namit Pichtis, fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane, war callit than Pentland.
Boece’s Agathirsanis are the anciently recorded’ Agathyrsi,’ mentioned by the father of history himself, Herodotus, in the middle of the 5th century BC. Of course, chispologically the name is a fit to my theory of ‘both acotti’, for acotti & agathy are philologically nigh identical. In addition the ‘gath’ element really does suggest it is behind the names of kings Gethus & Gothus.
So who were the Agathyrsi? A number of Pictish legends sees the name being used for the ‘Cruithni’ – ie the earliest Picts who came to Britain. So far, so good, for Gethus & Gothus also belonged to this group. The idea, then, is that it the elements of the Agathyrsi somewhere Herodotus migrated to the far north of Britain. Herodotus tells us that by his time they were of mixed Dacian-Scythian origin, who dwelt in the plain of the Maris (Mures), in Transylvania, Romania.
From the country of the Agathyrsoi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from the heights of Haemus descend with a northern course three mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and the Tibisis, and pour their waters into it.
Kaspar Zeuss has suggested that the Hunnish ‘Acatir’ tribe is based on these Agathyrsi, which mirrors my assumption that the Acotti are also based on them.
Herodotus describes the Agathyrsoi as, ‘the most luxurious of men and wear gold ornaments for the most part: also they have promiscuous intercourse with their women, in order that they may be brethren to one another and being all nearly related may not feel envy or malice one against another. In their other customs they have come to resemble the Thracians.’ He also pontificates on a Pontic Greek myth that describes the Agathyrsi as being named after a legendary ancestor Agathyrsus, the oldest son of Heracles.
Upon this he [Heracles] drew one of his bows (for up to that time Heracles, they say, was wont to carry two) and showed her the girdle, and then he delivered to her both the bow and the girdle, which had at the end of its clasp a golden cup; and having given them he departed. She then, when her sons had been born and had grown to be men, gave them names first, calling one of them Agathyrsos and the next Gelonos and the youngest Skythes; then bearing in mind the charge given to her, she did that which was enjoined. And two of her sons, Agathyrsos and Gelonos, not having proved themselves able to attain to the task set before them, departed from the land, being cast out by her who bore them; but Skythes the youngest of them performed the task and remained in the land: and from Skythes the son of Heracles were descended, they say, the succeeding kings of the Scythians (Skythians): and they say moreover that it is by reason of the cup that the Scythians still even to this day wear cups attached to their girdles: and this alone his mother contrived for Skythes. Such is the story told by the Hellenes who dwell about the Pontus.
We must now ask ourselves is it a coincidence that in the very place where Boece places the Agathirsanis,we find an island called Sketis (also Ocitis), & that the brother of Agathyrsos is called Skythes.
It makes sense. The Picts were at least part ruled by their druids, & there are several notices in the annals that the Agathyrsi are clearly Pictish:
1 – Virgil tells us the they tattooed their bodies (picti, Aeneid iv. 136), describing ‘Cretans and Dryopes and painted Agathyrsians, mingling around his altars, shouting.’
2 – Aristotle tells us (Problemata, xix. 28), ‘Why are the nomes which are sung so called ? Is it because before men knew the art of writing they used to sing their laws in order not to forget them, as they are still accustomed to do among the Agathyrsi?’ The same method of memory was also used by the Druids, of which number some were attached to the Picts.
3 – In the first century, Pliny alludes to the blue hair of the Agathyrsi : ‘Leaving Taphrae [a town near Crimea], and going along the mainland, we find in the interior the Auchetae, in whose country the Hypanis [the Bug river] has its rise, as also the Neuroe, in whose district the Borysthenes [the Dnieper river] has its source, the Geloni, the Thyssagetae, the Budini, the Basilidae, and the Agathyrsi with their azure-coloured hair. Above them are the Nomades, and then a nation of Anthropophagi or cannibals (Pliny the Elder IV, 26).’ This echoes the poet Claudian’s description of Britain as being “… clothed in the skin of some Caledonian beast, her cheeks tattooed, and an azure cloak, rivalling the swell of Ocean, sweeping to her feet (On the Consulship of Stilicho:2)
4 – In the 380s, in his Res Gestae Ch. 22, writes;
The Danube, which is greatly increased by other rivers falling into it, passes through the territory of the Sauromatae, which extends as far as the river Don, the boundary between Asia and Europe. On the other side of this river the Alani inhabit the enormous deserts of Scythia, deriving their own name from the mountains around; and they, like the Persians, having gradually subdued all the bordering nations by repeated victories, have united them to themselves, and comprehended them under their own name. Of these other tribes the Neuri inhabit the inland districts, being near the highest mountain chains, which are both precipitous and covered with the everlasting frost of the north. Next to them are the Budini and the Geloni, a race of exceeding ferocity, who flay the enemies they have slain in battle, and make of their skins clothes for themselves and trappings for their horses. Next to the Geloni are the Agathyrsi, who dye both their bodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small—the nobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.
Again, that the Agathysi nobility’s have more tattoes reflects the Picts, whose name, according to Isidore of Seville ‘(Origines, Book XIX Part 23 No. 7) ‘is taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’
It is clear that the Picts & the Agathyysi are drawn from the same stock, & there is even a mention of them migrating to Britain made a thousand years before Boece. Roundabout the year 400, the Roman grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus was a late fourth-century and early fifth-century grammarian wrote a commentary on the works of Virgil. In it, he relates that in about the year 300 AD the Agathyrsi sent across a contingent over the sea to Scotland, where it became identified with the Picts, the most formidable warriors who would exhaust all who stood against them. It is this slim bit of information that seems to prove everything I have been aiming at. Not long after 300 AD the Attacotti appear in the annals. That means not long before then, one of the two Acotti tribes must have blended with the other. Thus the Agathyrsi arriving among the Picts c.300 AD are these. Simple, but absolutely fascinating.
Yesterday was the last day I will ever compose an Axis & Allies tryptych. In fact, I did 5. The first three were in the morning, walking in glorious sunshine before settling down at the lake. Rhondendrum bushes were in full bloom, bluebells were still regnal in visual lucidity, great hosts of insects were covering the lake like clouds of sealike-spray. As I finished my last line I entwined its meaning with Arthur casting Excalibur into a lake after his death at Camlann. It was a bit like Prospero snapping his wand in the Tempest as, after pacing by the lake a few moments & milking the moments, I tossed my pen into the lake & watched the bubbles from its falling slowly pop into nothingness. Getting back to the ranch, I then realised that there were, in fact, two stanzas still to write – one’s on the 9-11 ‘attacks’ that I wanted to include to reflect my own studies into the actual events of 9-11, not those force fed us by the media only moments after the towers were hit.
So its done, or at least the research & writing is done. 900 tryptychs, 100 cantos & .one lovely, long, luxurious epic poem. My work is done. I’ve summarised all history up to my time, & reflected the zeitgeist as best as I can, even projected into the future in the best epic tradition. All that remains is a singular read through – I’m at Charlemagne at the moment – neatening, improving, etc. I admit, this is a process that may take a lifetime – & thats my perogative. But I have to draw the line at some point, & with the poem fresh in my mind & having reached its final form, then that time is just about now. Plus I turn 40 in 9 days.
The day before I turn 40, by the way, still in my 30’s, Tinky Disco play Eden. A week before that (in 3 days) we play the Meadows Festival & at the moment we are in the process of recording our first album. We put the drums down the other day, & we were gonna finish everything off with Cliff in Germany. Unfortunately he got all Teutonic on its ass, demanding we only work with half the tracks. So we’re not going now & gonna finish it off ourselves. We gonna stay at the Lane Studios in Prestonpans, the producer, Colin, is a sound, enthusiastic guy & I reckon he’ll deliver the goods.
So for the next few weeks I’ll be reading through A&A & recording the Tinky Album. The latter begins like Sergeant Peppers & finishes like the Stone Roses first, two models of some quality on which to place the piece. It reminds of something I read in Machiavelli.
Men nearly always follow the tracks made by others & proceed in their affairs by imitation, even though they cannot entirely keep to the tracks of others or emulate the prowess of their models. So a prudent man should always follow in the footsteps of great men & imitate those who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with theirs, at least it has an air of greatness about it.
Here’s a few images from recent days, such as the Hibs first cup Scottish win in 114 years, plus some videos from last Friday’s Tinky gig;
Reviewing – Ode to Joy at the Usher Hall (read the review here)
My Uncle Jeff is now the mayor of Burnley
M’lady’s new boots
As a little break from Axis & Allies I’m now in the National Library of Scotland working on the Attacotti theory I’ve been working on. A few weeks back the Shetland Times printed a strange version of my Attacotti theory, which they allowed to be intercepted by the curator of the island’s main museum. “Probably not,” says Dr Ian Tait. Well, we’ll just have to see about that.
Our quest begins with something I’d noticed in a map left behind at my new house in East Lothian. Most versions of Ptolemy’s Geography mention an island called Sketis off the north-eastern coast of Scotland, which past historians have assumed was Skye, misplaced. However, in the map I was looking at, it had a completely different name – Ocitis. This is the version found in most manuscripts of the Geography, & for me it contained a clear phonetic match to the Cotti of the Attacotti. Now these guys were a northern British tribe which turn up in the 4th century. Ammianus Marcellinus, who wrote a history of Rome in the late fourth century, mentions (book 27) describes them as ‘a warlike race of men‘ who fought alongside the Picts & Scots in what is known as the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’ of the mid 360s.
It will, however, be in place to say, that at that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.
In the same century, St Jerome traveled to Gaul, where he observed certain members of the Attacotti getting up to some rather bestial behaviour, writing of them in his Adversus Jovinianum (c.393AD);
Why should I speak of other nations when I, a youth, in Gaul beheld the Attacotti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and when they find herds of swine, cattle, and sheep in the woods, they are accustomed to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds, and the paps of the shepherdesses, and to consider them as the only delicacies of food.
So, the Attacotti were a bunch of warlike cannibals, some of whom found themselves in Gaul. The evidence for them on the Continent comes in the Notitia Digitatum, compiled about 400 AD, which lists four Attacotti auxillary regiments as fighting in the Roman Legions, two of of whom, the Honoriani Atecotti seniores & the Atecotti iuniores Gallicani, were stationed in Gaul. It seems that after Count Theodosius’ restoration of Roman order in Britain, the Attacotti were recruited to fight as auxilia palatina in the legions. The Notitia reads
In Italy: Atecotti Honoriani iuniores
In the Gauls with the illustrious master of horse in Gauls:
Atecotti Honoriani seniores
Atecotti iuniores Gallicani.
For a long, long time, scholars have speculated on the homelands of the Attacotti, but to no avail. However, while looking at an Ogham inscription on an obscure Pictish stone discovered on the Shetland Islands, I hit paydirt. Etched into what is known as the Lunnasting Stone, it reads;
- ettecuhetts: ahehhttannn: hccvvevv: nehhtons
- (Forsyth 1996)
Chispologically speaking, Ettecuhets is a lovely match for Attacotti, especially when we combine two variant spelling in the Notitia, being ‘attecotti’ & ‘attcoetti,’ as in; Attecoet / Ettecuhet. Elsewhere on the Shetlands, at a place called Cunningsburgh, another Pictish stone also seems to mention the Attacotti.
Transcription : +TTEC[O^G][–] | [–]A[V^BL]:DATT[V][B!][–] | [–][A!]VVR[–]
Reading : ETTEC[O^G] [–][A!]VVR[–]A[V^BL]: DATT[V][B!][–]
There is an island called Mousa, just a stone-skip across the waters from Cuningsburgh, which is home to the greatest of all the stone, Pictish roundhouses known as Brochs. Archeologists calculate a date of 100 BC for its construction, which leads us to a possible discovery of the etymological root of the Attacotti.
If we look at the distribution of the Pictish brochs, we see that they are found chiefly in Caithness, the Orkneys & the Shetlands. Archeologically speaking, the majority of them date from around 100 BC to 100 AD. If we conject that the broch-builders are part of the same tribe, & that the Attacotti at Cuningsburgh built the broch at Mousa, then we can assume that the Attacotti were also found on the Orkney islands & also on the mainland at Caithness. The central portion of this ‘empire’ are the Orkney islands, which fits in perfectly with the nerve-centre of a Pictish diaspora as described by Hector Boece, a sixth century Scottish Historian. According to Boece, the first Scottish region in which the Picts ever settled was the Orkney Islands, after which they spread south into Scotland as far as Lothian. In his ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland’ Boece writes;
Nocht lang efter, a banist pepill, namit Pichtis, come furth of Denmark, to serche ane dwelling place ; and, efter that thay war inhibit to land baith in France, Britane, and Ireland, thay landit in Albion. Sum authouris sayis, thay come first in Orknay ; and, sone efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane : and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis, outhir for thair semely personis, or ellis for the variant colour of thair clething ; or ellis thay war namit Pichtis, fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane,
war callit than Pentland.
Another 16th century historian, William Camden, gives us some slightly more readable information about the early Pictish settlement of Scotland, stating that at, ‘…the time of Reuther King of Scots; when the Scots, by an intestine division, warring upon one another, each Party being assisted by a considerable number of the Picts, they fought so desperately, that, besides Gethus King of the Picts, the greatest number both of Scots and Pictish Nobility were killed, with many thousands of the Commons of both Nations. Which great slaughter, with the invasion of the Britons at the same time, constrain’d the Picts (who perceived themselves unable to resist) to fly, some by land and others by sea, to Orkney, where they abode for a time, and made Gothus, brother of the foresaid Gethus, their King. And after a few years, having left some of their number to people and plant the Countrey, they return’d to Louthian; and having expelled the Britons, settled themselves again in their ancient possessions.
Between Camden & Boece we learn that the original Pictish settlement in Scotland had its main powerbase on the Orkneys, with a secondary settlement in the Lothians. This leads us to another passage in Camden, in which the mainland across from the Orkneys – Caithness – seems to be named after King Gethus himself;
Now Orkney, being a cluster of thirty Isles, separated from one another by little arms of the Sea: they are said in a certain old manuscript to be so call’d from Argat, that is (as it is there explain’d) Above the Getes: But I had rather interpret it, Above the Cat; for it lies over-against Cath, a Country of Scotland, which, from the promontory, is now called Catness; the Inhabitants whereof seem to be falsly called, in Ptolemy, Carini instead of Catini.”
Whatever ‘certain old manuscript‘ Camden was using, it definitely gave the Caithness region an original name of Getes, with the Orkneys being ‘above them.’ That the G & C are interchangeable can be seen in two historical notices of the Pictish kingdom of Cat. In the Pictish Chronicle, the seven kingdoms of the Picts are given as, ‘Fib, Fidach, Floclaid, Fortrenn, Got, Ce, Circinn,’ while the Irish translation of the Historia Brittonum states their names are Cait, Ce, Cireach cetach cland, Fib, Fidach, Fotla, Foirtreand.’
Returning to King Gethus, that he was a contemporary of ‘Reuther King of Scots;’ as given by both Boece & Bellenden allows Gethus to be inserted into the following time-frame;
Kings of Picts
————– Gethus : gives his daughter in marriage to Reuther
Cianus : Taken prisoner by Claudius in the Orkneys (43 AD)
These dates place the Gethus/Gothus brothes a couple of generations before the Claudian conquest of Britain, say, 80 years or so, which to the middle of the first century BC. This reinforces the connection between the Getes & the Broch-builders, & for me there is too much frantic chispological activity going on to deny that the Attacotti were connected to the broch-building ‘Getes.’ But lets just see if we can strengthen the theorum with as much evidence as we can;
The Etymology of ‘Attacotti’
When looking at the the name, Attacotti, I wasn’t convinced by Philip Rance’s ideas about the Attacotti being based on the Irish Aithceach Tuatha (Deisi and Magnus Maximus: the Case for Irish Federates in Late. Roman Britain 2001). Instead, I decided to have a pop myself & divide the name up into Atta & Cotti. Both Latin & old Gothic render Atta as ‘father,’ which could translate as ‘father gothus,’ indicating that they were descended from the Orkney Pitcs. That the Picts are said to have a possible Scythian & German origins support a Gothic ‘Atta.’ However, after discovering the former naming of the Shetlands as ‘Ocitis,’ I realised that dividing the name into ‘At’ & ‘Acotti’ seems more prudent. In Latin, Et means both, & we have already seen how the Ogham describes the ettecuhetts. This then leads us to something like, ‘both acotti.’ We have seen how ‘Argat’ means ‘above the Getes’ & was applied to the Orkneys. The Shetland Isles are also found above the Getes,’ which fits into the idea of two divisions of the ‘Acotti,’ both of which lie beyond Caithness, which I’m giving the rather poetic name of ‘The Kingdom of the Two Cats.’ As already stated, support for this comes from that island called ‘Ocitis’ found in Ptolemy I mentioned at the start of the post. Its there, right at the edge of the page at the 20th parralell.
Ptolemy describes four main islands off the far northern coast of Britain. What I found interesting is that with the map of Scotland clearly turned 90 degreees on its axis, then the two Ptolemic islands, Dumna & Ocitis seem to match the situations & correlations of the Orkneys & the Shetlands. This suggests that Ptolemy – who never really left the Meditterranean – may have used two seperate travellers accounts for this part of the world, which became superimposed upon each other. This means that Dumna would also be the Orkneys, that Ocitis would also be Thule, & thus Thule would also be the Shetlands. Evidence for this comes as flows;
Ocitis as Shetland
In one MS, Ptolemy’s Ocitis appears as Sketis, about 70 miles easterly off ‘Cape Orkas.’ Most scholars say this was Skye misplaced. But Sketis becomes Schetis becomes Camden’s Schetland just as easy, and Shetland is about 70 miles NE of Scotland, i.e. Cape Orkas. We must also acknowledge that the Shetlands were also known by the name of ‘Inse Catt’- ie island of the Cats.
Dumna as the Orkneys
In the very centre of the Orkney archipelago, there is a small, flat islet called Damsay, which could well have derived from Dumna. It seems that in the distant past, it was quite an important spot. The island is home to a number of submerged constructions, with Caroline Wickham-Jones, of Aberdeen University, telling the BBC in 2009;
We have certainly got a lot of stonework. There are some quite interesting things. You can see voids or entrances… There’s this one feature that is like a stone table – you’ve got a large slab about a metre and a half long and it’s sitting up on four pillars or walls so the next thing we need to do is to get plans and more photographs to try and assess and look for patterns. The quality and condition of some of the stonework is remarkable. Nothing like this has ever been found on the seabed around the UK.
The thinking here is that in the deepest iron-age past, the Orkney Islands were actually named Dumna, with its spiritual centre being situated somewhere on or about the island of Damsey. The name should derive from Domnu, the Celtic goddess of the Summer Solstice Goddess. She is described as the Mother of Water who absorbs and reflects the rays of the sun as it climbs to it’s annual zenith. A place so far north as the Orkneys, then, would be a perfect place to celebrate the unbroken sunlight of midummer
Thule as Shetland
Several contenders for Thule have been proffered over the years, from Iceland to the Scandinavian land-mass, but in a genius & comprehensive bit of investigation – in an age long before google – Camden tells us quite decisively;
But if that of the learned Gaspar Peucerus, in his Book De Terræ Dimensione, be true, that Schetland is by the Seamen call’d Thilensell (and I know no reason to except against his testimony) Thule is undoubtedly discover’d, and the Controversie at an end… Schetland is the same with Thule, we may believe, First, from the situation of it in Ptolemy: For Thule is plac’d in the sixty third degree from the Æquinoctial by Ptolemy, and so is Schetland. call’d by some Hethland. Again, it lies between Scotland and Norway; where Saxo Grammaticus places Thule, as but two days sail from the point of Cathness; in which Distance Solinus also places it: And Tacitus says, that the Romans spy’d it afar off, as they sail’d by the Orcadesin their voyage round Britain (83 AD). Lastly, it faces the coast of Bergæ in Norway; and so lay Thule, according to Pomponius Mela, in which author the text is corruptly Belgarum littori, instead of Bergarum littori. For Bergæ, a City in Norway, lies over-against Shetland; and Pliny makes Bergos to be in this tract, which I take to be the small Country wherein Bergæ is seated; as none will deny that Norway is Pliny’s Nerigon.
Both Pliny & Strabo noted the comment of the fourth century BC Greek Geograper, Pytheas, that Thule was a six-day voyage north of Britain. Which in the terms of a antiquital voyaging seems about right – in 54 BC, for example, it took Cesar 18 hours to sail from Boulogne to Dover. That Thule was a Pictish possession is inferred from the poet Claudian who, writing about 400 AD, places them on the island;
The Orkney Isles with Saxon Blood were wet,
And Thule with Pictish gore did sweat.
What the Saxons were doing on the Orkneys in 400 AD is unclear, but the Pictish presence on Shetland / Thule in 400 AD is pretty much sealed.
It seems pretty much nailed on that the Attacotti were based in the northern islands of Scotland, & as such we can strengthen the theory ever more. Earlier in the post we saw how the Picts left their Lothian possessions on the death of King Gethus, but later on in time returned to their lands in Lothian. Camden writes;
After a few years, having left some of their number to people and plant the Countrey, they return’d to Louthian; and having expelled the Britons, settled themselves again in their ancient possessions.
What is remarkable here is that in the Lothian regions, at Traprain Law, the capital of the Votadini tribe, a silver horde was found in which the shield pattern of the Honoriani Attacotti Seniores seems to have been replicated on a silver plate. Indeed, the coinage in the horde determines that it was deposited during the reign of emperor Honorius himself.
Things are settling down nicely in the world of Damo. The new place is a dream come true, my nearest nice walk being a lovely half hour around a lake, built by Sophie’s grandad. There’s an upturned rowing boat there & something tells me a Shelleyan hour a day will soon be spent bobbing about on water working on my poetry. I’ve also been planting potatoes & onions in the garden, plus lettuce seeds in the window, the first of which is above. The garden is also a dream for kids, & we had a rather fun time last Thursday with Marnie, Lindsay & their two wee ones, plus ours, Kenny’s tribe (with both wives) & Cadey, the daughter of Ian who will be working on the Tinky Website this summer.
Last weekend we all nipped over to Glasgow to see colin. On the Friday night me & the big man hit the comedy night at the Drygate (review can be read here). The nest day me & Colin mowed his massive lawn while Emily & the girls hit Weegieland for some shopping. The Storries also agreed to have some kind of shindig on the 25th of June, when we do our Nice n Sleazy’s gig in Glasgow. We do have to get a urinal or portaloo or something, though – that’s their condition – & Im not allowed to call it Storriestock!
Back in the shire, on Monday there was a proper ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ moment. Donna had seen two skips in a bath.. Apparently its all the rage in New Zealand to stick one in the garden & have a fire-bath. “Do I know anyone with a van?” she asks. “Well, Carol’s just bought one!” I replied. So ta-daa! & now we ALSO have a bath to do something with in te egarden – but I’m thinking more hot water from the tap through a hose rather than heating it up from underneath.
Poetry-wise, I’m chugging through Axis & Allies now – including a few new last-minute additions. the last poem I wrote was inspired by a newspaper article in the Daily Mirror – which I get delivered in the mornings now – describing the blitz of Liverpool, May 1941. I’ve also got my office looking today, with my library in its traditional nice chronological order. In fact, the whole house is looking nice – Emily’s done well. Im keeping my Burnley house, though, the premiership’s coming back to my beloved town (they just won the championship) so it’d be foolish to leave! Saying that, our padis gorgeous – views front & back & lovely walks all round, its gonna be great to to & fro between the two from now on.
Yesterday was a good day. I got up real early & drove out to let Carol’s dogs out. Didnt know I had to shut the utility door, so they were out in the village all day – but no harm done!! Anyway, after that I realised I was experiencing one of those majestical & serene mornings that my new county in May musters with effortlessness. So I took the chance to have a drive about, up to the foot of Lammer Law, scoping it out for a future climb. For me, the photographic results were gorgeous
Finally, on the Tinky front, things are looking busy. Getting Will on board has had a bonus knock on effect. He works at Red Dog in Edinburgh, who just so happen to run the main stage at the Meadows Musical Festival (June 4-5). So a combo between me, him & the ‘Interview with Al Roberts,‘ we’ve got the gig – penultimate slot on the Sunday. The Email reads;
Good afternoon everyone!
Guy from Red Dog Music here. I’m getting in touch to let you know – if you didn’t already – that your band has made it through to the final line-up of the Meadows Festival 2016!
Ive also been preparing to record the Tinky Album. I’ve decided its gonna be as good as Seargent Peppers & the first Stone Roses, indeed drawing certain motifs from each in the tradition of proper art. Its also gonna be finished off & mixed down in krefelf, with Cliff. “About Fuckin’ Time!” he says. So its gonna be a busy summer which, at the moment, looks like this;
Friday, May 27th – Henrys Cellar Bar, Edinburgh
Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th – Recording, Prestonpans
Sunday June 5th – The Meadows festival
Friday 10th- Sunday 12th June – Eden Festival
Saturday June 25th – Nice n Sleazys, Glasgow
Wed 29th June – Wed 6th July – Recording, Krefeld
Friday 15th July – Leith Depot, Edinburgh
Fri 22nd – Sun 24th – Audio Soup, Edinburgh
So I’m back, back in the Shire, & slowly but surely the house is beginning to take shape, life rhythms are beginning to settle & the buds are beginning to spring onto the branches in my lovely new garden. I’ve been planting this week – spring onions, normal onions, potatoes & brussels sprouts in the garden, & lettuce in pots indoors. Axis & Allies is going swimmingly – really getting into the guts of the thing & sprinkling a few new stanzas into the mix, including a couple on the Swing Jugend, a teenage countermovement based upon Brirish & American jazz music. I’d got these from a massive trawl thro all my history magazines, which resulted in another 15 or so new stanzas. I also spent a bit of time with teh Lao Tze Tung & the notebooks of Paul Brunton to kuralise for the future.
All of last week we were toing & froing between home & Dalmeny – packing & unpacking , cleaning & making a mess – it was chaos. Sky came along at one point, installed a dish, then took it down again (no line of site), while the ex tenant (Lorraine) made a visit to finally clear her huge hoard of crap from the house. Last Friday, after Tinky practice, I went back to an empty Dalmeny for one last night there – a memorybank of bliss, it is the cocoon of my greatest lovefelt, & it was weird, yet wonderful to depart. All the furniture that was left was a matress in the attic, of whose removal from the building Emily wrote;
Last weekend was cool. Not only did Burnley get promoted back to the Premiership, but I took Tinky Disco wholesaledown to Arran for the Deoch an Dorus festival. It was a nice little life moment – I’d pent many good years of my youth on Arran Street in Burnley (number 7), & finally here I was, crossing the serene waters on a ferry with my funky new band. We have recently acquired a new member – Will – whose a great addition on keyboards. A right funny scene transpired on the morning of the festy. Kenny had stayed on his couch, but with Will in Jonny & Rabs car, had to leave early. Getting a 60 year old, coffeeless self-confessed staller to leave his comfy quilt was impossible & it was amusing to see Jonny practically manhandle him out of the door. Only a timely intervention of me grabbing Will’s keys & promising to lock-up saved any bloodshed.
From there me & Kenny picked up Al, who had skived the previous night’s rehearsal complaining of Delhi Belly & that there was only one hope – if he rested he might… might… be able to play at Arran. After a ‘miraculous’ recovery in the night he was in the volvo, followed soon after by Mike & Serena, & away we went, stopping at Colin’s in Glasgow en route. In the usual Storrie fashion we were ploughed with eggs, coffee, toast, etc, & we left confirming the entire posses stay there for our Glasgow gig on June 25th.
Dalry, en route to the harbour
We were joined at Ardossan by Roy (he’d come down on the train) & a coupel of hours later, we were across the water in Arran. A lovely little fauna-fantastic place – Scotland in minature , with the highlands up north – Deoch an Dorus was sited by the sea at North Sannox picnic site. Small but intimate, the party was fun & gig was great, a real energy – plus I had a couple of eccies – first full ones in months. A great, rave, but a hellish return, especially after discovering I’d put my tent up on a mini-flood plain. The Mumble review of the festy is here, including the organisers response to the dead seal story worked up by the tabloids.
I picked up that very paper yesterday – it was in the local pub in gorgeous ?????. I’d driven down there to watch the Champions League semi (Real 1 Man City 0) after looking after the girls for the afternoon. Nearby was Andrew & some other locals playing cards, & an open fire, & I’m like, I’m home. Later today I’ll be ‘commuting’ back home with Ems (Im in the NLS right now)… an 11 minute train from Waverly to NewCraighall, followed by a 25 minute drive home. This afternoon a few kids & mums are coming over for my first parents & kids thing ever – I’m hopelessly out of my depth, but we’ll see what happens.
I am now sat in the office, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Downstairs are my new bass guitar – a fender jazz bass – plus a new amp. Total cost £527. The money’s come from Emily’s recent house sale, god bless hair – I guess I did do some painting & stuff, so its cool. It would have cost more, but Tinky’s new keyboardist, Will, works there & got us a discount. Earlier today I had a sing-song with Mike – we’re working on the songs (for once) & its sounding good. We’ve a gig coming up this Saturday – Wee James’ birthday – plus the big one at Arran at the end of April when Tinky go West-side.
Its been a couple of weeks since I got back from Skye, in which time I’ve decided to add 15 more cantos to Axis & Allies, bringing the total up to a Dantean 100. This means 135 tryptychs, some of which are already typed up, but about two thirds are still in pencil form, barely touched since I etched them out a decade & a half ago.
The same period saw the visit of Donna Waddington, Emily’s mum & grandma to the girls. It was fun having her over, in tow came some poetry books from her husband on the Harlem renaissance. Her visit also gave me & Ems the opportunity to head to Burnley for a couple of days. En route we saw, for the first time, the new cottage we’ll be moving into – next door to Kenny’s partner.. Its a cracker & the gods really have smile on us. Its weird how fate works – Emily was destined to marry a bass player & I to live in East Lothian. Both of these transpired, but it is only at the second time of asking, & sharing each other’s destiny, that our fates have been properly worked out.
Leaving about 11 AM, I drove us over the Lammermuirs & into Duns for a baguette & a pannini. Ems loved it & we can pop in from time to time in the future. From Duns we shimmied through the borders on a mini-burnsian tour… Kelso, Jedburgh both passed by before a wee look at the Otterburn battlefield, where I read some of my modernized ballad on the battle – a mixture of the English version & the Scottish ‘Battle of Chevy Chase.‘
From there we pottered at Hadrian’s Wall awhile, before passing through Haydon Bridge, a delightful small town spanning the River Tyne. In fact, most of the Border towns a quite beautiful & calm. We also checked out Langley Castle, & decided a romantic night there roundabout our honeymoon would be splendid. We also checked out a marvellous waterfall, whose name Ive forgotten, but was a roaring swirl of nature at its rawest.
From there we headed due south, along a series of obscure & some rather dodgy roads, especially the one that dropped into Dent valley – a ridiculously magnificent place full of all of nature’s bounties. Then came Settle & before we knew it we were in Burnley at seven o clock in the evening. En route we’d driven from Midlothian into Edinburgh & then into East Lothian, into the Scottish Borders & over the border into Northumberland, before passing through Cumbria (twice) & North Yorkshire before entering Lancashire.
After calling on Nicky & co (addicted to a new game), we proceeded to chill out at mine, where I turned my house into Damospa – foot rubs, bath-runs & lazy film nests included. Friday night we spoilt all that, however, by hitting the beers with my dad, including a rather funny session with the Accy Roaders down the White Lion. The drive back to Scotland the next day was tiring & hungover to say the least. This route was still wonderful, more new roads.
En route I checked out Black Tower’s view of Pendle – which is almost the one contained in the Shephereds Calendar woodcut. I’m getting closer. I think I have to go back another mile or so to get the exact spot. We then passed through teh Bowland Forest – an amazing place I’d never traversed – through antiquated Slaidburn & Dunsop Bridge – the heart of Britain – before dropping down into Lancaster & connecting with the M6 & the much quicker drive North.
Alongside Axis & Allies I have also began work on Humanology – my version of the Thirukkural. A prompt was me chatting to Donna about my poeslation while watching the BBC$ ‘Treasure of the Indus series’ in Tamil Nadu, & she, in a rather ‘support my daughter’ fashion urging me to do something with it. So I’ve started & I must say I am fairly romping through it. I am also carrying on with the work on my ‘Camlann & the Pictish King Arthur,’ including a new bit of research with the Attacotti. These were an unplaced British tribe of the 4th century who ate shepardesses’ paps & the buttocks of shepherds, & their name turns up in an Ogham inscription on the Lunnasting Stone in the Shetlands where they are the ‘Ettecuhets.’ I gave the story to the Shetland Times actually – its a good un – but they did the usual thing & asked a local historian who did the usual thing & said it was bollox. People just can’t see the woods for the trees.
The thing is, I’ve started looking at the inscription (Ive got books on Ogham in front of me in the NLS) – & I’ve realised one word has been mistranslated – its actually hcungu, or Cungu, which opens up some very interesting possibilites..
Two mornings ago, & eighteen years to the day since I set off from Leyton on my first poetic tour, I completed the pen & ink version of Axis & Allies. No more shall I find myself in wonderful scenic spots, converting my research into rhyme & knitting together my vasty poem. It was our last morning in Skye, & waking before dawn I walked the short distance from Seaview Cottage, a charming cottage on the slopes over Dunvegan, NW Skye, to the Pictish stone erected above the old Colomban church at the Millennium by the locals. With me was Bridei, a mad spaniel & companion to many of my walks in East Lothian – 13 years old but still going strong. Once at the stone I watched the sun tumble up into the Skye & completed my last three tryptychs:- two on the ascent & descent of Mount Olympus & the very last being a stanza on the escape from Treblinka.
Before then, clearly, was that wonderful week in Skye. After the motown night in Haddington – which was rather sparsely attended, but good fun all the same – we set off on the great drive North. After the unfortunate business of the Green Welly stop-off, I took the wheel & drove practically the rest of the way – through Glencoe, Fort William & on through a wild storm across the Kyle of Localsh to Skye. Not bad for someone who hasn’t even got a provisional. Emily took over once more 20 miles short of Dunvegan – the endlessly winding roads & growing darkness had tired me out – & we arrived at our cottage in Dunvegan just as night was closing in. Unfortunately the estate agent had got the dates mixed up & we were unable to get in – cue mad dash to the hotel for food & a few frantic calls, before not too long after we were in our lovely, warm cottage.
So began a great week, our party consisting of 4 kids (Roxy 6, Ivy 8, fergus 10, Eliza 12) – 2 mothers (Emily & Carol), 2 spaniels Bridei & the newly revitalized Larch) & a poet. We all got on rather famously, wandering about the island in a jolly old fashion. On the Monday I took Fergus walking up the great table-topped hill that overlooked Dunvegan Bay, on the Tuesday we checked out the old lighthouse near Glendale, while on the Wednesday Emily & I escaped the circus & took a ferry from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist. Arriving late at night, we slept in the car by the Atlantic, then took a curious drive round the islands as far as Eriskay in the south. The latter is a charming wee island bejewelling those dazzling azure waters that fill the soul with joy & hope. South Uits is also a great spot – full of history & lovely views. but further north the feeling of visiting the Outer Hebrides is less pleasurable – a number of charmless pre-fab houses built by workers of the oil industry, while flat tepid peat-bogs roll out to the unassuming hills.
I am now back in Dalmeny, catching up with things & beginning to edit Axis & Allies. I have read through about 50 stanzas of the poem’s final total of 765. I am also engaged to be married, the circumstances of which engagement are rather amusing indeed. Of course Emily & I have fallen massively in love, & have thought of double-barreling our names & inventing a suitable crest, & all that. Anyway, a lass I know who knows very well I’m seeing Emily sends me the following Facebook messages;
Damo lost your number. Are u in Edinburgh? Need a chat friend
Call me 07723408***
“How I do love to go up in a swing, up in a swing so high, over the fields and the valleys below, over the fields so high”
I’m near loch Ness heading back to Edinburgh – what’s up?
My babies have gone to Thailand for 3 weeks. A bit wobbly but out with wee sis tonight. So all ok. Stay good bro x
Where is our haven
Let’s have a larf
2000, 2100, 2010? Forgot
where is the purpose
I got stuck
little scarecrow person
Straw for a heart
So I showed these to Emily, & a few minutes later I’m checking FB & see people congratulating us on our engagement… plus the following message from the FB girl only 3 minutes after Emily put the announcement up;
Congratulations! Super happy for you both c
Total mental & proof of how women communicate on an astral level. Anyhow, we got over a hundred likes & loads of congrats, plus an engagement party offer in Duval, so I guess its official. Funny as well, I finished my poem in the morning in Skye, drove down the majestic Great Glen of Scotland to get home, then found myself engaged by the evening. Yeah – that’s the way to finish an epic poem.
So Spring is definitely springing, indeed the weather is better & I’m feeling just dandy. The past week has seen me go through the entirity of Axis & Allies & clean up any messy bits, & also organised it into its final order. This consists of 85 legend-headed =cantos, divided as follows;
L’Amfiparnasso (1 canto)
L’Intermidi I (1 canto)
L’Intermidi II (1 canto)
L’Altoparnasso (1 canto)
Each canto contains nine stanzas, so the final total of tryptychs is 765, which equates to 15,300 lines. That’s a nice even number I reckon, ‘15,000 lines’ kinda sounds funky.
In the past week I’ve got through a few more stanzas on the Waterloo campaign – theres’ about 8 to go now. I imagine I’ll be composing my last poems on Skye – maybe up a mountain or something – that’d be cool. I’ve also started a grand read-through – I’m at Romulus & Remus at the moment – a start of a car-wash-style edit to clean the whole thing up & turn my 39 year-old poetical mind onto some of the perhaps weaker wordsmitherie of my youth. Ive also been going through my stuff to find the best images to support Marching on Parnussus. I have all the text for that typed up – except for a few journal entries from my Dublin trip in 2003. The ide is that both A&A & MArching on Parnassus are going to be finished at the same time – crossing the streams so so speak. Tus when I write my last stanzas in Skye next week, the blog entry I write will be the last of the Parnassus writings also.
Lifewise, last week was dominated by Tinky Disco & the gig at the Audio Soup Equinox at the Biscuit Factory in Leith. It was a stormer – eventually. There were big ruptions in the band concerning Kenny’s drumming. ‘He’s not in the band for his musical abilities,‘ I tell them, & he barged his way on stage anyway. Whether this means the end of Tinky as is stands, time will tell – but I cant really let the fellow down, especially as he’s gonna help us find a place to live in East Lothian – hopefully near his lady, Sophie.
The house sold last week – £168,000. there was some pressure-poker style bidding from a young couple, & Emily nearly crumbled & took £160,000. Waiting a couple of days, however, earned her another £8000, so thats amazing really. But since then the realisation that we need to find somehwere to live has kicked in & we’ve already driven out to east Lothian once – while looking regularly at places in Peebles, nearer Jack. It was while out there that we called on Carol, to comfor her during the hospitilization of little Larch, a mad black spaniel that we all adore. It seems likely it was posioned by the farmers weedkiller in the big field behind hers at Garvald, & after several operations (£800 each) & several nights at an Edinburgh vet hospital (at £1500 each) shes up to £10,000. Luckily she’d just been given a bonus of £18,000 by Scottish power, which looks like it’ll be all going towards llittle Larchy. Now, I reckon 18,000 people in Scotland would have preferred to have had a pound off their bills…
Driving out of East Lothian, I put up a few posters for this Friday’s motown nigth at teh Railway in Haddington. The idea is to do a monthly night, cgarge a fiver on the day & make over £500. Totally Doable. This time last year I was DJing in Burnley, & have had a rapid education in Northern Soul & Motown over these past 12 months. Its cross-generational music that, if chosen well, is proper banging. East Lothian is the perfect place to do it – theres not really much happening out there, so it could be quite a lucrative enterprise. I’ve got the PA ready at least, the final piece being a fifty quid mixer bought the other day, & the whole thing sounds sweet now & Im looking forward to bringin my tunes to the Shire, for as I hear on every side, ‘I love a bit of Motown.’
Last week I also had my ‘widget’ removed from my eyelid. A blocked eyelid gland had proceed to swell up to the size of a small malteser. After a wee trip to my GP, they forwarded me to teh Princess Alexandra Eye Hospital in Edinburgh, where after a 10 minute operation it was gone. My doc was proper friendly, & will be visiting Seattle May 1 for a conference. I told him to visit Duval, Emily’s homepad. It was interesting to get some get-well soon messages on Facebook, especially when it was all done so quickly & was over in a flash.
Mark Calvert Aww Love .
Claire Stowell Get better soon x
Elaine Stables Have a quick recovery x
Donna Waddington xoxo oh, hope you are o.k., honey, wish you the best!!!
Donna Waddington i woul never want to do this, This for me would be a nightmare.
Tricky Aitken In least its sorted mate, speedy recovery
David Wales Get well soon bro
Emily Randall Pirate Damo! x
Clare Brierley Get well soon
Damo Tipiji Does anyone want to buy an eyelid widget £35 – one careful owner
Euan Weddell Get well soon smile emoticon
Lee Veitch Is that your brother do it Damo lol
To finish this blog I’ll mention last Tuesday’s outing to Glasgow, where I saw a play at the Oran Mor, an Author’s talk at the Mitchell Library (part of the Aye Write Festival) & finally a comedian at the Griffin pub, as part of the INternational Comedy Festival. A full day, then, & I even commuted, driving the car to Ratho Station, parking it up & catching the bus to & from Glasgow. A full days Mumbling for me, then. Here are the three reviews. Talking of three reviews, the next three days I’m going into town to watch a play a night, a good way to fill my mind with words before my final assault on A&A.
DAVID F ROSS
David F Ross is cool – simple as. A successful architect & silver-fox, a few years back he’d started writing, a cathartic exercise into his past, reliving those days & dreams of his early years – when he’d ran a mobile disco & wanted to be in a band. These two themes have formed the subjects of his first two books, the first of which was widely acclaimed ‘The Last Days of Disco.’ Set in the early 80s, it is a beautiful elegy to vinyl & a lost epoch.vespas-final-visual-page-001.jpeg His sequel, & the main subject of his chat at Aye Write! festival, concerns the story of a fictional band in the early 80s, called ‘The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas.’ What Shane Meadows did for 80s nostalgia south of the border with ‘This is England,’ Ross seems to be doing the same in Scotland. Indeed, he dropped the hint that he’d like to see it made into a film, & there is a certain rollicking cinematographic quality to both books.
In his talk, Ross described that it was easier to recall events from this time, as in youth one experiences extremities of emotions, a quite existential aspect of his thinking which shows there is depth to the works that most readers might not see at first delve. Written in the Ayrshire vernacular, ‘The Miraculous Vespas’ is less a band, & more a vehicle for human relationships as summoned & reflected by Ross into his work. Well-researched, it uses real characters, including Boy George, & one imagines as time goes on this book will leap beyond its kind-contemporary pop-artiness, & into the realms of true time-capsule history.
For the actual experience of listening to Ross, I found him eloquent & attentive for the first hour, but things went off the rails a bit when he introduced fictional from his book – Bobby Bluebell & the manager Max Mojo. The fans loved it, but I just thought it was a bit daft. Still, that is nothing to detract from the clear & peculiar visionary genius of Mr Ross, a true bard who can glimpse into, & recreate the past.
One-hour Comedy shows are rather like corn sheaves; they are planted in the winter, show their first green shoots in the Spring, start creating the cornbuds in May & are ready for the golden harvest in August. In the same way, comedians will start their Edinburgh Fringe show rolling in March – at the Glasgow Comedy Festival – hone it down Brighton in May & then reveal it to the world at large, fully ripened, at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Gemma Flynn, then, is very much caught in this cycle. Having survived last years ‘madmax dystopia’ of the Fringe, this diminutive delight set to work doing stuff, seeing stuff & picking out the funny stuff in all that stuff. Glimpses of brilliance glittered through a slightly jerky set, not helped by the clumsy use of her applemac in giving us clips of various things from modernity – mainly based upon the Kardashians (?!).
Watching Gemma in full flow is rather like joining her on the couch for a TV chat show. The room was packed, although most seem to have known Gemma, who she included in her patter; which, I must admit, had a really enjoyable & intelligent burr. Gemma is young, & so is her material, but she just kinda has it. As the year progresses, & she gets used to her material, sorting out the wheat from the chaff, come August we’ll all be sucking on her succulent cobs.
BILLY (The Days of Howling)
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
This a strange play. Disconnected, waffling – it is as if we are led in bed with our three actors after they had drank far too much caffeine after ten o clock. They cant get to sleep & they are just thinking aloud – thinking & speaking aloud. None of this is in harmony, however, until the end that is, when finally the three separate soliloqueal strands fuse together in a sweary & shouty finale. Is this the Howl, one asks, or it more the voice crying into the hurricane, when Ginsbergdeclaimed, ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.’
Billy’s main theme is the chaos that ensues after an adult makes the wrong step in the minefield that is kindergarten playground. In this case, Alice’s mum notices Billy eating & Cheeto — & the rest is history (or for me rather, it should have been left in the historical records.) I wasn’t convinced by this piece at all, although the hour was definitely saved by the spirited acting of Hoary Lyon (admin lady), Rosalind Sydney (Alice’s mum) & the big-boned & bubbly Anthony Strachan (Billy’s dad). Perhaps that is down to translation, not perhaps of the language so much, but more the format conjured by French playwright, Fabien Cloutier.
Before I entered the Oran Mor was in a pretty good mood, but left having something of a personal existential crisis. Perhaps that was the point, I’m not sure, or maybe I am….
FACEBOOK UPDATE ON LARCH
i want to be near to kids in case of bad news and I need to go and comfort them. it’s a kind offer though. I’m seriously reaching the end of my tether. Not slept in 3 days, Oh, and fab news about the house, that’s fantastic
Larch deteriorated. Only a matter of a short time I fear
Nice to see you both. Hard circumstances. Just to say skye is still on no matter what. In fact if we lose larch the kids will need the distraction more than ever. Lets plan for a really jolly time regardless
Yes, my kids looking forward to it too! Any news today?
Larch fully conscious, eating a little, wagging her tail and having her tummy tickled by her nurses. Still poorly and tired but much better. Happy equinox. The sun is in the sky and God’s in his heaven. Peace and love
I went to see Larch today. She’s in a sorry way, poor wee soul. but pleased to see me and still getting a bit better., broke my heart to leave her but I could feel the love for her amongst the vets and nurses
Morning. Hope you’ve well. Also hope we get some of this weather for our Skye trip. Emily, are the girls with you Friday night? If so I cook babysit so you can go to Dsmos thing in Haddington x
Morning. Hope you’ve well. Also hope we get some of this weather for our Skye trip. Emily, are the girls with you Friday night? If so I cook babysit so you can go to DAmos thing in Haddington x