Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Night Music - Strangeness and Charm

I've mentioned the glories of Lewis before. On Saturday at dusk not only the park gate is locked, but the swings and roundabouts chained up as well, in case any child should profane the Sabbath. The hospital's doctors have houses scattered across the island, so that remote communities have someone near - and I was told that a female doctor had been visited by a delegation, asking her to refrain from hanging up her washing on the Lord's Day - the washing in question being on an airer in the kitchen, but visible from outside.

On the more worldly side, everyone seems to drink a lot on Saturday night, and in the morning there's a lot of broken glass about in Stornoway. But 'when in Rome' - you respect the locals and on Sunday walk or go to church. If you are invited to a local home, the hospitality is humbling and the tea you get lasts you for the next two days. Small children, not yet school age, can play outside unaccompanied until dark, and I remember coming across a school on a main road, with the children's bicycles all propped against the outside of the school wall, by the road. Try that on the mainland.

And they do have this amazing church music - like nothing else in Britain. Or maybe in Europe.

Moving a little further south :

"The Clan Maxwell fared badly that day. In all, it is said that up to 700 Maxwells were killed, but this may be an exaggerated number. Many were wounded by downward sword strokes known as "Lockerbie Licks." And their chief, Lord Maxwell, who was one of the most powerful people in southern Scotland, was slain in cold blood by the Johnstones when he asked for mercy and offered to surrender. Although Sir Johnstone escaped punishment from the King for his actions, he did not escape the unforgiving hand of the next Lord Maxwell, son of the chief who was killed at Dryfe Sands. In 1608, Lord Maxwell shot Sir Johnstone in the back during a meeting held “under trust,” which rendered him an outlaw. Lord Maxwell was later captured and executed by hanging."


Bob-B said...

Always good to hear June Tabor.

Foxy Brown said...

The first piece is very beautiful. Gaelic hymns are characterised by something called call and response. Professor Willie Ruff of Yale University believes that remnants of Scottish Hebridean church music influenced Southern Gospel, via Highland emigrants to the US.