Handfasting – a poem

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handfasting_(Neopaganism)

Handfasting was very prevalent in the Hebrides, the Inner, and Outer, islands off the west coast of Scotland.

I had the unique privilege of living on St Kilda, a remote archipelago, some 45 miles West North West of North Uist, for several periods, mostly 6 weeks at a time. Stays sometimes proved to be longer, because access is always determined by the weather! In total, I spent some 8 months of my life there.

St Kilda has a strange hold on all who set foot there, rather akin to desert fever for anyone who has experienced true desert.

I follow a page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/St.KildaHebrides/ , on Facebook, dedicated to St Kilda, and, as part of advice being offered to a would be visitor, came across this poem written by Andrew Lane in 2009.

I do not know Andrew but, from what I’ve seen and read, feel that we would get on very well. He is a musician, so this may well have been written to perform. In any case, I hope that you find the poem at least a little interesting, especially those who may know nothing about the Scots, or their unique language.

Andrew has a lovely “lived in” face, and someone commented that it was obviously the result of someone’s advice:

“Smile a lot when you are young so that when you grow older, your wrinkles will all be in the right place”

THE HAND-FASTING

Oh, lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the lassies from the wheel
To spin themselves a proper reel.
Bring the laddies from the loom
To weave a dance beside the groom.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the stoddart from the braes
And leave the hoggie to its ways.
Bring the fisher from the shore;
This man will be a boy no more.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set your creels upon the ling
And bow the fiddles till they sing.
Take the whistle from your poke
And pipe a tune for dancing folk.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set the bellyrive aboot,
And spread the meat upon the cloot.
Place the whisky pig beside
And you shall see the hand-fast tied.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Stoddart – a herdsman. Hoggie – a young sheep. Bellyrive – a feast.
Cloot – cloth. Whisky pig – a whisky jar.

©Andrew Lane July 2009

 

Too Soon to Speculate: thoughts on Grenfell Tower Fire

What a brilliant article by my friend Kirsty, and what chilling reading the blog of the Grenfell Action Group makes. (Linked from the “raised again and again….”) Clearly, there has been a problem for a long time, and there is still a problem with other tower blocks. No money to cure the problem? Tough – We have to find the funding! What a great community spirit has been displayed in the aftermath, with no regard to race, colour, religion or gender.
Whether you have a faith, or none, pray that you never have to experience what those fellow human beings have had to endure, and what they have to live with for ever!

kirstwrites

Sometimes you can watch the TV news unfold its daily horrors and let it just wash over you; at other times the sheer awfulness leaves you breathless, heartsick, overwhelmed. Today is one of those other days. It’s been difficult to concentrate at work today, flicking back to the news websites every so often with a pounding heart. If this is how I’m feeling, a comfortable 200 miles away from Grenfell Tower, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for those personally affected.

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Lymelight Festival 2017

A fantastic report on Limelight Festival 2017 by a talented young music blogger. Read and enjoy!

E Major

We waited patiently, for a whole 12 months. We attended gigs, we played our music loud and we counted down the days until we’d be back in front of that stage once more. We watched with excitement, as the lineup, the headliners and the last minute acts were announced. We planned our May Day bank holiday weekend accordingly and then we headed for Newcastle town centre, cagoule in hand and hopes high.

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The fifth annual Lymelight Festival ran from the evening of Friday 28th April through until late afternoon on Monday 1st May and by all accounts, it was spectacular. Opening with sets from Captain Stingray’s Groove Machine, Vidorra, 10o’clock Chemical and Akahum, it seemed that from the get go, this would be more than just your usual local festival.

S A T U R D A Y

It was dry and sunny on the morning of the 29th of…

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The little sods from the !st Monchen Gladbach Scout Troop

Read this fantastic story of Scouting of yesteryear told by John. He is now retired, both from stealing from the Tuck Shop, and from his legal duties. He can still sing the old scouting songs though!

Broadsides

scouts-threeIt must have been the summer of 1961. Certainly before the Beatles. The music that year was all Dean Martin and the Drifters, or itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.* And I recall being in love with a girl in the 4th form at Queens’s school in Rheindalen, Carol, and constantly singing a song to her called “Oh Carol”.** And there was Elvis of course. Anyway, I was in the boy scouts then. Moved on I had from the cubs, left behind all that Akela and dib dib, dib, dob, dob, dob stuff. Cubs had sixers in charge. I had been a sixer when a cub. Born to command I was. Now, in that summer of ’61, I had graduated to the scouts and I was quickly made a Patrol leader. Sometimes I even wore long trousers.

They would meet once a week, Wednesday evening…

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In memory of P.C. Keith Palmer, Metropolitan Police.

b4d7c990b8e792469d58c5dc69dc0f9e072ab9f4a3aabf6f6802f732b5e63e3f_3915030“The Final Inspection”

The policeman stood and faced his God,
which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining
just as brightly as his brass.

“Step forward now, policeman.
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My church have you been true?”

The policeman squared his shoulders and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t,
because those of us who carry badges
can’t always be a saint.

I’ve had to work most Sundays,
and at times my talk was rough,
and sometimes I’ve been violent,
because the streets are awfully tough.

But I never took a penny,
that wasn’t mine to keep….
Though I worked a lot of overtime
when the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.

I know I don’t deserve a place
among the people here.
They never wanted me around
except to calm their fear.

If you’ve a place for me here,
Lord, It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected, or had too much,
but if you don’t…..I’ll understand.

There was silence all around the throne
where the saints had often trod.
As the policeman waited quietly,
for the judgment of his God.

“Step forward now, policeman,
you’ve borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven’s streets,
you’ve done your time in hell.”

Author Unknown

Traffic Warden Hancock and the Union

A great tale about Traffic Wardens here, and it’s not The Beatles Lovely Rita.

Broadsides

jk3Traffic wardens can be rather grumpy sods.  It’s a job that attracts the grumpy.   In the early days, and it probably still is the case, they were employed by Police Authorities.   Which is almost certainly why they adopted the blue military style uniform.    Being grumpy sods they often had more grievances than the norm.   And therefore, for trade unions, they were fairly easy to recruit and to unionise.   Trade unions also attract the grumpy sods of the world.  they also, of course, attract committed labour activists, good socialists and defenders of the working class.  Like me.  But there are quite a lot of grumpy sods in the unions as well.  The employers of the traffic wardens, usually local Chief Constables, were not quite used to dealing with uniformed grumpy trade unionists making grumpy demands.  Relationships were therefore often quite fractious.

Traffic warden Hancock was the very essence of the grumpy…

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The Pleasures of Facebook – A photograph from WWII

This amazing story from Broadsides deserves a read. It stirred memories of my own experiences in Gibraltar.

Broadsides

I belong to this group on Facebook, Gibraltar Old photos 2 it’s called. It a nostalgia group whose members, mostly from Gibraltar,  post old photographs of life on and around and about the Rock. I lived there once and have many happy and treasured memories upon which I once contributed a piece to the site, some years ago, about being a boy in 1950’s Gibraltar. You can read it here. I still contribute to the site now and then, and to that purpose I was searching google for a film poster of a movie, made in Gibraltar in the early ‘60’s, staring Terry Thomas and called “Operation Snatch”. You need to be a bit careful what you type into google at times!

evacuation-happy-to-be-home
In my search I stumbled across this lovely old photograph the caption of which read “Gibraltar families returning to Gibraltar in 1945 after five years of evacuation…

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She’s Watching You

Another absolute gem from Colleen. Small, quiet, acts can work wonders, and they do! It does not take money, or lots of time, or complicated skills, to make a difference. This story clearly shows that!

The Chatter Blog

 

No one really knew her.

She was unassuming.  Alone.  And quiet.

She lived quietly in a small house she moved to after her father died.  He died eight years after her mother.  She cared for them both while working full time.  Her life was all about providing.  Providing them comfort and care, providing for herself financially.   When they were both gone she sold the house she had lived in with them.  And moved to a quiet street, in the small house.   An alley ran behind her house, a stream ran on the other side of the alley.

Her interactions with others was limited to work, or shopping or banking.  People were pleasant enough to her, even if they thought her a little odd.  It’s not that people avoided her, nor did she avoid people.  She and they, they just didn’t make an effort to connect.  So connections…

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