Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Geordie's Mingin Medicine

Well known books by famous authors get translated into different languages all the time. However for a while now there's been a drive to have more translated into Scots.

Whether Scots (originating in the Scottish Lowlands, as opposed to Scottish Gaelic which was/is more prevalent in the Highland and Islands) is a distinct and separate language or as just a regional dialect, is fiercely debated in some circles, and I don't know enough on the subject to get involved.

What is certain though, is Scots does make up part of the rich culture of Scotland, especially as it was the language of choice for "The Bard", Robert Burns. And you can guarantee across the land, on the run up to Burn's Night (25th January), schools were setting all sorts of assignments based on it.

Now some of you may be familiar with Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine. I would guess far fewer will be familiar with the Scots translation by Matthew Fitt, called Geordie's Mingin Medicine. And even less will have heard Meg reading an extract.

One of the odd things about your own family is that you don't hear their accents. You recognise their voices, but because you hear them talking every day, you cease to notice the regional differences and inflections.

And so it is with Meg. I know it might sound strange, but it's never particularly crossed my mind that she would have a Scottish accent - Meg's voice is just Meg's voice. But hearing her reading an extract of Scots out loud, I became very aware of it, especially as I know if I were to try it would just sound like an English guy trying to use Scottish words.

With the exception of Sam and Dr Maroon, and unless you're familiar with Scots, I don't expect anyone to be able to follow what's being said, so here's the text and you can have a bit of fun translating it back into your version of English.

And if you get really stuck you can always try the online Scots-English Dictionary.

So here's the text, and you can hear Meg reading it below

An Extract of Geordie's Mingin Medicine by Roald Dahl, Translated by Matthew Fit

Weel, weel! Thocht Geordie, aw O a sudden. "Fings-bings! Richtitie-pichtitie! I ken exactly whit I'll dae. I'm gonna mak her a new medicine, a magic medicine, naw a mingin medicine is what we're gonna hae!"

Sae gie me a golach and a lowpin flee,
Gie me twa mauks and speeders three,
And a slivverie skoosher fae the sea,
And a poisonous jag fae out a bumbee,
And the juice fae the fruit o the pokey-hat tree,
And the poodered bane o a wombat's knee.

And a hunner ither things and aw,
Things wi a hummin honkin blaw.
I'll steer them up, I'll bile them lang,
A mixter roch, a maxter strang.
And then, bang-wallop, doon it gaes,
A guid big spoonfu (mind yer taes)
Jist gowp it doon, and hae nae fear.
"Hoo's that for ye, Grannie dear?"

Will she lauch or will she greet?
Will she tak aff doon the street?
Will she explode in a fuff o reek?
Or blaw herself intae nixt week?
Wha kens? No me. Let's hing on and see.
(I'm gled it isnae you or me.)
Och Grannie ye've no got a clue
Whit I'm gonnae mak for you!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

What to expect from blogging

Mary tagged me to express what I expect to get from my blog. I was determined after the last meme not to get involved with any more for a while, but two things have contributed to me taking this one up.

The first is I’m one of those who nudged, cajoled and generally encouraged Mary to take up blogging, so I feel it would be unfair to ignore a request from her.

Secondly, as I started trying to think about this topic I ended up on a journey to the core of what motivates me for just about anything. This post has been written and rewritten and rewritten again, as each time I’ve stripped away another level why I like blogging.

It’s easy enough to list the rewards of blogging, like friendships, a place to practice different writing styles, the recording of ideas, and vague hopes that someone might discover me and offer me lots of money.

But more than any of this it’s a need to be read.

There are some people who write because they are compelled to write – it wouldn’t matter if they were never read, they would still write. I am not driven in that way.

My compulsion is to communicate: to pass on ideas, thoughts and feelings; to change people’s perception of themselves, of others, of the world.

I love to help people grow.

I love to help people survive.

I love to help people think in ways that challenge their assumptions and broaden their outlooks.

I am desperate to feel that I have made some impact on the world; that it is different because I was here.

That it matters whether I live or die.

That it matters whether I ever existed.

At the heart of it all I am still crying out to an indifferent universe, trying to force some kind of imprint on to it.

Man’s ultimate quest for meaning: in a meaningless universe you can only create your own.

I don’t deal particularly well with solitude – I need other people to feed back to me that I exist, and that it matters.

Blogging is one aspect of this, as is being a husband and father, teaching philosophy, playing the mandolin at folk sessions, helping friends, and making people laugh, smile or think in different ways.

So what do I get out of blogging; why do I do it? Developing my writing skills, friendships, dreams of fame and fortune – of course.

But ultimately it contributes to a sense of validation.

It helps show me I’m alive.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marking my territory

I was watching this documentary the other day about animals marking their territory with urine. It seemed like a good idea to me so I’ve started pissing up against the door each time I leave the house to ward off potential burglars.

As we haven’t been burgled since I started doing this, I figured this might be a good way to stop car thieves too, so now I leave my mark on the car after locking it. In fact I appear to be moving towards a Pavlovian Response state whereby I start needing the loo every time I hear the beeps of someone pressing their key fob.

However, Maggie seems to have drawn the line at me urinating on her leg before she leaves the house.




Friday, January 18, 2008

The Wet Song

Courtesy of BBC Weather
It's wet, it's wet
It's very very wet
It's very very very very wet

It's wet, it's wet
It's very very wet
It's very very very very wet

It's wet out here
It's wet out there
It is wet

It's wet, it's wet
It's very very wet
It's very very very very wet

I'm looking forward to the day when global tectonic plate movements have shifted Scotland southwards and we can enjoy a more Mediterranean climate

*(Adapted from The Cold Song - insert cold instead of wet - composed by Father and daughter, Kim and Meg, while trekking back across the beach at Rascarrel Bay one very cold winter's afternoon)


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On How to Turn a Crappy Photographer into an Artistic One on a Wet Weekend.

. Rogan is away for the day, playing his trumpet in a school wind band rehearsal.
. Maggie is in Dumfries visiting her parents.
. Meg is bored and I can’t face playing another game of "Pop to the Shops"
. It is too wet and cold to go out anywhere.

. Place chair near the window to try to use some natural daylight, even if it is dull and grey.
. Find a large piece of cardboard to use as a neutral background.
. Take 48 photographs of daughter with digital camera, with and without glasses, hair tied back and hair loose.

Select the only photo where she is not either out of focus, mid blink, or pulling a dodgy face.

Crop photo and blur background

Copy the image and place a new layer over the top of the original, then desaturate the copy to make it black and white.

Now use the eraser to rub out the black and white layer over the eyes and the shirt to allow the blue to show through.

Voilà! Print it off on glossy photo paper and stick it on the kitchen wall where it will immediately impress anyone who calls in for a coffee

(Click for larger image)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Archives Meme

Brave Astronaut has tagged me to do this one.

The rules for this are that you are to go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written.

Link 1 must be about family.
If you look over on the sidebar under "Find Your Favourite Topics" you'll see there are over 60 posts I've used the label Family Man to describe. However, the post that probably gives the biggest insight into the family dynamics in our house is the one about the out-takes from the birthday video the kids and I created for Maggie last summer. Birthdays, Mariachi and Video Out-takes.

Link 2 must be about friends.
I wasn't sure about this one. Of course I have all my blogging pals, but I rarely blog about anyone I know outside the family who doesn't have a blog. However, trawling through the archives I found this one about my friend Dave - Rain, Floods and Loch Ken.

Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about.
There are loads about me. In one way or another just about every post on this site is about me. Even under stricter definitions, over on the sidebar you'll find the label Who Am I which contains 38 entries. The obvious one to look at under this category though is the 101 things about me

Link 4 must be about something you love.
The family one has already been covered, so the next obvious one is food. Again there is a category on the right about that which has over 20 entries. I guess my favourite is a short conversation snippet about Leftover's Soup.

Link 5 can be about anything you choose.
Even after more than blog 325 entries, my favourite remains And I'm Not Looking Forward to The Journey Home. Not only does it still make me smirk, it was one of the first to make me realise how I could turn a bad situation into a good blog entry

I'm now supposed to tag 5 other people, but I'll pass on that. If you'd like to do this one on you're own blog, then consider yourself tagged, otherwise, don't worry about it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Welcome to the Future


“Computer! Take evasive action!”

Did you say, ‘Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.’?”

“No! I said “Take evasive action NOW!!!”

Did you say, ‘Hand me the towel.’?”

“NO! TAKE EVASIVE ACTION you stupid piece of…!”

Did you say, “Take evasive action’?”


[insert loud explosion]

You know, the future isn’t quite how I expected it to be.

It’s 2008: we are living so far into the future, there are days I can’t believe we’re not all wearing baco-foil suits and driving around in hover cars.

I remember watching “Space 1999” as a kid. There was a permanent moon base where everyone wore flares and jumpsuits, and it took a computer the size of a wall to work out calculations your average wristwatch can do before it’s had its first coffee of the morning. And it spoke in a voice that made Stephen Hawking sound like Pavarotti.

According to Arthur C. Clark, by 2001 we were supposed to have space stations we could access via Pan Am flights, and a computer with a soft voice that suffered from existential angst.

For that matter, we’re only 11 years short of the setting for “Blade Runner” and they haven’t even begun to build Replicants or relocate the population to the off-world colonies.

But then what about the past I inhabited? How well would I cope in a world where there were only 3 TV channels, no mobile phones, no Internet, no digital cameras, no home computers, NO BLOGGING???

Somehow the past seems just as alien to me now as the future was to me then.

But the “now” back then seemed ordinary enough at the time, just as this “now” does 30 years later. We have a great ability to normalise whatever our situation is: we adapt, we cope, we forget that it was ever any different.

The technology and the culture may change, but we as people continue to be people. We laugh, we cry, we feel fear, grief, pain, lust, frustration, happiness, sorrow and love.

We are emotional creatures and we all share the same emotions, and yet when we look at other people, other cultures and other times, what we see is the difference.

Yet any difference is purely surface; material; physical.

There was no Eden in the past. There will be no Utopia in the future. The only reality is whether we relate to each other; whether we can feel as others feel; whether we try to connect, or focus purely on the otherness.

So here are my predictions for the future:

1. There will be older people complaining about the lack of respect the youth have and how it was different in their day

2. There will be youth thinking that their parents just don’t understand because the world was different back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth

3. And there will be middle-aged parents feeling intensely frustrated with the latest piece of technology that their children can operate with the greatest of ease.


Friday, January 04, 2008

More Awards?

After handing out my own Rambling Beard Awards, I received a different award from Charlie at Hounded.

Doling out my own awards was fun – it was an opportunity to say thank you, or point people in the direction of bloggers I enjoy reading and interacting with. But I have a real mixed feeling about receiving them.

On the one hand, who doesn’t love a bit of recognition and the opportunity to feel *smug* for a moment or two? On the other, however, I find it difficult to believe I’ve done anything to deserve it.

This one is "A Roar for Powerful Words" and originated at the Shameless Lions Writing Circle to “encourage and celebrate good, powerful writing on the Internet/blogosphere

Charlie is an incredibly powerful writer and I’m looking forward to the forthcoming release of his book, Soul Songs. It's just a shame he periodically deletes all his entries and starts again. He also awarded this to Rhonda who is one of the few bloggers to have me literally sitting with tears in my eyes after reading some of her entries.

Am I in the same category of either of these writers? Of course not.

I am supposed to name 3 things I believe are necessary to make good and powerful writing – my tips – and then pass it on to others. But it’s a bit tricky because although my intention is to become a writer, in truth my major form of communication is my voice. I’m a talker. Ask anyone who knows me - they struggle to get a word in edgeways.

Consequently my main writing style tends to be conversational – a tidied up form of the way I speak.

What I will do though, is tell you what I have written above my desk, and you can take from it what you will:
It’s not about writing
It’s about communicating

And that in essence is what I strive for.

At the heart of anything I write is a feeling, a thought, a concept, which I want other people to go “aha…” when they read it. I want to transfer that idea, emotion or understanding to another soul.

I can play around with structure, style, grammar and layout, but there is no “right way” other than whether it works.

Now I’m supposed to hand this on to other bloggers I think deserve it, but I’ve already handed out the Rambling Beard Awards this week and if I pass this one on to any of them as well, it will look like favouritism.

However, one blogger I know that leaps out at me for an award for powerful words is ADW from Hooters and Other Tales of Woe. She has the ability to force me back into my seat like I’d just hit the acceleration pedal on an F1 racing car. The sheer energy in her writing is not for the faint of heart, mind or soul. If an adrenalin rush is likely to give you a heart attack, then steer clear.

Now that’s it for awards for a while – giving or receiving - unless there are any prizes attached...