A Christmas Yarn for the Tightarses.

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It Could only happen in Scotland…
An old man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, “I hate to ruin your day son but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.”
“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams.
“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer” the father says. “We’re sick of each other and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her.”
Frantically, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like hell they’re getting divorced!” she shouts, “I’ll take care of this!”
She calls Scotland immediately, and screams at her father “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we will both be up there tomorrow.
“Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. “That’s Sorted!

They’re coming up for Christmas tomorrow and they’re paying their own way.”

Rob Powell

‘The Golfers’ a masterpiece by Charles Lee, 1847.

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The centrepiece is the greatest golfing painting in the world, Charles Lees’ famous 1847 masterpiece The Golfers.
This commemorates a match played on the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews, by Sir David Baird and Sir Ralph Anstruther, against Major Hugh Lyon Playfair and John Campbell of Saddell.
It represents a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Scottish golf at that time and was famously reproduced in a fine engraving which sold in great quantities.
Lees (1800-80) made use of photography, at a time when it was in its infancy, to help him design the painting’s overall composition.
The image in question, taken by photography pioneers D O Hill & Robert Adamson, is included in the show and Lees’s preparatory drawings and oil sketches also are displayed alongside the finished painting to offer visitors further insight into the creation of this great work.
Impressions of The Golfers are now in many of the greatest golf clubhouses around the world.
The painting is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
via ‘The Art of Golf: The Story of Scotland’s National Sport’ opens at the Scottish National Gallery.

Origins of The Scottish Hogmanay.

Fireworks for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
Residents of Scotland mark the arrival of the New Year with particular passion in a holiday they call Hogmanay that draws on their history of Viking invasions, superstition, and ancient pagan rituals.
Hogmanay’s origins date back to pagan rituals that marked the time of the winter solstice.
Roman celebrations of the hedonistic winter festival of Saturnalia and Viking celebrations of Yule (the origin of the twelve days of Christmas) contributed to celebrations in Scotland around the New Year.
These celebrations and other ceremonies evolved over the centuries to become the Hogmanay holiday celebrated in Scotland today. During the Middle Ages, the pre-existing pagan winter festivals were overshadowed by the feasts surrounding Christmas, and the New Year was moved to coincide with Christian holy da
Following the reformation in Scotland, however, celebration of Christmas was discouraged, and so the gift-giving and celebration that accompanied Christmas elsewhere took place at New Year, giving rise to the uniquely Scottish celebration of Hogmanay.
The various local traditions found in Scotland relating to fires also hark back to the ancient past.
In the pagan winter celebrations, fire symbolised the newly resurgent sun coming back to the land, and was believed to ward off evil spirits dwelling in the darkness.
Fires still play a major part in Hogmanay celebrations, with torchlight processions, bonfires and fireworks popular throughout Scotland.
Another custom known as “first footing” dictates that the first person to cross a home’s threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve will determine the owner’s luck for the New Year.
The ideal visitor bears gifts—preferably whiskey, coal for the fire, small cakes, or a coin—and should be a man with a dark complexion.
Why? The answer goes back to the 8th century, when the presumably fair-haired Vikings invaded and caused mayhem.
via New Year’s Traditions around the World and Their Origins | Ancient Origins

The Deep-Fried Mars Bar, Aberdeenshire.

Chip-shop-asked-to-remove-009The much-maligned deep-fried Mars bar is coming under attack again. Photograph: PA Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
by Chitra Ramaswamy
Birthplace of the World Famous Deep Fried Mars Bar,” the banner announces. It’s vast, proud, and under threat.
Welcome to The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where 20 years ago – so the legend has it – two pupils from the local academy challenged each other to eat a load of random battered stuff, resulting in the Scottish delicacy (or culinary embarrassment, depending on who you talk to) known as the deep-fried Mars bar.
Aberdeenshire council refuses to share The Carron’s pride and has demanded the banner’s removal. Lorraine Watson, the Carron’s owner, remains unapologetic and tells me the deep-fried Mars bar tastes “like a warm millionaire’s shortbread” and is going nowhere.
The Carron currently sells 150-200 bars a week. “The council are now saying it’s the banner that’s the problem, not the fact that it’s about deep-fried Mars bars,” she says. “Well I’m sorry, but there are thousands who come here from all over the world to buy one. It’s an icon for Stonehaven.”
Does she think the deep-fried Mars bar, which boasts its own Wikipedia page and has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, has been unfairly blamed for Scotland’s record on obesity and ill-health?
“Yes,” she says. “It’s really for tourists.
And everything is bad for you if you do it enough. People come here to go to Dunnotter Castle and then have a deep-fried Mars bar as a wee treat. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Read on via ‘I’ve got judges who love them’: in defence of the deep-fried Mars bar | Chitra Ramaswamy | Life and style | The Guardian.

Very Heavy Journalism, Old School–a Gift from H. Mencken

Here’s another lesson in the continuing and forever-expanding series on not judging by appearances: the following terrific images were found in a very tall and slender, stiff and demure 1920’s publication celebrating the Thomson Printing Works of London (and Glasgow, Dundee, and Manchester).
The calf-bound book has the feel of an antique wallet, and even though the binding is sumptuous the cover is imprinted “A memento of a visit to the Thomson Printing Works, Dundee, Glasgow, Manchester”, which made it a rather expensive give-away–if that is so it was probably given only to the special few and not to the great unwashed. (My copy belonged to H.L. Mencken, who kept it until 1935 when he gave it away).
Anyway Thomson was a busy printing house/publisher, sending out millions of pieces, and the illustrations in the publication gives the reader an idea of the heavy hardware that went into the process. It is all very impressive. Also the photos of the human aspect of the firm–the crowded work and editorial and etc. rooms–well, it gives you an idea of the closeness and noise of the place as it might have been on a late summer afternoon in 1928.
[And by the way, I just checked WorldCat for this title and there’s only one copy listed–National Library of Scotland–which means the thing is pretty rare, and which also means that these terrific photos have probably not been shared very much at all…
I wonder how much just the metal type weighed in the composing room?
Source: JF Ptak Science Books: Very Heavy Journalism, Old School–a Gift from H.L. Mencken

‘Bloom’ colourful Light display, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Scotland
‘Bloom’, the opening event for the Edinburgh International Festival, lights up Saint Andrew Square with a colourful array of projections.
More photos of the light show in our gallery
Image Credit: Photograph by Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
Source: God’s own field and a gigantic bubble: today’s most stunning photos | World news | The Guardian

Before Bond, Sean Connery Finished Third in Mr. Universe Competition, 1953.

Sean Connery began bodybuilding at the age of 18, and from 1951 trained heavily with Ellington, a former gym instructor in the British army.
While his official website claims he was third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contest, most sources place him in the 1953 competition, either third in the Junior class or failing to place in the Tall Man classification.
Connery stated that he was soon deterred from bodybuilding when he found that the Americans frequently beat him in competitions because of sheer muscle size and, unlike Connery, refused to participate in athletic activity which could make them lose muscle mass.
In his early 20s after he had returned to Edinburgh from a three-year stint in the Royal Navy, Connery had worked through a succession of dead end jobs and had enrolled at a gym on the Royal Mile when he was selected by the college for life classes.
Connery was one of a group of models from a weightlifting club. He followed one of his friends who had started modelling at the college and had then got his friends involved.
Former art student John Houston, one of a talented group of students, told The Times: “It was a paid job and most of them stayed for six months or a year.
They would be involved in day classes twice a week, holding the same pose and working from 9.30am until 4.00pm.I vaguely remember drawing Connery, but he made no great impression.
Soon afterwards, Connery moved to London to pursue the acting career in which he would be cast as James Bond in Dr No, which was released in 1962.
Source: Before He Was Bond, Sean Connery Once Finished Third in Mr. Universe Competition in 1953 ~ vintage everyday

‘Hallowild’ Mummy haunts Tomb in Stirling.

Stirling, Scotland
Scott Meiklejohn gets into character as a mummy during a photo call ahead of “Hallowild”, Blair Drummond Safari Park’s annual Halloween event.
This year’s theme in the haunted walkway is an Egyptian tomb with special 3D effects alongside actors playing the roles of Pharaohs and Mummies.
Image Credit: Photograph by Andrew Milligan/PA
Source: Wildfires and wildflowers: Thursday’s best photos | News | The Guardian

The Mirror Man Statue at Loch Earn.

Tourists view the mirror man statue by artist Rob Mulholland at Loch Earn in St Fillans, Scotland.
The three-meter-tall sculpture made from mirrored tiles spends winters out of the water due to the inclement weather, returning again in the summer months.
Image Credit: Photograph by Jeff  J Mitchell / Getty.
Source: Photos of the Week: 7/15–7/21 – The Atlantic

Scottish Wildcat disappearing from Highlands.

The Scottish wildcat is one of the United Kingdom species most at risk of disappearing, according to the State of Nature report published this week.
A quarter of mammals and nearly half of birds assessed are at risk of extinction.
Photograph: Peter Cairns/Courtesy of Scottish Wildcat Action
Source: The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian