The Wife of Usher’s Well is one of the creepiest stories I know. A mother whose sons have died wishes for their return home…..
It fell about the Martinmas
When the nights were lang and mirk
Her three sons came hame tae her
And their hats were o' the birk
But they can’t stay and must return to their graves at daybreak
"The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
The channerin worm doth chide;
Gin we be mist out o our place,
A sair pain we maun bide."
Birthdays and Flu
This is not just my birthday month but also shared by Daughter and three close friends. All Scorpios. I made cards with a summery collage. However, I’ve always liked the onset of winter, with its shortening days and the need for woolly tights. Knitting by the fire, hot chocolate and toast are all things I enjoy in Autumn.
It is also flu season and almost immediately after getting my jab I develop symptoms. Coincidental, I assume, as I then have two weeks of feeling rubbish with what is termed a ‘productive’ cough. Yuck. I watch multiple episodes of Black Sails back to back and sleep a lot. Home-made chicken noodle soup from the wonderful ZZ helps my recovery. I just make it to a planned night out at the theatre (masked), the stunning James IV by the National Theatre of Scotland.
Other television recommendations: House of Dragons, Bad Sisters, Inside Man, The Capture, Loving (film), The Walk-In, Cabinet of Curiosities, The White Lotus (new series).
Remembering R and others
October began with my younger cousin’s funeral. I was close to him and his family. His mother, my namesake, was my father’s sister and my mother’s closest friend. I met some lovely people, adults last seen as children. It was sad but also an enjoyable occasion. Lots of hugging. I suspect that’s how I got the virus. I’m also mourning the deaths of two Scots I greatly admire: Robbie Coltrane (always Danny McGlone from Tutti Frutti for me, but a great Hagrid) and Ian Jack, whose sharply witty columns in the Guardian I will miss. Read one of his best columns here.
Tarot – the Empress and the Fool
Three attempts to draw a random card produced The Empress again! Female power is a good omen, especially applied to my own life, but not enough to show the way forward. I take the bottom card from.the pack, which is The Fool, a new beginning, with the dog driving him on and his feathered hat connecting him to intuition. I am ready for a new year in my life, new challenges. Maybe as a nation we need to move on, not knowing what lies ahead, trusting to instinct and common sense.
Books and Audiobooks
Thoroughly enjoyed the background of real events in both 1979 and 1989 by Val McDermid with new heroine, journalist Allie Burns. I like her use of Scots in narrative as well as dialogue. Paula Hawkins’ third novel, A Slow Fire Burning, was a good read, although I found the different narrative strands confusing. The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan is an engaging story set in 1822, in the Edinburgh of the Enlightenment about two society women with a common interest in plants. Lots of period detail and use of Scots. The Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead came highly recommended, but I found this dual tale of a woman pilot and a young actor playing her in a film many years later, didn’t work for me. I liked the sub-plot of the artist brother better than the central narrative. Belinda Bauer is one of my favourite writers, combining crime and black humour. The Facts of Life and Death, told from the point of view of a ten year old girl, is about a serial killer in a rural environment where the sea can be a threat.
Audiobooks are still my go to accompaniment to routine tasks, walking and getting off to sleep. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, with its complexities of plot and character took some effort to complete, but it is a great novel. The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith is easy to follow, in spite of its length (almost 33 hours). Absorbing and cleverly told, making use of social media as a narrative device.
The Wash House Project
In 2010, Cannyrob helped me transform part of our damp, cobwebby outbuilding into a studio where I could do my art and craft work. It had two big old sinks from its days as a communal wash house. A water heater, dehumidifier and kitchen units were added. I exhibited drawings, paintings and textile work at the East Neuk Open Studios for the next three years.
Last winter, working in the damp, dusty Wash House was triggering asthma attacks. With help from A, joiner and friend, we planned some renovations. Damp proof membrane and insulated board on all walls,ceilings and floor. Finished by Christmas?
Rough and Rowdy Ways
I have been a massive Bob Dylan fan since my teens, as is Cannyrob. I saw him in Glasgow on 21st June 1998 with Van Morrison. It was a great night, with a huge crowd standing to sing Forever Young at the end, lots of us in tears. 24 years on we saw a different Dylan, a wee old man at a piano singing his long poems about love, religion and death (from the Rough and Rowdy Ways album) Perfect! A bit like Dylan came round to your house for an evening.
I’ve hardly been out, had to cancel appointments, outings and classes. I have not managed to catch up with friends in person, dependent on messages and brief, croaky phone calls. However, that is going to change. Dressed in my fairy outfit for Hallowe’en, I’m back! Keep in touch. I’ve added headings so you can go straight to Tarot or Books. Are they useful? I really appreciate feedback via Comments, email or Social Media. Elinor xx