More Molly Weir than Tom Weir

I’ve been enjoying having time to read again, and these two below have had very different effects on me.

Firzroy Maclean’s West Highland Tales is a collection of stories from an area I know well, and indeed some of my ancestors feature in the pages. The stories are a mix of the fantastic, witches and fairies, and of actual events, both passed through the generations as told by the Seanachie, a Highland Bard.
I love being Scottish, the country itself and its heritage and pure gold, but it’s the nature of some of that heritage that’s turned us all into damages cases, and this book is very strong evidence for the prosecution.
I initially bought it to learn some new tales to tell Holly at bedtime, she loves that stuff, but after a page or two, I could see this was going to be for my eyes only. Everybody murders, or at the very least mutilates everybody else, all the time. If they don’t then they’re cursed or banished. if by some quirk of fate a character survives the author gleefully adds a footnote to tell you that the character actually was murdered/mutilated/banished in real life after the events in the story.
If the other clans didn’t get you, your wife/husband would or your first-born would put you to the sword to claim your estate.
Seriously, I had Joycee leaping out of bed looking for the fire by shouting “Nooo!!!” at 2am when the happy Highland couple were slaughtered in the last line of the story yet again.
But, it’s a great book, hugely entertaining and a real insight to the times where the stories all come from, 1000-1800-ish. Life was hard, the threat of an imminent violent death must have weighed on every single soul in those days, answers were sought and the blame given to the supernatural, the other clans, nearby foreign nationals and very often, a wummin.
Worth a read, just don’t expect a lot of happy endings.

Jules Vernes The Underground City is an adventure set in the coal mines under the Trossachs!

Verne visited Scotland in 1859 and toured from Edinburgh to Glasgow to Loch Lomond and back the the east via the Trossachs and Stirling. He was so inspired by the journey he wrote this story based in the places he visited, and it’s just great fun to read.
Everything is fiction here, there is no coal, but Verne builds a world where people live and work in a vast network of huge caverns and tunnels that stretch from Aberfoyle to the west coast. You can walk under the River Clyde, see the vast columns of rock that support Ben Lomond, and if you’re the baddie, drain the contents on a loch into the mine…
The foreword is stupid, it gives away lots of plot points, so if you get the book, skip it. It’s a good translation, so you don’t need someone to hold your hand to get through the pages.
It’s a larger than life romp, full of drama, tension and even some romance, all set in places where we visit tea-shops. I love the speech, it’s all hands-on-hips exclamations, well spoken in the queens English. Aye, it’s Victorian, but it still made me grin all the way.
Verne was a man ahead of his time, his books are full of him picking up the knowledge or technology of the day and extrapolating where it might go and then using that. Proper science fiction. Magic.

6 thoughts on “More Molly Weir than Tom Weir”

  1. Oooo a book !

    cheers for that, ‘i’m a hands on hips’ kinda guy. looks small enough for me next backpack too. Which is more important than the content most times. Sad but true..

    The window. A great piece of prose. And of course very sad. The window is a very apt title for when a person reaches that point in their life; an oportunity to escape when all else has closed in around them.

    I saw something pretty heartbreaking on Sunday driving back from Mull. A deer walked out infront of a car ahead of me. The car didnt swerve. Watching this tramatised animal limp off, front leg hanging into the forest made me feel sick. I couldnt do anything which made it worse. I’d have gladly shot it if I had a gun.

    Anyway sorry – gloomy. We have a hell of alot to be happy about in life. Embrace it and those closest to you.

  2. Aye, life throws up all sorts of stuff that you’re not ready for. Accepting that sometimes there’s nothing you can do is the hardest thing.

    Books for the tent are good. I have a new reeprint of Where Eagles Dare for the next trip :o)

  3. I’ve just received Caringorm John which I’ve started reading. It describes some of the rescues that the Mountain Rescue Team in the Cairngorm’s have had to deal with over the years. So far I’ve read the first chapter which has just gone into detail about his childhood.

    If you haven’t got it, might be worth a read and has received 5 stars on Amazon:

  4. That does look like a good one. I like the ordinary tales that are in reality exceptional, that’s the folk that are interesting.
    Pro mountaineers on fancy expeditions… Pah!

  5. Being a tight Yorkshireman I had waited for Cairngorm John to come out on paperback,finished awhile back, bloody good read.

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