Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

So Long, Ceylon

For any insomniacs out there, I had a life changer of a realisation, so I thought I should pass it on.

I no longer drink tea in the evening because the quality of sleep I am getting as a result is worth it.

This is mind-blowing if you take into consideration how much I like tea.

I happened not to drink tea one evening and freakily slept right the way through the night.

I didn’t think my quality of sleep was that bad – but it turns out that for the last 15 years or so I have just been getting into bed, snoozing on the surface of sleep, getting up to go to the toilet and to check the news, snoozing a little more and then, hey, it’s morning.

Now, I am getting into my bed and plunging into total sensory deprivation, a cocoon of warm blackness, a battery-recharge docking station where time evaporates without my knowledge – instead of that subconscious awareness of pretty much what time it is at any given point in the night.

I wake up having had an actual break between one day and the next.

I have stopped crashing out on my weekend afternoons as had become habitual.

I am about six weeks into my post-tea era and am not missing tea enough to sacrifice a good night’s sleep.

I tried decaffeinated tea one night and it was hopeless – heid was buzzing all night. I am now one of these people that asks for hot water. Who’d have thought it?

It is not as if I was aware I was having trouble sleeping – I just thought my sleep pattern was kind of normal.

So, if you like sleep, I recommend tap water.

For all your rock and roll lifestyle life hacks, I am your woman.


Roasting Runners and Compulsory Kit #illuminator

I was doing a race that had a compulsory kit list; fair enough – the race was up a couple of hills in the Scottish Highlands in the autumn in the dark.

The kit list caused me twitchiness and anxiety: if you didn’t have the compulsory kit, you might be banned from running; if you took all the compulsory kit, you might be more of a pack horse than a runner and keel over, kit heavy into a ditch just past the start line.

Glove Anxiety. I like to run with fingerless gloves on. They make me invincible and something of a superhero. They also mean that if you deck it, you don’t skin your palms. If you need to grab on to a tree or rock, it’s all good.

But… would fingerless gloves count as gloves? My brilliant full-fingered sealskins are great for heavy clambering and freezing temperatures – but for a race on the cusp of autumn and winter?

What if I wore them and they were too hot and made my hands all sweaty inside? And if I took them off I would have to stow them somewhere about my person and they are quite bulky. Or I could lose them on the course, but – eh – that’s not eco friendly and they are great gloves and totally expensive.

So, should I have taken my thin, non-waterproof, narrow running gloves, designed for such an event as this? No. I wanted to wear lovely liberating and empowering fingerless ones. Which is what I did. I figured, in the event of a kit check, they are gloves; fingerless, granted, but gloves.

Hat. Hat? No. Now a Buff/shall we say “seamless multifunctional headwear” ? Yes! But is that a hat? To save myself a kerfuffle at the start line, I messaged the organiser: “Does a buff count as a hat?” Apparently, if it covers your head to keep it warm, it counts as a hat. Good to know.

Sleeves were the worst dilemma. That decision went down to the wire. I only wear sleeves for training when it hits 2 degrees or less. It was a balmy 11-13 degrees or something. There was a lot of debate and deliberation. Everyone else I was running with were going for long sleeves, on the grounds that once we were up on the open hilly terrain it would be pure freezing and windy and sleeves would be a good thing. So, I caved, took off my lovely cheerful orange t-shirt and put on my depressing long-sleeved black underarmour thing.



1000 or so racers, runners and walkers set off up a vertical incline and a mile and a half in, everyone is stripping layers off – firing jealous glares at sneaky wee jammy short-wearing, vest-sporting smuggins people, with their minimal packs and appropriately exposed flesh – and tying their waterproofs around their waist and rolling their sleeves up.

Pretty warm, pretty warm; up the hill up the hill.

I think it was mile six that I started to panic. We had had, I think, a descent, and we turned a corner for another gradual climb and I am thinking I AM ROASTING and trying not to shout out IS EVERYONE NOT TOTALLY ROASTING? and keeping running keeping running, thinking I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE SLEEVES! WHY DID I NOT LISTEN TO MYSELF AND WEAR THE T-SHIRT?

What to do? If I messed with my buff on the move, that would dislodge my head-torch and I would doubtless take a header into an oblivious capercaillie.

I was on the verge of pulling over to the side and taking off the long sleeved top and running ‘taps-aff’ – it was dark, after all. Instead I managed to roll the sleeves up, open the neck right down and tuck the midriff section up my sports-bra, so that my midriff could breathe h the lovely fresh evening air.

Oh the relief.

A little later on, there was a cool lighting and snack station, so I unplucked it all, so as not to offend with my air-cooled “abs” hanging out.

Fortunately the temperature did drop a couple of degrees, so the sleeves were just about tolerable for the return leg of the run.

I was very pleased with my run. At 15 miles it is the furthest race I have run, and I was enjoying it at the end – there was a good descent and a flat bit to the finish; lots of people were walking that stretch, which seemed mental as that was the descent and the flat bit… so I whizzed past a whole bunch of people in the last mile as my legs were still working.


The whole compulsory kit put this quote from Hebrews in my mind:

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

Honestly, the desire to jettison extraneous kit was almost overwhelming. I didn’t need: my phone, my jelly babies, protein bar, waterproof jacket, long sleeved top, spare torch or batteries. I also didn’t need my (non-compulsory) vaseline, my tissues or my foil survival thingmy.

How great would it have been to have been able to ‘throw off’ ‘everything that hinders’… (within reason…)



… in which I go shopping for a dress…

We have a family wedding on the horizon, known locally as “The Wedding”.

Because of the ever-decreasing window in which to purchase an auntie-of-the-groom dress, I had to go shopping yesterday – or risk having to wear last season’s (sharp-intake-of-breath) wedding outfit or my classy, lacy but wintery-toned petrol-blue dress.

At least I already have the shoes. Gone are the days of my shoe-buying failures. I now have a pair of “nude” heels that I can walk in!

John Lewis. Clearance. Urgh. Wood for the trees. What kind of brand am I supposed to think is my kind of brand, at the age of 44? Which brands are for people twenty years older? Twenty years younger? More relevantly – where are the brands for short people? Eh?

I looped around a couple of times, trying to stave off any faint shopping panic that may be begun to pool in my subconscious.

Ted Baker, Jigsaw, Whistles… Hobbs… Coast…

Round and round we go, where will we stop? Nothing grabbed me, so I swung out of John Lewis and off down to Next which I knew at least would have a Petite rail…

…which turned out to be totally uninspiring.

Down the escalators, out onto Buchanan Street in the sunshine. I started googling for petite dresses in Glasgow and it fired up a potentially helpful lead: House Of Fraser. Great idea.

I marched purposefully down the street, successfully not going into North Face to look at trail shoes and approached Fraser’s, picked a door and entered.

Did I want to try some fragrance or other? Eh, naw. I just want dresses for short people. A dress. A short person. Not that short. Just five foot.

It happened to be the only day that Scotland’s natural air conditioning was not sufficient. Out in the glorious sunshine, the breeze made it ideal shopping weather. Inside the airless perfume-fogged Fraser’s, the temperature was on the rise. Tartan carpets, mirrors and blingy shop fittings were starting to mess with my head.

I found some clothes. Are these posh enough? Is this the casual bit? Is that security guard following me? Where is the dresses-one-might-wear-to-a-wedding section? Less air, more heat, more stairs, less focus.

I need to get out.

I then had a brilliant plan. There must be a Debenhams around here somewhere. I bounced over to St Enoch’s Centre and up the escalator to Debenhams. Which turned out to be Hamley’s. Who knew?

I tried to escape Hamley’s but ended up trapped in a loop of Hamley’s, a food court and some toilets – unable to get out. Began to panic. Found a lift. Got in it. Didn’t know what to press. Pressed things.

Eventually I found the entrance to Debenhams off the main mall – which was deserted – and as I stoated in, hoping to see a sign marked “dresses”, I was faced with a multiface of glass and light – I don’t know if it was fragrances or make up, but it was like my migraine aura – just fragments of reality or not, shoved together and brightly lit so that I was super-disoriented and less likely to buy perfume than I think they would have perhaps been hoping.

Do people actually find that lights, mirrors and muzak help them to buy stuff? Does it not just make your head spin and incite you to pine for a quiet café that serves crispy scones beneath a good wifi link to an online perfume shop?

(If you wanted to buy perfume. Which I didn’t.)

On entering the next part I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted. And they weren’t for sale. As summer decorations, the store had installed big, bold cardboard bananas, watermelons and pineapples suspended from the roof. I want these. I need these. (I am decorating the church hall as a desert island in early August. These would have been perfect. Sigh…)

And then we were there. “Women”. It was like John Lewis all over again. A loop of brands: too much, too much. Mirrors and light. Where’s the exit.

You’ll be relieved to know I finally triumphed.

I worked my way up Buchanan Street, shop by shop – almost re-enacting the Karen Millen meltdown of 1999 when I bankrupted myself buying my going-away-outfit.

Confidence was growing.

When I finally found the dress I was looking for, I was still in the cubicle, breathing the second-hand overheated shop-air, when I heard the staff talking about a minute’s silence that was to be held at 11am. It was 10.54am.

Should I stay in here for six minutes? Or could I get out, through the checkout and back on the street in six minutes? Or, as I suspected would happen, would I try the latter and end up mid-transaction at the top of the hour and end up in an awkward face-to-face silence with a member of staff while feeling utterly shallow that that even bothers me, given the reason for the silence?

I needed to get out.

Dress bought, paid for, wrapped and out, out, out into the street for the silence, just as the shop cut the Muzak.


Once home, I celebrated with rather more Heinz Ravioli and Cadbury’s Caramel bites than the recommended portion size indicated on the packaging of each.

Couch to 5k? Here’s my advice.


First of all – good for you! It’s the right decision.

Leaving the couch has so many benefits, I can’t believe I am here, sitting on my couch, blogging.

Why am I not circumnavigating the village, getting my step count up? I could be out there, seeing the sky, breathing the air, feeling the health and wellbeing seeping into my pores…

It’ll be great. If you ever have to run for a bus, you’ll be able to. If you ever need to escape from a weird bloke, you can just leg it. It’ll be great. Schoom! All this without getting three paces, peching and thinking “I can’t run.”

You can in fact run. But, there’s one thing that you have to get right before you even bother to lollop into that first stride.

Ladies, it is all in the underwear. An off the peg own brand sports bra will not suffice. We are talking ROBUST here. SOLIDITY. It’s a strong and stable government that our figures crave, not the coalition of chaos that ill-thought-through underwear brings.

Without the right underwear, you bound into that first stride, and your foot lands, and then the wobble of unfettered weight lands a split second later, swinging you off balance and destabilizing step two. It’s not the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other that’s the issue, it’s the management of the unruly, untamed, soft and dough-like flesh, wherever it happens to pool on one’s body.

Once the underwear is sorted, it’s all about shoes. I’m not so good with the shoes. I should say that you should go to Run 4 It for a gait assessment . I did that and bought some beautiful running shoes, but they took longer than their recommended mileage to actually break in. So, good luck with the shoes.

So, you have your shoes and your bra. Both expensive. Both essential. And then clothes. Take your pick.

Now you are ready to break into a run.

If the target is a 5k, you are building up to running for half an hour without stopping, at a reasonable pace.

The first job is to be active for half an hour without stopping.

You can do it by lampposts: run for two, walk for two – alternate until half an hour has elapsed. Do that three times a week and then run for three, walk for two – alternate until half an hour has elapsed. And so on…

When the lamppost counting gets too tricky, move on to minutes: Run for two walk for two – and then build it up – run for three, walk for two. Get your body used to being active for the length of time you think it would take you run 5k.

Future you will thank present you for making this decision. Future you won’t get breathless going up stairs. Future you will never be late when a wee burst of speed is all that you need. Future you will enjoy the ironic endorphin high that comes with repeated running: everyone hates running; everyone loves ‘having run’.

Plenty of people don’t want to run. Fine.

Many people would love to run but are not medically or physically able.

However, sometimes people want to run and it doesn’t happen and here are my suggestions if any of these reasons are the reason you don’t run:

  1. Time – there’s always the crack of dawn; there’s always last thing at night.
  2. Knees – run on grass – it is kinder to knees than the road.
  3. Weight – Use a fitbit or similar to figure out your calorie intake and calorie burn. Do the math and respond appropriately.
  4. Weight – to lose weight you have to move more. Start moving or your weight trajectory will continue as it is.
  5. Boredom – get a friend to run with you.
  6. Age – It is just a number… but stretch properly at either end of a training run or your calves won’t cope.
  7. Weird idiopathic belief that one cannot run – Deep down this is probably the underwear thing. Honest.

Fancy going for a run?

What’s stopping you?

Unity and balance: too much to ask? #ge2017 #noneoftheabove

If there is such a thing as an average Scottish voter – someone who voted with the majorities in both recent referenda – they want to be united to neighbouring nations: there was a No-vote to separation from the United Kingdom; there was a Remain-vote for that United Kingdom to stay within the EU.

They want unity, not separation.

Now, at this time, in this election, these same voters are faced with the prospect of a tightening up of the paradox we currently have of two one-party states: the Conservatives largely have the United Kingdom as a whole and are looking to maximize that, yet the SNP have Scotland as a whole as a minority within that practically overwhelming Conservative majority.

They want to vote for the opposition to these dominant forces. But the only foil to these parties is… these parties. To get the SNP out and put indyref2 to bed, one needs to vote Conservative. To lessen the Conservative grip, one needs to vote SNP.

The opposition is missing.

The Liberal Democrats and Labour just don’t seem like meaningful players in this particular round of votes.

The LibDem’s appeal to Remain voters seems faintly undemocratic, sort of, given the referendum result. Labour seem irrelevant, and when they try to appear relevant, they appear delusional. To me, anyway.

The thing is, I am a terrible tactical voter. It never works out they way I think it will.

I suspect that almost exactly half of Scotland will be feeling a bit queasy when they cast their vote next Thursday.

Needs must.

Vote vote vote #ge2017

Want to know my opinion?


Neither do I, really.

We have voted every which way. We have voted in, voted out, shaken it all about… and now we are going to have to come up with another opinion about how we feel about various rocks and hard places, while we watch Labour slowly decompose in the background as the Liberal Democrats find still new ways to appear irrelevant (while probably ticking most people’s boxes in some vague and unconvincing way) …


So the SNP are making the Scottish side-show into a two horse race between the Tories and themselves, banking on Scotland’s deep-seated repellence of the Conservatives. What they must hope is that Labour Unionists are more Labour than Unionist. It could go either way.

It’s hard to see the SNP doing any better than last time. There aren’t many more seats to be won.  It will be interesting (sort of) to see if the Unionists can coordinate their “anything but the SNP” campaign any more effectively than the last time, instead of the unionist vote being split down the middle, letting the SNP get all practically all the seats when the music stops.

So, hand me my ballot papers and a scrubby wee pencil. I’ll use x to mark the spot to suggest where we should maybe start digging…

… And we’ll stay up all night watching Dimbleby. And we’ll consider eating our hats. And, in the morning,  if we don’t like the answers, shall we have another go?

Vile and Offensive? The Problem of #Easter

We have airbrushed humanity so hard, that we seem to be looking pretty great, don’t you think?

We uphold Human Rights. We are tolerant and inclusive. We want the best for our children. We care about the planet.

Scratch the surface though – and we are a mess. We have a list of Human Rights because across the globe people are oppressed and trafficked, attacked, kidnapped and gassed. The tolerance and inclusion of “others” is an ideal that stands apart from the reality of the bombings, beheadings and atrocities we hear about every day. While many work for the good of children, many children still are in poverty, neglected, ignored and abused. And the environment is sacrificed for man’s ends, park by sea by forest.

Where’s the rationale for humanity’s behaviour? Where’s the sense in a suicide bomb? Who wins when a child is murdered? How many times have you watched the news and thought, “This is just insane!”?

As a species, we are cursed by our own egos. The self, while managing to put an acceptable face on for the day to day, is trapped in an unwise cycle of self-promotion and self-destruction. By following after its own ends, it is its own undoing.

In the old days, this curse was called “sin” – not the comedy sins of fridge-raiding, naughty books and generally being an old devil of any sort– but the sickening compulsion that human beings have to push the self forward, to take things for the self, to directly or indirectly use or put others down. These are the symptoms, at least.

This lyric from a hymn has been stuck in my head of late. We smile and sing:

“…the vilest offender who truly believes

that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”

This is the problem with Easter, and points us towards the profound unfairness at its heart.

Why should the ‘vilest offender’ receive any kind of a pardon? There are any amount of vile offenders in the world today. From those individuals who make the news by driving trucks into pedestrians (mad) to world leaders toying with war (mad) to criminals (mad) to paedophiles (sick) to … there are plenty vile offenders – the prisons are full of them!

(Although when I think of the poor souls in some of our prisons, I figure that many of them are there because of glaikitness, neglect, stupidity and poverty rather than direct and overt intention to carry out acts of evil… but I don’t suppose these are the “vilest offenders” the hymn writer had in mind.)

Why should ‘the vilest offender who truly believes / that moment from Jesus a pardon receives?’?

In short, of course, they shouldn’t.

If any court held a proven terrorist, murderer, paedophile, war criminal – of course they should not, as vile offenders, have any kind of a pardon. They should pay for their crime, their debt to society and the world by what ever means possible, were that means possible… (it isn’t, is it? These people can’t make up for what they have done.)

But of course, those two lines of the song were taken out of context. Here’s the whole stanza:

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

The reference to “redemption” is to do with buying something back. When we redeem a voucher, we get whatever its value was, whatever it was symbolic of. Here we have a “perfect” redemption – a flawless buying back. We have another image from finance in the “purchase” of blood. Blood has been “spent” in order to make a purchase. This act – Christ’s death on the cross – was so perfect that it was sufficient to pay for the deficiencies and the debts and to buy back a life seemingly beyond rescue.

We then have a universal opportunity – “to every believer the promise of God”. This promise of a perfect purchase/redemption is for “every believer” – regardless of their own status in terms of individual merit. To clarify this, the hymn writer gives the extreme example of “the vilest offender who truly believes/that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”.

At the moment that any person believes that Jesus has paid the price for their wrongdoing, they are bought back – and the purchase has gone through perfectly. Jesus could make up for the wrongs they had done.

This is not to say that the effects of the sin evaporate. Lives are still spoiled; damage is still done. And yet, they are “pardoned”?

Our sense of justice is still not satisfied. How do they get away with it? How come “perfect redemption” and “a pardon” is available to all, even “the vilest offender”?

I think that we have a line in the sand between good men and scoundrels. But we have put that line there. In reality, we are all on the same side of the line. No one is perfect, are they?

That grotesque side of humanity that we see spill out so often in horrific news stories is also a part of ourselves. Our capacity to disappoint ourselves is huge. Apostle Paul expresses it well (I have abbreviated this) :

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  … So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

Paul is trapped in the human condition, although at this point he is a believer. (He could have arguably been described as a “vilest offender” as a persecutor of a minority group, approving of religiously motivated murder). He can see the way a human should be; he knows the right way to act – but he is caught between the rational will and the human nature, tormented by his human frailty.

Wherever we fall on the spectrum between “good” and “vilest”, we are cursed by sin. Whether we are “believers” or not, we are all torn and are unable to make consistently “good” choices or decisions for action.

Importantly, there is no suggestion that “believers” are in any way “better” than unbelievers. In fact, that’s the point: a “vile offender” who is a believer receives a pardon from Jesus – but the loveliest person in the world that happens not to believe that Jesus has bought them back, having paid in blood for them, does not receive a pardon. They are still accountable for their wrongdoing (however limited it may appear in comparison to the world’s evils.) It’s all a matter of faith – faith that the believer is given. Paul explains:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

There we go. No one can boast. Vile offender or slightly more palatable offender, ‘every’ believer can live in the ‘promise of God’. Here’s some more of the hymn:

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

If you lasted this far into the post, well done and  – Happy Easter!

Plotting my hair trajectory

I need to make a policy decision on my hair: go grey gradually or dye my way to a delusional future?

It would be easier to make the decision, I feel, if I reflected on my past hair-related decisions and extrapolate from the data the likely outcomb of my current musings. In addition, I will of course scour the scriptures for guidance.

My hair grows out of my head. It keeps doing it; it is long. It is also brown and straight. That’s how my hair is, generally. Sometimes I get it cut.

In 1997 I got it cut from long to short; some people didn’t think I was the same person. Then it grew again. About six years ago I got it bobbed and I turned into Velma Dinkley: this was an ill-thought-through haircut; it did solve my Hallowe’en problems that year though.

As for the colour thing, I used to get vague, half-hearted highlights. Then I realized that my hair was in fact a colour, not going grey, so I could be saving myself a fortune by simply just… not getting vague half-hearted highlights.

So, that’s the status. Long brown hair. Seldom-to-never professionally maintained. In the last three years I have been out to a posh thing twice and had it “done”. It has been great/worth having the length.

For the rest of the time my hair is in a ponytail, or down. If I am trying to look like a functioning person, I straighten it. It “needs” about six inches of split ends cut off.

But, to my point, my split end, as it were: the whole “going grey” thing is a thing.

Now, grey hair is not a problem. It’s the ‘going’ part that is the issue.

When I last had my hair “done” for the posh thing, there were very, very few lone greys spiraling out from the hairdo looking as if they belonged to someone else. There was a momentary compulsion to snip or pluck, but then I thought… meh… and skipped off to the ball feeling perfectly justified in the grey to brown ratio, given that I am 44.

But what of the future? Do I continue to think, hey, my grey to brown ratio is just fine, while unbeknownst to me I look like a salt’n’peppa actual witch? With the tooth gap still going on (my adventures into orthodonistry as a concept have likewise stalled) and the split ends and the natural ‘silver’ highlights, I could degenerate into even more of a fright than is strictly necessary…

People my age are “meant” to come to the realization that they can’t “get away with” long hair. (They risk turning into a ‘kronenbourg’ (the beer… you look 16 from the back and 64 from the front.)) For me it’s not so much that I am trying to get away with it. It just grows. It’s just like that. If it were to be any other way than it is, it would be against nature. Literally.

Of course maybe I should get a little help with it. I think people generally get their hair dealt with pretty regularly. But when? When do people get their hair cut? People say “get someone to come to the house” – but when? I’m never in. I’m out, doing something other than getting my hair done. If I had time to get my hair done, I would be thinking Yass – a free morning! – and then go out running or shopping or visiting or facilitating my children’s lives or not sitting in the hairdresser being asked “are you going out tonight?” while thinking “eh… of course, but, like, I am out running in the rain or at a churchy thing, I am not doing anything that involves having tidy hair or nice clothes or context-free socializing…”

I have a hairdresser I would go to if I ever went. I do mean to call her. But there’s the full diary and the phonephobia working against me. I can’t see it happening.

Anyway… back to the whole, “should I start dying my hair to cover the grey?” question…

It isn’t going to happen, is it? I won’t get pink dips or blonde streaks or strategic natural browns. I’ll go grey, hair by hair until I have grey hair.

And then I turn to the bible, which of course I should have done first:

“Grey hair is a crown of splendour;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.”
Proverbs 16 vs 31

Okay, so maybe I am okay with my natural colour, but reading over this post , it sounds as if I need to go and get it tidied up a bit.

*stops self from reaching for scissors*

Waterfall, a poem


We’re silenced by the roar of the water.
The earth pulled from under it,
the stunned spume plummets;
the glassy river

Shattered shards splashing in stutters.
Rocks shine blackly;
White whirlpools swirl and suck
Fresh water into foam and scum.

We turn
And descend on even steps cut in stone.

Leaning on the fence, we talk while watching:
immeasurable, drop by pooling drop
eternally weightless before the fall.

Our vantage point allows a clearer view
Of height to depth and where the river goes.
Even rocks erode and leave us falling
And in the thundering roar we are not heard.

Referendum Fatigue, Language and Rhetoric #indyref2

If ever one was needing an example of assonance, Nicola Sturgeon is pleased to assist. Her addresses to the public, spattered with her importunate references to “independence referendum” are similarly punctuated by the contrasting vowel sound in the middle of our beloved Homeland “Scotland” perhaps even echo the true sound of Es and Os of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Ma heid is done in.


To cheer myself in advance of a few years’ worth of protracted verbal sniping between our First and Prime ministers, I thought I would indulge in a little analysis of some of the Language used by Ms Sturgeon today in her speech to the Party faithful.

I am assuming that you need no persuading that Scotland should not be dragged out of Europe by a Tory government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.

I visualise Scotland as some poor soul being dragged along by their feet. There are connotations of unwillingness. She has a point here. (Although, when she argues this point she undermines herself. She usually says that Scotland voted to stay in the EU. But Scotland voted for the UK to stay in the EU. We had already voted for Scotland to stay in the UK (in the full knowledge that the EU referendum was going to happen.)

We are referendumed out wur nut.)

I enjoy the concept of a “government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.” Why any government would be “intent on” anything “disastrous” is clearly nonsense. Presumably Mrs May and Co are, if anything, intent on a good hard Brexit, whatever that is.

It’s like getting your boiled egg right. Do you want your Breakfast, I mean Brexit, hard, soft or runny in the middle? Or red, white and blue as Mrs May once suggested. Whichever options are on the table, all we can be sure about is that eggs are eggs.

But instead of meeting us half way or, frankly, any of the way, Westminster chose to dig its heels in.
Our efforts at compromise with the Prime Minister met with a brick wall of intransigence.

I like these. I wonder what shoes Westminster is wearing. I get a visual of a sensible workwear shoe with a modest heel. Instead of being “dragged” anywhere, “Westminster” manages to stay put. Nice little contrast.  Lovely bit of synecdoche. Here’s how the PM manages to keep her heels firmly dug in – she is hiding behind a “brick wall of intransigence”. Brick walls to me signify frustration and pain. Something you would metaphorically hit your head off a few times before thinking, nah, I willnae bother. A brick wall of “intransigence” must be very frustrating. But it’s still a great word.

Ms Sturgeon continued:

… if she shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then the Brexit process will hit the rocks.

Now, I haven’t ever heard of a “tin ear” (so maybe I have one). Apparently it is to do with being deaf or insensitive to subtleties (is that even politically correct to say?). And then the imagery swings unexpectedly into ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and hits the rocks. Smashing.

Passing over the opportunity to have a think about “We should embrace that scrutiny” and “a compassionate country – with a big heart and a helping hand for those in need. An open country that doesn’t pull up the drawbridge and look inwards…”, I will end with Ms Sturgeon’s closing call:

Let this message ring out today.
Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.
Repetition, more synecdoche joy and an inspiring tense choice to conclude. Very nice.
But rather than ringing out, I am more wrung oot at the thought of all this kicking off again.

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