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Life as a Scot in California

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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Bye Blog?

Posted by berkeleyscot on November 16, 2009

I am thinking I might give up Blogging.

I feel I’m talking to myself, which I do a lot, anyway, but then I HOPE there’s no one listening! But, with the Blog, I never know IF anyone is ‘listening’ or, most times, even who they are!

few months ago I became a participant on Facebook.  On Facebook’s intro page, there is a question, ”What’s on your mind?” Space is provided for only a sentence or two, so there is no chance to drivel on.

Unlike a blog, if there is a response from a ‘friend,’ it can be immediate and a ‘conversation’ can take place.

I’ve never restricted who can read my blog, but, on Facebook, only those who are on my chosen ‘friends’ list have access to what I choose to share.

Of course, I also have access to what my friends have on their minds.

Most people on my list are people I already know, but there are some people I ‘talk to’ because we share a Scottish background or have other friends in common.

The other day, a lady from the same part of the world suggested, on Facebook, that I access a particular magazine online, because it featured an article about the Buckie Fishing Heritage Museum.  The article wasn’t accessible. Of course, the publisher wants you to buy the magazine!

As a result, my friend, whom I’ve never met, is going to send me her copy of the magazine!

As I’ve been ‘talking to myself’ for the last few minutes, it’s on my mind that I’ll maybe keep the blog after all!


Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The English American. A novel by Alison Larkin.

Posted by berkeleyscot on April 6, 2008

I met Alison on March 30, when she was performing her comedy routine and reading from her novel of the same name, ‘The English American.’ Alison was performing as part of a fund-raising for PACT.

‘The English American’ comes from Alison’s own experience of being born in USA, and adopted by British parents (English mother, Scottish father.)

As a Scot and an adoptee, I related to so many of the witty observations Alison made in the novel. I want everyone to buy this book, so I won’t give away the plot, but I have a few teasing comments to tempt you.

Pippa (the heroine) grew up with a father who enjoyed Scottish country dancing.

I loved the description of an evening of dancing in the local village hall. One character says, “I’ll tell you the secret to Scottish dancing.”—“You need to count, you see. I still count, even though I’m an expert.”

Yes! We Scots count the steps at the dancing. “ROUND for eight, BACK for eight! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-TURN!”

But the book’s main purpose is to talk about the adoption experience, for all concerned. I need to talk about my feelings about this in another blog.

But, in the meantime, we’ll dance. Set to your partner, pas de basque and turn!

Alison uses ‘pas de basque,’ but I grew up with the spelling of the step ‘pas de bas.’ We pronounce it ‘paddyba!’ This is just more to talk about!

Posted in Scotland, Scottish music, Writing | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Doric Variations

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 25, 2008

It wis affy interesting tae hear Robbie Shepherd read oot a wee bittie o my story, ‘Scottish Hospitality.’

Bit fit he read oot wis different Doric tae mine. I noticed richt awa that he said I wis “hyne oot in California.”

In my ain Doric, I’d say, “hing awa in California.”

Robbie was born in Dunecht, Aberdeenshire. His Doris is cwintry and mine is fisher. Bit there’s a kin o variations o the Doric, depenin on far ye come fae, or furry boots as fowk in Aiberdeen wid say.

I’ll be kyavin awa at this affy interestin subject.

Posted in Scotland, Writing | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Robbie Shepherd’s Doric podcast – I’m on it!

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 13, 2008

Every Saturday, Robbie presents a podcast in the Doric.

This past Saturday, February 9, he read a piece of a story I’d written, ‘Scottish Hospitality.’

I’m fair chuffed!

The transcript of the show appeared in the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Posted in Scotland, Writing | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Spike and OorMargit

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 9, 2008

On his last 2 programmes, ‘The Reel Blend,’ (BBC Radio Scotland) Robbie Shepherd has mentioned my Doric writing. On his most recent broadcast, February 3rd, he also mentioned that I used to write with the late Bob Johnstone. Bob had worked at the Aberdeen Press & Journal. That’s the paper in which Robbie’s Doric column is published.

I knew Bob Johnstone as ‘Spike.’ That was the pseudonym he used when, for many years, he wrote serial stories, in the Doric, for the Buckie Paper (Banffshire Advertiser.) Granda enjoyed Spike’s column so much and when I was a wee quinie, he read it aloud to me. We’d baith be greetin wi lachin.

I loved all the characters Spike created: Peter Rawn, fa wis skipper o the Mochba; Q. Coull, the poet o the Catbow; an Q.’s brother-n-law, Silas Jappy. Silas wis Buckie Thistle’s No. 1 supporter an finiver the team lost, he’d chase peer Q. doon tae the Yardie beach, threatenin him wi the widden drifter.

Syne there wis Geordie Plowter, the fairmer o Muckledubs, fa’s claim tae fame wis funnen a kangaroo-shaped tattie. There wis Julie McClype, the bus conductress, fa aye accused Spike o swikin’ on his ticket. There wis Feel Wisset, an Gerrick, the bobby an a hale curn mair. Fit an imagination an talent Spike hid!

Bit he wis affy generous tae me an gied me characters tae write aboot. I took “OorMargit” as my writing name. That, of course, means, ‘Our Margaret,’ which is what Mam and Dad called me and I’ve been “OorMargit” ever since.

I hid Dinah Dottie and her husband, Clint Coup. They ‘lived’ in San Francisco and my contribution was to describe their reactions to life here in the Bay Area. It certainly gave me a lot to think about, but Spike was very encouraging. He told me he wrote his column in about 30 minutes, but I struggled away with mine.

I miss Spike a lot. He was a great mentor and a classic Doric writer.

An naebody cwid read Spike oot loud like Granda!

Posted in Buckie, Scotland, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scots Language Society

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 15, 2007

I have always enjoyed writing in my native dialect, The Doric. I heard it before I learned to speak English and I could call it my ‘comfort language.’
An article I wrote a few years ago explains this in more detail; “Speak Bonnie Noo.”
I’ve written a number of articles and stories in The Doric which have been published in the Banffshire Advertiser (The Buckie Paper, AKA, ‘The Squeak,’ and in the newsletter of the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Museum.
A few years ago I joined the Scots Language Society. I think the Society has very few members outside of Scotland.
I’m chuffed tae bits that last year the Society published a story I wrote.
I’d been telling the story for 40 years and wrote it as a piece for Susan Ito’s writing class at UC extension. But it just didn’t work in English.
The story was about a visit from Canadian relatives and despite our sincere efforts to make them feel welcome and comfortable, it was a laughable disaster!
I heard the Doric voices in contrast to the Canadian voices and realised that was what the story was about. There were two extremely different cultures and expectations.
Scottish Hospitality” was published in The Doric, in the winter edition, 2006, of ‘Lallans,’ the journal of the Scots Language Society.

Here’s a short excerpt of me reading this story.

Posted in Buckie, Oormargit, Scotland, Writing | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »