Sunday, January 22, 2012

A glorious morning on the White Grunafirth, one of 19 Shetland Marilyns

Slightly worried about coronary thrombosis, having consumed a bit of a fry-up for breakfast, but putting my trust in statins, aspirin and beta blockers, I set off on Shetland Life business this morning, camera in hand. First a wee jaunt to Eshaness, and then the half-hour climb to the summit of the White Grunafirth above Heylor, at 173 metres one of Shetland's 19 'Marilyns', or summits with a minimum ascent on every side of at least 150 metres.

No, I don't really understand the whole Marilyn thing (Munros, yes, Corbetts, sort of) either, but Dave Hewitt of Angry Corrie fame has written a great piece for the next Shetland Life explaining all, and we needed some pictures.

I parked the car at our old house, which nestles into the slope down to Ronas Voe, and began climbing. The first 15 minutes is brutal, but after that you reach a boggy plateau and only have to cope with a gradual rise to the trig point at the top. And it was worth it. The sun came out, illuminating the splendid trout lochs up on the hill that barely anyone ever fishes: The Mill Lochs of Stovabreck ( you can still see the ancient mills) Crookna Water, Gluss Water and others. There's an unexcavated tomb, covered in massive slabs, right next to the trig point, and the views over Ronas Voe to that other Marilyn, and Shetland's highest point, Ronas Hill, were spectacular.

From one Marilyn to another: Ronas Hill from the White Grunafirth

Looking towards Eshaness and the Dore Holm

And I didn't meet another soul.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

(I Wish I Was) English Now - full lyrics, music and background

This song is not entirely straightforward. It's neither  nationalist nor  anti-nationalist, but it does play with the notion of being 'English' in whatever you count as 'Scotland'. I don't consider Shetland, where I live, as culturally Scottish, for example.

I was born in Carlisle. In England. Within a year of that signal event, my parents had moved back to their native Scotland, and stayed. For the duration of my schooldays, I was slagged off by classmates whenever my birthplace was mentioned. And the subject of my 'essential Englishness' was always coming up with relatives as well.

My initial defence was to take a perverse pleasure in supporting the English football team against Scotland. later, I became infected with that horrible 'anybody but England' form of Little Scotlandism, which, I fear, still resides in many Caledonian hearts. These days, I regard the sentimentalism that surrounds the tatty trappings of Tartanography -  haggis, kilt, bagpipes, a deep-seated part of nationalist politics - with suspicion. Scotland's much bigger than that.

Anyway, this is a kind of meditation on being English-born, but Scottish, if you see what I mean. It's both sarcastic and honest in its yearning, satirical and deeply felt. if that makes sense. The sung lyrics are what I could remember. The written ones are definitive:

(I Wish I Was) English Now

Soundcloud link - click here, and player will open in a new window and play song

Robert Burns was good, I agree
But he wasn't as good as Morrissey
I wish I was English now
They've got Shakespeare and that's not all
They've got people who can actually play football
I wish I was English now

The beer's better and you know it's true
They don't lace their vodka with that Irn Bru
I wish I was English now
think of the glories you will see
If you go to St Andrews University, where
Everybody's English now

And I may have the paternity
But I was born in Carlisle Maternity
And I'll be English for eternity
I'm English now

Cider in Devon and that's not all
There's Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Everybody's Old Etonian now
The best black pudding in the world, they say,
Comes from Bury (Lancs) you don't have to go to Stornoway
Where they kill and eat the English now


And it's not racial purity
Some say it's insecurity
Some kind of self-induced hysteria
I'll tell you boys
It's just easier
To be English now

Bagpipes and haggis used to make me swoon
Eventually, you become immune
I only listen to the Wurzels now
But when I smell the whisky on the Speyside air, I thank God
I don't have to live there
Because I'm English now.


Copyright Tom Morton 2012/2014