Monday, August 29, 2011

Cannabalism in Scotland: the legend of Sawney Bean

The soccer team that once crashed on the mountaintop in South America. The American Donner Party. Dickens' Sweeny Todd.

The fine art of chowing down on one's fellows.

Well, it seems in 15th century Scotland, one Alexander Bean (or "Beane") was executed for "mass murder" when he and his 48-member clan took a fancy to human pancreas and the like, precursing Hannibal Lecter, and put the bite on over 1000 people. (Other clans, of course.)

His father, an educated INTP, I think, was a ditch digger and part-time hedge trimmer who tried to pass the family trade, shovel and all, down to his son, but Alexander (Called "Sawney" for some inexplicable reason fathomable only to Scots) would have no truck with honest labor; not with so many delectable upright rump roasts walking around, free for the frying. As it were.

Now, your normal everyday ne'er-do-well who has just turned down a steady hedge trimming gig would probably just look for some other line of work. But Sawney? Goes to his state of mind, your honor.

To this day, the hedges of Scotland are only sporadically and crookedly trimmed. I'm sure you've noticed, though probably you haven't made the connection between this and chewing one's fellow-traveler's fingernails and more. If you get my drift.

Incest? Those Scots had a a patent on it. Jesus. Well, there were only 48 people in the whole clan, so that DOES make one's eye wander to one's sister. Sawney, though, hooked up with an outsider - a vicious woman, they say - who shared his inclinations. And I'm not talking about ditch-digging inclinations.

Most young couples would be looking to build a modest home and start a family, but these two beauties found them a cave on the coast. The cave was fine enough as caves go, some 200 yards deep. Fine enough if you overlook the fact the entrance disappeared at high tide. They had to make allowances for that in their Daily Planners. The cave is still there today. Well, duh.

As you probably know, quirky Relax Max is the kind of little doggie who always reads between the lines, so I was wondering how the interior of that cave smelled (smelt to you) when one was trapped inside on a hot summer's day at high tide with a pile of human feet and viscera. Did I mention she was a vicious woman?

History tells us, if you are one of the 8 or 10 people in the world who believes Scots oral history, that the lovely couple's many children and grandchildren were "the products of incest and lawlessness." Even Relax Max can't quite conjure up how one has children by "lawlessness" (or doesn't want to even try to conjure it up) but the incest part is another duh.

"Lacking the gumption for honest labor, the clan thrived by laying careful ambushes at night to rob and murder individuals and small groups. The bodies were brought back to the cave where they were dismembered and cannibalized. "Leftovers" were pickled. Discarded body parts would wash up on nearby beaches." — Wikipedia

So we can deduce from this they didn't have regular trash pickup in those days.

Pardon me while I retch on my keyboard.

Ok, I'm back now.

You will note in the picture at the top of this post that the woman in the background is carrying legs into the cave. In case you missed the details.

You may be wondering why the neighbors didn't notice the parts on the beach or the stench in the air - at least Max wondered - but the Scots tend to mind their own business unless situations become intolerable.

The situation did become intolerable.

Not ones to bother with serious criminal investigations, the local townspeople first lynched several innocents. (History doesn't tell us whether these unfortunates were simply left hung out for the birds to peck, or whether the clan munched them. Max, of course, thinks of things like that.)

To make a long story short... well, I suppose it is already too late for that, but nevertheless... King James VI of Scotland finally got wind of the carnage and sent down 400 searchers and a bunch of bloodhounds. It didn't take the bloodhounds long to find the stinking cave the neighbors had missed, which, the narrative says, was "rife" with human remains. Rife. Holy Macaroni, how does one SLEEP in such a cave?

Relax Max is always reluctant to mention King James VI of Scotland, because there is an unwritten law (or maybe it IS written) that one must always obligatorily add "Later King James I of England" to the mix. I don't know why. It just has to be done, and I've done it.

The clan was captured and taken (in chains - Wikipedia states the obvious) to Jail in Edinburgh, then later transferred to Leith or Glasgow where they were executed without trial. Never one to complain, Relax Max nevertheless cannot help but wonder if you are going to execute people without trial (Even Florida and Texas give trials) then why not just off the crud right next to the cave and be done with it? Let the bloodhounds have a go at them? I suppose there would be more of an audience in Glasgow, though.

But a nice show it was, well worthy of any admission that may have been charged. May I describe it to you? Yes? Then I shall.

The men had their genitalia cut off, hands and feet cut off, and left to bleed to death. The women and children were given the pleasure of watching this, then they were burned to death. (James was Catholic, remember.)

Ayrshire is noted for its dark folklore, so none of this may be true. Let's hope.

Have you ever tasted "Vienna Sausages" - those little mushy weiner-like things in little cans at your grocer's, next to the deviled ham? Those are reportedly what pickled pancreas tastes like.

Just saying. Max likes to finish the job properly.

To Americans, smelt is just a little fish.

In accordance with the rules set forth by the Oxford Croquet Union and international dog of mystery, Relax Max, readers are reminded that any blog post over 1 year old may be republished in the event said Max can't be arsed with thinking up original stories that contain something British in them within a reasonable amount of time.

By the same stated above rules, certain commentors to the original post are immune to obligatory recomments to THIS post, although, frankly, Soubriquet's original comment was witty enough to make me read it almost halfway through. Something about finger food in Ayershire. Go read it.

DISCLAIMER: I know James VI & I was not Catholic. I know he wasn't around when this story says he possibly was in the 15th century. Blame Wikipedia and their sucky fact-checking.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Stranger In My Own Land

Where have all the Scot folk gone

Where have awe the Scots folk gone?
hiv the white settlers moved them on?
It seems to me there's interference,
a subtle kind o` Highland Clearance.

Scotland's changing, as Scotland must,
like a phoenix rising fi the dust.
Are we too busy building other nations?
and forgetting all oor Scot's relations.

It's hard tae find the true Scottish Scots,
atween awe the English Argonauts.
In a shop when you mak a query,
they caw you luv instead o dearie.

The castle man said ahlo Guv, ah hid ma doot!
fur that castle wis built tae keep him oot.
How cin ye imagine the Scottish splendor?
wi that English accent over yonder.

The barman's in an awfy gitter.
he gies them heavy when they ask fur bitter.
Ind och fir heevens sake,
it's cawed a Loch , NO A Lake!

We gie a cuddle, no a hug.
that's no an ear, that's yur lug.
keep yur highbrowcooking tips.
Scotland's veg is deep fried chips.

Them up in Edinburgh shid get of their erse,
ind tak their car oot o reverse
Ah cin see it's awe startin,
soon wul hae an English Tartan.

It is time tae stop the procrastination,
ind build a truly Scottish Nation.
A new beginning, an Historic Dawn.
Where have all the Scots folk gone?

"Every man dies; not every man lives"—William Wallace, Braveheart

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some British sports stadia with corporate sponsor names

For some time now it has become the fashion to sell advertising on city-owned* property in order to generate some revenue for these services and facilities so that the area taxpayers don't have to foot the bill. This is especially true of sports arenas which cost millions and millions of pounds to construct, maintain, and operate. It is likely several cities would not be able to construct a fancy stadium on their own to rent to various sports franchises, so the big bucks from corporate sponsors are a godsend to these cities who also reap tax revenue from the money the fans spend at games and shopping. Be sure to salute the corporate sponsor of your favorite football or cricket or rugby major league team the next time you pass by the stadium or attend a game. It's your tax dollars that are being saved!

*Not all stadia are owned their cities or counties, of course, though it is almost always the case in the U.S. now.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Scots post for a while

Here is a website that contains many happy, sad, pathetic, and uplifting stories. The following story falls under the "pathetic" category. (I have read other versions of this story, but I like this version. It is too old to not be in the public domain.)

"Many years ago John Macduff and his young bride left Scotland on a sailing vessel for America, there to seek his fortune. After tarrying a few weeks in New York, they went West, where they were successful in accumulating a good competence. By and by his wife's health began to fail. The anxious husband said that he feared she was homesick.

" 'John,' she replied, 'I am wearying for my ain countrie, will ye no' tak' me to the sea, that I may see the ships sailing to the homeland once more?'"

"Her husband's heart was moved with compassion. In a few weeks he sold their Western home and took his wife East to a pleasant little cottage by the sea, whose further shores broke on the rocks that line the coast of Scotland. She would often sit and gaze wistfully at the ships sailing from the bay, one after another disappearing below the horizon on their way to her ain countrie. Although she uttered no complaint, it was evident that she was slowly pining away. John was afraid that she would die in a foreign land; and as an effort to save her he sold his New England home, and took her back across the ocean. She speedily recovered by the keen mountain air, the sight of purple heather, nodding bluebells, and hedge-rows white with fragrant hawthorn blossoms in bonnie Scotland, her own dear native land. To her it was home. And there is no sweeter word in any language than 'home.' "

Now that's pathetic, no? I can hardly see through the tears as I type this even now. Part of Max - the callous, cynical part of Max - wonders idly whether she might not have died in the foreign land even if she had been happy there, and whether perhaps ol' John might have foreseen that before he drug her off to America from her dear highland hame. But that is not germane.

Anyway, after reading this account (supposedly) a young woman wrote the words to a famous hymn entitled "My Ain Countrie." Here is the first verse (since you are already in a sad state from reading the above, and since I need to stick some more Scottish stuff in this post.)

"I am far frae my hame, an' I'm weary aften whiles,
For the lang'd-for hame-bringin', an' my Father's welcome smiles;
An' I'll ne'er be fu' content until my e'en do see
The gowden gates o' heaven, an' my ain countrie."

Please, don't stop reading here. This post will start getting interesting shortly, k?

The above pathetic story reminded me right away of Lizzie Borden. I'm sure she popped right into your mind too, as you sniffled and blew your nose repeatedly reading the above patheticness. You remember Lizzie: "I think there may have been an old ax down in the cellar if I'm not mistaken." That Lizzie.

Well, cutting to the chase, no pun intended or even noticed until now, Lizzie was acquitted of hacking up her pa and her step-mother and lived until she was sixty-something in the same town of Falls-something Massachusetts, living well on her pa's money and its subsequent investments. Actually the story of her life after the murders is quite interesting, and you can read it, if you want, right HERE on one of my favorite "inquiring minds need to know this stuff" websites, "FindADeath dot com." But the thing that interested me (enough to make me do this post, anyway) was the fact that one of the things on Lizzie's list of funeral requests to be done after she had shuffled off this mortal coil was to have the above song sung. (Inside a locked empty house, too!)

She had several other last requests on her list too (which you can read in its entirety at the above-linked findadeath site - I read for about a half hour there) but the fact that she wanted this song sung after she died (the first and last verses, anyway) got me to wondering if she was Scottish? I had never heard that before, and maybe she wasn't. Maybe she was just a heartless gold-digging murderess who liked to hear words sung which she couldn't understand the meaning of.

And yet...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

R.I.P. Nancy Wake

Buried on page 9 of my small local newspaper yesterday was a short story of the passing of Nancy Wake. She was living in Australia at the time of her death on Sunday. She was 98. Rest in peace. What times those were. Viva la résistance!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Separated by a Common Language. Truly.

Of all the accents and speech patterns from Great Britain, by far the most difficult for the American ear to pick up is surely Scots.

English and Scots are "sister languages" they say (or so I read) in that they started out more or less together but went their separate ways over the years. That means that some words are exactly the same; some words are a little different; and some words are totally and completely alien-sounding.

An American listening to Scots, or someone speaking English with a Scots accent, is never quite up to speed. It SOUNDS like the person is speaking English, but... no. Not the kind of English (most) Americans can pick up without a lot of repetition. In fact, I think you have to live in the region for a while to start picking it up.

To make matters worse, there are variations in words and speech patterns all over Scotland. Edinburgh is different than Glasgow and Southwest is definitely different from Shetland or Orkney. Here is a short example from Caithness. This you will hear in Dounreay and John o' Groats. Try to pick it up.

Here's Edinburgh. I got this pretty easily, although it took me a while to pick up the father's trade of "joiner." At least I think that's what's being said.

Here's Glasgow (1) and Glasgow (2). I couldn't pick this up at all. I felt I was basically listening to English... and yet...

Speaking Scots is NOT the same as speaking English with a Scots accent, though.

Sliders and bashers for YOU!

Here are the official answers to the Scots words of the last post. Just visit Adullamite's fine fair and balanced unbiased blog for those and many more. I really enjoyed them. You will too.

I also picked up a few from his blog that he didn't give the answers to. Maybe you can help.

1. Hibernatin' supporter

2. Good Snog (like there is such a thing as a bad snog. Ok, I knew this one)

3. Tunnock's snowball

4. Wheelie buns

5. Old Firm fan

6. Gormless

Finally, a free one from me to you: Puggled is knackered.

As in, "I am plum sick and knackered of the British always telling the same hilarious (to them) joke about the American tourist lady who got off the bus and proclaimed loudly about how sore her fanny was from the long ride." Woudja just stoppit with that one?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scotswords Contest

As a public service I am going to attempt to translate the following list of Scottish words, phrases, and exclamations into American. Do you speak Scotslang well enough to tell what they mean in that brand of English? (Or whatever it is.) I'm pretty sure you can't, so that's why I am showing the official American translation under each word.

At the bottom, you must try to fill in the correct answers a Scot would give for these same words. A link to the site where you can find the answers, tomorrow. (If I link to it right now, you will just go look it up, and I want you to guess first.) There are more than these, but I will wait and see if I get any comments before I run the rest of them.

1. Bag off

A contest between two supermarket employees.

2. Basher

One who bashes.

3. Bogging

What poor spelling writers are doing online.

4. Bucket

A basket. 2 points. A field goal.

5. Choob

What Bill Cosby's childhood friend Fat Albert does with his food.

6. Clarty

What university students in the South eventually come to.

7. Bam

A loud noise.

8. Dreep

The last sound a bam makes when you punch 'im in the throat.

9. Dreich

What stable hands scrape off their shoes.

10. Eejit

Where hillbillys think Pharohs used to rule.

11. Filly

What you say to the bartender when you bring him your empty glass.

12. Slider

A kind of baseball pitch.

13. The back o' ten

A picture of the U.S. Treasury building.

Please enter your guesses for the Scots translation below:

1. "Bag off" really means: _________
2. "Basher" really means: _________
3. "Bogging" really means: _________
4. "Bucket" really means: _________
5. "Choob" really means: _________
6. "Clarty" really means: _________
7. "Bam" really means: _________
8. "Dreep" really means: _________
9. "Dreich" really means: _________
10. "Eejit" really means: _________
11. "Filly" really means: _________
12. "Slider" really means: _________
13. "The back o' ten" really means: _________

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some people take their croquet seriously

If you kill a frog (accidentally, of course) does that mean you croak it?

Okay, I know -- the game is called cro KAY. I was just trying to break the ice here with an amazingly funny original joke. I am always being complimented on my fine sense of humor. Subtle and nuanced humor.

The people who take croquet seriously (they play while sober and in the rain and probably own their own mallets like the rest of the world own their own cue sticks) play something called Oxford Croquet. It's like polo, only without the ponies. Well, I suppose you could use ponies. The rules don't prohibit them that I can find.

The most favorite game of the Oxford Croquet crowd is called "Ricochet." I guess everything has to end in "et" if you breathe the rarified air of elite croquet.

I thought I would share the rules with you as I read them, in case you ever get the urge to play croquet by the rules.

1. "Ricochet is played between sides. One side plays with black and blue balls, and the other side plays with red and yellow balls."

Well, that just spoils it for me right there. Americans don't go in for those kind of British perverted games. I think I just lost interest.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Not so hot EVERYWHERE on earth right now

This photo just in from a friend of this blog in South Africa, entitled "Snow, Eastern Cape, July 25, 2011."

Just to remind all the complainers of the heat in the U.S. right now, that some of the rest of the world is in the dead of winter and would like to have some of your heat.

I know. Doesn't help.


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