British Library Crime Classics

I’ve recently been given a whole load of books, first by our friend Eric and then even more by Peggy from the US. I had decided that I wasn’t going to look at any books whenever we went out anywhere, just so that I could concentrate on whittling away at some of my book piles.

But there is no hope for me, just as I had said that to Jack he came up to me in a shop to give me the news that he had found two British Library Crime Classic books, of course it was the lovely 1930s covers which had attracted him. So it’s his fault entirely that I added those ones to the ever growing piles. Both of them by Mavis Doriel Hay, I don’t even recall ever hearing anything about her, but I couldn’t resist them. They are Death on the Cherwell and Murder Underground.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, in another charity shop today he spotted Mystery in White by J.Jefferson Farjeon, now I have heard only good things of this one so I couldn’t pass up the chance to buy it.

As luck would have it we were both feeling a bit under the weather over the last couple of weeks and indeed the actual weather was not helping our moods either, so we both sort of read our way out of it, whilst totally ignoring everything else. Luxury. It’s wonderful to be able to read a book in a day! So I’m fairly ploughing through the book piles.

On another bookish note, we’ve been using our local libraries a lot since moving to a more rural location last year. There are several small libraries in villages a short drive from us and we had been hoping that using those ones and pushing their lending statistics up would mean they would be safer from closure. Honestly we did our best! But there gas been an announcement to the effect that Fife Council intend to close 16 libraries! I honestly never thought that so many would be under threat.

Those small libraries are often a sort of local hub and the only place where some people can get access to a computer. Primary schools won’t be able to take the children to library visits and that means that for a lot of them they just will never see the inside of a library as their parents are either too busy to take them, or just don’t have the inclination to do so.

I feel a campaign coming on!

On a happier note, if you are in the Kirkcaldy area then do yourself a favour and get along to the library and museum where The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on exhibition. We saw it when it was at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh but went again yesterday, really as we were just killing time but I think I enjoyed it even more on the second viewing. The exhibition is on until the 20th of September.

The Scottish Enlightenment

Adam Smith
Adam Smith

I was reading a post recently about The Enlightenment when I realised that it wasn’t The Enlightenment as I know it because to me it is The Scottish Enlightenment an 18th century movement. Then Scotland was described as a hotbed of genius. According to Voltaire:

‘We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation’

(‘Nous nous tournons vers l’Écosse pour trouver toutes nos idées sur la civilisation’)

Hume and Rousseau
Hume and Rousseau

So it was a bit of a slap in the face when it dawned on me that some people have absolutely no idea about The Scottish Enlightenment and indeed seem to think that The Enlightenment was an English/American entity.

The only explanation is that we in Scotland must just have been far too shy and retiring about it – instead of blowing our own trumpets as we should have been. I’m thinking of those tea towels which you see in tourist shops printed with all the famous discoveries and inventions and the Scots who were responsible for them! We need a tea towel with all of the 18th century movers and shakers of Scotland printed on it, Adam Smith, David Hume and the like. Did you know that The Encyclopaedia Brittanica was a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, founded in Edinburgh.

But have I read anything by those luminaries? Have I whack! So it’s about time that I did and I’m setting myself a challenge to read at least one book by a Scottish Enlightenment figure – before the end of the year. It’ll fit nicely into the Read Scotland 2014 Challenge too. Join in if you think you’re brave enough!

The photographs are of just a few of the embroidered panels which make up The Great Tapestry of Scotland which is on show at The Scottish Parliament at the moment and entry is free.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

Last week we went to the Scottish Parliament where The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on exhibition, it’s the longest tapestry in the world apparently. I meant to visit it this time last year but didn’t get around to it, due to pressure of house selling and too many people viewing our old place. It was my old family friend Isabel who recommended that I visit the exhibition, I knew that it must be good if she was impressed because she’s a really great embroiderer herself.

Of course it isn’t a tapestry it’s an embroidery, but then neither is the Bayeux Tapestry a tapestry, there seems to be a tradition of misnaming such things. I took quite a few photos of the panels which were of most interest to me, but I haven’t sorted them out yet. Meanwhile, you can see images of the panels here.

The tapestry has been wandering around Scotland for the past year or so and nobody seemed able to give it a permanent home but I just heard on the Scottish news tonight that it is going to be on permanant exhibition at Melrose eventually. I’m so glad I saw it in Edinburgh as Melrose isn’t exactly central.

The author Alexander McCall Smith was the chap who came up with the idea of a ‘tapestry’ depicting Scotland’s history and the artist Andrew Crummy designed it with the work being carried out by hundreds of embroiderers from all over Scotland.

Below you can see the first stitch being put into the design.