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Edwin Morgan

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  #15 (permalink)  
Old 4th July 2002, 04:16
Silverlining Silverlining is offline
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Thanks Monco.

I am glad you like where you are from [live?]. I always tought that if possible I would skip the main cities [but not Inverness] when I finnaly decide to go visit Scotland. I just might have to check out Glasgow after all the talk.

That interview was nice. Jackie Kay sounds pretty good, a woman in touch with her feelings. But living away in England... Do you know her work? The ones cited sound good...

"You would never dream of asking a heterosexual writer how being heterosexual affected their writing, yet it's often asked of a lesbian writer." And yet it's often asked of any homosexual person for that matter. So true!

Some of the words from the poem you picked are quite touching… " I will not feel, I will not feel, until I have to."
Funny that over where I order books from the poet is listed as Norman MacCaig [not McCaig] could there be two of them, or is it a typo?

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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 4th July 2002, 18:09
Monco Monco is offline
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I do like Glasgow (where I am from and live), though I am certainly not blind to its faults. Certain bits of its are quite unattractive, but the Victorian sections of the city (city centre and west end) are very beautiful. There are a large number of classical buildings, but there is very little before the 18th century, except the gothic cathedral which dates from the 12th century. I think Glasgow compliments Edinburgh very well.

I am not really familiar with Jacky Kays work, I have read a bit of 'The Adoption Papers', I like the way she uses Scots words like 'mammy' (which is Scots for mummy, or mommy as I have often heard Americans say it) which I think works very well. I really only mentioned her to show how Glasgow is not really a multi cultural city, though it certainly feels more cosmopolitan than it used to, when she said of Glasgow "There is a funny thing when people accept you and don't accept you", I think I understood what she meant by that, and its very much a characteristic of the city. I can understand why she prefers her son to grow up in England. There is no real black community in Scotland, there are more black people than there used to be, but you can still go a whole day in the city centre without seeing a black person.

I have seen McCaig's name spelt MacCaig, the former is how he himself spelt it on the cover of his books, but it really just means the same thing. In Gaelic 'mac' means son of, so someone called Donaldson or Robertson would in gaelic be MacDonald and MacRobert. But some people spell it mac, and other mc dating back to times when spellings were not precisely fixed.

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Old 6th July 2002, 05:44
Silverlining Silverlining is offline
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Hi Monco -

I find it to be a rare opportunity to have a native to talk to about the country with a caring and direct point of view. I would like to keep on exchanging informative, cultural and simple facts about Scotland. If that is something of your interest and if it is not I hope we can interact again, some other time. I tend to ask questions as you probably already noticed but I will also answer if you have any.

Glasgow does sound good, and nice architecture is a plus [and a gothic cathedral! I'll have to look that one up]. Is Edinburgh another must go? [So much for someone that did not plan on doing the big cities thing.]
In Los Angeles the oldest building standing is dated 1818, Spanish style in the Downtown area, you can also find 20th century state-of-art architecture like the Getty Center [a museum/art center etc… absurd construction cost: $1 billion]. I would say that it holds one of the most impressive views of the city. Another great view is the one you can get from the Hollywood Hills at night; the city is all lights. And as per bits that are unattractive, that is just about everywhere. There are parts of Los Angeles that are not only unattractive but also not recommended. After all it is a 'big city!' Have you ever been to the US?

About Jackie Kay's - "There is a funny thing when people accept you and don't accept you" - I think we all understand that. It is impossible to please everyone, if it is not 'this' then it is 'that,' for sure it is always something. Here you cannot go a whole day in the city without seeing an African-American person. They are part of the city like everyone else.

And thank you for the wee Gaelic lesson: 'Mac' means 'son of'… Do you speak Gaelic and Scots?

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Old 6th July 2002, 23:21
Monco Monco is offline
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what I told you about Gaelic is pretty much everything I know about the language (I think that it is also an inflected language). Its not much spoken in Scotland, you never hear it in the lowlands, and I am not sure how much it is spoken in the highlands, but nobody speaks only Gaelic. Certainly many of the place names in the north west of Scotland are Gaelic. I very probably had Gaelic speaking ancestors who came to Glasgow in the 19th century, but none of my family that I know of has spoken it as far as I am aware.

As for Scots, well unlike many people I don't really think there is a separate language called Scots. You could make a case for there being a dialect of English called Scots, but not an entirely separate language. Much debate has raged over this subject in recent years, some people want it to be an officially recognised language. But there are very few 'Scots' words in use, most people speak more or less standard English with Scotch accents of varying degrees of strength. Its frequently related to social class, the working classes speak with much stronger Scotch accents than the middle classes do. The middle classes tend to use Standard English pronunciation, the working classes use more Scottish pronunciations such as “nae mair” for “no more” and “didnae” for “did not”. But that is really about the extent of it. So in answer to your question, I would describe myself as an English speaker.

Edinburgh is an impressive city, and a much more tourist friendly city than Glasgow (in that much more tourists go to Edinburgh than Glasgow). The two cities are only about an hours train journey from each other, so if you were to stay in one of them you could easily visit the other. Both their stations are right in the heart of the city. Compared to American cities like your own home city of Los Angeles, they are very small in size. Edinburgh is a city that is not built on flat land, so it is very up and down. The heart of the city is an area which starts the top of a hill where sits Edinburgh castle. A road runs from the castle down the hill to the palace of Holyrood, which was the residence of many Scottish monarchs. Along that road are the buildings which make up the area known as the ‘Old Town’.



A few hundred yards to the north of that area is another area known as the ‘New Town’ which is architecturally quite different and features many fine classical buildings (Edinburgh was known as ‘The Athens of the North’).


I should have liked to have given better links, but they were the best I could find. They probably don't give a very acurate picture of the place though. Since you seem keen on gothic cathedrals, here is a picture of Glasgow’s:


I would say that the cities of Scotland are very different to the highlands, the latter being still quite remote, but are still much travelled by tourists. Tourism is Scotland’s biggest earning industry.

I have never been to the USA, though like most people I have been quite keen on the idea, but suspect I will never probably go as I don’t travel very much.

But, and this is probably a great cultural difference between the USA and UK, we do see a great deal of American culture via television and cinema. So although I have never seen with my own eyes Los Angeles, I have seen it on screen. Although I could be wrong be about it, Las Angeles seems to me to be a very modern looking city. Certainly all of the USA is modern, but LA seems to have less classical style building than does the eastern cities of New York and New Jersey. New York is a city we see a great deal of over in Britain, though we also see a fair amount of LA and San Francisco. LA also looks much flatter than New York in terms of buildings, it does not seem to have so many high rise buildings.

Have you lived in LA all your life? I think it takes quite a long time to know a city well. I know Glasgow much better than Edinburgh to which I am only a tourist of sorts, although a very frequent tourist.
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Old 7th July 2002, 19:34
Silverlining Silverlining is offline
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Hi Monco -

There seems to be a lot of talk going on about Gaelic, I remember reading how they are trying to reincorporate it into schools' curriculum [or something to this extent] and how many young scholars chose not to take it. I think that maybe it should be kept alive for the sake of history? I first came across it in writing when reading an American novelist that has a whole series of books with set in Scotland.
And as for Scots that is what I thought to be, a dialect. I wonder if I would be able to understand it.
I find that speaking several languages can be quite confusing. I think that to know one thoroughly is good enough. But in my case, with a family background that is both Portuguese and Italian… I am fluent [or so I like to think] in a couple of languages and because one of them has a Latin base, I am able to pick up others alike with little effort. And I carry the accent of one to the other and the other way around.
Where were your ancestors from?

So Glasgow and Edinburgh are a must go. Although my interest in Scotland is set on the Highlands and that has base on its landscape [though I am aware of the importance of its history and find it to be a fascinating subject, that is not the reason]. I have quite a thing for mountains, green fields, lakes, rain and the alike. I find that it gives me a kind of peace that can only be found in nature and in far off places.
Have you ever taken a road trip up to the Highlands? I know you do not do a lot of travel, but thought I would ask, and what about other parts of the UK?
Visually I am also 'keen' of old buildings, as the details found in the architecture are quite impressive. Enjoyed all the links they are very good and the photo of the gothic cathedral! The Glasgow site has a lot to browse thru. Thank you!

Btw I have the travel bug. It is a good thing…

Edinburgh is more 'tourist friendly' that Glasgow, I guess that means the former has more places to go and things to do than the later?

"Tourism is Scotland’s biggest earning industry." What are the others? Wool and?

Yes, for what I have gathered the cultural differences exist. And to give you an example: the one that I have the hardest time with is the 'communication' style. Some do not talk as openly as people in the US do. I have told UK friends that sometimes I feel like it is a 'pulling tooth' job to have a conversation with them. I find myself to be a reserved person, but I guess not as much as I thought, as I don't know how do one get to know another if not thru sharing, talking and so on…I am also aware other differences. Do you interact with Americans? And what do you think is the most prominent cultural difference? Life style maybe?

Los Angeles, the 'City of Angels.'

I have been living in LA for twelve years now, so I think I quality to talk about the city and what it is to live here. I have lived in many places throughout my life so there will never be a place where I can say I have lived my whole life. That way, there is no place I will ever know as well as you do Glasgow.

Los Angeles is pretty flat and spread out over an area of 1000 sq. miles [it is big] and consisting of several incorporated cities and individual neighborhoods. The high rise buildings are few and most are located in the Downtown area, known as Los Angeles' financial district, as well as Century City [a new financial district]. The residential areas consist of houses and 2, 3 store buildings. As for classical buildings, they are very few but still can be found in old neighborhoods [Victorian, Italian-Spanish Renaissance, Spanish influence is big.]. I found this link it gives you a good overview of LA's famous buildings. There are four pages with pics… Will see if I can find others later.


I think one can call it a modern city without a mistake as it has the latest in just about everything: people [as in new talents and talented young artists…], entertainment, fashion, culinary [we have more than fast-food!], architecture, etc…
And our industry I am sure you know, is entertainment, tourism is probably the second.

But you are correct this is not New York, although I like there as well. Oh we also have sun all year long, earthquakes and freeways, lots of them… [I now have almost reached my big cities life quote – more on that later]…There is much more to Los Angeles but to stop myself from writting a book here... Other details to come...

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  #20 (permalink)  
Old 8th July 2002, 17:17
Monco Monco is offline
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It would be nice if the Gaelic language could be saved, it is estimated to be 4,000 years old, but unfortunately Gaelic speakers are not passing the language on to their children, so it is dying out. The problem with Gaelic is that it was spoken in the Highlands, while English was spoken in the Lowlands, and the Lowlands greatly outnumbered the Highlands in terms of people. When the Highlands fell in to decline in the 18th century large numbers of people moved to either the new world countries of America and Canada, or the Scottish Lowlands to cities such as Glasgow which was rapidly expanding. Glasgow used to be little more than a village a couple of centuries ago. When Gaelic speakers moved to new places they quite quickly lost their language. As I said, it would be good if it could be preserved, but if most people don’t wish to learn it there is very little that can be done to save it.

I think you would probably understand most Scots speech, except possibly Glaswegian as its quite difficult to understand. When Glaswegian films are shown in America they are usually dubbed! But in general Scots speak English perfectly well.

I believe my some of my ancestors came from the western isles, but I also have ancestors from Ireland and lowland Scotland (from the town of Perth).

Certainly if you like mountains Scotland and its highlands are a good place to visit. Glasgow sits at the foot of the Western Highlands. You can see a mountain called Ben Lomond (next to loch Lomond), and behind that are a mountain range called the Trossachs. They are not as high as the mountains in LA I don’t think. Since you like peaceful deserted place I have found you some pictures: -


I would say Edinburgh does have more things for tourists to do with it being a more historical city than Glasgow is. Edinburgh is the ancient capital of Scotland, where as Glasgow was built on the back of trade with the (then) American colonies, and is therefore much more recent.

I have been right in to the highlands only a couple of times, I visited the Isle of Skye with my parents when I was younger, but otherwise I have not visited them very much at all. I quite often visit Stirling which is about 40 minutes drive away. It is also a historical town, and like Edinburgh it has a castle. The castle is at the top of a hill, and once you are up there you have excellent views of the Forth valley to the south, and the Highlands to the west.

Apart from tourism Scotland’s main economic activities are oil, technology, textiles. And a bit of fishing goes on too.

Thanks for the pictures of Los Angeles, the Fox Plaza is a very impressive building, I very much doubt there is anything as big anywhere in Scotland. So is the Library Tower. Also liked the City Hall and Shrine Auditorium. I think the constant sunshine must make white a good colour for LA buildings. I don’t think classical buildings would suit it so well. Unlike much of America Scotland is not a flat country, it is very uneven.

I don’t interact with Americans very much, I used to know a couple at secondary school, but have not met any in a long time. I have seen them wandering up and down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, but there are tourists from many different countries there.
Glaswegians are not very reserved! No they are quite friendly and chatty, some of the English have a reputation for being quite reserved, particularly in the London area, but I don’t know from personal experience. Some of the Northern English are not unlike the Scots in manners and temprement.
Not sure what the main cultural difference is, perhaps lifestyle as you say, but I think Americans are used to having much more space. In America the roads are wider, and the houses bigger.
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 9th July 2002, 04:26
Silverlining Silverlining is offline
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Thanks Monco -

Your replies are very informative. And I still have quite a few questions.
This one [reply] today is not too detailed as I am short of time, but towards the end of the week I will be able to type a better one.

It is sad that not enough people think that origins – like in the Gaelic case – are important, or maybe they do but do not realize it takes work to keep them. As you said not much can be done. Hopefully the people that do think it is an important issue can carry it on.

This is a box full of surprises. Glaswegian - another dialect? And people that speak it also speak English I would suppose.
What do they speak in the Highlands? It is known that it gets a tad hard to understand the folks as you go further north. True?

What about Scotland's rural area?

The pictures are amazing. That is actually how this Scotland thing started while looking at pics of nature, far off places. Scotland pictures have a sort of 'transporting' quality to them. As in one can actually visualize being there [maybe is just me!]. I have a good number of them from the web, and now more. I cannot pick just one - but a comment on the "The Beech Wood, Callander Craig", "Loch Venachar, The Trossachs", they have something almost surreal about them.

The architecture of Los Angeles is quite impressive but I think Europe's architecture has 'charm' - not the same you find in modern styles. One could say they both have their pros and cons.

The 'reserved' UK friends I mentioned are both from Wales, one living in Ipswich and the other in Bristol [don't know if I typed the names correctly…], so both are in England. I also have a Scottish friend here in Los Angeles, with which I cannot talk about your country because she is pretty mad at it, for whatever reason, and I also don't inquire further. She is very sharp though. There are other Scots around here with whom I do not have much chance to interact with them.
I am glad Scots are friendly and chatty, I am really not good at the 'tooth'thing…

About the houses and roads being bigger, I would take a guess and say that is because there are so many people here!

Leave you some nature pics of the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounds.


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