Hello and welcome to the Sunday blog! I’ll be taking a break for the next couple of weeks, recharging my batteries in Cornwall, but meanwhile I hope you enjoy a visit to Arran and Scrap Metal, where Nichol and Cameron are answering a question for Patrice Vizzone. Patrice said…
I would like to meet and be neighbors with Nichol and Cam and eavesdrop on them as they read poetry from Harry’s books to each other. The question….how could they love each other more?
Cameron: Is dubhar thu ri teas.
Nichol: Good. Doo-ver, though, very soft, as if you were trying to chat up the vacuum cleaner. Is dubhar, like that. All right?
Cam: No domestic appliance could resist you. Can I try again?
Nichol: Yes. Take the whole verse this time… What are you laughing at?
Cam: You. Vairse. You sound more Scottish than David Tennant, you know.
Nichol: You’re no’ exactly the voice of the BBC yourself. How are you picking up a slight Lewis accent, by the way? Do I have to have words with the postman?
Cam: Poor Bill McCready? Hardly. Our Shona’s new farmhand’s been doing a lot of runs back and forth with the latest Leodhas lambs, mind you… Don’t you throw that at me, Nichol Seacliffe. They don’t sell those on eBay.
Nichol: No, indeed they do not. It’s a first edition Carmina Gadelica, signed by Carmichael himself. Heaven knows where Harry got it from, but I’m sure he’d break our agreement on the non-haunting rules if I broke the spine of it, even on your bonny face. Try the whole vairse, then, gugairneach comhachag.
Cam: Barn-owl chick. Harry used to call me that.
Nichol: He did. And he’d call you something worse if he thought you were going to sit here on his anniversary night and cry over him.
Cam: I won’t if you won’t. Um, Nichol?
Nichol: I swear to God, if this wasn’t a formal and solemn occasion… Read it, and mind you don’t sound like Shona’s new farmhand this time, dishy though he is.
Cam: Wait till I light the candles. It’s just starting to get dusk, and they look bloody lovely now we’ve started to get a bit of a polish on this grand old boat of a kitchen table.
Nichol: Aye, they do. Just the two of them, one at each end, and that and the firelight and the sunset…
Cam: With the windows open, and that sweet breeze off the sea coming through. Ah, he’d have loved it, wouldn’t he? A night like this.
Nichol: With all his stony old heart. Everyone will love it.
Cam: Who’s coming, then? To this formal and solemn occasion?
Nichol: Shona and Archie, of course, if poor Shona can walk beneath the weight of her expected ginger twins. All the farmhands, including the new one, to show you how much I care for his rippling muscles and his fancy sheep-shearing technique.
Cam: Harry’s cronies from the pub, it goes without saying.
Nichol: It does, though I wish they could come without going through all our single malt. They’re welcome to it, but they’ll all get wasted, and Harry’s dogs will spend the night out on the clifftops trying to round them up.
Cam: They’ll all have a grand time. Oh, I invited our neighbour, as well.
Nichol: We have a neighbour?
Cam: That we do. Shona has her first guest in the shoreside croft up towards Whiting Bay – an American lady, very nice indeed. I met her in the lanes coming home. She knew Harry’s story, so I asked her back for a cuppa and to join with us later. I think she’s outside at the moment, sitting on your mum’s bench.
Nichol: Well, that’s a good place to sit, especially at this time of year, with the dog-roses and honeysuckle around it.
Cam: Earra-dhris and uilleann.
Nichol: That’s right. Perfect. So, am I going to get to hear the rest of my carmen?
Cam: Your what?
Nichol: Latin – one carmen, two carmina. Carmina Gadelica, Songs of the Gaels. Like Òran an t-Samhraidh – the Song of Summer.
Cam: You know, between the Latin and the Gaelic, and the French and German and Italian I hear when you’re Skyping with your linguistics buddies overseas, I think I’ll have our wee island declared a new EU.
Nichol: Ah, like brave Alba will ever give up on the old one! Give me your hand, bonny owl-chick. Sing me your song. Is dubhar thu ri teas…
Cam: Is dubhar thu ri teas, is seasgar thu ri fuachd… Is eilean thu air muir, is cuisil thu air tir. Is fuaran thu am fasach…
Nichol: That was beautiful. Perfect.
Cam: Um… Nichol? I can smell pipe tobacco. Black Ox.
Nichol: The dogs are barking, too. Well, I can’t blame him for wanting to hear you, love. And it is his night.
Cam: You’d better translate it, then. For both of us.
Nichol: I will. But this was the first one of the Carmina I learned again by heart once you were here. That first summer. The meaning of it’s all for you. Is dubhar thu ri teas… A shade art thou in the heat, a shelter art though in the cold… An island art thou at sea, a fortress art thou on land. A well thou art in the desert… Och, leanabh! Here’s a handkerchief.
Cam: Sometimes, when I’m out feeding the sheep or struggling away with a new bit of scrap metal – when I’m alone, and I’ve only got my thoughts and memories of you to prove to myself you exist – I ask myself if there’s any way I could love you more than I already do.
Nichol: That’s weird. So do I.
Cam: Any answers?
Nichol: No. Only that I want all of both our lives to try.