I Can Hear the Sirens Coming

Later this week, Phonefinderoftheblogbeth and I will be taking a trip to Inverness. The capital of the Highlands is an interesting place for all sorts of reasons – I’d recommend taking a look at what Ian Wiki has to say about it here.

Nessie, hiding behind Inverness Castle. By Dave Conner.

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Among all the interesting facts about Inverness, two in particular leap out. To give you some context, Beth likes that almost all British celebrities have their favourite football teams noted in the personal section of their Wiki entries. Except the Prime Minister. I can’t imagine why it’s omitted for him.

“Look, I’ve been very clear about this. I’m a West Astonham Villa fan.”

Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s celebrity fan is Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth. Since choosing them as her favourites prior to settling in Scotland, she’s seen them reach their first major cup final – losing to the glorious Aberdeen FC in the 2014 League Cup – qualify for Europe for the first time via a best ever third place finish in the Scottish Premiership*, and win the 2015 Scottish Cup. If there’s any list of achievements likely to put inspiring a recovery from a catastrophic stroke in the shade….

* “…subject to an in/out referendum for the people of Inverness.”

And secondly, Inverness  lies at the mouth of the River Ness. In fact, its name derives from the Gaelic Inbhir Nis, meaning “mouth of the River Ness”. The Ness flows from the loch of the same name, home to one of Scotland’s other biggest celebrities. Various attempts have been made to debunk Nessie’s existence since she was first recorded in Adomnán’s Life of St. Columba in the 7th Century. Nevertheless, each time it seems that the timorous beastie has been put to bed for good, her long plesiosauric neck pops up above the surface. I was surprised to read in Ian Wiki’s account that there has been a spate of claimed sightings, photos, videos, and sonar images since 2007?!

These might have been sightings, photos, videos, and sonar images of an otter, algae, a fibreglass prop, and a wave, but, y’know….

“Who are you calling “big”, pal?”

Mythical sea creatures are popular in Scotland. One explanation for Nessie’s longevity, offered by the Swedish naturalist and author Bengt Sjögren, is that she is a descendent of the kelpies of Scottish folklore. I’m really interested in the legends of kelpies at the moment. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re shape-shifting water spirits inhabiting the lochs and pools of Scotland, which usually appear in the shape of a horse. If we don’t manage to find Nessie up in the Highlands, we’ll have to return to the Central Lowlands and see if we have more luck there.

Falkirk fans awake, enraged by the blog’s ICT bias

The myths of the kelpie are various. Usually depicted as a solitary creature, the kelpie is often described as a shape-shifting demon with a hurtful nature. So, one might read of a kelpie taking its victim into the water, devouring it, and throwing the entrails back to the shore. However, I prefer a version of the kelpie legend that Ian Wiki describes as originating in Barra (citing Heather McNeil’s 2001 The Celtic Breeze: Stories of the Otherworld from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales).

Kelpies, which remind me of sirens in some cases, are often attractive in their human form. This applies to kelpies both in the form of human females and males.

Right you are.

In the Barra tale, a lonely kelpie transforms itself into a handsome young man to woo a pretty young girl it is determined to take for its wife. She’s a canny lass, however, and removes his necklace, upon which the kelpie changes back into horse form. She takes him home to her father’s famr, where he is put to work for a year. Long story short, a local sage then advises her to return the necklace and asks the kelpie whether he’d rather be a kelpie or mortal. Before he answers, the kelpie asks the girl whether, if he were a man, she would agree to be his wife. She says yes. He chooses to become mortal. The couple marry, and everyone gets to keep their entrails. Yay!

For all that I’m a soppy old romantic, though, I am a man of science. Even though my old biology teacher might not agree.

From the awesome “F in Exams”

So before Falkirk, off to the Highland capital to see if we can find any cast iron evidence of Nessie. I’ll report back next week. Put on the travelling tunes, Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth!

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8 thoughts on “I Can Hear the Sirens Coming

  1. I grew up in Inverness. It is not well-known, but Inverness is really an acronym for It’s Not Very Exciting Right Now Especially Saturdays and Sundays – best uttered in an Inverness accent. Enjoy your trip

  2. 1. I’ve always been freaked out by werewolves. They’re the one thing that keeps me up at night. It used to be gremlins, but I’ve gotten past them.
    2. I don’t know if I have a favourite fairy tale, but the one that’s come to mind just now is Rapunzel. She is alone in a tower, but not unhappy and she gets to decide who she lets in.
    3. I don’t have any trips booked, but I have a recommendation for Inverness: Leakey’s Bookshop. If you’ve not been, go. You’ll love it.
    4. I am a STEM girl. I always loved the maths and sciences. Anything that gave a definitive answer. I also had a few bad experiences with English and Drama teachers, so that may have skewed my perspective.
    5. You made me look up a new word. Inculcating. Love it!

    1. Great stuff, Myra. Thanks!

      1. I’m torn on werewolves and gremlins. I mean, they’re both scary and all, but my young teenage self would tell you that they’re funny, and consort with Jenny Agutter and Phoebe Cates….
      2. I was looking at the story of Rumpelstiltskin for the fairytale project, and thought it was interesting how many parallels there were with Rapunzel. So there’s certainly lots of room for things to explore in that story. Did you see Tangled? The trailers looked pretty ace. Like, building on your take on the story and making her pretty spunky and self sufficient. Good stuff.
      3. Nothing booked? Who are you, and what have you done with Myra?!
      4.Hooray for STEM! Particularly girls in STEM!
      5. Eye thangyew. I learned a new favourite yesterday. Possibly apocryphally, the old Edinburgh bodysnatchers preferred the term “resurrectionists”. Band name!

      1. The problem with werewolves is that I always picture them as either the half-metamorphised American Werewolf in London or the massive beasts from Dog Soldiers. Neither are a pretty picture.

  3. 1. Vampires – If I hadn’t mentioned my vampire obsession to you before, it’s because I’m still overwhelmed by it. I think we may have discussed it, but I’m not sure. I have a blood-drained memory … without the excuse of a stroke.

    2. So many I can’t pick. As a kid, I also liked the gory unsanitized original versions. Fairy tales were not real. Unlike vampires, which very much existed. Damn my parents for never buying me the garlands of garlic I kept asking for.

    3. Yes. In a month. Destination undecided though. A few days in Macau maybe. Or Singapore. Or somewhere cultural?

    4. Basically everything except math. Occasionally I fantasise about taking some advanced (post-calculus) math classes to flex my undeveloped math lobes and forcibly stretch my brain. Unsurprisingly, this fantasy never ends in an orgasm.

    1. Hi, Ron.

      1. We must have, right? I dig a bit of blood-lust myself and will admit to being a huge fan of Buffy, and Angel (right up till the last season). But my big blood-sucking recommendation remains Kim Newman’s fun Anno Dracula series. Still slightly miffed with myself for still not having seen either version of Let the Right One In.
      2. Ron Edwards, Vampire Hunter action figure! With removable garlands of garlic!
      3. Bon voyage! I love your wordly, “Ah, wherever” approach. If you go to Singapore, have a Singapore Sling for us. Or if you’re in Macau, for that matter.
      4. Ha! Math as ruined-orgasm tool. Now that’s a fetish.

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