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Tuesday 26 March, 2019

CALEDONIA COUNCIL SPEECH CONTEST.

The Annual Speech Contest of Caledonia Council was held in the Doubletree by Hilton, Westerwood, Glasgow on Sunday 24th March 2019.


President Iris opened the meeting.
The First item on the Agenda was the Speech Contest

Nancy was the capable Chairman of the Contest.


The timers were Roz and Brendan

The winners were Iris and Diana with Terry and Grace as runners up.

Following lunch there was a short Business Meeting and the final item on the Agenda was an illustrated talk by Iris on Madeira.  The meeting closed at 3.30 pm. and all agreed that it had been a most enjoyable day.

Thursday 14 March, 2019

Heaps and Heaps of Gold

About 300 years ago, the British government was coping with the first Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, while away to the east, Peter the Great of Russia was receiving a fantastic treasure of gold objects of a completely unknown type. About 300 years later I was mesmerised in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg by the exquisite amazing artistic pieces of that hoard.

This gold treasure was found in Siberian and Ukrainian kurgans.

What is a kurgan? A burial mound. It looks like a replica of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, but it is very different in its contents. Kurgans contained heaps - literally heaps - of treasure.

And sometimes, the remains of wives and servants - strangled and buried alongside their master.

What kind of treasure? One kurgan revealed the skeleton of a woman, buried 2,400 years ago. Round her neck: a gold torque. Her veil held by gold bands. Her shroud glittered with 200 squares of beaten gold. Not to mention all the gold rings and bracelets.

And who left all this gold treasure? The Scythians - mounted nomads of the Russian steppes - for centuries Europe’s chief guard against Mongol hordes of the East.

Scythians were a byword for ferocity and daring.  But, in the end, they seemed to disappear from history. They left no written records.

Herodotus, the “father of history”, wrote about them – accounts subsequently confirmed by archaeology. But these people, who left such exquisite amazing gold artistic pieces, were also particularly brutal and barbaric in their customs and rituals.

Slaves’ eyes were destroyed to make escape difficult. Enemy prisoners were beheaded and skinned, then coats, capes and cushions made from these skins. Skulls of victims were sawn through above the eyebrows, cleaned, gilded on the inside and used as drinking cups.

Scythians were mysterious and paradoxical. Rough, warlike, cruel, but sensitive to artistic beauty.

When a king died, the corpse was prepared. It was slit open, cleaned out,  filled with aromatic substances, then completely covered in wax.

The body was carried in a wagon from tribe to tribe, then at the burial place, a great square pit was dug.  The corpse was laid down, surrounded by members of the king’s household:  a concubine, his butler, cook, groom,  steward, and chamberlain – all strangled. Gold cups and other treasures were also buried. On top of all, a mound of earth 50 or 60 feet high.

At the end of a year, another ceremony.  50 of the best of the king’s remaining servants, plus 50 of his finest horses,  were strangled, bodies gutted and stuffed, then buried.

In 1898, in another kurgan, 8 oxen and more than 360 horses were found buried, but no people.

But these same people produced exquisite gold articles such as a model of a bareback rider, less than 2 inches high, the end-piece of a torque (a collar made of twisted gold) fashioned in the 4th century BC.

Another item was a buckle, shaped like a stag, dated about the 7th century BC, found in a Scythian burial mound in the Caucasus.

Another model was part of a gold pectoral (breastplate) showing two men sewing a sheepskin to make a tunic.

Some carved models were so small you had to look at them through a magnifying glass.

The Scythians left no written records. Did they disappear from history? Some say they migrated westward and landed in Spain, Ireland, and Scotland. What do you think?

nms/09.03.2019


Фрагменты Пекторали
Gold Scythian pectoral, or neckpiece, from a royal kurgan in Towsta Mohila, Pokrov, dated to the 2nd half of the 4th century BC. The central lower tier shows three horses, each being torn apart by two griffins.Photograph: Д.КолосовCopyleft FAL 1.3

Monday 4 March, 2019

New Beginnings

How often do you wash your car?    Do you find that in winter you have to wash it more than in summer?   At one stage in my life, I found that washing your car in winter was not a good idea as the doors could freeze shut!   No, I wasn't working in the British Scientific Research station in the Antarctic, but I was in a town in the interior of British Columbia.    Back in 1967, I emigrated to Canada and there were many new beginnings to consider.

Still remembering the care of my car, as Merritt was a semi-desert area, nights could be very cold so every car had a block heater which had to be plugged in when parking the car for any length of time, especially overnight in autumn and winter.  Also, when you went to the supermarket on very cold days, you left the car parked with the engine running while you went in shopping.   A practice not to be contemplated in Britain, but a necessity there.

Merritt-panorama

Merritt in Winter – Mascdman [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]



Another "car" new beginning, of course, was driving on the "wrong" side of the road, as it were, (i.e. the right).   I adapted to that quite easily, and yet, one day when I had been driving all over the province for almost three years correctly I came out on to the highway one morning and proceeded to drive on the left!  Luckily the road was empty of any other vehicles.

From films and television, we are all familiar with the yellow buses used exclusively for school children.   If you were driving along behind a yellow bus and it stopped, you stopped behind it.   You did not overtake.   Even if the bus was on the other side of the road you still stopped until it had driven off.

I also had to change my terminology.   The bonnet of the car became the hood, the boot became the trunk and petrol, of course, was gas.   At first, I had to make a conscious decision to change my words but then there came a time when I couldn't even remember which was British and which was Canadian usage.

Another 'new beginning' was recognising policemen!   The majority of police were Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP).    Not dressed in the scarlet jacket worn on ceremonial occasions, but in brown.   To confuse me even further, some towns, such as Nelson, had their own separate police force with their own uniform.   But such places were few and far between.

Working as a teacher was more coping with change.

In Scotland, I was paid 1/12th of my annual salary every month.  In BC I was paid 1/10th of my salary from September to June.   So in July and August, no money went into my bank account.    Another change was that in Scotland my teaching timetable went from Monday to Friday, whereas in Merritt the timetable was organised in seven-day blocks, so if it began on a Monday, it ended on the Tuesday of the next week then the cycle began again.   Also, if necessary, all teachers were expected to be able to teach any subject to any class and not just their specialist subjects.    For example, in my first year there I had to teach General Business 11 to Grade 11 (the equivalent of our 4th year secondary) which was really the economic geography of British Columbia.   But it did mean I rapidly learned all about the province.

And I became used to the large helpings of food beloved of North Americans.   At one of my first meals, I spied lamb chops on the menu.   Well, I thought, that at least is familiar.   I ordered it.   It came on what we would call an ashet, a large oval dish, with three chops standing almost upright, with a slice of toast in between each, and a large baked potato with the obligatory ample helping of sour cream.

All these new beginnings were way back in 1967 but new beginnings at any time for anyone are to be thoroughly recommended.

Nancy Sanderson
02/03/2019

Thursday 21 February, 2019

POLLOKSHIELDS CLUB - SPEECH CONTEST.

Pollokshields Club held its annual Speech contest on Wednesday 20th February, 2019 in Hutchesons' Grammar school and welcomed members from Stirling and Rovers.

The contestants anxiously await the start of the contest.


President Scilla, with her usual charm opens the proceedings and introduces the Speech Contest Chairman


Louise - who chairs the contest with charm.

Following the conclusion of the contest the ballot was collected and everyone enjoyed supper.



Following supper, Ruth was introduced and she gave an excellent Education slot/evaluation of the contest.


Finally the winners were announced.    Anita and Carole.   President Scilla presented them with the Shield.

This was a most enjoyable evening with a delightful surprise at the end when Lauren asked to join the club.    Two new members in the past two meetings.     We are hopeful that more visitors will come along and perhaps join us.


The next meeting is on 6th March 2019 in Hutchesons' Grammar School - visitors are always welcome.