Glasgow Girls and Orkney Echoes
Our summer in Glasgow has been full of visitors and we have delighted in sharing with them some of the charms of this vibrant city, as well as spending time relaxing at our little cottage in the Highlands (a recent and much-treasured oasis). Some have brought their own tales of Glasgow-associations (especially a very good friend who turned out to be the great grand-daughter of the last man to be publicly hanged in the city!) and others have encouraged us to dare things we hadn’t tried before (see below)…
As August ended and September dawned, we had two very different cultural events in the diary. A week ago today we went to see “Glasgow Girls“, a lively musical based on the true story of a group of teenage girls in Glasgow who, discovering that one of their number was to be deported, fight on her behalf. Using whatever gifts and skills they have, and strongly supported by a teacher, they launch a campaign which takes them into the heights, and depths, of political wrangling.
The show was stirring and fun (with lots of jokes about England and quite a lot more which we didn’t understand at all) and, at the end, we stood to applaud, along with everyone in the packed Citizens’ Theatre. Somehow I felt we were not just cheering on a great cast, but celebrating (as Sam says in “The Lord of the Rings”) that “there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Three days later we attended a very different event in Glasgow Cathedral. “Echoes and Traces” brought together eight short compositions by contemporary Scottish musicians who had been asked to respond to a 900-year old fragment of plainsong from Orkney. Called “Nobilis Humilis”, the Latin text sang the praises of St. Magnus, who has the rare distinction of being remembered as a peace-loving Viking. On more than one occasion, as history or legend tells, Magnus refused to fight in battles, but instead sang psalms.
Although each piece was unique and different, they were alike in their power to bring heaven close to earth and to evoke those qualities celebrated in the ancient piece, nobility and humility. As, again, we rose to our feet to applaud the composers, the conductor and the brilliant choir, Cappella Nova, who had brought these pieces to life, we felt better people for having been there.
In an entirely different way, I think we also feel better for several forays into the dark, peaty water of a little lochan which lies very close to our cottage. Tim incited us to take the plunge and try “wild swimming” which turns out to be more enjoyable than I could ever have imagined… cool (okay, cold), clear water, an amphitheatre of mountains reflected in the black surface, silver sunlight painting a pathway, total seclusion apart from the occasional heron (and a wetsuit of course!)