Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three tidbits from Patrick Wamsley

Patrick has been practicing his researching skills, and has sent me several tidbits of interest to Fiddle Club:

First, a link to lyrics and background stories for 150 Scottish Songs - a great resource!

Secondly, some unusual names from the Norse influenced islands north of John o' Groat's: some from Shetland, and some from Orkney.

Thirdly, lyrics to the "Piper o' Dundee", a tune which first appears in Hogg's Jacobite Relics, supposedly related to Aiken Drum:


And finally, an excerpt from an interview with author George R. R. Martin, about the Scottish inspiration for the "Red Wedding", which is being called in some quarters as possibly the most shocking event in television history:

Interviewer: What do you say to readers who are upset about the "Red Wedding" scene?
Martin: It depends on what they say. What can you say to someone who says they’ll never read your book again? People read books for different reasons. I respect that. Some read . . .  that certain kind of fiction where the guy will always get the girl and the good guys win and it reaffirms to you that life is fair. We all want that at times.   There’s a certain vicarious release to that. So I’m not dismissive of people who want that. But that’s not the kind of fiction I write . . . . I think the best fiction captures life in all its light and darkness.
Interviewer:  One of my favorite elements of the scene is you introduce this idea of “salt and bread.” We accept that as readers — Okay, in this fantasy world, people don’t harm each other once they eat a host’s bread and salt in their home. Then you break your own rule . . . .
Martin: It was stolen from history. Hospitality laws were real in Dark Ages society. A host and guest were not allowed to harm each other even  if they were enemies. By violating that law, they “condemn themselves for all time” . . . .
Interviewer: What about the Red Wedding itself? Is that based on history too?
Martin: The Red Wedding is based on real events from Scottish history. One was a case called The Black Dinner. The king of Scotland  was fighting the Black Douglas clan. He reached out to make peace. He offered the young Earl of Douglas safe passage. He came to Edinburgh Castle and had a great feast. Then at the end of the feast, the king's men started pounding on a single drum. They brought out a covered plate and put it in front of the Earl and revealed it was the head of a black boar — the symbol of death . . . . They dragged them out and put them to death in the courtyard.
[In most versions of the Black Dinner story, the symbol of death was the head of a black BULL.  
Edinburgh castle, town, and tower, God grant ye sink for sin
And that even for the Black Dinner, Earl Douglas got therein.]
Martin: The larger instance was the Glencoe Massacre. Clan MacDonald stayed with the Campbell clan and the laws of hospitality supposedly applied. But the Campbells started butchering every MacDonald they could get their hands on. No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse.