Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Grandpa Glass Takes The Book.

At that age(perhaps 7/8 years),I slept in the same bed as my grandad(we called him "Grandpa"),with him on the outside of the bed,and me at his back.beside the wall.My grandpa was a good man,an elder of the church(when it meant something)and a Christian in thought and deed.He was wise,and yet a tolerant man.He was no "Holy Wullie"Fisher,as portrayed by Burns,but walked quietly with his Lord.As in Burns' "A Cotter's Saturday Night","The Book would be taken" every night before retiring.Grandpa would select and read a passage from the large Gaelic Bible,after which everyone went down on their knees for prayer,again led by Old Glass.It was not required of the adults to retire at this hour,but this wee soul dutifully followed his gramps "up to the room" for bed.The heavyweight religious session was only just beginning for me as Grandpa's private prayers,whispered but still audible,could last another 20 to 30 minutes.I did not mind,as the language of prayer is not what one hears in every day Gaelic about the house.I enjoyed listening to Grandpa whose only language was A'Ghaidhlig,the first language of the Garden of Eden. His prayer was replete with words like "Tighearna","mathanas","anam"(Lord,forgiveness,soul)which took me some time to fathom.In my papa's time they received their education wholly in Gaelic,and they only attended school in Carloway when they were not needed at home,on the croft. Still, he was able to read and write with ease. In my mother's time at school,children were taught only in English,and their native tongue,Gaelic,was wholly proscribed.If a pupil was caught speaking Gaelic,even outside in the playground.they were given "the strap" with the leather "Lochgelly".My mother greatly resented not being taught her own language along with English.There is now a bilingual approach to teaching in Highland schools.
Note.1. The only English my grandad claimed to know,and which he used to call bedtime was "Clear lower decks",heard no doubt at sea.
Note.2.The "room" in a black house was built slightly above the level of the kitchen/living room and was the "grandest" of rooms.Ours was frankly like a large bedroom you would find in the city.There were two double beds,end to end,a large double wardrobe,with mirrors which contained every one's Sunday best,and dozens of mothballs.The walls were covered in a very pretty paper,the floor in linoleum,with a scattering of "rugs"(actually the cured skins of young calves).A beautiful settee and various basket chairs completed our boudoir.There were lace curtains on the only true window to be found in any black house.The only ones who might peek through the window were the hens,from next door.

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