Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Through the Long Day
Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language
Scottish Poets in America
History of the Burgh and Parish Schools of Scotland
Memories Grave and Gay
Chronicles of Gretna Green
Life Jottings of an Old Edinburgh Citizen (New Book)
Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland
James Ballantine
Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
Ian Powrie
New Year Children's Story

Electric Scotland News
Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas. I was in Toronto with my friends Nola and Harold and their large family and had a great time.

Harold isn't doing too well these days with his Parkinsons and every time he gets up to walk somewhere you're a bit on tenderhooks to see if he makes it. He actully had a black eye when I was there due to falling and hitting a kitchen counter.

Everyone else was doing fine and making great progress in their professional life. One has started a new construction business and already has some multi-million dollar contracts and his wife looks to being offered a very good Vice Presidential role with a legal insurance company. Another couple are building a very good catering business and I was given s couple of jars of their homemade soup to take back with me.

And so great to see them all doing well.


Our servers still haven't been moved. I'm told this is because the Telco are trying to get us 39 IP addressed with one Class 'C' instead of us being split between two of them. Apparently this makes is much easier for us to manage. Still hope the move will take place before the new year.


David Hunter sent me a link to a video about Grangemouth where my family had a home for some 50 years. The video was shot aroud the time my father and our family first arrived when my father was the site accountant for the construction company, Wimpey, who was to build the BXL chemcical plant there. It certainly brought back many memolries and you can view this video at


CBS Sunday Morning is doing a feature on Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne, this Sunday, January 1st, at 9:00 AM (EST). CBS taped a portion at the New York Caledonian Club's Annual Saint Andrew’s Day celebration, on November 30th. Pass it on and enjoy!

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section in our site menu and at and also

This weeks Flag was compiled by Jim Lynch and he's back to his wide spread of articles. I note that there is an application in to make Perth a City. In actual fact in history it was Scotland's first city but lost that status. Should you be interested you can learn more about the history of Perth at

You can read this issue at

Through the Long Day
Or Memorials of a Literary Life during half a century by Charles MacKay LL.D. (1887)

This week have added...

Chapter XIII - Closing Labours

And this now completes this book.

You can get to this at

Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language
We've added more to this disctionary...

Scottish Language Letter H

You can read this at

Scottish Poets in America
With Biographical and Critical Notices by John D, Ross (1889)

Now added...

Lyle, William

You can read this at

History of the Burgh and Parish Schools of Scotland
By James Grant M.A. (1876).

Added this week...

Part II - Schools after the Reformation

Chapter IX, X, XI - Masters Encouraged and Pensioned, The Master as a Pluralist, Compulsory Education
Chapter XII - Forms of School Government
Chapter XIII - Studies in the School

You can read this book at

Memories Grave and Gay
Forty Years of School Inspection by John Kerr LL.D.

Have added Chapters 26 - 29 in pdf format this week...

Chapter XXVI.
Teachers with rare exceptions eminently faithful and trustworthy — No charity for cheating — Amusing mistakes—"My kingdom for a horse".

Chapter XXVII.
Failure of a red-herring scare—"I'm a fisher mysel'"—Different points of view—" Moral suasion perfect nonsense"—Examination in religious knowledge—A courageous minister—" Not big enough to haud a
sow!"—An athletic beadle.

Chapter XXVIII.
The typical fisherman—Inscriptions—Sir George Grove —Crofters and domestic animals—A ticklcsome car-driver—Irish bulls and repartees—Daniel Webster, the American orator —Sir John Macdonald — Fire-brigade drill.

Chapter XXIX.
Intercourse with the Department pleasant—My connection with it slackened, not broken—Relations with
managers and teachers.

And this now completes this book.

You can read these at

Chronicles of Gretna Green
By Peter Orlando Hutchinson (1844)

We've now completed the first volume and have made a start on the second volume and the first chapter starts...

What a pity it is that the exquisite romance of running away with a lady, and marrying her clandestinely, should ever be tarnished by subsequent matrimonial squabbles. Alack and well-a-day ! surely it must be a most humiliating consideration, for people to find themselves launching cutting speeches at each other, when the remembrance of the caresses, the rapture, the triumph, that swelled in their bosoms at the successful moment of escape to Gretna is still fresh in their minds, if they only dare to recall it. We say dare to recall it: and it is certain that it must require some courage to venture to look back upon these thrilling moments at such a time as we mention, —that is, when the novelty of wedded life has in some sort passed away,—when the person whom we had always yearned for, and sighed for, and had looked upon as an angel moving upon earth, is, indeed, no more than a human being, possessed of weaknesses, frailties, and imperfections, not to say vices;—at such time, when these failings have increased so far as to create not only indifference but absolute loathing; and when this loathing has broken out into bickerings, contradictions, and wrangling; then, we say, it will require some courage to look back with the mind's eye upon the sweet congratulations of having achieved a midnight elopement unprevented, unstopped, unarrested.

And why should it require such courage to reflect upon bliss that is gone?

It has been said that there is no grief so great as the recollection of past happiness when in the days of misery. This may be a great grief, certainly; but we were talking of humiliation. Grief may be proud, stern, savage, unbending; but humiliation can scarcely be either of these. Humiliation makes the feeler of it small, degraded, stricken down, abashed ; but why should such a remembrance produce such an effect? Why, for this reason: that it lets-us know that our judgment was erroneous; that we were incapable of making a wise selection, or that the person we selected managed to outwit us in dissimulation ; that we certainly made a shallow and foolish choice; and then the inference is, that he who makes a foolish choice must, per consequence, be a fool, and that is not flattering to our vanity in fine, it makes us out of humour with ourselves, and that is more galling than being out of humour with all the world besides; and when we are out of humour with ourselves we grow sour and peevish, and soon vent that ill humour upon the nearest object to us, and the unhappy one that is so closely allied to the origin of these disquiets.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read the other chapters at

A Study of a Simple Folk by Annie S. Swan (1894)

This week have added...

Chapter VII. A Noble Soul
Chapter VIII. Sunday Afternoon
Chapter IX. Across the Rubicon
Chapter X. More Sore Hearts

In Chapter VII we learn...

THE Manse was but a stone's throw from the schoolhouse, standing in a roomy garden which had a back door to the moss. The schoolhouse bounded its east side, the Whins the west. The kirk itself was a most unpretentious building, more resembling a barn than a place of worship. It had been built for a mission hall, to accommodate the needs of a scattered population, removed three miles from any parish church, and had at length been converted into a quoad sacra parish, of which the Reverend Hugh Bowman had been the first and only minister. He also was a bachelor. The Beild was a byword indeed for bachelor men, and it was a common saying in other parishes that the Beild was the only safe place for men who did not want to marry. The Reverend Hugh Bowman, however, had his reasons, the best of their kind, for his celibacy, which was to him a matter of simple duty. He was the eldest of a large family of sons, and his mother was a widow. He was licensed when his father, the manager of a shipyard down at the coast, died suddenly; and there being nothing left, the chief burden of his young brothers' education had fallen on him.

That was twenty years ago, and though comparatively speaking still a young man, the minister was as far from marrying as ever, seeing he had still to contribute largely to the support of his mother, and furthermore assist certain ne'er-do-weels among his brothers, who sponged oif him as mercilessly as leeches. He was a man of good parts, though by no means brilliant; he had been "hauden doon a' his days," as Beild folk said, and a man constantly under the heel of sordid care of the most grinding sort finds it difficult to soar to ideal heights. He had the mind and the tastes of a scholar, but none of the gifts of the popular preacher, and he had therefore never succeeded in getting a better charge than the Beild, though for the sake of his family he had sometimes tried. In his own soul he was fairly content with his lot. If the people were simple and many of them ignorant, they were unexacting and very kind to him after a fashion of their own, which he now understood, though his first twelve months in the Beild had been a crucial experience upon which he could now look back with amusement, though it had been a very genuine discipline at the time. He had a Beild woman, also an old maid, for a housekeeper—a decent body devoted to his interests and a great deal more saving of his substance than he was himself. This person's name was Isabel Blyth ; everybody called her " the minister's Easy."

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters can be read at

Life Jottings of an Old Edinburgh Citizen
By Sir J. H. A. MacDonald P.C., K.C.B., Lord Justice-Clerk.

We now have up...

Chapter One
Early memories—Queen Victoria's visit to Edinburgh—A municipal fiasco —Presentation of city keys—A terrible accident—The illuminations— Early history of railroads—My first long journey—Terror of railways-Early railway plant—Railway boom and slump

Chapter Two
Sedan-chairs—Chairmen—The Noddy and the Minibus—The hansom-cab

Chapter Three
Dress in the Forties—Society fashions of both sexes—Military dress—The universal tailed coat

Chapter Four
Boys' dress—The tall hat—Face fashions—The Sobieski Stuarts

Chapter Five
The Newhaven fishwife—Caller-ow-oo—Their decadence—Hawkers— Penny postage—Much opposed by officials

In Chapter II we learn...

THE manners and customs of that era were very different from those of today. At every corner of the residential streets there was kept, in the area below, the sedan-chair, that was freely used to convey ladies from house to house. And at the corner there stood, or sat on a little bench, the chairmen, who acted also as porters. They wore the old-fashioned leather slings over their shoulders, which the staves of the sedan-chair rested, and these formed their official insignia, by which they were known as licensed porters.

They were for the most part Highlanders, and little people like myself often had friendships with them and got rides on their shoulders. They had, by custom I suppose, a monopoly of carrying coal from cart to cellar, and the moment a coal cart was seen to enter their street they came running along with their creels, something like those of the Newhaven fish-women, but more square and strong, and in these they carried the coal to the cellar below.

Free Trade, I was told as a boy, brought all this to an end, and when the sedan-chair was no longer in use the chairmen gradually disappeared, although they lingered on for many years, with the chair straps on their shoulders. There were a number of them still in the Seventies, and they sat on forms at the corners. The last of them that I remember particularly was an old soldier, who stood, or sat, at a corner of George Street and Frederick Street, far down in the Seventies, He was an old 93rd Highlander, who fought in the Crimean War, and an incident of which he was the hero is worthy to live.

My late friend, General Sir Frederick Burroughs, was the captain of the grenadier company, of which this soldier was the right-hand man. At the Alma, a Turkish regiment next in line to the 93rd was wavering and beginning to retire. Seeing this, Sir Colin Campbell rode past the front of the Highlanders and called out: "There's to be no retiring here; every man must die at his post, when this sturdy soldier was heard by his captain to say: "Aye, aye, Sir Colin, we'll dae that if needs be."

It is because the British soldier is of this type that our arms have been successful so often, when the odds were all against us. My friend Burroughs never visited Edinburgh without going to the corner of George Street, and offering a shake of the hand to his old comrade, probably with something in it. Let us hope that if the occasion ever arises again for such an "if needs be,' our men will have the same spirit that breathed so simply i» response to Lord Clyde's appeal.*

You an read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters can be read at

James Ballantine
We have continued to add a collection of his poems and also his collection from Gaberlunzies Wallet which you can read at

Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
By Beth Gay

A letter from your editor

Miracles DO occur if we will but listen! I believe that miracles happen to all of us each day. I think my realization of miracles started with a long-time friend of mine. She is proof of miracles for sure. In her Sunday school class, the teacher asked that each person pray out loud for a miracle to change the world. Around the room they went, “world peace” was asked for. Another prayed for “an end to hunger.” The next person asked for “an end to suffering.” Another asked for “better weather.” Another asked for “an end to poverty,” etc., etc.

When it was time for my friend’s prayer, she said, “Lord, I need a Lexus. My car has over 250,000 miles on the speedometer and it’s becoming unsafe for me. It now has to go to the mechanic almost every month with big and very expensive repairs. I can get in and out of a Lexus and they last for a very long time. Please Lord, I really need a safe and dependable automobile.”

OH MY! The Sunday School teacher – and the class members spoke all at once and chastised my friend for asking for something personal. The group severely spoke to my friend, who simply said, “I’ve always asked for what I truly need. My needs have always been taken care of.” With dignity, my friend stood straight and left the room.

The following day, my friend was away from home most of the day doing errands and grocery shopping and visiting her physician. She arrived home about 6 PM. Living in the country, she stopped at the mailbox by the road in front of her house. Now, she says that what she found in the mailbox just paralyzed her and she sat there staring for at least half an hour, unable to drive the few hundred feet to her home.
She had gotten her mail and noticed an envelope from Social Security. In the envelope was a check for about $10,000 and notice that her monthly check was to increase about $500 per month. The explanation
was that her former husband had died and these were her benefits from his Social Security.

Let’s move to the following Sunday. My friend was sure to park her almost new Lexus just outside the Sunday School class. Eventually, someone in the class noticed the very nice car. My friend said quietly,
“Oh, yes. That’s the car I asked for just last week.”

I call that a miracle. My life has not been easy. Looking back, I had to have the “not easy” parts to make me appreciate the good things when those things have happened.

There was a day that I knew I could not live as I had been living for almost 34 years. I found myself in my kitchen crying. I just said, “I have read and been told that when there is something we cannot bear that we should ask for help. I can’t do this any longer. Please help me.”

That was a Thursday. I did not realize it at the time, but my ordeal was over by Saturday. It took awhile, but a new life for me was beginning the moment I asked for help. I’d call that a miracle.

During that next year and more, my friends held me in their loving arms with phone calls each and every night from literally all over the world. My friends wrote encouraging emails and cards and letters and
made sure that I was making the huge transition secure in the knowledge that I was loved and cared about. Another miracle.

On a trip home from Jacksonville, Florida where my beloved Miz Peggie and my Auntie Mildred lived, I exited I-75 at Valdosta for the last leg of my journey back to Moultrie, Georgia. The sun was shining and it was a achingly beautiful day. Suddenly, a voice in my head said softly, “Pull over and take a short nap.” I said, “I’m not sleepy.” The voice said, louder this time, “Listen to me now. Pull over and take a nap!” “OK,” I said grumpily. I pulled into a church parking lot – empty on a weekday – and leaned the seat back and did go to sleep, but for less than five minutes. “It’s fine for you to go on now,” said the kind voice in my head. “Thank you,” I said.

I had not driven a half mile when the road curved and there before me was a great tractor trailer pulling one of those big tanks – and according to the side of the truck, it was hauling gasoline. It was on its side completely across the road and the ambulance and sheriff’s deputy’s were just arriving. It was a bad, bad accident. Without the Voice in my head, I could have easily been squished under that overturned truck and tanker trailer. Squished. This happened to me. I KNOW it was a miracle.

I asked our Lexus friend why I was saved? She said I would most likely never know. She said that maybe I would say something to someone and change their life for the better. Maybe I would simply grin at someone who needed to be grinned at. Maybe I would do something that would start a chain of something good. She said I was saved for an important reason and the why didn’t much matter. Years later, I know the reason – Tom.

The miracles continued. I put my house in Moultrie on the market on Friday. It sold at 8 AM Monday. I needed a house for my horses, cats and me. I found it in one day. More miracles.

Those of you who know me well, know how much I loved my grandmother, Annie Roberta McDonald. She died the year I was 21 and I have felt her presence and have thought about her many times each day ever since.

I was concerned when I moved to Walhalla that my grandmother would not approve of my circumstances. I had bought my own house, but the movers had left boxes stacked higher than my head and I could not even get further than the front door. I put kitty litter and kitty food and water in the only available space by the front door...and started wrestling with it all. The cats disappeared into the rabbit warren of I started to try and make order of the chaos.

Tom asked me to stay at his house while I was unpacking, since I couldn’t get to the bedroom nor the bathroom nor the kitchen at my house. I knew it was ok. Tom knew it was ok. Did my grandmother know it was innocent and ok? I wasn’t sure. My grannie always told me, if I was a “bad girl” she would reach inside me, grab my big toe and turn me wrong-side-outwards. I believed her then and I believe her now.

Tom’s car was and is a Volvo station wagon. About sundown one day, I realized we had forgotten to get a gallon of milk when we were in town earlier. “I’ll just run back to town and get the milk,” I said. I hopped in Dagmar – the Volvo – and drove the mile or so to the milk store. I bought two gallons of milk and put the two jugs in the back of the car. We had the back seats down and so, without his chair, the back of Tom’s car was huge. In the short drive home, both gallons of milk slid back to almost the tailgate. I pulled into the carport and walked around the car to get the milk jugs. “Oh, rats!” I thought as I saw the milk had moved further back than I had loaded them.

I stretched and reached the first gallon and sat it on the steps by the carport. As I stretched myself out to get the other gallon...that gallon of milk FLEW from the back of the car and landed on my foot –
very softly and gently. You can imagine how I felt. My eyes got big and my heart went into overdrive.
Carefully, I picked up the jugs and with knees shaking, went into the house. “Tom, you won’t believe what just happened!” I shakily told him. His eyes got big. “I have to go look and see if there’s
something that would have caused this,” I said. Bravely, I went back to the car to see if I could figure all of this out. When the door opened and the dome light came on, I saw something shiny precisely in the middle of the back of the car. Shiny? Nothing had been there 2 minutes earlier. Nothing. With a shaking hand, I reached for the shiny object. I burst into both tears and laughter when I realized what I was holding was my grandmother’s thimble. I had played with it most of my life. It was dented and worn. There is not another one like it in this world. My grandmother’s thimble! I felt my grandmother’s love surround me exactly like I had put on a big down coat. I knew she understood. I knew that her love is always with me.

So, when times are hard I know there will be a way out. I surely do appreciate the good times. I truly believe in miracles. Miracles have happened and will continue to happen to me. I do believe! I’ll bet they happen to you too.

You can read both sectgions of this issue at

Ian Powrie
Got in an excellent account of Ian Powrie who was band manager for Andy Stewart. Our thanks for the pictures and accounts that have been sent in and a link to a YouTube video of him. This can be read at

And finally...

I thought I'd finish this year with a children's story...

The Snowflake’s New Year

Way up in the sky, in a big, puffy white cloud, the snowflakes gathered, waiting for the blizzard to happen, because their favorite thing to do was to fall from the cloud and blanket the wintry ground below. Tonight’s storm was especially exciting because it was New Year’s Eve. Each snowflake wanted to be the first snowflake of the year.

The group started talking about where they were going to land. The largest snowflake of all was named Sammy. He got to choose first, and then, each in turn, according to their size, chose their targets, until the smallest snowflake had chosen. "I think I will land on that pine tree," Sammy said, parting the cloud just a little bit to show everyone. "I am the biggest snowflake so I will be the first to fall and land this New Year."

Some of the other snowflakes didn’t like that idea. They wanted to be the first snowflake. Scotty snowflake asked, "I want to be the first to fall. Why should it be you? I want to land on that blue car, not the pine tree."

"Well, I want to be the first too," Seth chimed in.

And so it went. All the snowflakes in the cloud started complaining because they wanted to be first. Soon they were all arguing. Suddenly screams came up from below. The snowflakes stopped and listened as the crowds cheered, "Ten, nine, eight…."

"There’s only a few seconds left until the New Year. If we want to be first, then we’d all better cooperate. Let’s all fall down together," suggested Shauna snowflake.

"Seven, six….." the crowds continued.

The snowflakes held hands. Holding tightly to each other, they jumped from the cloud and fell through the sky. "Wheeeeeeee!" they went together.

"Five, four, three, two, one. Happy New Year!" everyone shouted.

As the snowflakes landed on the icy ground, people started banging pots, blowing horns, lighting firecrackers and singing. They lay together in a pile, happy that they were all the first snowflakes of the New Year. "Happy New Year!" Sammy whispered to the others.

"Happy New Year!"

And if you'd like to learn the history of Auld Lang Syne for the New Year then do visit

And that's all for this year and hope you all have a wonderful New Year in 2012.