51. A Celtic Ranger World

@Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland.

The largest city in Scotland and third most populous one in the United Kingdom, is what I visited as the first big place in Scotland. The city is situated on the River Clyde and could be visited along with Edinburgh as both cities are not too far away from each other as long as there is transportation. The origins of Glasgow as a city can be traced back to the tenth and the eleventh centuries even as an earlier religious site was known to be established by Saint Mungo near by. The founding of University of Glasgow as the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world; one of Scotland’s four ancient universities which was a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as the effects of Industrial Revolution, made Glasgow a superior city. The city produced textiles, chemicals, engineered goods and steel along with being a superior force in the shipbuilding industry. The city has a mention in ‘A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain’, the travel accounts of Daniel Defoe, the author of one of the greatest colonial novels of all time, Robinson Crusoe. He was all praise for the city as he termed it as the cleanest and beautifullest and best built city in Britain with the exception of the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, London and it was difficult to prove him wrong, even before the Industrial Revolution.

The city is considered one of the safest in the world and as its coat of arms has a number of symbols and emblems associated with the life of Glasgow’s patron saint, St. Mungo, also known as Saint Kentigern and his blessings which is supposed to keep the city safe, as most of his miracles are supposed to have occured in the same city itself. The cathedral dedicated to him, in the city is a beauty; looking at it from the top of Glasgow Necropolis hill. What attracts the most in Glasgow is this Victorian cemetery in Glasgow, the Glasgow Necropolis close to St. Mungo’s Cathedral and located at an elevated place resembling a hill. It is a huge graveyard with lots of stylish monuments which dates back over centuries; only a small percentage are named on monuments though, and not every grave has a stone which leaves most of the dead and buried people unknown. With the number of people visiting the church decreasing, and the area for burial also getting filled, there was always going to be the need for something like this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of problem arises for the churches outside Europe too; there is the need for big burial places like this everywhere, as the people will keep dying and none of them comes back not even in the form of zombies. The Resident Evil fans might disagree, and I would agree if this was that much of a horror movie. Even ’28 Days Later would have done the job, but as we wait for such an apocalypse, there is need for graves; something like this grave yard, a city of the necrons like that in Warhammer 4000: Dawn of War – The Dark Crusade, the wonderful strategy game based on Games Workshop’s popular tabletop wargame of the same name.

There are so many football clubs in Glasgow even as I thought all the action was restricted t England mostly with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton and Newcastle United; a few teams which seemed to be representing football in the island. Even Leeds United had further representation in my mind until I reached Glasgow. I would keep Partick Thistle Football Club and Queen’s Park Football Club reserved for later visits as it is all about the Celtic Football Club and the Rangers Football Club for now as they kept the Scottish Premier League trophy away from all the other teams; the ones who denied the other teams any opportunity to get anything from their league. Rangers have already won 54 League Championships, which translates as more national championships than any other football club in the world. They have won the Scottish League Cup itself 27 times that more than any other football club of Scotland and the Scottish Cup 33 times. In 1961, this team reached the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, becoming the first British club to reach the final of a UEFA club competition. They have also won the Scottish Football League the most number of times, one more than their rivals Celtic after trailing to them, with consecutive championships in the last few years and looking good to win the current one too.

The fierce rivalry between the two teams from Glasgow would continue, and it might make sure for a long time, that the trophy will always come back to the same city. The two clubs, when considered together, are the most successful in Scotland, having won between them 96 Scottish League championships, 67 Scottish Cups and 41 Scottish League Cups with the power to continue winning more, with one of these teams coming second too. Since the 1995–96 season, this power of the two teams has been proven and these clubs have finished in the top two places in every season, apart from that of 2005–06, when Heart of Midlothian Football Club finished second ahead of Rangers; Celtic has never gone below the second place position though. Rangers and Celtic had played each other 396 times: Rangers winning 158 matches, Celtic 143 matches and 95 of those hard fought matches ended in draws, not disappointing the fans of both sides to a hight extent. The clubs surely have huge fan bases around Glasgow as many people do take sides, but they also have supporters in most towns throughout Scotland and in many cities around the world, and I would add Cochin to one of them, as I have become a fan too, more of Celtic than of Rangers as I am always the fan of the team which stays behind and is looking to rise to the top; a reason to support Manchester United this year, even as I won’t watch the English Premier League.

Coming back to the Celtic Football Club, as it is not to be given any lesser importance; may be I would consider it with more passion. Contributing to the Scottish economy along with its rivals and providing some of the best football matches, they would force me to watch the Scottish Premier League forever, provided the cable television operators will come up with a channel showing these; until then it is all English Premier League on television along with a little action from Spain and Italy. But Celtic will still remain in my favourites list, for there is youtube and there is that wonderful word ‘Celtic’ which keeps running through my ears all the time with my journey through the History of English Language and Literature. Tracing back to those diverse groups of tribal societies in Iron Age and the Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages and were driven to the north of the island by the Romans themselves and later the Angles, Saxons and Jutes; not really in the path of that history would this football club develop, but it still gives that feeling of history to me. The earliest archaeological culture of the area might be Proto-Celtic and now this Celtic Football Club holds that name. For me, this serves as a reminder to everything I read and studied about this Celtic culture and language.

This cohesive cultural entity influenced me the most with Celtic Cross even as the Celtic languages form such an important branch of the larger Indo-European family and split into several different language groups, and spread over much of Western continental Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Irish islands and Britain. The origin for the Celts as a distinct cultural branch of the Indo-European family would be as much important to me as the Celtic Christianity and its wonderful forms of cross not only with that cricle around the middle of those four arms of the cross, but also with all those carvings which we see on them. There have been so many similar crosses all around the crosses including those areas outside Ireland and Scotland as well as continental Europe which might have been influenced by the same; those types can be seen even in Kerala in the south of India, but I wouldn’t attribute them to the Celtic origin. This contribution, I consider more impressive than the small contributions to the English language, as the influence of the conquerer’s languages were to be less important, and the Celtic crosses at Necropolis were that good. Coming back to the Celtic Football Club, it has my favourite logo and a wonderful structure which looks historic from the front; the attempt to get into it was spoiled as it was not open at that time. Drinking hot chocolate, tea as well as eating French Fries from what looked more like a ‘thattukada’ on the front of the stadium was good. To add to them, there was St Andrew’s in the Square, and there were museums.

Diving out —>



49. Remembering Lochinvar

@Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.

It was a privilege to be at the birthplace of the famous Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, Sir Walter Scott, the author of great works such as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake, The Heart of Midlothian, Waverley and The Bride of Lammermoor. But what attracted me the most was the wonderful story of “young Lochinvar”, excerpted from Canto V of the poem ‘Marmion’. Walter Scott’s Lochinvar was the symbol of adventures, second only two Tennyson’s Ulysses who could not rest from travel; his journeys which always attracted him towards adventure and even the old age couldn’t stop him. But Lochinvar is more of a man of chivalry and unmatched courage along with love beyond horizons, as mentioned by the poet, “So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war”. The man who crossed the Eske river with no Ford; the knight who rode all unarmed and alone to reach his lover Ellen who was to be forcefully married to “A laggard in love, and a dastard in war” by her parents, finally escaped his lover. His novels like Ivanhoe and Rob Roy also created an interest these type of things even as they depicted the social conditions of that time in England and Scotland. It was due to this man that Edinburgh became so important from that literature point of view for me; it was also a city of long history and therefore it also evoked interest from that side.

I would start with the Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument to the same Scottish author, located so much near the railway station which was another place to visit even if there was no reason for it, and train watching wasn’t on the list. I had never seen a better railway station even as it was complicated for me just looking at it; I felt as if having an outdated brain at that moment which would make it appropriate to come back to the monument to Sir Walter Scott. From a distance, it looked like an undead rocket ship which transported monsters into outer space for their further development into aliens, or may be the fallen angels from heavens are banished to another dimension in this space ship fuelled by the elements beyond the science of planet Earth. That would sound strange, but that was the closest to what it looked like for me at the first sight. But I wouldn’t deny that the beauty of that monument struck me more than anything else in the city; it was so special that I had to sound too strange to describe it. The monument is still a wonderful Gothic structure which has so much of detailed architecture at each level. It was only due to the lack of time that I couldn’t do a closer examination; nothing else can stop someone from being so near it and experience the feeling.

Then there was the Edinburgh Castle, a fortress which reminded me of Age of Empires II: The Conquerers. It was the closest I could get to the game in a non-religious manner as finding the similarities to worship places was further easier just as the wonders shown in the game. I wouldn’t consider it the perfect sample of the game, but it was surely the best of it’s kind I had seen anywhere in the world. Right from its appearance on the coat of arms of the city of Edinburgh, it came alive as I saw it in real, first dominating the skyline of the city and later being a perfect defensive structure which I wished to be the defender of my soul against everything which stands opposite to truth and righteousness, as it looked stronger than the strongest thing of defense which did enlighten my eyes with a view. As one of the most important fortresses in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was part of many historical conflicts, mostly related to the Wars of Scottish Independence and those consistent conflicts between the kingdoms of Scotland and England. It had it’s role to play in the long history of the island most of the time. It is not just a castle; it is a symbol of many things, and for me it is the symbol of righteous defence which stretches beyond this dimension and reaches that point of perpetual reality.

St Giles’ Cathedral a.k.a the High Kirk of Edinburgh was next; or the first one to be added to list considering the importance of visiting another different church. This beautiful cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles, the patron saint of Edinburgh as well as of cripples and lepers, outcasts and the poor; with countless churches and monasteries dedicated to him all around Europe also supported by various tales about him during the Middle Ages. It has one of the best crown steeples and beautiful stained glasses and strong pillars which seems to show the power of faith and belief. There are some corners of the church building which were so beautiful that paying to take photos was not that bad a thing; there was no fee for entrance though. There were so many visitors for sure; considering the fact that this church is smaller than what was seen in Liverpool, York and the other popular structures of England which would stun people, it was once again proven that size doesn’t really matter. But that should only be partially true as it was proven on many occasions on the long run; still by considering smaller periods of time for an evalutaion, it can be proven the way it is expected to. There is always the tampering to prove oneself right and every critic will try to do the same as long as he or she is bound to that title; but there is no denying the beauty of this church.

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral is the major Roman Catholic Church and there were so many buildings which looked like churches all around the area and it was surprising to see that most of them didn’t even come a little close to the sanctity which one would associate with a church building. But being in a historic city has its own hallowed experience which it carries in it’s soul. Walking through the stone-paved roads and between those buildings with many legends which still fly with the wind and also a few others which lay forgotten. There is magnificience which breathes life into the tourist as long as he or she is not attacked by a one-sided mentality which is usually placed by some of those selfish people who always thinks about the profit side of every action; this way of thinking always results in the ignorance of art and literature and makes Humanities an unimportant division in the eyes of those hypocrites who relate themselves to modernity with their spoon-fed collection of scientific theories which are of no value to a world which is to be destroyed by the same field. They are the ones who try to degrade the best forms of arts and make themselves the clear abominations in front of all forms of righteousness. They might not enjoy the place, as this is a marvellous city and to view it from a point of selfish materialistic barbarian hidden in the visage of that vanity called science, is pure blunder.

To add to it, there is always that case of pure evil which is inherent on the undead, as seen in most of those zombie movies; their aim is just to satisfy the hunger or thirst, or whatever they have for human flesh and blood. The same has happened to humanity even before turning into the blood sucking creatures of the night who rises from the grave. If we add a little more nonsense to it along with kid’s stuff which is not suitable for children and the also every available thing which is so senseless that the whole genre is affected, we could even call their life part of Twilight series. There is so much hidden radical behaviour and sucking goodness out of others, which is so common about these people who run around with that kind of selfishness which would make the toughest cavemen cry and Count Dracula would commit suicide for eternity. There is no wonder about the fact that Dracula has lost his fame; we have these people who can suck the happiness and beauty out of the lives of people, and I would be astonished if I find the old vampire surviving in this situation of fake people living in their fake worlds creating a kind of poison in the atmosphere which is very unlike the world of conscience which the Count lived in. Where is the sense in these pathetic people to enjoy the beauty of this historic city? There is no good that they do for this world of history which lives in almost every building of Edinburgh and I hope they don’t have a chance to make this great place less important.

Diving out —>


4. The Spider Inspiration

@Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

This simple and beautiful village of Kirkpatrick-Fleming is what we encountered during our journey from Leeds to Glasgow. There was the city of Carlisle, the Lake District and this one included in the list. We took an exit to reach this wonderful village of natural beauty. May be this was the soul of the island which stays somewhat similar to what it was in the early Medieval Ages. It had undisturbed natural beauty and smaller buildings and houses along with those smaller roads which had turns and unchecked vegetation on the sides which called for photography. You just can’t ignore them, they call out to you.

This place owes it’s name to the parish church dedicated to St. Patrick, but the parish was certainly not our preferred destination; may be one of the very few occasions when churches and cathedrals took a backseat on a trip which included about fifty churches. It was a camping and caravan site which had more caravans than I had ever seen together. It was a manor surrounded by lots of empty space and natural beauty, but not separated from civilization. This peaceful, picturesque place was the idyll which they mentioned; as I knew Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion had it’s elements somewhere around there and the hero Lochinvar might have crossed these areas.

Actually none of these was the reason it was a target of my eye and camera, it was because of a man I first knew through Mel Gibson’s multiple Oscar award winning 1995 epic historical drama movie, Braveheart; my favourite history based movie. No, it was not William Wallace, the hero of the movie and the Age of Empires Training Campaign I am talking about; it is about Robert the Bruce, the former King of Scotland. William Wallace, the character immortalized by Mel Gibson, was the tragic hero; the true patriot, but here we have that followed after his execution; as they say in Braveheart: “In the Year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland – starving and outnumbered – charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom”. This gives the much deserved credit to Bruce, who was depicted as someone with a little opportunism, lack of confidence and confusion in Braveheart giving all the heroics to Wallace. But it was Bruce who lead the battle after the execution of Wallace; he was the man who finally succeeded.

As an English Literature student, Scotland never came into my books that much, but as we keep changing the point of view, just for this one occasion, as there are always two sides to a story, the heroes were the Scotsmen and the English were the invaders. There was the manor, there was the statue of a knight on horse and another knight, both of whom are not given any description. But what was more interesting was the spiders drawn on the side of the boards. My motorbike when unused, was home to better looking and cute spiders, but these were not that kind of local spiders, as these ones had further significance. My spiders are missing anyway and I won’t ask any of you to find them.

As we went further into the interiors of the eighty acre estate woods, we came up across what we were looking for. It was the cave; the place where Bruce went to hide after suffering defeat in the hands of the English. Edward I was searching for him with all his abilities and Bruce sent three months alone in there. It was supposed to be the symbol of fear and failure and devastation of his home country, but there he was to be inspired by a spider which was trying to spin it’s web; it would keep falling, but gets up to try again and again. This gave him the spirit and won the Historic Battle of Bannockburn even as he was outnumbered ten to one. The legend of the Spider lived on and so did the fame of Robert the Bruce, the king of Scotland.

Just like this battle marked the beginning of freedom for Scotland, it was also my inspiration; it helped me to keep trying again and again; it served me well enough to lead me on a path which was corroded and full of gutters to my target without stopping half way through. Every time I want to quit, I look at a random spider with it’s webs; even if it doesn’t look that nice, it is a symbol of the never-quit attitude. I would never clean the spider webs of my room, it will stay there on the roof as it is my inspiration in this mindless room of concrete. Please note that Spider-man, Spider-women or any other genetically mutated spiders of any scientific experiments or accidents won’t count.

Diving out —>