Wanted – your favourite Dunnett descriptions

One of the delights of reading Dunnett are those marvellous one-liners and short descriptions that perfectly capture the scene or character that she is writing about. Sometimes they make you laugh out loud, sometimes they give you that perfect visual image that helps cement the moment in your mind.

In the latest issue of Whispering Gallery, the magazine of the DDRA, I mentioned that I felt that one way to try to attract new readers might be to collect some of these little fragments of linguistic magic, and when trying to convert a potential reader to point them to them to whet their literary appetites. So that’s what I intend to do here on the Dunnett Blog, and I’d like your help in doing so.

Send me your favourite quotes, not just the well-known set pieces but those almost incidental ones that enlighten our view of a character or place or critical moment in that way that only she could. I’ll collect them together and publish them here and then archive them on the main site once we have a big enough collection.

Here’s one of my favourite short ones to start you off.

“Quarrelling with the Prince of Barrow was like fighting a curtain.”

Doesn’t that just provide the perfect visual counterpoint to Lymond’s attempts to talk round the singular Phelim O’Liam Roe?

While a slightly longer one gives Will Scott the essence of just how important and burned into Lymond’s psyche is the captive lady in the tower.

My brilliant devil, my imitation queen; my past, my future, my hope of heaven and my knowledge of hell … Margaret, Countess of Lennox.

I’m looking forward to hearing your favourites.

Berwick wants to be Scottish again

Dunnett readers will likely be familiar with the history of Berwick-upon-Tweed, once one of the most important ports on the east coast of Britain, and a town which changed hands between Scotland and England at least 14 times as the border wars raged and the border itself moved back and forth. It eventually became English for the last time in the 15th century and so it has remained despite having a somewhat unique diplomatic status for a long time. However it has retained a somewhat dual character – some of its services being supplied by English authorities and some by Scottish ones. The local football team, Berwick Rangers, plays in the Scottish league and the rugby team plays in the Scottish Rugby Union leagues.

Recently there have been suggestions from members of the Scottish National Party that Berwick should return to Scottish rule and the head of Berwick Council is said to be largely in favour. The local newspaper has been running an unofficial poll and apparently about 79% of the inhabitants are in favour of becoming Scottish. Could it happen? Well the differences between Scots and English law might make things a bit tricky but as a Scot I’d love to see it. And I reckon Wat Scott would have been well chuffed!

Laudable Vices – my new malt whisky blog

A little off-topic this one but I know there are many members of some of the on-line Dunnett discussion groups who will recognise the term “Laudable Vices”. We’ve often discussed malt whisky because Dorothy and Alastair were both very fond of a dram and experts on the subject, and it’s kicked off many entertaining off-topic threads.

So I hope some of you will drop by a new malt whisky blog – Discover Whisky – that my good friend Mike and I have been working on. Mike is a fan of Speyside malts while I am more of a islands enthusiast so we should have some interesting discussions and hopefully connect up with a few people on the way. We’ve already got some comments from people on Islay and I’m dreaming of going back there.

We’ll be doing a series of tastings (such an onerous task!) over the next few months and hopefully developing it all into a useful resource and discussion area for enthusiasts. Please come and join us and if you like what you find then please mention us or link to the site from your blogs or journal entries so others can do the same.


Canoe Boys on the radio

Following up the earlier post about Alastair Dunnett’s book The Canoe Boys, there is to be a 3 part documentary on Radio Scotland about that epic trip. It starts on Wednesday 14th Nov at 11.30am. There is a feature on the Radio Scotland website which has a number of audio and video segments so you can get a flavour of it and it looks as if there will be a podcast available.