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Week 20: 18 – 24 May

9how20aI don’t know if you’ve ever seen the 1992 movie The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis? It’s got one of my all-time favourite scenes in it, near the end where the heroic Uncas confronts the villainous Magua on the cliff-top – and loses. I find it particularly effective because there is almost no dialogue, the tragedy unfolding with only sound effects (mostly gunshots, echoing round the cliffs) and a marvellous folk tune grinding away underneath on a solo violin before the whole orchestra come in with the main theme, desperately sad.

In fact this combination of action and music got inside my head to such an extent that I did something I hardly ever do, and bought the soundtrack album (if you don’t know it see if you can find a sample online, it’s the track called “The Promontory”). But because I wanted it to remain special, I’ve been careful not to listen to it too often. (Bob Dylan’s stunning song about despair and death “Not Dark Yet” is the only other song I’ve treated with the same reverence.)

So imagine my feelings when I found that almost every street in Edinburgh has shops with loudspeakers positioned outside on the pavement, almost all of them playing this same tune over and over, usually with a pounding rock accompaniment. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable and it drives me mad. And as I haven’t found anywhere nearby that sells axes, and I assume the authorities would frown at finding one in my carry-on luggage, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot I can do.

9how20bMeanwhile I’ve been listening to recording of Shakespeare’s comedies for a change while I knit of an evening, an hour or so at a time. (A good cast certainly brings the text to life, but the downside is no one seems to be able to act as well as I can in my head…) Anyway, I came upon this quote from Twelfth Night about an old song, a quote that’s probably familiar to you all:

The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
And the free maids that weave their thread with bones
Do use to chant it: it is silly sooth,
And dallies with the innocence of love,
Like the old age.

Presumably they’re not weaving thread with, say, femurs here, or dinosaur fossils?

Definite progress this week, my theory being that you speed up as you near the end of a section (it feels, as Treebeard says in The Two Towers movie, “like going downhill”).

4 comments to Week 20: 18 – 24 May

  • Presumably the ‘bones’ are bobbins (as in bobbin lace), or shuttles, or bone needles (for sewing or knitting). Could even conceivably be a drop spindle shaft. Lace theory sounds the most plausible. ‘Weave their thread with bones’ is a good line tho’!

  • Suzanne

    Twelfth Night was one of our high school productions. It was a girls’ school, so I got to play Orsino. I have always taken the ‘bones’ to be for bobbin lace, and believe that others in the lace community are of the same mind.

  • =Tamar

    Thirded on the bobbin lace. Major ditto on the desire for a good axe chopping at the noise pollution.

  • Gordon

    Twelfth Night is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, and Feste the cynical “clown” is possibly the character I identify with most. It has an uncomfortable edge to it, especially in the way that Antonio, Sebastian’s follower, is edged out of the happy ending. They made a cracking film of it too with Imogen Stubbs and Helena Bonham-Carter.

    By the way, did you know that “bobbins” is a mild north of England term for something which isn’t very good? As in, “That attempt to parallel park your car was bobbins”. Dunno where it comes from.